[ExI] Meat v. Machine

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Dec 31 10:41:04 UTC 2010

On Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 11:26:50PM -0800, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> > Because they're legion. And collectively, they have
> > no choice at all.
> So you say.  I don't see an airtight argument here.

What common plan can a diverse ecosystem set up and

Even for a single species, like us, you're dealing
with 7 gigamonkeys. There will be never complete 
agreement, and never complete execution. This is not
a coincidence.
> > 
> > Why are you not a billionaire, and not funding your
> > own space ventures? In theory, that option is open
> > to anyone. In practice, the dice fall decides.
> > 
> >> darwinian?   Such a civ may have things to do that 
> >> it considers more interesting than endlessly expanding 
> > 
> > Those, who chose to do that, remain at home. They'll
> > never get out, and change the face of the universe.
> > Only the other ones matter. 
> Raw matter and energy acquisition may not be the 
> highest value for such a civ.  

A diverse culture consists of not just inviduals
(like us) but of multiple species. Those who don't
put a high value into self-reproduction (the main
driver for transforming inanimate well-insolated
atoms into self) self-select into invisibility.

The other kind become a fat blip on your instrument

> I don't know and I don't think you do either. 

I don't assume anything else than the ecosystems 
being darwinian.
> >> species in full expansionist mode would have better 
> > 
> > The expansionists are only a "problem" if you're not
> > yet there (so you never come into being) or you're
> > not yet expansive. The latter is unlikely, and is
> > just tough luck. The pioneers don't know you're there, 
> > and they're likely too dumb to do much about it,
> > even if they knew.
> > 
> So I (an advanced civilization) send probes is all 

Do you speak for 7 gigamonkeys? Can you be blamed for
every shenanigan they do? Are you responsible for what
the Earth ecosystem does? What about invasive species?
Parasites? Diseases?

> direction that are too dumb to even notice much less 

They're not probes. They're animals. Results of a long
series of selection steps, with the fitness function
only selecting for one thing: expandability.

Imagine a tube of sterial medium a lightyear wide.
Inoculate it with something at one end, and be it
even a single E. coli colony. Wait (a long time).
What will emerge on the other end? It will definitely
be not E. coli.

> not wipe out any intelligence species that does not 
> have defenses against them?  Why wouldn't an existing 

They're not wiping out anything. Not deliberately.
They just eat and self-reproduce. 

> more powerful civilization wipe out or seriously 

The most powerful civilization can't travel faster
than c. The question is of logistics, not elegance
or logic.

The only chance you have is when you detect that
you've produced a contamination wavefront that will
eat the universe is to build extremely lightweight
extremely relativistic craft that overtakes your
pioneers in flight, colonizes every stellar system
they can (so they're at least as expansive, only not
visible) with immune systems powerful enough to
detect pioneers, and keep their population under
control (ideally, at zero).

Can this be done? No idea.

> seek to stop such irresponsible and potentially 
> criminal behavior?   Is that kind of behavior 
> what we expire too?  I find such a view quite repulsive.

The humanity has done some pretty repulsive things.

> >> enough technology to be a serious threat.  
> > 
> > When the pioneer wavefronts clash, they're no danger
> > to each other. Even in the successor waves the variation
> > is high enough that there's no difference between the
> > native and the alien. It's pretty much the same thing.
> I am not parsing that.  How can dumb probes designed 

Not designed. Evolved.

> for maximum expansion not clash with things other than 
> relatively dumb probes?

The pioneers occupy an extremely narrow niche, which results
in convergent evolution, whatever the point of origin. They 
assume an essentially pristine stellar system. Anything else
they can't metabolize.

Imagine a fresh volcanic island, which happens to be colonized
by roughly the same pioneer plants at the same time. What happens
when the two plant colonies meet in the middle? Not much.

And what happens when other species arrive? Why, a succession
of pioneer species. Eventually, you'll get a nice tropical island
going. A canoe with a Polynesian family from a neighbor island
arrives, and sets up shop there.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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