6 Reasons to Pursue the Building of Hedonium

  1. The relevant features of desirable conscious experience, in my opinion, are very likely to boil down to natural, discrete physics operations. In other words, evolution-derived brains are not the only possible sources of morally-relevant experience. Building experience-machines based on some combination of a manufactured machine and engineered biological life that are morally-relevant seems to be possible.
  2. Human brains are incredibly fragile and are very likely to go extinct, even with humanity’s newfound focus on existential risk reduction. We are extremely dependent on many features of our environment going precisely right. We may be upwards of a century away from establishing even a medium-term colony anywhere else than Earth, and this colony still may not have the technological capability to expand further in the cosmos. Hedonium may be able to be built to be as resilient as tardigrades, if not more resilient.
  3. The human brain may be too far away from being an ideal receptacle for the sustained experience of the most desirable states of consciousness. Genetic engineering may fix this over time. However, iterative improvement may be slow due to long gestation periods. Again, even these humans would likely be very fragile and unable to live outside of the most narrow of environments.
  4. Hedonium can be much more matter and energy efficient than human brains and the ecosystem needed to provide for them. Hedonium can probably get much closer to the theoretical limit for well-being operations per unit of resources.
  5. We don’t have to give up on humanity to fund hedonium development. Rather, both projects can coexist and remain as separate irons in the fire for long-term cosmic value capture.
  6. Hedonium may offer a next-best solution to the AI alignment problem. There are a number of scenarios where AGI could be developed and ‘turned on’ before we had adequate alignment to traditional human values and preferences. If we can’t stop powerful AI from being employed for one reason or another, perhaps we can offer up a 2nd or 3rd best utility function- the building of hedonium.

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