I think the accepting of advice can be very difficult. In the EO network (entrepreneur organization) people are taught to share relevant experience not advice. In my experience this avoids the issues noted related to advice giving and getting as well as acknowledges no two situations are the same.

As I do with my kids I would do with my other self's.

Share the personal experiences that are related to the issues, listen to others experiences and integrate that into my decision.

Expand full comment

In real life, I am usually generous and give advice to people, but exceptions are made when I am potentially in competition with those people. If I'm at a sporting event or playing in a chess tournament, I will not give my opponent advice on how best to beat his opponent (namely, me). However, if I don't perceive them as a threat (e.g., I'm teaching an inexperienced player how to play a game), then I am much more generous with the advice.

The converse is also true. If my opponent tries to talk to me during a competition, I'm going to be wary of their advice. In a teaching environment, great.

In a cooperative environment, the drive to give and receive advice is even stronger. If our goals are better achieved by working together, then yes, come with the advice!

What is interesting is when one side believes the environment is competitive and the other side believes the environment is cooperative. A scenario might be two people working for the same company -- are they both cooperating because they both want the company to do well, or are they competing for one job opening?

I think overall, whether the environment is cooperative or competitive matters a lot more than whether the other person is a genetic copy of me or not. Of course it does matter to some extent -- even though I share 90% of my genetic information with a housecat, I'm not very likely to give or receive advice from it.

Expand full comment

Ten-year-old me was a little monster. I'd be much more likely to take advice from a me forked at 14 but not at 10, because I feel as though I have some very different values than 10-year-old me and I don't know how contingent the changes were.

There are a few things I would indeed tell my actual younger self if I could, though. Specifically, I'd tell myself not to major in computer engineering because all the "engineering" courses were awful.

Expand full comment

Copies of you that start at ten would grow older. So the question can apply to those older versions.

Expand full comment

Ten year old me was an idiot and I can't imagine why there would be high demand for his work. I think he'd disagree with most of the advice I'd have for him, so I wouldn't bother offering much.

Expand full comment

IMO, the driving factor will be how much autonomy and individuation is valued in this hypothetical society.

I think that the justification this day in age is driven by "differences in who we are and our circumstances" -- but the reality is that most advice is not heeded because of a drive for individuation.

Special snowflake syndrome, if you will.

Expand full comment

For question 1 and 2, I think the answer is the non-cynical: yes, you should feel free to give advice; and yes, you should take it.

Consider human twins: they grow up to be eerily alike, their health outcomes and most other things are highly correlated ('everything is heritable'), they early on communicate in their own 'twinspeech', trust each other to incredible extents, and AFAIK they are pleased to have a twin (eg. the 'Twins Days Festival'). To the extent they don't get along, it's because they're *too* similar and one wants to define himself more in relation to the other.

Would a twin take his other twin's advice on whether he'd like a job, a movie, a woman, especially if the other is speaking from personal experience? I'm thinking, probably, yes; who knows him better or could compare experience better?

Now, consider the a fortiori argument: twins are not 100% genetically identical (de novo mutations and other issues), they experience different nonshared environments (by definition), they still have different lives however similar, and don't share exactly their memories and knowledge up to any point in time. An em of you would share all of those to the extent possible. They would be more your twin than any twin ever was their twin's twin, and for all those reasons better suited and more to be heeded.

If you can't take your em's advice, then you are truly incorrigible.

Expand full comment

Yes, selection effects seem plausible. I did have in mind a pretty stable society.

Expand full comment

Given youth being wasted on the young, it's not clear the amount of advice accepted would change from today. On the other hand, I think advice from an older duplicate copy is potentially far more valuable than advice from some random uncle. So there could be a very strong selective effect for ems who have an innate temperament that lets them accept advice from older copies. In turn this would feedback into norms, making advice taking more acceptable and common. So I'd say yes, more advice offered and taken, but this comes indirectly from selection effects (with some feedback into norms) rather than in young people intellectually realizing old people in general have something useful to say. The counter argument of course would be if taking advice from old copies is not very helpful, and if that were true (for example in a regime of rapid change) then the opposite selection effect could occur. But assuming a stable society, I see clan copies being highly loyal to to each other as a competitive advantage. If you squint, you could think of this as a kind of genetic kin selection. Ant colonies are fiercely loyal to one another and quite successful.

Expand full comment

Current age: 18 (this may reflect in the things I care about)

I'm thinking about the sorts of advice I would give. The stuff that comes to mind are things regarding music (what albums to listen to) and other media (what to watch, etc.). I think I would be pretty receptive to hearing this from myself, assuming that I phrased it in a way that I would find palatable (and I believe I would, I think I have a pretty good model of what sorts of advice I care about).

But my interest in the subject I currently study was sparked (3 years ago) suddenly by a series of events. I suspect it would be much more difficult to replicate this in younger copies of myself, and a disinterested me would be less open to advice about what to study. An interested me (after this event) would be very open to advice on how to better fulfill these goals.

But general life advice? I think I would be more inclined to give advice to my copy than to someone who is not me who I know equally well, but I might not be more inclined to receive such advice favorably. I generally don't take life advice very well, and I don't think I would take life advice from myself well either, since I think I'm pretty aware of my flaws and actively try to fix them and advice on self-improvement has a fairly good chance of coming off as redundant. But I also have better models of what sorts of advice I'm more likely to respond to, which might counteract this. If your model of yourself is too good, I wonder if it might even be legitimate to worry about being manipulated by your copies.

Expand full comment

I don't give advice, I ask difficult questions. But if it were a copy of me, I'd want to be as uninvolved as possible because I'd like to see how far this version of me might vary on a number of different spectrums: Religiousity, intellectual curiosity, sexuality, family life, criminality. It would be fascinating to have a large number of me in a large number of circumstances to help discover how much of me is because of my genetic makeup and how much is attributable to other variables.

Expand full comment

I feel that for me, it doesn't matter who it is who gives the advice, as long as they signal that this particular instance is not a status game but genuine altruism. (As long as I can avoid the situation where I pay a big status penalty in return for following sound advice.)Self-deprecation is a good signal, but not everyone understands it; presumably copies of me do.

Expand full comment

As an adult, I wouldn't so much offer advice as encouragement.

All the advice I'd give would be "Don't necessarily follow advice. Just follow your own heart." I'd say, "What I did was pretty good, but if I were you, I'd try to do something different, just for variety."

As a child, I would be suspicious of any other advice than that.

Expand full comment

I would expect a stronger, but not dramatically stronger, uptake of advice by younger copies of myself from older copies than children taking advice from their elders.

Trying to remember what it was like when I was 10, I would probably be more willing to trust advice given to me by myself. After all, if someone is more like me when I was their age, it would be more likely that their advice would be useful to me as there is stronger evidence that it applies to me. And who was more like me at my age than someone who was exactly like me at my age.

That said, I expect better advice to also be given by the older copies. The advice can be better framed and the older copy can better manipulate the younger copy into compliance because of better understanding of the younger copy's thinking.

I don't expect advice to be dramatically stronger though, say to the point of generating significant inter-generational improvements, both because most of those gains will likely be exhausted within one or two generations and because advice seems to only be of limited use.

After one or two generations, I expect to see a stable point in advice-driven gains because of changing environment and limitations on useful advice that can be given. This is basically the situation we have now, but in the first couple generations there may be a lot to be gained from advice because the environment will be totally new. After a couple generations, though, changes aside, most of what will be useful advice will likely have been found.

Also, advice, much as it is today, would still be only of limited use. Many pieces of advice are not useful to people because they don't have the experiences to understand the value in it. In order for advice to work, it often requires sufficient data to support the advice. So the young copy must still experience many things in order to take advantage of the advice.

Of course, in an em world this experience can be bought by trading off processing speed for money, but only in terms of wall-clock time, not subjective time. However perhaps advice could be used to do a better job of creating experiences that will make certain advice useful. Yet this isn't all that different from what parents do for their children: trying to create experiences that will help them grow.

So in the end I guess advice from older to younger copies is likely to be better and more impactful than advice between older and younger kin (or strangers), but within the same order of magnitude of usefulness.

Expand full comment

I would readily welcome such advice when young. That doesn't mean I would follow it, but weigh it with the circumstances then and now along with other current advice. I would offer such advice when asked, but knowing people aren't always ready for it or want it, I would not waste my time trying to force it. Advice isn't particularly valuable but experience is, so what someone should do is anyone's guess, but what someone did is history and history is more valuable than suppositions. I would be more interested in providing learning opportunities than instruction. Conflict tends to occur between those with responsibility and those dependent on them, so without this relationship there isn't much. That is largely avoidable though not something everyone wants to avoid.

Expand full comment

This is a fun question.

As a young copy, I very much doubt I would be willing to follow orders from old copies of myself. Call it "desire for independence" or maybe just plain stubbornness.

If I was ever on the fence about a major or moderately important life decision, I would listen to advice from my older self, but I don't think I would give it much more weight than advice from any other mentor.

As an old copy, I don't think I could resist the temptation to give advice and trying to positively influence my younger copies. But I would also know that my younger selves' "desire for independence" would result in direct orders being ignored.

I would probably end up giving very general advice to young copies; I'd try to assemble something like Koans or "parables" for my younger self - anything that would force my younger self to treat the lesson I'm trying to impart as a puzzle.

I haven't decided if my younger self would find this annoying and condescending, or legitimately interesting.

Expand full comment