Re: Are you an extropian? Re: Voluntary simplicity

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 01:26:31 MDT

altamira wrote:
> Brian, it's true that I'd never heard the word "extropian" until a few weeks
> ago, although I was already familiar with nanotechnology, cryonics, etc.--at
> least with the general concepts. You obviously have been around longer than
> I have, and so I would have to assume that you know more about what it means
> to be Extropian than I do. But from reading the principles I really can't
> see that your narrow definition is called for. Actually, I've never claimed
> to be Extropian. I found this list appealing because I liked the word
> "extropian" and because I'm interested in many of the ideas discussed here.
> But I don't think your posts really have to do with what's extropian and
> what's not. I sense some sort of metaphysical hostility, as though you
> resent the fact that someone could live slightly outside the reality you're
> used to and have the effrontery to discuss it in public.

No it has nothing to do with your lifestyle. In fact I have a definite
admiration for anyone who can live in such a strongly individualistic and
self-sufficient manner. What set me off was that somehow I did get the
impression you were considering yourself to be an Extropian. I did a
rant on another post about how I feel about that. Sorry for any misunder-

> As I mentioned in an earlier post, you seem to believe that the term
> "technology" should be restricted to that which is developed by highly
> funded, tightly organized, "official" institutions. My reading of the
> history of technology leads me to believe that truly revolutionary
> technology more often than not comes from the (not-so-very-well-funded)
> non-institutional fringes.

No again I am in agreement with you, in fact I am funding some not-so-
very-well-funded non-institutional fringe research :-)

> You appear to believe that I'm not capable of doing worthwhile research
> because I'm not employed by a "government," an "accredited university," or a
> "corporation." You seem to believe that the only way to further science is
> to contribute money to institutions. Did it never occur to you that
> spending one's time in doing research and using one's mind and one's time to
> THINK might yield results as valuable as, or more valuable than the amount
> of money that could be made in a like time? Money, after all, is a form of
> stored work--and I'm using the term work here broadly, to include mental
> exertion as well as physical labor.

You are right here too, and that is certainly not my belief. But what
are you planning to do with your research results? What comes next?

> I haven't mentioned another reason I choose not to have a large income, but
> I'll mention it now, to give a more complete picture. I don't wish to pay
> income taxes, thereby supporting the activities of the people operating
> under the guise of the federal government. I consider most of their
> activities to be "Entropian," to the extent that every dollar's worth of
> work given them is the equivalent of a couple of dollars worth of work
> subtracted from life-enhancing activities.

I certainly understand this motive myself, and I am also trying to limit
my taxes. But I don't see it as a good reason to head to the hills. At
least if I get fed up with this government I can easily move to some
other more comfortable country. In my opinion your lifestyle has put
you even more at the mercy of the government- you might find yourself
unable to relocate so easily. From my point of view, developing larger
(not smaller) amounts of financial resources allows me a greater
chance to escape. Or if I choose, it allows me to support organizations
that might help reform or protest the government. Basically in my view
having more cash is a good thing (in general), and giving up your cash
is bad (in general).

> So, Brian, I've told you a bit about myself and what I'm doing. What is it
> you're doing to further the cause? Have you stepped outside YOUR comfort
> zone lately?

Sure, I support ExI and Foresight, each has received $10k from me so far
with more coming soon I hope. I am now supporting Eliezer's AI/Singularity
research indefinitely. I spend most of my time researching investment
strategies and opportunities both in public and private companies. In
my previous life (1997/98) I founded and sold, which helps
small businesses get started on the Web. Since then I helped start an
angel investing group in Atlanta that has helped many startups here get
help. I have many public and private investments, and as these grow I
intend to continue to (hopefully) divert larger and larger quantities
of cash to the above and other extropian/singularitarian efforts. I will
be 26 years old on Saturday. Someday I may start another business if
I become motivated enough, but for now I am content to let my money work
for me.

I will admit to periods of laziness and general comfort-seeking. None of
us are machines (in the robotic sense), we can't just work constantly...
But in general I think I am improving, expanding, and challenging my
limits while hopefully doing a little bit to fight entropy.

P.S. I also am getting married to Sabine Stoeckel, a fellow Extropian (from
     Germany) who I met on this list in Dec. 98 :-) Now if that isn't
     stepping out of the comfort zone, I don't know what is :-)

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