Re: "friendly" humans?

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jan 01 2004 - 21:00:11 MST

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Wei Dai wrote:
>> You're being unexpectedly dense here. If meme A contributes to
>> genetic fitness, and memes are mostly transmitted between relatives,
>> then the increased genetic fitness implies more relatives for
>> carriers of A and therefore also helps increase A's frequency in the
>> meme pool.
> I am not sure that this is a significant memetic fitness boost. In
> your language, I expect that memes are mostly transmitted between
> non-relatives.

Pardon me, I have misspoke.

I expect that memes are mostly transmitted between kin, but not
necessarily between parents and children. I expect that the covariance
between the differential reproductive fitness of type A meme-bearers, and
the differential memetic susceptibility of children to memes from their
parents specifically, is not significant compared to other determinants of
memetic fitness, and specifically is not a significant enough advantage to
beat memes that exploit their hosts as evangelists, mostly because I do
not expect the differential reproductive fitness to be large (in the
ancestral environment).

I also suspect that whether a meme survives over any serious time is
determined how well it competes in propagation from tribe to tribe, i.e.,
between nonrelatives. But mostly I am disturbed by the small differential
in reproductive fitness (evolution having already directed enormous force
at optimizing it) and the poor exchange rate between reproductive fitness
and memetic fitness.

To the extent that males don't have a strong emotional urge to avoid
non-reproductive sex, I read this as saying that in the ancestral
environment there wasn't much of a differential reproductive fitness to
create a selection pressure for it... not that, in the ancestral
environment, there were memes that urged people philosophically to have
children, so that people evolved to be susceptible to those memes instead
of evolving stronger emotional desires for children, etc.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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