Re: Uploads and betrayal

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 17:40:53 -0500

Ken Clements responds to Harvey Newstrom:
> > Everything will be faster and on a grander scale, but basically the same.
> > ... we have come a far way from living as nomads in the desert, but our
> > cities with computers and networks and health advances, are still basically
> > the same. We have politics, crime, debates, problems.
>I would like you to consider that certain changes are about to happen which
>essentially guarantee that the future will not be just the past writ larger.
>During the last 50,000 years human nature has changed very slowly while the
>memes around us have evolved very rapidly. ... to the point of
>handing us the tools necessary to reach inside ourselves and change anything.
>... "Yes, but you can't want what you want". In the future it
>will be possible to reach in and select what you want (your motivation).

I agree this is a big important change. And in an important way, this change makes it *easier* to envision the future. At first, we will replace what we currently want with what we currently want to want. And then we will replace that with what we then want to want, which is probably related to what we now want to want to want. And since we are actually pretty fuzzy on what we want at these abstract levels, the main result will be to create a lot more variety in the values that exist. Which seems harder to predict.

This greater variety, however, will speed the evolutionary selection of what creatures want. First there will be selection for creatures that don't just randomly change values. Then there will be selection for values that induce and enable creatures to reproduce more. The ability to make upload copies will greatly speed this second kind of selection (see: After this selection sorts itself out we should mainly have creatures that want what evolution wants them to want.

So to the extent we can understand the evolutionary selection pressures that will act on future creatures, we can understand what it is that those creatures will want. Presumably the equilibrium will contain many kinds of creatures wanting different things. But one kind of creature that seems a safe bet for being part of the mix are smart creatures that just directly want to be selected for, and that don't want to change wanting this.

Predicting future evolutionary selection pressures is not easy, but it seems in many ways easier than predicting how our ancient human programming of what we want will react to weird new situations it was never designed to deal with.

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