Re: Interactions between downloaded and flesh-and-blood humans after the Singularity

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 16:37:32 MST

On Sat, 2 Feb 2002 wrote:

> There would be tremendous economic advantages to being able to go faster.

In *what* economy? In a gift economy, any "advantages" of going
faster are entirely derived from a self-created feeling that you
like being appreciated by more people rather than fewer people.

The entire concept of an "economy" breaks down when the doubling time
for our ability to manufacture things humans want exceeds the doubling
time of humans that want them.

If I'm lying in the sun, soaking up a few thousand watts, using my 9G
wireless to immerse myself in the global matrix why should I care how
"fast" I go? I just pick a world that is running at the speed I choose
to run at.

> [snip] There are any number of fields where speed of human information
> processing is the bottleneck. Imagine if you could keep up with all the
> technical or medical research relevant to your job.

You *DON'T* HAVE JOBS! You are trying to apply pre-singularity economic
concepts to a post-singularity reality.

If you want to discuss this you should state clearly that you are
talking about the brief period when one has the technologies for
uploading slightly before the time when the evolution to demi-god
status makes the concept of a job completely irrelevant. Thats
going to be a brief period IMO.

> There is no way a normal human can compete with someone who can think X times
> faster. The real problem, then, is what non-uploads will do with such a handicap,
> not what uploads will do with their advantages.

Its very simple. If uploads respect the "entity rights" of the non-uploads
then there isn't any problem. Any technology that allows uploading seems
likely to allow non-uploads to live for "free". There *isn't* any more
"economy" in the sense we currently understand it.

> First, I don't think you would literally think for a month at a time,
> any more than you do that today. Rather, you would put in a month's
> worth of work in a vastly smaller amount of time. You would still
> take breaks, sleep, watch TV etc.

Why? Uploaded demi-gods can completely eliminate the need for sleep.
Watching TV is a form of entertainment/relaxation. Why not just tune
the upload's perspectives that working 60 seconds of each minute is
the best thing in the world (as Doug says -- He loves his job).

> Presumably a fast machine can be made to run slowly.
> Then you can interact with the real world, although it will be an
> expensive vacation (in terms of foregone income).

There isn't any *income* model! You build yourself into a free-entity
solar satellite and orbit around the sun. You don't *need* an income!

> The other is to interact with other high-speed uploads. Another form
> of recreation is to just surf the net, participate in chats, enjoy
> pre-recorded video and music. With hundreds of millions of people online,
> even a vastly sped-up mentality can probably find enough novelty to keep him
> interested during breaks.

This assumes you cannot simply create the "feeling" of satisfaction
that one has from interacting with other high-speed uploads and/or
millions of non-uploads. If you can create the feeling what is the
point of expending the time on either of those activities?

> I'm not sure what you are saying here. Is it that uploaded people don't
> need food and shelter (just virtual food and shelter) and so they won't
> have any expenses?

Since one can "tune" what you think you need, this is correct. Since
you can choose to operate at greater or lesser energy consumption rates,
the amount of "food" required may vary. You don't need "shelter" in
the general sense. Instead, what you need is guaranteed self-preservation.
In a high-trust collective with low-level agents taking care of maintenance,
estimation of potential hazards, etc. your energy requirements may be very
low. In a low-trust collective, your energy (and matter) requirements
may be very high.

> Presumably the upload needs to make enough to pay for that.

Not if the material harvesting costs have been prepaid. The energy cost
issue comes down to a fundamental question of whether systems allow
themselves to grow to the point of energy shortages. If the majority
collectively decides that your fraction of the energy resources
is divided equally between you and any copies/children then the
tradeoffs are clearly defined.

> Then there are the tele-operated robot bodies he uses on vacation.
> Those aren't cheap you know.

Huh? Compared to the computer/energy cost of an uploaded demi-god,
the cost of tele-operated robot bodies is dust in the wind.

> Plus he's going to run up quite a bill at Blockbuster Video renting
> 1000 videos a week. That's a quarter million dollars a year right there.

Ah, but you are assuming current barriers to entry. In a VR world,
the "videos" are entirely virtual. So creating them is simply a
question of the amount of time one is willing to spend pixel editing.
So whether it is "real" actors "gifting" their acting (remember, they
don't have to *pay* to live) or "virtual" actors generated by computer
software agents generated by open-source projects supported by programmers
(who also dont have to *pay* to live) -- in the world you are describing
it seems like much of the entertainment should be "free". Writers, actors,
producers, etc. evaluate themselves not in terms of *income* but in terms
of "market" share. The idea that you could create something that 200
million entities would take an interest in is reward enough.

> Uploads will have expenses, and there will probably be advantages to being
> rich even if you are an upload. There is no particular reason to expect
> them to be free from economic motivations.

One trips over the "probably". If your energy is "free" and "guaranteed"
what else do you care about? There will clearly be a two-tier economy. The
corporate "buzz" economy and the open-source "free" economy. The open-source
economy will limit the margins that the buzz economy can achieve. I might be
willing to pay 5x for a "corporate" Volvo over an "open source" Volkswagon but
I'd not be willing to pay 10x or 100x.

People with any sense will realize that the "buzz" economy is largely
an ego/self-promotion driven economy. There is no survival requirement
to play in that economy. Its entirely driven off of "Oh my god, like
I got to see Britney Spears live, in concert" mentality. There will
be some people that buy into that but I doubt it will be the majority.

Ultimately it will devolve into a two-tier pricing system -- the
"buzz" level dictated by my desire to be able to "brag" about the
fact that I got to see the *real* Britney Spears live in concert
and the "pragmatic" level that is willing to settle for the VR
equivalent of the "real thing". If people really do in-depth
studies, the market mark-up will be limited to the *real* benefit
(how much additional security does this software/hardware really
provide) rather than the preceptions generated by advertising and/or
peer pressure.


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