Re: singularity arrival estimate... idiocy... and human plankton

From: Brian Phillips (
Date: Fri May 17 2002 - 13:13:33 MDT

RE: singularity arrival estimate... idiocy... and human planktonben goertzel wrote

For a while there are going to be minds that want to remain human instead
of transcending (Val Turchin called these "human plankton", back in the late
 60's when he started writing about this stuff... a comment on the relative
advancement of humans and future uploaded intelligences). But will there
 still be human plankton a few thousand years down the line?
  I'm not so certain .

Rafal responded

 Interesting you should use this metaphor. If you look around, the combined mass of plankton, and lower beings like bacteria, and other microorganisms, is many orders of magnitude larger than the mass of all humans. Should the analogy be valid, the superintelligences might be just as massively outmassed and outnumbered by the human-level plankton, as we are outnumbered by the E.coli in your or my gut. Indeed, maybe they already are

My two cents...

  Even the archae are still around. Granted they are restricted
 to environments not easily exploitable by the eubacteria.
  "Ancient" environments inhabited by "relic species" may one
day include coastal real estate deep in a gravity well, similar to
archae and sulphur based organisms around a deep sea vent.

  I see no reason to suspect that baseline humans will not persist for
indefinite periods of time, if only because a Singleton Perfect Altruist
Power is a highly improbable event. In most other scenarios humans
would be kept around as toys,pets, mementos/furniture, that sort of
thing. It might even be analogous to the biological present of the canids,
far more numerous these days, kilo for kilo than pre-domestication,
with their least domesticated members going nearly extinct. The
ancestral canids nearly extinct, but select members of their
heredity are involved in incrutable ventures involving experiences
far far beyond anything they could begin to understand,
simply because it's helpful to their masters (the orbital
spacecraft with dog test passengers come to mind...).
   This begs the question, which part of the species will Transcend,
and which won't. Again, without a SIPAP, the post Singularity
solar system should look structurally similar to the difference
between a marine-only biota and a biosphere composed of
primitive land-colonizers and the marine life they sprang from.
  I would prefer the analogy of what happened when archae
absorbed prokaryotes to form the first eukaryotes. That was
 a real Singularity! Evolution still finds it convenient to
use prokaryotes (and to a lesser extant archae) to *support* the
eukaryotes. (from our perspective anyway)

Moore's Law is "merely" the product of natural selection after all.


BTW Ben, 20 I.Q. points (on average), Industrial Age technology
vs. Iron Age tech, major phenotypic cosmetic differences AND
an imperfect understanding of modern species concept could
certainly lead one to suspect a "tremendous difference" between
two variants of a species... I can and will argue that this is FAR
more defensible and understandable mistake to make than theism,
prohibitionism, or failure to take out a death insurance policy are.

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