Re: META: Neanderthal Attitudes

phil osborn (
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 12:16:03 PDT

>From: Cynthia <>
>Subject: Re: META: Neanderthal Attitudes
>Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 10:39:49 -0700
>phil osborn wrote:
> > The solution is probably some kind of smart card or simple identifier
> > puts the individual in a new group that avoids the stigma. Such an
> > identifier - indicating reputation, bonding, whatever would make them
> > trustworthy - could make race, sex, age, etc., pretty much irrelevant.
> > Which is why Ester Dyson's ICAAN effort is so important. The Web is the
> > place to start. A universal social contract may well evolve from that
> > effort. Then we can forget about all the fights about group labelling,
> > the really important factors will be accessible to our interactions.
>I think one reason that has allowed places like the Price Club to sell
>cheaply, is the fact that they are a membership store. They don't let
>in, unless they know that they have a good job. And this not only keeps
>most of the people who are likely to shoplift, it also keeps out people who
>don't have much purchasing power.
Precisely: Now imagine a society in which there were no jails, just gates. You can go pretty much anywhere if you're bonded sufficiently, and the bond reflects the risk assessed by those in the business of making accurate risk assessments. Obviously, each individual would balance bond costs against the costs of building reputation, credibility, etc. The risks would also vary according to many different dimensions. A Hezbollah (sp?) member might find the bond prohibitive in getting into certain Jewish temples or schools, but very slight in getting into the local Mosque. A criminal or a drunk would pay the costs to society directly in terms of financing his associated risk through bonds and/or insurance.
Certain geographic or brand name / pseudo-corporate entities would probably cater to those who couldn't get into Irvine, I suspect, and you might have your thieves quarters, Casbah's, etc., but little need for any actual prisons. A person who refused to pay assessed costs for his behavior directly would find himself virtually outlawed by most of society until he paid his tab.
The level of this discussion that I am particularly interested in, however, should anyone else like to pursue it, is how this all fits in with the evolution of extropian society. Clearly, TANSTAAFL holds, even when we all become distributed uploads. When we can instantly clone ourselves, who gets the cyber-space? How are disputes resolved? What opportunities for criminal behavior will emerge?
I see the web as a primitive testbed for many of these questions and concepts. It is also both a transitional media and a potential revolutionary vehicle. Microsoft, the old money (of which Gates is an example), the banks, the real estate interests, the sexists and racists and nationalists, the statists: all are stacked on one side of the potential future (or lack thereof) for the species - or meta-species. LINUX, open source, the web itself, the microloans program: all are examples of the other side, in which physical capital alone (i.e., the dead weight of the past) is not the determining force, but rather systems that have evolved because they produce results, because they represent truth, in the sense that they, as opposed to the other side, possess inherent mechanisms that orient to truth. They self-correct, without the need of some guru or dictator or CEO to force it down our throats.

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