Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 17:14:10 PDT ("Nick Bostrom") writes:
>Perhaps unpredictable in some dimensions, but not in others. If a
>being starts out with goal A, then the only way it could switch to a
>different goal B is through outside intervention or accident. (For it

 Suppose some DNA molecules set for themselves the goal of maximising
the quantity of DNA, and one of the tools they create for this purpose
is human beings, who decide to upload and replace all DNA-based life
with more efficient implementations of life.
 Does this involve outside intervention or accident?

>> By temporary, I meant one intended to help us survive the singularity,
>> without trying to plan out long-term unity.
>Would that mean a singleton that was designed to dissolve when things
>have stabilized? What would be the advantage of dissolving the
>singleton? Think of it like this:

 I find it unlikely that designing a singleton to handle a near-term
singularity would imply designing something that would remain unified
over interstellar distances, so I'm assuming these are two independant

>> If those other civilizations haven't constrained themselves the way
>> the singleton has, it may be unsafe to wait until seeing them to
>> optimize one's defensive powers.
>Yes, though I think the main parameter defining resilience to attack
>might be the volume that has been colonized, and I think the
>singleton and all other advanced civilizations would all be expanding
>at about the same rate, close to c.

 I think this depends quite strongly on your assumption that the goal
of remaining unified places few important constraints on a civilization's

>> >blinded by ideology. Since one nuke can kill over a million
>> >people, and since more than one in a million will go mad, this
>> >proposal would mean that we would all die.)
>> Non sequitur. One nuke can kill a million people who are concentrated
>> in a city.
>I know, but you get the idea.

 I get the idea that your thinking on this subject is rather superficial,
and that you should think carefully about the ideas in Vinge's story
The Ungoverned (available in _True Names and other Dangers_).

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Sat May 2 00:19:10 1998

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