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Carl_Shulman comments on The Baby-Eating Aliens (1/8) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 January 2009 12:07PM

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Comment author: Carl_Shulman 31 January 2009 02:51:41AM 1 point [-]

Even relatively strong social recognition and coordination systems, as in primates, leave plenty of opportunities to shirk and betray. Behaviors of selective provisioning and parental investment (the cheating that already sometimes occurs and is punished among Babyeaters) serves both group and individual fitness, reducing the strength of group selection needed to maintain the altruistic punishment of shirkers. It would thus be easier for it to evolve, and groups of selective-provisioners would on average have a competitive advantage (since the group-beneficial slow population growth would degrade more slowly) against groups with the dispositions in the story.

Now, if the social coordination mechanisms got absurdly strong, much stronger than in any human society ever, this would no longer be the case. Likewise, if the story's babyeaters became universal, selective-provisioners would not be able to arise among them. So there is no contradiction, but there is a probabilistic surprise.