RE: The World in 2050: an essay

From: Bostrom,N (
Date: Mon Aug 14 2000 - 14:52:07 MDT

Hal wrote:

                I liked Nick's essay. It was particularly refreshing that
he avoided
                most of the references to the 1990s and the year 2000,
trying to really
                present a dialog that might have occured in 2050.

Thanks. One has to compromize in places and have the panellists explicitly
describe things that by 2050 one could probably refer to directly using some
new jargon. In the final version (just uploaded) I changed the dialogue a
bit so that Emily comes across more consistently as the conservative.

                I'm not a big fan of transparency, so I wasn't thrilled with
                reliance on that social convention as the explanation of why
the world
                hadn't destroyed itself.

It's more than a mere convention: it's an actual global surveillance network
with the major players willing to enforce the anti-proliferation laws.

                Transparency raises many difficult issues, as
                we have discussed here before. While Nick's essay was not
the place to
                defend it, I was uncomfortable seeing his panelists give an
                to a technology which I feel brings serious problems.

Tell me technology-solution to the goo-problem that is without potential
serious complications! I used this postulate because I thought it gave the
most convenient scenario of the world in 2050 which was both reasonably
realistic and would allow me to discuss a wide range of transhumanist ideas
(nanotech, goo, superintelligence, VR, cryonics, life-extension, Idea
futures etc).

                It was amusing to see the panelists consider the possibility
that the
                universe has multiple branches and that humanity has wiped
itself out in
                most of them.

Actually, Neil (the philosopher on the panel) is referring to possible
extraterrestrial civilizations in our own (classical) universe.

It seems to me that since their personal experiences of
                the world have apparently not been harmed by the
hypothetical deletion
                of their cousins in other branches, they might well adopt
the view that
                there is no reason for caution with regard to new
technologies. As long
                as some branch survives with them in it then they will be as
                with life as they are at present, since they have already
                a similar pruning.

Even in the many-worlds picture (which was not referred to in the essay),
this ("quantum suicide" idea) would not be correct. My view is that desire
for survival would simply have to be reinterpreted as desire to survive on
many branches with a high measure. All activities would then proceed as
usual. And I am confident that virtually everybody would act in accordance
with this reinterpretation.

Nick Bostrom

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