Walking your talk (was : Aid for Afghanistan)

From: Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.com)
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 12:24:04 MST

On Thu, 3 Jan 2002, Dossy quoted John:

> On 2002.01.03, John Clark <jonkc@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> > The question [snip personal 'dis] is how to prevent more thousands of
> > "irrelevant" Americans from being murdered by fanatical barbarians who
> > want to change the world by force and move it in a direction that is not
> > very Extropian.

John -- can you make the case that you equally distribute your
energies on a *per* death basis for each premature cause of death
that occurs in the U.S. (or the world)?

The following cause more deaths annually in the U.S. than the 911
attacks: Suffocation, Fires & Burns, Drowning, Poisoning by solids
and liquids, Falls and Motor vehicle crashes (from lowest to highest).
Motor vehicles, in particular kill more than an *order of magnitude*
annually relative to the 911 attacks.

I don't see anyone here taking the "hawk" position over in Afghanistan
attempting to "prevent more thousands of deaths". I am reasonably
certain that arguing with Samantha day in and day out *isn't* going
to bring dead people back to life, nor is it going to significantly
make the U.S. a safer place to live.

I would argue that it is irrational to place an excessive emphasis
on the 911 attacks to the exclusion of other causes of premature
death. So rational individuals should (a) either start with
the leading cause of death (where are the "safer motor vehicle"
discussions!) or (b) attempt to distribute their time resources
proportionately over all the causes of premature death if they
intend to be truly extropic (and are not merely entertaining
themselves with manipulating the input bandwidth of several
hundred minds). Further I would argue that actions speak much
louder than words. Where are the reports of letters written
to consumer safety commissions? Where are the films of extropians
demonstrating in front of GM/Ford/Crysler (whomever made the least
safe automobile this year)? Where are "Fall Awareness" bumper
stickers they are selling "at cost"?

Dead is dead. If you want to make a *real* difference in fixing that
please do so. If you also want to "bias" your agenda that is fine
with me -- just explain why this is your "cause" and acknowledge that
you are making a self-interested choice to focus on a non-representative
subset of the entire problem. Sitting around and kvetching on the
Extropians list all day isn't going to do that.

> In any forward progress, lives must be sacrificed somehow. Whether
> it be considered experimentation by some, murder by others, or
> self-sacrifice for a cause, they perish.

I'd have to disagree with Dossy here. There is a heck of a lot
of progress in medicine and safety regulations without requiring
that people be sacrificed. It depends in large part on the degree
to which a society values life and is willing to think ahead and
make an investment in preventing situations that prematurely end it.
For example our ability to rapidly assay for anthrax is a result
of the Dept. of Defense anticipating bioterrorist attacks and
starting the development of more advanced methods to detect the
spores in the early 1990's.

There is no doubt that in some cases people will die to draw our
attention to problems. We can predict some of the problems some
of the time but we can't predict all of the problems all of the time.

> It's very extropian. If 9/11 isn't a big boost for the extropian
> cause, I don't know what is.

I disagree here as well. If our response to the deaths that occurred
on 911 are disproportionate relative to other premature causes of
death then we may be making a large investment of resources in
areas that provide a very low ROI. I would not know how to begin
making the argument trading off $ spent by the DoD to save a life
vs. $ spent by the NIH to save a life. I do know that DoD probably
outspends the NIH by an order of magnitude while the causes of
death in this country would suggest the ratio *should* be a several
order of magnitude advantage for the NIH over the DOD.

> The extropes should be pushing the notions of cloning,
(we do)
> mass cryostasis
(we should -- particularly for criminals or terrorists)

> and uploads as technologies and techniques to make terrorist
> attacks such as 9/11 pointless, as any "lives lost" could be
> restored from a backup (uploads),

It is not clear that real-time backups are feasible (I've done
some research on this and it is difficult). If they are not then
promoting such ideas is counterproductive. Instead one should be
promoting the prevention of the development of meme sets that
rationalize suicidal attacks.

> and cloning/downloads to restore actual dead.

You can promote this but unless you can assert that lossless
backups are feasible most people aren't going to accept that
restoration of the dead is feasible. Extropians should try
to fall on the conservative side of stretching the technology
boundary (at least if they want to be perceived as serious

> Otherwise, this whole stupid discussion is very off topic for
> the Extropians list, and ought to be taken offline/offlist.
> It's getting petty and ridiculous.

Agreed. I for one would like to see people dedicate more time
to "walking" their talk instead of talking so much that the
rest of us begin to despair that it would have been better
had humans never come down from the trees to walk in the first


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