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

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 06:52:59 MDT

On Sat, Aug 04, 2001 at 07:03:58PM +0800, Chen Yixiong, Eric wrote:
> > 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).
> I do not know that this topic has such popularity on other transhuman
> lists, probably because I had not joined any other such list yet. Had any
> one provide a concrete proposal, or had worked on such a proposal?
Most times it has been mentioned here, it has been either Oceania-style
floating structures on international waters, or buying some discreet little
island somewhere. Most proposals are just of the kind "oh, it would be
neat" with very little practical details. I think you will find more
carefully thought out ideas in libertarian circles, including settling as a
tribe in Somalia and using the lax regulations of a certain Costa Rican (?)
province. At least the Somalia attempt is being implemented right now. Oh,
Sealand is another example, of course. It is operational, but not exactly
the most likely emigration target.

> > 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.
> I think this concept has very high importantance if we want to succeed.
>Granted, we have a lot of difficulty in the construction of such colonies.
>Granted we will have to find a lot of resources, money, planning and
>whatsoever. Yes, I know, we may even have excitingly dangerous things like
>border disputes and even wars.
> However, we may find it easier to move mountains than to move somewhat
>narrow-minded and perhaps not too intelligent people from one side of an
>opinion to another without cheating (meaning we cannot use psychological
>tactics to "brainwash" them).

Why do you think that everybody who is not of your opinion is narrow-minded
or unintelligent? OK, that was not what you meant, you probably just meant
the real luddites of whatever ideological color, but to succeed culturally
you don't have to convert them. Instead take a look at the normal people
around you, with opinions all over the place but by definition average
intelligence and education. Do you think it is extremely hard, nearly
impossible to convince them about what you believe? If you do, then you
don't have much confidence in your own ideas. These people are an enormous
power, and if they can be shown that what you propose is ethical and
practical, then you will have great support.

Moving physical mountains is just engineering and is indeed easily
solvable, especially given sufficient money. But setting up safe havens is
not just engineering, it is also a question about politics, law, economics
and in the end culture - just the things you think are exceedingly hard to
deal with. If you think bioconservatives are troublesome and narrow-minded,
just look at the politicians and international institutions you would have
to deal with if you tried to set up your own independent nation.

If you really think the powers of darkness are after you to the extent that
it makes eminent sense to flee to a suitably built-up guoyt in the Pacific,
why do you think they would not come after you? Remember that calls for
bans on cloning are not just calls for local bans, but global ones. And the
same would go for technologies with even greater ethical or physical
"explosive" potential. At this point one can start arguing about the
amounts of armaments necessary for a stand off against the rest of the
world, or some more clever political solution. And again you get dragged
into the swamp of politics, debate and making sure many others think that
your island is something great and worth supporting politically and
economically. So what you have really achieved is going a few thousand
kilometers and built a lot of (hopefully cool, at least) stuff in order to
acheive exactly the same thing you would need to do if you stayed in
whatever nation you live in and worked on making at least part of that
place progress-friendly.

A side note: this tendency to assume that everybody who doesn't agree with
us is either misinformed, stupid or narrowmindedly zealous is another thing
to look out for. We do it all the time. The greens do it all the time.
Clearly it is not entirely true, and the people who see through it and
manage to speak to the people who can indeed be made to change their minds
or at least see your point of view are going to be the memetic winners.

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:01 MDT