When humanity starts sending its ships to other planets, what should be our goal?

(ORDO NEWS) — Essentially, there are two options:

A) Use the artificial intelligence (AI) of astronauts to sow the seeds of scientific innovation elsewhere so that the intelligence is duplicated and not at risk of extinction.

B) Create numerous copies of what nature has already produced on Earth.

The choice is to be proud of what nature has produced in 4.5 billion years on Earth through unobserved evolution and natural selection (B) or to strive for a more intelligent form of controlled evolution elsewhere (A).

Choice B is reminiscent of an industrial duplication line for which an assembly line proof of concept has already been demonstrated on Earth and we can replicate it in an Earth environment.

We are emotionally attracted to option B because we are attached to ourselves and our natural way of maintaining the longevity of our genetics is through biological reproduction. This is wrong for two reasons. First, we tend to think that we are special, so reproducing more of us is attractive. Second, we forget the long series of trial and error that led to natural selection.

Choice B reflects a unique selection bias; namely, we like who we are, and we imagine that if we duplicated natural selection in the terrestrial environment, we would end up with something as special as we are. Of course, natural selection makes no such promises.

This emphasizes the attractiveness of choice A, which promotes the emergence of new systems that are more advanced and adapted to completely different conditions. If evolution is led by artificial intelligence systems with 3D printers, it will be able to more effectively find optimal solutions for new problems that have not been encountered before.

The second approach is appropriately called B, as it has been adopted by barbarian cultures throughout human history. Its brute force simplicity in making copies of existing systems can lead to dominance in numbers, but its main weakness is that it is vulnerable to new circumstances that previous systems cannot survive.

For example, dinosaurs were not smart enough to use telescopes to warn them of the dangers of giant space rocks like the Chicxulub. In addition, the ideas offered by ancient Greek philosophy lasted longer than the Roman Empire, despite the latter’s military power in conquering new territories.

AI scientists could use machine learning to navigate wilderness areas and adapt to their challenging terrain more efficiently than terrestrial lifeforms. In this sense, AI systems can be seen as our technological children and a stage in our Darwinian evolution, as they represent a form of adaptation to new worlds beyond Earth. There is no reason for us to attach ourselves to primitive ideas of life on Earth, just as there is no reason to resurrect dinosaurs.

Earth snowball periods have removed some life forms from our terrestrial habitat, but the physical problems on other planets can be so extreme that life on Earth is unimaginable. The adoption by AI systems of survival tactics in these alien environments may be important to create sustainable torches that will carry our flame of consciousness there.

Is there a smarter kid in our space block who has already come up with a better strategy? If so, it would be interesting to find out which option – A or B – is more popular among extraterrestrial civilizations.

Choice A has a higher chance of surviving natural disasters such as loss of the planet’s atmosphere, climate change, meteorite impacts, host star evolution, nearby supernova explosions, or supermassive black hole outbursts. However, variant B can be contagious enough, like the micron variant of COVID-19, to seed many places at once and make up for its smaller impact.

By studying other planets for signs of life, we could determine which option was most popular with past civilizations. Based on human history, we could find evidence of many barbarian cultures that have perished, and far fewer intelligent cultures that have survived. Though harder to find, these precious needles in a haystack, preserved for billions of years, can teach us an important lesson about the auspicious path.

I’ll put the cards on the table before we find them: I favor option A for the AI, not B for the barbarian.

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