RE: The Point of No Return

J de Lyser (
Sun, 22 Dec 1996 10:29:15 +0100

>Mark Crosby wrote in reply to Anders Sandberg:

>The challenge I see here is that there might have to be a 'speciation'
>between any 'lingering colonists' and the probe 'wave-front'. I'm
>assuming that the wave-front probes could only have 'one' goal if they
>were to be able to expand at ~lightspeed: grab resources, replicate
>(if necessary) while *always* on the move. That is, they would not
>have time to stop and 'smell the flowers', analyze the environment, or
>design anything new. They would have to leave behind non-probe
>'seeds' that would grow to fullfill these more leisurely functions.
>These lingering colonists would be the ones that would have time to
>actually interact with their environment, create art and design new
>technologies. Maybe the difference between the two groups would be
>more like sexual genders than different species?

If the probes don't stop, you are placing the task of reproduction of those
probes in the hands of whatever 'seeds' they leave behind, therefore the
individual 'seeds' would not have much time either, to 'smell the flowers'.
The only goal of such a culture would be Expansion, unless you come up with
a 3 gender structure, viewing both the probe and the replicators as 'units'
whose sole purpose is to spread the human/transhuman/posthuman or whatever
life form...

>Would there be any possibility for the always-moving-on probes to ever
>learn from the environment (other than reflex reactions, such as
>avoiding clouds of antimatter or blasts of lethal radiation)? Would
>there be any way (or even need) for the probes and colonists to
>communicate and adapt based on each other's knowledge?

They could 'drop off' their gathered knowlegde like their 'seeds' at every
new 'colony' they create, the knowledge could then be brought back at lower
speeds by a fourth type of unit, that gathers information and spreads it
between the colonies, not just between colonies that were created by the
same probe, but far more efficiently by passing at least one colony of each
probe, on its way back to earth.

>Perhaps there are ways around my assumption that the expanding
>wave-front would not have time to adapt and learn new things? I
>assume that, even at lightspeed, the probes would still be subject to
>evolutionary pressures and would be 'blindly' selected/adapted in that
>way. Still, I can't see any way for the probes to learn anything from
>those they left behind. Maybe they wouldn't need to as long as they
>continued to carry on the seeds necessary to create more colonists?

If the probe 'drops' it's latest knowledge at it's last colony, they can
make new probes that include technology based on that new knowlegde.
Ofcourse there would be a loss of time. In case of a time sensitive
disaster, we would have to do with the probes we've got.

J. de Lyser