Re: Transcension (in fiction) before Vinge's Singularity

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Sun Sep 16 2007 - 18:13:22 MDT

--- Jef Allbright <> wrote:

> In that story, I think it was self-awareness, rather than
> intelligence, that was presented as non-essential to survival.
> Misleading, since the element of self is critically important to
> intelligence, just not necessarily at the level of the individual
> agent.

I think that is backwards. Evolution is a much more powerful algorithm than
human thought, yet life as a whole lacks self awareness.

What we call self-awareness is really a set of traits that confer a selective
advantage. One trait is fear of death. Another is a balance between
exploitation and random serial exploration in seeking short and long term
reward, a behavior that is indistinguishable from free will.

Evolution lacks both of these characteristics. In particular, goal seeking
exploration is carried out in parallel rather than serially, without
postponing immediate reward. These are two different strategies for handling
the local maxima problem.

-- Matt Mahoney,

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