[ExI] Meat v. Machine

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Dec 30 00:52:34 UTC 2010

On 2010-12-29 06:27, John Clark wrote:
> On Dec 28, 2010, at 11:50 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:
>> If machine-phaselife is so inevitable and sosuperior, where are the
>> Von Neumann probes?
> Two possible answers:
> 1) Somebody has to be the first intelligent technological civilization
> in the visible universe, perhaps it is us.

This weird possibility should be considered.

> 2) Some road block prevents intelligence from engineering the cosmos, my
> best guess of what that impediment is would be electronic drug addiction.

That possibility has jumped a bit in my estimation this year, but I 
still find it somewhat problematic. The main reason is that it requires 
electronic drug addiction (or games, superb art, sex or whatever) to be 
strongly convergent: nobody and nothing can resist it. That seems to be 
a tall order, since it is enough that only one individual manufactures a 
successful von Neumann anywhere for them to dominate.

A third possibility that I hold moderately likely is that they are here, 
but mostly quiescent. The First Ones laid claim to all of the galaxy, 
putting little von Neumann flags on everything. They are not using up 
resources due to long-term considerations (they will be worth so much 
more in a trillion years), so right now they are relaxing in some 
genteel M-brains somewhere, talking about singleton politics or 
whatever. However, their smart tools maintain their domain, in 
particular stomping hard on anything trying to make its own von Neumanns.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford University

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list