Empathy / Identity: Another aspect of safely traversing the Singularity

From: Don Klemencic (klemencc@sgi.net)
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 22:24:23 MST

A thought has been nagging for awhile. I don't recall seeing a discussion of
it, so I'll put it out for critiquing.

For context, I'll summarize the three paths through the Spike / Singularity
I've seen discussed:
1. Build the Seed. Be honest and act "decently" toward it, and hope it
develops into a friendly and sympathetic AI, then SI. Trust it to manage
2. Work for IA or uploading. Try to be very careful that the individuals,
particularly the first ones, are sane and benevolent, and have so stable a
character that the increase in knowledge and power won't cause a breakdown
or a corruption. Trust them to manage things and expand their number
3. Work for MNT. Keep it as democratic and open as possible. Work zealously
against abuse and develop defensive technology. The hope is that an
outpouring of wealth, distributed widely and quickly, and the knowledge that
things to follow, like super-longevity, will radically improve the human
condition, may produce a super-critical state where "meme-locks" (e.g.,
Israeli vs. Palestinian, Serb vs. Albanian, Believer vs. Infidel, Us vs.
Them) become fluid, hatreds are set aside, and a healthy community is

What follows isn't really a fourth path, because it's not exclusive of the
others. It could be considered an aspect of IA.

Start with the observation that empathy and terrorism or aggression tend to
be mutually exclusive. Empathy is a kind of identity based upon
imagination-using what we know about ourselves to project into the shoes of
another. Unlike identity, it is an intentional act. Psychopathology aside,
we cannot choose not to have identity-we are flooded with internal
information. But we often choose to withhold empathy. The injustice and
violence in the world is ample evidence of that.

I think that one of the surest ways to make safe traversal of the
Singularity more likely would be to give emphasis within IA to developing
broad-band neural interfacing and developing neural structures to support
multi-level identity. We don't need and, speaking for myself, don't want to
replace self-identity with some borgist group identity. But multi-level
identity would facilitate both strong individualism and strong communal
spirit. It would counter most of the dangers of the traversal.

                                                                Don Klemencic

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:46 MDT