Ethics was In defense of physics (was: Encouraging a Positive Transcension)

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat Feb 14 2004 - 19:45:35 MST

At 07:08 PM 14/02/04 -0500, Eleizer wrote:
>As one of the chief early offenders in the "Well, past physics got
>revised, so why not current physics?" debate, I'd like to say that today's
>physics got a *lot* more impressive once I knew a little more about it. In
>the latest physics, the bound formerly known as Beckenstein (now known as
>the 't Hooft bound, briefly known as the Susskind bound) is a holographic
>bound on the entanglement between a spherical volume and the rest of the
>universe, measured in Planck units of the surface area. It's not
>something you could defeat by being clever about how you stored your data
>- if the holographic theories are correct, the 't Hooft bound is
>absolutely fundamental.
>It's that "absolutely fundamental" quality to modern physics that might
>make the bounds resistant to any amount of intelligence and creativity.


>The laws of physics we know today are not compartmentalized. They could
>be wrong, but you can't just rip out Special Relativity and replace it
>with a different hypothesis that allows you to go faster than light.
>That'd be... I can't even put it into words. Reality would unravel. The
>socks of reality don't have loose strings - if you take out a string, the
>whole sock falls apart.
>The limits imposed by our models, and sometimes our hypotheses, of
>physics, arise from exactly those features of the model that seem to
>shout: "Here is something truly fundamental about reality!" Back in the
>days when we were tossing theories out the window every half-decade, the
>theories we got rid of didn't have that "Here is something absolutely
>fundamental!" look about them. That, in particular, I didn't understand
>when I made the historical comparison. History doesn't always repeat
>itself. Today's physics might be here to stay; or, when it settles down,
>all the fundamental limits might still be there. At any rate I am willing
>to bet that no one can distinguish two electrons - EVER.

This is important because the *ethics* of superhuman intelligences depend
on the underlying physics.

If you have FTL, the ethics of the future are more on the scale of taking
care of your body vs having to deal with other independent superhuman

It also leads to some very interesting questions about how physically large
a superhuman intelligence can be. At some point there is no utility in
absorbing more matter.

Keith Henson

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