Re: Darwinian Extropy

Dan Clemmensen (
Mon, 09 Sep 1996 22:20:49 -0400

Robin Hanson wrote:
> Dan Clemmensen writes:
> >There is actually a reasonable secnario that would limit an SI to one
> >star system but stil make it use up all the resources in that start
> >system. This will occur if the SI is attempting to maximize is
> >computational speed and capacity until it achieves some breakthrough
> >that causes it to no longer have this maximization as a goal. The
> >payback time for using out-of-system resources is very long, since the
> >mass you send out-of-system can otherwise be used to augment your
> >in-system resources with no speed-of-light delay. Thus, the SI must
> >choose between immedate use of the mass to build more local computing
> >capacity, or investingthe mass in a mission to another system to
> >return more computing capacity later. I feel that the SI may choose to
> >keep the mass, since at the SI's speed of computation, the return of
> >resources from another system is an incredibly large number of
> >computational cycles into the future.
> There seeem to be two different scenarios here.
> 1. The intelligence in a star system may at some point be no longer
> interested in increasing computational ability.
> 2. The other is that discount rates may colonization not
> cost-effective.
> On 1. The effective net values of a star system will be composed of
> the values of its many components. Even if most of these components
> suddenly no longer desire computation ability, some components surely
> will. And some components will surely value exploration and
> colonization for its own sake. Even within a group the size of this
> list we have a wide variety of goals regarding our futures.
> On 2. Even just looking at the goal of maximizing computation, you
> need to remember that discount rates are evolutionarily endogenous.
> If there are many different components with different discount rates,
> the ones that come to dominate the population are the ones whose
> discount rates are best tied to the feasible growth rate. If solar
> system limits are hit, so growth stops, then components who value
> longer and longer time scales will come to dominate, until extra-solar
> colonization efforts start to look attractive.
> Robin Hanson

In your (excellent) terms, my "plasuible scenario" is actually
a little different: the discount rate has a very large discontinuity at
the point when all in-system resources are exhausted being used
for computing. At this point the system-wide SI is likely to use its
capacity to exhaustively analyze its next move. What if the only logical
conclusion A system-wide SI can reach it that out-system resoureces are

Both of your arguments make the same funcamental assuption that
there is more than one SI in a star system. This is also a fundamental
assmption in the "Great Filter" paper. My "plausible scenario" makes
the opposite assumption, that a single SI takes over the star system.

In regard to the "great filter", the argument (mangled and
grossly oversimplified by me) is :

We haven't heard from them, therefore they aren't out there.
If they were out there then (because there are a lot of them),
we would have heard from at least some of them.

The argument may have a flaw: There may not be a lot of diverse SIs
in the universe. There may be only one per system, and they may all
have reached the same super-logical conclusion that star travel is
uneconomical in terms of the resources that SIs use.

BTW, I feel that the scenario is plausible. That doesn't mean that I
it's the only plausible scenario, and it doesn't mean that I like it.