Re: Goo prophylaxis

Mark Grant (
Thu, 28 Aug 1997 12:26:16 +0100 (BST)

Hal Finney ( wrote:
>This wasn't my take on Nicholas' scenario.

Well, the message you're replying to sat on my laptop for a day or two
before I logged on to send it; I was replying to his original scenario of
a 'super-UN' controlling the entire world and ensuring that no-one was up
to anything naughty so that we'd be 'safe'.

>Everyone lives in VR, and
>nobody is allowed out into the physical world.

But that's still not safe. Any alien nanotech guru can come along and
trash the planet; hell, any passing alien joy-rider can smash up the VR
with a rock. So if the VR collective really wants to be safe it has to
send out probes to eliminate or absorb any other life it finds; it has to
control everything, or it's not safe. This is what I meant by the 'Borg';
the 'super-UN' or VR collective is an entity which must control the
entire universe to ensure its survival.

>So life would indeed have
>some limitations. But this is far from a Borg collective.

I'm not so sure. Certainly it wouldn't appear internally as a single
organism, but the uploads are still forced to run other people's
programming (i.e. agree to limit themselves in the name of safety) and
eliminate anyone who refuses to upload. Eventually the VR mechanism will
cover the entire universe (and is a single computer running a trillion
uploads one entity or a trillion?).

>In fact we have often supposed that people would voluntarily move into
>VR once it developed to the point where it was advantageous.

That's true, but I don't remember anyone else suggesting that we should
deliberately cut ourselves off from the outside world.

>Actually, Nicholas' scenario could be adjusted to allow people to "go
>native" and live out in the real world, as long as they were restricted
>from access to technology which could threaten the computers running the
>VR where everybody lives.

But how would the folks in the VR do that? In order to prevent the
natives from building anything which could threaten the VR, they would
have to have more robots to monitor the natives and control them. But
then who's going to prevent a maniac inside the VR from stealing one of
those robots and threatening the VR with it?

>A few die-hard realists living on a south seas
>island (who insist on walking on *real sand*, not the VR stuff that just
>*seems* real) wouldn't bother anyone.

But such a situation would be unsafe, and if we're so concerned about
safety that we'd cut ourselves off from contact with the external
reality, then we'd never allow that.