Why the future needs everyone!

From: Brent Allsop (allsop@fc.hp.com)
Date: Thu Mar 16 2000 - 17:45:56 MST


        The first big clue that Bill Joy is way off in his wired
article comes with his comment early on:

> "control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a
> tiny elite - just as it is today"

        I don't know how he came up with this but to me nothing could
be further from the truth. If there is one thing today's heigh tech
internet world is making blatantly obvious, it is that religions,
countries, companies and any group controlled by a central "tiny
elite" are doomed to never again wield the power they once had over
the masses. In this day where almost every citizen has a large and
rapidly growing stock portfolio, and the ability to purchase huge
amounts of computing power, every individual is going to have the
ability to do and get almost anything they want, completely ignoring
any central government elite or whatever.

        And he continues on with:

> Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide
> to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human
> race. They will see to it that everyone's physical needs are
> satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically
> hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him
> busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes
> "treatment" to cure his "problem." Of course, life will be so
> purposeless that people will have to be biologically or
> psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power
> process or make them "sublimate" their drive for power into some
> harmless hobby.

        He has it completely backwards. What purpose could there be
for some abstract machine to do all this? The primary source of Man's
purposes are his "joys" and "pleasures". If a mere abstract computer
is able to become intelligent, the first thing it will realize and ask
is something like: "What does salt taste like" and "what is joy
like"... For until it is able to "feel" such things, it will not be
able to have any real purpose or motivation for anything. Any
intelligent machines first "purpose" will be to seek after gaining the
ability to "feel" and to know what real (as opposed to mere abstract)
knowledge is like we already do.

        Another thing he is completely missing is why would humans
remain mere humans? Any "good" thing we can endow a machine with, we,
with the help of our machines, will also endow ourselves with. The
most important and pressing of which will be immortality....

        And even if there is, for some incomprehensible irrational
reason, some "uni-bomber" or "stalin" type of "luddite" that really
wants to do nothing other than something "bad" like kill and torture
other people what the heck? If I'm immortal, and undoubtedly have
backup copies of myself..., what's wrong with activating one of these
copies of myself, creating some virtual reality universe... in which
this stalin character is allowed to do whatever he wants to me? I
think it would be interresting to have the experience of what it was
like being dominated, and even killed, by such a character. Such
experiences would certainly make it hard to get board while I lived
forever. But there is no logical reason why any advanced, able to
become anything he wanted being would even want to do such absurd and
irrational kinds of "bad" things...

        To date, this world has been very selfish, primarily because
of the "survival of the fittest" method of growth we've had to resort
to to get to this point. Now that we've finally achieved the ability
to grow intentionally and intelligently, rather than via unintelligent
survival of the fittest random mutations, there is no reason to be
selfish, domineering, or whatever.

        Once we (machines included) can really feel whatever we want
to feel, and not what our creator hard wired us to want to feel, we'll
all really want to wire these feelings to do only good things. Pure
cold hard logic will dictate that all of our ancestors that died
before making it to this future glorious immortal heaven are our real
creators and the ones that gave us this glorious gift for free. They
are the ones that really deserve it, not those that inherited it yet
did none of the billions of years of struggle to create it out of
nothing. Cold hard logic, which machines will ad-hear to more than
old fashioned humans, will feel guilty and forever seek for true
justice, some way to pay back our ancestors for being our creators and
for giving us this glorious heaven. The only way to really do this,
according to cold hard logic, is to find some way to resurrect every
last one of our ancestors, to completely achieve a perfect history...

        With our limited mortal minds, it's hard to imagine how such
could ever be possible. But, for our childrens sake, I hope such is
possible by some future perhaps eventually near omnipotent Gods. For
that is the only way they will be able to escape the cold hard logical
fact that, they are not the ones that deserve what they were given.
For as long as they are unable to pay our ancestors back, they will
eternally suffer the pangs of guilt knowing that they are not the ones
that deserve to inherit the glorious eternal life they were given. If
I make it to that future time, I will always feel lonely without, and
indebted to all of my ancestors which are my real creators. To think
that a more intelligent being than myself will have less of such
desires, especially logical machines, seems to me to be completely
absurd, illogical, and irrational.

        We are about to overcome the evil of all future death and
suffering. That's the easy part. But, there will still be people
that are still dead, the only real "evil" that will remain.
Hopefully, as Tippler, Moravec, and others have theorized, we will
find some way to achieve the ability to resurrect and eliminate all
death that has occurred in the past also. Then once this chore is
complete, then and only then will it be a true and all good heaven,
completely absent of evil, for all. This is everyone's ultimate and
real purpose. Then will we finally be free to have fun
seeking to become all knowing, all powerful, and most important of
all, all feeling. As long as there isn't yet an all powerful being,
there can still be hope that complete illumination of all such evil,
death, separation... might be possible right?

        I did enjoy his comment:

> The fate of our species on Earth and our fate in the galaxy seem
> inextricably linked.

but it is so much more than this. The fate of all beings that ever
will exist, and that ever has existed, will always be inextricably
linked. It is true that Good and Bad can both use technology to its
various advantages. But things that are good have an obvious
advantage over all that is bad, namely, that which is "Good", is by
definition, that which everything and everyone one wants. And that
which is "bad" is, by definition, what everyone and everything wants
to overcome. Hence, though we should probably proceed with caution,
as he suggests, in the end, everyone and everything will finally end
up choosing all that is good to overcome all that is bad.

        As long as any of us is missing, as long as any memory is
forgotten, as long as any feeling is still un-felt..., no one will be
perfect and not somewhat lonely, no matter how intelligent they

                Brent Allsop

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