Re: predictions if wave passed here

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Oct 21 2000 - 15:11:50 MDT

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> Samantha Atkins writes:
> > Unless solid (enforceable if need be) agreements are in place not to
> > overrun a certain volume around life-bearing but relatively primitive
> > planets.
> The thesis is that if you're powerful enough to protect you're
> indistinguishable from the enemy. Same problem as with grey goo
> countermeasure, btw. Cure being worse than the disease.

A very strange thesis. It is not a question of power but of the intent
controlling and directing the power, isn't it?
> > Fastest selection of auto-replicators is not relevant in a space where
> > selection/desirability criteria and limitations are more complex that
> > the scenarios where efficience of replication rules all. I have no
> Whoever stays behind wavefront, he's not important, because he's not
> the first interactor. You'll only see the pioneers, because the
> wavefront is self-selective. Whoever is slower than wavefront arrives
> second, third, and fourth. If you're still alive by then, and can
> meaningfully interact, you can try talking with the late arrivals.

It depends a great deal on your definition of "important". Not all
things that are important require being on the expansion wave. Some
things require not being on that wave but being more of a home-body
exploring within concept spaces rather than physical ones. There is no
reason to assume the best science and conceptual work is done on the
physical wavefront.

Most of all there is no reason to assume that the most important thing
bar none is physical expansion of territory and resources covered.

> > reason to assume everything is explanable and predictable according to
> > auto-replication models or by comparing super-intelligent species and
> > their agents to RNA.
> Super-intelligent species are also subject to the laws of physics and
> evolution. And the point is precisely that you don't need to be
> super-intelligent (in fact quite to opposite, it adds to the overhead)
> to sustain a wave propagation across the cosmic substrate.

Last time I checked evolution does not lay down what the selection
process is for all species and sentiences for all time. Replication is
simply one selection criteria.

The laws of physics are a study in progress. We can't make utterly hard
predictions of what we will discover to be the most up-to-date
understanding of physics a bit down the road.

> > Not so. You do not need to synch action across huge volumes to stop
> > encroachment on protected areas. Local intelligent defenses of
> > sufficient caliber will be adequate. The encroachment is limited by
> > even greater constraints than speed of light communication.
> You've reinvented Eliezer's sysop, only inserted from the
> outside. Notice that the observable universe, if not a collossal
> Potyemkin's facade, is incompartible with anyone powerful. You need to
> have presence and massive gunpower coupled with absolute
> self-restraint.

I'm not attempting to cover the entire universe or even the entire
galaxy. Just enough to protect the hatching grounds of new races where
they have been encountered. It would be a pretty pathetic
post-singularity species that could not reasonably take on that size of

> That's a lot of hefty assumptions. How exactly, will a
> superciv prevent the propagation of wavefront?

It does not need to. Simply direct it around what is protected.

> You can only call back
> the seeds as long your technological advance makes you faster. Notice
> that the seeds get selected for speed.

I have covered this at least four times. The Protectors got there first
and installed reasonable measures. And/or the early species simply do
not let other species out of their bubbles until they agree to abide by
certain reasonable restraints. Or post-Singularity species self select
for some such niceness in that the ones that don't have it end up
turning against themselves or simply not advancing as fast and
gracefully as the ones who do have it.

> If you tarry even a little, you
> lose your speed advantage (intercepting something which sets out to
> cover a distance of a few lightyears from a distance of 100 lightyears
> is no small feat, plus consider the volume you have to police, and
> expand into -- your expansion fleet technology must be exceedingly
> brittle to not to engender an even more fatal growth front -- since
> you're already so fast and reckless to start with).

Speed, speed, speed. What a boring mind trip that would be. Is all of
our work just about who can grab and converted the most resources the
quickest into more of themselves? Is a souped up version of the bad
guys in "Independence Day" (yes I know they were lame and it was a lame
movie) the best we can think to produce?

> > What pray tell is real physics post-Singularity? It is to laugh to
> > dismiss "science fiction physics" out of hand. What a science fiction
> Something which exists outside of limit of known physics does not
> exist in the scientific context. Since we're at least trying to upkeep
> a mirage of science, this really helps to stick to known facts.

Oh, yes it does. The fact that we do not know everything and cannot
predict what we do not yet know and its implications is very important
to the scientific enterprise. I posited nothing that is a priori

> > writer can come up with today is merely a jumping off point for the best
> > scientists today. Post-singularity with vastly increased and
> > concentrated intelligence much that is science-fiction will be child's
> > play. The inner areas of galaxies? If they are sterile of life it is
> > probably due to higher radiation, asteroid bombardment and so on. At
> > least sterile of life as we usually define it. Post-SI entities could
> > probably exist and thrive in some remarkably "sterile" environments.
> This is very true, but I was talking about emergence of biological
> life. Since it can't emerge there, it has to emerge elsewhere, and
> migrate in. You don't see metabolism signatures of anything smart out
> there. So we're not in their lightcone.

Or we are in a protection bubble. I wonder about those roving planets
with fairly strong heat signatures though. :-)

> > Not in the least. I simply expect intelligence, esepcially much higher
> > intelligence to manage to make and keep agreements that increase its
> You assume intelligence as a shining clear single 100 ct gem. I have
> to disappoint you, statistical behaviour of large groups of
> intelligent beings entangled in a darwinian process does follow
> larger-scale behaviour. It's messy. They're also only doing blind
> optimization. There's is no homunculus inside your brain, and crowds
> of smart people do not necessarily act intelligently themselves.

Well, it seems to me that we are learning to untangle ourselves from
some aspects of a Darwinian process we had little/no control over and
are gaining some freedom to specify some of the rules of the game for
the next process we will work/live inside of. I just want us to not
apply old rules we understand in a context where the drivers and
determiners of those rules are or can be largely missing, especially
where it is us to us to specify largely what the new drivers and context
> > overall benefits and avoid too much conflict and chaos. I would rather
> > bet on that than bet that a model based on replicating bacteria is more
> > applicable.
> Smarter beings can only help if their intelligence is correlated with
> faster and farther travel. It is not obvious why this should be
> true. Reckless replication and minimal complexity (=less baggage to
> replicate) as well as fast travel (possibly invented by advanced
> beings somewhere far behind the wavefront and lost their intelligence
> baggage along the way) are the most obvious components of the
> wavefront fitness function. Unless there's a reason why empathy gets
> conserved when interacting with players which can't reciprocate, it is
> not obvious why the gods should care. To them, universe is either
> sterile, or god-grade already. If it's sterile (in their eyes we're
> biofilm -- but we'll upgrade to full blown deity pretty soon), it is
> theirs to take. We won't stop mining Mars just because there might be
> a few primitive bacteria up there, won't we? If it's god grade, they
> shake hands and exchange pleasantries with their peers.

Sure. If we have super fast adaptable grey goo with just enough
technology to move at near light speed given any reasonable
concentrations of energy-matter ever so often then they can eat the
entire universe. But it is a pretty boring goal for all of our lifes,
hopes and dreams isn't it? You can make a good argument that it is a
reasonable concern of at least some less boring post-Singularity
species to make more of themselves and to be expansive enough to get out
and there and make room for other species to not get eaten early by
themselves or any other species. Not mandatory but certainly a
worthwhile goal.

Empathy is conserved because life is a lot more interesting than
non-life and because there is a need for and perhaps a delight in,
"not-us" diversity. Gods were not always gods and I imagine it would be
at least a bit less boring if other godlings were born now and then. You
(and I) have no business whatsoever claiming conclusively how a "god"
will or will not see the universe and especially other life. What we
may or may not do with Mars is irrelevant. Mars is not nearly as
profitable to mine as the asteroids for now anyway.

Your argument is as silly as saying adults have no use for children.

> > Dunno. We would miss serious nanotech level defenses in say the Oort
> > Cloud today. Hell, we would miss significant nanotech level presence
> Why is the universe sterile? Why are all these resources laying
> fallow? Even virtual navelgazing can profit from
> parallelism. Computers couple to physical reality.

We can barely manage to see any non-sterility out there. We can sit
here all day and posit technology and activities that our current tools
would not notice as marks of intelligent behavior. We could be very
early OR we are in a bubble either accidentally or on purpose OR we are
surrounded by high level activity that we simply do not recognize yet.
Perhaps a bit of a mixture.

> > even on earth. What makes you think for a second that the more advanced
> > and more moral species will stand for the fast dumb brutes marching
> > roughshod over the developing races? Personally I would tend to protect
> > developing races and make sure they don't get too far out into the rest
> > of the galaxy while they still are "dumb brutes".
> They're not "still", they're *already* dumb brutes. Cyanobacteria
> typically don't develop interstellar travel. Keeping on running
> without making a stop is not something which I associate with
> intelligent behaviour.

OK. We agree there. I think. Are you saying that all post singularity
species are not dumb brutes but would still tend to eat any developing
species on their path?

> > Sigh. You seem unable to think beyond your own model of endless conflict
> > to see that it is actually in the interest of intelligent species to
> > cooperate and that it might be considered in their interest to carefully
> It is only in the interest of intelligent species to cooperate if they
> can profit from the interaction.

So now you assume that you can understand for all time all the motives
of vastly more intelligent species and reduce them to the single word
"profit". Do you assume that you understand what such intelligences
would and would not find "profitable" or important? Here on the edge of
becoming such a species ourselves I think we need to think pretty hard
about what type of species we will become and what we will define as
important and profitable ourselves. We cannot afford for ourselves or
others to just assume we know what that is and can plan and predict on
those assumptions. The Singularity grows out of being able to transcend
the rules we have lived under until now in large part and define the
shape of ourselves and our future to a quite large extent.

> > guard the development of young species. It is not that hard to set up
> > agreements between species that have mutual interests and agreements
> > about what is important.
> I know where you're coming from (I've been there before) but you
> refuse to see where the logic of this all is leading this to. You
> don't have to like it (I don't) but you have to acknowledge it.

The funny thing about logic is that it largely only works out the full
consequences of your assumptions. I question what seems to be the

> > > If you can expand, you will. If you can't or won't, you're irrelevant,
> > > because no one is ever going to interact with you. Hence either Rare
> > > Earth, or the Zoo.
> >
> > Expansion is not the end and be all that you attempt to make it. There
> No, but if you don't expand you'll never be observed and interact with
> anybody else but a passing pioneer front -- which is then supposedly
> no problem for you. The universe is a large place, and intelligent
> life nucleation density seems to be very low. (Though it is difficult
> to see how a species of billions of spatially distant diverse
> individuals (it is not easy to see how any wet life can produce
> anything else) can agree to never venture outside of the small ring
> they set to themselves -- notice about the properties of individuals
> who chose to do so, the first step of self-selection).

What small ring? Space is vast nearly beyond imagining. More than
enough room not to run over other less advanced species along the way.
I am not saying no expansion. Pioneers and expansion are a great
thing. They are simply not the only or the only really, really
important thing.

> > are other things of massive importance that make an individual or a
> > species worth interacting with. Expansion does not equate to mindless
> We're not an advanced species. We're not worth interacting with on
> equal footing.

Ah, but are we worth protecting while we grow up?

> > expansion that destroys and consumes everything else other than itself
> > regardless. In all the vastness of space other life might be rare
> I know, you've said that often enough, but you never falsified the
> reasons of why the wavefront critters will be nasty.

Nor have you proven them. Both are build on differing assumptions. And
mine is also build on the assumption that we get to choose how we will
behave when we encounter such species.
> > enough to be held quite special and worthy of respect and room to
> > develop.
> Doesn't compute.

If life is as scarce as you posit it certainly does compute.

- samantha

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