Re: One humanity, all in the same boat

From: Chris Hibbert (
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 23:38:44 MST

I'll have to say "me too" as well. That was a nice message, Eliezer, and
it started a good discussion. The only thing is: why'd you have to do it
when so many of us were predictably on vacation?

Now that the conversation has died down, I feel free to pick through what
remains and comment broadly on a few points.

> [...] If [...] ExI takes a serious hit from
> the xenophobia now being tossed about on the mailing list in the name of
> free speech don't say I didn't warn you [...]. I am sick and tired of
> hearing about how transhumanism [...] is a form of Social Darwinism in
> which the slow runners are forced out of the race [...].

I took Eliezer's comment about xenophobia to be referring to recent
comments in the mold of "jobs for Americans first." Others took it as a
complaint about racism, which I haven't seen much evidence for. The
references to other countries have mostly been protectionist rather than

Since I was on vacation, I wasn't able to speak up, so I'll do so now. I
believe in comparative advantage. I think that the "creative destruction"
that the market practices is a good thing. There can be no progress if
businesses cannot fail. The constant change produces an environment that
requires every enterprise to constantly improve its productivity. That
means finding the most cost effective ways to get the job done. When that
means hiring overseas, it's the right thing to do. The people fired in
the wake of change are idle hands ready to work on the next thing to come
along. In a free society, someone will find work for them. (If you are
idle, and no one has work for you, be the someone yourself!) It is only
in societies that outlaw new enterprise that unemployment is a problem.

I don't think national boundaries should matter for trade or for jobs.
The current pragmatics are that our welfare laws make it tough to allow
unlimited entry. The recent terrorist acts, and the continuing concern
about further acts have provided an opening for those who believe in
glorifying artificial boundaries. I think we should be very careful
allowing these concerns to push us too far from our long-standing policy
open borders.

Some here have argued that we need to make sure that those who enter
already hold beliefs consistent with our trusting society. I will only
concede on the point of those who want to come here to perpetrate
violence. Other than that, I'd welcome any who want to work, to raise
children, or to get an education. Whatever they're looking for is
available only as part of a bundle that will entice them or their children
into buying the package.

They don't come here (other than the terrorists) in order to find a more
comfortable version of home. If they come for a living wage, they'll
find they have to live and work among a diversity of people. If they
for an education, they'll have to work to make it. When they start a
family, they'll yearn for the same comforts for their children as the
rest of us, and work as hard as it takes to make it.

> [..] I grew up reading [science fiction] books that
> preached peace and tolerance toward other life forms, whether they had
> hands or tentacles, whether they breathed oxygen or liquid helium, as
> long as they were sentient. [...] what the books tried to teach was
> tolerance of *aliens*. [...]

Me, too.

> Only the most clueless of Singularity gradualists, in severe hard takeoff
> denial, could even begin to imagine that the Singularity was an argument
> for Social Darwinism [...] If the value of the whole
> world is a quadrillion dollars, and a quintillion dollars of new wealth is
> created by an egalitarian superintelligence, the previous distribution of
> wealth becomes irrelevant. [...] We win together, or lose together. We
> are all in the same boat.

I kept trying to figure out what I disagreed with about this. I'm sure
I'm a "Singularity gradualist, in severe hard takeoff denial." But I
up thinking that the argument is stronger from a gradualist perspective.
The statistics (according to Julian Simon, of course) show that in most
cases, as technology advances, the rich do keep getting richer, but the
gap keeps getting proportionately smaller. Those who worry about the
have-nots, when they have statistics always show the ones that show that
some people are still behind, and don't check to see whether they are
catching up. We can argue about gradualism again, but since we agree on
the outcome, there's no need to do so here. wrote:
> [...] though I prefer cooperation, I realize that all may
> never feel this way. I am opposed to giving away the store, without
> anything in return, because I believe mutuality and reciprocation are
> what guarnatees cooperation, not noble words.

I believe we benefit by taking advantage of others attempt to attack us by
subsidizing the goods they sell us. I believe we are harmed when we cut
off trade to punish another country's acts. (In both sentences, there
are different groups represented by the various uses of "we" and "us".
We (society, government, pick your favorite agent) don't have the right
force some to pay the cost.) On the whole, we'll all be better off if
pursue a consistent unilateral policy of free trade.

in response to this bit of Eliezer's message:
> > If Extropy and ExI takes a serious hit from the xenophobia

Cryofan wrote:
> You mean if it hampers their ability to snag consultation fees from
> business lobbies for providing justification for further
> globalization and immigration?

I'm not sure what drives this attack. Is ExI "snagging consultation fees
from business lobbies"? Do you think Eliezer was defending something
underhanded? I thought he was talking about Extropy and ExI as social
movements attempting to promulgate ideas, and referred to the possibility
that they would be undercut in public discussions if the membership is
associated with unsavory viewpoints.

I think your disagreement is about whether xenophobia is seen as
unsavory, or whether the viewpoints expressed here recently qualify as
such, not with ExI's goals and methods. Am I wrong?

Cryofan continued
> If you and I buy a house and live in it [...]
> can Joe Schmoe down the street come live in it for free?

I disagree that allowing people to compete for jobs is giving them a
benefit. It's trade. If Joe is offering a better price, and I like the
service he's offering, I may buy from him.


Chris Hibbert
It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but not so easy to turn 
fish soup back into an aquarium.
-- Lech Walesa on reverting to a market economy.

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