Re: Islam, theology and politeness

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 11:58:52 MST

Charlie Stross <> writes:

> On Wed, Mar 07, 2001 at 02:56:02AM +0100, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > Nanotech in late industrialisation: likely less disruptive, just
> > helping to speed along an already quickly expanding economy. Expect
> > the general optimism of the society to explode outwards.
> >
> > Information technology introduction might give us some hints.
> Or not. Despite living off the IT industry -- working as a programmer
> and freelance IT journalist-- I'm not entirely sanguine about its
> overall benefits for the human condition.

The overall effects remains to be seen, we are just now right in the
middle (start?) of things and it is hard to see what happens (despite
my regular dismay at the bad news Slashdot brings). But my point is
that by looking at how societies have reacted to new technology at
different points in their own "individual" development curve we can
perhaps make some useful predictions.

> > I agree with your view about the need for understanding new
> > technologies in different cultural contexts, but I would say the the
> > problems above are not magically solved by even strong
> > nanotech.
> Nope. Human problems usually turn out to have human solutions: the tools
> we use in reaching those solutions are incidental, although they often
> make life a lot easier. But ...

There is a feedback between a society and its technology: new
technology enable new possibilities, but if they are taken and how
they are taken depends on the society, and this will of course change
it. Dropping a computer into the library of Alexandria would not have
caused a scientific revolution, the culture was simply wrong for it.
> > Scarcity is not just an issue of lack of resources or
> > production capacity, it is also an issue of distribution and economic
> > system. Under a Rob Mugabe even a nanotech society might starve.
> Yes, but you missed another thing: in a nanotech society, scarcity may be
> a function of broken intellectual property laws, inadequate education,
> a government that can't attract capital investment inflow, and probably
> half a dozen other factors we don't know about yet. Distribution and
> economic problems are a hallmark of the industrial and mass production
> era. We're going somewhere else ... talk about "mass customization" is
> only the tip of the iceberg.

True. In the end, we need good institutions and a culture receptive to
the new technology to really bring it off the ground and able to help
humans develop their potential. It is a very tricky bootstrapping problem.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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