Re: Inadvertent media malevolence

Anders Sandberg (
08 Jun 1999 13:39:17 +0200

"Raymond G. Van De Walker" <> writes:

> >> Just an ignorant question here. Do any of you have specific ideas
> >> for preventing an interspecific war of extermination between
> >> transhumans of different species, or between humans and transhumans?
> >
> >Rationality. Why would species A want to get rid of species B (costly
> >and dangerous), when they can instead trade or cooperate and both get
> >the benefits?
> > and the likeliehood of having very different
> >ecological niches. As long as the number or impact of irrational
> >agents is sufficiently low and there are no "dominant technologies"
> >that give the wielder total dominance over any non-wielder, this seems
> >to be stable.
> Sounds good, but humans adapt every niche in the ecosystem to their own
> use. Humans _don't_ partition niches. Neither would transhumans, or
> other
> _intelligent_ nonhumans. By simple Malthusian principles, wars of
> exterimination are inevitable between intelligent species. Ecologists
> have already establisehd that when two species 'share' a niche, in the
> long term they either partition it, or one goes extinct.

Suppose tomorrow a transhuman species with a green skin (but no other differences) appeared. Would this cause a war of extermination (other than the usual cases of prejudice and intolerance against people with unusual appearance)? It would certainly share our ecological niche and be another species - but it looks rather implausible that it would cause a war of extermination just because it had a distinctive appearance and inability to breed with us.

The problem here is that the assumption of humans adapt ecological niches for their own use wrecks the Malthusian and ecological assumptions, they no longer apply. Two intelligent species can work quite well within the same ecological niches (do you care if it is a human or transhuman who helps you plan your vacation?). There is no economical reason for them to try to remove all individuals of the other species. In fact, there might be strong economical incentives for specialization instead (such as the law of comparative advantage). The main reason for the different behavior is that humans are not just trying to maximize the number of offspring they have, but rather have many other memetic goals.

Of course there may be other reasons for conflict, but economically it looks more like increased diversity is a good incentive for creating transhumans and encouraging them to add their abilities to the economy. It makes a win-win situation, where the ecological niche is indeed dominated by a single species "generalized human", composed of physically and perhaps mentally different subspecies.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y