The Great Filter

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 27 Aug 96 17:17:49 PDT

Eric Watt Forste writes:
>But after reading Robin's latest version of his essay, and being reminded
>by it that sophisticated tool use (which seems to me to be closely related
>to sophisticated language use and other means of culture-acquisition and
>culture-transmission) has only evolved once so far and seemingly led to an
>almost immediate technological-cultural explosion, I'm starting to think
>that this may be a *much* larger element in the Filter.

This is what the biologist Mayr focuses on. The model I use in the
paper also implies that there is only *one* hard step associated with
human success, not a sequence of smaller steps.

>So now I'm starting to think that much of the Great Filter, probably much
>more than lies in the evolution of eukaryotic endosymbiosis, lies in the
>evolution of the various neural-net internal control mechanisms that enable
>us to learn and transmit culture, including language but many other
>memetic-transmission mechanisms as well.

This would imply that artificial intelligence has a very hard road ahead,
trying to rediscover this key breakthrough, and so uploads may be more
likely to appear first.

Robin Hanson