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alexgieg comments on Three Worlds Collide (0/8) - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 January 2009 12:07PM

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Comment author: alexgieg 15 November 2015 09:02:27PM *  1 point [-]

I asked a friend of mine to read the story. He's a reincarnationist and he liked it a lot, although he preferred the first ending to the second. He sent me an interesting commentary on the reasons for this preference, which I'm copying and pasting below. I guess the few reincarnationist observations he made won't be of much interest to most here, but the other considerations are very well worth the reading:

This is one of the most amazing and uplifting stories I have ever read – at least in the ending one scenario.

I am glad that the superhappies want to end the suffering of the babyeater children. Making them eat the children at an age before sentience is a solution that could be achieved in the present day, but uplifting the other species to not feel pain is an even more important solution in the case that these beings become sentient before expected.

The idea that the superhappies would adopt babyeating and force it into humanity was disturbing at first, but being a reincarnationist, I can actually relate to the radical shift of desires. In previous lives, I have eaten cockroaches and considered them delicious, but in this life with social conditioning, I consider the idea disturbing and disgusting. The superhappies have a method of instantaneously zapping that very repulsion away, so I don't understand why the people in the story are so resistant to this change knowing that after the zap they will have no disgust for this act, and will on some level desire it.

I have imagined myself in the position of an uplifted baby who in the very rare instance gains sentience before expected, and whether eaten whole or cut to pieces first, being slowly or quickly digested, without the ability to feel pain or fear, and without worldly experience to demonstrate that something was wrong, the experience of being eaten would be like falling asleep and would be thankfully, boring.

The process of being zapped by the superhappies from a normal human into an uplifted human comes across as fearful because the individual doesn't know how they are going to be afterward. The idea of removing so much fear instantly is itself a big change, which strangely causes fear. It is the same reason why people who suffer from anxiety are often afraid of taking medicine to remove their anxiety. Yet as scary as the moment of having these fears removed may be, most should be able to come to terms with it knowing that as soon as it's over, they will not fear again. For some it may be more comfortable to be sedated before being changed.

A philosophical argument could be made that the act of eating babies becomes pointlessly arbitrary at best, and that the other species shouldn't adopt it because it serves no purpose, but the fact is it does serve a purpose: to better relate to the babyeaters. In the last sections we see that the superhappies changed the design of their ship to better appeal to human and babyeater aesthetic. This raises the willingness of the two species to work with them. When the uplifting process is complete, all three species will be in many ways one species. I believe that when any one of the new super-species meets another alien race, the babyeating tradition will be removed from all of their societies to be replaced with some other aspect of the new species encountered because the meaning for its tradition will have been lost through history, but even if this doesn't happen the super-species will continue to change and grow without fear.

Fear is the resistance to change and the extent to which a person resists change is the extent to which a person fears it, or so sayeth the psychology books. Progress is rapid change for the better. After the uplifting the species will trust each other enough to share their scientific progress, while on a spiritual level, the beings within each society can exist happily through the progression of their lives. To a far deeper extent, if it should somehow happen that a spirit born from one species would find their incarnations in the bodies and societies of either of the other two species, that spirit would be just as happy and satisfied in that life as they would in their original species, which even for the superhappies and especially for the babyeaters would be a greater satisfaction than before the time of the three's contact, and that is beautiful.