January 12, 2005

Stephen J. Dick's 'Intelligence Principle'

Cosmologist and friend Milan Cirkovic recently brought the work of Stephen J. Dick to my attention.

Distinguished historian of science Stephen J. Dick, in his 2003 paper "Cultural Evolution, the Postbiological Universe and SETI," argued that there is a disconnect between SETI and the prospects following exponential growth of technology as perceived in recent times on Earth.

As Dick noted:
But if there is a flaw in the logic of the Fermi Paradox, and extraterrestrials are a natural outcome of cosmic evolution, then cultural evolution may have resulted in a postbiological universe in which machines are the predominant intelligence. This is more than mere conjecture; it is a recognition of the fact that cultural evolution--the final frontier of the Drake Equation--needs to be taken into account no less than the astronomical and biological components of cosmic evolution.
He continues,
In sorting priorities, I adopt what I term the central principle of cultural evolution, which I refer to as the Intelligence Principle: the maintenance, improvement and perpetuation of knowledge and intelligence is the central driving force of cultural evolution, and that to the extent intelligence can be improved, it will be improved.
To what extent this principle can and will play itself out is a matter of great conjecture--issues that cause transhumanists to wrack their brains--but a trajectory will undoubtedly start to take shape this current century. Migration to deep space? Migration to inner space? Jupiter brains and uploaded societies? Megascale engineering? Black hole engineering?

Only time will tell, but as Dick correctly points out, even the sky appears to be no limit.

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