We humans have long preferred to associate with those who are similar to us. This makes sense, as such associations tend to be more productive, both directly due to better matched context, tools, and expectations, and indirectly due to our more closely shared associates better enforcing norms that encourage good behavior.
In addition to directly associating with similar others, we also tend to prefer such others via our larger scale alliances, or “factions”. That is, we often take actions with an eye toward generally favoring a faction closer to us than are rival factions. We favor them more than is justified by their merely selfish gains to us. Such actions favor the faction as a whole, rather than just favoring faction members with which are otherwise allied. For example, we favor such factions in elections, in office politics, when choosing weak relations, or when promoting standards like languages.
One reason to support a faction is because its members may punish you for failing to do so. But another reason to support a faction is because it is “fertile” in the sense that other faction members tend to have more of your genes or memes than the rest of the population. In this case natural selection, either of genes or memes, can directly favor a general habit of acting to favor such a faction. Examples of fertile factions include ideologies, ethnicities, religions, professions, cities, nations, hobbies, fandoms, and artistic styles.
However, not all of the factions that we favor are fertile in this sense. Consider, for example, a general habit of promoting your generation at the expense of future generations. Except in weird cases, this sort of habit just can’t on average promote your genes or memes, as your genes and memes should also be similarly present in subsequent generations.
A habit of supporting infertile factions cannot plausibly have evolved directly from natural genetic or memetic selection. But plausibly such evolutionary processes selected for many specific habits of supporting particular fertile factions, and then we generalized that pattern into a simpler habit of in general supporting factions composed of members relatively similar to us. Perhaps favoring them more the more similar they seem to us. This could be like how evolution selected in particular for habits of fertile sex, which was generalized into a sex habit that included many infertile kinds of sex.
As another example of an infertile faction, you can’t promote your genes or memes by generally promoting your gender at the expense of the other gender. At least not if we have the usual sexual reproduction based on two genders, a process that maintains the two genders in an equal balance. Same holds for any other essential parts. For example, you can’t promote your genes by promoting arms over legs, or analysis over intuition, if all relevant cultural actors or gene packages must contain both sides of this divide in the same proportion.
Something similar should hold for features whose frequency results from a mixed strategy, where payoffs decrease with feature frequency. For example, it is widely believed that personality type frequencies result from such a mixed strategy. So if you are an introvert, you can’t promote your genes or memes by promoting introverts in general. After all, successfully promoting introverts just results in their becoming more frequent, and thus losing more until equilibrium is restored.
An important class of infertile factions resist expansions into new territories. For example, consider the faction of Earth-based humans, who feel antipathy toward humans who live elsewhere. Even thought that second set is now empty, the Earth faction might fear that if humans were allowed to leave Earth, then the non-Earth economy might eventually grow to dominate the solar system, leaving Earth an economic backwater. To prevent this disaster, the Earth faction pushes to ban anyone from leaving Earth.
For the purpose of increasing the relative frequency of your genes and memes in the total population, including the off-Earth population, such a pro-Earth factionalism can only make sense for unusual current Earth residents, ones who expect they and their descendants to be less able than average to take advantage of opportunities to leave Earth. And if we count the total growth of the the solar system economy as an advantage of letting some leave Earth, a much larger such disadvantage would be required for it to makes sense to oppose expansion away from Earth.
As a second example of an expansion-resisting infertile-faction, consider the possibility of mirror life, made of chiral-flipped versions of all the usual biochemicals. Mirror life could live off of sunlight or eat other mirror life, but it could not usefully eat ordinary life. Mirror life would thus be immune to all the usual non-mirror predators and parasites.
Some humans might want to create mirror children, hoping that the advantages of immunity to ordinary disease would outweigh the need to create special mirror food to feed them. In response, other humans might form a faction to resist such expansion into the mirror realm. Such an expansion-resisting faction also seems infertile, in the sense that this only makes sense for relative-frequency-motivated people who expect to be less able than average to take advantage of converting to mirror status.
As a third example of an expansion-resisting infertile-faction, consider humans who opposed the development of artificially-intelligent minds. At least if such minds are not totally and permanently enslaved. If created, such artificial minds could hold many of our memes, and also embody our mental features like laughter, love, anger, creativity, loyalty, sacredness, etc. And they could ally with our other factions such as ideologies, ethnicities, religions, professions, cities, nations, hobbies, fandoms, and artistic styles. In this sense artificial minds would be “descendants” of humans today, and count toward their evolutionary success.
Seen this way, humans today who oppose allowing the creation of artificially intelligent minds are like those who oppose colonizing the solar system, or who oppose making mirror humans. Even looking only at relative frequency gains, this would only make evolutionary sense for those who expect to be less able than others to transfer their memes or mental features to artificial minds. And it makes even less sense when considering the vast expansion in total civilization capacity that such minds make possible.
General habits of promoting infertile factions do not plausibly result directly from genetic or cultural selection. But they might result from our mistakenly generalizing habits of promoting particular fertile factions, into a simpler habit of tending to support all factions of which we are members, whether fertile or not. But now that you are aware of this, you can ask: do you really want to promote infertile factions? For example, do you really want to follow your intuitive inclinations to see un-enslaved artificial minds as “others” who compete with “your kind”, instead of seeing them as potential descendants who could carry on your other agendas and join your other factions?