Re: PC immortality?

Technotranscendence (
Sun, 18 Jan 1998 09:29:11 -0500 (EST)

At 01:18 PM 1/18/98 +0100, Anders Sandberg <> wrote:
>This seems to be because of the shape of the subjective utility
>function and the way people deal with risks; we seem to regard threats
>as more dangerous than equivalent rewards, and evaluate more dramatic
>disasters as more likely than they really are. So the subjective
>effect of listing a long list of benefits of something and adding one,
>very unlikely but spectacular risk is to make people concentrate on
>the risk, and after a while they will remember mainly the risk. Silly?
>Yes - but that is human cognitive psychology for you.

It seems this explanation fits the facts, though I wonder if any other
does too and does a better job.

>What to do about it (beside rewiring our cognitive structure at the
>earliest opportunity)?

Though this seems possible, I think a lot of the tools are
already at hand. Most people are smart enought to get
past the prejudices. It's just a matter of getting through
to them. Thus, we don't need radical surgery, uploading,
genetic engineering, etc. to overcome this. Recall, last
century many people where against anesthesia. It didn't
take much more than a little convincing to change their

You might claim this was because the pro-anesthesia
camp could tap into the anti-suffering attitude prevalent
in many cultures. If this is so, it can be argued that their
is a pro-technology attitude, despite the neoLuddite and
technophobic propoganda, in our cultures. We can tap
into that in the same way.

>One possibility is to create counter-images for
>the disaster scenarios, just as vivid and showing clearly why they are
>not valid. For example, the image of a dictator cloning an army can be
>counter-imaged by pointing out that the dictator will have to wait
>around 18 years for the babies to grow up - and few dictators want to
>have an army in two decades, when they usually need it today. In
>short, we should work to defuse the irrational disaster scenarios by
>showing how they can be avoided or why they are so silly. Of course we
>need good arguments for our positions too, but when it comes to
>dealing with downright propaganda techniques like this are handy.

I have advocated in earlier posts and tried to create such
counter-images, but in a lot of cases, I've tried to get people
to drop the whole horror story mindset. This seems to work
amongst the more intellectual, who just as often have the
same prejudices as the nonintellectuals. It's just that they
also can be helped to question them.

But this is not to say counter-images are useless. I tend to
agree with Rand about art being a powerful tool. Those
among us who are writers or film makers can use this to
project the moral and social problems of cloning in a more
rational light.

Daniel Ust