On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 11:35 AM, benjayk
<benjamin.jaku...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> > On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 6:08 PM, benjayk
> > <benjamin.jaku...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Rex Allen wrote:
> >>>
> >>> If evolution by natural selection were correct, then it seems to me
> >>> that if the overall environment remained relatively stable for an
> >>> extended period of time - then regardless of how it ended up,
> >>> humans would be at about same level of happiness.
> >>
> >> I don't think it is generally true, though I think it is approximatly
> >> true
> >> if we assume humans are restricted to biological intelligence (which
> >> probably won't be the case in the future).
> >
> > Though, if our technological prowess were to plateau at a level
> > advanced enough that we could maintain a stable environment for
> > ourselves, but short of any type of "Singularity"...then what?
> I personally believe that development is an inevitable and universal part of
> the omniverse. Probably ever accelerating development (my guess is
> uncomputable fast development). I think there are plenty reasons to believe
> in development as an universal principle: Occam's Razor + evidence,
> pragmatic optimism, a consistent future for subjective immortality (which I
> assume)...

Okay, let’s assume that we take complete control over every aspect of
ourselves and our environment.

And that we start spreading throughout the galaxy, leaping from solar
system to solar system.

Surely there will be some competition in this process, as the groups
that “shape themselves” in the most efficient way “outcompete” those
groups who do not.

Surely this idea will occur to *someone* at *sometime* during the
expansion process.  Why wouldn’t it?  More resources means you get to
pursue *your* projects instead of someone else’s.  It also means that
you have more of a cushion against leans times.  It also means that
you can defend yourself better against someone else who gets the same

So groups that spread more quickly will gain access to more resources
(assuming that the galaxy is empty of other intelligences), which they
can then use to overwhelm groups that spread more slowly.

But groups that spread *too* quickly will over extend and be
undermined by groups that spread at a more optimal rate.

Now we’re back in an “evolutionary” framework.  Now we’re once again
subject to nature, red in tooth and claw.

> But okay, let's grant this won't happen.
> In case technological progress might reach a plateau in a way that there are
> no big paradigm changes and no exponential progress or even constant
> progress anymore, it will still not absolutely halt. If you think it will,
> you could more plasubily believe that biological evolution will. There is no
> reason at all to assume technology will cease to change.

I can imagine it going either way.  Time will tell!

> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> > Barring a Chinese-style birth control regime, eventually the more
> > fertile sub-groups would seem likely proliferate and eventually
> > population levels would rise until we were back in the same situation
> > that most of our ancestors lived in...with just enough resources to
> > sustain the existing population.
> Keep in mind wealthy societies tend to stop growing (even without
> governmental birth control), so what you say will likely not happen.

There are subgroups even within wealthy societies that have very high
birth rates.  Over time, these subgroups will become the majority.

Part of this is cultural - and so how long the high birthrates is a
question of how the culture changes.  But Mormons are about as wealthy
as the average American, and have much larger families.  The Amish are
also doing quite well.  And there are others.

But there’s a biological aspect as well.  If there’s a genetic
component to the decision-making process of deciding how many children
to have, then those gene-lines that favor larger families will
eventually come to dominate the population, and eventually trigger
another population explosion.

And further “fertility-boosting” mutations could develop that push
this even faster.

> Rex Allen wrote:
>> You don't think that happiness and unhappiness play a significant role
>> in the competition for social status and mates among humans?
>> I would tend to think that our social relations (or lack thereof) are
>> probably the largest contributor to most people's happiness *and*
>> unhappiness.
> Yes, but I think in a world with a more benign environment social relations
> will be easier to acquire and keep stable (eg less deaths) and there will be
> less reason to compete.

Absent unbounded resources, there are always reasons to compete.  Winning works.

> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> > Not everyone can be a winner.
> > We can't *all* get the prettiest girl or handsomest guy.
> > This is bound to cause unhappiness...which then (sometimes) motivates
> > increased effort or a different approach on the next round.
> I don't see a reason why everyone couldn't be a winner. Evolution is just
> too dumb to find a good solution for everyone. Society and technology might
> not be. The world is not a zero sum game at all.
> Sure, some people might be bigger winner than others. But even this doesn't
> have to be the case if different people prefer different things.

I would think that unless things are structured so that the price of
competition is higher than the rewards, then there will be

Currently, the government has a monopoly on force - and uses this
monopoly to set boundaries on competition.  But even within those
boundaries, social competition is still fierce, and the boundaries are
transgressed on a regular basis.

It doesn’t seem plausible to me that all of this competition will just
disappear.  Or that there’s a way to enforce the rules in a way that
can’t be “gamed” or subverted or bent or outright broken.

> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> >> I find it probable that there are many biological and pre-industrial
> >> beings
> >> in the multiverse that are significantly more happy than us because of
> >> this
> >> (it's very unlikely that it would be close to paradise, though, I guess).
> >
> > In an infinite multiverse...I tend to think that every possible
> > variation would occur a (countably) infinite number of times.
> But this begs the question of what possible variatons are... Clearly not
> everything that we can express as a possibility is really a possibility. We
> can say "what if nothing exists", even though nothing existing is not a
> possibility.


> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> > And so there would be the same number of happy and unhappy people...a
> > countable infinity of each.
> This is an gross oversimplification of how the world works. It might be we
> can't count people in a uniquely defined way. Maybe not all (countable)
> infinities are equal.

In what way would they not be equal?  So in the sense of one-to-one
correspondence, all countable infinities *are* equal...right?

You can impose some measure on your infinity, but I don’t think this
amounts to anything in this case.  In the end, for every unhappy
person you can put a happy person next to him.

> Also it might be that there is a limited number of distinguishable persons
> that are unhappy. An infinite multiverse does not imply that there is an
> infinity of everything in practice (we don't care for indistinguishable
> objects, or unstable objects that can be described but not experienced in
> the way stable objects can be experienced).

It could be argued that way.  Or you could argue that a person is a
person, regardless of how similar he is to some other person.

> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> >> Rex Allen wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Which brings me to my next point. IF this evolutionary theory were true,
> >>> then scientific advancements only increase human happiness to the extent
> >>> that it puts us into situations that we're not well adapted to.
> >>>
> >>> AND, given enough time (and mutation), we should adapt to all scientific
> >>> advancements...and a key part of this adaptation will be to reduce the
> >>> amount of happiness that they generate.
> >>>
> >>> We can only be "happier" than cavemen when we are in a situation that we
> >>> are not well adapted to.
> >>
> >> I think if we take scientific advanvement into account what you say
> >> becomes
> >> quite wrong.
> >
> > Only if scientific advancement does away with evolution by natural
> > selection.  Maybe by using mutation-free cloning instead of good
> > old-fashioned sex.  Or eliminating death by natural causes.
> >
> > So my opening sentence began:
> >
> > "If evolution by natural selection were correct..."
> > If we were to do something that resulted in us no longer being subject
> > to evolution by natural selection, or if evolution by natural
> > selection were false to begin with, then I guess the whole thing is
> > moot.
> Evolution by natural selection being correct does not mean it applies to
> everything. Even if it will still apply, science and technology might be
> stronger forces.

If all sides that are competing have access to science and technology,
then you’re right back into the “natural selection” framework.

The idea that we won’t compete with each other seems entirely
unfounded.  It seems nearly certain that we will...

> Rex Allen wrote:
> >
> >> First, we can't adapt very much biologically to scientific advancement
> >> because science changes us faster than biology can react to. The more
> >> scientific advanced we are, the more this becomes true.
> >
> > You think that science will continue it's current rate of progress?
> > For how long?  And then what will happen after it plateaus?  See my
> > scenario above.
> I think it will accelerate its rate of progress  (and I guess also
> accelerate its pace of acceleration, etc.) and continue indefinitely.
> Of course there still may be temporary plateaus for various reasons. Or they
> may be catastrophic events. But in any case, at some point we will recover
> or another species (maybe on another planet or galaxy,...) will take our
> place (and recover everything about us that is of value). I don't think the
> universal drive towards higher order, complexity, consciousness,
> intelligence and (eventually) happiness can be stopped by anything,
> ultimately.

The problem is that as your knowledge advances, so does that of your
competitors, and the complexity of your problems.

You move up a level, but so does everyone else.  Your capacity grows,
but this just lets you take on the next level of problems in a never
ending hierarchy.

It’s a treadmill.

> Rex Allen wrote:
>> Order increases because this universe is structured in such a way that
>> "disordered" mutants get out-competed by their unmutated brethren -
>> while order-increasing mutants out-compete their unmutated brethren.
> Yes, and I don't believe this is a coincidence but that it reflects
> something deeper about the universe.

It’s a consequence of the universe’s particular initial conditions and
causals laws.

Other initial conditions and/or other causal laws would have given
different results.


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