[ExI] hard science

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Feb 16 12:11:30 UTC 2014

Tara Maya <tara at taramayastales.com> , 15/2/2014 8:29 PM:

On Feb 15, 2014, at 10:24 AM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
And if babies are made by machines, then breasts and penises and all the rest of our sex equipment are unnecessary.  Producing the highs of all types, orgasms, drugs, peak experiences should be fairly easy long before the far future without  relying on sense organs.

It has to be remembered that reward is connected to reproduction by natural selection. If reward becomes disconnected from what actually succeeds in spreading a life form (machine or biological), then that system of reward will eventually disappear. 

Not necessarily. As a gay person I am pretty happy to note the existence of many more with my orientation, despite our on average low fertility rate. There is a theory that the genetic predisposition towards homosexuality does confer a fitness advantage to relatives, although I think much more can be ascribed to the great flexibility of the mammalian mind - if a species' brains can learn a lot of behaviours it will on average be good for fitness, even if some individuals choose not to reproduce.  
Medieval monks did not have many children, yet the social selection pressures for becoming a monk made the institution thrive for millennia. They bred pretty well memetically.

Just because the technology exists to make babies with machines doesn't mean that there is any selective pressure to do so. It would have to actually prove to be a system that would result in more surviving and further-reproducing copies of itself.
The costs of pregnancy in terms of effort, health, career effects and monetary cost are non-trivial in developed societies. Since the opportunity costs of having children go up as we become richer, people might actually really want methods that lowers them. This is one reason why fertility rates in north Europe are higher compared to south Europe: children's crèches do lower the overall cost for parents, and the career cost of children is far lower. 
Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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