Re: The endgame is near -- my comments

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 19:42:47 MDT

On 9/19/01 12:58 AM, "Samantha Atkins" <> wrote:
> You make some good points except for one thing. We are not just *extropians*.
> We are also people who are justifiably upset, concerned and intent on making
> some sense out of what is happening. In the process we will, among other
> things, play amateur analyst and amateur general and amateur diplomat
> attempting to make sense of it all. This is not a total waste.

I understand this, but a lot of times I think it is taken too far; I should
have been more specific to the list.

The extropians list has value, but I think the nature of the value has
changed with time. Much of the value I get out of the extropians list is
the deeply intellectual stuff, and I found the list to be very valuable when
I first joined it. I could be beating a dead horse or have completely lost
perspective, but it seems that many posters these days are on the list
largely for the social value. This wouldn't be a problem except that many
people don't engage in due rigor when they talk in a social mode, which
ruins the intellectual quality and causes flame wars.

Every now and then, someone asks about all the extropians list old-timers
that have disappeared, to which there is typically the "they are doing great
things instead of talking about them" response. I wish that were true. I
know many of those long lost individuals personally and see them regularly,
and I see an even broader range of them on an infrequent basis. Most of
them are plodding along doing the same things they were when they were on
the list (some of whom *are* doing interesting things). But many of them
feel that the list doesn't offer much value any more, at least not at the
current S/N, so many interesting discussions get taken offline or in other

> What, you expect us all to be in super-genius mode in every aspect of our
> communications even in areas we are not specialists in but that have just
> intruded big-time into our lives? Who the heck are you to put down people
> for this?

I am not critiquing what individuals do so much as what individuals do on
the list. Maybe I am just being curmudgeonly. My memory suggests that in
years past, people were a lot more thoughtful and showed considerably more
constraint in their posting than they do today.

> Please explain to me how I can reach my goals if the internet is turned into
> high security no-hacker land, open source software is all but outlawed, the
> very computer hardware enforces the most brain-dead of IP laws, the government
> sees everything I write, say and do 24x7 and other nasty possible reactions
> to 9/11. Some of what is likely in the near and long-term as fallout can
> have a very large effect on my work and on the work of most of us here.

And what, exactly, does this have to do with how many Taliban warriors can
dance on the head of an American pin? The problem is that a lot of people
on the list are throwing a lot of unrelated issues into one pile and trying
to come up with one solution. Internet censorship has nothing to do with
Islamic terrorism, even though some people package it that way. Correlation
versus causation and all that. Taking on stupid IP laws and censorship
proposals didn't require fighting terrorism before, and it doesn't require
it now either.

I don't have a problem addressing serious problems head on, but haphazardly
addressing a tornado of issues at a very coarse level seems futile.

> Explain how we can turn our backs effectively on the world and work to
> create our "philosopher's stone" be it AI, SI, MNT or whatever and expect
> to actually be able to have any result be a real improvement in that real
> world we have studiously ignored?

I never said to ignore the world, but spending all your time thinking about
alternatives to problems/solutions that are either beyond your control or
which don't affect you in any significant way won't accomplish much either.
Just because a terrorist incident is bringing out a laundry list of stupid
proposals does not mean that you have to fight terrorism or even everything
on the laundry list. Resources are not infinite and people have to choose
their battles.

> I have asked this before here and not received a very satisfactory
> answer. Exactly why do we believe that our goals, our endgame, is the
> one that should and must win and that we must make sure it does regardless
> of what the people at large want or even know about? In a way we are trying
> to sneak in our "final solution" as a fait accompli. On the one hand it looks
> beautiful and obvious. On the other, most of us admit that we have no idea
> whether it will mean we all "win" or whether we all simply become obsolete
> and are wiped out of existence. Yet we should be gung-ho to produce this
> whatever-it-is and whatever-it-does-to-us. Well, life is not something
> that begins only after the Singularity.

You bring up valid questions and points here. Any answer to your question
would sound preachy, most likely. I don't have an answer to that myself.

My continued survival is my first and foremost goal. If I'm dead, nothing
else really matters -- game over. Therefore, the problem for me boils down
to balancing out threat probabilities as a function of time. Any immediate,
high-probability, short time span threat should be neutralized or minimized,
but not necessarily at the expense of even higher probability threats that
operate over longer time spans. Life is a game of constantly balancing
these things. If I spend too much time trying to squeeze out tiny
short-term threat possibilities, I'll die a death of long-term causes while
I'm not paying attention. Therefore, I spend just enough resources on the
immediate threats so that I can get on with solving the long-term, extremely
high probability threats to my existence, such as aging. Go ahead and knock
down some of the minor threats that are here right now, but don't just
ignore the Big One looming on the horizon.

As I see it, to solve the problem of the survival you have to solve most of
the other cool problems out there anyway; it gives me quite a bit to do.


-James Rogers

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