Re: Transhuman Beach Party

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 05 Sep 1999 13:35:55 -0500

Carol Tilley wrote:
> But isn't Eliezer's point: too many of us are on the beach partying.
> We're all drinking faux beer out of brown carmelized faux glass gazing
> half-focused at the declining water level..."now isn't that odd?" Unable
> to see the tsunami, because if you can see the tsunami then it's already too
> late.

Not really. My point is more along the critiques of how the nanoSantas plan to surf; they focus on the fact that a tsunami has enough energy to carry them anywhere - New York, California, the Cayman Islands, Andromeda, whatever - and ignore the fact that the tsunami has intrinsic directions and internally operating forces as well.

They believe in a Universe that can be effortlessly - and I mean that literally, since they don't seem to think any efforts are necessary - shaped into whatever they want it to be, without danger or any significant chance of total failure. I believe in a Universe where we can only choose the best available alternative, not dictate the choices. Perhaps on the Other Side of Dawn we'll be able to control all reality with an casual omnipotence the most euphoric nanoSanta might envy... but that's a probability, not a certainty, and to get there we have to accept the risk of extermination and beat the deadline of nanowar. The nanoSantas refuse to accept the realities of navigation.

It doesn't matter how powerful an ultratechnology is, or if it's powerful enough to dictate reality selectively, because other people have access to the technology and it becomes a war of the gods, not one god reshaping the world. Great power is only omnipotence when it's unopposed.

And truly great power - AI and neurohacking and uploading and neurocomputing interfaces - has its own conscience. Transhuman intelligence cannot be "used", only invoked.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way