Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Mind Crime: Part Two

    Historically, I have spent much more time than the average person thinking about eternal life. Based on our current understanding of cosmology, it is likely that the universe is finite and temporal. It has not been around forever, and it is only so big. The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, and as a result even the smallest atoms will be torn apart by the expansion of space. Thus, there is a time limit on the whole thing. The party will end. Eternal life of any sort is impossible. Perhaps we last trillions of years, perhaps through digitally uploading our minds and ramping up our processing power we make those trillions feel like trillions of trillions. But, regardless, there is an end. Our only way to true eternity appears to be outside of known science, and I don't find any current methods particularly convincing. So, no eternal torture, sounds pretty rad, right? Right? 

    Instead of eternal, everlasting Hell, what if you were just tortured for trillions of years? Still sounds pretty bad, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, this is still within our power. I don't find the human brain particularly special. It is incredible, yes, and we still don't really understand how it works, but there doesn't seem to be any physical reasons that we can't replicate the same thing with silicon, eventually. There will probably be a time, potentially in the next few centuries, where we could digitally upload our brains to computers, or build brand new morally significant thinking machines in computers. This is not a road to eternity, but it is still a road to trillions of years of pleasure and/or pain. Life extension of this sort is almost incomprehensible at this point, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't think about it. It is on this time scale that things become particularly significant in utilitarian terms. A bad actor or unaligned AI could fit quite a bit of suffering into that timescale, especially if they can replicate digital minds on a mass scale (and there doesn't seem to be a reason they couldn't). Something to that extent could make slavery or the Holocaust look like a papercut, and I say that with all the recognition of the pain and brutality of those events. Why is this not more talked about? Because we are stuck in the naturalistic fallacy. Ask the average person if they care about the potential pain and suffering of computers, and you will be met with scoffs. You'll probably get the standard response that we dish out all too often: "who cares, they're not human." A dangerous sentence. A sentence that has been responsible for more pain and suffering than any other in human history.

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Mind Crime: Part 10

    Standing atop the grave of humanity, smugly looking down, and saying "I told you so," is just as worthless as having done noth...