[ExI] homo sapiens as endangered species

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat Jun 4 11:44:21 UTC 2011

On 3 June 2011 15:41, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> * Depending on disaster type it might be good to have multiple smaller
> refuges to increase survival chances of individual refuges; afterwards there
> is a benefit in grouping populations together (skills, demographic solidity)
> with the caveat of epidemics.

One wonders, OTOH, whether "existential survival" vs existential risks is of
any actual interest to our contemporary culture. This certainly used to be,
and it was even taken for granted by the kind of SF where grand,
single-focus societal efforts were put in place to create a few "refuges"
(be they starships, nuclear refuges, Moon bases, even ordinary megaships)
for a very small number of people elected to carry the torch in the
aftermath of impending doom.

One doubts however that nowadays most people, let alone people with any say
as to the allocation of relevant resources, would actually make investments
of any substantial nature that might ensure in some or other scenario the
survival of the "species", or of its memories, but not of themselves and
their immediate offspring, or (at the opposite end) of the terrrestrial
ecology as we know it today.

This lack of vision is of course the mark of decadent societies, as well as
somewhat depressing, but the "good" angle of it is that it put in question
the underlying "specieism" of many old views on the subject. I have for
instance many times reiterated the concept that seeing an upcoming
generation of silicon-based "children of the mind" taking over as anything
different from upcoming generations of carbon-based genetic offspring taking
over - as they have forever been doing - is a purely ideological stance. So,
I emphatically do not consider "runaway AGIs" on any different basis than
post-simians overcoming the old good furry, arboreous ways.

* Low genetic diversity is inconvenient but not a showstopper (as the
> America example shows). Lots of women and a convenient sperm bank might be
> ideal from a genetics point of view, but might not be practical, available
> or acceptable to the survivors.

Genetic wealth should however be stored and protected, as unnatural as it
might be, for any vegetal or animal species we can still put our hands on,
humans included, and gametes banks is the best way to make it compatible
with breeding, selective, eugenic measures such as those adopted in
agriculture for millennia, and which of course cannot be relinquished.

BTW, as genetic bottlenecks go, the "out of Africa" migration of sapiens
should have involved a population numbering its reproductively active
components in the hundred, or so I hear. This would imply an even more
dramatic "insular effect" than the immigration in the Americas.

Stefano Vaj
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