[extropy-chat] Avoid Too Much Change.

Randall Randall randall at randallsquared.com
Wed Apr 11 19:30:24 UTC 2007

On Apr 11, 2007, at 11:50 AM, Russell Wallace wrote:
> On 4/10/07, Randall Randall <randall at randallsquared.com> wrote:
> Really?  I'd love to hear your reasons for thinking
> that this is unlikely or not worth considering.  While
> I disagree with John about personal identity, I do
> agree that selection will favor those who agree with
> him that process survival is unimportant.  This puts
> me in an awkward position, as I'm sure you understand.
> Selection? Look at the statistics: selection favors those who  
> eschew this geek stuff completely. We're programmed to believe  
> personal power confers selective advantage, because it was true in  
> the conditions in which we evolved - but even though we still  
> believe it because we're programmed to, it's no longer true.

Personal power?  I think you missed the point.  It isn't
about personal power, it's about whether you're willing
to cavalierly create multiple copies of yourself at the
cost of this instance.

For a person like John Clark, when faced with a choice
about whether to do A or B (where he can't do both in a
single instance), the obvious answer is to copy himself
and then each copy will go do one, with the belief that
John Clark is also doing the other thing.  When faced
with a procedure which will certainly produce some good
outcome if it works, and kill the instance if it doesn't,
John has no qualms about backing himself up and doing it
anyway.  Didn't work?  He can always try again.

For people like myself (and Slawomir, I believe), that's
not really an option.  Dangerous things do not lose their
danger merely because you can back yourself up.

I would predict, therefore, that in a situation where
people can copy themselves, there are going to be a lot
more John Clarks than Randall Randalls.

> As for why it's not worth considering: it's a story. We make up  
> stories for ourselves for our own reasons. Sometimes we set them in  
> "the future", but when the actual future comes around, it  
> practically never resembles our stories; once you go beyond such  
> predictions as "computers will be more powerful in ten years than  
> they are today", futurology has a lower track record of success  
> than you'd expect from random chance. As soon as someone says "the  
> future will be like X", it's a reasonably safe bet that whatever  
> the future actually ends up like, it won't be X.
> In this case it's not even a particularly plausible story: if you  
> get "IQ 12000" (scare quotes because the phrase doesn't actually  
> mean anything, IQ isn't defined much past 200 or so), are you going  
> to go berserk and start massacring everyone? (That, after all, is  
> what the elimination of other viewpoints in a timescale as short as  
> a century implies.)

I didn't say anything about elimination of other viewpoints,
and I was ignoring the bit about 12000 IQ.  It's the willingness
to believe that copies are really the same person that makes
me think that selection will favor those who believe it, because
they'll produce far more copies than others.

I also think this was what John Clark was getting at in the
email to which you were replying when I replied to you.

> Are you even going to tolerate such behavior in others? Even if you  
> are, nobody else is. Nobody with any political power wants the  
> existence of a handful of people a zillion times smarter than  
> anyone else. The world isn't going to tolerate the creation or  
> existence of superintelligent entities unless they behave like  
> respectable citizens.

Ah, just as other mammals have been unwilling to tolerate
humans unless they behave well.  Must be why humans are

> "If we have matter duplicators, will each of us be a sovereign
>   and possess a hydrogen bomb?" -- Jerry Pournelle
> Leaving aside the lack of evidence that matter duplicators are  
> possible, stop and think about this for a moment: conventional  
> manufacturing technology is perfectly adequate
It's a fun quote, not part of any argument I'm making.  I
must admit, though, it is a *polarizing* quote; lots of
people I'm having discussions with like to quote it and
attack it, as though it's part of whatever debate we're
having.  I wonder what that means?

Randall Randall <randall at randallsquared.com>
"[W]e ARE the market, this IS the market working, there's nothing
  external to be deferred to." -- Ian Bicking, on "let the market  

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