Re: Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 12:01:00 MDT

Evolution is characterized by hierarchical levels of increasing
flexibility and complexity and decreasing computational and material
efficiency. Amino acids, proteins, cells, tissues, organs... Each
level introduces a level of stochastics, of abstraction, which makes the
high-level patterns less sensitive to low-level errors. Whenever
high-level patterns begin to evolve, it freezes the low-level patterns.
It is impossible for a mutation to replace amino acids with diamondoids
without losing the entire matrix of evolved proteins, thus permanently
freezing the amino-acid level in place. Likewise, for example, for the
genetic code.

The frightening thing is that when you try extending the sequence
downward, it keeps going: Molecules, atoms, Schrodinger's equation,
Dirac's equation, quantum electrodynamics, quantum chromodynamics...

Has our Universe evolved?

Did our Universe start out with some quantum-chromodynamic system being
a survival characteristic... then evolve patterns in quantum
chromodynamics (called protons and neutrons) which were also survival
characteristics under some unknown means of reproduction... then do
likewise for atoms and molecules... each level being frozen in place
when a higher level started evolving?

It would certainly explain the lack of computational efficiency. Look
at the laws of physics from a design perspective, instead of taking them
for granted: It's hard to see another reason why the laws of physics,
which ultimately allegedly ground in quantum chromodynamics, go through
so many distinct levels, all neatly boxed in, before giving rise to
macroscopic phenomena.

--      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

                 Member, Extropy Institute
           Senior Associate, Foresight Institute

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