Re: Bill Joy on the CBS evening news

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sat Jan 06 2001 - 10:57:53 MST

From: "Michael S. Lorrey" <>
> I fail to see such killing power. Much ado about nothing. Biotech
> warfare has been with us for centuries to no ill effect. The idea of
> someone being smart enough to build a universal assembler and
> concurrently being dumb enough to not build it with sufficient controls
> is nonsensical. Purely Pollyanish Paranoia Posing preposterously as
> proper public politics.

I vaguely recall this same (or a similar) debate from a few years ago on
the extropy list. The theme of the dispute centers on the *potential* of
genetic engineering, nanotech, and robotics (as the consilience giants
among emerging technologies) to cause devastation and death of biblical
proportions. Some folks think we already have enough evidence to ascertain
that Homo sapiens will repeat the patterns of technological warfare of the
past, and that indicates we ought to relinquish development of these
technologies (the Bill Joy position). Others argue that relinquishment
amounts to neo-luddism and fear mongering.

National policy and decision makers, if they consider these trends at all,
have not made their views public, as we might expect, given the sensitive
and secret nature of top level research involved. Without having access to
super computer modeling and experimentation (as well as related military
and university lab study) to help sort out a feasible plan, it makes no
sense to try to second guess the consequences of ultra-hi-tech weapons
deployment. All I know about these issues is what I've learned from
observing human nature first hand. That concerns me, because human nature,
not some yet-to-be-created alien intelligence, drives the development of
new technologies.

If scientists finally relinquish G-N-R research and development, they may
turn it over to their Mind Children, Spiritual Machines, Artilects, and
Robo sapiens. I don't think that's what Bill Joy intends, and Harvey
Newstrom would accuse me of "circular thinking" here. If it were up to me,
I'd make everyone enlightened, illuminated Buddhas, so that we'd all live
in endlessly ecstatic superlative sentience. Since that ain't gonna
happen, and since we're all unenlightened biological washouts anyway, we
don't have anything to lose by betting everything on G-N-R.

Full speed ahead!

Stay hungry,

--J. R.
3M TA3

Useless hypotheses: consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind,
free will

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