Re: [isml] Re: Scientists outflanked and outgunned in cloning debate(fwd)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 02:20:52 MDT

On Sat, Aug 04, 2001 at 10:45:19AM +1000, Russell Blackford wrote:
> >Beware extropians, they will come for the AIs, and then the transhumans
> >next. Anything smacking of technology and the "artificial", especially of
> >things once "natural", will surely catch their attention.
> Absolutely true.

Remember Ronald Bailey's article about how the anti-technology movement
is starting to think about how to stop nanotechnology? On the other
hand, Eric Drexler told an amusing anecdote at Extro 3 about how he had
run into one of the founders of EarthFirst! and got him *optimistic*
about nanotechnology as an environmental solution (let's hope there is
no causal relationship between these two events).

> However, it's not just cloning. We've already entered the "singularity
> shadow", folks, the time when the prospect of transhuman technologies - the
> shadow of the looming Spike ahead - causes intellectual ferment and
> political opposition. We've got to play our part in this ferment. At the
> moment, we're being overwhelmed by various kinds of neo-Luddite memes.
> I can't think of much to do at the moment except, from a personal viewpoint,
> become as embroiled in the issues as I can in the public debate, using
> resources such as this list to help me, and to encourage others to do
> likewise (and offer my help!). Oh, and try to be/sound *very* reasonable.
> Some of the anti-tech arguments will not simply be theocratic bullshit and
> will make sense. We need to deal with this patiently.

Exactly. This cannot be repeated often enough. We need good arguments
and presentations, and right now we seriously run the risk that our
collective efforts are ruined by individual pro-transhumanist but media
illiterate people, or even worse pro-transhumanists with bad arguments.

One thing that might be helpful is having organisations enabling
concerted campaigns, lecturing services and media training. Another
thing that we also need is a deeper ideological debate, making us better
at arguing from our first principles and far more consistent.

One problem I have noted on this (and other transhumanist) lists is that
whenever serious issues in current society comes up, someone pipes in a
suggestion like "lets all move to a remote island and set up a
libertarian state" (or utopian socialist state or something similar).
This is a kind of safety valve - suddenly the debate got too close to
home and reality for comfort, so one can save onself by indulging in a
fantasy. Which unfortunately tends to distract the real debate by
getting into all the devilish details of sea construction, libertarian
constitutions and which island has the nicest climate. Another version
of this reaction is to get trapped into conspiracy theories about how
the Powers That Be try to suppress us (unfortunately we do it much
better ourselves ;-) instead of getting into a real political or
cultural analysis. We need to get over this kind of distraction.

Well, if all else fails, read up on
and start implementing the Concordat. But if we would have to do that,
then we have already failed memetically. I think we can do far better
in the real world.

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

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