Another way of looking at what morality is.
I've commented how important morality is and how subtly difficult it can be to describe in a useful way. It is something that developed by the organic trial and error methods of evolution rather than anything based on reason or logic. It doesn't necessarily even make sense except that it is about a goal, survival. Before you even get to that part though, you can run into other problems in that to some people morality is associated with religion or some other emotional context. That can make communication a problem. I've mentioned morality as an explanation for something and had to go through a long debate over whether it should be called "ethics". I point out that ethics tend to be rules of behavior that are made by groups to govern "professional" behavior. They contribute to the larger morality of an individual or society, but things like murder or rape tend to be considered immoral rather than unethical. It is true that a primary function of religion has been to husband morality, but that is an important part of just about every group including The Scouts, 4H, Elks Club, Masons, sports teams and even the military. That is how important morality is. I recently realized one other reason it is hard to describe morality before you even get to the topic. In humans, morality is both instinct based and learned. The instinctual part is very old in evolution, going back to our "lizard brain" at least. The trouble is that our "verbal mind" and "analytic mind" are much newer functions in the newer parts of our brains. I've always noticed that while I can explain about morality fairly easily in a way that people understand, in writing it doesn't communicate nearly as well. I have a suspicion that when a person is reading and using the analytic part of their mind, the older parts of their mind that include moral instincts are basically shut off. That said, I do need to make a deeply analytic and systematic description of morality and the interplay between moral instinct and learned methods of survival. but I think there is another way to communicate it as well.
In a discussion about morality, I said that I wanted humans to be bad-ass. I had to explain in a follow up message that what I meant was Morally Bad-Ass! I think it was a better way of getting across what I was talking about.
Gorillas that are considered fragile because they go into a funk if their environment changes or seems weird to them. I want humans to be the opposite of that. I mean humans that just deal with change as a challenge to get comfprtable with. I mean humans that are hard to kill or even stun. I mean a people that just copes with and recovers from a pandemic if it kills a major chunk of the human population, which it very well may. Apparently, the Black Death caused a lot of the Europeans to go into shock. I want humanity to be a people that "want their son to grow taller than themself" (a moral statement from a movie that means their children, sons and daughters, are smarter and stronger than they are). We must wisely control our moral destiny. I want people to have the moral foresight to know to protect their life support systems including the planet and their civilization. When there is a disaster effecting society, humanity, civilization or our world, I want them to have the toughness and fortitude to pick up and carry on. I want them to be prepared to fix what broke, because nature is not going to. I want them to have the moral knowledge to avoid sillinous like excessive greed, ignorance, sloth, hubris, arrogance and all the other dumb ways we screw things up. We can do that and I think this is a place AI can help. It can remember for us and remind us when we forget the past so we can make new mistakes instead of repeating old mistakes. I want a people that know how to use machines as tools of extension, not crutches. I want people that know that to survive they must rely on and respect knowledge of themselves and their world that they will also teach to their children and others.
I want humans smart enough to know this is not a perfect world, but not be bothered by that. I want people to have the critical thinking tools to be able to recognize truth from falsehood. I want humans to have a very deep respect for the truth, but not have a problem with the white lies of courtesy and politeness. I want humans to be able to live with the convenient lies that are part of functioning in an imperfect world, but not forget the absolute need for truth to maintain a society.
I want humans that want to accomplish great things, but also smart enough to know that in the long run, we are in this together.
I want humans that can be soft, but that are also capable of being hard when they need to be. I want humans that understand that helping others is an opportunity. That it is the essence of the social and cooperative behavior we will need to support civilization. This is not about blindness though, it's about fairness. It's more about giving a hand than giving a handout.
I'm talking about humans with the instincts and training to struggle on when all seems lost. After hurt and injury, the must stand up and struggle on to survive. That means to survive even after losing a family or when hope is gone. I'm talking about humans so morally tough that they can survive perhaps the greatest challenge of all, wealth with its materialism and kinetic distractions that offer a dangerous potential for conflicts with the moral values that matter more to survival than any possession.
I met priests that knew they didn't want families and even though they weren't particularly religious they felt a calling to serve their fellow humans. I want humans with that kind of moral drive.
I want humans to accomplish great things by knowing and respecting the standard of quality called beauty. I want humans to be physically, intellectually and morally beautiful, maybe even spiritually beautiful. I want humans to know that their destiny is in their hands and they are going to make it a good destiny, maybe even great. I want individuals to make themselves what they want to be instead of just reacting to their environment and I want them to have the genetic potentials to be many things. I want them to have fun and look for challenges. I want them to know that a struggle for survival is just what they are made for, even if they mostly live in a world they and their ancestors have made comfortable. I want humans to be prepared for if things go wrong and that comfort disappears. They must be used to challenges and not fear discomfort. I want parents to know that their primary job is making sure their children can take care of themselves when they are older and be able to raise their own families. I want them morally bad-ass enough that they have the strength, will, and fortitude to make sure they teach that kind of moral strength to their children, even though that isn't necessarily the easiest or comfortable thing to do.
I want humans to have the understanding that survival and morality are not something that is solved. There are not perfect systems. Live with that, use your best judgment and thrive. There is no perfect world. Accept and appreciate that. Know that there is no final win. Life is about the moral battles fought every day by all good men and women to build and maintain the civilization and natural world we and our children depend on. Those who do that are morally badass.
And that's a rant but it's what I do...