[ExI] taxonomy for fermi paradox fans:

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Feb 2 22:19:13 UTC 2015

John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> , 2/2/2015 7:44 PM:

On Mon, Feb 2, 2015  Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> Yes but do you think the confluence of positive feedback loops and intelligence might produce effects that are weird enough?  I hope not but that's my fear.
> They need to be very weird. They need to strike well before the point humanity can make a self-replicating von Neumann probe (since it can be given a simple non-changing paperclipper AI and sent off on its merry way, breaking the Fermi silence once and for all) - if they didn't, they are not strong enough to work as a Fermi explanation. So either there is a very low technology ceiling, or we should see these feedbacks acting now or in the very near future,

Could drug addiction be the first signs of that very dangerous positive feedback loop? During most of human existence it was a nonissue, but then about 8000 BC alcoholic beverages were invented, but they were so dilute you'd really have to work at it to get into trouble. Then about 500 years ago distilled alcoholic beverages were invented and it became much easier to become a alcoholic. Today we have many drugs that are far more powerful than alcohol. What happens if this trend continues exponentially?  

You need to assume drugs that are so addictive that *nobody*, not even people who can see them coming, can escape them. And that this works for *all* aliens, whether neutronium vortices or AI. Given that we know that even crack cocaine or nicotine doesn't hook the majority of people who try it (!), this requires some pretty wild extrapolation of the trend. 

It is the "it only takes one" aspect that makes the cultural convergence hypothesis so weak. 

(Still, addictions or their wireheading generalisations likely are big risks for civilizations emerging into automorphism - we spend a lot of effort to make cooking, games, drugs and other entertainment as appealing as possible, so it is not surprising we often end up addicted or at least overindulging. It might be that nearly every civilization struggles with its own version of obesity...)

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