Archive for June 19, 2011

Biological Life Has No Intrinsic Value

June 19, 2011 13 comments

What I am going to say might not make me popular, but here it is-

Biological life has no intrinsic value.

While it may be hard for most people to accept the idea, ask yourself- would the lack of biological life on earth or anywhere in the universe make any worthwhile difference? Would thermonuclear reactions in stars slow down or speed up? Would the nature of gravity change? Would the pattern of interactions between atoms and molecules change?

A universe without biological life would be practically identical to one with it.

The innate worthlessness of biological life is due to one peculiar feature of biological systems. The hardware cannot (yet) be separated from the software or its products. This restricts its ability to persist and spread.

Things would however change if rational intelligence could exist in a variety of non-biological systems and be implemented in new ones. There would be, then, little impediment to its spread and it could exist in a number of manifestations which we cannot even imagine.

I have a strong suspicion that advanced extra-terrestrial intelligence would be similar to software which can run on multiple systems rather than have any fixed form.

Some of you might counter by saying that life without purpose would not want to exist. But does biological life have any purpose to begin with? But is exists nonetheless, doesn’t it? Look around you- does the futility or lack of purpose stop humans from existing?

Why should anything have a purpose? A purpose makes sense only if you are constrained by resources and have to justify your choice. A sufficiently advanced trans-human intelligence has no resource constraints, nothing to defend, justify or care about. It can just hang around for the show.

Such intelligence might not be either a singular entity or a group of individuals, but something with features of both and without an analogue in the biological world.