Re: The World in 2050: an essay

Date: Mon Aug 14 2000 - 12:37:58 MDT

Christian sent:
> Bostrom,N <> wrote:
> > The essay is at:
> >
> For those interested in reading this without proprietary MS software:
> Something like
> $ <world.doc tr -d \\0 | tr '\r\205\222\223\224\226' '\n.'\''""-' | fmt | less
> extracts the text quite readable, apart from some easily ignored
> crap at the beginning and end.

Thanks, I hadn't had a chance to read it earlier.

I liked Nick's essay. It was particularly refreshing that he avoided
most of the references to the 1990s and the year 2000, trying to really
present a dialog that might have occured in 2050. Naturally there was
some discussion of expectations of 50 years earlier since they were
talking about progress over 50 years. But Nick also had them looking
back at events in the 2010s and 2020s, which is entirely realistic.

I'm not a big fan of transparency, so I wasn't thrilled with Nick's
reliance on that social convention as the explanation of why the world
hadn't destroyed itself. Transparency raises many difficult issues, as
we have discussed here before. While Nick's essay was not the place to
defend it, I was uncomfortable seeing his panelists give an endorsement
to a technology which I feel brings serious problems.

It was amusing to see the panelists consider the possibility that the
universe has multiple branches and that humanity has wiped itself out in
most of them. It seems to me that since their personal experiences of
the world have apparently not been harmed by the hypothetical deletion
of their cousins in other branches, they might well adopt the view that
there is no reason for caution with regard to new technologies. As long
as some branch survives with them in it then they will be as satisfied
with life as they are at present, since they have already experienced
a similar pruning.


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