The more perfectly adapted to its environment, the less an organism would need to struggle. The organisms that are struggling are by definition having trouble with their environment. Human beings have, over their history, gradually struggled less. They developed tools that speed up the work needed to fulfill basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. A knife cuts faster than teeth, a bag or bucket carries more than hands can. This results in a net increase of idle time, time which people can spend in pursuits other than self-maintenance. “It is in this idle time that humans can do as they wish, rather than as they must, and they can think, talk, and play — i.e., act as free moral agents. In Idle Theory, humans are seen as part-time free moral agents, only free to the extent that they are idle.” And idleness is therefore the base of all ethical systems as well. Why is it unethical to steal? Because it decreases the idle time of another, who must now replace that object with more work. Everything that increases idle time is ethically good, everything that decreases it is bad.
- A Theory of Idleness
From a biological point of view, if you live in an unchanging, stable, predictable environment, the best reproductive strategy is to simply clone yourself — once you work — a million times over and forget about it. But if the future is uncertain, if things could change without warning, it makes sense to have a wide variety of divergent adaptations as a hedge against unexpected change. It doesn't matter that most of this variation is not going to do you any good or may, in fact, even be harmful in the long run; some of this variation is going to work. And since there's no way of telling in advance which particular variations are going to come in especially handy when the environment changes, you hedge your bets by investing in a wide range of options.
- Peter Watts
In principle, species could develop means of swapping adaptations among themselves. Wouldn't you like gills? But that's not how it works with multicellular organisms. There's a very clear evolutionary logic for this - it's not a mystery. But if a human were in charge of the system, if we were running the show, we'd plagiarize the heck out of everything and export adaptations wholesale between species. -- And this is an example of what I mean by anchoring on human norms. In your everyday experience, an economy is made up of humans trading *artifacts* and *knowledge*. You don't even think to question this, because it's so universal. -- Humans don't trade brains. They don't open up their skulls and trade visual cortex. They don't trade adaptations. They don't even trade procedural knowledge. No matter how much someone offers to pay me, I cannot sell them my command of English or my ability to write entertaining nonfiction - not that I would ever sell the original. I'm not sure I would sell a copy. But the point is that I have no choice. I *can't* sell, whether I want to or not.
- Eliezer Yudkowsky
Immortals will not resemble the Eloi envisaged by H. G. Wells in The Time Machine, - fragile, easily fatigued, of slight stature, "a hairless visage, and the same girlish rotundity of limb." They will appear neither masculine nor feminine and remain sexually immature forever, but these side effects would not be handicaps in a society where everyone lives forever. -- Forever prepubescent, the immortals will not suffer from the inevitable, deleterious effects of aging that follow sexual maturity, but unlike the rather dull witted, "five year olds" discovered by the Time Traveler in Time Machine, the preadolescent immortals will be in a perpetual "learning mode." They will be capable of acquiring languages flawlessly and without effort. They will never exhaust their mental potential, and will always be at their peak of poetic and mathematical creativity.
- Seth Shostak
Viable Utopian Ideas - Arthur B. Shostakin kokoama esseekirja vuodelta 2003 osittain verkossa (mistä myös tuo viimeinen lainaus).
Figuring out what Alice wants, part II
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