Saturday, December 17, 2005

Course Paper Preview

The following is part of the introduction to my term paper for the course, titled Ethical Considerations of Living as a Hard Universal Automatist:

In adopting any worldview, we integrate a number of fundamental assumptions about the world into the way in which we perceive the ‘big picture’ and our place within it. Our worldview becomes the focus of our belief system – our ethical philosophy, if you will, which is reflected in our behaviors, desires, and motivations. The degree of moderation to which we cling to our worldview also bears a factor in our lives, distinguishing the casual from the serious (and the believer from the fanatic in some cases), creating a part of the gray area in which our society collectively determines what is typically acceptable and what is generally intolerable.

The worldview of universal automatism, as espoused by Stephen Wolfram, holds that “it is possible to view every process that occurs in nature or elsewhere as a computation.” (Rucker) Wolfram’s words are carefully chosen; however, if we were to take his definition of universal automatism and move it from the sphere of possibility into the sphere of actuality, we get: “every process that occurs in nature or elsewhere is a computation.” This shift in emphasis would essentially draw a line between soft and hard universal automatism, in which a hard universal automatist might possibly consider themselves and the entire universe to be a sort of infinitely large-scale MUD (or MMO) which is in operation.

Adopting the hard view of universal automatism as described above would entail a shift in the way that we perceive ethical behavior. This paper will focus on some of the ethical aspects of this MUD-styled version of universal automatism (occasionally using an informal tone and MUD terminology for purposes of analogy), paying attention to the considerations which might affect the way in which we view our lives, and suggest a modification of Mill’s utilitarian ethics centered around the concept of optimization which might best fit the worldview of hard universal automatism, or HUA.

More to come shortly.


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