Re: A Challenge To All Extropians/Free Martketeers

Dan Clemmensen (
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 11:58:58 -0400

Paul Hughes wrote:
> Dan Clemmensen wrote:
> > Even the most "conservative" singularitans place the singularity
> > before the year 2030. IMO, unaugmented humans will be completely
> > economically obsolete. Your questions should therefore be directed
> > at the economy of transhumanity, and perhaps the economics of the
> > transition, because there will be no human economy.
> In order to get from 1 to 3 you must pass through 2. People will not have
> access to nanotechnology if they have already died of starvation from the
> automation leading right up to nanotech. If what your saying is only the
> elite of the elite will survive to become transhumans then I could give a shit
> about any transhuman economy, thank you very much.
I personally would prefer that all of humanity make the transition, and I'm
fairly optimistic that this will occur. See below.

> > The best humanity can hope for is that transhumanity is altruistic,
> > If so, then transhumans will help humans become transhumans.
> ?That would be ideal. But 'altruism' is one particular value than has been
> given a bad rap by several on this list.

IMO, individuals are actually reasonably civil and reasonably altruistic, up
to a point. Each person has a different threshold. As the cost of doing a good
deed goes down, the cost eventually goes below the threshold and the deed
is done. If newer technology makes it easy to help others at low cost,
more help will be provided. Speaking personally, If nanotech provides
a "universal factory box" for me, I'll make another for free and give
it to anyone who asks.

> > Very rapid increases in productivity caused by
> > nanotechnology or AI may have the effect of a dramatic deflation. If
> > so, the rich may not be in much better shape than the poor: Your money
> > is useful only as feedstock for the nanotech, with exactly the same
> > value as dirt. On the other hand, the necessities and luxuries of
> > life will be essentially free, so who cares? On the third hand, you
> > will be transhuman, so there is no way that a simple human such as
> > myself can judge whether this will make you happy.
> This is all very true, but it dodges the question of how the majority of
> people will survive just getting to that nanotech transhuman phase. It's the
> sophisticated automation leading up to nanotech that first poses a problem.
> Again, you can't get from 1 to 3 without passing through 2. 2 is what I've
> been talking about. How do you survive the *transition*?
Good, we are in agreement. The transition is the problem. However, you couched
the problem in terms of traditional "rich" and "poor" which IMO assumes a fairly
slow transition. If the transition ruptures the economy, then the rich/poor
axis is not relevant. The nerd/technophobe axis may be more relevant.

If you have time, please sketch out your concept of the transition era, its
length, and its outcome.

My own conception is considered fairly radical. I feel that the existing
economy will take us to the point that a superintelligence (SI) will
emerge effectively overnight. The SI will then do whatever it wants,
with unpredictable results. I hope the SI will ask each human to join
it, either as elements or equals, but I have no way to evaluate the
probability of this.

So, as you see, my concept is a "snap transition." Most economists
appear to believe in an "infinite transition", i.e, that humanity
and human economics will define the economy forever. Others on
this list favor something in between. My point is that each scenario
has a different set of economic problems for individual humans
and humanity in general during the transition.