Re: The Great Filter

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 14 Aug 96 08:50:03 PDT

Eugene Leitl writes:
>> Unless you can indeed rewrite the universe's kernal to give unlimited
>> local computation, you will eventually need to move out into the
>> universe to support increasing computation abilities. VR happens in
>Yes. The transcension scenario. The silence in the skies is a good
>argument for it, imo.

You mean silence is good evidence for unlimited local computation?

>> real physical computers in our real universe; it doesn't change the
>> basic economics which pushes for expansion.
>_Are_ >H's bound to push towards expansions? How can we know?

Yes, if they are internally-competitive (without a single strong world
government). If local technological advances run out, then the only
route to growth is spatial expansion to other resources. And
generically evolution, of transhumans or anything else, pushes toward
growth where possible (some mutation trys it, and wins thereby).

Michael Wiik writes:
>I agree, but then we get back to the original question of why we don't
>observe the impact of intelligence upon the universe. The idea of the
>inward path is only a speculation on how advanced intelligence may survive
>(and even thrive) and yet have minimum impact upon the physical universe.
>One could say that both Egan's _Permutation City_ and Bear's _Blood Music_
>are fictional examples of a society with exploding populations which don't
>move out into the real universe.

These stories are all pretty short on cosmological time scales.
Unless you can create local baby universes, our best physics says you
will eventually run out of local negentroy for computation, after
which the only route to growth is spatial expansion.

Anders Sandberg writes:
>My own answer is that we are too slow and stupid to be worth
>discussing with. The transcendent beings might be around, but wait
>until we rise to their level simply because it would be so tiresome to
>do anything about it.

The question is why they don't use the resources, mass and negentroy,
near us.

>Sometimes I think that the "natural order" is artificial: stars are
>power generators, galaxies are really computer nets and so on.

But then why have we had so much success explaining astrophysical
phenomena with simple physical processes?

Robin Hanson