Re: Things extropians agree on

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Fri Jan 26 2001 - 09:04:00 MST wrote:
> Charlie Stross asks,
> > If you disagree with any of these memes, could you wave a hand and
> > explain why?
> I'm going to be a bit nitpicky here, because these are complex issues
> and seldom will a one-liner be completely true.
> > 1. Forcing our fellow human beings to live their lives as we see fit
> > is unethical. (Persuading them of the error of their ways so that
> > they _choose_ to live their lives by our lights is another matter.)
> >
> > 2. Initiating violence against someone is wrong; self-defense is right.
> These two contradict each other. If someone wants to live their life in
> such a way as to commit violence, and we make them stop, we are forcing
> them to live their lives as we see fit. We don't just try to persuade
> them not to be violent, to help them see the error of their ways. We
> make them stop.

Hal, the initial use of force was by the other person, so they committed
the first unethical act, so therefore force against that act is
justified, and there is no conflict.

> Furthermore, it is often difficult to distinguish what constitutes
> initiation of violence from what is self-defense. It is common in human
> relations to see a gradual escalation of hostility between two sides.
> Each side claims that they are responding in self-defense to the violence
> initiated by the other. In practice, each is guilty of a degree of
> escalation. But no one act in the chain can easily be singled out as
> the initiation of violence.

There is always a point where the Rubicon is crossed.
One party may rationalize that its actions were not force, but that is
for a jury to decide.

> > 3. The scientific method provides a better way of evaluating reality
> > than any religious dogma.
> True for today's religions, but not necessarily true in the future.
> If God (or AI) came into existence and laid down His transcendental laws,
> these might be a superior guide to the truth than the laborious task of
> scientific investigation.

Oh please.

> > 4. Progress (increases in human intelligence, longevity, wealth, and
> > happiness) is possible.
> Yes; unfortunately reductions in these measures are also possible.

yes, but are they 'good'?

> > 5. Central control is usually less efficient than distributed control.
> It depends on the situation, the transaction costs, the distribution
> of information, etc. We see firms under centralized control competing
> with each other in a decentralized market. There is a large body of
> economics literature that analyzes when centralized vs decentralized
> approaches are more efficient.

These all, however, tend to base their opinion of 'efficiency' from the
firm or economy's point of view. The proper point of view is the
individual. It may be efficient for a firm to whip its employees to
exhaustion. It is not efficient for the employee to work for such a

> > 6. Empowering people to learn, work, and transcend their limits is a good
> > thing.
> "Empowering" is a somewhat vague and loaded term. It will not usually
> be possible to "empower" someone without costs. These costs must be
> balanced against the gains. For example, maybe it would be nice if
> someone would "empower" me to go back to school for more education.
> Fine, but who will support my family then? And will the costs of the
> absence of my productive efforts in society be less than the benefits
> which my empowerment brings?

Unless you are going to study something like philosophy or theology, I
don't think its possible for you to not be of benefit to society to do

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