Re: poly: Solar system development

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Sun Dec 14 1997 - 22:38:30 PST

Ralph Merkle, <>, writes:
> 1) That which breeds faster and moves faster and can hold what it seizes
> wins.
> [...much elided...]
> Having launched the next wave, a seed will have to defend the territory it
> has acquired.

Carl Feynman's analysis suggested that holding the territory was not
what was important. Evolution would drive towards expansion above
all else. An organism which expanded outward at all costs, without
regard to building defenses or protecting the systems behind it, would
win if that were the fastest way to expand.

Robin Hanson's analysis, as well as Ralph Merkle's, suggests that it
is not easy to say what is the fastest way to spread. It may be that
actually, holding territory is important because that turns out to be
what is necessary to expand outward as fast as possible.

Or it might turn out that the fastest way to expand does not involve
holding the territory, but rather just skimming the cream of the resources
available and launching outwards as quickly as possible. There might
be only enough time to put up a "Kilroy was here" sign before launching
the next wave of seeds.

In that case it seems that evolution would not drive the post-launch
behavior of the organism. It would be like today's living creatures
once they are past breeding age. Evolution doesn't have anything to say
about the nature of organisms which can't (any longer) reproduce.

It might seem more logical for a replicator to want to hold its territory
once it has launched its seeds outward and the border has become out
of reach. But the only criterion for a replicator to successfully reach
a new border oasis and be able to launch seeds is successful speed of
launch in the past. Post-launch behavior has not been a survival trait.
So over time we would expect to see relatively random behavior patterns
among border replicators which have sent off their seeds.

Perhaps there could then be a second wave of colonization behind the
first, one which is more determined to control territory than to move
through it. Or conceivably there could be multiple waves.

It depends on whether we fix our attention on the border between the living
and empty regions, in which case expansion speed should dominate, or
whether we are looking deeper within, in which case we will look for
success at both expanding and holding territory.

Received on Mon Dec 15 06:45:49 1997

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