Re: Collective Volition, next take

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Jul 23 2005 - 14:40:52 MDT

Russell Wallace wrote:
> 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_.

The non-sequitur society; we don't make sense, but we do like pizza.

Read some real evolutionary psychology. You might want to delete the words
"good" and "evil" from your vocabulary while you do that, then restore them
afterward, once your empirical picture of the world is correct.

In a genetic sense, the competitors are always, always, always the alternative
alleles at a given genetic location - which in turn are carried by
conspecifics. Genes for various types of altruism only become fixed in a
species if they drive all alternative alleles to extinction. Genetically the
competitor is always your conspecific, never Nature or the environment. The
greatest environmental success has no effect on the frequency composition of
the gene pool if all conspecifics hav equal success.

> 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.)

The problem here is the ratio of cubic expansion through galaxies to
exponential reproduction. CEV doesn't solve this problem of itself, though it
might search out a solution. Neither does CEV create the problem or make it
any worse. Why do you suppose that we want to lock ourselves into a little
box rather than expanding cubically?

Oh, and how exactly do you determine resource division between your domains?

>>>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
>>It's plausible. But I don't understand why you think this is what CEV
> CEV doesn't _simulate_ it, it _instantiates_ it. The RPOP is a world
> government with absolute knowledge and absolute power.

Okay. I think I may write you off as simply having failed entirely to
understand the concept of _extrapolated_ volition writing an AI, as opposed to
putting an AI in the hands of an immediate majority vote, a fairly common
misunderstanding. I honestly don't know how I can make the distinction any
clearer short of grabbing people by the shirt and screaming at them.

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

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