Re: Risk vs. Payoff

From: Aleks Jakulin (
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 11:42:00 MDT

>From Emilyn:
> How so? In what way is life a non-abstract grouping? More importantly, it's
> not even clearly defined, and will become harder to pin down as we venture
> further into nanotech, and begin to make all kinds of interesting
> self-directed & self-replicating greeblies.

These greeblies would be life, but I'd question their sustainability which
hasn't been proven in the course of several billion years, unlike DNA-based

> When we add a re-entrant iteration to such a complex system as the mind, it
> becomes clear that the basis of our decisions as being entirely rooted in
> biology, after a short number of iterations, is meaningless. Although it is
> technically true that we are still wholy derived from our environment, there
> is no way that, given the biological past of a being, one could derive Mn
> for n greater than some fairly small constant. The system is too dynamic,
> unpredictable. So, in effect, our biology is lost to time.

Our genetic development has been very additive, with complexity rising more
frequent than decreasing. This is both inefficient, and enabling for reverse

But I'm unable to understand the significance of your derivation. Retrograde
analysis is only a cognitive tool to understand why our emotions are such as
they are. We are not interested in what exactly was happening, we try to
understand the purpose of emotions.

> There are likely a lot of other examples, and those I've given above are
> hopelessly crude. The point, however, is that we absolutely can escape our
> biology. We can even be in control of that process in some important sense,
> eventually. Beings who modifiy their mental state to become something new,
> will do it purposefully. We would expect that they (we?) will be rather
> intelligent people... they will not be blind to the dynamic nature of
> themselves, and to the rather tricky topology of the space that they
> traverse. The whole idea of "self" may come to change it's meaning somewhat
> (for the better, in my opinion).

I agree that we should consider an escape from our biology in order to gain
flexibility of living spaces, energy efficiency, etc. But diversity is
beneficial, and the old lifeforms might be good to keep as a back up.

But when deciding what is good or bad, it's good to have a purpose or goal.

> No arguments there. One of the grounding concepts of extropy is dynamism...
> no one is interested in a centrally controlled sculpting of humanity. The
> idea is yet again that individualism reigns... self modification will be
> diverse, and performed according to the desires of each person upon his or
> her own self. Thus, while any individual can choose to risk exploratory
> behaviour, or else to shun it, the whole space of self modifying individuals
> will tend to be incredibly diverse and interesting. Without a central
> organising factor, it cannot help but be exploratory, and evolutionary as a
> whole, in a pretty fascinating way.

Individualism is an extreme statement, just as groupism is. In reality, two
individuals have a lot in common, genetically and memetically --- in that sense
they are instances of the same virtual individual. Progress is impossible
without increasing the number of winners and decreasing the number of losers.
But individualism leads to too many petty conflicts. Also, we are not completely
disjoint: genetically, all DNA-based live entities are relatives, some are
closer (siblings) than others (cousins). But the objective would be to balance
the cooperation and competition to maximize the fitness of future generations.

It seems to me that individualism is excessively risk-averse and wipes out
diversity too quickly.


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