Re: Moravec article available

Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 17:16:03 MDT

Robin forwards Moravec:
> An
> immortal cannot hope to survive unchanged, only to maintain a limited
> continuity over the short run. Personal death differs from this
> inevitability only in its relative abruptness.

This is a dilemma, but I'm not sure I agree with Moravec's experession
of it. He suggests that change will be forced on us by evolution and
competition, leading to some inevitable common outcome. This would be
a sort of monocultural climax ecosystem.

However we see here on Earth a diverse ecology which includes organisms
that cover a wide spectrum of rates of adaption. There are species
which are almost unchanged from hundreds of millions of years ago,
and others which are less than a million years old. This suggests
that the ultimate end point is not necessarily the same for everyone,
but may include similar degrees of diversity.

In that case we have a choice, not between adapt or perish, but between
adapt or stagnate. It may turn out that there is an ecological niche
for organisms who are wedded to their past, who refuse to change.
Their very stubbornness will become their raison d'etre. They are
monuments to themselves, as unchanging as stone.

This is not a very appealing picture for Extropians, but it does seem
that the alternative leads to the kind of outcome Moravec describes.
Even if we embrace change, not because the universe forces it upon us,
but for our own philosophical reasons, the outcome may be much the same
in either case. We will become unrecognizable to ourselves, like the
character in Egan's Diaspora who had rewritten himself so many times he
considered himself his own grandchild.

It is still a more optimistic picture than Moravec's, because even if
we change as much or more than when we die, it is still our own choice
and our own path. His more pessimistic view assumes that the path is
not ours to choose, that competition is so harsh that we have no control
over where we end up.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:10:17 MDT