Socialism, Intelligence, and Posthumanity (was Re: Einstein on

Keith M. Elis (
Sat, 09 Jan 1999 18:09:25 -0500

Mike wrote:

> Subjectivity only exists as a consequence of each individual conducting analysis
> with incomplete facts, and purposely excluding commonly obvious facts that
> conflict with one's prejudices, while rationalizing that denial. Both are errors
> of logic.

Nicely and succinctly put. In my mind, the basics are these: socialism is unlikely to work in the long term because its primary means is force. Assuming that some intelligent people, when forced, do things that they would not otherwise do, it follows that a socialist government sometimes forces intelligent people to behave unintelligently. Assuming intelligence is better than stupidity, the more people who are forced to behave unintelligently means more people doing stupid things. That stupidity is undesirable is a personal a priori.

However, and this *may* be something that occurred to Einstein, the weakness of this line of thought is that some people aren't that intelligent. In fact nearly all people aren't geniuses. Einstein may have been hoping that the intelligence of a rule-making body might be greater than the combined intelligence of most people. Today, we can see that modern democracies don't seem to be attracting the best and the brightest to government (how many politicians do we have here? ;), but it remains to be seen whether government is dumber than most people.

Anyway, regardless, it's a stupid idea to force intelligent people to do unintelligent things. All intelligent people should be free. But it is also the case that unintelligent people can be forced to do intelligent things. I'm sorry, but until we have some foolproof method of deciding who's who, it's better to let them all do what they want, with the hope that intelligent people can figure out how to reach a Singularity quickly, so we all can be intelligent.

A rub:

Who am I talking about when I say 'intelligent people'? Few people are intelligent enough to ignore their memetic script entirely and reason from first principles, and hardly anyone (no one?) is intelligent enough to ignore their genetic script entirely. This may be one of the commonly obvious facts that Mike was talking about. An hypothesis: all incorrect facts are either genetic or memetic, often both, but never neither. If 'intelligence' can be defined (for the moment) as one's actual or potential ability to know what is the case, then anyone suffering from genetic or memetic imperatives (which deflect them from actual or potential knowledge of what is the case) is unintelligent to some degree. This arguably includes every last bit of pink goo.

The most unintelligent reality (assuming human life) occurs where no one can ignore their memetic or genetic script at all. Here we are guaranteed, assuming that some of the facts known are incorrect, to be unable to assess what is the case. In this situation, there is no possibility of anyone changing their mind about anything, even if the apparent idea is perfectly true. I know that I have changed my mind on a few things in my lifetime, so this is not the world we live in.

The most intelligent reality occurs where everyone can ignore their genetic or memetic script as necessary or desired. In this case we would expect a convergence over time toward agreement on what is the case, maybe even quickly. The advent of AI/neurohacks will surely speed this up as the ratio of augments to gaussians increases. But today, this may or may not be happening, so unlike Liebniz I will not suggest this is the best of all possible worlds.

One nice thing about transhumanists is that we (I?) understand transhumanism as an evolving world-view, ready to be modified or changed as the facts roll in. There is a memetic flexibility to varying degrees among transhumanists that I see missing in many of the people around me who purport to be intelligent. However, what about (for the sake of symmetry) 'genetic flexibility'? I don't mean changing our genes just yet, I mean letting memes rule genes as much as possible. Memes are arguably much easier to acquire and get rid of than are genes. We have these genes that tell us to want happiness and pleasure, to avoid sadness and frustration, and to compete with each other. We don't have to use these genetic imperatives as the starting point for our philosophies. In fact, I would argue, if we do it without thought, we are just being unintelligent. We are hindering our actual or potential ability to know what is the case.

One thing that does seem apparent to me is that a lot of people do use genetic imperatives as the starting point for philosophies, and I'm only speaking of people who have something that can be called a 'philosophy.' The rest just live. A good-sized chunk of Western philosophy, from Epicurus and Lucretius, to Hutcheson, Bentham and Mill, assumes happiness as part or parcel of the 'good.' I see this need for happiness as a biological limit that needs to be overcome in order to know what is the case. Of course, it may be that happiness is indeed the good, but it must be rational to think so. If it is rational then it can be demonstrated logically. Otherwise, one is merely thinking what cannot be otherwise thought.

And this has at least one implication for views of posthumanity. Given no genetic pressures, and near-perfect memes, what will a posthuman do? We have no idea what it is like to exist without genetic pressures, and we have no idea what perfect memes are. In fact, logic itself may not be sufficient to know what is the case. Anything not logical is illogical so would the posthumans, in order to know what is the case, think illogically?

It makes my head spin.

Keith M. Elis