Re: Ethical theories

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 11:54:40 MST

Keith Henson wrote:
>> However, when thinking about the ethics of posthuman digital minds,
>> evolutionary ethics probably aren't so relevant, because these minds
>> won't be evolving by Darwinian natural selection.
> I am not so sure. The scale may be off in space and/or time, but it
> seems to me that posthuman digital minds are going to be faced with
> much the same kinds of problems of limited resources human groups were
> faced with. Being able to directly change their nature might not make
> a lot of difference in the long term about the kinds of ethics they
> adopt.

("Darwinian dynamics unlikely to apply to superintelligence")

A more compact restatement of the above was as follows:

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> 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
> AND multiple competing phenotypes with heritable characteristics
> AND substantial variation in those characteristics
> AND substantial variation in reproductive fitness
> AND correlation between heritable characteristics and fitness
> AND this is iterated for many generations
> THEN you have a noticeable amount of selection pressure

I would also add that the heritable characteristics must exhibit long-term
fidelity over the number of generations being considered.

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

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