Re: Singularity or Holocaust?

Paul Hughes (
Thu, 26 Feb 1998 19:27:32 -0800

Philip Witham wrote:

> There is one equalizing force that I think is very powerful: the market
> economy. [snip] Over time, this trade imbalance would shift what I would call
> the "personal currency" balance back, and the Mere Humans would catch up to some
> extent. [snip]
> Bringing "up" the world with you is a selfish act, resulting in faster growth
> for you. And a much more interesting world.

On the one hand, nanotechnology renders traditional economic models obsolete until
another (transient) resource limit is hit. The "haves", having reached a high
degree of self-sufficiency, would have no 'economic' reason to keep the
"have-nots" around, as the they are not only potential competitors for shared
resources but also possible future threats to their power.

On the other hand, you suggest a good point about keeping the "have-not" majority
around to provide a more interesting world. This is certainly the case when it
comes to memetic complexity, novelty and diversity. Imagine what kind of world
the nobility of England in the 16th century would have, had they achieved
self-sufficiency and killed off the rest of Europe. There would be very few left
to tell new stories and perform and write new plays. The impact that the
renaissance had on england would have never come to be. With few other creative
entities still alive, a very boring world results.

Thus, the technologically superior may have reason to keep the rest of the
"have-nots" alive, if for nothing else than as a memetic resource to be tapped for
their own pleasure and entertainment.

One might argue, by saying that the same techno-elites could just as easily
achieve sufficient AI running a genetic algorithmic 'difference' engine. This
engine would mutate, create and engage them in a continuos stream of novelty and
complexity, which through direct neuro-feedback, could increasingly tailor its
stream to the maximum pleasure of the user. The ultimate narcissist (wire head).