Re: MEDIA: NOVA on Gamma Ray Bursters

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Thu Jan 10 2002 - 20:34:27 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> > All well and good, but it doesn't explain why one superintelligence
> > in their civilization wouldn't, out of the goodness of its non-heart,
> > take half a second of realtime to design and construct a small,
> > replicating (as it encounters new solar systems), fast nanoprobe
> > that should by this point in time completely spread itself through
> > our galaxy
> > helping out and uploading (or whatever is "best") the species
> > it runs across.
> Certainly. Absorbing foreign technologies and experience
> makes for more survivable entities (look at mitochondria
> and chloroplasts). But it is questionable whether such
> mergings would grant some subset of the mergents replication
> rights. The Borg assimilate -- but they don't grant the
> assimilated "free will".

Firstly let me make clear I was talking about a non-sentient
nanoprobe that does only very basic stuff like upload whole
populations it encounters, and then let them figure things out
from there. Its purpose is not to absorb them or do anything
other than help them stop dying. I think this would be a very
popular thing to do in civilizations that are capable of launching
such a system.

> It seems to me that for an ATC to produce an expansionary
> perspective it must give up a survival perspective. If
> it gives up a survival perspective (embracing an Extropic
> evolve as fast as you can perspective?) then they may
> tip off the edge of the cliff as fast as they come into
> existence.
> One has to create a balance between evolving and surviving.
> I don't yet currently see how individuals (or civilizations)
> can make those choices in a non-destructive fashion (without
> imposing some rather draconian solutions).

So if the only concern is that you are afraid the newly uploaded
species will turn around and eat the original advanced civilization
there are couple of things (at least) to bring up: 1) even without
the interference of the foreigh nanoprobe, those species should
eventually work their way up to a Singularity and come after you
anyway 2) therefore the safest thing to do, if you are truly
interested in both insuring your long term survival and also
stopping death throughout the Universe, might be to send out
your army of nanoprobes to upload everything it finds and /also/
implement a Sysop in their local solar system to help them out
yet also ride along with them wherever they go to make sure they
play well with others.

Brian Atkins
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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