EU Maximizing in a Gloomy World

post by David Udell · 2022-04-27T00:28:58.494Z · LW · GW · 2 comments

A thought I picked up from Ryan Greenblatt [LW · GW].

Even if we're probably doomed, the expected value of trying hard to improbably save Humanity Ascendant is still huge -- on the order of saving a planetary civilization in expectation, even if you're not saving a cosmic civilization in expectation.

Doomy emotions can be instrumentally useful … when you can potentially affect the thing you're being doomy about! Emotions just aren't instrumentally useful when they're about things that are out of your control. In that case, your feeling bad doesn't help anything. If you've just updated your world model in a very doomy direction, feel that hit … and then go right on EU maximizing in the world you live in, in the normal way!

(Worrying about fixed amounts of doom is like worrying about sunk costs.)


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comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2022-04-27T06:58:53.599Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

comment by Dave Lindbergh (dave-lindbergh) · 2022-04-27T15:03:06.098Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Karl Popper said "optimisim is a duty", because only optimists work to improve the world. Those who think we're already doomed and that effort is hopeless, don't try.

Optimism is a duty. The future is open. It is not predetermined. No one can predict it, except by chance. We all contribute to determining it by what we do. We are all equally responsible for its success.

I think that's from The Open Society and its Enemies (1945).