Transhuman Beach Party (Was: Present dangers to transhumanism)
Sun, 5 Sep 1999 09:11:27 EDT

In a message dated 99-08-31 12:47:35 EDT, (Eliezer S. Yudkowsky) wrote:

> Frankly, I think a fairly large percentage of you *are* naive
> technophiles. You think you can take controlled sips from a tidal wave.

On a personal level, I think I'd characterize my strategy as more one of surfing than sipping.

Seriously, when I'm acting as a mentor (the frequency of which seems to be in direct disproportion to the amount of hair I have left), I often tell young people to think about surfing as a fruitful metaphor for how to approach a career: To be a good surfer, it seems you need three things: (1) to know how to surf; (2) a surfboard and (3) a wave. In the regime of career planning, this means you need to have (1) basic people and basic business and/or technical skills and knowledge; (2) some realistic business or technical plan or opportunity and (3) the social context in which (1) and (2) are sufficiently useful to a sufficient number of people that you'll get paid to do what you'd like to do. I usually use this metaphor to counsel patient preparation and the amassing of skills, along with watchfulness for good opportunities and over-all trends, often saying that good surfers sometimes just park their boards on the beach and have a beer when there aren't any good waves, but stay ready in case they see a Big One starting to rise.

But the notion of "the Singularity" (strong or weak, fast or slow, swell or Spike) gives a new meaning to this metaphor. In the surfing image, we're talking about the Mother of All Waves. Surfing that wave may be the only possible way to survive it. I think of this list as a kind of beach party, where we're all looking out and waiting for the cry "Surf's up!"

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley