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phane2 comments on Emotional Involvement - Less Wrong

12 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 January 2009 10:23PM

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Comment author: phane2 08 January 2009 07:04:17AM 1 point [-]


Your argument that people do not get emotionally attached "enough" to videogames is due, I think, to your oversimplification of what a "videogame" is. Not that I think you don't know the first thing about videogames (clearly, if you've been brought to tears from a game, you respect them at least somewhat). I think it's more that you're simplifying for the sake of argument and throwing out too much. Basically, what you're saying is that difficult, novel, and sensual experiences are not enough: they also have to "count." Our lives will be dispassionate without the "meaning" of "real" experience with lasting consequences, as opposed to games that don't matter. A few points to make: 1. Humans get an enormous amount out of games already, especially competitive ones, and there's a lot to be said for self-improvement through games. There are many people whose golf performance is one of the most important things in their lives. Some people are the same way with Smash Brothers. Me and many of my close friends take games very seriously. I would consider gaming to be the most enriching thing I do. I don't think that's a sickness on my part, and I don't think I'd be having more fun if I made money doing it (Or, if I had to do it in order to keep civilization moving, or whatever other rubric of "lasting importance" you want to use). 2. Doesn't your argument work equally well against basically all art? Writing, music, movies, anything? Hell, most of those are even less valuable since they're not interactive. Essentially, you're saying "why should you bother doing anything if it doesn't trigger your fundamental survival buttons that make you feel awesome?" Except that, people dedicate huge amounts of their lives to stuff like writing. And games, too. Will posthumans not create and enjoy art? Why not? 3. In the posthuman world, what's left to matter? We already don't get chased by tigers unless we really want to, and presumably posthumans will have the choice to not eat unless they really want to. Even our stances on making children or upholding social relationships aren't so sacred that we wouldn't tweak them. In the end, staying tied to "biologically attractive" things seems no different than any other "bored rich person" hobby. 4. The line between being a pleasure center and being a eudaimonic civilization participant seems dubious to me. On the one hand, a giant super-efficient orgasm-brain is not the most admirable thing I can imagine. But on the other, we're talking about a posthuman future in which the kinds of outcomes that would constitute "progress" are up for considerable debate. What kinds of things should we like? Some things are "admirable" to like, and others aren't, I guess. Should posthumans like food? Sex? Mathematics? Having bigger and awesomer brains? I don't know. No matter what you name, they all seem vulnerable to falling into an "orgasmic pit trap" from which there may be no return. Among all the things that posthumans might be interested in, only a few stand out (to me) as being too valuable to accept their rejection by our future selves. Among them is an interest in designing and appreciating experiences; upholding a culture to discuss what is beautiful, what is fun, what is aesthetically pleasing. This is what you've labeled "videogames." As you've said, it doesn't press our fundamental survival buttons. Is that enough to discredit it as making our lives worthwhile? Why does achieving greatness in this endeavor not "count?" Why isn't it a meaningful thing for intelligent, experiential beings to do?

I would appreciate your thoughts/comments.