Re: Uploads and betrayal
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:04:45 EST

In a message dated 11/30/1999 4:23:15 PM EST, writes:

<< 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.)>>

I think that evolution is a conservative process (or maybe semi-conservative), where change usually only occurs in small increments unless the change is highly adaptive. Most changes are not very adaptive, and are usually either neutral or deleterious. Society works this way as well as biology. Unless there is a clear advantage to the changes that are coming (and there may be), then change will continue to be slow (likely in most areas). Also, I think another reason that organisms and institutions tend to conserve their structure is that although a change in isolation may be beneficial, it may lead to other changes that are overall deleterious. The changes not only have to be qualitatively better, but have to mesh in with the rest of the structure that is not changing. Further, making many changes at once can sometimes be deleterious because of unforeseen interactions between those changes; they may not "hang together" as well as the previous structure. I still believe that radical changes can occur, and can be beneficial, but it is more the exception than the rule.

<<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.>>

This is quite possible in some cases. Again, for the reasons above I think it unlikely that were this the case that everyone would embrace this approach. The disintergrating pioneers of the new ways would be a strong warning to the masses of stragglers.

<<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.>>

We do have the ability right now to, "Want what you want." It is difficult for most people, and takes a lot of reinforcement, but it is possible to remodel your own desires. What future changes will do is make the way we do this much easier, faster, and more precise. This will open the way to radical changes by the majority of society. However, I suspect most people don't want to select what they want radically, but would rather make small adjustments to their desires, to get them to work together more efficiently. We are unlikely to purposely make major changes to our identity (accidents and exceptions will occur). If I may use some old psychological terms, I feel that our ability to change our desires relatively quickly and with less backsliding may lead to the ascendancy of the superego over the id and even the ego. Of course, this is only so long as the the choice to change wants, motivations, and desires remains an individual choice. If some are able to force changes on a large number of people, then all bets are off.


I agree that anything that relies on limitations to preserve their integrity will in trouble when limitations become academic. I personally have never defined myself by my limitations, and thus feel comfortable with their eventual removal. However, I happen to by-and-large want what I want, so I am unlikely to change most of my core desires, motivations, and drives. I may get rid of some of the more autonomic ones should they no longer be necessary, such as hunger, thirst, etc., but curiosity, compassion, loyalty are likely to be with me a long, long, long time.

Glen Finney