Re: Domination and First World Survival from Third World (Nuclear) Threats

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Sep 29 2001 - 15:12:37 MDT

On Sat, Sep 29, 2001 at 02:20:41PM -0500, William John wrote:
> I think that the survival of the First World and Western Civilization is
> definitely at stake. If transhumans are ever to make it to posthumans,
> it can only happen in an educated, sophisticated, technologically
> literate, capitalist democratic society as found in US, Europe, and Japan -
> essentially the industrialized First World. The undeveloped Third World
> such as Afghanistan, much of South America, most of Africa and some of
> Asia will, it seems, never make it. Some countries like India and Pacific
> islands like Taiwan and Singapore may be able to upgrade their countries
> from Third World to First World, otherwise, the rest may need to go
> extinct like the dinosaurs.

And what do you base this on? Sure, we all agree that the basic
transhumanist vision requires wealthy, open societies that tolerate even
wild experimentation. But your pessimistic description of the rest of
the world sounds very much like you have just taken the common
pessimistic assumptions about "this is how the world is" and run with
it. Around *three billion* people live in nations that are for all
practical purposes making the transition from third world nations to
first world nations. Sure, not evenly and definitely far too slowly. But
the impact of that, together with accelerating spread of technology and
globalisation, will definitely make the world in just 10-20 years
extremely different. Unless you belive in a hard takeoff singularity
soon, much will happen over the years. To just give up on some region
and say "they are too backwards to matter" is a stupid idea - Japan was
once in that category too. Not to mention the US.

> Actively exterminating terrorists is essential if First World transhumans
> are
> ever to make it to the 22nd century. The Pentagon's Strategic Defense
> Initiative (SDI) or "Star Wars" program is really intended to fend off
> nuclear blackmail from the Third World. Such nuclear blackmail would
> take the form of "give us your money, food, medicine, etc. for free or
> we will nuke New York City" SDI would simply counter their missiles
> and kill them. The Third World must "die" by upgrading to First World
> status by going for capitalism and foreign investment like India appears to
> be doing or die by the intertribal/civil war combined with the infection and
> starvation that comes with unrestricted overpopulation. - William.

Well, I think this list could come up with around a hundred ways of
wiping out NYC in ways that SDI could never fix within a week (some have
already been posted). Terrorism is going to be a serious problem. But
I'm not sure it is going to be *the* problem in going from human to

While I agree with your idea that it is in our best interest to help the
third world become first, I think you phrase things in a worrying way.
If you express it as if it has to "die" in order to guarantee our
safety, especially when you also mix in talk about actively
exterminating terrorists, it starts to sound far too much like Robert's
proactive genocide post. It might not be the intention, but it is a
rather slippery memetic attractor when you start thinking that a certain
group of people are 1) dangerous, 2) useless and 3) going to grow into a
huge problem and 4) when you are using mental concepts related to

So, let's turn around the thinking: how can we help the third world get
first world in the best possible way? And how can we circumvent the
forces that are against this? Among later you find not just
funadmentalists, but also plenty of intellectuals and activists decrying
globalisation, nationalists seeing threats to their powerbases and
companies that prefer bilateral treaties rather than multilateral
treaties since they can avoid competition that way.

Helping the third world to become the first world is enlightened
self-interest. It is not just the issue of us not wanting to get messy
stuff like terrorism, refugees, wars and epidemics in our back yards. It
is also about gaining valuable trading partners, billions of more minds
to solve the hard problems, speeding past the worrying environmental
impact bump you get during industrialisation and gaining access to the
cultural treasures of other cultures, other ways of thinking. Because
such a shift would change western culture too - the Japanese elements
leaking into it right now are just a trickle compared to what will
happen. Creolisation is a good thing.

But in order to get to this win-win situation we better stop thinking of
the third world as a hopeless basket case we, the enlightened white man,
has to save from itself. There is plenty of promising trends out there,
but you have to look for them and get to learn the real complexity of
the situation.

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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