Re: Inadvertent media malevolence

Raymond G. Van De Walker (
Sat, 12 Jun 1999 03:28:59 PDT

Thanks for responding, Anders.

On 08 Jun 1999 13:39:17 +0200 Anders Sandberg <> writes:
>"Raymond G. Van De Walker" <> writes:

>>>> . . . Do any of you have specific ideas for preventing an
interspecific war of
>>>> extermination . . . [?]

>Suppose tomorrow a transhuman species with a green skin (but no other
>differences) appeared. Would this cause a war of extermination . . . [?]

Green skin probably isn't enough of a difference. However, let's say transhumans all have the IQs of Marilyn Vos Savant, and see what happens . . .

Ecological research seems to indicate an extinction. Let me quote from "The Science of Ecology", Paul Ehrlich & Jonathon Roughgarden, 1987 (pg 351),
the discussion of "resource limited guilds"

"MacArthur and Levins [Am. Nat. 101:377-385, 1967] were the first to investigate limiting similarity. They showed that the limiting similarity between the two species depends on the ratio of the carrying capacities. Specifically, let species 2 be the species with a lower K [Ray: the fitness constant] The limiting similarity depends on K2/K1. If this ratio is much less than 1, indicating a severe disadvantage to species 2, then species 2 must be quite different from species 1 in order to coexist with it. However, as K2/K1 approaches 1, the limiting similarity approaches 0."

Practical tests used this math to predict geographic borders between species in geography with an environmental gradient that favored one species over the other.

The book then gives two quantitatively studied examples: freshwater fish in lakes [Werner, Am. Nat. 111:553-578, 1977], and Anolis lizards on Caribbean islands [Roughgarden Am. Nat 108:429-442, with companion piece Theor. Pop. Biol. 5:163-186] The above logic and studies were originiated to explain structured guilds, groups of similar species that partitioned resources by apparently evolving to different sizes, or some other accomodation. The book has too many of these to excerpt.

By definition, transhumans will be high-fitness groups, causing theoretically certain extinction of ordinary humans in the absence of other effects. This gives low-fitness humans strong incentives to exterminate transhumans early-on.

>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.

I know I'm repeating myself, but the limit is the ecology itself. That is, the sum of all resources, is the limiting resource. WIth nanotech, it is the absolute amount of atoms and extractable energy available within the speed-of-light cone, which is large, but finite. Additionally, it's very likely that there will be early outbreaks of violence to control the more convenient resources.

> 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

Gosh, it sounds so plausible. We are so used to intra-specific responses, so conditioned to think that anything that talks is the same species, that we forget how different inter-specific responses are.

The science is against it. Most species completely ignore other species' systems of territory and resource-allocation. I believe that transhumans eventually will ignore human systems, too, when they become able to brush them aside, in the same way that humans ignore the territories of dogs and cats.

>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.

I'm not sure I believe this. It looks _to me_ like these are secondary, lower-priority goals that have floated to the top because species-survival is a solved problem at this time. Here's why: memes necessarily evolve to maintain their growth-media. Thus growth-media survival will have priority over other memtic goals.

Also, I have grievous doubts that transhuman and human memes will remain infective across species. Theory is against that, too, provided that memes are any of parasitic, commensal or symbiotic with hosts. All of these relations cause strong coevolution, and thus should cause strong memetic specialization.

Memetic specialization would prevent shared goals and values from being stably-shared between the species, over evolutionary time.

>. . . it looks more like increased diversity . . . makes a win-win
situation . . .

But the scientific predictions do not depend upon, nor should we expect them to be changed by, divergent abilities. The science depends on speciation combined with convergent resource use, and asymmetric competition. These preconditions are the _hypothesis_ of transmumanity.

The _only_ way out that _I_ see is to explicitly prevent human speciation, which really would not be too limiting. Think about it. A clade of humans, spanning numerous levels of intelligence, or other ability, but all able to interbreed, would be both powerful and plausible.

Persuade me..

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