Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Mon May 04 1998 - 11:59:06 PDT ("Nick Bostrom") writes:
>A superintelligence, on the other hand, will havehave some
>understanding of technology. So if it wanted to make as many copies
>of itself in the same medium as itself, then it wouldn't switch to a
>different medium -- that would be plain stupid.

 Are you implying that "some understanding" implies no mistakes, or
do you assume it could recover from mistakes?

>(BTW, could it not also be argued that if we are to ascribe goals to
>DNA molecules, the most correct goal to ascribe might not be "make as
>many similar DNA molecules as possible", but rather "make as many
>instances of the same basic DNA information pattern as possible"? In
>the past, these two goals would have led to the same actions. In the
>future, the assuming the latter goal might imply different
>predictions. If these predictions are born out, doesn't that give us
>reason to say that ascribing the latter goal was more correct?)

 I think it's more correct to say that the goals of DNA were ambiguous.

>Well, power tends to seek to perpetuate itself. For example, suppose
>that in order to survive the singularity we constructed a dictator
>singleton, i.e. we gave one man total power over the world (a very
>bad choice of singleton to be sure). Then we wouldn't necessarily
>expect that dictator to voluntarily step down when the singularity is
>over, unless he was a person of extremely high moral standards. I
>think the same might easily happen for other choices of singletons,
>unless they were specifically designed to dissolve.

 I think your response to David Brin applies here:

>When we are designing brand new volitional enteties, these enteties
>have not evolved via Darwinian selection, so we shouldn't suppose
>that they will place a high value on self-preservation. What has

 I can imagine a singleton that was enough like a dictator to have
a strong self-preservation instinct (although I haven't yet imagined
a believable pathway to such a dictator). I suspect I would rather
accept the problems associated with the absence of a singleton than
accept the centralization I think is required for a self-preservation

>> >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
>> abilities.
>It follows from the assumption that it's mainly the colonized volume
>that determines the military strength of an advanced nanopower,

 An assumption which seems to be extraordinary enough to require a bit
of justification. Is there something fundamentally different about advanced
nanopowers that eliminates the importance of intellectual and technological
improvements, or are you implying that in a military conflict between, say,
India and England, we would expect India's larger volume to give it the
advantage even if India's inhabitants had the technology of chimpanzees
or beavers?

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Mon May 4 19:03:13 1998

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