Re: An extropian ethic (was Ecology)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 4 Feb 1997 23:21:14 -0800 (PST)

> > (7) Other complex forms will evolve to continue themselves and use
> > resources at my expense if they can. To ensure the continuation of
> > my consciousness, therefore, it is in my interest to learn as much
> > as I can about the nature of such systems, and to create technologies
> > that successfully defend against them. Because of (5), this is the
> > course of action most likely to lead to my goal.
> Really? So the logical course of action for a Power would be to stomp
> on you before you stomped back. Similarly, the logical course of action
> on my part would be to stomp on you before you stomped out my precious
> Singularity. I prefer to think that cooperation between sufficiently
> intelligent beings is axiomatic - that is, any two Powers will cooperate
> on the Prisoner's Dilemna. You apparently believe it is axiomatic that
> they will both defect.

I used the word "defend". Why you interpreted that to mean "stomp
on them before they stomp on you" is something you'll have to examine
about your own mind, not mine. I expect most defense will be against
non-powers, not against other powers. Since I--a lowly human being--
understand the nature of the prisoner's dilemma and the value of
cooperation, I would assume no less from another power. But there
will evolve beings without that realization for whom predation is the
method of choice. Not just non-sentient carnivores, but predators of
the human sort as well. To deny the possibility of crime and other
irrational behaviors in posthumans is to willfully ignore the facts.

> Putting the ethical issues aside, seeing as how neither of us is a
> Power, consider that saying you'll do your best to stamp out all other
> sentient entities is not a good idea. They might stamp first.
> Generally speaking, trying to maximize your share of the pie as a
> negative-sum game is a bad strategy, because if everyone follows it, the
> pie shrinks...

Exactly, which is why I never said such a horrible thing. I said
quite precisely that my /only/ goal was to preserve my own consciousness.
Not to destroy or impede others. Indeed, I can't do it without free
trade and innovation and specialization of others.

The game changes when technology changes. Until immortality was a
reasonable possibility, my ethic would not have made sense. After I
and other powers have expanded into the universe so far that further
progress cannot be made but at the expense of others--if that happens--
then the rules will change again. But we're not there yet. Since our
ability to exploit resources is miniscule, technology makes trade and
> So I reject your philosophy on the grounds that it wouldn't work if
> everyone followed it, and in fact won't even work for you because others
> will become aware that you intend to use coercive force to steal their
> shares, and will launch a preemptive strike.

I quite explicitly reached laissez-faire capitalism as a consequence
of my ethic, yet you claim otherwise. Did you just get bored reading
to the end, or did I not explain that clearly enough? I believe my
exact words were "property rights, free trade, benevolence, and the
rejection of force". What part of that was unclear?