Re: [sl4] A model of RSI

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Fri Sep 26 2008 - 18:29:13 MDT

--- On Fri, 9/26/08, Eric Burton <> wrote:

> > Nope. The reason it hasn't happened yet is because
> > if it did, we would not be here to
> > ask the question.
> This seems like the anthropic principle for Doomsday, to
> me. It's
> never been demonstrated that a process as rich and
> extensive as a
> planetary biosphere can be stopped in its tracks. There are
> no control
> groups! For all we know biological evolution is a stronger
> force than
> thermodynamic entropy, guaranteed by the laws of physics to
> conquer
> dumb matter over some intractable span of time.

The anthropic principle says that if the probability of intelligent life developing on a planet is p, then we cannot distinguish between any values of p > 0. p could be exceptionally tiny. Without detecting life on other planets, we can't say much about p.

We can easily imagine scenarios where all life dies. The cows eat all the grass and then starve, or something of this form. Evolution is a chaotic process. It is punctuated by mass extinctions, plagues, population explosions, invasive species, and other catastrophes. We are in the midst of possibly the largest mass extinction ever. We might be in a transition from carbon to silicon based life where evolution proceeds a billion times faster. We don't know. We do know that evolution has one stable attractor: a dead planet.

(P.S. sorry about the empty post earlier).

-- Matt Mahoney,

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