Re: FWD: Jaron on 9/11

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Oct 08 2001 - 11:14:32 MDT

On Mon, Oct 08, 2001 at 07:38:08AM -0700, Brian D Williams wrote:
> >From: Anders Sandberg <>
> >I find it interesting that he views the immune system as
> >inherently xenophobic. I know he bases this on how the actual
> >immune system works (anything not belonging to the self must be
> >destroyed or expelled), but to me the immune system conjures up
> >the concept of something distributed, pervasive and adaptive
> >rather than xenophobic. One can protect a society without being
> >xenophobic, and the ideal way of dealing with small groups of
> >enemies is to be good at detecting them on the individual level
> >rather than look at overbroad classes.
> Indeed this is a mischaracterization of the immune system.
> Our bodies are swarming with non-us entities, from individual cells
> to the mites that inhabit every hair/skin pore on our bodies.
> What the immiune system does is try to recognize things dangerous
> to the body, it tolerates a wide variety of non-dangerous others.

I disagree. Distinguishing between dangerous and safe objects is
impossible in general, and I know of no mechanism in the immune system
that makes such a choice. Rather, the T-cells get "trained" in the
thymus to not signal against surfaces found in the body, but to search
for other surfaces. It seems that we have low numbers of antibodies
against nearly every possible epitope, including antigen surfaces we
have so far not encountered.

Mites and gut bacteria are normally not in contact with the immune

> Does freedom of information mean freedom of instantaneous
> information?

An interesting question. I think I would come down on the yes side. I
can imagine the use of embargoing information for a while, but who gets
to decide on for how long? If that decision is not possible to appeal,
then it becomes possible for information-embargoing groups to
control information just as if they were doing actual censorship, simply
by putting an extremely long embargo on the information. Once you start
circumscribing freedom of information - even in the best interest of
many people - you allow further, just as reasonable, decreases in
freedom of information. Banning certain media can limit the flow of
information tremendously, and if new media are not automatically given
freedom then the effective freedom of information might decrease - in
many countries you may have the right to write what you want on paper or
in letters, but if it at any point becomes digital it is suddely not
> >Lanier is a critic of transhumanism, but in many ways a good
> >critic. He points out weak points in our program or in how it is
> >presented (which is just as important), and it is up to us to show
> >him that he is wrong or adjust our actions to make him wrong. He
> >is on the enlightenment side like us, unlike Leon Kass and Jeremy
> >Rifkin, and he appreciates the benefits of technology and freedom
> >far more than Bill Joy.
> Any references to comments by Lanier on Transhumanism or
> Extropianism?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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