Re: Uploads and betrayal

Ken Clements (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 13:20:01 -0800

Harvey Newstrom wrote:

> Everything will be
> faster and on a grander scale, but basically the same. We will adapt to new
> technology, just as we upgrade our PCs or game systems to a new version
> without much thought. A few weeks later, we forget how different the new
> system was, and go on with our lives.
> Yes, we have come a far way from living as nomads in the desert, but our
> cities with computers and networks and health advances, are still basically
> the same. We have politics, crime, debates, problems.
> --

I would like you to consider that certain changes are about to happen which essentially guarantee that the future will not be just the past writ larger. During the last 50,000 years human nature has changed very slowly while the memes around us have evolved very rapidly. This is why you see the similarities between villages of old and cities of today. The slow pace of change of human nature has acted as a stabilizing force on the rapid change of the technology. I believe it is our limitations that primarily define what we are, and provide a context in which our accomplishments have meaning. (I also believe this is why we write constitutions for institutions and make them difficult to change, as well as avoid self modifying code unless there's no other way to do it.)

The unprecedented event that is about to happen is the removal of the limitation that human nature only change slowly. Our memes have evolved to the point of handing us the tools necessary to reach inside ourselves and change anything. Together with the tremendous capability this promises, a basic failure of pattern integrity will probably result as a Pandora's box of positive feedback loops are unleashed to spiral out of control.

As an example, I would like to quote a scene from a movie, although I generally try not to do this because movies are based on the suspension of disbelief. The movie is _Lawrence of Arabia_, and the scene takes place while Lawrence is out in the desert with his guide and they are talking late into the night. The guide is trying to understand why Lawrence, who is would be well off in England, a rich country, would be wandering around out there in the desert, where there is basically nothing, when he (Lawrence) could have "whatever you want". Lawrence replied, "Yes, but you can't want what you want". In the future it will be possible to reach in and select what you want (your motivation). Having done so, you will have changed a basic component of your identity, most likely leading to more change.

I do not know what will happen to the future, but it seems clear to me that all things, ideas, institutions, and entities that rely on limitations to preserve their pattern integrity will be in big trouble.