[ExI] Human extinction

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Aug 26 04:53:35 UTC 2008

Stefano writes

> Lee wrote:
>> [Stefano wrote]
>>> (In fact, I tend instead to consider that diversity can only be based
>>> on everybody's love for their own identity).
>> What does that mean? I can't parse it at all. Diversity (or diverseness)
>> is to me an objective *condition* that may or may not hold to some
>> degree about one group of entities compared to another (more
>> homogeneous) group of entities.
> What I mean, is that a love for what you are is a love for what makes
> you different, and by loving what you makes it different you end up
> not liking the prospective of such difference getting lost... :-)

Oh!  Yes. Well, sure. But I don't think that even in America
the word "diversity" automatically carries a political or moral
implication---e.g., it does not convey either approval or 
disapproval of what is an objective condition (as I said).

I sounds like you meant to write "(In fact, I tend instead to
consider that the perception of diversity [or difference] can
only be based on everybody's love for their own identity.)"

If I have not put words into your mouth :-)  then while you
are making a very valuable point that had not occurred to
me (nor have I read anywhere), namely, that it's our self-
love that makes some of us want to stay dissimilar from
others, I can nonetheless imagine that some scholars and
impartial observers really do discern differences between
themselves and others, or between one kind of other and
a different kind of other, that is completely independent
of whether they have any self-love, or love for those very
things that make themselves different from other people.

For example, someone could avidly hate himself, be on the
verge of committing suicide, and yet note objectively and
without emotion that one of his friends has ears that don't
quite match, or that he has never before seen a person of
a certain peculiar intellectual cast or ethnic description. It
would be possible for him to make these objective
discernments regardless of his own sense of identity.

> But there are no well-defined boundaries or quantum leaps! Once
> you like having successors, and you like such successors to be an
> improved, enhanced version of yourself even at the cost of an
> "identical" reproduction of your self, you are well on the way to
> define (species) extinction not as the fact that your species has
> evolved and/or branched, but as the fact that the inability to do so
> or the misplaced effort to keep it unnaturally as equal to itself as
> possible along time has increased the risk of its disappearance
> altogether.

Yes, very good point. Quite perceptive, I think, although I 
do not agree with its expression of values (sentiments). 
Indeed, I like having *more* people around and do wish
for them to be better in every possible way, but not at the
cost of my own existence. In your words, I do "unnaturally"
wish us to remain exactly as we are (and for me to remain
exactly as I am). Perhaps you are wondering how it is
possible for me to want to learn anything new, or to improve
my IQ, or make any such change. Perhaps you also don't
understand how I do want there to be vastly, vastly superior
entities to the ones that exist now.

In short, we can have our cake and eat it too. I *do* want
to attain an IQ of 175, and then later of 200, and then later
of 400 and so on, but I ought to be able to do that without
in any way increasing the IQ that I currently have. The solution
is very simple: future versions of me continue to keep alive and
run (in the background, as it were) previous versions of me.

In the same manner, I would hope that historical recreations
of Paris, to pick a place at random, for every decade of
its existence are run, although I would hope that the actual
suffering of the people does not occur, but instead they only
continually have *memories* of having recently suffered, which
I believe to be not nearly so bad.

>>> 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".
>> Well, at the risk of repeating myself, I cannot agree. By
>> the "similarity of structure" criterion, there is everything
>> to fear.
> Yes. But you conceded that keeping all and every subsequent specimen
> as similar as possible to a "model" (and which one, exactly? an
> absolutely average and abstract human being vintage 2005?) is hardly a
> satisfactory plan...

Right. But hopefully my explanation above satisfies that:
in short, we do not keep every subsequent specimen
as similar as possible, we only keep some of them as
similar as possible.

>> But suppose the big S occurs, the solar system sports only
>> entities who are to us as we are to amoebas, and they come
>> into stellar conflict with a still-DNA molecularly reproducing
>> people (with tails, four legs, six eyes, and a fondness for
>> tyrannical government) who nonetheless appreciate art and
>> music in ways not altogether different from us, and who have
>> the same kind of loyalty/solidarity continuum that I've just
>> described.  I would be on *their* side, not on the side of
>> my inhuman descendants.
> Wouldn't they be both your "descendants"? Of course, most or all of
> the DNA-based "race" would not be literally part of your offspring,
> but there again the "children-of-the-mind" godlike race would not
> either, so if you were you still around I think you could plausibly
> take side for either of them, exactly depending on affinities of one
> kind or another.

Yes, and whether I viewed them as "my descendants" is indeed
immaterial to me. I'm concerned only about similarity.

> But what happens if you are not around, and a single "race" is there,
> or multiple "races" that are equally removed in evolutionary terms or
> general structure from current humanity?

Then we have become extinct, and, almost equally troubling, I am
myself dead. You and I and the biologists may quibble over the
meaning of "extinct", but all I'm really saying is that I want humanity
as presently constituted to stick around forever.

> What I am saying is that I am not especially concerned by the
> fact that they may end up as different from me as I am from a
> distant ancestor.

Yes, I see. But your views do seem odd to me. Ah, what about
this? Our sun novas and we are completely extinguished, but in
a galaxy far, far away, a billion years from now a non-DNA
lifeform evolves, and is subsequently entirely and totally replaced
by its own very advanced intelligent software. Just why do you
view (if you do) software that arose from *us* as prefereable
to identical software that arises elsewhere?


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