Re: Help! Leisure or Extro-Holocaust?

Keith Elis (
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 21:54:53 -0400

Sarah Marr wrote:
> At 05:53 14/09/97 -0400, Keith Elis wrote:
> >Sarah Marr wrote:
> >>
> >> At 15:01 13/09/97 -0400, Keith Elis (Hagbard Celine) wrote, replying to
> >> Holly Pearson:
> >>
> >> >The pace of change is not a problem to be solved. It is a fact of life
> >> >that human beings should synergize with.
> >>
> >> You cannot justify your statement about the nature of the pace of change
> >> simply by saying it a fact of life.
> >
> >Huh? I wasn't justifying anything.
> That's my point. The latter sentence appears to be readable as both a
> corollary and explanation of the former sentence. But, whether or not that
> is your intention, these statements lack justification, and that's not
> something that sits well on this list: people tend to like 'I think...' to
> be followed by 'because...'
> >> Cancer is a fact of life. Death is a
> >> fact of life. Bigotry is a fact of life. They are all problems and I
> >> believe they all need to be solved. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with
> >> you, just asking you for a cogent argument.
> >
> >If you don't disagree then you don't need any argument, cogent or not.
> I didn't say that I agreed or disagreed: I'm trying to decide whether or
> not I agree, and it would help me in doing that to know the reasoning
> behind your statement.
> >Anyway, sorry for being pedantic.
> Don't be, it is oftn the essence of good argument :)
> >The problems you cite are indeed problems. They are also facts of life.
> >The pace of change is not a problem, but it is a fact of life.
> >
> >I must be missing your point because if you don't disagree then what are
> >you doing?
> See above. You have not convinced me that the pace of change is not a problem.

Oh. I hadn't tried to do that.

My reason for concluding that the pace of change is not a problem is
that it will lead directly to a singularity (see Dan's or Eliezer's web
pages for arguments concerning this). If you believe the singularity is
a problem too, then you will probably be in favor of slowing the pace a
bit. Now whether a singularity is problematic is difficult to predict.
One thing is likely, and it is from this that I have decided to accept
the singularity as a subjective "good thing," the world will probably be
more extropic afterwards. For an example, one need only look at the
possible applications of nanotech. I'm not a scientist but massive
increases in computing power, super-high bandwidth data transfer,
possible augmentation of humans, possible AI sentience, etc., seem
possible. None of these post-singularity applications are guaranteed,
and most are damn scary to me. However, since I value extropy, I also
value complexity, intelligence, information, capacity for improvement,
etc. I think that a post-singularity world will find these have
increased dramatically.

> >> >I say speed them up so I can augment my inefficent physical form with
> >> >something more capable.
> >>
> >> It seems a little naive to assume that increases in the pace of change, or
> >> even continued change should allow you to do anything at all about your
> >> form. Will you be able to afford it? Will you have access to the
> >> technology? Will you even hear of the developments?
> >
> >Ancillary questions, don't you think?
> >
> >Whether I can opt for augmentation or not is irrelevant to the question
> >of whether augmentation is available, no? If the pace of change is
> >slowed, then I might not have even the option, never mind how much it
> >costs.
> No, not ancillary in the slightest. Indeed, since your standpoint is that
> such developments are inevitable, your access to them should be your
> _primary_ question.

Not if I'm dead before we get them.

You're putting a new (practical) spin on this. I thought the original
thread was concerning the pace of change in the marketplace and its
effect on people such as Holly Pearson. My point was, the pace of change
that is killing her, is also the pace of change that will save her.

So, it would be nice to slow things down (somehow -- government
regulation?) and give everyone breather. But as Dan Clemmenson points
out on his web page, that would deny the benefits of new technologies to
those who die in the interim.

> >> >You are insignificant. So am I.
> >>
> >> This is not a very Extropian attitude.
> >
> >I nearly became sarcastic. I wonder why you think so? Oh, wait, here's
> >the reason:
> >
> >> We may not be owed anything by
> >> anyone but that does not have the corollary of insignificance. And if we
> >> truly desire change, insignificant is one thing we cannot _afford_ to be,
> >> either as individuals or as a group.
> >
> >This doesn't tell me anything about whether we are insignificant or not.
> >Whether I can afford to be insignificant in the face of the universe is
> >not the question I was addressing. If I am significant, then express
> >that.
> I'm not trying to tell you whether or not you are significant now. What I
> am saying is that, if we are insignificant, we cannot afford to remain so,
> Your phrasing had rather fatalistic overtones, which conveyed a feeling
> that we are insignificant and that's that.

You are significant to your pets. You are significant in your home,
neighborhood, maybe town, possibly even in your country. In fact a
limited number of people are significant to the world. But in the long
history of your universe, you are insignificant. It's tough to swallow
sometimes. One thing is likely though, slowing the pace of change will
almost certainly not help you become more significant in this universe.
For the reasons I suggested above, it seems that slowing the pace is
less extropic than accelerating it. The more extropic you are, I tend to
think, the more significant you are to the universe.

> >> The tools for my survival are on their way.
> >>
> >> To people with money, and friends in high places, and influence, of whom
> >> you and I have probably never heard. Unless we do something to involve
> >> ourselves.
> >
> >The tools for *MY* survival are on their way. I didn't include anyone
> >but me.
> Are they? It would be in the spirit of the list if you told us what they
> were, how they operate and how you propose to obtain them.

You've been on this list longer than I have. Af for the first two
questions the ExI page goes into some aspects of intelligent technology.
As for how they would work, I haven't the faintest. Science is a hobby,
but I'm not the one who's going to build the first assembler.

As for how I propose to obtain them, my initial concern is that they
exist before I die. I can only do those things that are within my power
at this point. As a law student, I'm beginning to carve my
interdisciplinary academic niche within law and technology, with my
first project on the legal implications of nanotech. We must not impede
the pace of progress in these technological areas.

As for after they exist, who knows how any of us are going to get them.

> Actually,
> perhaps this is a sterling test for the disposition of Extropians. Is it
> every person for him/herself, or will we share our knowledge even in the
> face of potential competition?

Extropy is not a secret. I'd be willing to bet you won't be the one who
builds the first assembler either. You better hope someone shares their

> >> >No one has any better chance than any other. All your
> >> >money, all your resources may be rendered worthless at the Singularity.
> >>
> >> Hmmm. 'And He shall judge them one and all at the great Singularity, when
> >> all shall be equal.' Om.
> >
> >Well said.
> >
> >Notice my use of the construction "may be".
> >
> >Are you arguing with me, or just being clever?
> Well, I would hope both. Perhaps I missed the subtlety of 'may be'; it just
> seemed that your were undermining your own statements with a final, "In the
> end it doesn't matter what we do, because the singularity is going to 'get
> us all'."

I wasn't.

Boat Drinks,