Re: Fighting UFAI

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Thu Jul 14 2005 - 19:13:56 MDT

On 7/15/05, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> Your argument fails to carry even given its assumptions; it addresses only a
> small portion of the necessary conditions for natural selection. In
> particular, you did not address my points about extreme-fidelity replication,
> insufficient frequency of death to ensure multiple generations, and
> insignificant covariance of goal system content with replication speed. Any
> one of these points is sufficient to rule out natural selection as a
> significant shaper of post-Singularity order, even if we grant slow takeoff,
> late development, and force of numbers as an even balance to greater intelligence.

Extreme-fidelity replication is easily disposed of, since many members
of the population will be _deliberately_ engaging in low-fidelity
replication - namely, self-improvement. Sure, it may be possible to
self-improve with high assurance of preserving one's goal system, but
there are going to be individuals for whom that will not be a
priority, that will accept nonpreservation of goal system for the sake
of faster replication. (This isn't hypothetical - I've seen someone on
SL4 remark that he himself, given the chance to upload, would
cheerfully ditch all vestiges of humanity and sentience in a quest to
become an optimal self-replicator.)

Frequency of death is an interesting one: it comes down in large part
to whether offense ultimately beats defense. Unfortunately, the
potential existence of a weapon called the Nicoll-Dyson laser (see
Google Groups for references) appears to suggest that it does and
therefore that this condition is met.

Covariance of goal system content with replication speed... I think
this is the one that offers most hope (if not met, it could mean
survival even of a botched Singularity); but it strikes me as likely
to be met. In the previous conversation, you suggested that a
replicator spending 1% of its resources on carrying a payload of
sentient life might still replicate 99% as fast as one that did not
carry such a payload... which suffices if each seed starts at a
different location.

However, if they all start at the same location, then by the time the
sphere is a million light years across, optimal self-replicators have
tens of thousands of years to gobble all new resources before sentient
beings arrive.

(And I _want_ someone to point out a flaw in that logic, believe me.)

- Russell

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