Re: Transhuman List Blatant Commentary

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 12:33:36 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 wrote:

> Not to mention that some of us joined the list when it had an explicit
> anarcho-capitalist bias and consider the recent changes a wimp-out.

I don't consider it a "wimp-out" to want to find the *most* effective strategy for getting nanotech, surviving the singularity, promoting the increase in diversity necessary to avoid "clone wars" and *balance* the desire for freedom with the risks and benefits of very open societies.

> I'm trying to work out whether I'm
> still an extropian under the new definitions.

Instead of considering extropians a point in space, it may be preferable to consider them a multi-dimensional amoeba. Our collective group mind may never be able to agree what we are, just as our single minds may wake up different mornings and think that an idea we thought of yesterday is less attractive today. We explore and select.

I think the fundamental problem we may be wrestling with is that we are seeing the "stretch" caused by the singularity. "Capitalism" has a basis in the optimal distribution of [relatively] scare resources. How does it work when we enter a period of abundance unknown to us before? Anarchism & freedom are noble ideas from many perspectives, but not if they allow grey goo to consume the game board.

As was discussed in the left/right, etc. thread previous concepts simply *do not work* in the context we are approaching.

> I [] wrote:
> >After all, the libertarians have no
> >way of knowing whether or not Joao would be the one
> >to produce the breakthrough that would significantly
> >extend their lives.
> This would seem to imply that Extropians would accept any kind of
> behaviour, if it might produce the breakthrough which would
> significantly extend human lifespan.

No, I suspect extropians would stop at behavior that experimented in dangerous ways on a human (even if could save 10) because it would be irresponsible. On the other hand an extropian could accept this, if there were a huge measure of "informed consent" on the part of the person. Our boundaries are outside of the traditional boxes.

> Is extended lifespan the new highest Extropian ideal, or is there
> some other limit on what behaviour you regard as acceptable and
> non-acceptable?

No, it happened to fit the circumstances. I think that generally an extropian ideal would be to accept the widest possible range of behaviors, but you have to look at them carefully to see whether or not they cause more harm than good. If you are a very large (and not so smart) amoeba, your left pseudopod may not know what your right pseudopod is doing. One may encounter the other and, knowing not that they are part of the same organism, the right may begin to consume the left. The organism suffers a net energy loss in that process.

> If we're supposed to accept taxation and opressive government
> just because it might lead to anti-aging breakthroughs, then
> I'm certainly not an extropian any more.
Come on. I didn't say that. I think what I did say (in my letter to Gore) that if he was not going to support a pro-rational approch (another extropian principle), then school vouchers would seem to be the way to go. Ideally, what our discussion should be about is *how* do we effectively go from the current system (which the libertarian anarcho-capitalist whatevers probably object to) to better systems [home education, computer education, open peer review of teacher performance, open teacher evaluations by students, exploratory educational systems that allow children to discover or invent the "rules", instead of being given them by rote, and probably a host of other things].

I went through my stage as a member of one of the National Anti-Tax organizations, I stopped when I realized that it didn't make a lot of difference. I would rather devote my energies to what does make a difference. Go stand outside your local Baptist church on Sunday morning handing out the Extropian principles, for example. [Actually, that may be pretty masochistic, maybe start with the Unitarians... :-)]

Think outside the box AND confront the reality. When "the box" is all we have, try to figure out how to push the walls in the direction that expands it the most with the minimal effort or even better, add a dimension to the box.