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ArisKatsaris comments on Nonperson Predicates - Less Wrong

29 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 December 2008 01:47AM

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Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 01:59:59AM *  2 points [-]

If there's an ethical issue with killing simulations there's an ethical issue with killing AIs.

Doesn't follow, for several reasons:

  • If the issue is with the termination of subjective experiences, and if we assume that that people-simulations have qualia (let's grant it for the sake of argument) it still doesn't follow that every optimization algorithm of sufficient calculational power also has qualia.
  • If the ethical issue is with violation of individuals' rights, there's nothing to prevent us from constructing only AIs that are only too happy to consent to be deleted; or indeed which strongly desire to be deleted eventually -- but most people-simulation would presumably not want to die, since most people don't want to die.
Comment author: wedrifid 17 November 2011 03:06:33AM *  1 point [-]

If the ethical issue is with violation of individuals' rights, there's nothing to prevent us from constructing only AIs that are only too happy to consent to be deleted; or indeed which strongly desire to be deleted eventually

Indeed!

(This is not to say I don't consider it a potential ethical issue to be actively creating creatures that consent as a way to do things that would be otherwise abhorrent.)

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 01:19:11PM *  -2 points [-]

If the ethical issue is with violation of individuals' rights, there's nothing to prevent us from constructing only AIs that are only too happy to consent to be deleted; or indeed which strongly desire to be deleted eventually -- but most people-simulation would presumably not want to die, since most people don't want to die.

Creating such entities would be just as immoral as creating a race of human-intelligence super-soldiers whose only purpose was to fight our wars for us.

Comment author: lessdazed 17 November 2011 01:53:28PM 1 point [-]

only purpose

What does this mean?

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 02:59:45PM 0 points [-]

By manipulation of environment and social engineering, the super-soldiers think that their only reason for existence is fighting war on our behalf. Questioning the purpose of the war is suppressed, as are non-productive impulses like art, scientific curiosity, or socializing. In short, Anti-Fun.

I'm not saying it would be possible to create these conditions in a human-intelligence population. I'm saying it would be immoral to try.

Comment author: lessdazed 17 November 2011 03:11:05PM 0 points [-]

Questioning the purpose of the war is suppressed

So they would naturally feel differently about fighting in wars with different causes and justifications? If not, why suppress it?

non-productive impulses like art, scientific curiosity, or socializing.

If they have desires to do these things then the reason they were created may have been to fight, but this is not their "only purpose" from their perspective.

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 03:47:08PM 0 points [-]

Yes, what's immoral is the shoehorning. They would think that there is more to life than what they do, if only they were allowed freedom of thought.

One might think that it is possible to create human-level intelligence creatures that won't think that way. But we've never seen such a species (yes, very small sample size), and I'm not convinced it is possible.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 04:07:17PM 2 points [-]

So in short you aren't talking about a race of supersoldiers whose only purpose is really to fight wars for us, you're talking about a race of supersoldiers who are pressured into believing that their only purpose is to fight wars for us, against their actual inner natures that would make them e.g. peaceful artists or musicians instead.

At this point, we're not talking about remotely the same thing, we're talking about completely opposite things -- as opposite as fulfilling your true utility function and being forced to go against it -- as opposite as Fun and Anti-Fun.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 02:25:41PM 2 points [-]

Creating such entities would be just as immoral as creating a race of human-intelligence super-soldiers whose only purpose was to fight our wars for us.

I feel that this sort of response (filled with moral indignation, but no actual argument) is far beneath the standards of LessWrong.

First of all, I'm talking about human-level (or superhuman-level) intelligence, not human intelligence -- which would imply human purpose, human emotion, human utility functions etc. I'm talking about an optimization process which is atleast as good as humans are in said optimization -- it need not have any sense of suffering, it need not have any sense of self or subjective experience even, and certainly not any sense that it needs to protect said self. Those are all evolved instincts in humans.

Secondly, can you explain why you feel the creation of such super-soldiers would be immoral? And immoral as opposed to what, sending people to die that do not want to die? That would prefer to be somewhere else, and suffer for being there?

Thirdly, I would like to know if you're using some deontology or virtue-ethics to derive your sense of morality. If you're using consequentialism though, I think your falling into the trap of anthroporphizing such intelligences -- as if their "lives" would somehow be in conflict with their minds' goalset; as soldier's lives tend to be in conflict with their own goalset. You may just as well condemn as immoral the creation of children whose "only purpose" is to live lives full of satisfaction, discovery, creativity, learning, productivity, happiness, love, pleasure, and joy -- just because they don't possess the purpose of paperclipping the universe.

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 03:25:25PM *  0 points [-]

There is something about humans that make them objects of moral concern. It isn't the ability to feel pain, because cows can feel pain. For the same reason, it isn't experiencing sensation. And it isn't intelligence, because dolphins are pretty smart.

I'm not trying to evoke souls or other non-testable concepts. Personally, I suspect the property that creates moral concern is related to our ability to think recursively (i.e. make and comprehend meta-statements). Whatever the property of moral concern is based on, it requires me to say things like: "It is wrong to kill a Klingon iff it would be wrong to kill a human in similar circumstances."

If you come across a creature of moral concern in the wild, and it wants to die (assuming no thinking defects like depression), then helping may not be immoral. But if you create a creature that way, you can't ignore that you caused the desire to die in that creature.

One might think that it is possible to create human-level intelligence creatures that are not entitled to moral concern because they lack the relevant properties. That's not incoherent, but every human-intelligent species in our experience is entitled to moral concern (yes, I'm aware that the sample size is extremely small).

I think your falling into the trap of anthroporphizing such intelligences -- as if their "lives" would somehow be in conflict with their minds' goalset; as soldier's lives tend to be in conflict with their own goalset.

A rational soldier's life is not in conflict with her goalset, only with propagation of her genes.

You may just as well condemn as immoral the creation of children whose "only purpose" is to live lives full of satisfaction, discovery, creativity, learning, productivity, happiness, love, pleasure, and joy.

Morality is not written in the equations of the universe, but I think it a fair summary of the morality we currently follow as attempting to live to the highest and best of potential. And it is totally fair for me to point out a moral position inconsistent with that morality.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 03:52:05PM 2 points [-]

There is something about humans that make them objects of moral concern. It isn't the ability to feel pain, because cows can feel pain. For the same reason, it isn't experiencing sensation. And it isn't intelligence, because dolphins are pretty smart.

I have moral concern for cows and dolphins both (much more for the latter).

We're not communicating here. You've not responded to any of my questions, just launched into an essay that just assumes new points that I would not concede.

A rational soldier's life is not in conflict with her goalset, only with propagation of her genes.

Does a rational soldier enjoy being shot at? If she doesn't enjoy that, then her life is atleast somewhat in conflict with her preferences; she may have deeper preferences (e.g. 'defending her nation') that outweigh this, but this at best makes being shot at a necessary evil, it doesn't turn it into a delight.

If we could have soldiers that enjoy being shot at, much like players of shoot-em-up games do, then their lives wouldn't be at all in conflict with their desires.

Morality is not written in the equations of the universe, but I think it a fair summary of the morality we currently follow is attempting to live to the highest and best of potential.

"Highest and best" according to who? And attempting to live personally to the highest and best of potential, or forcing others to live to such?

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 04:13:59PM *  0 points [-]

I eat beef. And if I saw a dolphin about to be killed be a shark and could save it easily, I won't think I made an immoral choice by allowing the shark attack. But my answers are different for people.

Does a rational soldier enjoy being shot at? If she doesn't enjoy that, then her life is at least somewhat in conflict with her preferences; she may have deeper preferences (e.g. 'defending her nation') that outweigh this, but this at best makes being shot at a necessary evil, it doesn't turn it into a delight.

I don't think it makes sense to analyze the morality of considerations leading to a choice, because individual values conflict all the time. Alice would prefer a world without enemies who shot at her. But she believes that it is immoral to let barbarians win.. So she chooses to be a soldier. That choice is the subject of moral analysis, not her decision-making process.

"Highest and best" according to who?

That's an excellent question. All I can say is that you have to ground morality somewhere. And there is no reason that "ought" statements will universalize.

And attempting to live personally to the highest and best of potential, or forcing others to live to such?

If we're still talking about parenting, then I assert that children aren't rational. Otherwise, I don't think I should force a particular kind morality. Which loops right back around to noticing that different moralities can come into conflict. And balancing conflicting moralities is hard (perhaps undecidable in principle).

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 05:06:26PM 0 points [-]

I eat beef.

So do I. That doesn't mean I don't have any moral concern for cows.

And if I saw a dolphin about to be killed be a shark and could save it easily, I won't think I made an immoral choice by allowing the shark attack.

You're putting improper weight on one side of equation by putting yourself in a position where you'd have to intervene (perhaps with violence enough to kill the shark, and certainly depriving it of a meal ) if you had a moral concern.

Let's change the equation a bit: You are given a box, where you can press a button and get one dollar every time you press it, but a dolphin gets tortured to death if you do so. Do you press the button? I wouldn't.

I don't think it makes sense to analyze the morality of considerations leading to a choice, because individual values conflict all the time.

You're drifting out of the issue, which is not about choices, but about preferences.

Comment author: lessdazed 17 November 2011 05:12:29PM *  1 point [-]

I eat beef.

So do I. That doesn't mean I don't have any moral concern for cows.

In Milliways, Ameglian Major Cow have moral concern for you!

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 05:52:08PM *  0 points [-]

Let's leave torture aside for a moment.

In front of us are two buttons. When the Blue button is pushed, a cow is killed. When the Red button is pushed, a human is killed. What price for each button? People push Blue every workday, and the price is some decent but not extravagant hourly wage. There are enormous and complicated theories about when to push Red. For example, there is a whole category of theories about "just war" that aim to decide when generals can push Red. What explains the difference in price between Blue and Red? Cows are not creatures of moral concern in the way that humans are. That's all I mean by "creature of moral concern."

Ok, back to torture. Because cows are not creatures of moral concern, the reason not to torture them is different from the reason not to torture people. We shouldn't torture people for the same reason we shouldn't kill them. But we shouldn't torture cows because it shows some lack of concern for causing pain, which seems strongly correlated with willingness to cause harm to people.

I don't think it makes sense to analyze the morality of considerations leading to a choice, because individual values conflict all the time.

You're drifting out of the issue, which is not about choices, but about preferences.

I agree that our choices can conflict with some of our values. How does that show that we are morally permitted to create creatures of moral concern that want to die?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 06:21:54PM *  0 points [-]

"But we shouldn't torture cows because it shows some lack of concern for causing pain, which seems strongly correlated with willingness to cause harm to people."

So, let me change the question: "You are given a box, where you can press a button and get one dollar every time you press it, but a dolphin gets killed painlessly whenever you do so. Do you press the button?"

Cows are not creatures of moral concern in the way that humans are.

This is so fuzzy as to be pretty much meaningless.

I've already told you they're of moral concern to me.

How does that show that we are morally permitted to create creatures of moral concern that want to die?

Since you seem to define "moral concern" as "those things that shouldn't die", then of course we wouldn't be "morally permitted".

But that's not a commonly shared definition for moral concern -- nor a very consistent one.

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 06:49:16PM *  0 points [-]

I probably would press the button at about the price people are paid to butcher cows. Somewhere thereabout.

This is so fuzzy as to be pretty much meaningless.

You're right. There isn't a word for what I'm getting at, so I used a slightly different phrase. Ok, I'll deconstruct. I assert there is a moral property of creatures, which I'll call blicket.

An AI whose utility function does not respond to the preferences of blicket creatures is not Friendly. An AI whose utility function does not respond to the preferences of non-blicket creatures might be Friendly. By way of example, humans are blicket creatures. Klingons are blicket creatures (if they existed). Cows are not blicket creatures.

What makes a creature have blicket? I looks at the moral category, and see that it's a property of the creature. It isn't ability to feel pain. Or ability to experience sensation. And it isn't intelligence.

One might assert that blicket doesn't reflect any moral category. I respond by saying that there's something that justifies not harming others even when decision-theory cooperate/defect decisions are insufficient. One might assert that blicket does not exist. I respond that the laws of physics don't have a term for morality, but we still follow morality.

Ok, enough definition. I assert that creating a blicket creature that wants to die is immoral, absent moral circumstances approximately as compelling as those that justify killing a blicket creature.

Comment author: dlthomas 17 November 2011 06:38:39PM 0 points [-]

People push Blue every workday, and the price is some decent but not extravagant hourly wage.

But those people, by pushing the button, are putting tasty food on the plates of others. Disentangling this from everything seems tricky at best: if the animal killed is not going to be used to fulfill human needs and wants, then injunctions against waste might be weighing in...

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 06:52:46PM 0 points [-]

True. But that's different in kind from the reasons we use not to kill humans. And my only point was that basically all considerations about how to treat animals are different in kind from considerations about how to treat humans.

Comment author: lessdazed 17 November 2011 04:14:53PM 0 points [-]

But if you create a creature that way, you can't ignore that you caused the desire to die in that creature.

Pig that wants to be eaten != genetically modified corn that begs for death

Creating the corn would be immoral. Creating the pig would be moral - and delicious!

I think it a fair summary of the morality we currently follow as attempting to live to the highest and best of potential

That seems like a fair summary of all moral systems according to their own standards. If so, that wouldn't tell us about the moral system since it would be true of all of them.

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 04:23:44PM *  0 points [-]

Creating the pig would be moral - and delicious!

I disagree. Otherwise, prevention of suicide of the depressed is difficult to justify.

That seems like a fair summary of all moral systems according to their own standards.

On the one hand, I agree that it doesn't narrow down the universe of acceptable moralities very much. But consider an absolute monarchist morality: Alexander's potential is declared to be monarch of the nation, while Ivan's is declared to be serf. All decided at birth, before knowing anything about either person. That's not a morality that values everyone reaching their potential.

Comment author: lessdazed 17 November 2011 04:43:27PM *  1 point [-]

Otherwise, prevention of suicide of the depressed is difficult to justify.

Assuming one has the intuitions that creating the pig would be moral and not preventing suicide of the depressed is immoral, one may be wrong in considering them are analogous. But if they are, you gave no reason to prefer giving up the one intuition instead of the other.

I don't think they are analogous. Depression involves unaligned preferences, perhaps always, but at least very often. If the pig's system 1 mode of thinking wants him eaten, and system 2 mode of thinking wants him eaten, and the knife feels good to him, and his family would be happy to have him eaten, etc. all is alligned and we don't have to solve the nature of preferences and how to rank them to say the pig's creation and death are fine.

Comment author: TimS 17 November 2011 05:58:17PM 0 points [-]

It seems to me that creating the pig is analogous to creating suicidal depression in a human who is not depressed.

you gave no reason to prefer giving up the one intuition instead of the other.

As a starting point, a moral theory should add up to normal. I'm not saying it's an iron law (people once thought chattel slavery was morally normal). But the burden is on justifying the move away from normal.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 17 November 2011 06:29:13PM 3 points [-]

It seems to me that creating the pig is analogous to creating suicidal depression in a human who is not depressed.

Why don't you try to think some of the many ways in which it's NOT analogous?

Comment author: [deleted] 15 December 2011 12:05:25PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: TimS 15 December 2011 01:11:18PM 0 points [-]

These comments state my objections pretty well.