[ExI] Human extinction

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat Aug 23 17:49:51 UTC 2008

On 8/22/08, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Stefano writes
> The reason I advance for favoring homo sapiens in a contest
> for my affections over some lizard race from Sirius is two-fold.
> For one, similarity of structure (including all the aforementioned
> traits such as emotion and so on). For two, we naturally have
> a certain solidarity with our cell-mates, our fellow city residents,
> our national comrades, and even (up to a point) our gender or
> racial brethren.

Actually, I am rather inclined to accept such order of ideas as
"natural" myself, even though it might end up having both of us
labelled as specieists, racists, ethnocentrists, nationalists, male
chauvinists, or just chauvinists. :-)

(In fact, I tend instead to consider that diversity can only be based
on everybody's love for their own identity).

But all this is *syncronical*. Diacronically, and as far as offspring
is concerned, what one really would like is not to have one's children
(or, for that matter, one's clones) *exactly* identical to what one
is. He or she usually wants them to be as much better, more
accomplished, stronger, healthier and more successful as possible.
This is after all what sexual selection, education, preventive
medicine and the drive towards genetic engineering is about.

After a fashion, both aspects may be expression of an identical
"genetic [and/or memetic] whisper". One would expect replicators whose
bearers tend to favour similar vehicles over more different ones to
get a reproductive edge, wouldn't one? But the same goes for
replicators who tend to an increasing fine-tuning of their influence
on the bearers...

>> and the survival of the clade should not. In fact, to pose the
>> survival of the species as one's ultimate ideal may well be to
>> the detriment of the destiny of the clade,
> I read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clade, but it's not helping
> me much here. Instead of "clade" could you be more specific,
> e.g., all our DNA cousins?

Not really "cousins", but "descendents".

What I am say here is that for sure to restrict the usage of H+
technology to the (hardly natural) preservation of humanity as close
as possible to its current average traits for as long as possible
would not really be a good bet for the survival of the human clade in
vastly different context. The clades - the , if you prefer, the
lineages or the monophyletic groups - last as much as they are able to
change, branch, diversify and adapt... The others are much more
vulnerable to extinction, namely in the sense not of just not being
around any more in their past forms, but more radically of leaving
just fossils behind.

This is why those who believe that "survival" - in some other sense
than individual, physical survival - should be considered as a primal
value, should hardly fear a posthuman change in terms of an
"existential risk".

>> and would lead us to conclude that it would have been a
>> good idea for our simian ancestors, at least from their
>> point of view, to put in place an eugenic programme
>> aimed at avoiding the kind of evolutionary change that
>> ultimately led to ourselves.
> Heh, well of course it would have been a good idea---for *them*!

Mmhhh. They may well not have survived anyway, at least they have
descendents they could be to some extent be proud of... :-)

And, in any event, "animal eugenism" regularly tend to eliminate
less-than-average Darwinian bets, not better-than-average...

Stefano Vaj

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list