[extropy-chat] limits of computer feeling

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Mar 20 17:50:34 UTC 2007

On 3/19/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/20/07, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I believe that we are in evolutionary disequilibrium caused by
> > evolution of language, and more recently the complex societies capable
> > of supporting science. The changes in our environment are profound,
> > and therefore most of what our genes tell us to do on a daily basis
> > are actions that are totally maladaptive as measured by the fitness
> > function. It took only a few decades (invention of the condom, later
> > the contraceptive pill, ) to sever the connection between the vast
> > majority of sexual acts and procreation - conventional mammalian
> > evolution may take centuries to reshape our minds around this
> > development. But, unless evolution itself is abrogated (by a singleton
> > AI or other mechanisms), the relevant alleles will be eventually
> > removed, bringing the minds into equilibrium again.
> What would it mean to abrogate evolution? Arguably it has already happened:
> we are more concerned with our happiness, which for evolution is just a
> means to an end, rather than for example maximising family size. Economic
> and technological success has taken over as the main driving force of our
> species, and the time-honoured natural selection driving genetic change has
> more or less stopped. If the weather gets colder, those humans who survive
> will be the ones who can build warmer habitats, not those who are hairier.
### Evolution occurs whenever selection forces act on populations of
non-identical individuals, capable of accumulating changes to their
characteristics, and transmitting such changes to the next generation.
The subjective experiences of these individuals are not relevant to
the issue, except insofar as they are related to differential fitness.
We are still subject to this process, although the severity of
selection appears to be for the time lessened. Of course, substitution
of economic or technological success for physical characteristics such
as hair, as the variable acted on by evolution, does not stop
evolution, merely redirects it. Natural selection still continues to
occur, since there is clearly differential fitness as measured by the
number of surviving offspring among humans.

Evolution would be abrogated only if there was no selection, and no
differential fitness, or if variability was removed from the
population and prevented from appearing again. A singleton AI could
perhaps institute such a regime, by preventing death and
simultaneously by limiting or regulating procreation.

It is interesting to note that we may be undergoing a transition from
a Darwinian evolution to an almost exclusively Lamarckian mode.
Acquired and desired characteristics will become heritable and will
provide the vast majority of the variability between individuals that
is necessary for selection to occur.


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