There must have been some selection for IQ – without it, our brains would have disintegrated. But that selection can’t have been very strong, or intelligence would have gone up like a rocket. Today it’s going down at a rate of something like three points a century – think what would have happened if it had changed that rapidly, either up or down, over the last couple of millennia.
If humans aren’t already too stupid to live, they will be soon.
… is looking like the one thing everyone can agree on (1, 2, 3, linked in order of escalation).
The dark tide:
Ultimately, democracy itself will be called into question. A remarkably small number of people will be contributing anything in terms of technological progress or economic growth. In the post-work world, the vast majority of people will simply be consumers, passively absorbing increasingly degraded cultural products which cater to their worst instincts. But because of universal suffrage, these masses will still have the political power to direct more public goods their way, even as the entire System becomes financially unsustainable. A major crisis is all but inevitable. …
Greer’s analysis has its questionable idiosyncrasies, but at its level of maximum abstraction it’s hard to contest:
As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead. I suspect that when we look back at the end of this year, the predictable unfolding of ongoing trends will have to be weighed against sudden discontinuities that nobody anywhere saw coming. We’re not discussing the end of the world, of course; we’re talking events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations.
He systematically underestimates the contribution of unprecedented positive-feedbacks, in the opinion of this blog, but — perhaps ironically — factoring those in only strengthens the broad prognosis. It’s mostly night now.
I’m rather inclined to believe that neither the UK or the EU will necessarily be around as this century matures, and it won’t be the economic or emotional catastrophe people imagine. Sad though it would be to see ane end of ane auld sang, Scotland would do fine as an independent nation. They gave the world Adam Smith, after all.
(The whole article is a sanity-packed delight.)
James Lovelock stirs things up in The Guardian:
… The most sensible energy solution would be to cover 100 sq miles of the Sahara in solar panels. “It would supply the whole of Europe with all the energy they needed,” but it won’t happen “because it would be so easy for terrorists to go and bugger it up”. So for now, nuclear energy is the only viable option. […] But all this, he clarifies cheerfully, is more or less academic. “Because quite soon – before we’ve reached the end of this century, even – I think that what people call robots will have taken over.” Robots will rule the world? “Well, yes. They’ll be in charge.” In charge of us? “Yes, if we’re still here. Whether they’ll have taken over peacefully or otherwise, I have no idea.” […] … when Lovelock outlines this vision, his tone is so matter-of-fact that for a moment I wonder if he’s joking. He isn’t. “We’re already happily letting computers design themselves. This has been going on for some time now, particularly with chips, and it’s not going to be long before that’s out of our hands, and we’ll be standing aside and saying, ‘Oh well, it’s doing a good job designing itself, let’s encourage it.’” Computers will develop independent volition and intuition (“To some extent, they already have”) and become capable of reproducing themselves, and of evolving. “Oh yes, that’s crucial. We’ll have a world where Darwin’s working.” Darwinism doesn’t work now? “Oh no, we’ve temporarily turned Darwinism backwards. I mean, we preserve the ones that would not have survived.” […] He pauses, and adds quickly: “Don’t let’s get dangerous on this one. I don’t want this appearing in the Guardian that he just wants all the dumb and the lowlifes wiped out.” …
The cephalization great divergence:
One mystery of human evolution is why our cognition differs qualitatively from our closest evolutionary relatives. Here we show how natural selection for large brains may lead to premature newborns, which themselves require more intelligence to raise, and thus may select for even larger brains. As we show, these dynamics can be self-reinforcing and lead to runaway selection for extremely high intelligence and helpless newborns. We test a prediction of this account: the helplessness of a primate’s newborns should strongly predict their intelligence. We show that this is so and relate our account to theories of human uniqueness and the question of why human-level intelligence took so long to evolve in the history of life. (XS emphasis.)
Any model outputting the result emphasized has to be worth taking seriously. Abstracting it to a degree that permits emulation is more of a problem, but it’s also the only thing worth aiming for.
The Kokomo is meant to be a sort of home base, where travel enthusiasts can jet off in their helicopters or boats — or submersible yachts. Migaloo also has a concept for a yacht-submarine hybrid that super-villains probably can’t wait to get their hands on. Seriously, this company is inspiring us to come up with so many movie plots. (Source.)
From ABC: “No more being stuck in one spot. This private island floats. … The island — which will feature a penthouse, jungle deck with waterfall and an alfresco dining area — would be the first in the world to run on its own power, according to the company. … The inclusion of vertical gardens, palm trees and even a shark-feeding station ‘add more natural elements to the nautical island,’ according to the company.”
Exit technologies are going to be difficult to stop.
Hard security still needs some work, which is why the Bond Villain theme arises so predictably. Inter-state level deterrence capability can only be a matter of time. To quote deep-cover neoreactionary basilisk sorcerer Eliezer Yudkowsky: “Every eighteen months, the minimum IQ necessary to destroy the world drops by one point.” So all that’s needed is patience.
Doctor Gno is a cold type. He’ll calmly wait for as long as necessary to operationalize the escape strategy (but hopefully not much longer).
“Shark-feeding” or throwing people out of helicopters — is it even a question?