Re: Super intelligences

Hal Finney (
Thu, 6 Aug 1998 12:54:36 -0700

Robin Hanson, <>, writes:
> It seems to me that there is at least one striking difference worth
> naming, between systems which have been designed and understood from the
> ground up, and evolved systems which we have tweaked and adapted to our
> purposes. Cars vs. Cows.

By "evolved systems" do you mean strictly biological systems which have evolved over billions of years, or do you mean more general systems which use evolution as a design methodology? It may turn out that many artificial systems will be designed at least in part using evolutionary methods like genetic algorithms.

> While larger systems may contain subsystems of both types, I expect
> limitations on the granularity of integration, exactly because our
> limited understanding of evolved systems limits our flexibility in
> interfacing them with other systems. Maybe all we really want out of
> cows are certain chemical processes in their stomaches, but cow systems
> are hard to disentangle, so we'll leave them as units for some time to
> come.

On the other hand, during the era in which we are biological entities there will be great value in understanding the tangled processes which produce life (and health), as well as finding ways to marry technology to these naturally evolved systems. Once nonbiological options exist this will become less important, but in the meantime we may have achieved good enough understanding of biology that we will be able to integrate it into more complex systems.