Re: more on Brand and the Singularity idea

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2001 - 01:00:04 MST

Jim Fehlinger wrote:

> Moravec paints some pretty scary pictures himself in the sequel
> to _Mind Children_ (_Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Being_).
> He suggests that unenhanced humans, in order to protect themselves,
> may require transhumans who wish to expand their capacities beyond
> a certain limit to, in effect, resign from the human race, accept
> a severance package, and head out into space. He suggests that the
> first of these "Ex"es (as in ex-humans) will rule the roost, picking
> off newcomers as they leave the earth, and perhaps eventually
> holding Earth hostage. I believe Moravec actually uses the
> image of a drop of pond water as a metaphor for the sort of
> Darwinian free-for-all he envisions among the Exes in the
> Solar System (those with less of a taste for battle
> and lucky enough to get through this gauntlet will head straight
> for deep space).

Really. Could you point out where he says the Exes would lie in wait to
blast newcomers from earth? I didn't see that. And I find it extremely
unlikely. Space is vast and extra hands and minds and viewpoints would
likely be highly prized. Why waste energy squabbling at the doorway?

> Apologies to Eliezer if I have overlooked his most recent positions on
> these matters -- I certainly didn't mean to suggest that **he** is a monster!
> Also, perhaps the juxtaposition with de Garis and Warwick was a bit
> misleading. However, it's been my impression that being willing even to contemplate
> the end of humanity (whether by death or the metamorphosis of
> "human-ness" into something else) -- to take a cosmic, Stapledonian view of the
> place of Man in the cosmos -- gets one pegged as somewhat cold-
> blooded by a lot of people with more conventional horizons.

I frankly do not see why fascination with and working toward the
metamorphosis of humanity into something that transcends humanity would
cause anyone to be labeled as "cold-blooded". Especially if room is
made for the stay-at-homes to do what they wish (outside of stopping
those who see things differently).

> I guess the point I was trying to make is that it may not
> ever be possible, or even desirable, to candy-coat this stuff
> for the masses. Most people still get the screaming meemies
> at the sort of universe that modern science rubs Man's face
> in -- particularly the Darwinian vision of life. Any film buffs
> remember Katherine Hepburn as Violet Venable in the movie
> of Tennessee Williams' _Suddenly Last Summer_ describing her
> poet son Sebastian's reaction to seeing the birds swoop down
> on the newly-hatched sea turtles during a visit to the
> Encantadas? That's what I mean.

Most people have pretty funny ideas about what a "Darwinian vision of
life" is and is not.

- samantha

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