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Tim_Tyler comments on Growing Up is Hard - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 January 2009 03:55AM

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Comment author: Tim_Tyler 04 January 2009 11:39:27AM 1 point [-]

This is one reason to be wary of, say, cholinergic memory enhancers: if they have no downsides, why doesn't the brain produce more acetylcholine already?

There's considerable scope for the answer to this question being: "because of resource costs". Resource costs for nutrients today are radically different from those in the environment of our ancestors.

We are not designed for our parts to be upgraded. Our parts are adapted to work exactly as they are, in their current context, every part tested in a regime of the other parts being the way they are.

That's true - but things are not quite as bad as that makes it sound. Evolution is concerned with things like modularity and evolvability. Those contribute to the modularity of our internal organs - and that helps explain why things like kidney transplants work. Evolution didn't plan for organ transplant operations - but it did arrange things in a modular fashion. Modularity has other benefits - and ease of upgrading and replacement is a side effect.

People probably broke in the ancestral environment too. Organisms are simply fragile, and most fail to survive and reproduce.

Another good popular book on the evolution of intelligence is "The Runaway Brain". I liked it, anyway. I also have time for Sue Blackmore's exposition on the topic, in "The Meme Machine".

"Hm... to get from a chimpanzee to a human... you enlarge the frontal cortex... so if we enlarge it even further..." The road to +Human is not that simple.

Well, we could do that. Cesarian sections, nutrients, drugs, brain growth factor gene therapy, synthetic skulls, brains-in-vats - and so on.

It would probably only add a year or so onto the human expiration date, but it might be worth doing anyway - since the longer humans remain competitive for, the better the chances of a smooth transition. The main problem I see is the "yuck" factor - people don't like looking closely at that path.