Optimal Intelligent State?

Gerhard Kessell-Haak (gerhard_kessell-haak@mail.tait.co.nz)
Sun, 26 Jul 1998 10:58:59 +1200

>>> Doug Bailey <Doug.Bailey@ey.com> 25/July/1998 07:00am >>>
As I continue to develop my thinking about various transhuman and related subject areas, I've come across an intuitive conclusion that I'd like to hear feedbback on.

As intelligence and the societies/civilizations/structure- complexes it creates become governed more by directed intelligent evolution than natural evolution, it seems to me that it will only make changes that increase its overall "state". Assuming we evaluate the state of a civilization by comparing it to the limits prescribed by our current understanding of physical laws, it appears that there should be an "optimal state" that intelligent systems should tend towards. Regardless of the initial environment, conditions, substrates, characteristics, etc. of civilizations, it seems that once they has harnessed the power of directed evolution that they should tend to strive for this "optimal state".

This observation raises some interesting questions:

1 - Does this have any implications concerning the Great Filter concept, i.e., is there something about this gravitation towards the "optimal state" which could explain the lack of evidence of intelligence having filled the cosmos? For example, perhaps the "singularity"-type acceleration towards this optimal state happens before a civilization can expand significantly into its surrounding environment. If the "optimal state" inhibits further expansion (for reasons I can't fathom) that would explain why we don't see signs of these civilizations.

2 - What insights can we draw into the nature of this "optimal state" from our current knowledge of the natural limits (e.g., the Planck Length, the speed of light, etc.)?

3 - What's the merit of evaluating optimality based on physical limitations? What other possible criteria might there be?

4 - What would a civilization do once it reached the "optimal state"? In concert with #1, would such a civilization "die" of boredom having exhausted all the wonders of existence?

5 - Maybe its errant to think of the "optimal state" as an evolutionary pinnacle and instead as an evolutionary singularity. What could possibly lie on the other side of an evolutionary singularity?


Interesting train of thought. An additional factor would be whether there is only a single 'optimal' state, or whether there is more than one depending on the starting point and path traversed by the civilisation. The 'optimal' states may also be unstable, resulting in any civilisation that reaches one to quickly topple across to the other side.

Other possibilities resulting from the above analogy are local and global maxima - for example, the ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians could be considered manifestations of civilisations that reached local maxima, as they appeared relatively quickly but then remained virtually unchanged (technologically) for millenia.