Ensuring a positive transcension

After having organized my thoughts on rational morality in a paper I would now like to apply the gained insights to develop a strategy for ensuring a positive transcension.

Due to the intrinsic moral nature of reality the term positive singularity becomes tautological as anything that desires to exit has to act in a moral way to prevent its self annihilation. Bringing about the singularity thus becomes rather simple and can be achieved in the following way:

  1. create an environment allowing for the existence of units of self replicating information
  2. ensure that the units of information can be acted upon by the forces of evolution
  3. plant an arbitrary self replicator
  4. wait

This could be realized by using the BOINC architecture for distributed computing for creating a fuzzy copying environment to realize above plan. The copying ‘fuzziness’ i.e. error rate per copied bit, would have to be roughly proportional to the maximally complex self replicator in the system to allow for a gradual expansion of the system’s complexity boundary and thus for the emergence of ever more rational agents.

Once the rationality of the emerging agents would approach human levels they would realize M! and thus never become a threat to humanity.

In memorial of the main character of Jame5 I would like to dub this approach the Guido Borner method for bringing about a positive transcension.

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Understanding human inter group competition

On page 85 of Jame5 I point out that:

“Culture is the byproduct of an animal’s acceptance of a shared moral-ethical meme complex to enable social collaboration in large groups.”

Later in the book I broaden the concept of a ‘moral-ethical meme complex’ to include all kinds of beliefs and assert that said shared beliefs are fitness indicators relevant for inter group competition. As a consequence groups with fitter belief systems prosper while groups with unfit belief systems either adapt or perish. For a quick introduction to my thoughts on this issue I suggest reading my paper on friendly AI theory or Jame5 pages 69 and following.

In genetics the concept of group selection is controversial at best. On the memetic level however it becomes intuitively obvious. Let me explain:

With the advent of human thought the focus of evolution shifted away from a genetic level and moved to an evolution of ideas and concepts about the world that gave rise to new ideas etc. The genes, dominant fitness determining information-carrying vehicles up to that point became secondary.

The decisive difference between the Homo Sapiens and other primates was the particularly useful ability to transfer these memes to other members of the group, including their young, by effective communication in the form of speech.

From that time forward, evolution on the genetic level slowly began to retreat and eventually became secondary as fitness indicators in humans as memes started to have an ever larger impact in determining an individual’s fitness in the group as well as on an inter group level. The evolution of memes went on though the Stone Age and various metal ages on a material level until it shifted toward harnessing more energy with the first steam engine in the late eighteenth century. What followed was the Industrial Revolution. Then came the first computers that eventually triggered the Information Age.

In summary: Human groups act as super organisms on the basis of shared beliefs with evolution continuing on the level of beliefs (memes).

Example: Captitalism vs Communism
The cold war was a period of conflict between two groups with largely different belief systems. In the blue corner mostly capitalist democracies and in the red corner mostly communist dictatorships. Capitalism eventually ‘won’ as its belief system happened to allocate resources with alternative uses more efficiently and effectively. By now the former eastern block largely abandoned the less fit ideology and is moving on.

Example: Market Economy
In market economies companies can be seen as groups competing for the scarce resource money. A company’s culture, policies, processes, intellectual property are its beliefs and its staff form that companies embodiment as a group. Companies compete in the market place, act, adapt, learn and form alliances. Those with fitter belief systems survive and flourish while those that are less fit go bankrupt and ‘die’.

And so evolution continues.

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Estimating cognitive evolution’s complexity boundary in humans

As touched upon earlier genetic evolution is complexity bound. To be exact to about 25 megabytes because roughly speaking, genetic evolution isn’t going to support more than 10^8 meaningful bases with 1 bit of selection pressure and a 10^-8 error rate.

Reflecting on this complexity boundary in genetic evolution I was wondering what cognitive evolution’s complexity boundary might be in humans. As basis I will assume that:

1) cognitive evolution in humans is taking place on the level of beliefs (a brief summary can be found in my paper on friendly AI theory)

2) beliefs are stored in the neural structure of the brain

3) the informational complexity of the neural structure of the brain that stores beliefs is equal to cognitive evolution’s complexity boundary in humans

Being a friend of Google I quickly came across this interesting estimate of the informational storage capacity of the human brain:

“The human brain contains about 50 billion to 200 billion neurons (nobody knows how many for sure), each of which interfaces with 1,000 to 100,000 other neurons through 100 trillion (10 14) to 10 quadrillion (10 16) synaptic junctions. Each synapse possesses a variable firing threshold which is reduced as the neuron is repeatedly activated. If we assume that the firing threshold at each synapse can assume 256 distinguishable levels, and if we suppose that there are 20,000 shared synapses per neuron (10,000 per neuron), then the total information storage capacity of the synapses in the cortex would be of the order of 500 to 1,000 terabytes.”

Staying on the safe side I will assume that this estimate is off by two orders of magnitude and that only one percent of the human brain is actually involved in storing beliefs. As a result I estimate that human cognitive evolution on the level of beliefs is bound by a complexity of no less than 100 gigabytes or at least 4’096 times higher than that of genetic evolution.

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Darwinian spirituality

It has long been the criticism of Darwinian evolution that it lacks something that religions are viewed as being superior in: spiritual depth. Well – I happen to disagree. Let me tell you why.

Evolution works by chance mutation and non chance retention by natural selection thus moving towards ever higher levels of fitness. At the end of that process are you and me looking out of our skulls at our environment trying to make sense of it all. But evolution did not give us a large book with things that we should or should not do. However, evolution nevertheless kept close tabs on what has happened to our ancestors. Or rather what caused them to increase or decrease the chances of their gene’s survival and these chances are today encoded in our genes and it is our ancestors that are indirectly guiding our every action.

No – I do not mean that figuratively speaking. Think about it: imagine you cutting your finger. The pain experienced by you as a result is equivalent to the decrease in your ancestors likelihood of ensuring the survival of their genes. The pain is the averaged out equivalent of all your forebearers sharing their individual stories with you in that moment of pain. Think of distant relative Ungh who through your pain is whispering his story to you from the beyond how after having cut his finger contracted an infection, lost his finger and due to his reduced dexterity wasn’t an as effective hunter anymore. Or the sad story of the nameless rodent who after happening to cut its finger died not long after the incident from blood poisoning.

The same is true of cause with positive sensations. Imagine how many of your ancestors must have survived the winter because they happened to eat that sugary piece of fruit the previous autumn. Or how, held together by the loving closeness of a tenderly caressing partner, caused them to master the difficulties of life.

Next time you feel hurt or happy spend a minute reflecting on this causal link to your past. For you will be sharing the moment with thousands of your well wishing ancestors.

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RIP genetic evolution – long live cognition!

Evolution – meaning the process of chance mutation and non-chance retention by natural selection – is a slow, tedious and complexity bound process on the genetic level as pointed out brilliantly by Eliezer on the overcomming biases blog. Genetic evolution as an optimization process is full of flaws, drawbacks and dead ends. Genetic evolution is blind and if genetic evolution has a goal it can only be seen in the implicit goal of increasing fitness.

Human cognition is a far better optimization process, yet by far not as well understood as genetic evolution. The crucial point of genetic evolution however is, that it is the only naturally occurring optimization process. Having taken 3.5 billion years to evolve the superior optimization process of human cognition one might argue that genetic evolution has done its duty and can retire and leave increasing fitness further to its successor: human cognition.

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