Re: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Aug 19 2007 - 12:22:27 MDT

On 8/19/07, Matt Mahoney <> wrote:
> --- Norman Noman <> wrote:
> > > Evolution is not intelligent? How do you define
> intelligence? Evolution
> > > created humans out of a mix of simple chemicals. I would say that is
> > > pretty
> > > smart.
> >
> >
> > Intelligence is a property of mind that encompasses many related
> abilities,
> > such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think
> abstractly,
> > comprehend ideas and language, and learn. Evolution does none of these
> > things, it's just a very simple optimization process that emerges in
> systems
> > with mutating replicators.
> If you define intelligence in terms of properties of the human mind, then
> only
> humans will ever be intelligent. Animals lack language, and might lack
> the
> ability to think abstractly, but do they lack intelligence?
> More general definitions have been proposed, e.g. [1].
> > Suppose you wanted to exterminate all life on earth. Who do you think
> would
> > > win, you or evolution?
> >
> >
> > Suppose you wanted to brew an anti-gravity potion. Who do you think
> would
> > win, you or gravity? I guess that makes gravity intelligent.
> Currently, I don't think it is possible to exterminate the human race,
> much
> less all life. You could imagine various scenarios, such as nuclear war,
> a
> genetically engineered plague, or poisoning the atmosphere. But I think
> that
> some humans would survive any such attack, and certainly many nonhuman
> species.

Legg essentially showed in a second paper [2] that intelligence =
> algorithmic
> complexity. Currently, I think that the algorithmic complexity of all the
> on earth (taking into account redundancy) exceeds the knowledge (both
> brains
> and technology) of any group of humans bent on world destruction. But a
> singularity would change that.

Algorithmic complexity of DNA does not count torward effective intelligence
for survival of extreme conditions. Most species on earth have relatively
narrow survival ranges and little capability for fast adaptation.
Relatively little intelligence (even none in the case of natural disaster)
is required to destroy relatively large complexity. Destruction is much
easier. As long as we are all on this rock anything that whacks
conditions on this planet sufficiently into a condition outside our survival
range and does so on a scale and in a short enough time to overload our
effective intelligence will wipe humanity out.

- samantha

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