Epic of Gilgamesh/The Ultimate Regret Minimization Framework

Jeff Bezos invented himself a trillion dollar company and also perhaps one of the best magnets in idea-space for when deciding on a hero’s journey: a regret minimization framework.

The way it works is that you visualize yourself as an eighty-year-old and look back on your life so as to not have it all feel like a disjointed hologram fading into bland hunks.

For some people, this means achieving the things that got people to clap at you. A World Cup winning goalkeeper may die in peace if enough of his motivation system was blind to the larger scheme of things.

However, if you have seen the truth, you cannot unsee it. If you see that there is a possibility to do something about the problem of aging itself, and can no longer make up excuses about how it is impossible because you understand the science (or people who do understand it claim as much) then it will be the greatest failure possible to age without a battle. In narratology and comparative mythology, this would be the equivalent of refusing the call to adventure, and dying because of it.

There exists the possibility of indefinite extension of a biologically twenty-five-year-old body through the development of sufficiently advanced rejuvenation medicine, but due to a confluence of overlapping factors such as that healthcare is mainly about signaling that we care (and not actually caring), status quo bias, and terror management, most humans are unable to be the heroes the world needs.

The case for why the world needs this is easy to answer for people who score low in the psychological trait of agreeableness. It is difficult to compete within status hierarchies and not feel a sense of enmity when we are all planning to die in the end anyway. Gender-neutral bathrooms, crying about puppies in ads, and the vast myriad of other cheap signaling that is supposed to reinforce an ambient sense of cooperation doesn’t work for people who tend to be cynical. The internal life of such people perhaps tends to become a matter of war or defection under such circumstances – hence wasted potential and needless misery. But if everyone organized around something that more credibly signals commitment to each other’s welfare, such as fighting for each other’s lives, then these people would be given a reason to live up to their potential.

Why privilege giving them a telos and not take into account that most people do perfectly well wallowing in hypocrisy until they drown? Perhaps I’m just selfish. And perhaps being selfish is not a bad thing when it is channeled by the right overarching values?

The Epic of Gilgamesh Is Regret Minimization


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