[extropy-chat] What Human Minds Will Eventually Do

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Jun 30 10:57:11 UTC 2006

On Thu, Jun 29, 2006 at 10:59:08PM -0700, Lee Corbin wrote:

> More seriously, I totally agree that we shouldn't over assume
> that our own values will predominate; indeed, Darwin has to 
> remain the best guide. As an example, recall the SF stories
> and movies in which it was just *assumed* that more advanced
> creatures would be benevolent, would have "risen above" our

It is almost always assumed that cruising aliens are super-advanced,
and super-intelligent. But just assuming a) relativistic flight
b) iterated selection over large distances it's pretty obvious
intelligence is not a trait selected for. The only traits selected
for are short reproduction time and expansiveness. So while
intelligence is necessary to produce expansive aliens, the
intelligence trait will be selected away over very large 
distances. So if you take a temporal view of expansion organisms,
you see a succession sequence, which is spatial in a snapshot, if you
look at the waves trailing behind the first wavefront. No doubt,
some these successors will be intelligent, and most of them
superintelligent, using humans for a yardstick. But the damage's
done by then, already. 

> lowly morals. But in the end, one must ask, what sorts of
> algorithms will dominate the computronium of the far future?

Judging from today's ecosystem, by volume (equivalent of 
mass) dominated by nonsentients. Low-diversity populations
are really playing with fire, as far as stability is 
concerned. I don't see how virtual ecosystems (not everything
will be virtual, by virtue of leverage of physical layer)
are no different from normal ecosystems. I don't know how
much of the computronium fraction will be mobile platforms with
sensors and actuators, that's for Darwin to figure out.
It might be a lot, it might a small fraction. We don't know yet.

> And the answer need not be too bleak: after all, Earth's
> currently most advanced life form is rather altruistic.

Er, not so altruistic towards the rest of them 

From the point of a deity, we're plankton. From the point of
view of lesser lifeforms that are parasites, we're food.
Interesting nonlinearities appear soon in sexual selection
and host-parasite co-evolution.
> (It bears repeating that humans engage in violence far, far
> less per observed hour than does any other primate.)

You're still only looking at human2human interactions.
As soon as interaction equality is skewed massively, the
altruism (which is just a co-evolutionary algorithm for
smart critters, soaking in iterated interactions) suddenly
goes poof.
> > My point is that diversition radiates both down and up complexity-wise,
> > and a transrodent niche doesn't ask for intelligence. There is
> > simply no place for intelligence in a lowly scavenger package.
> The serious and interesting conflict of visions that you and
> I appear to have is that I see a greater role for intelligence.

I think intelligence is very interesting, but I'm not fooling
myself for a moment that bulk of postbiomass will be 
intelligent. You can pack a lot of ops in a cubic micron, but
you can't put a lot of bits into it. 

> In particular, for some radius r > 1 meter, *all* activity
> within a sphere of radius r will conform to the values of
> a ruling intelligence.

You're a ruling intelligence. Do you control everything even
within your own body? Do you control everything on your city
block? Would you really want to? No need to try micromanaging
an ecology, it's the very epitome of free markets.
> Or, in other words, you gonna let mice run free in your space?

Um, there are mice in my space. There are spiders, and outside
insects passing through, and mites, and mold, and other microscopic 
stuff I don't see. There's also some really dumb cleaning robot,
no doubt there will be more and smarter robots next. I'd really
like to equip a helicopter with remote video, a hi-res camera
pointing downwards, and a GPS autopilot, to explore the neighbourhood
a little.

> I'm sure you don't now.

Why are you letting coyotes roam the New York Central Park?
> > But math is just a particular production system, a subset
> > of culture.
> What?!?  Heresy.  Plain and simple.  Actually, mathematics
> rules the universe, or so it has seemed since the time of

Mathematics is what people do. Universe doesn't do mathematics.
Few people do mathematics, too.

> Galileo. It's another discussion, but I'm a strict mathematical
> Platonist (i.e. "17 exists and has the properties it does
> completely independently of culture or intelligence").

I have absolutely no problems with the universe being
an introspection view of a formal process (though I
will only consider it seriously when there is a TOE
based on it), but 17 is a symbol in space encoded
between our ears, and in systems built by us (excluding
aliens elsewhere, which might or might not be there).
Remove all that instances of that particulary structured
matter in space, and instantly 17 vanishes in a 
cloud of faulty logic.
> Well, we have to revel in something. At some point, math (and
> engineering more advanced versions of ourselves) will be all
> that is left. And the whole point of this thread, so far as
> I am concerned, is making the point that the pleasure is more
> important than what you get it from.

Evolutionary processes allocate pleasure. Evolution doesn't stop,
so tamper with that allocation algorithms at your peril.
> Well, as Russell has asked me, just how do you intend to spend
> the next trillion or so years (granted that we get lucky) if
> not on mathematics?

I intend to do the same thing I do now: in social interactions,
a bit of construction and maintenance, research, and the like.
I do agree that research of native spacetime artifacts will eventually
become less and less worthwhile, so co-evolutionary systems will
largely concern themselves with self-generated complexity (compare
social life of primates with reptiles with procaryontes). Study
of formal systems will no doubt continue as well.
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
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