Re: 1929 deja vu

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Apr 26 2000 - 18:14:40 MDT

Zero Powers wrote:

> >From: "Michael S. Lorrey" <>
> >
> >
> >Tell me, if cheap and easy nuclear fusion magically became possible
> >today, and within a few months most everybody had a fusion plant in
> >their back yard, what do you think would happen to the economy?
> Power would become cheap and lots of people (power co. employees) would
> probably become unemployed. What has that to do with health or happiness?

Thats another part of the discussion. My point here is to explain that we all
exist in states of current equilibria. If the system we are in suddenly changes
conditions, we are all no longer in states of equilibria anymore, and there will
be dislocation, chaos, losses of efficiency, and abject suffering as a result.
When a system instead steadily shifts its conditions over time, we are all able
to keep pace with these changes and maintain our relative levels of happiness,
productivity, efficiency, etc.

With regard to health, if we all suddenly were relatively immortal, you wouldn't
notice anything immediately, and people would continue to behave as they have
always done in a 'mortal' world. The behaviors normal for a mortal world do not
work in the long run for an immortal world, however. With regard to happiness, I
doubt very much that it is possible to reach a state of permanent and perfect
happiness. Why? Because we tend to filter out whatever the current level of
'background noise' is in our lives. When you reach a level of constant happiness
that you regard today to be 'perfect', you will consider it to be rather ho-hum
average boringness. If you suddenly reached that level of happiness today, you'd
either die from it, or you'd be one of the most unproductive people around (why
be productive when you've reached nirvana, right?)

> >How
> >about if nanotech became magically possible today? I'll tell you: the
> >economy would go into a major depression for a good 3-10 years. You are
> >talking about making obsolete a whole economy almost overnight.
> Not even. The economy would undergo a radical shift, but that is not the
> same as a depresssion. OK, so lots of people in the business of making
> things lose their jobs. So what? As long as you buy your near anything box
> before you get laid off, who needs a job?

You are a) assuming that everyone will be able to afford anything boxes, that
they won't be hoarded by a few and used to enslave everyone else
b) assuming that everyone will buy an anything box
c) assuming that they will still have their jobs by the time the Boxes are
affordable by the average person. Thats a lot of assumptions.

> >Like an economy and levels of technology, things like health, justice,
> >and happiness are achieved as meta-stable states within systems that
> >have limits on input and output, they are semi-closed systems. Progress
> >in improving or in moving to higher states of stability in these areas
> >can only occur at rates that can be survived. I am not saying that there
> >are absolute limits, but there are limits to what is possible to be
> >digested *today*.
> I agree that immortality for all *today* would present something of a
> population growth problem. But IMO immortality will follow nano, which will
> make population growth a benefit, rather than a detriment. Once we are able
> to use substantially larger portions of the globe for human habitat
> (including deserts, the poles and in, over and under the oceans - not to
> mention space) the population growth problem evaporates.

Thats been the crux of my argument. Slower, steady growth and change is
survivable, and can be adapted to. Sudden changes that are not foreseen cause
major disruptions. In the end we benefit more, but there is more suffering than
there has to be in the interim before the benefits become commonplace.

> >If you reach a state of total happiness, what more do you have to live
> >for.
> I already enjoy a state of total joy (not quite the same as happiness, but
> pretty close). I won't be totally happy until everyone else is too. (I'm
> one of those weirdos who can't be ecstatic while others are suffering.)

Bog save us from this guy.

> But overcoming all my obstacles will not make me ready for the dustbin.
> There will still be plenty for me to live for, such as enjoying my own
> happiness, satisfying my curiosities by lifelong learning, seeking out new
> and unique people, places and experiences, reading all the books I don't
> have time for, catching up on all the Seinfeld episodes I missed, writing
> the novel I don't have time to finish now, recording the album I've never
> had time to start, riding my mountain bike at all the exotic trails I've
> heard about but never been able to go to, painting, living, loving and just
> plain having a ball.
> >Being for endless growth also implies a constant reapprisal and
> >redetermination of what will make us truly happy. Reaching such a state
> >before you know you want to be there will merely cause you to fail to
> >appreciate it.
> Perhaps. I'm not convinced though. I already know I want to be there and
> I'm sure I'll appreciate it.

"Be careful what you wish for..."

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