Re: predictions if wave passed here

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Tue Oct 17 2000 - 14:20:38 MDT

Hal Finney wrote:
>There is selection pressure for the replicators to advance as quickly as
>possible. Robin basically analyzes the steady state, ...
>However it seems unlikely that an intelligent being would intentionally
>launch such an effort. ...
>What seems more plausible is that a traditional colonization effort could
>evolve into a space race, which would eventually culminate in the cosmic
>burning that Robin describes. ...
>Given that this potentiality exists, wouldn't it be relatively easy
>for the colonizing agency to prevent it? Could it "lock in" certain
>principles in its daughter colonies, ... Once you are talking about
>engineered systems built by intelligent beings for specific purposes,
>the role played by evolution may be much smaller than in Earthly life.

Samantha Atkins wrote:
>Exactly why is there this assumption that the technologically adept
>develop zero compassion along the way? ...
>with time enough, resources enough and intelligence enough that we ...
>can find better games to play than simplistic Darwinian ones.

It isn't a question of resources, or intelligence, or foresight, or
compassion. It is a question of ability to coordinate and commit.
Consider the analogy of firms trying to collude to raise prices.
They each have a common interest in so colluding, but also a private
interest in secretly violating the agreement and selling more at a
lower price. Even though firms are smart with great resources, it
is their inability to coordinate and commit that typically drops
prices to far below the collusive level.

If there is just one colonizing agency, then yes, they might assign
property rights to places to colonize, and take their time about it.
But if some other "sooners" get out there too, and get out in front
of the slower standard colonists, then there may not be much the
official agency can do to stop them or punish them. By the time the
colonist "police" arrive, the sooners are off to the next place.

The key technology that would make a difference would be an ability
to project force out farther and faster than reproducing colonists
could move. But it is hard to imagine such a technology.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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