Re: Geniebusters

Michael S. Lorrey (
Fri, 16 Apr 1999 15:11:49 -0400

Lyle Burkhead wrote:

> Hi John, I wondered why you hadn't been heard from.
> John Clark writes,
> > I really don't understand your position. If extinction for most
> > and the permanent elimination of death for a few is not big enough
> > to be called a singularity or a discontinuity in human affairs,
> > then I don't know what is. Death is the most constant framework
> > in all of civilization, if that ends I don't know what will happen
> > but I do know things will be different, very very different.
> Good point. To some extent it's just a matter of semantics. I should
> clarify one thing: I don't think the whole process will be finished within
> a half-century. It will be well underway by 2050, but it will take a lot
> longer to reach a conclusion. Nevertheless I grant you that on a
> geological time scale, a major extinction event and the emergence of a new
> phylum (or a new kingdom) could be considered a discontinuity. However,
> what appears from a distance to be discontinuous may appear differently if
> you take a closer look at it. From a delta-epsilon standpoint, there will
> be no discontinuity. In any case, the concept of "the Singularity" is
> irrelevant to this discussion.

Except as a reflection of the trends we are discussing. Robin Hanson's paper on exponential growth shifts that he posted a link on the other day is IMHO a rather graphic illustration of the sort of thing we are talking about. All prior growth trends tend to cap out as the labor supply the population can meet is reached. The industrial age marked a new exponential trend because new mass production and assembly concepts, as well as rail transportation, multiplied the labor a given amount of the population can provide, but the increase in productivity allowed increases in the population to help soak up the per capita wealth production. Why the coming trend is different is because population curves are leveling off in the countries with the highest technological levels, economic growth, and education levels. With nanotech, we will be seeing an incredible shortening in the economy size doubling rate from a current period of 15 years down to just a few years or less, while at the same time, the population doubling rate is slacking off. This inversion of these two doubling rates (population growth and economic/productivity growth is what spells positively for the type of 'land of plenty' vision that you seem to mock so much in your geniebusters site.

> I am not saying that there will be a "permanent elimination of death," just
> that it will not be *necessary* to die, i.e. our cells will not degenerate.
> That doesn't mean death will be eliminated for the few humans who take the
> trouble to incorporate hard technology into their cells. Far from it. New
> diseases will emerge. The arms race between humans and microbes will
> continue. Maybe we can evolve faster than they do, maybe not. The arms
> race between different groups of humans will also continue. Violent death
> will always be possible. In other words, human affairs will go on pretty
> much as before.

As I've said previously, I think that while a portion of humanity will accelerate at a far faster rate toware 'posthumanity' there will remain a large percentage of the population living 'normal' lives as they see them. There is absolutely no reason to demand that everyone have equal tech capability, especially if they don't want it. If the future is to be a land of plenty, then there is no reason to use force to make sure everyone gets what somebody considers to be everyone's 'fair' share.

Referring to my chart of the s-curve of an observer's perception of 'transhumanity' from the Singularity discussion on Extropy Online, I will say that IMHO, a person on the bleeding edge will be far more likely to consider primitive humans to be included in their perception of 'humanity' than a primitive human is to consider the transhuman being to be 'human', simply because the individual primitive's slope of perception is much less steep than that of a transhuman.

Mike Lorrey