Extropianism in the media

Lyle Burkhead (LYBRHED@delphi.com)
Sun, 04 Aug 1996 00:20:20 -0500 (EST)

Ben Goertzel writes,

> Generally, Dery (the author) is skeptical of the "antisocial"
> aspects of transhumanism, and he mentions Extropians in this
> light. His attitude is much like mine, though he is less
> enthused about such things as downloading the mind than I am.
> He interviews Moravec, and asks him what downloading of the
> mind means for the downtrodden billions who don't even have
> computers. Moravec says, basically, "tough luck for them;
> humans are becoming obsolete, so a few billion more or less
> doesn't make much difference." Dery finds this unconsciounable.

I think the extropian meme has succeeded in establishing itself as a
commonly known term for a certain social type, like "biker" or "wigger"
or "yuppie." Or "Satanist." Apparently the public has a rather sinister
perception of extropians, taking Moravec as the prototype of the
overman who wants to become a cyborg and destroy the world.

How wrong is this perception? Is there anyone here who is not
fascinated by such thoughts? I was thinking along those lines in 1965,
when I read "Profiles of the Future" by Arthur C. Clarke.

If Moravec is *not* a prototypical extropian, then the meme has a serious
public relations problem. Dery's book was a public relations disaster.
But then, memes are as selfish as genes, and will find their own way to
survive. Memes decide which other memes to mate with, and their
parents can't always control their choices.

Beyond PR, there is the question of what to do about Moravec, and
others who entertain fantasies -- not necessarily idle fantasies - about
setting forces in motion that would kill billions of obsolete people.
The question is not what to say, but what, if anything, to do. If you
knew that someone intended to kill almost everybody on the planet,
except for a remnant who would be protected -- what would you do?
Join him? Assasinate him? or do nothing?