Re: TERRORISM: Is genocide the logical solution?

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Mon Sep 17 2001 - 13:21:24 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> It is based on two big mistakes, one logical, one ethical. The
> ethical is most serious: you assume that human lives can have
> negative value, and do an essentially utilitarian calculation not
> of happiness, but simply of utility towards a certain goal. Humans
> not promoting this goal are a vaste of resources and a potential
> threat, so eliminate them. Hmm, sounds an awful lot like Skynet
> and other evil Hollywood AIs. But why are you striving in the
> first place towards singularity? Clearly, it must be valuable in
> some way.

Though it is worse, and more difficult than this, Anders. Humans
actively fighting against this goal do have a negative value when their
actions cause the deaths of other humans.

For instance, you know a person is a serial murderer, and is likely to
kill again, but there is no way to bring them to a court of law, or to
convict them if you do manage to get them that far.

Is their death worth the risk to your own by taking responsibility for
killing them? Does their life not have a 'negative value'?

The problem is whether an entire people can be considered to be 'serial
murderers'. In my opinion, the whole luddite/anti-globalist movement is
a mass of serial mass murderers. I cannot, however, get them convicted
for the everyday deaths of people which have not happened yet.

There is also the problem that these murderers are mixed in with
millions and billions of completely innocent people who may or may not
sympathize to a greater or lesser degree with the overt claims and
rationalizations of the murderers, who do not even consider the lives of
people yet unconcieved to be worth defending at this point in time.

This is a significant problem, because humans are generally evolved to
be stasist creatures, who are now living in a dynamist world. Most are
not equipped to rationally consider future lives lost against the
actions of those in the present, yet we all have 20/20 hindsight. How
many of us would refuse to try to kill Hitler in the trenches of WWI?
Yet back in the day, hardly anybody saw him as anything but a quaint
madman of little danger to anybody, until it was far too late.

There were far more people who correctly foresaw the risks of communism,
yet still many more millions were killed off by it than by the scourge
of Naziism.

Yet if I were to go back and kill off Marx, Engels, and their followers,
I'd be seen as the serial killer that still others would theorize could
be killed by a time traveller to make the world a better place. This
dillema was written of by Orson Scott Card in his novel 'Pastwatch',
where future civilization with an ability to observe the past discovers
that their timeline was created by a time traveller (who killed off the
billions of his own timeline to do so) who convinced Christopher
Columbus to travel west to discover (and thus exterminate the Aztecs
with diseases) the new world, rather than to go on and start a new
Crusade to the middle east. In the original timeline, it was the Aztec's
cannibalistic culture that decimated european culture.

We have nowhere near the computing capacity to make anything like an
accurate guess about what are the correct actions to take in this new
era. We can see the past, but are powerless to change it once it occurs.
We are all powerful in determining the future, but are completely blind
in determining to the nth degree what the most proper course is to

All we can do is continue to rely on what we think is right and wrong,
while others act on what they consider to be right and wrong, and the
game will play out to its conclusion. All that matters is how well we
play the game by our own rules. Half-assedness is the only true crime.

> The core idea of transhumanism is human development, so that we
> can extend our potential immensely and become something new. This
> is based on the assumption that human life in whatever form it may
> be (including potential successor beings) is valuable and worth
> something in itself. It must not be destroyed, because that
> destroys what transhumanism strives to preserve and enhance. Even
> if some humans are not helpful in achieving transhumanity doesn't
> mean their existence is worthless, and if they are an active
> hindrance to your (or anybody elses) plans destroying their lives
> is always wrong as long as they do not initiate force against you.

But given a situation where you have to choose, immediately, between the
life of a luddite and the life of an extrope, what do you choose?

> This post is going to haunt us all - it is in the archives, it has
> been sent to hundreds of list participants. Be assured that in a
> few years, when the current uproar has settled down, somebody is
> going to drag it out and use it against extropianism in the media.
> "So, Max More, is it true that *not all* extropians support the
> plans for genocide you discussed on your internet list?" After
> all, I would be surprised if there are no representatives for the
> "luddites" on this list.

I think there are plenty of other posts that many of us would be
embarrassed about. I think that we do need to play out our thoughts,
support each other, and talk each other down to a semblance of sanity
again. I also think that history will likely be unable to distinguish
posts here from the frothing at the mouth that is occuring in far
greater vehemence elsewhere on the web. This is actually a rather tame
forum compared to many others.

> Frankly, I'm both scared and disgusted with much of the
> discussions on this list over the last week. While the emotional
> distress caused by the disaster is quite excusable, I don't think
> some of the behavior caused by it is excusable.

In this case, you have millions of people watching a disaster who are
entirely powerless to do anything about it as it occurs, and in the
aftermath. Those of us who can do something do as much as we can, but in
most cases it still is not enough. I don't think that it has sunken in
enough what a greivous act this is, but perhaps this is one more
indication of how desensitized much of society has become to violence.
The rational evolved human animal reaction to such an event is to be
baying for the blood of the perpetrators, engaging in the pursuit and
execution, and holding their hide up to the world.

I am frankly suprised that the reaction is as muted as it is. One might
therefore argue that video games make you less inclined to warmonger....

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