Re: PC immortality?

Anders Sandberg (
18 Jan 1998 13:18:28 +0100

Technotranscendence <> writes:

> I think the only problem is there are neoLuddites and
> technophobes. They love to create doomsday scenarios,
> such as your hyperintelligent generals turning into Ceasars
> and taking over the nation, controlling the disadvantage
> with new tech, and the like. Also, the general public
> seems to like these scare stories and the images painted
> appear to be much longer lived than the pro-technology
> ones.

This seems to be because of the shape of the subjective utility
function and the way people deal with risks; we seem to regard threats
as more dangerous than equivalent rewards, and evaluate more dramatic
disasters as more likely than they really are. So the subjective
effect of listing a long list of benefits of something and adding one,
very unlikely but spectacular risk is to make people concentrate on
the risk, and after a while they will remember mainly the risk. Silly?
Yes - but that is human cognitive psychology for you.

What to do about it (beside rewiring our cognitive structure at the
earliest opportunity)? One possibility is to create counter-images for
the disaster scenarios, just as vivid and showing clearly why they are
not valid. For example, the image of a dictator cloning an army can be
counter-imaged by pointing out that the dictator will have to wait
around 18 years for the babies to grow up - and few dictators want to
have an army in two decades, when they usually need it today. In
short, we should work to defuse the irrational disaster scenarios by
showing how they can be avoided or why they are so silly. Of course we
need good arguments for our positions too, but when it comes to
dealing with downright propaganda techniques like this are handy.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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