Re: Uploads and betrayal
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 22:11:06 EST

In a message dated 12/2/1999 2:45:34 AM EST, writes:

<< As far as humans (and what comes next) are concerned Darwinian evolution is over(unless, of course, we screw up and blow life back to simple organisms). We are switching to directed evolution (somewhat like Lamarckian, but even faster because of the self selection process).>>

I suspect that we are entering a time when both Lamarckian and Darwinian evolution (along with punctuated equilibrium-Singularity?) will be in force. Since the Lamarckian-like evolution will act much more quickly, it will be the most obvious, but I suspect that natural selection will still be lurking in the corners.

<<In _Out of Control_, Kevin Kelly has a great section on this in which he relates the work of two Bellcore scientists, Ackley and Littman who compared Darwinian to Lamarckian evolution in simulations that attempted to solve problems by genetic algorithms:

There is a vast space of different kinds of evolution ahead of us. Darwin did a
good job explaining how we got here, but gives us little to predict the future.>>

Interesting tidbit above, thanks.

<< Their identities may be disintegrating, but their physical forms may be morphing
into Powers that others may either envy, or feel they must keep up with.>>

While this may indeed happen, I was more thinking of disintegration in terms of these people becoming dysfunctional and perhaps even defunct should the changes they make destabilize their personalities. For example, they may end up in a state where they can't decide whether to pursue their current desires or change their desires to fit the current situation. Or where their runaway modifications lead to behavioral dead-ends such as locked in a pleasure positive feedback loop (blissed out) or a nirvana-like state of no self where nothing matters, equinamity to the extreme, or into a nihilistic free-fall where the easiest course is to reprogram yourself to simply desire oblivion and then achieve it. These are just a few examples of what could happen.

<<The *easy* ability to change what you want is one of the slickest slippery slopes
I can think of.>>

True. The decision to change one's desires should only be undertaken with a great deal of forethought and care.

<<The *easy* ability to change what the general population wants (super wet dream of all advertising firms) is one of those scary aspects of coming
times we will have to deal with.>>

Again, I agree. We must be ever vigilant to prevent such abuses of the powers we are about to come into, as well as of the capabilities we already possess.

<< Dear Glen,

If only the vast majority of the world had your good wants, or at least wanted to
have those wants, my heart would soar like an eagle.

-Ken >>

Thank you for the very great compliments. I have some faith that "the better angels of our natures" will win out in the end, but it will be a hard-fought battle and a near thing, by my estimation. That is why I believe it is up to all those of good will to embrace the changes that are coming, so as to be able to add their voices to the chorus that will shape the times to come.


Glen Finney