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Alexander Kruel (M, 33)
Gütersloh, DE
Immortal since Mar 10, 2009
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    Why choose the future over the present?
    Why choose the future over the present? A reason to do so is if we perceive the present not to be worthy and thus try to change it. Always picking the future over the present could be defined as making the journey the reward.

    People who read and participate in lesswrong.com and overcomingbias.com seem to care most about the fate of a possible galactic civilization, we have to help to rise, and our infinite future. But you don’t have to look that far, most people are devoting a big part of their life's to think about and work for their future selves. Both ideas have something in common, they are both based upon imaginary entities.

    But what we do has not to be bound to be about pleasing other beings, much less possible beings.

    The only reasons we care about other people is either to survive, i.e. get what we want, or because it is part of our preferences to see other people being happy. Accordingly, trying to maximize happiness for everybody can be seen as purely selfish. Either as an effort to survive, by making everybody wanting to make everybody else happy, given that not you but somebody else wins. Or simply because it makes oneself happy.

    There does exist no goal that is of objective moral superiority.

    It’s all about your preferences. It is up to what we want. And what do I want? You tell me? Nope, it will come to me naturally.

    The ultimate purpose on which all meaning is based is the subjective first-person knowledge of volition. A truth which is self-evident. Volition is a truth that is adequately proven by circular reasoning. I want what I want, by reason that’s what I want. Consequently, any action that helps to enforce your will is the only preferable action.

    The questions are if you are happy with the present, or else, what you want to achieve. Not what is possible. It’s possible that you’re just the tribesman who’s happily trying to improve his hunting skills but ignorant of the possible revolutions taking place in a city only 1000 miles afar. Your preferences, what you really want, change as your knowledge and understanding grow. Is what we’ve been doing as kids still intellectually demanding and satisfying?

    You see, what is possible is too large to be taken into account. At what point are we going to stop and enjoy? Isn’t there always more to learn? How do we ever know if there isn’t something out there that is more worthwhile, valuable, beautiful, something that makes us happier?

    Thus, can there be any goals except enjoying the present or the infinite seeking of knowledge and wisdom?

    But are those considerations of your future self and our collective future as a galactic civilisation not too important, too big to be ruled over by the present, by our temporal position of power?

    Your continuous existence is not irrelevant to you. You care not to be wiped out. But considering future possibilities regardless of the present is missing the only piece of information that is relevant to estimate the true value of these possibilities, namely what you want right now. It means to take a look from the outside, or in other words, take an objective view and thereby deduce that the present is of no value, that our current existence is irrelevant compared to the future. Of course, from the point of view of a fictional galactic civilisation or your possible infinite future this is true. From an imagined, made up viewpoint, created to give the desired result that the future is too big to be ruled over by the present.

    If you are dead, there is no will, indeed everything is irrelevant to you. Taking this standpoint and deduce that if everything is irrelevant from that point of view, it is also irrelevant from any other position is the same as preferring the future over the present for that it is larger.

    Just because you can imagine that as seen from outside of your first-person view thyself might be of no relevance, it doesn’t make it true. You will never “really”, “objectively” take that position, because it does not exist!

    Note: The above is not a viewpoint that I espouse but a problem, or problems, that still appear to be nebulous to me. In other words, I have no good intuition, or contradicting intuitions, reasons and motivations regarding this topic.

    Fri, Mar 19, 2010  Permanent link

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    sjef     Sat, Mar 20, 2010  Permanent link
    Less Wrong looks like a good time killer, thanks for the link.
    XiXiDu     Sat, Mar 20, 2010  Permanent link
    A time killer? It's probably the most important and valuable resource that exists in the known universe.

    yudkowsky.net/rational/virtues

    lesswrong.com/lw/1/about_less_wrong/

    It's simply obligatory to read lesswrong.com, part of any decent education :-)
    sjef     Sat, Mar 20, 2010  Permanent link
    The universe I know has a shitload more important things in it than any single website.
    Pies, naps, hooded sweatshirts, chocolate milk...
    XiXiDu     Sun, Mar 21, 2010  Permanent link
    Yeah, and lesswrong.com is how you achieve the other important things. It shows you that there is really more to most things than meets the eye, but more often than not much less than you think. It shows you that even smart people can be completely wrong but that most people are not even wrong. It tells you to be careful in what you emit and to be skeptical of what you receive. It doesn't tell you what is right, it teaches you how to think and to become less wrong. And to do so is in your own self interest because it helps you to attain your goals, it helps you to achieve what you want. Thus what you want is to read and participate on LessWrong.
    sjef     Sun, Mar 21, 2010  Permanent link
    Well I'd figured out most of the above just fine already without any help from LessWrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's a great resource but it's still just one collection of peoples ideas on the internet, not the single bright shining hope for the redemption of the humanities collective intellect.

    I've seen & flagged some interesting stuff in the couple of hours I've already killed on there, but there's also a whole bunch of crummy anecdotes, academic grandstanding & incredibly boring logic arguments to wade through.
    I think it was folkert who had that Bertrand Russel quote up on his site about wishing thinking would come back in style, if that's ever going to happen then places like LessWrong need to figure out how to distill their subject matter and make it more palatable for the average person who really doesn't care about being part of the Bayesian in-crowd.

    If that's something they're already discussing but I just haven't come across yet then by all means, link me up. It's far more interesting (imo) than reading about how someone flexed their superior rationality in order to one-up a god botherer at a dinner party. ;)
    XiXiDu     Tue, Mar 23, 2010  Permanent link
    Great posts:
    Probability is in the Mind
    What is Evidence?
    The Apologist and the Revolutionary

    Some real fun posts:
    A Much Better Life?
    The AI in a box boxes you
    The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You
    How Many LHC Failures Is Too Many?
    Hamster in Tutu Shuts Down Large Hadron Collider

    I have to admit that I haven't read much of lesswrong.com yet, but I plan to read all the sequences. I just sense that lesswrong.com seems to offer some great insights. Maybe not for everyone, but I guess you and me are not the average person. Anyway, it won't hurt to promote it.

    They sure are discussing their own shortcomings, but are not of the opinion that lesswrong.com is supposed to be a resource for the masses:

    Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate
     
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