Difference between revisions of "Complexity of value"

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You Fucking Bitches! Fuck you! You're all scum! Fuck you! I hope you fuck yourself, Gwern. Hey, Darwin Bots, fuck you!
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'''Complexity of value''' is the thesis that human values have high [[Kolmogorov complexity]]; that our [[preferences]], the things we care about, cannot be summed by a few simple rules, or compressed. '''[http://lesswrong.com/lw/y3/value_is_fragile/ Fragility of value]''' is the thesis that losing even a small part of the rules that make up our values could lead to results that most of us would now consider as unacceptable (just like dialing nine out of ten phone digits correctly does not connect you to a person 90% similar to your friend). For example, all of our values ''except'' boredom might yield a future full of individuals replaying only one optimal experience through all eternity.
  
Mankind was created on the first day of fucking creation! Everything else was created later. Jesus died for our sins, killed and then raised on the cross, you can go fuck yourself, you'll never get salvation with your little Darwinoid delusions! Haiti smells and is better than this fucking cop-out.  
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Many human choices can be compressed, by representing them by simple rules - the desire to survive produces innumerable actions and subgoals as we fulfill that desire.  But people don't ''just'' want to survive - although you can compress many human activities to that desire, you cannot compress all of human existence into it. The human equivalents of a utility function, our terminal values, contain many different elements that are not strictly reducible to one another.  William Frankena offered [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/value-intrinsic-extrinsic/#WhaHasIntVal this list] of things which many cultures and people seem to value (for their own sake rather than strictly for their external consequences):
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:"Life, consciousness, and activity; health and strength; pleasures and satisfactions of all or certain kinds; happiness, beatitude, contentment, etc.; truth; knowledge and true opinions of various kinds, understanding, wisdom; beauty, harmony, proportion in objects contemplated; aesthetic experience; morally good dispositions or virtues; mutual affection, love, friendship, cooperation; just distribution of goods and evils; harmony and proportion in one's own life; power and experiences of achievement; self-expression; freedom; peace, security; adventure and novelty; and good reputation, honor, esteem, etc."
  
You can go fuck yourself, sir. Dear God help when the Rapture happens, you fucking bitch!
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Since natural selection reifies selection pressures as [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Adaptation_executors psychological drives which then continue to execute] [http://lesswrong.com/lw/yi/the_evolutionarycognitive_boundary/ independently of any consequentialist reasoning in the organism] or that organism explicitly representing, let alone caring about, the original evolutionary context, we have no reason to expect these terminal values to be reducible to any one thing, or each other.
  
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Unfortunately, human moral philosophers - both amateur and professional - have a tendency to seek out [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lq/fake_utility_functions/ fake utility functions] which argue for desiderate arrived at by other psychological means, in terms of their favorite grand moral principle (which typically varies from person to person, far more than their actual preferred conclusions) and this is one force leading people to systematically underestimate the complexity of value.
  
GWERN, fuck you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Complexity of value also runs into underappreciation in the presence of bad [[metaethics]].  The local flavor of metaethics could be characterized as cognitivist, without implying "thick" notions of instrumental rationality; in other words, moral discourse can be about a coherent subject matter, without all possible minds and agents necessarily finding truths about that subject matter to be psychologically compelling.  An [[expected paperclip maximizer]] doesn't disagree with you about morality any more than you disagree with it about "which action leads to the greatest number of expected paperclips", it is just constructed to find the latter subject matter psychologically compelling but not the former.  Failure to appreciate that "But it's just paperclips! What a dumb goal! No sufficiently intelligent agent would pick such a dumb goal!" is a judgment carried out on a local brain that evaluates paperclips as inherently low-in-the-preference-ordering means that someone will expect all moral judgments to be automatically reproduced in a sufficiently intelligent agent, since, after all, they would not lack the intelligence to see that paperclips are so obviously inherently-low-in-the-preference-ordering.  This is a particularly subtle species of [[anthropomorphism]] and [[mind projection fallacy]].
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Because the human brain very often fails to grasp all these difficulties involving our values, we tend to think building an awesome future is much less problematic than it really is.  Fragility of value is relevant for building [[Friendly AI]], because an [[AGI]] which does not respect human values is likely to create a world that we would consider devoid of value - not necessarily full of explicit attempts to be evil, but perhaps just a dull, boring loss.
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As values are orthogonal with intelligence, they can freely vary no matter how intelligent and efficient an AGI is [http://www.nickbostrom.com/superintelligentwill.pdf].  Since human / humane values have high Kolmogorov complexity, a random AGI is highly unlikely to maximize human / humane values.  The fragility of value thesis implies that a poorly constructed AGI might e.g. turn us into blobs of perpetual orgasm. Because of this relevance the complexity and fragility of value is a major theme of [[Eliezer Yudkowsky]]'s writings.
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Wrongly designing the future because we wrongly encoded human values is a serious and difficult to assess type of [[Existential risk]]. "Touch too hard in the wrong dimension, and the physical representation of those values will shatter - ''and not come back, for there will be nothing left to want to bring it back''. And the referent of those values - a worthwhile universe - would no longer have any physical reason to come into being. Let go of the steering wheel, and the Future crashes." [http://lesswrong.com/lw/y3/value_is_fragile/]
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==Major posts==
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* [http://lesswrong.com/lw/xy/the_fun_theory_sequence/ The Fun Theory Sequence] describes some of the many complex considerations that determine ''what sort of happiness'' we most prefer to have - given that many of us would decline to just have an electrode planted in our pleasure centers.
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* [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l3/thou_art_godshatter/ Thou Art Godshatter] describes the [[evolutionary psychology]] behind the complexity of human values - how they got to be complex, and why, given that origin, there is no reason in hindsight to expect them to be simple.  We certainly are not built to [[adaptation executers|maximize genetic fitness]].
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* [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lb/not_for_the_sake_of_happiness_alone/ Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone)] tackles the [[Hollywood Rationality]] trope that "rational" preferences must reduce to selfish hedonism - caring strictly about personally experienced pleasure.  An ideal Bayesian agent - implementing strict Bayesian decision theory - can have a utility function that [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l4/terminal_values_and_instrumental_values/ ranges over anything, not just internal subjective experiences].
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* [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lq/fake_utility_functions/ Fake Utility Functions] describes the seeming fascination that many have with trying to compress morality down to a single principle.  The [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lp/fake_fake_utility_functions/ sequence leading up] to this post tries to explain the cognitive twists whereby people [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ld/the_hidden_complexity_of_wishes/ smuggle] all of their complicated ''other'' preferences into their choice of ''exactly'' which acts they try to ''[http://lesswrong.com/lw/kq/fake_justification/ justify using]'' their single principle; but if they were ''really'' following ''only'' that single principle, they would [http://lesswrong.com/lw/kz/fake_optimization_criteria/ choose other acts to justify].
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==Other posts==
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/y3/value_is_fragile/ Value is Fragile]
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/ld/the_hidden_complexity_of_wishes/ The Hidden Complexity of Wishes]
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/ky/fake_morality/ Fake Morality]
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/1o9/welcome_to_heaven/ Welcome to Heaven] by denisbider
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/1oj/complexity_of_value_complexity_of_outcome/ Complexity of Value ≠ Complexity of Outcome] by [http://weidai.com/ Wei Dai]
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*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/65w/not_for_the_sake_of_pleasure_alone/ Not for the Sake of Pleasure Alone] by [http://lukeprog.com/ lukeprog]
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==See also==
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*[http://intelligence.org/files/ComplexValues.pdf Complex Value Systems are Required to Realize Valuable Futures]
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*[[Human universal]]
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*[[Fake simplicity]]
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*[[Metaethics sequence]]
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*[[Fun theory]]
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*[[Magical categories]]
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*[[Friendly Artificial Intelligence]]
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*[[Preference]]
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*[[Wireheading]]
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*[[The utility function is not up for grabs]]
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{{featured article}}
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[[Category:Theses]]
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[[Category:Positions]]
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[[Category:Evolution]]
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[[Category:Values]]

Revision as of 19:42, 9 January 2014

Complexity of value is the thesis that human values have high Kolmogorov complexity; that our preferences, the things we care about, cannot be summed by a few simple rules, or compressed. Fragility of value is the thesis that losing even a small part of the rules that make up our values could lead to results that most of us would now consider as unacceptable (just like dialing nine out of ten phone digits correctly does not connect you to a person 90% similar to your friend). For example, all of our values except boredom might yield a future full of individuals replaying only one optimal experience through all eternity.

Many human choices can be compressed, by representing them by simple rules - the desire to survive produces innumerable actions and subgoals as we fulfill that desire. But people don't just want to survive - although you can compress many human activities to that desire, you cannot compress all of human existence into it. The human equivalents of a utility function, our terminal values, contain many different elements that are not strictly reducible to one another. William Frankena offered this list of things which many cultures and people seem to value (for their own sake rather than strictly for their external consequences):

"Life, consciousness, and activity; health and strength; pleasures and satisfactions of all or certain kinds; happiness, beatitude, contentment, etc.; truth; knowledge and true opinions of various kinds, understanding, wisdom; beauty, harmony, proportion in objects contemplated; aesthetic experience; morally good dispositions or virtues; mutual affection, love, friendship, cooperation; just distribution of goods and evils; harmony and proportion in one's own life; power and experiences of achievement; self-expression; freedom; peace, security; adventure and novelty; and good reputation, honor, esteem, etc."

Since natural selection reifies selection pressures as psychological drives which then continue to execute independently of any consequentialist reasoning in the organism or that organism explicitly representing, let alone caring about, the original evolutionary context, we have no reason to expect these terminal values to be reducible to any one thing, or each other.

Unfortunately, human moral philosophers - both amateur and professional - have a tendency to seek out fake utility functions which argue for desiderate arrived at by other psychological means, in terms of their favorite grand moral principle (which typically varies from person to person, far more than their actual preferred conclusions) and this is one force leading people to systematically underestimate the complexity of value.

Complexity of value also runs into underappreciation in the presence of bad metaethics. The local flavor of metaethics could be characterized as cognitivist, without implying "thick" notions of instrumental rationality; in other words, moral discourse can be about a coherent subject matter, without all possible minds and agents necessarily finding truths about that subject matter to be psychologically compelling. An expected paperclip maximizer doesn't disagree with you about morality any more than you disagree with it about "which action leads to the greatest number of expected paperclips", it is just constructed to find the latter subject matter psychologically compelling but not the former. Failure to appreciate that "But it's just paperclips! What a dumb goal! No sufficiently intelligent agent would pick such a dumb goal!" is a judgment carried out on a local brain that evaluates paperclips as inherently low-in-the-preference-ordering means that someone will expect all moral judgments to be automatically reproduced in a sufficiently intelligent agent, since, after all, they would not lack the intelligence to see that paperclips are so obviously inherently-low-in-the-preference-ordering. This is a particularly subtle species of anthropomorphism and mind projection fallacy.

Because the human brain very often fails to grasp all these difficulties involving our values, we tend to think building an awesome future is much less problematic than it really is. Fragility of value is relevant for building Friendly AI, because an AGI which does not respect human values is likely to create a world that we would consider devoid of value - not necessarily full of explicit attempts to be evil, but perhaps just a dull, boring loss.

As values are orthogonal with intelligence, they can freely vary no matter how intelligent and efficient an AGI is [1]. Since human / humane values have high Kolmogorov complexity, a random AGI is highly unlikely to maximize human / humane values. The fragility of value thesis implies that a poorly constructed AGI might e.g. turn us into blobs of perpetual orgasm. Because of this relevance the complexity and fragility of value is a major theme of Eliezer Yudkowsky's writings.

Wrongly designing the future because we wrongly encoded human values is a serious and difficult to assess type of Existential risk. "Touch too hard in the wrong dimension, and the physical representation of those values will shatter - and not come back, for there will be nothing left to want to bring it back. And the referent of those values - a worthwhile universe - would no longer have any physical reason to come into being. Let go of the steering wheel, and the Future crashes." [2]

Major posts

Other posts

See also