Re: poly: ESS for HPLD

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Fri Dec 05 1997 - 10:25:30 PST

I found Carl Feynman's post fascinating and challenging. It seems clear
that the boundary of the colonized region will expand at close to the
speed of light. What happens immediately behind the boundary is less

I'd like to consider conditions within the volume of the colonized
region, far from the boundary. This is where most people will live and
so it should be of greatest interest.

At first glance I imagine a competitive universe, with entities analogous
to individuals or civilizations each having their own region, with
continual attempts to expand and take over adjacent areas.

However on reconsideration it is less clear what the units of replication
should be. With the levels of control which should be possible there may
not be any analog to individuals. An over-simplified model suggests that
all matter will be engaged in computation and associated tasks, with the
thinking being done in virtual form.

It might be better to look at it as competition among memes than among
organisms. Combinations of memes, strategies if you will, control how
matter is manipulated to implement whatever goals are determined by
the meme sets. (A familiar problem is how to rationally adopt goals when
you have direct control over your own motivations. I will just assume
for now that goals are memes.)

The strategies will therefore evolve to attempt to spread. Why would one
region of space change strategies/memes? It could be because some meme
is more effective in supporting the goals determined by the overall
strategy. A new idea for a better way to generate energy, for example,
might spread throughout space as everyone adopts it.

Or it could be by force, i.e. war. This could be in the physical realm,
altering the physical substrate to, crudely speaking, reprogram the
computers to adopt the new strategy. (Fleets of spaceships cruising
into a new solar system, knocking out the defenses, and taking over the
computer systems.) It could perhaps be in the virtual realm, an advanced
version of a computer virus which accomplishes the same thing.

Perhaps these can be differentiated by whether whole new meme sets are
adopted en masse versus incremental modification, or perhaps we can
identify a specific set of fundamental memes, the "goal memes", and we
can assume that those are only replaced involuntarily. No doubt the line
between these kinds of memetic propagation is blurry.

It is questionable whether an HPLD can really exist. It could be that
the laws of physics are complex enough that it is intractable to discover
all useful technologies in a reasonable period of time, or it could even
be that the laws themselves are infinitely complex and new technological
discoveries can never be ruled out.

Ignoring technological advancements, it seems likely that space will
crystalize into one or more regions, each with its own meme set which
represents a local maximum in terms of expansion/defensive capability.
It may be that one meme set is dominant, in which case this region will
expand to include all space. Or it may be that there is more than one
local maximum, each close enough that they are not able to conquer the
other, and so there are boundaries between these regions.

If technological developments occur, these will lead to occasional shifts
in the boundaries as the capabilities of some meme set increase and it
is able to expand. It may expand throughout space, or it may find that
it cannot penetrate some regions. Eventually a new stasis is reached.

Hal Finney
Received on Fri Dec 5 10:41:34 1997

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 07 2006 - 14:45:29 PST