Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 04:23:22 MST

On Mon, Dec 31, 2001 at 07:18:21AM -0800, J. R. Molloy wrote:
> The "someone in power" that you mention, has more real power than a busload of
> transhumanist technophiles. In case you haven't read it, _Magister Ludi_, by
> Herman Hesse describes a world where a "Glass Bead Game" is played to decide
> the structure of the social hierarchy. In today's America, the glass bead game
> is litigation. The legal system decides your place in society.
> I think the legal system will decide whether Bill Joy's scientific
> relinquishment will prevail or if human-competitive AI will continue to
> evolve. IOW, for AI phase transition to occur, first the singularity will have
> to successfully navigate the legal system.

Agreed in principle ....

Except that you're mistaking the US for the entire world.

My guess is that, legal issues aside, the USA is the country most likely
to see an AI phase transition first -- by a matter of a few months.

Other countries and transnational groupings have different legal systems
and different lobbying groups, and different customs. Compare, for example,
the approach to cloning and embryonic stem cell research in various parts
of the EU with the near-total ban instituted by the current US government,
and you'll see one area where -- if Ashcroft and GWB don't change their
mind -- the US is going to definitely end up on the trailing edge. Pretty
much the same goes for your cellular communications infrastructure, although
802.11a might change that. And so on.

Probably our best hope for an AI phase transition is a lot of competing
jurisdictions that don't agree on extraterritoriality and where each of the
big issues is chewed over by a different bunch of legislators who come to
different conclusions. And our greatest fear should be that WIPO or some
related treaty organisation draws up a multilateral agreement that member
governments sign into law and that enforces common guidelines on everyone.
Such treaties tend to be restrictive rather than permissive ...

-- Charlie

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:31 MST