Maximizing results of efforts Re: Mainstreaming

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Sat Apr 28 2001 - 11:57:23 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > > #Transhumanists themselves do their cause far more damage than any
> > > neoluddite opponent could hope to manage. This was the meaning of my
> > > "not ready for prime time" comment. The general observations made
> > > with that comment explain why. The Principles and the practice do not
> > > coincide. As I said then, this is a pity.
> >
> > I won't ask you to "back this up" with examples - you could only
> > do so with
> > an exhaustive analysis of the list's archives. But I will ask that you
> > suggest some solution to the problem you perceive.
> The best thing we in the transhumanist community could do to promote our cause, I think, would be to devote some of our time, effort and resources to helping the less fortunate human beings in the world.
> In other words, if we show BY EXAMPLE that transhumanism is harmonious with compassion and ethics -- though not necessarily with current culturally-sanctioned moral codes -- then we will be showing the world that they're wrong to equate transhumanist ideas with an ethically bankrupt approach to the human condition.


> But, I also think that nothing could be more effective in terms of associating transhumanism, in the public eye, with ~moral good~.
> I have a number of specific ideas along these lines, but I think I'll leave it at that for the moment. Except to suggest one thing: ~Education~ would be a natural place to start. Education in the inner cities of the US and in the Third World. What if there were a Transhumanist Foundation, whose focus was on educating the economically unfortunate in topics relevant BOTH to their own individual advancement AND to their understanding of the transhuman future to come. For example, science, philosophy, computer science.
> It costs about $14K to sponsor a school in Cambodia. The Brazilian government is sponsoring an initiative to create a $400 computer system -- a "mini Net-connected Linux box for the masses." If the Transhumanist Foundation were involved in this sort of thing, we wouldn't be perceived as a bunch of freaks out to harvest other peoples' organs for money so we can pay for having our ugly little heads frozen... we'd be perceived as the saviors of the world...
> Thoughts?

I think your "heart" is in the right place, but the effects of such efforts
will be relatively minimal compared to putting the same amount of resources
towards accelerating the Singularity. If you are Bill Gates, why spend $2
billion dollars helping people in Africa (who are just going to need another
cash infusion in 10 years), when you could use that money to cause a world-
improving Singularity instead? An event that would end such problems forever?

There is infinitely more bang-for-your-buck by going that way, and that is
the reason SIAI exists as a charity instead of some private corporation.

Brian Atkins
Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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