Re: Where's God?

Eric Watt Forste (
Mon, 23 Jun 1997 15:30:05 -0700

Erik Moeller writes:
> When I say it is "the information processed that counts" I don't mean
> its quantity but its quality. That's the difference.

Very convenient to hinge everything on differences you cannot

> Communicating with others is not actually necessary in the sense that
> THEY have to hear YOU. It's enough if you listen.

I wasn't using the word "communication" in such a one-sided sense.
I intended the word to cover both receptive and transmittive
communication. Something you might have picked up on if you had
your receivers pumped up as high as your transmitters are.

> Posthuman entities, if there are several ones and no collective (whereas
> I consider the latter possibility as more likely) will need to talk to
> each other to get results. But they will not demand money for them,
> because whenever they give knowledge, they don't lose it.

This would be very nice if it were possible to carry out computation
without any energy and without any physical substrate. Unfortunately,
it is not, so information is not the *only* scarce resource. I do
understand that pretending it is simplifies your worldview vastly,
but I try to keep my weltanschauung as simple as possible, and no

> When I give you an apple, I don't have the apple anymore. But when I
> tell you about the principles of quantum mechanics (for instance) I
> don't lose anything but I can only win (from a universal viewpoint: the
> more people know about it, the more probable it is that new discoveries
> will be made soon). That's why trade in the sense of "give and take"
> loses its value.

When you give me an apple and I give you an orange, and this happens
voluntarily, then you have an orange (which you prefer to an apple)
and I have an apple (which I prefer to an orange). We both benefit,
positive sum game, and furthermore because our act (a transaction)
has infinitesimally affected the market price of apples and oranges,
we have anonymously transmitted some information to the world about
our relative preferences for apples and oranges. There's an
information-communication feat very difficult to pull off reliably
in an engineered system.

As for the rest, it sounds like an argument against institutions
of intellectual property such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks,
and I've already expressed my doubts about such restrictions on
information exchange in this forum previously. I can't think of
any good way to refute Lee Daniel Crocker's arguments on this point.
Right now, I think it's a bit theoretical, since gummints are still
running around shooting, bombing, and kidnapping people for even
more obviously innocent actions than giving someone a "free" copy
of some Microsoft product.

> > > Not infinite power, but infinite knowledge is probably the
> > > purpose of any such entity.

> > Can you explain to us what the difference between these two
> > things is? Or are you engaging in empty rhetoric?

> It's not just rhetorics. When I want to achieve power, I usually measure
> my goal with what I know _now_. For example, "I want to rule the world".
> And when I want to achieve power I usually don't want to possess it, but
> to USE it -- against other people, other entities or whatever. This
> seems entirely unlikely to me for a posthuman behaviour, for it destroys
> valuable information sources.

> When I want to achieve knowledge, I want to know things I don't already
> know. I want to find NEW things. And I want to possess knowledge, not
> for the use against others, just for the possession in itself.

You claim that you have no interest whatsoever in making any use
of knowledge?

Don't you want to use your knowledge to help all the poor and
suffering people on this planet?

I hope that the above two questions have made it clear that you
have yet to adequately explain the difference between knowledge
and power, and that you have yet to adequately defend yourself
from the charge of using empty rhetoric. If you expect me to
believe that you do not seek to ever use any of the knowledge
you obtain (for instance, you will not use your knowledge in
order to obtain more knowledge), I'll hope you'll pardon me in
saying that I'm just not that gullible.

What you want is power to help the poor and suffering: stop
pretending otherwise. You mean to rule wisely and well, but you
mean to rule.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd