[extropy-chat] Desirability of Singularity

Robin Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Sat Jun 3 11:06:09 UTC 2006

At 04:14 AM 6/3/2006, Stuart LaForge wrote:
>... Although I may have faith in my ability to survive
>the singularity, I have every reason to believe that r
>rationality is on my side as well.
>The way I see it, I am the scion of an unbroken chain
>of life that stretches back to the primordial ooze.
>Through the cambrian explosion, asteroid impacts, the
>ice age, and the never ending evolutionary arms race
>not a single one of my ancestors failed to survive
>long enough to pass their genetic legacy on to me.
>But I am not alone. Anyone reading this email has good
>reason to be optimistic too. . . even Eliezer.

This is really a pretty terrible reason for optimism.
In species where 2 parents had N kids, on average those
kids only had 2 distant descendants survive.   So at least
N-2 of those kids had zero distant descendants.   For
many species N > 1000, so those are pretty bad odds.
Similarly at the species level - most species die out
leaving zero descendant species.   We may have good
reasons for optimism, but the fact that we exist is not
one of them.

Robin Hanson  rhanson at gmu.edu  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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