[ExI] addiction

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Mar 21 16:59:53 UTC 2016

On 2016-03-15 22:45, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> To addiction? Why did addiction evolve?

Why did fractures evolve? There are limits to what evolution can do, and 
it optimizes for average performance in an environment. So if bones 
occasionally break with evnetually fatal outcomes it is OK if the 
fitness cost of that is smaller than the cost due to making them 
heavier. And rare events will have extra weak and noisy selection pressure.

Same thing for addiction. The kinds of brains and motivation we have are 
vulnerable to some chemical and behavioral signals, but the fitness 
losses due to addiction in the natural environment are small and the 
costs of making addiction-resistant motivation systems are likely high 
(you need to rewire very fitness-relevant systems with highly preserved 

It is worth noting that drug use is not uncommon among animals, but 
addiction is more rare.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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