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timtyler comments on In Praise of Boredom - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: timtyler 18 June 2012 10:25:27AM -2 points [-]

I do not have issue with the majority of factual statements you make. What I have issue with is the appalling moral statements you make.

Gee, thanks for that.

Again, if you really think maximizing entropy is your real purpose in life; would you torture 50 children to death if it would get some sadistic aliens to make a far-off star go nova for you?

People often seem to think that entropy maximisation priinciples imply that organisms should engage in wanton destruction, blowing things up. However, that is far from the case. Causing explosions is usually a very bad way of maximising entropy in the long term - since it tends to destroy the world's best entropy maximisers, living systems. Living systems go on to cause far more devastation than exploding a sun ever could. So, wanton destruction of a sun, is bad - not good - from this perspective.

Comment author: asparisi 18 June 2012 11:08:54AM 5 points [-]

So, if the nova's explosion did not destroy any living systems, you would happily trade the 50 kids for the nova explosion?

Comment author: nshepperd 18 June 2012 01:53:14PM *  3 points [-]

This is ridiculous. Are you actually proposing entropy maximisation as a reduction of "should", normative ethical theory, etc., or do you just find it humorous to waste our time?

Comment author: Ghatanathoah 18 June 2012 05:49:37PM *  2 points [-]

Causing explosions is usually a very bad way of maximising entropy in the long term - since it tends to destroy the world's best entropy maximisers, living systems.

That's why I said "far-off" star. I was trying to imply that the star was so far away its destruction would not harm any living things. Please don't fight the hypothetical.

In any case, the relevant part of the question isn't "Would you blow up a star?" That was just an attempt to give the hypothetical some concrete details so it sounded less abstract. The relevant question is "Would you torture fifty children to death in order to greatly increase the level of entropy in the universe." Assume that the increase would be greater than what the kids would be able to accomplish themselves if you allowed them to live.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 June 2012 02:56:55PM 1 point [-]

Causing explosions is usually a very bad way of maximising entropy in the long term - since it tends to destroy the world's best entropy maximisers, living systems. Living systems go on to cause far more devastation than exploding a sun ever could.

Are you sure? A black hole is the system with the most possible entropy among those with a given mass. Your point would only be valid if interstellar civilizations are easy to achieve, and given that we don't see any of those around I don't think they are.