Re: predictions if wave passed here

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Wed Oct 18 2000 - 07:09:27 MDT

Hal Finney wrote:
>Selection/evolution plays no part in determining the fate of colonies
>which have fallen behind the wave. Their behavior is unselected-for.
>There is no selection pressure to favor colonies which hold onto the
>systems after launching seeds (once the frontier has become unreachable).

Imagine a group of humans trapped in a sub on the bottom of the sea,
with no chance of rescue. I suppose you could say that their behavior
is unselected for. And in one sense you'd be right. But in another
sense not. The behaviors you would see in that sub would be understandable
in terms of the behaviors that would have made sense in a similar
situation where there was a small non-zero chance of escape. The people
there can't be sure there is no chance of escape, and evolution would have
encouraged their ancestors to try to escape, even when things seemed

Colonists fallen behind the traveling wave still have a non-zero chance
of making it back to the front. If that is how they think of their
situation, they might still try as hard as possible to move forward fast.

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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