Re: The Spike

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 01:38:12 -0500

Damien Broderick wrote:

> Eliezer (and thanks for the nice comments, Eli, glimpsed through the
> thorns) was worried by my stylistic method:

> >Broderick doesn't harp on hubris the way Ed
> >Regis does, but his occasional courtesies to his predecessor still get on the
> >nerves. It's even worse because I know perfectly well that Broderick isn't
> >shocked by any of this; he's been on this list long enough to lose it.
> >Delight in the new, or occasional horror, yes. But shock? You can't make me
> >believe it. Broderick isn't a technophobe, and I'd wish he'd stop trying to
> >pretend he was.

> I'm charmed by the idea that I might now have been reading extropian and
> transhumanist posts long enough to have settled down out of my instinctive
> terror of, like, you know, *really scary futuristic ideas*. I suppose I
> need to point out, for the record, that I've been making my living writing
> about extreme technologies since... well, since Eliezer was minus 17 years
> old.

For the record, I didn't know that... and didn't have to. I did know that
you'd been writing articulate and non-shocked posts for the few months I'd
been here. Ergo, you either lost the instinctive terror/technophobia or were
perfectly capable of keeping it out of writing... far more likely the former,
given the Laws governing novelty, focus of attention, and emotional reaction.
Anyway, as I said and you admit, you indeed faked the shock:

> That biographical detail aside, it's true that I've chosen in this
> non-specialist book to adopt something of Ed Regis's faux-shocked tone in
> easing into some of these topics. It's my experience that while this can
> grate on us old troupers/troopers, it's just what the doctor ordered for
> the many readers (the thousands and millions of them out there) who start
> off wanting to know... what kinds of fashions we'll be wearing in 2050.

<shrug>. Bear in mind that from my perspective, we all occupy a point on that
continuum. Wanting to know what kinds of bodies we'll be wearing in 2050 -
how we'll eat, how we'll amuse ourselves, how we'll communicate, whether we'll
be exploring the galaxy... from my perspective, there's not much of a
difference between that and asking about fashion styles.

You don't care about fashion styles because you've been steeped in science
fiction so long that you've caught a glimpse of far stranger things to come.
And I... who've been involuntarily caught up in the Singularity's shadow as
far back as I can remember... what bodies we'll be wearing? I can't make
myself care. You may have been "making a living writing about extreme
technologies", but I've been writing about living it. By any reasonable
standards, I am a character in a science fiction novel.

In a few years, with luck, most of what I said will be a commonplace of
science fiction, and my "Staring Into The Singularity" will seem quaint and
conservative. That's what happened to "True Names", after all. Everything
that gets written about the future seems quaint and conservative eventually.
Is my page going to be the sole exception, the one document that really *was*
Too Far Out?

What can I say? I've lost my suspension of disbelief in this mortal Universe.