My last reason is partly selfish and partly unselfish: the Meta-Human Condition thwarts attempts to fix the Human Condition. That’s the lesson of learned helplessness studies: dogs won’t press a button to stop electric shocks if they’ve previously come to believe the button is worthless. Aubrey refers to a similar idea himself: the “catatonia” that afflicts modern biogerontologists, preventing them from recognizing the urgency of the situation. As Eliezer wrote, in one of my favorite quotes, “if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing.”

Today, there are people trying to eliminate parts of the Human Condition. Eliezer wants to build a Friendly AI, which could fix a surprisingly large chunk of the Human Condition. Aubrey is working on the more modest, but still Herculean, task of curing aging. Both of these guys don’t get enough funding because of the Meta-Human Condition. Most people won’t pay for a solution if they don’t want to believe that there is a problem.

Overcoming Bias: The Meta-Human Condition.