Re: META: Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun Nov 14 2004 - 07:12:10 MST

At 08:00 PM 13/11/04 -0500, you wrote:
>On Nov 13, 2004, at 5:48 PM, Keith Henson wrote:
>>At 12:35 AM 13/11/04 -0500, you wrote:
>>>Even as recently as a few hundred years ago in
>>To evolutionary psychology, nothing since the introduction of agriculture
>>is significant. With extremely rare exceptions, there just has not been
>>enough time for selection to take place. Evolution is a *slow* process
>>for animals with generation times in decades.
>>100,000 years is just getting started.
>I may come back to this later this evening, but having
>read only this far, I want to exclaim that this was
>*exactly my point*. If we can see that your hypothesis
>didn't correctly predict the major cause of death during
>a decades-long time of resource depletion only a few
>hundred years ago, it seems clear that it isn't likely
>to correctly predict the current day either, since there
>hasn't been time for this kind of change!


EP says that if humans have any psychological traits at all (and I make the
case they do) these traits were almost entirely selected in the stone age.

So it should be no surprise that people have psychological traits that make
it easy to learn to fear snakes and spiders, and don't have traits to make
it easy to fear wall sockets.

The problem is accounting (where you can) for modern behavior that is
rooted in mechanisms selected a million years ago.

As an example, modern day behaviors of frat hazing, army basic training,
battered wife, SM and B&D are probably rooted in capture-bonding, otherwise
known as Stockholm Syndrome. The psychological trait of being able to bond
to captors was selected over the millions of years where something like 10%
of our ancestors were violently captured from another

Re wars as the result of evolved psychological traits, wars don't happen
all the time. That leaves only two choices for why, they are either random
or causal. If you believe they are random, please make the case. If not:

1. War is a species typical human behavior.

2. Species typical behaviors are the result of evolutionary selection (per
EP, in the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness.)

There is more, but no point in going further if we disagree at the
fundamental level.


There are two points where this is relevant to sl4/AIs friendly or
not. First, uploading humans is far more dangerous than I would have
thought a few years ago, though it might be safe enough if we know how to
keep some psychological traits switched off.

Second, humans in war mode are likely to do extremely stupid things, like
creating seed AIs that grow up hostile.

Keith Henson

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