[ExI] Immeasurable hubris

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Sep 5 08:14:07 UTC 2014

Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> , 5/9/2014 4:58 AM:On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 4:09 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote: 
My own long-term survival paper will be posted when it is presentable; still have to work out some astrophysics and logic. It is titled "That is not dead which can eternal lie" and gives a scientific basis for believing in something like Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. They are waiting for the background radiation to be right.  
### I would be mildly skeptical of this. Assuming that the Old Ones may want to maximize their access to negentropy in the extremely distant future, they would have to manifest themselves during the intervening eons in order to prevent the initiation of processes which dramatically increase entropy, i.e. exponentially multiplying later-generation sentients, like us.  ...Since we are still around, the Old Ones seem to have dropped the ball massively ... unless of course, we are one starflight away from waking up the Reapers. Time will tell.
Dealt with in the paper, and a predecessor about deadly probes I ought to finish. 
You are right: the main prediction of the aestivation hypothesis is that processes that reduce long-term computational capacity will be suppressed. So I have been surveying astrophysics for such processes. Stellar fusion might look wasteful, but actually isn't: over its lifespan the sun will convert just 0.0006 of its mass to energy. Interstellar gas tends to condense out, and only 1-2% escape the galaxy thanks to the dark matter halo (in fact, there might be positive infall). Supernovas and black holes are not very problematic if you mainly care about remaining mass-energy. The biggest losses are from galaxy collisions (splatters gas) and the accelerating expansion (separates clusters): the lack of prevention of galaxy collisions is likely the best evidence against some forms of the aestivation hypothesis. 
Preventing young civilizations from messing up the garden is another one. I agree that killing everybody would be simplest, but not all utility functions favour it (for example, civilizations that try to maximize diversity). So the main prediction would be that activities that do not mess up the long-term state are entirely OK, but as soon as you try to build your universe-spamming von Neumann probe the "police" will show up. Which is an experimentally testable idea...
I don't think the hypothesis is super-likely, but the rewards for waiting till a late era are *huge*: The mass-energy of just the Earth itself (5.9e24 kg) would be more than enough to power more computations in the late era than could currently be done by burning the present observable universe! (6e52 kg) 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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