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timtyler comments on In Praise of Boredom - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 January 2009 09:03AM

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Comment author: timtyler 15 June 2012 10:50:22AM *  0 points [-]

Your point here isn't clear. Orgainsms stockpile, but they also eat their stockpiles. Escosystems ultimately leave nothing behind, to the best of their ability. Life produces maximal devastation.

At any given time, much of the grasslands and fertile ocean are not engaged in photosynthesis because herbivores have cropped the primary producers, reducing short-term entropy production. You can swallow that problem with a catch-all "best of their ability clause," but now "ability" needs to talk about the ability of herbivores to compete in a sea of ill-defended plants, selfish genes, and so forth.

Herbivores cause massive devastation and destruction to plant life. The extend life's reach underground - where plants cannot live. They led to oil drilling, international flights, global warming and nuclear power. If you want to defend the thesis that the planet would be a better dissipator without them, you have quite a challenge on your hands, it seems to me.

But this isn't enough to power accurate predictions about the portion of Earth's surface performing photosynthesis, or whether humanity (or successors) will use up the available resources in the Solar System as quickly as possible, or as quickly as will maximize interstellar colonization and energy use, or much more slowly to increase the total computation that can be performed, or slowly so as to sustain a smaller population with longer lifespans.

MEP is a statistical principle. It illuminates these issues, but doesn't make them trivial. Compare with natural selection - which also illuminates these areas without trivializing them.