Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

infotropism comments on Serious Stories - Less Wrong

39 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 08 January 2009 11:49PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (100)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: infotropism 09 January 2009 01:33:10AM 1 point [-]

There's something I wanted to say about the dusk speck in a Knuth notation number of eyes versus torture for one person; something as light as a speck of dust wouldn't even register, it's noise level, in practice doesn't affect someone one way or the other. A bit in the same idea that you need a signal to reach a certain strength to make a neuron fire. So to make it work, you'd need something that at least makes a difference, even the smallest of differences, in terms of pain.

Now with that being said, different people have different sensibilities. This may even be more the case in the future indeed. But in the end, after writing this, can you still argue that it is preferable to torture someone for 50 years, rather than have an unimaginably high number of people people bearing some minimal pain ?

Comment author: pnrjulius 06 June 2012 11:58:00PM 2 points [-]

If a dust speck isn't enough, pick your favorite: A staple into your cheek?

I do find the Rawlsian solution tempting though: is it wrong to torture one person to save 3^^^3 people from staples in their cheek, because the one tortured person is unfairly disadvantaged. Maximize the minimum and you'll find you really can't torture anybody at all.

On the other hand, 3^^^3 is a lot of people...

Comment author: DanielLC 29 January 2013 08:44:26PM 0 points [-]

Being a noise level means you don't notice. It doesn't mean it doesn't register.

If it's small enough, it literally won't register, but there's more to that than just being small. If you get to the point where it registers, and move back epsilon, then all it takes is an epsilon difference. Unless you were very, very careful about how you chose your people, there's going to be an unimaginable number who are within epsilon. Even if you made sure all the people were exactly identical, there's still a chance that they're all within epsilon.