Re: Relinquish JXTA

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 01:44:44 MDT wrote:
> JXTA (pronounced "juxta", as in "juxtaposition") is Bill Joy's new system
> for promoting peer-to-peer application development. It provides a base
> for clients to locate other clients who are running the same application,
> and some communication facilities. See

Application centric gnutella?

> Bill Joy is of course well known to us here for his criticisms of working
> on new technologies like AI and nanotech. These technologies pose many
> threats and Joy has proposed that we "relinquish" them, that is, that
> we not develop them and meditate to achieve inner peace instead.
> Yet when I look at the JXTA proposal I see no facilities to support
> relinquishment. The system is presented purely as something which
> can *facilitate* research and development. JXTA could even be used
> on projects which could promote nanotech and AI!

This does not follow at all. Just because a person believes that some
technologies are too dangerous to be developed at this time does not
mean that he belives that all technologies are too dangerous nor that
his every move must be directly supportive of banning the technologies
that he fears.
It would actually be preemptive and presumptuous of him to attempt to
build such limits into general tools without society deciding what is
and is not permissible. It is probably illegal. There is not the least
contradiction in proposing peer-to-peer application development as a
general tool and being frightened of developing AI and NT.
> Joy's positions are ultimately contradictory. You can't consistently
> provide tools for general technological development while calling
> for society to restrict technological research. If he wanted to be
> consistent, he would have put facilities into JXTA to allow society to
> limit its use. Maybe there would have to be a majority vote among peers
> before allowing a subset of them to run some particular software.

You are leaving out specifics and assuming blanket either-or positions
that are unrealistic. There is no way to limit basic technology like
compilers and application environments to only code one approves of. So
there is no point in holding an individual inconsistent in disapproving
or fearing any particular development if they build general tools.
Where consistency is impossible no judgement of inconsistency is valid.
> Joy has thus put his personal and financial self-interest ahead of
> his philosophical beliefs. He has compartmentalized his mind so that
> he can be the wise philosopher one day, raising cautionary notes about
> technology, while he can be the profitable technologist the next, making
> money for himself and his company (he is a major Sun stockholder).

Despite the many disagreements I have with Joy's position, this sort of
hacking at him on bogus grounds aids nothing and simply makes us look
like a bunch of unreasonable and uncaring utter technophiles. It is
- samantha

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