Re: more on Brand and the Singularity idea

From: Max More (
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 18:31:47 MST

At 04:34 PM 1/15/01, you wrote:
>On Mon, Jan 15, 2001 at 11:43:32PM +0100,
> >
> > > Let me add to this: the unbounded techno-optimism is out of step with
> >
> > Unbounded? Where?
>In the extropian principles.

Oh, really. Where? In previous versions, there was "Boundless Expansion"
but there has never been boundless optimism. On the contrary, optimism must
be combined with careful thinking. What's more, we have publicly shifted
more towards focusing on challenges, risks, and dangers to be discussed and
overcome. Just look at the sub-title of the last conference (and everything
about the next one).

The discussions on this list also show that it's quite wrong to think that
we are boundlessly optimistic. No doubt we need to continue working to
dispel such a view of us, but any careful journalist or academic researcher
should know better.

>I'm just saying that new technologies have side-effects, sometimes disastrous
>ones, and insisting that their deployment is *always* beneficial isn't going
>to fool anyone (and is going to make us look like idiots).

Funny, I don't anyone here saying disagreeing with you. Can you say "straw

>So, your question for $64K: why is Extropianism so overtly associated
>with unmitigated optimism that it's seen as a joke in some circles?

Perhaps because we are optimistic about some drastic things (such as aging
and death) that most people continue to be doggedly pessimistic about.
Because we point out the real constructive possibilities for all kinds of
historically inevitable things that people either don't want to think about
or rationalize as being a good and healthy part of the human condition.

That said, I don't think we have room for complacency. We need to continue
to grapple more with the challenges and objections (as we did in several
responses to Bill Joy, as we did at Extro-4, as we do on this list), rather
than only pointing out the positive possibilities. In the early days we
primarily did point out the good possibilities, partly because *someone*
has to. Now we're going through a process of reaching out to deal with
fears and to deeper examination of risks and drawbacks. I just wrote about
some of my concerns regarding human cloning (by people who don't understand
that they are not replicating people) on the Wired email list.

Still, I won't apologize for being primarily optimistic in a culture that
continues to see death, human stupidity, and other limits as inevitable and
even desirable.



Max More, or
President, Extropy Institute.
Senior Content Architect, ManyWorlds Inc.:

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