[ExI] Narrow ecological niches

Chris Hibbert hibbert at mydruthers.com
Sat Apr 25 16:36:51 UTC 2015

On 4/25/15 5:00 AM, extropy-chat-request at lists.extropy.org wrote:
> I have the impression that general intelligence in a
> fitness-maximizing self-replicator creates its own niche and all such
> replicators inhabit it. That is to say, any group of interbreeding
> fitness-maximizing replicators with general intelligence is a direct
> competitor of all other such groups that are reproductively separate
> from it.
> But why is there only one niche in this case? The biological world
> seems to have a vast number of niches, and modern economies also seem
> to have a great many niches. Why is this illusory?

As much as we speak of economies as being spaces of competition, there's 
also a lot of cooperation going on. One thing that definitely happens in 
an economy is that as one competitor specializes and gets better in the 
role it has picked for itself, it can create niches for others to 
inhabit. Biology has some cooperation, but a lot less, since there's no 
notion like property rights that can lead to mutually beneficial trade.

There's also an enormous difference between an economy with its 
competition between individuals, and ecology, in which (to the observers 
at least) it looks like a competition between species consisting of 
rather uniform individuals.

So intelligent individuals have a different kind of 
competition/cooperation. In the same way that there are many economic 
niches for participants in the present economy, it doesn't seem 
impossible that other kinds of intelligences might create their own 
niches and participate in the economy as well. The distinction seems to 
be whether the interactions are economic or biological. To me, that 
argues for finding a way to ensure that AGI gains more from   trade than 
it could get from predation. As long as that starts out the case, the 
AGI will develop its cooperation skills, and keep finding ways to enrich 
itself and improve its ability to reach its goals peacefully that way 
rather than eliminating agents that might turn out to be customers and 

All sensory cells [in all animals] have in common the presence of
... cilia [with a constant] structure.  It provides a strong
argument for common ancestry.  The common ancestor ... was a
spirochete bacterium.
   --Lynn Margulis (http://edge.org/q2005/q05_7.html#margulis)

Chris Hibbert
hibbert at mydruthers.com

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