Re: Evolved Preferences

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 15 Apr 1997 20:40:38 -0700 (PDT)

The Low Golden Willow writes:
>Children don't discount the future? Children are aware there _is_ a
>future? Ok, I'm exaggerating, but I haven't thought of them as having
>long lookahead.

Lookahead and awareness are not neeed; they just need to make choices
that end up valuing future payoffs. Children spend almost all their
time investing in their human capital, investments which pay off later.

>Hmm. Are these asexuals in general, or immortal asexuals? And does
>asexual meaning cloning oneself or designing your offspring?

The analysis is the same for all these variations, I think.

>I find these papers very gratifying, since this result well matches my
>most common view of the future. SF representation... at least partial
>matches are Culture Minds, the ship in Cherryh's _Voyager in Night_,
>Niven's Outsiders, the aliens of 2001, Babylon-5's First Ones, possibly
>DS9's changelings. Patience and risk-aversion seem to be expected as
>consequences of immortality; asexuality comes because the writers shy
>away from attributing sexuality to such beings, and no one ever writes
>in terms of Bayesianism but low-emotion rationality seems to be the
>usual guess. Curious survivalists.

What these SF creatures lack is the very rapid growth rate predicted
by these models: as fast as possible. More like grey goo, Von Neuman
machines, etc.

Curt Adams writes:
>Do these papers take into account evolution of memetic parasites?

They are abstract models of simple evolution, rather than coupled
evolutionary systems. But if one posited memes as the primary
evolution system, one might try to fit memes into these sort of
models. Then the question is: for a meme considering sacrificing
consumption by today's host to benefit a potential future host, what
is the chance that future host will actually host this meme? If the
chance is low, say 10%, that makes memes even more impatient than
genes, who have a 50/50 chance of living on in each child.

Robin D. Hanson