Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: phil osborn (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2000 - 23:35:54 MST

>From: "Zero Powers" <>>Subject: Re: Surveilance was:
>Transhuman fascists?
>Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 20:47:26 PST>

but apparently it needs saying some more: despotism and totalitarianism
thrive on secrecy. Ubiquitous two-way power proportional transparency does
*away* with secrecy and, at the same time, with despotism.

This particular debate is reflected in another topic of recent discussion -
The First Immortal and The Truth Machine by Halperin. I met Conrad
Schneiker in about 1979 at monthly parties held at a local libertarian
business. Schneiker is briefly credited in Drexler's Engines of Creation,
but, according to Conrad (co-inventor, BTW, of the scanning/tunneling array
chip), he is actually responsible for Engines being published at all.

Conrad says that Drexler intended to keep the wraps on the whole idea of
nanotech, with the idea that only an elite of govcorp philosopher king
technocrats would have the wisdom to properly develop it. Note that Drexler
himself pushes this sort of take on the subject of AI, in Engines,
completely contradicting his own logic as to why the genie could not be kept
in the bottle for nanotech itself. This, according to Conrad, was Drexler's
actual position re nanotech, however, and it was only his - Conrad's -
threat to publish independently that forced Drexler's hand.

Conrad's position of note, however, when I met him, was on the current
topic. He pointed out around '79 that the only survivable high-tech
civilization would be one with universal surveillance. Consider that the
price for total species annihilation has been and will continue to decline
exponentially for the forseeable future. No centralized Big Brother can
handle this problem in the long term, as - to put it very briefly - "who
guards the guards."

Only a competitive system, probably run by the insurance companies looking
for risk violations, could possibly have a reasonable chance for longterm -
i.e., staying ahead of the risk curve for the life of the universe - success
in preventing species destruction. That, as I understood it, was Conrad's
position in a nutshell.

Now note that even though Conrad and his take are never mentioned explicitly
in The Truth Machine, you find these anomalous passages that are nothing
short of a direct attack on that position, even though they really add
nothing to the novel, and never address Conrad's central arguments. I.e.,
Halperin is part of - in my considered opinion - the Drexlerian/MIT
technocracy conspiracy to sell a policy and then move in as the logical
implementors, sometime perhaps ten or twenty years hence.

Get Your Private, Free Email at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:06:47 MDT