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"Technical implication: My worst enemy is an instance of my self."

-3 Post author: lionhearted 22 September 2011 08:46AM

I think this one needs more discussion, it looks like a really valuable and interesting train of thought.

In "You'll be who you care about," Stuart Armstrong wrote -

Instead of wondering whether we should be selfish towards our future selves, let's reverse the question. Let's define our future selves as agents that we can strongly influence, and that we strongly care about.

Wedrifdid replied with this gem of insight (bold added) -

Technical implication: My worst enemy is an instance of my self.

Actual implication: Relationships that don't include a massive power differential or a complete lack of emotional connection are entirely masturbatory.

It is critical to consider that thing which is "future agents that we strongly care about and can influence" but calling those things our 'future selves' makes little sense unless they are, well, actually our future selves.

 

Pedanterriffic feels the same way about it I did -

This explains so much.

The basic point has already gotten some good discussions, but let's talk about the implication. Assuming for a moment that your future self is an agent you can strongly influence and strongly care about, does that make your worst enemy an instance of yourself?

Let's not get too hung up on the words "worst enemy" - I think swapping in "main adversary" or "chief competitor" makes the point stand. Your thoughts?

Comments (4)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 22 September 2011 12:39:35PM *  5 points [-]

This isn't really a big deal. This implication is a consequence of the fact that this definition of future selves fails to capture our intuition when we use the term. This doesn't mean it is a good use of language.

Comment author: pedanterrific 22 September 2011 01:18:22PM *  2 points [-]

Pedanterrific feels the same way about it I did -

You too? So how do we decide which of us goes by Lazarus and which Woodrow - flip a coin?

Let's define our future selves as agents that we can strongly influence, and that we strongly care about.

English is so imprecise. Taboo "care about". Do we mean 'has a value in my utility function' or 'has a positive value in my utility function'? Is 'hate' really a synonym for what is meant in the above definition by 'care about'?

Comment author: lionhearted 22 September 2011 01:58:37PM 0 points [-]

You too? So how do we decide which of us goes by Lazarus and which Woodrow - flip a coin?

So the lesson here, for me, is to be very precise with language when agreeing with someone whose username derives from the word pedantic :)

Comment author: pedanterrific 22 September 2011 02:20:13PM 0 points [-]

Technical implication: My worst enemy is an instance of my self.

This explains so much.

Pedanterrific feels the same way about it I did

Clearly this means we are each other's worst enemies. So, how old are you, anyway? You could be me, but I might have forgotten if I were you.

And terrific's my middle name, yep.