[ExI] Why Cities Keep Growing, Corporations and People Always Die, and Life Gets Faster

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sat Jun 4 11:49:53 UTC 2011

Kelly Anderson wrote:
> I think that's just basic math. Whether a singularity is reached in
> real cities, who knows? Is this what happened to Mohenjo Daro, or in
> the American Southwest, or Easter Island?

Easter Island ended up in an ecological overshoot leading to a limited 
carrying capacity, but I think most declining cities decline for far 
less interesting reasons. Brugge and many cities lost access to the sea 
due silting and declined into obscurity. The rust belt got outcompeted 
by foreign industry and new industrial demands.

It is interesting to see that a lot of cities do decline quite strongly:

>> He is kind of aware. I talked with him about it, and he plans to meet with
>> Nick next time he is over here in Oxford. It is just that he doesn't buy
>> into AGI and similar things straight away, and at the very least not that
>> that it would not be having the same kind of resource limits.
> The double negative is throwing me here, is he saying AGI would follow
> a different power law than people?

Sorry, that was my bad English. He seems to think (reasonably) that AGI 
will of course also have resource limits. If his analysis is truly 
universal then it would apply to the AGI too. They would have roughly 
the same growth problem as cities.

> How about something related to the tax rate? Seems that is running
> into a singularity. :-)

It just feels like that.

> Ya. What would you measure as government efficiency given that
> government doesn't really produce anything itself. Biologically
> government is a parasite. Wonder if he has anything to say about
> parasites in his whole analogy.

Brains are just parasites on bodies, they don't actually ingest or 
process food, right? :-)

Governments do produce various things - law enforcement, coordination, 
various services. Measuring their efficiency in doing so (and whether 
they just produce what they ought to and not a lot of other stuff) is 

Apropos parasites, note the superexponential growth of crime rate in the 
city paper. There might be parasite singularities too.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

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