stability of goals (fwd)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 01:28:57 -0700 (PDT)

> Xiaoguang Li <> wrote:

I've stayed out of this discussion previously because it requires some in-depth review of the material to contribute concretely. However, this message can be commented on:

> if the most stable system of goals is the most rational by Occam's
> Razor, then might not death be a candidate?

If a "stable" system of goals is the ultimate direction, then clearly death is one of the most stable and the only way to go.

> it seems intuitively sound
> that if an entity were to commit a random action, that action would most
> likely bring the entity closer to destruction than to empowerment; in
> other words, is not entropy (cursed be that word) the default state of the
> universe and therefore the most stable by Occam's Razor?

This isn't clear. Though you may "destroy" an "entity", it may require significant "concrete action" to destroy the foundations on which that entity is based. Evolution is cumulative. If you develop something such a retroviruses or transposons that "shuffle" DNA faster, it is difficult to destroy those mechanisms, simply by running a single species into the ground. Furthermore, to operate programs that "bring the entity closer to destruction", you have to bypass or suppress a huge amount of evolution that says "preserve oneself". What rationale do you have for invoking commit "random actions" that would promote self-destruction?

> thus if a SI decides to pursue the goal of suicide, it may find that by
> and large any action most convenient at the moment would almost certainly
> advance its goal and thus possess a positive valuation in its goal system.
> could it be that only us petty slaves of evolution are blinded to the irrevocable
> course of the universe and choose to traverse it upstream?

There seems to be an inherent conflict between Occam's razor (the simplest explanation (or state?)), which is could be interpreted as the promotion of "disorder" or "chaos" (i.e. maximum entropy), and the results of evolution, which promote locally ordered states and the minimization of disorder. The question is -- is the simplest explanation one of disorder or order? Could there be a superior principle at work? Could the increase of disorder "globally" only occur while simultaneously increasing "locally" ordered states? Does the universe "balance" disorder & order?