Re: Friendliness SOLVED!

From: Mike Dougherty (
Date: Wed Mar 12 2008 - 22:36:24 MDT

On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 11:35 PM, Mark Waser <> wrote:

> Not according to my definition because germs don't have goals. Having
> goals is the lower bound for applying Friendliness. There is also the fact
> that the existence of harmful germs is directly contrary to your personal
> goals of health but if non-harmful germs had goals then you are obligated to
> avoid wiping them out as much as you can without *unnecessarily*
> compromising your goals.

germs have goals: To reproduce. Let's call them an extremely weak mechanism
of a single-minded replicator . The germ analogy was really just to set up
the scenario where you would easily dismiss the trivially important "lesser"
species. It could have been the more common ants or bees, although
ants/bees do belong to a colony/hive so imply a collection in their nature.

> Suppose now the collection of ME is a world government of humans
colonizing our solar system or the galaxy at large. Those amoeba are now
individual aliens that have not yet reached OneWorld Civilization status.
Suppose they are each as capable an intelligence as yourself. Would your
answer to wanton UnFriendliness be the same if we terraformed their
methane-based atmosphere to support human life? What if They were doing it
to Us ?

> Both cases are nasty, nasty, nasty because the larger power could have
> gone somewhere else and not obliterated the lesser.

explain "nasty". Just because the larger power could have gone elsewhere
does not mean that it was a profitable use of resources to do so. It only
takes deciding (as you have done) the lesser power is insignificant or lacks
sufficient goals (which may be an failure to properly model the species) to
allow genocide without breaching Friendliness.

> No, but intelligent action dictates that ensure that our versions of
> Friendliness are compatible or else I ask you to include in your version of
> Friendliness that it is not compatible with my version.

as above, we may have a problem detecting "intelligent action" from the
other party. I agree that it is not as much an ethical issue to
accidentally allow harm, but it would still be inexcusable to use ignorance
to justify unfortunate behavior. I understand this does not per se
invalidate the declaration of Friendly. I guess our inaction to save the
less fortunate bacteria during our germ cleanup could be considered an
UnFriendly action by a third party. In this case, our blundering ignorance
could get us black-listed from the Friendly Society because we're just too

> Further, the most critical point is the primary overriding goal. If we
> both agree on it, then we are compatible and the rest is really just details
> of how we protect ourselves. If we don't agree on it, then we are not
> compatible and we simply treat each other as non-hostile non-Friendlies
> (which is very different from an UnFriendly) which is relatively harmless
> but not to our mutual advantage.

In a sufficiently plentiful environment it might be acceptable to live and
let live. Our appetite for resources in a zero-sum universe prohibit such a
Utopian view. The Haves in our world already have much/most of the
resources. I would argue that they make a good case for claiming that with
even more resources they might be able to do more to find/create energy that
would allow the Have-Not to get some. ex: If I had 30 million dollars I
could give to Richard Loosemore in 10M checks over the next three years, he
claims to be able to deliver AGI. Do I believe I can purchase something
that promises an ROI countless orders of magnitude in excess of my measely
30M investment, or am I merely making Loosemore 30M richer than he is now?
Honestly, I wish I had the problem of deciding how to invest $30M. :)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:02 MDT