Re: Existential Risk and Fermi's Paradox

From: Mary Tobias (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2007 - 00:39:36 MDT

In fact recent research suggests that human evolution has come to a near
stand-still and is by far the slowest rate of change for all primate.
The possible mutations that might improve/expand a brain the
size/complexity of ours, without causing serious problems with viability
and survivability are approaching zero.

The only likely changes in our neural capacity in the near term, won't
come until we have a profound understanding of our genome, epigenome,
and the machinery of our genetic expression, and the tools withwhich to
manipulate them. At that point it's possible that we may be able make
tweeks on our own construction, and eek out a few more CCs of prime
frontal lobe real estate.

Of course by that time, neural implants may make the whole conversation

Mary Tobias

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Larry wrote:
>> It now seems to be standard dogma to say "evolution doesn't advance", a
>> reflexive response to the old dogma showing mankind as the end goal of
>> evolution. Neither is accurate. Evolution is like a random walk, and
>> random walks do expand over time.
> A common misconception, which I believe was first spread by the
> scientifically dishonest Stephen J. Gould, misrepresenter
> extraordinaire of modern evolutionary theory. (For more on Gould see
> Evolution has a complexity limit, the amount of genetic information
> that it can support against degenerative mutation, given a copying
> fidelity and a maximum selection pressure. This amount would not
> exceed 10^8 bits for mammals. It would have been reached long ago.
> Thus, the random walk has an upper limit and does not expand. Since
> then we have simply been substituting new complexity for old
> complexity as adaptive challenges change.
> Much of this discussion on this thread shows misunderstanding of basic
> evolutionary biology combined with no realization that more advanced
> understandings exist. I recommend "Adaptation and Natural Selection"
> by George Williams for starters (this is the book often said to have
> started the "Williams Revolution" of the late 1960s in biology).

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:57 MDT