Re: religious singularity?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Sep 29 2001 - 14:12:18 MDT

On Sat, Sep 29, 2001 at 03:43:54PM -0400, Michael Wiik wrote:
> Remember the scene in _Illuminatus!_ where the new recruits are given
> (via timed drugs) a look into paradise? (The ones who think it's real
> are admitted into the order of assassins. The ones who suspect the truth
> are admitted into the illuminati.)
> You wanna singularity? How 'bout this: make paradise. paradise as a
> virtual reality construct into which your mind is uploaded at the moment
> of death. have a religion where many basic human desires are forbidden
> or restricted but are sinless and plentiful in cyberparadise. forbid the
> use of cyberparadise among the living, you must die in the physical
> world in the cause of the faith for admittance. restrict other
> technologies till the cyberparadise is ready. keep your people
> downtrodden. then give them a glimse. it's the afterlife, and it's 100%
> real. maybe it's not a singularity, but it sounds like a force that
> could sweep the universe.

Hi Muad'Dib! ;-)

Actually, I think this scheme is unlikely to work unless you really
start messing with the motivational systems of people. I think it is
extremely hard to provide a pleasure that can beat imagination, so
showing people paradise might actually put them off. "Sure, the houris
are wonderful and I love the wine, but it is not *quite* as lovely as I
had thought..." - you can likely control people better by giving them
wague glimpses they can fill in with their longing instead. In fact, I
doubt it is useful to even have that cyberparadise, because you don't
want to have nearly-content departed ones writing home...

As for religious singularities, I think the invention of monotheism was
one of them. That was a great invention, since it sharpened the memetics
of religion quite a bit. Before, you had to convince others that your
favorite god was really great and that they had to worship him *too*.
Now you could instead convince them that there was only *your* god, and
all other gods were wrong - a bit harder at first, but once a person is
converted he is firmly converted and less likely to defect. Add the
socioeconomics of monotheism, and you have a recipe for singularity.

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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