Re: Collective Volition, next take

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Sat Jul 23 2005 - 14:07:08 MDT

On 7/23/05, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> I thought I was, but I checked Wikipedia and had got my definitions mixed up,
> either that or I read a different definition. Regardless, I still don't
> understand what you think happens. Or why you think natural r-selection is
> any less cruel than natural K-selection.

Oh, as they apply in the state of nature they're both equally cruel,
the question is the type of policies they imply. The r-strategist's
opponent is the inanimate environment; the K-strategist's opponents
are others of its own kind. Give an oak tree a chainsaw and the
ability to use it, and what will it do? Start killing as many other
oak trees as possible. A dandelion won't bother. The difference is
ratio of force to space: the world looks much more crowded to an oak
tree than a dandelion. The upshot is that _r-strategy, if implemented
as behavior, corresponds to the sort of behavior we call morally good;
K-strategy corresponds to the sort of behavior we call evil_.

Now suppose you have a species that's basically K-strategist, but with
a flexible brain, that has encountered a variety of conditions
including those with low ratio of force to space (lots of sparsely
occupied territory, environmental hardship is the enemy), and high
ratio of force to space (you have to dominate or kill others of your
own kind to get resources), what would we expect to see? Scatter a
bunch of members of that species over a large landscape where they're
free to come into contact or avoid each other as they wish, and
they'll get along fine; lock them in a sealed box with no escape and
they'll turn on each other.

CV locks all of humanity in a sealed box with no escape. (The problem
isn't the Volition part, it's the Collective part.)

> > Starting with present human society, create a world government with
> > absolute knowledge and absolute power, capable not only of seeing into
> > people's homes a la 1984, but into their very thoughts; with no
> > Constitution (you don't want any hardwired protections, after all) and
> > no escape, ever (nobody gets to opt out of CV). Don't you find it at
> > all reasonable to suggest that society would turn utterly evil very
> > quickly?
> It's plausible. But I don't understand why you think this is what CEV
> simulates.

CEV doesn't _simulate_ it, it _instantiates_ it. The RPOP is a world
government with absolute knowledge and absolute power.

- Russell

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:51 MDT