Re: Goo prophylaxis (was: Hanson antiproliferation method?)

den Otter (
Tue, 26 Aug 1997 19:29:46 +0200

Nicholas Bostrom <> wrote:

> Safe Libertarian Future:
> The scenario assumes that many humans value freedom and independent
> personal existence higher than anything else. When nanotechnology
> approaches, they realise that if freedom is allowed in a world with
> strong nanotech, then some mad person will certainly design the
> doomsday virus. So they realise they have to give up on freedom. But
> then some bright person comes up with the idea that all people upload
> and that only a robot is left with the ability to operate in the real
> world. The whole system is hardwired so that the robot only executes
> instructions that have been agreed upon by the majority of the
> uploads. In their virtual reality, the uploads can do anything they
> want: each one has unlimited individual freedom. The only thing they
> can't do in the virtual reality is to mass murder a lot of other
> uploads (the virtual physics doesn't allow destructive nanomachines
> to be built, for example). The uploads cannot influence the external
> world either, except when a majority decision can be made. But for
> many decisions, this should be feasible: e.g. colonising the galaxy
> to provide more Lebensraum etc. One can even imagine refinements of
> this scheme such that each individual would have his own robot that
> he could to what he liked with; though this presupposes that the
> robots could be built in such a way that nobody could use their robot
> to do anything that would endanger the computer on which they all
> existed.
> This is the only way I can think of that a very nearly
> completely libertarian society, without any guardian or international
> government, can exist long after the arrival of strong nanotech.

There will always be (plenty) of people who'll refuse to get uploaded
into some virtual reality asylum, what about them? Would they be
forced to upload (upload or die!)? After all, if these people had the
same level of technology they could be a serious threat to the virtual
libs. The same goes for "alien" entities. IMHO a democratic system
like the one above is almost by definition a severe handicap in case
of a conflict with "free" outsiders, because while the democrates are
busy debating and voting, the enemy has already launched his proton
torpedoes or whatever.

What would happen if someone trashed the robot (the only outside link),
would the VRs be trapped in their "dreamworld" forever?

Anyway, I think the only way you can stay reasonably free *and* safe is
when everybody (possibly in small like-minded groups) leaves earth and goes
in different directions. A 1.000.000 lightyears or so seem (with the
current laws of physics) like a pretty safe barrier. Maybe by the
time we run out of "space" (if this is possible at all), we'll also be
enough to avoid an all-out conflict (Universal War 1).