Re: Uploaded memories

Anders Sandberg (
08 Dec 1999 18:10:58 +0100

Damien Broderick <> writes:

> This interests me greatly, because Robin Hanson objected a couple of years
> ago that my treatment of the Wonders of the Nano Future in THE SPIKE is
> inconsistent - I claimed that matter compilers and the like will
> permit/encourage a gift economy utopia (with a bit of luck), whereas the
> prospect of uploads (where I simultaneously take Robin's vivid
> extrapolations seriously) would put savage pressure on resources,
> foreclosing the former option. (I think that's what he was telling me.)
> My brutish unmathematical mind tends to side with Anders in this debate.
> But maybe I've misunderstood him as well. (I also suspect that the kind of
> mad-dog ravening exponential runaway that *could* happen under, say,
> Robert's scenarios changes everything so wildly that *anything* we say
> makes no difference - Eliezer's long-held position, of course.)

I think that exponential runaways are relatively rare - sometimes they happen, but by definition they tend to be brief before they run out of resources, and then their results become the foundations for the rest of the system. The solar system might be colonised by a huge explosion of nanotech conversion, computronium-building and upload-copying, but once this has reached its inflexion point other activities will likely take over. This explosion would at the same time be competitive for all the resources, and likely post-economical in the sense that the huge amount of resources becoming accessible would likely make each individual richer and richer unless they multiplied faster than the econosystem could grow.

Now, I'm of the opinion that even in Robin's scenario it doesn't make much sense to endlessly copy oneself for the colonisation effort - most of it will be easily managed routine, requiring relatively few uploads. Where a lot of uploads would be necessary is the complex, growing areas of human activities (such as lawyers and consultants). But here the economics doesn't have to grow as fast, it is really a balance between values and economics - it could explode (there are so many lawyers that everybody needs one - even the lawyers themselves) but it could also (and I believe this is more likely) diversify into an evolutionary radiation into the new resources, where the distribution of resources would be less competitive.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y