Re: Goals

Anders Sandberg (
17 May 1999 20:19:16 +0200

jonwill <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > jonwill <> writes:
> >
> > > While no two humans are exactly the same, we are all of one race,
> > > the human race, and we all share the experience of life in an
> > > essentially identical carbon based life form structure. We all work
> > > for continuing survival while in this structure, and hope for a
> > > happy, safe, and good life for ourselves and loved ones. Therefore,
> > > everyone has a common desire for the best life attainable. Since
> > > visions of the best life attainable are as numerous as the number of
> > > people, the only universally acceptable definition would be, "the
> > > ability of each person to live as they desire". Humans could
> > > voluntarily coordinate their efforts to obtain that ability.
> >
> > The problem here is that "the best life attainable" is something
> > people disagree on, both due to different views on what it is
> What person does not want the ability to live as they desire?

The issue isn't that people want to live as they desire, it is that their desires are not always compatible and sometimes mutually exclusive. The desires of an ultra-green person who wants an Earth free from humans is not compatible with the desires of the catholic priest who thinks "multiply and fruitful" is a direct order from God.

> > and how it can be achieved.
> With a state of being that fulfills both sides of human duality (every human
> consists of both a tangible physical existence and an intangible mental
> existence).
> Through some combination of machines, robots, computers, and/or other
> technologies, humanity will have the ability to provide for all tangible
> physical needs and desires.

And what about the people who seriously think this would be *bad*? There are memes around that suggests hardships are good for you, and that introduction of better material support will have spiritual bad effects. I think and you seem to think they are utterly wrong, but some people do hold this view.

> Nanotechnology is one such promising technology.
> Molecular assemblers, microscopic machines, would build molecules by putting
> atoms together. Just give this machine any type of matter, such as water, and it
> can rearrange the atoms to make anything else, such as an apple, or gold.

Beware Nano Claus! Nanotechnology is certainly interesting and has the potential (if it can be built) to change the world. But it is not magic, it has limitations and practical constraints that will become important.

> These nanomachines can even make copies of themselves, so that once
>one is built, Humanity can have all the nanomachines it wants. Every
>home could have a machine, consisting of a very large quantity of
>these microscopic nanomachines, to provide for all material needs. For
>example, if you want a glass of orange juice simply tell the machine
>and it can use water from a water line connection to make a glass
>filled with orange juice.

Ok. But how do you tell it what orange juice is? Just because it could physically build something doesn't mean it can do it. Somebody has to write the program for orange juice - and that will likely cost you something.

Then there is the issue of matter. Nanotech won't transmute elements, and if you rely on tap water to get the atoms for your orange juice you will have to wait for a long while until breakfast is ready (unless your tap water is some kind of sewage). You will need a source of material, and to get efficiency in the system it has to be well defined and preprocessed. And to do the extraction of atoms, molecular construction and information processing you will need energy - a significant amount of energy, which will have to come from somewhere.

The problem here is that you assume that just because you have the tools that could do something, it will be easy and efficient to do. AI, robots, cell-repair, easy-to-use and safe nanocompilers, orange juice - all that takes plenty of intelligence and skill to design, test and market, as well as matter and energy. A nanotech economy would be very different from the current economy (and a lot of stuff like caviar might very well exist in a public domain form), but it wouldn't be a place where fried sparrows jumped into your mouth. A steak might be cheap, but having the steak cooked by a real chef in a nice restaurant with ambience will not be for free.

> Through some method or combination of methods, Humanity will have
> the ability to provide for all intangible mental needs and desires.

How do we know this?

> Humanity will develop methods to control and regulate feelings and
>emotions, increase intelligence, and eliminate mental illness. People
>will have a mental heaven through mind-shaping.

I agree with you about these things. But it won't mean that every intangible need will be satisfied. New needs will appear, and some people might opt out of these enhancement, for example due to religious reasons ("God wanted us to feel miserable!").

> > This is part of it. Knowledge gives us the base to act from, but we
> > need to be able to interface our various views well too. Knowledge can
> > help here too, but in the end I think we will find some irreducible
> > differences in value.
> Why do people with different values have to interface? Instead of standard
> rules for all places, humans could establish different rules for different
> places so that each person can be in the type of place where there are rules of
> conduct and behavior that suits their preference. The amount of technology one
> wants in their life is purely a personal choice, and there should be technology
> free zones for those who do not want technology in their lives. With the right
> knowledge we can find ways for each person to live as they desire.

Exactly my view. The trouble is, Ludwig the Luddite thinks *nobody* should have advanced technology, and Sophie Socialist thinks she and her friends are the only moral group to distribute the property among the masses. Many people even think that everybody should follow the same ethics. It is the ideologies and views that think they have to be all encompassing that are the problem.

Still, I think it is possible to achieve a stable meta-society that enables different views to co-exist reasonably well. That is an important goal of transhumanism.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y