Re: Things extropians agree on

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Jan 27 2001 - 17:26:03 MST

Charlie Stross <> writes:

> In a spirit of non-confrontational rationalism, I'd like to see if we
> can compose a list of ideas that we *ALL* agree on.

A quite good list, which seems to at least work as a least-mena-square
approximation to what we (active people on this list) agree on.

We have had a discussion on the Swedish list on whether there exist a
value system of transhumanism. It seems to me that transhumanism in
general do not really have any value system that everybdoy agrees on -
there is a tendency towards humanist-liberal ideas but they are not
firmly anchored within the system itself. Hence, in order to be able
to provide an ethics and all the other useful things we get from a
value system, transhumanism needs to either be included within another
system with a value system or we need to use a sub-movement with more
defined principles. Extropianism as expressed in the extropian
principles is one such subset of transhumanism in general. Charlies
list seems to be an even tighter subset with fairly clear ethical
> If you disagree with any of these memes, could you wave a hand and
> explain why?
> 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.
> 3. The scientific method provides a better way of evaluating reality
> than any religious dogma.
> 4. Progress (increases in human intelligence, longevity, wealth, and
> happiness) is possible.
> 5. Central control is usually less efficient than distributed control.
> 6. Empowering people to learn, work, and transcend their limits is a good
> thing.

I think I agree with all of these, with some slight
modifications/clarifications like others have proposed. In 3 it would
be any dogma, in 4 I would like to add cumulative growth of knowledge
and skill. I have a bit of problem with 5 - it is too general; I think
I agree more with the statement that distributed control is currently
undervalued, useful in many situations, more aesthetic than central
control and when it comes to control of humans, more ethical since it
is more compatible with 1 rather than coercion.

However, I think it is important to remember that these are statements
that are in themselves not axiomatic. I would for example derive 1 and
2 from the standard libertarian/humanist philosophy about human value
and rights, 3 as a statement of current empirical knowledge supported
by the fact that given human fallibility and lack of information a
dogmatic approach will perpetuate mistakes, and so on. But would other
list members make the same deductions? I'm not sure. While we can
certainly work together on the above shared assumptions, underlying
differences in values might introduce complications.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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