Re: Extropian country

Eugene Leitl (
Sun, 22 Feb 1998 15:55:40 +0300 (MSK)

On Sat, 21 Feb 1998, den Otter wrote:

> > [ nonvirtual Extropia considered harmful ]
> Distracting from what, exactly? Everyday life?

I don't know about you, but many of us have chosen their goals quite early
in life. I cannot claim speaking for the others, but my interest in
certain technologies, physical/chemical sciencies and computer modelling
has certainly not been caused by reading Diamond Age. In fact it goes back
to the early childhood. Many influential movers & shakers (just to name
Minsky, Moravec, Tipler, Drexler, Merkle, de Garis, ...) share our memetic
set, whether formally or de facto. Their 'everyday life' is certainly
having nontrivial impact. I honestly cannot assess how much the
Extropians/transhumanists as a bulk can contribute to the bleeding edge in
science/technology/memefection, but yes, it does seem like a worthwhile
goal to pursue.

> > [ making it through the Singularity is challenging enough ]
> Unless transhumanists get somehow organized the chances that any of
> us will make it past singularity are close to zero; the powers that be will
> crush us all like worms. Only (some of) the rich and powerful are going to
> make it.

Having a single friend High Above should suffice. (And a little redundancy
won't hurt). Becoming one of the rich & powerful should thus not be a
minor point on the transhumanist agenda. If you are so smart then why
ain't you rich? Why, indeed?

> > [ use existing sources, Luke ]
> I'm sure the Exclave is a lot of fun, but hardly comparable to a sovereign
> country...

The Exclave is the best model we currently have (and no, I don't know
anything about it). If the synergisms due to physical interactions are not
mythical, they should be observable there. But: with a realtime broadband
channel even socializing shouldn't suffer too much.

> > [...]
> No-one said it's *easy*, but it doesn't take a superhuman effort either. Others
> have done it, so why can't we?

What have they gained by it? What focuses have they neglected by gaining
it? What was the empirical critical resource threshold in their efforts to
be successul? See?

> > Unless a full-blown neoludd witchhunt is on (then
> > presenting an easy target is definitely not a good idea),
> The neoluddites are an insignificant bunch of morons, and not
> the real problem. Organized crime and governments on the other

Tell that Gelernter, who has had his hands blown off by the Unabomber. An
insignificant moron who is also a fairly competent molecular virologist is
not longer so very insignificant in terms of the damage. A petty terrorist
taking out 50 leading ExI heads + guest speakers by a fertilizer/fuel
carbomb is not so very petty anymore, I am afraid. Even if the risk be
small it is not zero.

> hand...

Organized crime is not that a large problem as I have learned from most
recent observations (caution: sample size bias). (Interesting enough that
the same picture painted by your favourite lillywhite monopoly always
winds up such a bugbear). Street thugs are not a problem, a minimum of
streetsmartness assuming (Btw, I am not armed for the police is a
significantly higher danger here), and higher echelons are
indistinguishable from state. They are interested in milking, not killing
you. Remember, the state _is_ the mafia here.

> > [...]
> A lot of small nuisances still can make life miserable. Instead of enduring
> decades of paying taxes, filling out forms for every stupid thing, waiting periods,
> legal injustice, petty crime and all the other crap that's related to our societies,
> you can focus on one major effort, and reap the fruits for many years to come.
> A private nation is an investment that can ultimately save you a lot of money
> and frustration. It's the embodyment of personal freedom and responsibility.

Sorry, I believe you that you believe that, but it does sound a lot like
propaganda to me. You obviously do not see the simple virtues of careful
realism. You wouldn't believe how many things how soon a bunch of
energetic bright individualists can scrogg up. This _can_ be rewarding
learning experience on its own, agreed. Just count me out.

> Of course things can go wrong, but then again you can also lose your job
> and be unable to get another one, for example. Life is a risk, no matter what
> you do.

Life is a risk, and yes, it does matter what you do.

> > [...]
> Aren't all kinds of virtual activities best conducted from a safe haven with your
> own sandy beach and waving palms? ;) For some very lucrative business like

I am not particular to sandy beaches & waving palms. From what I know I
could be living with friends in a renovated country farm in Normandy a
decade from now. Brodband wireless links should be cheap enough by then.
If all you do is pushing bits around the location doesn't really matter
that much. Of course, this won't work for anybody.

> new designer drugs (the "grey area" kind that's not yet universally
> recognized as illegal) and virtual porn (apart from kids just about
> anything goes) and world lotteries and other gambling activities
> (virtual or otherwise) a distant retreat is highly recommended. Money &
> fun in the sun, what else could you want?

I think yours is a remarkably cynic perspective. Remember, we are all
supposed to be sheep in wolf's clothing here.

> > [ don't put all your eggs in one basket ]
> I think you're a lot safer on your private island than in a big city, for example,
> and *should* someone try to bother you (which is unlikely if you keep a
> reasonably low profile) you have at least the means to defend yourself
> (your budget is the only limit).

I am unlikely to find myself at the receiving end of a tactical nuke or a
bunch of marines on the streets of a city. Besides, the average city is
way too dangerous/expensive/polluted to remain enjoyable on the mid run
anyway. You mileage may vary.

> > [ personally demonstrate efficieny of your memecluster ]
> What's the alternative plan, then?

1) Make money 2) Donate some of it for worthwhile purposes (ExI would be
an instance) 3) reiterate above until you've run into the Singularity or
suddenly realize you are floating in a liquid nitrogen Dewar. Really
simple, and unspectacular, eh?

> > [ run & hide, as soon as you can ]
> How do autistic fugitives get access to the first body enhancers/upload devices?

If you can do it, sailing off in subluminal ecosystem bubbles is a lot
better than being gobbled up by a DIY Blight. Being old-fashioned, I
believe in simple virtues such as personal survival. Certain flavours of
Blight are not only omniscient and omnipotent, but also omnivorous.

> [ this fell prey to the ascii monster ]