Re: Extropian country

den Otter (
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 21:20:05 +0100

Eugene Leitl <> wrote:

> 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.
Yes, certainly. I salute the effort of all those who directly contribute to
and I'm not suggesting that they should drop everything in order to pursue some
elusive dream...BUT some of us who aren't great scientists, writers, artists etc,
might find it useful and fulfilling to contribute to transhumanism by, for example,
building a totally free safe haven. For fun, mutual stimulation and just in case...
The failure of this (low profile) project would hardly mean the end of
just like the failure of the Oceania project didn't wipe out libertarianism.

> > > [ 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?
Well, for starters, I *don't* claim to be smart. I'm just an ordinary guy who's
not really good at anything. Other people on this list *are* smart howerver,
yet most of them aren't astronomically rich afaik, which is strange. With
all this brainpower "under one roof" it should be a piece of cake to become
a rich & powerful movement, but as we all know, this hasn't happened so
far. That's a shame, certainly when you see all kinds of bullshit cults
like scientology swimming in cash. Imagine what all that money could
accomplish if it was used on for example cryonics, biotech and uploading

> > > [...]
> > 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?
It's true that most autonomous communities are/were far from ideal, but that's
mainly because the freedom-seekers are/were carriers of less-than-optimal
memes. There is no precedent (as far as I know) for a transhuman autonomous
region, so there's nothing to compare to. The only way to answer your questions
is to go out and do it. The only thing that *is* sure is that since other groups
of people have apparently succeded (or failed for trivial reasons), nation building
is a real possibility.

> > 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.
Aren't these arguments actually supporting the autonomous nation concept?
Lone nuts like the Unabomber (a relatively rare phenomenon) can easily
single out and maim/kill isolated, unorganized and thus vulnerable targets
like scientists, and yes, extropians. A low-profile, distant and relatively
well defended (no gun laws etc.) island is a *very unlikely* target for
terrorists (they probably won't even know it exists), and thus the place of
choice to do "controversial" research and the like. Besides, if someone
really wants to kill extropians, he'll just hit an Extro gathering as you
already suggested. Piece of cake compared to taking out a whole
island nation.

> 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.
The fact remains that on an isolated private island the chances that you'll
be the victim of (violent) crime are close to zero, while in "normal countries"
(especially the cities) these chances are a *lot* higher. Increased personal
safety is of course just one of the many advantages of geographic isolation
and private law. And, believe it or not, the mafia and the state are still pretty
much two separate entities in most western countries, with their own
agenda's of killing and milking.

> > > [...]
> > 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
> > legal injustice, petty crime and all the other crap that's related to our
> > 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.
Sure, all idealists, politicians and used car salesmen sound alike...;)
So what? Regardless of pompous-ass language the point still stands:
there are great advantages to having your own nation. Relaxed living,
no (or very low) taxes, no (or hardly) bureacracy, greater personal
safety, optimal suspension conditions, unique business options
(all the things you can do on for example the Cayman Islands and
then some -- after all, *you* are the law) THE place to have parties
& conferences, enjoy an extropic vacation, meet people etc. Yes, yes,
I know, it sounds like another advertisment...but it's true!

> 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.
No-one is forcing you (or anyone else) to join anything. I understand that those
on the list who have a good job, and/or are doing major scientific work have
better things to do than nation-building. If you are still young (at heart), and no
up-and-coming rocket scientist on the other hand, this might be a worthwile
and fun project.

> > 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.
Would you mind to eleborate, 'cause I don't see any cynicism in the
business proposals above...

> > > [ 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
> > 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.
Right, you'll be hit by a car or mugged instead. Great! Again, the chances
that anyone will attack your island (with nukes for chrissake??) are absolutely
minimal. People just don't care about this sort of thing, as long as you don't
start to blatently export dope, kiddyporn etc. Most banana republics that *did*
get invaded were in fact US pawns "run amock" (took more than their fair share
of CIA drug money or whatever).

> > > [ 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?
Yes, way too unspectacular for a transhuman ;-) And, more importantly, risky.
You'll be hardly in a better position for the Singularity than Jack the Lad,
and Jack's chances *are not good*.

By the way, oil tankers may be too expensive/cumbersome for nation
building, but some smaller passenger vessels (maybe previously used
as floating hotels or so) might be more practical and affordable. You
buy the ship, and sail it to (or have it towed) your uninhabited island
where it's ankered permanently. Buildings etc. can be added later,
but this way you have a relatively comfortable (and more or less mobile)
place to live. Since you only use fuel (you could even use sails) for the
(one) trip, costs are relatively low compared to the moving oil tanker
scenario. On location solar/wind/wave energy can be used for your
power needs, that's mostly a one-time investment; running costs can
be low.