RE: Kardeshev is pre-Spike thinking

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 20:42:40 MDT wrote:
> Billy writes:
> > entities which replicate most effectively. You can start with a
> > 99.999999999% pure population of 'voluntary' non-replicators, and you
> > still end up with an environment dominated by industrious replicators.
> This is assuming that the replicators retain their desire to replicate,
> and that there are no constraints on their replication.

Actually, no, it doesn't assume nearly that much. You just need an
environment in which it is possible for natural selection to take place. If
you have that, in the long run you will get an environment filled to
capacity with replicators no matter what initial conditions you choose.

> What if there is a convention adopted by the entities involved that
> unconstrained replication is not allowed. Any unconstrained replication
> is viewed as a threat and is prevented. Some entities would like to
> replicate, but they cannot. Most do not want to replicate, and attempt
> to prevent others from doing so.
> This is a common theme explored in science fiction, where in an
> overpopulated world there are laws regulating the number of children.
> A moderate form of this is supposedly already being practiced in China.
> It seems to me that this would be a stable situation, and one which
> might be adopted because it produces a better outcome for the participants
> than they would get in a world of unconstrained replication.

Yes, it is a popular idea. It is also astonishingly naive - not quite on the
same level as trying to legislate the value of pi, but close.

To make population control work in the very long run (i.e. geological eras)
you must have absolutely 100% effective monitoring and enforcement against
every single entity in the entire civilization, with no exceptions of any
kind no matter what the circumstances. No legal system has ever achieved
such a result for any law, and there are good reasons to suspect that it is
in principle impossible for such a thing to happen.

If the society existed in a sealed environment, where illicitly-produced
children had to compete for a fixed pool of resources with their elders,
slightly imperfect enforcement would simply create a weak selection
pressure in favor of people who wish to reproduce and are capable of getting
away with it. However, the actual situation is far less stable.

Any civilization which attempts to follow a path of non-replication will be
surrounded by vast expanses of unexploited space, which offer a huge payoff
for any replicators that reach it. Even a very slow leakage of replicators
from the monitored region to unmonitored space will very quickly result in
the "non-replicators" being outnumbered by the "replicators". At that point
the "non-replicators" are no longer capable of enforcing their pact, and
simple selection for reproductive success takes over.

Besides, how do you get to that point in the first place? The economic and
military advantages of rapid growth are very large, so any social group
which does not join a proposed "growth ban treaty" would enjoy a substantial
competitive advantage over groups which do join such a treaty. On the other
hand, in the long run there is no particular advantage to be gained by
joining such a treaty, so why would anyone do so?

Finally, you can't just postulate an eternally inflexible attitude as a
given. The opinions of individual members of a society are themselves the
result of a Darwinian process, the selection of memes in the meme pool.
Public opinion on any issue will change over time (at least, only any issue
that isn't a simple matter of fact), and preventing this from happening is
another inherently intractable problem.

Billy Brown

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