X-Message-Number: 24918
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 00:11:54 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: More on techno-Heaven, Hell

This is a comment on Mike Price's comments on my previous posting.

> > I can envision a scientifically engineered "Heaven" as a place of both
> > eternal life and eternal happiness, which future advanced beings
> > (including continuers of ourselves, I hope) might engineer, assuming
> > cosmology permits. (Whether it will, of course, is unknown at present;
> > we don't know it will not, however.) There may be other tricky ways
> > of engineering a Heaven, even if our own universe is doomed. We can
> > also imagine an engineered "Hell" as a place of eternal torment for
> > beings trapped therein and wanting to escape, but this runs very
> > counter to the way I imagine beings will develop who would have the
> > power to engineer either Heaven or Hell.
>Why not?  Doesn't power corrupt?  Surely the Actonian lesson of
>history is that with great power comes great abuse.  Only Spiderman
>thinks differently :-)

Acton was speaking at the human level only. In developing beyond this 
level, we can rationally consider how to evolve so as to maximize our 
individual chances of (unbroken or minimally broken) eternal survival and 
enlightened enjoyment. A rational stance, I think, would favor a community 
of beings who naturally act for each others' benefit by way of seeking 
their own. Antagonistic behavior, by comparison, will invite reprisal. I 
can also imagine the community of benevolent beings taking steps to track 
down the (relatively few, I think) who might be ill-disposed and behave 
badly, and see to it their bad tendencies are neutralized in one way or 
another. In extreme cases this could involve forcible intervention and 
behavior modification (done carefully, I would hope, so as to cure rather 
than kill the patient).

> > Such beings should understand that supreme benevolence will best
> > further their enlightened self-interest, and thus would be strongly
> > opposed  to places of eternal retribution and suffering. [.....]
>This is an example of what I meant by "shaky super-rationalist
>based arguments".  Unfortunately the existence of arrational sadistic
>values will (in some circumstances) outweigh any nebulous super-
>rationalist "enlightened self-interest".

I think the probability of an advanced but sadistic, evil being coming into 
existence is certainly nonzero but far less than a benevolvent, advanced 
being arising. Benevolence will foster a community of mutually supportive 
beings who help each other advance, whereas hatred, sadism, and a generally 
evil nature will be seen as a threat by others, one they must counter for 
their own safety. So I really don't think the bad guys will get very far. 
The ones who do manage some incredibly evil stunt will certainly encounter 
opposition in proportion to how much mischief they were able to cause, and 
I suspect very much more. Even today we don't treat terrorism lightly, and 
I expect society to evolve in such a way as to make the threat 
progressively smaller overall, once a few initial hurdles are overcome. The 
majority (I think it will actually be quite a large majority) simply won't 
have it any other way.

>  This, and the expected infinite
>diversity in infinite multiverse(s), implies there will be some infinite-
>durations hells for saints as well as sinners.  Sorry!

No, I beg to differ. Good and evil I don't think are simply symmetric and 
likely to both exist somewhere in infinite proportions. Places of suffering 
and horror naturally inspire thoughts of eliminating them, both for the 
victims and for many others, thus the likely outcome is they will be 
rapidly countered wherever they crop up.

> > Even though I discount the likelihood of anyone winding up in a state
> > of eternal punishment,
>I afraid this is probably an example of wishfulfillment that Ben complains
>of in immortalists:  you construct complex (and valid, IMO) arguments
>for the existence of techo-heavens and yet ignore the obvious inevitability
>of techno-hells.  It doesn't matter what plausibility arguments you
>construct against the existence of virtual hells, infinite diversity
>*demands* their existence.

Again, I disagree. The sorts of things whose existence is demanded are 
things that require only a finite number of events. A "Hell"--conceived as 
a place of *eternal* torment, must involve an infinite number of events, as 
I see it, so its probability *could* be zero, without violating the basic 
idea of infinite diversity (which does have some limits). I can imagine a 
community of benevolent immortals constructing a virtual Heaven that gets 
better and better with passing time, with actual nonzero probability of its 
surviving forever. This is because I think there is great strength in 
mutual benevolence. Again, its opposite invites opposition and instability, 
so I think a Hell would be inherently unstable in a way that a Heaven would 

Mike Perry

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