X-Message-Number: 24933
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 21:34:43 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Forever Friendly versus Techno-Hell

The thrust of Mike Price's argument for the existence of techno-Hells 
alongside of Heavens seems to be contained in the following.

>It doesn't matter how likely you imagine the group selection
>pressures will be against the construction of techno-Hells by
>sadistic superbeings, they some will still exist.  Your arguments,
>as I have repeatedly tried to point out, will only reduce
>the ratio of Hells: Heavens, not eliminate them.  In an infinite
>multiverse any non-zero ratio implies an infinite number of

I agree that any nonzero ratio implies an infinite number of various types 
of places that actually exist. But I think we have some confusion of 
concepts here. We can think of "virtual" Heaven, let's call it would-be 
Heaven, as an actually existing place somewhere, where conditions are good 
and getting better, and similarly, would-be Hell would be a place where 
conditions are bad and getting worse. In this case, would-be Heaven only 
becomes a real Heaven in the limit of infinite time, as it endures forever 
and reaches a kind of ultimate perfection. Similarly, would-be Hell 
requires infinite survival (and development in its own evil direction) to 
become a true Hell in the limit of time. If it disappears or changes 
character after some finite time, it wasn't really a Hell but only a 

Now, the question before us concerns the likelihood of a real Heaven versus 
a real Hell, rather than the would-be approximations, which again should be 
infinite in number in an infinite multiverse. For certain reasons I think 
the would-be Hells would be far outnumbered by would-be Heavens, but in 
addition, I think certain instabilities in the would-be Hells would make 
their continuance more problematic and less likely than in the case of the 
would-be Heavens. Indeed, it is my hope and gut feeling that would-be Hells 
at least would have zero probability of surviving forever and turning into 
real Hells. This of course is only a conjecture, but I think there are some 
interesting arguments that support it.

First it will be instructive to consider an analogous but simpler issue: 
the coin toss sequence. Assuming a coin is fair, we have an equal 
probability of heads or tails on each toss. For a given sequence of tosses, 
let h be the fraction of tosses that show heads. For a finite sequence, 
however long, h can assume values between 0 and 1, and there will be 
infinitely many coin toss sequences (in more than one sense) with the given 
value h. However, for an infinite sequence, the only allowable value of h 
is 0.5 corresponding to a "balanced" sequence having an equal frequency of 
heads and tails-all other outcomes have probability zero, as should be 
clear by considering the probabilities. So logically we can imagine an 
infinite sequence of tosses where h, say, is 0.6 rather than 0.5. And it's 
true that there are finite sequences of arbitrary length where this is so, 
and they must occur infinitely often in an infinite multiverse. Yet again, 
the infinite but unbalanced sequence with h=0.6 (or any other value besides 
0.5) never occurs. It is logically possible but physically impossible.

Returning now to the problem of Hell, I ask if such an outcome is not also 
"unbalanced" in a reasonable sense that might make it physically 
impossible. Each sentient being will rationally want to seek its optimal 
advantage or highest happiness over infinite time. Would this be obtainable 
anywhere but in Heaven, where it might be shared by all? As a perpetrator 
or cofounder of Hell, such a being would face opposition on two fronts. The 
tormented in Hell would not care to promote the highest happiness of their 
oppressors, but might well act as contrary to this aim as possible and have 
at least some perceived success. Outsiders, moreover, if they learned what 
was going on, would be shocked and try to close the show, as it were. (To 
escape from their interference might be easy in the future or not. So far I 
have yet to hear of anyone escaping into a parallel universe, and you'd 
still have to ask if someone else could follow and track them down if, say, 
he were to spend an extended period of time using future technology.) I 
also think that the mere knowledge that one is evil would detract from 
one's sense of self-worth and produce less happiness, a feeling that might 
be reinforced, in this case, by the tormented who would naturally remind 
one of such a defect. (Strenuous efforts to redefine one's values and treat 
the evil in oneself as a "great good" would, I think, meet with less than 
perfect success, if for no other reason because it would be obvious that 
others disagreed and had a point.) So basically I think that, not only 
rarely would an advanced, rational being consider any course of serious 
evil, but, if it ever did start down that path, it would normally quickly 
come to its senses and act to reverse its mistakes. More rarely the 
mistakes would continue for a more extended time, but never eternally, even 
if reinforced by others with shared values, who must also be susceptible to 
reason and the wish for supreme happiness. There is strength in shared 
values, but not all values are on an equal footing in this respect. The 
torment of a victim, should it ever start, would eventually end, and a 
would-be Hell would not endure forever.

Live, grow, and be friendly--forever.

Mike Perry

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