Economy, Ego and Extropians

Rick Knight (
Tue, 20 May 97 11:04:27 CST

Good day to all,

With a recent thread about what to invest in and how "from an
extropian angle", this begs the question in my mind: Do extropians
support or indulge the current market economy motif? I keep
speculating about how some of the new up and coming industries (such
as nanotech) might turn the current economic structure inside out.

Not to be too "Jetsons" but as the aforementioned multi-billion
dollar-funded industry jumps the hurdles it now faces (nano-scale
physics I believe to be a major area of R&D), we could have material
goods assembling themselves for cheap and manufacturing (like word
processing, desktop publishing and studio recording of the last decade
or two) become something done on a personal scale in our homes. Some
of the XPARC brains envision replicating machines like microwave ovens
or dishwashers now, using carbon-based feedstock in a water-heater
type container as the building block. Outlandish? Any more so than
how the common citizen of the previous century regarded (if they even
considered) telecommunications, supersonic flight, laser surgery and
the like. And our advancements (when not bogged down by trifling
concerns of how to outwit competitors and return the largest profit on
a huge investment) increase much more rapidly as we approach the end
of this decade/century/millennium.

Biotech is another area where great advancements are being made but
will it become as belabored and full of misplaced priorities and
controversy as the pharmaceutical industry? As long as we are
cow-towing to the money machine, acting like modern Phoenicians,
clutching our coins, assigning them meaningful value, equating them
with survival and success, lying, cheating, stealing and killing for
them, implicitly and blatantly, how far can we go in the extropian
sense and how swiftly can we expect to get there?

Must we embrace the notion that people in this culture only do
something when something is in it for them? And the "it" is the
material-bound "stuff" that our culture is completely awash in. Do
all the gadgets and distractions of the super warehouse stores and
mega malls promote cultural/racial harmony, reduce crime, improve
minds, get us individually involved, change paradigms, innovate beyond
our dreams? Or do we just continue to want and hoard? Do we finally
get "enough" of the things we want (an ever expanding list thanks to
the likes of multi-nationals like Sony, Nike, and go off in
our corner and contentedly play (that is, after we've activated our
home security system to keep out those who would take our toys)?

People seem to be numbed and immobilized by their possessions. One
has to wonder, do we (speaking of all of us not just extropian-minded
people) just merrily follow the status quo? Do extropians try to
wedge their vision into the current socio-economic structure?

True, right now, it takes money to do the things, make the changes we
envision. I am not advocating forsaking material wealth and gain. I
am advocating that the goal of the post-human would be to restructure
the current order, not only for self improvement but for the
improvement of all. Libertarianism (still not sure how that is
regarded in the extropian realm), as ideal and utopian as it is
sometimes painted, could end up being just as noxious, just as futile
as the material-bound capitalist and communist run systems in the last
few centuries. If "investment", meaning capital investment, has the
result of serving the needs of the many as well as the one, I regard
that as a good thing. Self-serving indulgence doesn't seem like a
post-human endeavor. If it does, let me know now for I'm here to
examine whether or not this a group with a creed I can genuinely
subscribe to. A post-human, in my estimation, not only pushes the
envelopes of the technological, physiological and social structure but
also the structure of self and of ego. These are components that
should not be neglected in the evolutionary process.

Ego is useful but so is gasoline. It has to be treated with respect,
used in the right way, carried in the right container, developed in a
way that limits/eliminates its cumulative toxicity to the environment.
The metaphor can be easily applied to our seemingly innate tendencies
to exploit, conquer, usurp and ignore. Should post-humanism be
considered complete without including the evolution of emotions.

One thing I've noticed occasionally turn up in these threads (and
something that the initial rules disclaimer seeks to limit) is an
opinionated pomposity, a precursor to name-calling and certainly a
suppressive element to pro-active and constructive exchange of ideas.
I am compelled to ask those so motivated to diminish and deride the
ideas and opinions of others what their fundamental goal is. In this
message, as soapboxy as it may occur for some, I've posed the ideas
not as altruisms but as questions to be considered. My participation
in this is to be a component in improving, recognizing the partness
and wholeness of everything. I hope to check ego at the door so as to
provide the most potency for the exchanges here. My aim is not to
provoke or alienate but stimulate and intrigue. My goal is
possibility beyond the known, perhaps beyond the dream. Please
consider that thoughtfully if you are compelled to reply.


Rick Knight