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Nina Paley discusses the V.H.E.M at bloggingheads. She says she has given up proselytizing because people's decisions to have children are not based on reason.

His one-time co-blogger Eliezer Yudkowsky has put some thought into the stability of preferences for a general artificial intelligence.

Another relevant thought-experiment from Sister Y is the rape-doctor hypothetical:

I don't think Robin Hanson is being disingenuous at all. He thinks surviving and reproducing are the most important things in life, so it naturally follows that any attempt to impede someone's survival and reproduction is tantamount to aggression, on his view, even if that someone doesn't exist yet. The guy is having his head cryonically frozen, for FSM's sake. Just because he thinks there is a slim chance that someone in the future (which, per his own prognosis, will be crammed with people living just above subsistence http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/09/poor-folks-do-smile.html ) will defrost him so he can resume his survival game. I'm sure he's secretly intending to share his DNA with future women, too, but since his wife is already not very keen on his being frozen ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/magazine/11cryonics-t.html ), we probably won't hear about it from him (as long as she's alive, at least).


My suspicion isn't over Hanson's priorities; I think he's sincere on that account. If his efficiency model posited the utility of future people as a a supply condition for far-future-oriented existential perseverance, his argument would be in line with my understanding of the OB project and I wouldn't blink. What I don't think Hanson actually believes is that tangible harm ("naked aggression" or what have you) actually befalls those who are "prevented" entry into the pearly gates of corporeality. If this much isn't empty rhetoric - as I believe it clearly is - then he should propose some rational basis for his belief. Mormons have a doctrine to support their view of a huddled beforelife, but their view is rooted in mysticism. I have no idea how Hanson obtains his view, and everything I know about the man's otherwise impeccable commitment to clear-eyed thinking leads me to suspect that it must be a crass shuck & jive.

Not that you were implying as much, but I may as well stress that I don't think there is an inherent philosophical contradiction between the goals of radical life extension (for those already living) and those of philanthropic antinatalism. In fact, I think both views are united by a distinctive and serious approach to questions of life and death. Economics is a different matter where real problems (for example, of resource scarcity over the long haul), but this goes to priorities as well.

Having read only halfway down but being tired, I'd like to suggest that the propensity of humans to regret the non-birth of potential humans may -- assuming that most people's visions of others, particularly those they love or hate, are emotionally colored and relate to feelings about oneself -- are more closely related to the living person's regrets over things not done or experienced than to the ostensible subject: 'people' who have not been born. It's less uncomfortable tobe sad about a never-started life than about strangled possible own-selves.

Hanson is certainly a swine. On the other hand, how's the campaign for becoming the King of Late-Eighties Industrial Zine Culture going, Chip? I don't think anti-natalism and Holocaust revisionism are quite doing the job - I think you're going to have to take up heroin and cutting yourself.

And yeah, you'll also need a time machine.

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Hey everyone. Interesting idea for a blog. I have been checking out a lot of blogs and forums recently. Some are really informative some are entertaining and some are a real crack up. I've got to admit it, good job on this blog, I'll be sure to look in again real soon.

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The economy of life thing takes an interesting turn when you consider that as beings that rely on chemical reactions for existence and under the laws of thermodynamics, we in our very nature compound entropy and hasten the inevitable heat-death of the universe. How valuable is life if it endangers reality? Should we really reproduce in untold numbers from a giant copier if it only ensures a shortened existence for all of us? The very notion that Hanson purports is unfeasible as soon as you factor in scarcity of resources and what would be an exponential increase in consumption.

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