Re: Why are we allowed to age?
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 13:24:00 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 6/13/97 8:07:03 AM, (I William Wiser)

>Let me see if I can get this right. Start with a self replicating organism,
>the faster it replicates, the more accurately it replicates and the longer
>it is not destroyed the more copies of it there will be around at any given

Not quite. The agent of evolution is the individual gene, not entire
organism genomes. Genes actually prefer to be in a bunch of different
individuals so they don't have all their eggs in one basket, so to speak.
Too many copies, or even children, of the same individual can actually be
bad in that they may all share some particular weakness.

Probably, though, the primary reason for aging is that it's easier to make
more copies than to make the copies last longer.

>[Genes] want a universe full of capable beings that choose cooperation
>over violent competition because they are more likely to survive
>that way and want to avoid starting over with new beings when
>the odds of getting something better are remote.

No, nothing of the sort. Technically, of course, genes don't "want" anything
since they don't think. However, since they have been very extensively
selected for the ability to make copies of themselves, it's a useful
shorthand to say they "want" to reproduce. If the business of life
eradicating itself had come up, genes would "want" to avoid it; but it never
has, so there's been no selection on it, so the genes don't "care" about it.

Many genes do encourage violent competition and do quite well by it.

>The genes are really quite reasonable and want nothing more than to
>see us thrive. Really their main flaw is that they are a little
>dense and they are from Missouri.

The genes "want" as many copies of themselves as possible, by whatever means
possible. And they are *incredibly* dense. Insofar as they "think", it's
over evolutionary timescales.

Oh, and our genes are from Africa :-)

>Once we show them that we are
>what they have been working for all these many millions of years,
>by eliminating aging, and not engaging in destructive competition
>with other highly capable life forms when a constructive alternative
>is available, I am sure they will be thrilled and trouble us only a

Actually if we get to that point, memes will be running the show and not
genes. The genes will just be tools at that point and considering them as
self-interested agents won't give any useful information. Genes can't be
emotional, anyway, there's no sense in which they would be "thrilled". They
just act as if they had goals.