Re: Darwinian dynamics unlikely to apply to superintelligence

From: Perry E. Metzger (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 17:24:21 MST

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:
> Perry E. Metzger wrote:
>> That's like trying to get rid of gravitation. So long as there are
>> limited resources and multiple competing actors capable of passing on
>> characteristics, you have selection pressure...
> No, so long as you have limited resources
> AND frequent death to free up resources

Nope. Many species of single celled organisms don't have appreciably
limited life spans, and yet they still evolve. Besides, though, one
assumes that death will continue to be frequent in the future,
especially when less prepared entities meet more prepared ones.

> AND multiple competing phenotypes with heritable characteristics

As soon as you get a change of any sort, you have multiple classes of
entities competing.

> AND substantial variation in those characteristics

That will arise with time. You only need a little variation at the
start -- and even the variation of experience histories of multiple
entities can be sufficient to provide for advantages

> AND substantial variation in reproductive fitness

It doesn't need to be substantial. Even slight advantages lead to big
long term changes. Call it the "compound interest effect".

> AND correlation between heritable characteristics and fitness

In the DNA world, that's crucial. In the pseudo-lamarkian world of the
future, it is unlikely to be nearly as obvious an issue. Presumably,
entities will construct descendents using design rather than blind
mutation of a blueprint.

> AND this is iterated for many generations

What are "many generations"? People have been able to artificially
induce astounding changes in animals in a half dozen to dozen
generations. See, for example, the Russian experiments on
domesticating wild animals during the middle of the last century.

> THEN you have a noticeable amount of selection pressure

Before we continue, might I ask you why you have such an astounding
vitriolic reaction to the idea that evolution might continue?

> Natural selection feeds on variation and, in feeding on it, uses it
> up.

"Feeding on it"? "Uses it up"? I don't see that in the real world. I
see billions of species.

> Intelligence is a vastly faster optimization process -

Evolution doesn't require genetic material and literal inheritance to
work. Companies evolve, societies evolve, investment strategies
evolve. Intelligence will doubtless guide much of the design change of
the future -- but it will also doubtless be tempered with the
selection pressure that competition and limited resources bring. I see
no reason to expect that in this regard the future will be any
different from the present.

Perry E. Metzger

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:43 MDT