Societal Stagnation

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 13:53:58 MST

john grigg <> offered the following:

>The other day I talked to a friend about these things. We got on the topic
>of immortality and she said what bothered her most was the >idea of
>cultural stagnation which I think is the largest problem a >world of
>immortals would have.

<p>First I do not see this as a problem. I believe that society moves
toward what its constituents desire, regardless of whether the "old guard"
die off in droves. I think all on this list would agree that cultural
evolution is driven by the evolution of memes, which evolve much faster than
the genes which drive biological evolution. And memes don't need new people
in order to evolve any more than genes need new physical environments in
which to evolve. It seems clear that the ebbing of the last ice age gave a
boost to human evolution by clearing the way for environmental conditions
favorable to our survival. But I don't think we need another major
environmental shift to prevent us from biologically stagnating.

<p>Its the same with memes. Think of the memes which were prevalent when
you were born. When I was born the various memes which made it cool to
smoke cigarettes and OK to rape the environment in the name of industry, to
discriminate against minorities, women and gays, to build up ever increasing
nuclear arsenals, to have the FBI conduct its COINTELPRO operation against
groups like the black panthers, AIM and to conduct illegal surveillance of
American "radicals" like Martin Luther King were all alive and flourishing.
Today, within the span of my life, those memes are dying fast, if not dead

<p>More importantly, in the future memes will be propagated by
superintelligences and will most likely derive from advances in science and
technology rather than the irrational personal preferences or beliefs of the
members of society. Thus, at least until we reach the singularity, neither
science nor technology will stagnate, and neither will memes or society,
regardless of whether the constituents of society are immortal. As with any
singularity though, once you get past it there's no telling what will

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