Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 20:02:11 MST

On Fri, 02 Jan 2004 17:45:21 -0500
"Perry E. Metzger" <> wrote:
> > Also, it is not clear that any sort of normal evolution or genetic
> > algorithm applies after intelligent beings become able to directly
> > increase their intelligence and thus survivability. Evolution gets
> > potentially replaced as the engine of change.
> I very strongly disagree. The mechanism of evolution changes -- we're
> no longer talking about DNA mutations, but often conscious design
> choices -- but the overall effect changes not at all. For a
> gedankenexperiment, consider a superintelligence that chooses to
> remain in one small solar system versus one that chooses to spread
> aggressively throughout a whole galaxy. If you take a quick sample at
> random, which are you more likely to find? One can also imagine design
> choices like using more material to build fewer intelligences
> vs. using smaller amounts of material each on larger numbers of them,
> etc.

Which I am more likely to find in no way says which is more advanced or more longterm viable or which I would like for a neighbor. It is not clear that becoming dominant in number or producing lots of copies would be essential to future fitness functions. Staying in one Solar System would not be a safe choice unless such an entity were powerful indeed though. But I don't buy the notion that endless evolutionary competition is our fate. I think other choices may be available. The question is not decidable from here.
> >> So what sort of strategies does evolution favor? Quite a number of
> >> them, actually, but none of them can be characterized as "pacifist".
> >
> > Assumes evolution forever which is the point of contention.
> I can't see how evolution would stop. It seems to me that we would
> continue, in the future, to find more examples of those entities that
> have good survival traits and spread aggressively than those that do
> not.
> > It is not clear what meaning to assign to "pacifist".
> Choosing the avoidance of violence as a primary goal rather than as a
> possible strategy towards achieving another goal, like survival and
> reproduction.

Most pacifists I know do not consider avoidance of violence to be a primary goal. They rather see use of violence as almost always destructive of one or more of their goals and as often to always an inferior strategy. Some variants simply look at all alternative strategies first as a meta-strategy.

I don't see how reproduction is terribly relevant to a post-Singularity intelligence. Nor do I see that survival is much more than a base level goal. It is also not clear whether individual survival would be considered indefinitely of maximal value versus merging into group-minds (for instance). I don't consider it reasonable to say that what we consider fundamental now in these areas are the only possibilities.
> >> The struggle for resources is unlikely to end, because the amount of
> >> resource you can have in any finite volume remains finite. That leads
> >> me to assume that we'll continue to see evolution take place as life
> >> spreads through the cosmos. That, in turn, leads me to assume that
> >> we'll continue to see "nature bloody in tooth and claw", although
> >> perhaps it will become "nature bloody in assembler and particle beam"
> >> or other gadgetry far beyond our understanding.
> >
> > There are many ways to deal with a struggle for resources that are
> > not "bloody in tooth and claw" though.
> Sure, there's trade as well. However, that tends to happen between
> entities with fairly balanced capabilities for violence, in
> circumstances where there is significant mutal gain to be had from
> trade. If what I covet is not your abilities but literally the raw
> materials of which you are made, such as in the relationship between
> humans and salmon....

There is also simple agreement over boundaries and terms of use. Such an agreement does not require violence or capacity for violence unless one of the entities is likely to irreparably violate the agreement. In our present circumstances this is a reasonable assumption. It is not clear that it is so indefinitely.

- samantha

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