On Mon, 5 Jun 2000, Robin Hanson wrote:
> On the other hand you could imagine that advanced creatures would
> have preferences so different from those of the Earth creatures
> we know that they would just have no interest in using the resources
> we see in the universe, even though such resources would be of
> great use to creatures who had preferences like us. To someone
> with expertize in social science and evolution, this also does
> not seem very likely.
> Now I know that many people with physical science expertize are
> of the opinion that there is no such thing as social science
> expertize. But such people are just wrong.
Robin, I'm curious as to how social science views the decline in
birth rates that is expected to lead to balanced or declining
populations in "developed" countries in the not-to-distant
future? Is there any "law" of social science that says
individuals must always reproduce? Is there any reason
they could not self-impose a completely balanced population
policy? I.e. you only self-reproduce or engineer another
when an existing entity de-materializes? If you assume that
there are diminishing returns to expanding (due to increasing
delays in thought times) and increasingly diminishing returns
to reproducing endlessly (because most of the interesting
combinations have already been tried and you have to think
more and more to come up with interesting things to create),
then it would appear that though you may have ever-growth, it
may occur at increasingly slower rates over time. It may
become so slow that it becomes almost unnoticable on the scale
of billions of years.
I think "social" science only works at scales that are not
at the largest and smallest limits. Current economic growth
seems to be driven largely on the fact that we are currently
colonizing "smaller" scales of construction. Past economic
growth has relied on colonization of "larger" scales (e.g.
the "new" world). One could argue you also get growth by
making things more "efficient" -- but what if there are
hard limits to "efficiency"? If you have arguments or sources
that discuss how social science operates when it *knows*
it is at the scale or efficiency limits, I would be interested
in reviewing them.
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