Re: Recreating people [was: renaissance people]

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 02:46:58 MDT

On Sun, May 14, 2000 at 06:09:03PM -0700, Dan Adams wrote:

> And, if we grant that such an entity exists, then I
> would agree that it follows that this being could very
> well already possess all the knowledge it needed to
> reproduce a person's mind. But, the wall that we once
> again run into is - why do it?
> [Hint : I don't think sentimentality is a valid
> answer].

Here's a candidate answer: why do our physicists and cosmologists
insist on probing the early conditions of the universe? It's of minimal
*practical* relevance to our day-to-day lives, but we are nevertheless,
as a culture, accumulating a body of knowledge about the distant past.

Now extrapolate forward to a sentience-dominated universe. The
emergence of intellience constitutes a phase-change in the structure
of spacetime, if it gives rise to Moravec's hypothetical boiling wave
of outbound intelligent matter, expanding at close to the speed of
light and recycling all the dumb mass into thinking structure. Even
if the process is relatively slow and conservative (Matrioshka brains
as a local minimum in the curve of increasing intelligence/unit mass)
it still has to *start somewhere*.

I figure that our current state of existence will be of as much interest
to our far-future descendants as the precise condition of the universe
circa 10^-44 seconds after the Big Bang is to us. It marks a phase-change
without which our kind of life wouldn't exist; people who are curious
about their origins _must_ consider it. Therefore, _unless_ we assume
that _all_ of our far-future mind children will be incurious about their
origins, the probability of one of 'em running an emulation of the origin
species all the way through to what we currently see as a singularity
point is high.

It's like the Fermi paradox -- if there's intelligent life out there,
we must assume that _all_ of them are incurious about interstellar
exploration, or we'd already be knee deep in their artefacts; therefore
either they aren't there, or we have completely missed some fundamental
insight that only kicks in at a certain level of development that we
haven't yet reached. (Robert Bradbury's MB hypothesis is an acceptable
'missing insight'; they're out there, and they're so big that we've mistaken
them for part of the cosmological landscape -- but if we discount the MB
hypothesis, we're left with "we are the first" as a logical conclusion.)
By analogy, either _all_ successor intelligences will be incurious about
their origins ... or we will end up being emulated.

-- Charlie

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