1985-hofstadter-sanityandsurvival.pdf: “Metamagical Themas: Sanity and Survival”, Douglas Hofstadter
“Multiverse-wide Cooperation via Correlated Decision Making”, (2018-01-29):
Some decision theorists argue that when playing a prisoner’s dilemma-type game against a sufficiently similar opponent, we should cooperate to make it more likely that our opponent also cooperates. This idea, which Hofstadter calls superrationality, has strong implications when combined with the insight from modern physics that we probably live in a large universe or multiverse of some sort. If we care about what happens in civilizations located elsewhere in the multiverse, we can superrationally cooperate with some of their inhabitants. That is, if we take their values into account, this makes it more likely that they do the same for us. In this paper, I attempt to assess the practical implications of this idea. I argue that to reap the full gains from trade, everyone should maximize the same impartially weighted sum of the utility functions of all collaborators. I also argue that we can obtain at least weak evidence about the content of these utility functions. In practice, the application of superrationality implies that we should promote causal cooperation, moral pluralism, moral reflection, and ensure that our descendants, who will be smarter and thus better at finding out how to benefit other superrationalists in the universe, engage in superrational cooperation.
1975-chaitin.pdf: “Randomness and Mathematical Proof”, Gregory Chatin
1978-pascal.pdf: “Human tragedy and natural selection”, (1978; ):
It is argued that too logical a mind is not favored by natural selection; rather, it is biologically useful to be able to rationalize away certain unpleasant aspects of reality.
In most cases this irrationality has to do either with our reproductive ideas or with our ways of viewing the future. In both cases the implications with regard to our ability to solve the current population growth/resource shrinkage crisis are decidedly negative. Looked at from a slightly different perspective, this same phenomenon can be viewed as a selection among ideas and beliefs. Sometimes this selection is quite intense.
Indeed, there are certain ideas which the human mind simply cannot logically deal with, since if they should be true, then it is obvious that evolution will direct all its resources toward producing minds which will believe them to be false. An example of such an idea [global human population control/overpopulation crisis] is discussed.
1980-pascal.pdf: “Rejoinder to Gray and Wolfe”, (1980; ):
This rejoinder to J. Patrick Gray’s and Linda Wolfe’s “The Loving Parent Meets the Selfish Gene” (Inquiry, this issue), which in turn was in response to the author’s “Human Tragedy and Natural Selection” (Inquiry, Vol. 21, No. 4), briefly addresses their major objections and suggests that in many instances they have misunderstood the point of that paper.
They argue that many of the traits referred to are more cultural than genetic. That this is not the central issue is made clearer by stressing certain aspects of the view underlying the original article, chiefly concerning the extent of human irrationality and insensitivity.
1980-gray.pdf: “The loving parent meets the selfish gene”, (1980; ):
In a recent Inquiry article Louis Pascal argues that the problem of massive starvation in the modern world is the result of a genetically-based human propensity to produce as many offspring as possible, regardless of ecological conditions.
In this paper biological and anthropological objections to Pascal’s thesis are discussed as well as the conclusions he draws from it. It is suggested that natural selection has produced humans who are flexible in their reproductive behavior in order to cope with rapidly changing environments.
The implications of both arguments for the population movement and the attempt to eliminate starvation are discussed.