Re: Are guns extropian?

Mark Shepard (
Fri, 10 Jul 1998 11:50:44 -0700

Standard disclaimer: I'm new to the list, I'm not intended to be inflamatory, feel free to enlighten me, etc.

I agree guns aren't particularly "extropian," but I find it difficult to reply without turning this into a off-topic discussion of gun-politics. Briefly, I view guns as tools for self-defense which have good reliability, effectiveness, cost, etc. compared to other available mechanisms (i.e. pepper spray, tasers -- yes, this is debatable...) and which are regretably necessary at times/places. I view the purpose of a self-defense tool as
"instant incapacitation" -- while I'd like it if guns could be just as
effective yet not potentially lethal, I can see how human bodies have evolved as very reliable, fault tolerate systems which are not easily incapacitated without risking great bodily injury.

When you [Newstrom] speak of guns being used to " stop the other from achieving their future goals" I think you overly dignify the "goals" of the attacker who is violating someone else's right to life, liberty or private-property. Certainly there is great potential in the future for conflicts -- say, over great disparities of nanotech-generated wealth, or over moral issues such as cloning, uploading or identity after upload, but I believe persons who refuse to settle these conflicts peacefully, in accordance with the principles of personal liberty and individual responsibility deserve to have their threat of aggression met with equal force -- even if that means they suffer serious injury or die. If the choice is forced upon you by an aggressor, is it more extropian to preserve their life or your liberty?

All this raises the real question: Why is the aggressor aggresively-violent in the first place? IOW, will everyone in the ideal extropian future be well-adjusted and content, or at least enough so to not be violent? I don't think so -- at the very least, there'll always be psycho's or fanatical groups baring with _mandatory_ psych. testing/psychotherapy.

So, how in general can society protect itself against small fanatical groups armed with potentially very destructive technologies such as nanotech or generic engineering? This question must have been discussed on this list. Drexler suggested hiding the details of initial development, or developing "active shields" (the first Microsoft nanotech product? :-) BTW, if active shields have been discussed extensively before, I'd appreciate a pointer on the subject...

Another thought: would society recognize the first uploaded humans as
"persons", entitled to life and liberty and protection from "murder" by
someone turning off the power? Probably not, not at first and an uploadie attempting self-defense with weapons in this case would probably just produce a huge negative backlash (headline: "software bug results in shooting".) A better solution would be 1. getting away from non-extropians (i.e., in a space colony), 2. building a foundation of understanding about uploading, possibly even getting laws enacted beforehand, or 3. "running" uploadies on fault-tolerate hardware :-)