While not all change has been positive, there is one big way in which humanity has “progressed” over the long run — we have grown vastly more capable, able to support a larger population, and recently a larger economy.
"About 100%" confidence seems excessive. Note in particular that your argument depends on about 100% confidence that life originated many times in the observable universe. But we don't know much about how crude and simple a self-reproducing organism can be. Someday people should be able to design self-reproducing organisms, but today we are very far from that, so our estimates of how hard it is for life to form are necessarily very crude. And without sharp estimates, how can we have about 100% confidence that life should tend to originate many times?
The odds are about 100%. We can't just wave away the Great Filter when we want to talk about other stuff. It's a hell of a prior.
Addendum: working link to the scene:
I'm not sure the universe has been so kind as to supply a ladder. A better analogy is the scene in 'Mission Impossible 4', we're actually hanging from the side of the world's tallest building with our arses blowing in the wind free-style, like this:
I have the same question as Tim Tyler: is the ascent greater than the fall is bad?For the sake of the metaphor, perhaps the switch to em consciousness is a broken ladder, or another ladder altogether.
Sigh. You are right; I erred. I just edited the post to reflect 10^21, not 10^12.
You're biased for near, but you traffic in far. You advocate the near by far means. A self-hating far-ist?
I know, but the "additional" factor was intended to get us from one solar system's (1 star's) worth of inhabitants to one universe's (1 thousand billion billion stars') worth, at the same population density. Or did I misinterpret something?
Re #1, I said "additional."
Should our biggest fear be falling off the ladder - irrespective of what the chances of that actually happening are?
I don't think infinity is easy to imagine. Lots of "finitary intuitions" fail with infinite sets.
1) a thousand billion billion is 10^21, not 10^122) that said I seem to recall the recently-increased estimate of the number of stars in the visible universe being roughly 10^233) *that* said, given the accelerating expansion of the universe, many of those would never be reachable even by a lightspeed traveler who started today. I don't know how much this reduces the 10^23 number (I'd like to know, because that is in one significant sense the size of our world).4) this forthcoming book by Eric Drexler looks relevant to this thread and likely to be interesting.
The article seems to make sense until it shifts into hyper-drive and we begin to talk about ems. The idea is a mental construct like the concept of infinity that is easy to imagine. I don't know why infinity is easy to imagine,even for people who can't balance a checkbook.
It is blinkered,because it ignores the fact that increases in human complexity are driven by increases in the concentration of energy.Will increased smartness repeal the laws of physics? Will really really smart ems overcome limits placed upon us by the nature of matter?
Early man lived off of the energy collected by plants. Man advanced when he gathered firewood. This lasted for centuries. Population was limited by disease,food supply and homicide.
Then man discovered water power,followed by coal, and oil. It took more and more energy to wring the entropy out of matter and each time energy became more concentrated. It takes a lot of concentrated coherent energy to run a computer,em or brain in a jar,especially if we put no limit on the numbers. We now live in an era where vast energy from petroleum,coal and other sources powers is concentrated into coherence for our use.
Unless we find ways to extract and concentrate practically infinite energy even the efficiency due to smart ems or animal beings will run up against limits. This will limit numbers of coherent beings or ems. It is kind of like a batch of yeast or bacteria in the logarithmic phase.They don't know that it won't last.
One of the social conventions we've put in place that may have significant influence on the development of ems is intellectual property. A quick search of the archives reveals discussions of each topic independently but not much on how they will interact. Do you have any thoughts on this?