Re: SOC: The Challenge of "The Second World"

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Mar 14 2001 - 19:13:14 MST

Greg Burch wrote:
> Of course, the higher stress placed on personal relationships in the societies
> in question can ultimately be seen as so fundamental to their character
> that making this kind of change might be seen as a kind of “cultural suicide.”
> If so, it may be a question of choosing the manner that those cultures
> will be extinguished. But I prefer to think of it as the same kind of process
> of self-improvement that extropians believe should be a part of each individual’s
> own growth and development.

Actually, the concept of "cultural suicide" is a highly chauvinistic one;
it's the belief that because Euro-American "Western" culture currently has
high technology and working government, it means that high technology and
scientific knowledge and working governments are the proprietary property
of Western culture, rather than the rightful heritage of every individual
on Earth. I personally feel that knowledge and technology are inherently
cultureless, and I don't care in the slightest about whether July 4th is
celebrated a year from now - and yet every now and then I hear the
accusation that I want to impose Western culture on the world. Raving
chauvinists, the lot of them.

> How do you change the basic habits of mind that
> are inherent in almost every aspect of people’s lives? One thing that won’t
> work is simple, “top-down” institutional reform. Instead, what is required
> is a broad-based and deep impetus to honest self-assessment. How this can
> be fostered is the real challenge.

Good luck, you'll need it. Frankly, I think cultural healing is unlikely
without a dei-ex-machina technological fix, whether it's ubiquitous
Internet, Earthweb, or a Sysop Scenario.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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