Re: Can You Live Forever? Esquire article

J. R. Molloy (
Wed, 12 May 1999 10:31:08 -0700

From: Michael S. Lorrey <>
>I don't know if any virtual realities we create will be as 'real' as our
current one, and I am one who spends lots of time working on computers, however I also spend a lot of time in the wilderness, and prefer to live in the country where I can see deer in my yard in the morning. I spend much of my recreational time miles from the nearest computer, and far outside cell phone range. My cabin got running water only this past year (and its still not quite that functional), only has occasional electricity, when I want to cut the silence with the roar of my generator (I'm still shopping solar panels), and internal heat and lighting is propane. Even when I decide to transfer to an android body (which I see as not likely to be necessary given , I can imagine that I will still want to go camping, fishing, and hunting, while not being at all anti-tech.

Someone pointed out to me a long time ago the comparatively gentle and tolerant demeanor of hunters. He explained that hunters, having satisfied the Homo sapien need for utilitarian violence in the hunt, therefore do not carry predation into social action with regular folks. I find his view compelling, and years of observation bear it out. Likewise, athletic experts in the martial arts, having satisfied the urge for combative contact in a socially acceptable way, display the least propensity for conflict, i.e., they don't seem to have a confrontative bone in their bodies. The wisdom of acknowledging our biological roots (and the drives that come from them) provides the best platform for extending our understanding of the universe, IMNSHO.

>Yes, the stats showing the relationship between standard of living vs.
pollution per capita show that its a bell curve relationship, with the peak at around $10,000.00 per capita. Since there are no civilizations on the planet with more than around $20,000 per capita, we don't know if the curve continues to decrease toward zero, flattens out, or shifts into a new bell curve reflecting a new phase of technological civilization that would be reflected by a shift like the singularity. I would expect that humans in a transhuman/posthuman state, like we see the hi-techers in Vinge's Marooned in Realtime, would have sufficient tech to make a minimum impact upon the environment, if such were a priority for a person seeking to live a more feral existence but with the comforts of high tech.

Don't forget that most of the world seeks to rise to the level of $10,000.00 per capita populations. To do so, they'll have to deplete five times more resources than developed nations have already done.

>> Yes, I'm Homo Proteus. But that doesn't imply that I turn my back on
>> the biosphere - quite the opposite. I want not just to preserve it,
>> but to extend it to new worlds.
>Yes, but thats more of a Homo Progenitor or Homo Panspermia

Wilson's "shapechanger man" could of course become Homo progenitor and Homo panspermia as well as Homo extropeus.

>Depends on what you consider to be the box. I like being human, so much so
that I want to be more human, even a perfect >human as I see perfection to be. I do plan on augmenting my brain for greater intelligence, knowledge retention and for >communicating better, faster, more; achieving immortality, correcting the genetic flaws I've inherited. Technology is meant >to serve the human, not the other way around. THAT, IMHO is the essential flaw of the borganist's argument, just as the >essential flaw of the socialist is to assume that the purpose of the individual is to serve the community.

I'll drink to that! I think you've nailed the essential difficulty here... and the dangerous part of the hypertechnocratic experiment. To the extent Homo sapiens serves technology, rather than the reverse, we risk unleashing a Frankensteinian superorganism. Not that it would have diabolical superintelligence. No, it would not need that to wreck global havoc. Look what the superorganism called Nazism did... and without the kind of technology you mention. (Wilson, the biologist, also classifies religions as superorganisms.)


>Its also to recognize that technology is economically systematized. A
technology that is optimally more cost effective than other tech today may no longer be so tomorrow, while that which is not worthwhile today can be the next big thing tomorrow. Bringing a holy war of technological correctness to science and technology is counterproductive. Centralized, standardized science and technological development is as stupid as central state control of an economy.

Yes, "as stupid" and probably a lot more dangerous. Real science continues to rely on peer review, critical analysis, and the occasional reality check or wake up call. Wilson notes that scientists use imagination to create science, and level-headed reason to test it, to verify it, and to make it into knowledge.

>If preserving the entire ecology right now means expending resources that
will be required to bootstrap civlization into the >next level on simple ecology preservation and restoration, I say store the DNA and start strip mining, it can be rebuilt later. >Failure to go for infinity now will condemn future generations to a slow descent into hell on earth. Those who are the most >virulent tree huggers, and claim to know the most about ecology always seem to me to blithly ignore that the Earth ecology >has rebounded from far worse cataclysms in the past than humanity will ever direct upon it. Life is resilient, and evolution >is a constantly changing phenomenon. I find the idea of preserving species that exist now at all cost to be totally anathema >to the idea of evolution. Survival of the fittest is the rule, nature has no sentiments.

Let's not allow our emotions to subvert our science. I don't have much use for "tree huggers" either (virulent or otherwise). Rhetoric in the pursuit of extremism does not constitute a virtue. We have only one Earth. No one owns the whole thing, and no one has the right to deplete it for whatever ideology they favor. It doesn't make sense to kill the canary that might warn of danger in the mine. (The dead canary's DNA can't serve the same purpose.)

>Yes, in this area of New England, which less than 100 years ago was an
ecological wasteland, the ecology has rebounded nicely with nothing more from man than to just get out of the way and let it happen. The moose, salmon, mountain lion, and wolves are back, and the deer, bear, and coyote populations are higher than before white man came. We are hunting the moose again (have been for over a decade now) to manage the herd, and restrictions on keeping salmon that are caught are supposed to be lifted in a few years.

Excellent start. Now we just need to do the same for South America, Africa, and Asia.

>Pictures from my great grandfathers day show rivers that were clogged with
huge jams of thousands of logs being ferried downstream, scouring up the riverbeds and killing the fish with the tannic acid leaching from the bark. 90% of the land in NH was cleared and farmed with sheep to feed the mills their wool. In 1910 there were less than a dozen moose in the state, now there are over 15,000.

Good news. Great to see conservation taking hold.

>> Hmm, maybe this is the key to our whole quarrel: you see the posthuman
>> as a mechanical creature, while I regard him as a biological (if
>> inorganic) creature.
>Yes, it is a rather racist and intolerant view of humanity.

"racist"? What a stretch! You've gone silly on me.


--J. R.
CEE CEE Rider:
Conservative Existential Empiricist
Consilient Extropian Environmentalist
(with a pancritical rationalist predilection)