[April Fools] Towards A Better Moral Circle

Originally published on 1st Apr. 2024 on the EA Forum. Discuss it there!

Partially adapted from an old old Discord rant

On this past April’s eve, I was visited by the ghosts of several superintelligent beings from throughout spacetime 1, to help me answer a question of great import and difficulty. Even if we know what can harm and benefit a being, how can we know when a being we could benefit or harm even belongs in our moral circle to begin with? Excitingly, I feel that I got much cleaner explanations for why animals shouldn’t be of concern to morality than I’ve heard before! Below are samples of some explanations provided by these wise minds:

Supervenium the Self-Aware:

“How can the humans have any worth, they can’t even conceive of the operation of their own minds fully, they rely on words like “reasons” and “beliefs” and “intuitions”, they don’t even understand the full underlying process of their own neurons, how can they claim to have interests they don’t comprehend?”

Omnispawn the Infosphere:

“How can the humans have any worth, they don’t understand reality as it really is, why, without aids they can’t even tell what’s happening right behind them at any given moment. Their view of reality is entirely self-contained, so how can they hold any sincere values?”

Pinea the Singulasingularity:

“How can the humans have any worth, their “selves” are conceivably devisable, you could replace every neuron in their brains one by one and they would never notice the difference, there is no single replacement or removal that makes them altogether someone else. If you have no absolute underlying self, how can you have a legitimate sense of dignity?”

Prebangor the Elder:

“How can the humans have any worth, they are mortal, one day they will just be gone forever and there was a time before they were born. Anything that is done to them is done to a single blip in the history of everything, how can it have any importance?”

AaaaaaackOoooooooh the Torment Nexus:

“How can the humans have any worth, their capacity to feel has physical limits, they are incapable of the highest forms of superhappiness and the worst forms of supersadness. Even if we can benefit them more than one of our own, they would never appreciate the larger context of this benefit, so how can they truly value it?”

Binklx the Intelligently Designed:

“How can humans have any worth, you can follow their lineage by degrees all the way back to weird molecules in pools of water. Sure humans are cute, but if we give them consideration, where does it end? We would have to give moral consideration to everything!”

Janveson the Definer:

“How can humans have any worth, morality is about social contracts. They can’t manipulate their brains to adopt the equilibrium utility function of the social unit, they can only make a few unreliable trades and agreements at a time, and anything else is at best hypothetical. By definition they aren’t part of “ethics”!”

Having recorded the wisdom of the superior minds, I prepared to go to sleep. But I heard another voice then, lying in bed.

Jala the Glittering:

“I am all of the parts of the universe, confused and lost in myself, which fleeting joys and fleeting horrors pass over, lighting little bits up out of the dark. I care, and I care about my caring, every fleck of it, no matter how little and fragile and confused, every bit I see as it is lit up in its own light. I love myself.”

And in the cold and the dark of my bedroom, I for a moment felt an unexplainable urge to whisper back “I love you”, as though I could never be warm again until I said it.

But forumeers! I’ve written this up to get your feedback, what do you make of the overminds’ advice?

  1. Something something acausal something. ↩︎

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