TagLast edit: 8 Feb 2022 21:28 UTC by Gunnar_Zarncke

Humans evolved various desires that promoted survival and reproductive success in the ancestral environment. Superstimuli are modern inventions that satisfy desires better than anything in the ancestral environment could but are detrimental to survival, reproduction, or other high-level goals.

See also: Evolutionary Psychology, Goodhart’s Law, Wireheading

A candy bar is a superstimulus: it contains more concentrated sugar, salt, and fat than anything that exists in the ancestral environment. A candy bar matches taste buds that evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment, but it matches those taste buds much more strongly than anything that actually existed in the hunter-gatherer environment. The signal that once reliably correlated to healthy food has been hijacked, blotted out with a point in tastespace that wasn’t in the training dataset—an impossibly distant outlier on the old ancestral graphs.

-- Eliezer Yudkowsky, Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilisation

Notable Posts

External Links

See Also

Su­per­stim­uli and the Col­lapse of Western Civilization

Eliezer Yudkowsky16 Mar 2007 18:10 UTC
128 points
89 comments4 min readLW link

Is Click­bait De­stroy­ing Our Gen­eral In­tel­li­gence?

Eliezer Yudkowsky16 Nov 2018 23:06 UTC
189 points
61 comments5 min readLW link2 reviews

Adap­ta­tion-Ex­e­cuters, not Fit­ness-Maximizers

Eliezer Yudkowsky11 Nov 2007 6:39 UTC
140 points
33 comments3 min readLW link

[link] The AI Gir­lfriend Se­duc­ing China’s Lonely Men

Kaj_Sotala14 Dec 2020 20:18 UTC
34 points
10 comments1 min readLW link

So­cial host liability

CraigMichael9 May 2021 7:24 UTC
22 points
39 comments6 min readLW link

[Question] Has there been a “memetic col­lapse”?

Eli Tyre28 Dec 2019 5:36 UTC
32 points
7 comments1 min readLW link

Satis­ficers want to be­come maximisers

Stuart_Armstrong21 Oct 2011 16:27 UTC
37 points
70 comments1 min readLW link

Lot­ter­ies: A Waste of Hope

Eliezer Yudkowsky13 Apr 2007 5:36 UTC
84 points
73 comments2 min readLW link

“Epiphany ad­dic­tion”

cousin_it3 Aug 2012 17:52 UTC
69 points
90 comments1 min readLW link

Lo­tuses and Loot Boxes

Davidmanheim17 May 2018 0:21 UTC
14 points
2 comments4 min readLW link

[Question] When(if ever) are su­per­stim­uli good/​use­ful/​ad­van­ta­geous?

Perhaps1 Aug 2023 15:50 UTC
−7 points
2 comments1 min readLW link

I’m go­ing to help you quit Face­book with some science

Elo12 Apr 2018 3:09 UTC
30 points
11 comments5 min readLW link

Two Ne­glected Prob­lems in Hu­man-AI Safety

Wei Dai16 Dec 2018 22:13 UTC
98 points
24 comments2 min readLW link

Ba­bies and Bun­nies: A Cau­tion About Evo-Psych

Alicorn22 Feb 2010 1:53 UTC
81 points
843 comments2 min readLW link

Free-to-Play Games: Three Key Trade-Offs

Zvi10 Sep 2019 12:10 UTC
47 points
4 comments5 min readLW link

Global Birth Rates will Con­tinue to De­cline as Tech­nol­ogy Accelerates

Declan Molony18 Dec 2023 8:54 UTC
1 point
5 comments2 min readLW link

New Im­proved Lottery

Eliezer Yudkowsky13 Apr 2007 23:42 UTC
101 points
43 comments2 min readLW link

Ra­tion­al­ist Lent is over

Qiaochu_Yuan30 Mar 2018 5:57 UTC
20 points
16 comments1 min readLW link
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