Jan 182013

ThundercatsPicture1aChildren have no taste at all. It is why they are constantly successfully marketed cheap crap. You don’t realize this until your taste grows. As a kid, I loved ThunderCats. A couple years ago, I decided to go back and watch it again. Word of warning to anyone thinking of doing this – just keep your happy memories. Upon review you will be sorely disappointed that what you loved so much is actually complete garbage.

Food is the same way. Kids love simple globs of stuff that are high in fat and/or sugar. Most candy simply tastes bad (can PixieStix even be called a “candy”?). I used to like McDonalds food – even just ten years ago! Now I can barely eat it. And conversely, I used to hate a lot of things that I now eat regularly.

I’m sure this doesn’t ever stop… currently I don’t taste much difference between wines, a $10 bottle is as good as a $40 bottle. Eventually this will probably change, and I hope I have more disposable income when that happens. :)

Why am I dissing on kids out of nowhere? Well, I had forgotten that I hadn’t quite finished my thoughts on value drift. I was reminded by a reply to a long-passed comment about Permutation City. I consider it a horror novel, because one of the major messages I got from it was thus: even if you never physically die, eventually over eternity one of these two things will happen –

1) your utility function will drift enough, and your memories fade and change enough, they you will be unrecognizable as the person you were. You as you are now will effectively be dead.

2) you will successfully resist change, and will be stuck thinking and doing the same things endlessly in a loop. You might as well be dead. Or preserved as a memory-diamond statue.

Even if we defeat death, living long enough is essential death anyway. You are doomed, there is no escape.

Wei Dei replied:

Isn’t that just due to the author’s inability to imagine/describe a mind capable of becoming increasingly and unboundedly complex without losing its identity?

Which is also the conclusion I eventually came to. The six-year old who liked ThunderCats is dead. The teenage who liked McDonalds is dead. Even the mid-twenties guy who loved World of Warcraft and disliked physical exercise is dead. Not one of them would have chosen to die so that I could live. But looking back, those lives are poorer and less valuable than the life I have now. And I have little doubt that the more complex person who will take my place will have an even richer and more valuable life than I do.

My values will drift, and I will become a different person. But I will be a better person. My morals will be better than those of my predecessors, my knowledge will be less wrong, and my contributions more valuable. That is a good thing.

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