Re: Luddites are everywhere!

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 15:52:50 MST

>From: "John Clark" <>
>In the current issue of Wired magazine is an article I did not expect to
>see, the
>author expresses great fear over Nanotechnology, computers smarter than
>humans, and of course genetic engineering. After expressing sympathy for
>ideas if not the methods of Ted Kaczynski, the mad Unibomber, the author
>"limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge". The really strange
>thing is
>not the content, it's pretty standard Luddite stuff, the bizarre thing is
>that the
>author is Bill Joy, chief scientist and cofounder of Sun Microsystems.
>It's a little sad to see an attitude like that in the very heart of Silicon

I am glad to see this point of view being aired, if for no other reason than
that it will spur further debate. I am as pro-way-out-tech as anybody on
this list. But I do share Joy's concern that our pursuit of this tech is
not without *significant* dangers. I know there are people more
technologically and scientifically literate than me who feel that the
potential dangers are not worrisome enough to warrant stepping back long
enough to make sure that what *can* be done *should* be done.

Drexler seems to be very confident in the viability of his nano-shields. I
am not so confident. But one thing is certain. The dangers we face are
potentially extinction-level-event serious. Drexler, Moravec and Kurzweil
all acknowledge the potential dangers this tech could bring. That alone is
enough to convince me that we cannot be assurred of smooth sailing as we set
out into these waters. We probably cannot fully appreciate these dangers
until they are almost upon us. But it certainly cannot hurt to debate and
debate and debate these issues until we are blue in the face.

Kurzweil seems to give us a 50% chance of avoiding our own extinction.
Personally, I don't like those odds. Heads you get immortality and
unlimited wealth. Tails you get global sterilization. I need a little more
convincing before I vote to flip that coin.


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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