On Tue, 30 Nov 1999, Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> Unfortunately, this is a common pattern for Extropians. We cannot debate
> any area of serious disagreement. Qualia, guns, abortion, homosexuality,
> the copy question, Privately Produce Law, politics, mysticism, etc. have all
> been banned at various times because useful debate was not possible. I'm
> sure many more examples could be found by going through the archives.
> How useful can this list be if debate fails upon any real difference of
> opinion? How can we debate or disagree while maintaining useful dialog?
With lots of very clever people with very different experiences and perspectives, I don't think the purpose of the discussions is to form a "correct" opinion. Charting a single course into the future is unlikely to be foolproof, so exploring multiple paths is probably quite useful. Most importantly we eductate ourselves in areas where we have a lack of awareness and develop opinions about who can be trusted to have knowledge and well thought out ideas in those areas.
I'm wrestling with Biotech and Astronomy, I can't wrestle with AIs, nanotech, politics, art, morality & philosophy, too. I can however try to follow the people who have their attention on those things. Then in the future when they raise a red flag or suggest a specific direction, I may know whether or not I should be a cheerleader or a naysayer, rather than sitting there with a stupid look on my face going, duuuhhhh...
Most importantly, we are exploring a phenomena of "group mind". I can't get my mind to agree with itself most of the time, so I have little hope for getting "real" agreement among physically distinct minds. But I hope that some of our efforts allow the "group mind" to collectively stumble forward.