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Jon2 comments on The Fun Theory Sequence - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 January 2009 11:18AM

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Comment author: Jon2 25 January 2009 06:45:20PM 5 points [-]

I can certainly understand your dissatisfaction with medieval depictions of heaven. However, your description of fun theory reminds me of the Garden of Eden. i.e. in Genesis 1-2, God basically says:

"I've created the two of you, perfectly suited for one another physically and emotionally, although the differences will be a world to explore in itself. You're immortal and I've placed you in a beautiful garden, but now I'm going to tell you to go out and be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over all living things; meaning build, create, procreate, invent, explore, and enjoy what I've created, which by the way is really really big and awesome. I'll always be here beside you, and you'll learn to live in perfect communion with me, for I have made you in my own image to love the process of creation as I do. But if you ever decide that you don't want that, and that you want to go it alone, rejecting my presence and very existence, then there's this fruit you can take and eat. But don't do it, because if you do, you will surely die."

It seems that the point of disagreement is that your utopia doesn't have an apple. The basic argument of theodicy is that Eden with the apple is better than Eden sans apple. To the extent that free will is good, a utopia must have an escape option.

Or, to put it another way, obedience to the good is a virtue. Obedience to the good without the physical possibility evil is a farce.

It's easy to look around and say, "How could a good God create THIS." But the real question is, "How could a good God create a world in which there is a non-zero probability of THIS."

Comment author: tygorton 19 May 2012 09:02:34AM *  1 point [-]

This logic assumes that a beyond human intelligence in a redesigned world would still find inherent value in free will. Isn't it possible that such an intelligence would move beyond the need to experience pain in order to comprehend the value of pleasure?

According to the bible, god created different aspects of the world across six days and after each creation he "saw that it was good". Yet nothing ELSE existed. If there had never been a "world" before, and evil had not yet been unleashed, by what method was this god able to measure that his creation was good? One must assume that god's superior intelligence simply KNEW it to be good and had no need to measure it against something "bad" in order to know it. Couldn't the eventual result of AI be the attainment of the same ability... the ability to KNOW pleasure without the existence of its opposite?

Isn't the hope (or should I say fun?) of considering the potential of AI that such a vast intelligence would move life BEYOND the anchors to which we now find ourselves locked? If AI is simply going to be filled with the same needs and methods of measuring "happiness" as we currently deal with, what is the point of hoping for it at all?

This is a bit of an afterthought, but even at our current level of intelligence, humans have no way of knowing if we would value pleasure if pain did not exist. Pain does now and has always existed. "Evil" (or what we perceive as evil) has existed since the dawn of recorded human existence. How can we assume that we are not already capable of recognizing pleasure as pleasure and good as good without their opposites to compare them to? We have never had the opportunity to try.

Comment author: thespianic 21 September 2012 02:57:29PM 0 points [-]

I beg to differ on the aspect of there being non-existence predating the creation. A subtle nuance in the first verse of Genesis offers an insight into this. Gen 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Original manuscripts offer a translation that is closer to "and the earth 'became' without form (sic), and void". It may so very well be that in the assumption that God looked on his creation and saw that it was good, there was a pre-existential basis for this. Also to point out another simple example, there would be no record of wrong without a sort of legal system that says that an act is actually defined as wrong. I agree with the idea that there had to be an apple in the garden to bring to the front the difference between good and bad. Utopia can therefore only exists where there is an understanding or mere knowledge of dystopia.

Comment author: Odinn 03 August 2015 03:06:47AM 0 points [-]

I knew there would come a day when almost a decade of mandatory bible classes in private school would pay off. (That's not true, I've generally written it off as a really depressing waste of my mental resources... still) You've got the order of events in the Garden of Eden backwards. After God finished up and took off for Miller Time, Adam and Eve had nothing to do. They didn't need clothes or shelter, all animals were obedient and gentle, they had to live of fruit for eternity which would get old, the weather and season (singular) was always the same and they were the only those two people in existence with no concept of there ever being any more. Sure, they would have lived forever, but there was no challenge, inspiration, reason or stimulation. Only AFTER the forbidden fruit and the knowledge of good and evil does God start up Eve's biological clock and issue the 'be fruitful and multiply' command, society starts to develop, there's a ton of implicit incest (er... bonus?) and they can cook up a nice lamb shank to break up the monotony. Once again, the literal interpretation of the bible leaves a lot to be desired in a literary sense, because the Garden of Eden is one of the most depressing 'paradises' ever devised. Also, here I go again responding to many-years-cold comments.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 August 2015 03:45:45AM 0 points [-]

and they can cook up a nice lamb shank to break up the monotony.

Well, no. That's not until Noah is issued permission to eat meat after the Flood.

because the Garden of Eden is one of the most depressing 'paradises' ever devised

It's not that depressing. It's just a park. The depressing part is that God gets angry and says, "Oh, you don't want to spend 100% of all your existence in this park for all eternity with literally nothing else? FUCK YOU AND LITERALLY DIE." A good God would have allowed much larger portions of possible life-space to be explored with fewer or even no penalties.

Eden is indeed more interesting for having the Apple, but damnation is so totally uninteresting that religious people had to go and invent Redemption, which is the simpering and undignified version of having your cake and eating it too.