[ExI] the big question

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sat May 17 19:14:33 UTC 2008

At 11:35 AM 5/17/2008, Robert wrote:
>Sorry, minor typo.
>On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 6:18 PM, Robert Bradbury 
><<mailto:robert.bradbury at gmail.com>robert.bradbury at gmail.com> wrote:
>That potentially creates an entirely different set of problems which 
>we have extremely  <<limited>> experience with (Most species on 
>earth are defined by their ability to be noticed as potential mates.)
>The point being that one normally has to crave reproductive 
>opportunities (which usually involve being noticed) in order to 
>survive as a species.  So it tends to be built into every genome 
>(and any cultures derived from such genomes).

Exactly.  Something I have been talking about for over a decade now 
and have been excoriated for, even to being rebuked by a federal 
judge for having recognizing it as an unconscious motive in myself.

>If species have an indefinite lifespan and no desire to be noticed 
>and no desire to reproduce then a lot of behavioral phenomena 
>(within that culture) shift significantly.  I know of no studies or 
>books which explore this in detail (or with academic rigor) [1].

>1. Perhaps in part due to the fact that most writers have not 
>envisioned a culture where we live thousands of years and have no 
>need to have children to achieve "immortality".

Dr. Gregory Clark explores the tight mathematical coupling between 
life span and reproductive rates extensively in his research.

But without the motivation to seek attention, more particularly the 
desire to have status in the eyes of ones peers, society would not 
exist.  (Status is more or less the integral of attention.)  I 
explored this in a story some time ago in giving AIs personalities:


The clinic had other carefully selected human personality 
characteristics such as seeking the good opinion of its peers (humans 
and other of its kind alike).  It also had a few unhuman limits.


Zaba often talked to Suskulan.  She eventually acquired a top-level 
understanding of all of human knowledge and had access to the details 
through simulated memory.  Suskulan warned her that she might have a 
difficult time in the physical world if she got out of communication 
because her mind had expanded well beyond what could be supported in a brain.

"Why would I want to go back to being stupid?" she responded, but, 
after thinking about it, she warmed up her body and moved her 
consciousness back into her original brain.


She rode up the elevator and left the clinic and the spirit world for 
a day.  Walking beyond the reach of the local net was a disconcerting 
experience at first but even without the net, Zaba's mind was 
impressive.  She remembered what Suskulan had said about staying 
awake and learning while being healed and how it would change her and 
the people of the tata.

It certainly had!

For better or for worse?

For better in that nobody died of fevers, nasty parasites, or 
malnutrition since Suskulan had come into their lives.  People didn't 
even die of old age with a clinic to regress age for them and they 
aged in the spirit world only to the extent they wanted.

For worse in that she could not have children unless she left the 
clinic for their gestation.  Zaba had read the design notes that led 
up to the creation of the clinics and their spirits and had long 
understood the mathematics behind Suskulan's limits.  In the long 
run, births and deaths had to match.  If you wanted no deaths, then 
there could be no births.


While evolution has wired in this trait, I don't think we need to get 
rid of it.  A world where the individuals had "indefinite lifespan 
and no desire to be noticed" (and no desire to reproduce) would be a 
strange place indeed.  I can't think of any reason they would interact at all.


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