Our descendants will be different from us. In a competitive world, they’ll have to be; our design is hardly optimized for their world. But since they will evolve incrementally from us, they won’t be completely different. For example, many features of the ways we talk between minds, and within minds, may lock in as interface standards. Also, our descendants will prefer to reuse and modify complex workable modules rather than reinventing such things from scratch.
From what we currently know about the neuroscience of pleasure, it would be entirely possible for redesigned minds to strongly enjoy drudgery and repetitive work. Furthermore, "improving the eighth decimal of some economic output measure" could require a sophisticated skillset of complex and challenging intellectual activities, all of which could be intrinsically rewarding for adequately adapted minds.
The same way computer viruses are not a problem - because we can back our computers up and reprogram them - in anticipation of being attacked?
Rob, humans already do to some extent, though perhaps not as much as bonobos. I'm suggesting that our descendants will do more.
Strange then that we don't use sex already to scout out business partners and friends and such. Why haven't we evolved to use sex modules for anything other than reproduction? Bonobos seem to have done so (though I hear that research is in question), but this is uncommon in the animal kingdom.
Rob, I'm saying we will reproduce sexually, I'm saying that we will not waste all the design effort that went into our sex mental toolkit. Yes, that toolkit is not the only way to manage relations, but it is a powerful way, and so we will make use of those tools.
This doesn't seem obvious. We have reliable and intimate allies today without having sex with them.
Sex is only for the greatest commitment of sharing genes. Why do you think sex exists in the first place? The 'red queen hypothesis' was the most popular the last time I checked. Assuming it's right, once we are uploads on fast hardware, it is unlikely that rapidly evolving parasites will present the same problem for us that they did to our ancestors because we will be able to back ourselves up and reprogram our software and hardware in anticipation to evade them.
Why then not switch to asexuality and have many sex-less friends?
If our successors eventually abandon natural reproduction, preferring to engineer new lifeforms, who knows how far they may depart from traditional sex?
People love sex and they love babies. Some people will give up natural reproduction, but not everyone without a substantial amount of coercion. Lots of people won't worry about how their kids are going to compete with genetically modified super babies. They will just get pregnant and have kids like people have always done.
Takeovers are ubiquitous in evolution. I gave some examples already. There are more examples on my "Memetic Takeover" page:
Automation provides many more examples. ATM machines are not a gradual evolution from bank clerks. Roombas are not a gradual evolution from human cleaners. Factory assembly robots are not a gradual evolution from assembly line workers.
Engineering around lock-ins does not seem to be a big deal in such cases. You can rip out the human, stick in a machine, and it fits, works 24/7, needs no toilet breaks and never asks for a pay rise or goes on strike.
Re: If our successors eventually abandon natural reproduction, preferring to engineer new lifeforms, who knows how far they may depart from traditional sex?
As far as the information-theoretic aspects of sexual reproduction go, memeticists and computer programmers, I would propose. They deal with engineered heritable information on a day-to-day basis. The future may face *some* different issues - those associated with copyrights and patents, for example - but such folk will probably have the basics down.
Is the decision of who to mate with to raise a child really all that random today?
"Future sex may well change greatly to meet future needs, but it will still be recognizably sex all the same. Long live sex!" This looks like a very shaky prediction, covering, as it does, the *whole future*. If our successors eventually abandon natural reproduction, preferring to engineer new lifeforms, who knows how far they may depart from traditional sex? Divorced from reproduction, sex will have lost its raison d'être, and will be ripe not just for modification but for replacement. Sure, this will be tricky, but our successors will have an indefinitely long time to work on it.
We do escape from many older standards, though. E.g. VHS.
Our "mental styles" do not really lock in humans very effectively - since mental things can be - or will be able to be - reproduced by computers - speech recognition and synthesis, handwriting recognition and synthesis, machine intelligence, etc.
Thus the waves of automation - where humans are replaced by machines.
I don't see how posting a quote of a long list of vague fears is responsive here.
Designers will focus on changes that do not also require a complete redesign of other larger entrenched standards and systems. Don't see why that wouldn't usually be possible.
> I’m pretty confident ems have “qualia”
"Even if we do not suppose that uploading and outsourcing will result in a widespread loss of consciousness, we can still entertain the possibility that intrinsically valuable activities and states of consciousness become rarer or disappear altogether. Much of human life’s meaning arguably depends on the enjoyment, for its own sake, of humor, love, game-playing, art, sex, dancing, social conversation, philosophy, literature, scientific discovery, food and drink, friendship, parenting, and sport. We have preferences and capabilities that make us engage in such activities, and these predispositions were adaptive in our species’ evolutionary past; but what ground do we have for being confident that these or similar activities will continue to be adaptive in the future? Perhaps what will maximize fitness in the future will be nothing but non-stop high-intensity drudgery, work of a drab and repetitive nature, aimed at improving the eighth decimal of some economic output measure. Even if the workers selected for in this scenario were conscious, the resulting world would still be radically impoverished in terms of the qualities that give value to life"
- Nick Bostrom
In your competitive emulation scenarios, a new mind design that delivers a 10% productivity increase could support astronomical R&D development efforts, and rented hardware quickly reallocated to the new design, which could be copied up to the limits of hardware resources. In that scenario the benefits of shifting look huge relative to the costs.