RE: META: Singularity, a restriction on...

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 11:37:31 +1000

>From: Michael S. Lorrey[]
>Reply To:
Tuesday, April 20, 1999 7:08 AM
>Subject: Re: META: Singularity, a restriction on...
>Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
>> > I just thought of one possible restraint on Singularity-type
>> > growth: Procrastination.
>> >
>> > As more people become immortal at the edge of the Singularity,
>> > the amount of procrastination which occurs in society will amplify
>> > at exponential rates, leading to a major braking effect on growth
>> > of all kinds.
>> The counterbalancing effect to this is ego. No matter how rich
>> everyone in society becomes, even if every person now on the
>> streets of Calcutta could easily retire to a large house and have
>> all the free time and recreation ey wanted, ey would still want
>> to work and create and build so that ey could be just a little
>> bit richer than eir neighbor.
>> And of course every specialist in each field of endeavor will
>> still want to be the first to accomplish some feat or other.
>That is possible, but you don't see nearly as much initiative being taken by
>those with a free ride versus those without. There will be those whose source
>of motivation will not be materially based, much like those rich gents who
>kept trying to circle the globe in a balloon, but I know far more individuals
>who have inherited their wealth and are idle than are active and driven.
>Mike Lorrey

Although I salute procrastination (or will, when I get around to it), being an avid, proactive, some might say obsessive practitioner of that gentle art, I would think that you would get a more extreme effect from conservatism.

If you are a mere mortal, and you want to make it big, be rich and famous, and all that, then you can be motivated to do so, push hard, full ahead and damn the torpedoes, burn out rather than fade away.

But if you are not going to fade away... well, then those torpedoes are more of an issue. If you are going to live, say, 10,000 years (as are most of your contemporaries), and someone says "Hey, we finally invented nano-technology, whew, that was difficult", you might look at the pros and cons and say, "Hmm, the benefits are fabulous, but there is an outside chance that we might get eaten by grey goo sometime, and over ten thousand years that chance gets real big. Lets sweep that under the carpet, thanks very much, and have another cup of tea.

You would expect this behavior to increase, in fact, over the extent of all of our (fantastically long) life times, because the people who take risk will eventually luck out and cop it in a big way, while the idle rich & eternal meander along at an extremely civilised pace, pooh-poohing change and getting ever more stale and dull.

Inevitably, the decision is always going to be between "Do we do this now, or ruminate on it for a couple of hundred years, and have another talk about it after that".

Possibly the best thing one can do for immortals is to put immediate threats into their environment regularly, to shake them up a bit. But who's going to be brave enough, and where can they hide afterwards?

I'll stop before I talk myself out of living forever. Oh, and if you do live for ever and find out someone is stuffing things around for no discernable reason, IT'S NOT ME, OK? Long lives, long memories, ouch.