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

timtyler comments on In Praise of Boredom - Less Wrong

23 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 January 2009 09:03AM

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. Show more comments above.

Comment author: timtyler 15 June 2012 12:03:01AM *  -2 points [-]

Another example: currently, researchers at ITER in France are working on an enormous fusion reactor, to allow us to accelerate the conversion of order into entropy still further.

This is trivially false, the reason researchers are working on a fusion reactor is to secure human beings cheap renewable energy to have more fun with. The fact that it increases entropy is a side-effect. The consequentialist human minds do not foresee a future with more entropy and take action in order to secure that future. They foresee a future where humans are using cheap energy to have more fun and take actions to secure that future. The entropy increase is an unfortunate, but acceptable side effect.

This line of reasoning is intuitive, but, I believe, wrong. Destroying energy gradients is actively selected for in lots of ways. For example, it actively deprives competitors of resources. Organisms compete to dissipate sources of order by reaching them quicky and eliminating before others can. The picture of entropy as an inconvenient side effect seems attractive initially, but doesn't withstand close inspection.

I don't deny that properly functioning brains act like hedonic maximisers. Hedonic maximisation is a much weaker explanatory principle than entropy maximisation, though. The latter explains why water flows downhill. Hedonic maximisation is a narrow and weak idea - by comparison.