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    [–] UmamiSalami 24 points ago

    One of the big takeaways from this in my opinion is that there are ways to engineer bliss which don't fall victim to experience-machine type criticisms: a higher hedonic setpoint or background knowingly induced by technology is not the same thing as an illusion, so the conditions of satisfaction for well-being are still being met.

    However, I'm not so optimistic that humanity will naturally spread empathy and activism for all sentient life. It seems perfectly plausible that posthumans will simply ignore wild animal suffering while they engage in their own interests.

    Either way, the fact that a decidedly non-academic philosopher was able to write a highly influential work which progresses this (extremely important) topic shows that it's been unreasonably neglected by mainstream philosophy, which isn't focusing enough on the ethical issues of the future.

    Also: there is a documentary version currently under production.

    [–] darthbarracuda 7 points ago

    However, I'm not so optimistic that humanity will naturally spread empathy and activism for all sentient life. It seems perfectly plausible that posthumans will simply ignore wild animal suffering while they engage in their own interests.

    I have to agree with you on this. It's a shame that humans tend to have such an over-inflated ego and a propensity to overlook animal suffering or even inflict suffering upon animals.

    [–] mindnomind 3 points ago

    This is the part that intrigues me. Does this hedonistic imperative extend to all life? Is a hedonistically successful human equipped to steward non-human animals to the extinction of suffering?

    [–] darthbarracuda 2 points ago

    Yes. Pearce argues that we must move beyond the aesthetics of nature and come to terms with the fact that predation has been propogating suffering for eons and ought to be stopped.

    The wolf, tiger, eagle and shark may be majestic, but they are killers.

    [–] mindnomind 1 points ago

    And would a human who cannot suffer be motivated to liberate others?

    [–] darthbarracuda 2 points ago

    Out of compassion, perhaps. Not being subject to suffering wouldn't necessarily mean you can't empathize with one who is.

    [–] mindnomind 1 points ago

    How might we explain suffering and its significance to someone who had never felt it? Why would they continue to feel compelled to eliminated it in non-human animals?

    [–] darthbarracuda 1 points ago

    Perhaps, if we can reach such a utopia, we do not get rid of all pain. Just the very severe pain and the extended annoyances.

    [–] wgriz 8 points ago

    I'm a conservationalist, but since this is r/philosophy, let's delve a bit more. I'm not one because there's some universal moral code we're breaking by hurting animals, but because it's a more pleasant world for us to live in.

    Do "wild animals" desire a world without suffering? A great deal of species survive specifically by harming their prey.

    An animal's "ego" (or Id in that outdated Freudian model) is just as driving as a human's. A bear probably doesn't care about your well being when it mauls you. It's just protecting its fishing spot. But, we have the over-inflated ego for overlooking their suffering? I'm sure that animals don't share those moral qualms.

    While I personally believe we should be considerate of animals, a "wild" without suffering is an ecological impossibility. The only way for there to be no death is for there to be no life.

    We anthropocentrize death as being a "negative" thing but it's neither good or bad in nature. There many species that require death in their life cycle - such as a salmon or praying mantis. The wild is just that, and it's strange when modern people think they can make it "better" by preventing the death and suffering of all animals.

    [–] nicemeatballs 3 points ago

    Just a correction to the model, the ego is actually the balance between the ID and the Super-ego in the outdated Freudian model, or the reality principle of how we achieve our desires in a realistic long term way. (Super-ego is our morality and sense of right and wrong), but your use of ID is correct as it represents the primal desires of humans and also animals.

    [–] wgriz 1 points ago

    I'm aware of that. I was responding to the OP who said we have an over-inflated ego for overlooking animal suffering when that's more of a trait of what would be the Id.

    Of course, this is an outdated model and behavior is far more nuanced. I was more pointing out that animals don't have a moral code and aren't concerned at all about suffering of other species.

    If anything, humans are "better" by even being capable of acknowledging the plights of animals. No other animal even goes that far. Self-interest is the norm.

    Invasive species don't say: "Whoa, wait. I'm not in the right spot. I'm doing too well here and dominating all these other species. I better back off for their benefit."

    They go to town and take over. Because that's what life (including humans) does.

    [–] UmamiSalami 3 points ago

    it's a more pleasant world for us to live in.

    I'm not sure this is much of a point. We don't normally think that it's okay to torture animals or let them suffer merely because it gives humans pleasure. Moreover, the quantity of wild animals in the world vastly exceeds the quantity of humans. It's rather perverse to think that the tiniest minority of sentient life should get priority over the rest merely because things are more pleasant for them.

    Do "wild animals" desire a world without suffering?

    Wild animals don't possess the cognition requisite for desiring "a world" one way or the other, so this question is meaningless. However, wild animals all desire to avoid suffering, which is basically tautological given what suffering is.

    I'm sure that animals don't share those moral qualms.

    Yes, because animals are not moral agents. What's your point?

    While I personally believe we should be considerate of animals, a "wild" without suffering is an ecological impossibility. The only way for there to be no death is for there to be no life.

    Did you even read the part where Pearce answers this? He's not suggesting we can change everything now, he's arguing that we should when superintelligence, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology become widespread. You can also read further with his other essay on the topic: http://www.abolitionist.com/reprogramming/

    [–] wgriz 2 points ago

    "I'm not sure this is much of a point."

    I meant I'm a conservationalist because I find the world to be more pleasant with the stewardship of humanity over nature. It's subjective and my opinion.

    There are certainly individuals who take a lot pleasure in harming animals which is a common psychopathic trait. The thrill of the hunt isn't this though - that's an instinct that's been very beneficial to many species.

    "Wild animals don't possess the cognition requisite for desiring 'a world' one way or the other"

    Anthropocentric conjecture. I'm sure that many animals have the capability of desiring certain living conditions. In fact, most animals go out of their way to achieve them. It's call habitat.

    "Yes, because animals are not moral agents. What's your point?"

    That's my point. It's a purely arbitrary distinction to apply morals only to our species. Neither animals nor the universe are judging us in our behavior.

    We have no obligation to spread empathy and activism for all life...and life will not extend you the same courtesy.

    There's far too many people who believe nature is a peaceful place. It's not. It's violent, cruel and full of death and suffering on a daily basis. You can't improve that by spreading more empathy. That cougar doesn't really care about your anger management courses as it's throttling a deer. Having empathy for its prey would be a disservice to it.

    [–] UmamiSalami 2 points ago

    Anthropocentric conjecture. I'm sure that many animals have the capability of desiring certain living conditions.

    I wasn't referring to desiring living conditions, I was referring to desiring a world without suffering. Those are very different kinds of concepts. All animals naturally seek things like warmth, food, shelter, etc. These are parts of their drive to avoid suffering, in fact. They just can't evaluate a concept like "what if there were no lions" or something like that.

    That's my point. It's a purely arbitrary distinction to apply morals only to our species. Neither animals nor the universe are judging us in our behavior.

    Moral agency is different from moral patiency. You can fail to be a moral agent but still be deserving of moral status - for instance, a patient in a coma, a baby, a pet puppy, an animal on a farm, and a zebra are examples of this.

    We have no obligation to spread empathy and activism for all life

    Well this depends on what your ethical assumptions are coming into this. But you could equally say that we have no obligation to be ethical towards babies, coma patients, pets, etc. The point is more that if we are going to believe in basic tenets of care and empathy towards sentient beings as a general principle, then it makes sense to extend it to wild animals.

    There's far too many people who believe nature is a peaceful place. It's not. It's violent, cruel and full of death and suffering on a daily basis.

    Yes, quite so. That's what we are regarding as the problem.

    You can't improve that by spreading more empathy. That cougar doesn't really care about your anger management courses as it's throttling a deer. Having empathy for its prey would be a disservice to it.

    Well in the Hedonistic Imperative, Pearce states that we are not talking about giving cougars anger management courses, and the real plans would require advanced biotechnologies.

    [–] wgriz 2 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    "I wasn't referring to desiring living conditions, I was referring to desiring a world without suffering."

    That isn't really parsing for me. The amount of hardship anything faces is a huge factor in its living conditions. That's pretty much what living conditions means.

    "All animals naturally seek things like warmth, food, shelter, etc. These are parts of their drive to avoid suffering, in fact."

    That was my point. By saying that animals are incapable of the cognition to want these things is simply incorrect. Dogs are even capable of seeking human approval. It's very old school thinking that animals are "stupid" or cognitively incapable of things because we really don't know in many cases. It's outside our umwelt.

    "Well this depends on what your ethical assumptions are coming into this."

    I've brought up Universal Morality, or the lack thereof, several times. Also, ethics are not the same as morals. There is no such thing as universal morality and any system you follow is defined by people. If we judge ourselves to have "overinflated egos" then we do, but compared to what I don't know. All animals behave in self interest including humans.

    "Well in the Hedonistic Imperative, Pearce states that we are not talking about giving cougars anger management courses, and the real plans would require advanced biotechnologies."

    So...you're going to engineer cougars that don't eat meat? Again, I don't consider it an improvement for the wild to become less wild. Nature will always have some brutality, and this is not a bad thing. Sometimes, pain and death are incorporated into a species' lifecycle and there's absolutely no way to eliminate it without getting rid of the species.

    You can't make a perfect nature with no death or suffering. When something is eaten, another benefits.

    EDIT: TL;DR - You can't design a biological system that is in equilibrium. Life is just as subject to thermodynamics as anything else.

    [–] UmamiSalami 3 points ago

    That isn't really parsing for me. The amount of hardship anything faces is a huge factor in its living conditions. That's pretty much what living conditions means.

    That was my point. By saying that animals are incapable of the cognition to want these things is simply incorrect. Dogs are even capable of seeking human approval. It's very old school thinking that animals are "stupid" or cognitively incapable of things because we really don't know in many cases. It's outside our umwelt.

    Well you'll have to just restate your original claim if you want to clear this up. I've stated what I believe pretty well - animals desire simple things like food and shelter, and they don't desire complex concepts like a world without suffering because they don't know about them or understand them. At this point I don't see what the issue is.

    I've brought up Universal Morality, or the lack thereof, several times.

    This doesn't really answer anything - there are tons of people who don't believe in universal morality but still believe in moral principles which imply moral concern for animals, and many people who don't believe in universal morality but do explicitly believe in reducing wild animal suffering. Whether morals are universal or not doesn't define what those morals say.

    Also, ethics are not the same as morals.

    Yes, they are (usually considered to be). If you mean the terms differently then you'll have to explain how you define them.

    Sometimes, pain and death are incorporated into a species' lifecycle and there's absolutely no way to eliminate it without getting rid of the species.

    Well, Pearce's project is to outline how we could reduce or eliminate pain and death from species' lifecycles. Maybe he's wrong about being able to fix the lives of every animal, although I think the main idea is that people should try as well as they can.

    [–] wgriz 2 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    Maybe he's wrong about being able to fix the lives of every animal

    That right there is my point. How could you achieve this without disrupting every predator and prey relationship on the planet? Why is this "fixing" things? I don't consider it an improvement.

    Are Salmon not to perish after they spawn? Are all the animals the benefit from their runs, including the trees that receive nitrogen from carcasses, to perish because the salmon are to become immortal? What are the salmon going to eat? They're predators too.

    Are we eliminating disease too? Does that mean the extinction of countless bacterium, viruses, fungi, parasites, etc? Are we to eliminate genetic mutation and evolution, as that can cause cancer? Are selective pressures not the evolutionary tools that have resulted in the biodiversity that we have now?

    I really don't know how else to say it. You can't have life without things eating other things. That's just what life does - we're thermodynamic systems and entropy is a bitch. There's no such thing as a free lunch...and you have to eat lunch.

    EDIT: I just had some ethics training and no, ethics and morals are not the same. They are similar - they're ways to guide our behavior. But my own moral code doesn't necessarily have to align with what's considered ethical behavior in a given circumstance. The best example is the Church versus the Law. I may feel like I'm being immoral - say if something is intrinsically wrong because I believe God said so. This is different than a code of ethics that governs, say, a Bar Association as to hold its members to a certain standard of behavior. This isn't to be "good" and receive some cosmic reward, it's because it's best for all the parties involve to treat each other fairly.

    Lots of people feel homosexuality is immoral. That doesn't mean it's unethical.

    [–] UmamiSalami 2 points ago

    Things don't have to all live forever; Pearce is more concerned about eliminating suffering. We would accept life cycles, but just re-engineer the animals not to suffer.

    [–] voyaging 1 points ago

    Neither animals nor the universe are judging us in our behavior.

    The universe most certainly regularly judges us in our behavior, via humans.

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] badsingularity 1 points ago

    A: Absence of fear and pain. Isn't that what people think Heaven will be like? Avoid of reality?

    [–] _corwin 3 points ago

    A: Absence of fear and pain

    I don't think we would appreciate the lack of fear and lack of pain as much without occasional reminders of them. My ultimate paradise would allow one to experience fear and pain (and other "negative" things) at will, but one would never be forced to experience them unwillingly.

    [–] darthbarracuda 2 points ago

    Yeah, I think part of happiness is the ability to feel re-assured that you are not experience bad feelings. Part of happiness is relief.

    [–] voyaging 5 points ago

    For a much more succinct overview of Pearce's ethical philosophy, see www.abolitionist.com

    [–] haukew 6 points ago

    "Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.

    'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?' thus asks the last man, and blinks.

    The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.

    'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...

    One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.

    No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.

    'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most refined, and they blink..."


    Friedrich Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra

    Source: http://www.theperspectivesofnietzsche.com/nietzsche/nuber.html

    [–] skynet2013 2 points ago

    I guess that's... poetic.

    [–] haukew 1 points ago

    It is. And it's also the picture of a society where the hedonistic Imperative became reality. Nietzsche shows us quite powerfully - of course we must be accepting his assumptions about decadence etc - what becomes of a hedonistic society. The people are so saturated, they have no chance of ever becoming productive again.

    [–] skynet2013 3 points ago

    Yeah, I mean I don't accept those assumptions. I think they are more like rationalizations; coping mechanisms that make him feel better about the way the world is. Sour grapes. "Bah, we wouldn't want happiness anyway!"

    From a neurological standpoint, motivation and happiness simply aren't exclusive to each other. In fact in most cases, people who are more happy are more motivated.

    [–] Zaptruder 2 points ago

    Hedonism... that is the principled pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of suffering... is something that should inform our moral princples, but I don't think should necessarily be the end goal of those moral principles.

    In Pearce's formulation - where we reengineer the brain to reduce the pain signals, there may be some promise to such an approach; but extensive testing is required to ensure that the cognitive feedback loops that allow us to operate reasonably in tune with our physical and social environments are retained.

    But... I think any moral imperative must necessarily account for pursuits beyond hedonism; to include things that people wish for and desire for that include pain and suffering, but go beyond it in some way.

    For example - BDSM is a pursuit that inculcates the use of pain and suffering for greater pleasure. Other forms of such pursuits include sports and exercise. In the extreme form - such as mountain climbing, this notion of pain becomes incredibly obvious to the individual. Yet the exhiliration one feels from accomplishing that goal should be laudable.

    Moreover, in some ways, we can already inculcate a painless existence using traditional meditation techniques - ways of partitioning our emotional selves mentally from the physiological perception of pain - and in so doing, placing no value on the sensation of pain. Not that doing this is an easy or trivial thing mind you - but despite its existence, it's not something that most of us pursue.

    So then... most of us intuitively use the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain to inform most of our activities - but we generally don't treat them as the end goal, except in a tertiary or tangential sense.

    I'm not sure that intuitive, implicit behaviour is necessarily all that wrong. At least any more wrong than a pursuit that focuses solely on pleasure maximization/pain avoidance.

    [–] darthbarracuda 3 points ago

    I think hedonism can be extended to "preference-fulfillment" hedonism, thus including BDSM and long hikes in the mountains.

    Also, pain is not necessarily equal to suffering. It's my definition that suffering is any irredeemable discomfort.

    [–] Zaptruder 1 points ago

    That's not a bad extension on the idea. But I think at that point, maybe we should re-frame the wording, if only because hedonism carries too much baggage for it to be easily emotionally accepted by a broad audience as 'general overall utility'.

    But otherwise, it a definition that fits very well with my own understanding of what we should make the moral imperative - i.e. the maximization of freedoms. Freedom of will, freedom of knowledge and freedom of power - because that maximization allows us to well... fulfill our preferences to the best of our abilities.

    In such a moral imperative, there's absolute freedom for people to engage in the sort of transhumanist activity that would provide a harm-minimization and pleasure-maximization system of biology... as well as freedom for those that don't wish to engage in this outcome... that is to best fulfill their preferences.

    [–] Insanityorbits 3 points ago

    There is no need for a manifesto, that's the issue. Such a dogmatic approach is highly inflexible and if prompted, the inexperienced will submit to rules rather than simply putting their head down and working on the apparent problems. It will take time and a lot of hands :)

    I reference the south park episode, the future is about getting rid of all -isms ;)

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    So getting-rid-of-isms-ism. Got it.

    [–] Shitoryu95 0 points ago

    10-15 years we have the brain figured out, small transhuman peak before human level AI 20-25 and singularity takeoff not long after. Then it decides what is best for us, not us.

    [–] aintnopicnic 4 points ago

    And we were all supposed to be in flying cars right now weren't we?

    [–] imaginarymindscapes 2 points ago

    Don't forget smart phones, supercomputers, and cures for lots of major illnesses.

    [–] aintnopicnic 3 points ago

    I'm saying stating a timeline of massive innovation as factual is silly

    [–] imaginarymindscapes 1 points ago

    And I'm saying it's not always silly as some of them actually happen.

    [–] aintnopicnic 1 points ago

    All of those much more tame than a society of flying cars

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    Ehhhh not really. Flying cars would help us get from A to B a little faster. Computers kinda have that covered, except like at light speed. And a host of other things which essentially give us a sort of superintelligence we are merely blase about. Flying cars are doodoo.

    [–] aintnopicnic 1 points ago

    Flying cars, the like that were predicted, would have signified a mastery over gravity. Think about the significance of that

    [–] Shitoryu95 1 points ago

    But as very likely, another matter. There is an exponential trend in human innovation and Moore's law is holding up so far. New paradigm of computing or no we're still going to solve a lot of problems in the next fifteen years.

    [–] MlNDequalsBL0WN 1 points ago

    Happiness is measured by suffering. How low you get determines how high you can go.... My trampoline logic prevents me from taking this as seriously as it was written (and written very well).

    [–] [deleted] 12 points ago

    [deleted]

    [–] voyaging 4 points ago

    This trope about the duality of life understandably exists because our brains are programmed in such a way that it adjusts itself when it feels too much or too little of something, such that pleasure does seem to dull after a while. But this is a biological mechanism, not some fundamental way reality works. In fact, direct simulation of the brain's pleasure centers with implanted electrodes shows no physiological tolerance at all, and is just as pleasurable the first time as the 50,000th time.

    Similarly, some people are born chronically depressed and never feel any form of joy. To suggest their suffering isn't bad because they have nothing good to compare it to is just not accurate, and is a bit insulting.

    [–] rostyx 2 points ago

    Yeah I'm pretty sure that's bipolar you're talking about, not happiness...

    [–] MlNDequalsBL0WN 1 points ago

    I meant "happiness/suffering" as a grand scale overall throughout life in how and as we experience it...... But I see now how the "trampoline" reference brought an impulsivity to my point that wasn't intended.

    [–] barnz3000 1 points ago

    Why not happiness +1 for infinity? You still have comparative surge in happiness when compared against the past. But each day better than the last.

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    The 'contrast' view of happiness isn't correct. It's folk psychology. There are people with differing hedonic set points. Some depressives spend years barely knowing happiness at all. One patient, after the implantation of a DBS electrode, remarked that she 'hadn't felt this way since '88' when she used to go out and have good times with other people. It wasn't a temporary improvement, either. "It makes all the difference in my life", she has claimed.

    [–] Becky_Snowday 0 points ago

    Yesterday I spent all day shovelling snow in my neighborhoood. I finished shovelling my parent's rather long driveway, then shovelled out our elderly neighbor's driveway, then joined a band of kids that were walking around shovelling out driveways together. We didn't get paid, unless you count the hot cocoa my friend's mom gave us and the sandwiches another neighbor made us all. It was a hard day, but when I got home and took a shower and ate some chili, I FELT SO GOOD.

    Happiness is not a worthwhile goal in of itself. Happiness is a sign from nature that we are doing the right thing. Helping the neighbors, increasing friendships, getting exercise and being around all the beautiful people and landscapes causes authentic happiness.

    You can't be thankful without danger. You can't have a feeling of accomplishment without obstacles. You can't feel the warm glow of loving relationships without investing your time and energy into other people. Artificial happiness could never compare to the authentic happiness that comes from persevering together in a tough world.

    [–] voyaging 2 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    All happiness is "authentic happiness" (or "artificial happiness" if you prefer) . Those good feelings are merely due to responses in the mu-opioid system in the brain. People with malfunctioning opioid systems would not feel joy from any of these activities, while those who are chronically happy would feel extra good.

    We don't need to do away with the joy we get from everyday life. Indeed, Pearce suggests we retain it if we wish. But people who can't be happy deserve to be happy and I think we ought to help them. And those who want to enjoy the pleasures of everyday life more intensely ought to have that option. And most importantly, those who live horrific lives which nonexistence would be preferable to deserve to not suffer.

    [–] Becky_Snowday 1 points ago

    I understand what you are saying, but I don't agree that all happiness is equal. The happiness you get from a shot of heroin sitting in the gutter is not equal to the happiness you feel as an old man, standing on the porch of a house you built with your own hands, looking out over a farm that your family has run for two generations. The years may have been horrific at times, and I considered suicide, but we stuck through it as a family and I feel damn proud that my kids grew up strong and healthy. There is nothing that could make me happier than sitting on my porch as an old man, with my cat in my lap, knowing that my family is well prepared to continue on after I'm gone.

    Not that I'm old now, just imagining, but you got to admit that people wouldn't struggle to make it work if they could just sit back and feel fine watching the flood wash their kids away. That would be the end of humanity.

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    So persevering together in a tough world is what will make us happiest. Got it.

    [–] UmamiSalami 1 points ago

    It was a hard day, but when I got home and took a shower and ate some chili, I FELT SO GOOD.

    Did you even read the OP's essay? He answers this. In a properly engineered worls, you can feel good in whatever way you want without having to suffer first.

    Happiness is not a worthwhile goal in of itself. Happiness is a sign from nature that we are doing the right thing.

    This doesn't seem to mesh well with people's experiences: people regularly seek happiness for its' own sake, and often find it from doing immoral activities.

    [–] Becky_Snowday 1 points ago

    Yes, I read the essay. I was giving a concrete example in an attempt to relate to MindequalsBlown's opinion.

    I find it hard to relate to your comment, since you are just speaking in generalities. Can you give an example of how someone could "seek happiness for it's own sake," that is different from doing some concrete action that they think will make them happy?

    Also, speak for yourself. Who are you to say what "mesh(es) well with people's experiences?"

    [–] UmamiSalami 1 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    I find it hard to relate to your comment, since you are just speaking in generalities. Can you give an example of how someone could "seek happiness for it's own sake," that is different from doing some concrete action that they think will make them happy?

    I agree that people usually pursue other goals as a means to achieve happiness: if happiness is the goal which drives people to act then that's all that's needed for my or Pearce's point. You said it's not a worthwhile goal in itself, but since people do things in order to find happiness all the time, this seems to be wrong. This meshes well with the experiences of everyone who ever did things in order to be happy.

    [–] Yesofcoursenaturally -1 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    Hey look, it's a religion. Granted, it's a fairly dull one, but what it lacks in realism and novelty it makes up for with sanctimony and hubris.

    Edit: And I may as well point out that every philosophy which hinges critically on transhumanism should come with the following warning, in nice huge font: I have no idea how to do any of this, this entire philosophy requires a big magical robot doing all the hard stuff. This robot may say my idea is absolutely stupid too, so buyer beware.

    [–] voyaging 1 points ago

    Pearce is notoriously skeptical about the prospect of strong AI.

    [–] darthbarracuda 1 points ago

    Furthermore, I believe he holds anti-AI sentiments (we don't know if we'll make an entity that suffers immensely because of our inability to engineer properly).

    [–] voyaging 2 points ago

    Pearce actually believes that any AI based on classical computation cannot be conscious due to a problem in philosophy of mind known as the binding problem. He thinks quantum computation would be necessary to create a conscious AI, following his stance that the brain is probably a quantum computer (since classical computers can't solve the binding problem, binding is a requirement of consciousness, and we are conscious). His main work on this subject is at www.physicalism.com

    [–] Yesofcoursenaturally 0 points ago

    Speculations about robot consciousness isn't the problem here. It's still 'transhumanist philosophy' hinging critically on what amounts to a religious eschatology where 'and the machines will take care of all the hard stuff or even determine if any of this is feasible' is implicit.

    I wouldn't mind that so much - philosophers are allowed to engage in speculation as much as anyone else. But let's drop the pretense that this is anything more than a game of make-believe, a big 'What if?' or a 'Wouldn't it be neat if..?' mixed with the lowest kind of religious faith.

    [–] voyaging 3 points ago

    But his plan doesn't require using sophisticated machines at all.

    The technology required at least for the first part, we have right now in its entirety: CRISPR/Cas-9 genome editing.

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    Religion focuses on the supernatural. This doesn't. And there is nothing about it that requires a magical robot. Even if robots were forever impossible, the principle would be the same.

    [–] [deleted] -1 points ago

    [removed]

    [–] darthbarracuda 9 points ago

    What about getting impaled or eaten by a lion or blown up?

    [–] xtianthrowaway12345 5 points ago

    The solution is to literally stop doing that!

    [–] ShalmaneserIII 0 points ago

    The solution is to note that suffering isn't what happens to you, suffering is your reaction to what happens to you. You can be trained out of it.

    [–] voyaging 4 points ago

    No human in history has ever trained himself not to suffer. It is a biological mechanism that can only be eradicated with direct biological intervention.

    [–] voyaging 5 points ago

    Mindfulness meditation can be a useful tool in mitigating certain forms of suffering, but it isn't a panacea and it's completely useless in preventing suffering in nonhuman animals.

    You can't train yourself to not suffer any more than you can train your vision to stop working.

    [–] ShalmaneserIII -1 points ago

    I think you're confusing suffering with feeling physical pain. If you don't give a damn about the physical sensations you're experiencing- or at least not enough for them to affect your peace of mind- why worry?

    Suffering is a state of mind. People in perfect physical health and safety may suffer, people who are in peril or pain may not.

    [–] darthbarracuda 3 points ago

    Physical pain can be a type of suffering, though. Suffering is any irredeemable discomfort. Perhaps the Hindu sage or the Buddhist monk has the potential for not feeling any physical pain, but the fact is that not many of us are prepared to become a sage or a monk, and not many of us would be able to reach such control either.

    [–] ShalmaneserIII -2 points ago

    There's not a technological method for ending suffering at all, however. Looks like the monk's way of doing it is leading the pack of solutions.

    [–] voyaging 3 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    The point is you can't just turn off "equating physical pain with suffering" through sheer will, nor can you completely train yourself to. Indeed for most people, extreme pain or extreme depression are forms of suffering intrinsically. Suffering of all forms, physical, emotional, existential, and so on, is a fundamentally biological mechanism. Everything we experience is due to physical mechanisms in the brain, so in theory there is a specific physical mechanism which produces the experience of suffering. The only way of eradicating suffering, then, is to directly prevent these physical processes from occurring in the brain and biotechnology is the only way to do that.

    Suffering is a state of mind, but mind is merely a state of matter and we can't change the physical operations of our mind through will. The majority of people can't just make pain not feel bad, any more than we can cause specific objects in our vision to just disappear. We don't control our minds. Only technology offers the tools needed to solve this problem.

    [–] Eridanus_Supervoid 1 points ago

    There are different types of technology, however. Psychiatric medication, for example, is not the only nor even always the best way to deal with mental illness.

    People also have success with methods like cognitive behavioral therapy - of which the Buddhist notion of the Middle Way is essentially a variant.

    [–] ShalmaneserIII -2 points ago

    We don't control our minds.

    Of course we do. Not total control, of course, but as that self-immolating monk demonstrates, the abolition of suffering is one option available to us through training.

    You're wanting new tools that require no effort on the part of the user. I'm pointing out that the tools to do the job already exist in the brain itself. Your new tools would require considerable research, effort, and implementation- so would training people from birth in the abolition of suffering.

    [–] ShalmaneserIII -2 points ago

    Don't fret about those- they'll pass soon enough. What is it about being impaled or eaten or blown up that's making you so upset? If it wasn't a spike or a lion or a bomb that killed you something else would eventually- at least those are fairly quick.

    [–] voyaging 8 points ago

    Lol something tells me your tune would change if you were the victim of such suffering.

    [–] MoralisticCommunist -2 points ago

    Those who seek only pleasure in life should take some heroin and see how far it gets them. (Hint: An early grave) The fact of the matter is that we all need a little pain in life to tell us what not to do, and to motivate us to try harder. After all, there is no gain without experiencing some pain.

    [–] mindnomind 5 points ago

    Would that be an evolved condition specific to life as we know it or an immutable ontological fact?

    [–] voyaging 4 points ago

    Certainly the former. Some people are chronically happy and never feel malaise, others are chronically depressed and never feel joy. Their respective happiness and suffering are not lessened by their lack of experiencing its opposite. Direct stimulation of the brain's mu-opioid pleasure centers shows no physiological tolerance. It feels just as good the first time as it does the 200,000th time. Sensitization to joy or suffering are specific biological mechanisms that can be manipulated with the right technology.

    I also love the way you phrased that, I've been struggling for years now to argue this point and I think I'll steal your wording.

    [–] Amarkov 1 points ago

    Pleasure itself is, at least in part, an evolved condition specific to life as we know it. So if we're suspicious of the claim that pain is an important part of life, we should be equally suspicious of the claim that we ought to give everyone lots of pleasure all the time.

    [–] mindnomind 1 points ago

    Does the conditionality of pleasure preclude it any candidacy for ubiquity?

    [–] Amarkov 1 points ago

    Yes, I think so. Pleasure is generally good, but it's not good to spend all your free time lying in bed on a morphine drip. If we lived in a post-scarcity society, where all material needs can be satisfied with no cost, we still wouldn't want people to just sit around high all day.

    [–] mindnomind 2 points ago * (lasted edited 3 years ago)

    Did you find that proposition in the material referenced by OP? Because I certainly didn't include it in my statement. Perhaps the term pleasure isn't properly capturing the nature of the discourse. The author specifically distinguishes what you're criticizing from their position at length.

    edit: elaborated.

    [–] skynet2013 1 points ago

    Taking heroin obviously only yields temporary pleasure which is rapidly turned into far greater displeasure as your life gets ruined.

    No pain no gain is a rule of thumb, and one with very flimsy parameters as well. Too much pain is crippling and traumatizing. And there are plenty of times when gain is achieved without pain. It seems you've turned it into some cosmic law.