Re: Goo prophylaxis:consensus

Eric Watt Forste (
Wed, 03 Sep 1997 12:50:02 -0700

Hal Finney writes:
> In particular, the doctrine of comparative advantage doesn't seem
> relevant. You aren't going to lose access to the resources
> represented by the competition; rather, you are going to subsume
> those resources and gain greater control over them.

Mind control of one individual by another hasn't yet been perfected,
and there is no guarantee that nanotech is the only missing piece
of this particular puzzle. Conquerors lose access to the resources
represented by the *minds* of the competition; in the old days,
minds were not as attractive as lands, but in modern information-economy
circumstances, I think the economic tradeoffs stack up a little
differently, and the theory of comparative advantage is quite

> However in the context of a nanotech takeover, the balance would
> be different. Nanotech slavery can be perfectly effective. In
> fact, it would be more useful to think of the conquered resources
> as now being an extension of the will of the conquerer, rather than
> slaves. In fact the destruction may have involved gray-goo meltdown
> or nuclear fire, in which case the intelligences in the conquered
> region are built from scratch.

I don't think we know yet whether or not nanotech slavery can be
perfectly effective. And I don't think we know yet whether or not
intelligences can be built from scratch. It seems entirely possible
to me (I don't know how likely) that all future intelligences are
going to be heavily modified diachronic successors of uploaded
human beings (or uploaded and uplifted animals). I'm not saying
the ab initio hard-AI crowd can't succeed, I'm just pointing out
that they haven't put all their cards down on the table yet.
It might turn out to be a dud hand.

> The only real objection I can see to this is that the takeover
> process will involve some destruction. This could mean the permanent
> loss of useful information, and it could also delay the time when
> the new resources can be fully exploited. The alternative of
> mutually beneficial trade could allow faster conversion to nanotech
> (since there is no time wasted in warfare) and would retain more
> information.

This is a significant objection, since Bostrom phrased his point
4 as a cost-benefit balance. Especially in the circumstances in
which we find ourselves, in which the only present significant
threat to our species is inadvertent self-suicide. Mutually
beneficial trade might speed up the advent of the Diaspora,
which I personally care about a great deal more than the
Singularity. War might prevent the Diaspora from ever
happening. So the cost-benefit analyses look pretty
straightforward to me, and they don't favor war.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd