Incomplete Singularity

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Tue Oct 10 2000 - 23:07:22 MDT

Having been pressured by someone else on this list to pressure my
relatives into buying the ultimate life insurance of cryo (I intend to
get it for myself, but they do not and will not, so the only result of
pressuring them would be to damage my relationships with them), I asked
myself why so many of our friends and loved ones will not spare us the
pain of knowing that some day, well within our own extended lifetimes,
they will be gone forever.

The answer, I think, or at least part of it, is that a commitment to
immortality - or a commitment to eventual permanent death - commonly
defines part of who and what a person is. I think I can safely assume
that everyone on this list can easily see themselves being a hundred, a
thousand, even a billion (or insert whatever big number) years old and
still enjoying life, in whatever form has been obtained at that time.
But such is not the case for everyone. Many people see themselves at
seventy/eighty/whatever and having done everything they want to do,
growing bored and tired of life. We embrace the infinite, they embrace
the finite, and both sides define their dreams and aspirations around

Unlike the infamous frog in slowly boiling water, there is no gradation
from finite to infinite; even the cocept causes immense future shock.
Some individuals can adjust themselves from one to the other, and the
chances of doing so are greater with greater realization that the
necessary technology - including social technology of mindsets and so
forth, to keep coming up with new things to do - is available, but to
force the issue is to ask someone to reject that person's own sense of no wonder it is so vigorously and emotionally resisted.

This is ironic if true. With all the power that shall be available to
us, the one thing we might desire most - to bring the rest of humanity
along with us - might be one of the few things that remains impossible
even for us.

Which leads to a disturbing thought. What if the Singularity arrives,
but the only people who can take advantage of it are those who want to
take advantage of it...and, given the extreme rate of change this
entails, only a small fraction of the human race is comfortable making
this change? The best and brightest, who might otherwise lead the norms
into a new era, will - out of pure self-interest if nothing else - join
us, leaving the masses ignorant, confused, and mostly stagnant.

Previous radical advances, for instance the Industrial Revolution, were
one-off advances, or at least a finite series of major changes, and thus
could be gradually adopted. The Singularity promises an eternal state
of flux; one either embraces eternal upgrades and intellectual
expansion, or stays at whatever level one happens to be at and watches
those who made the other choice go beyond comprehension.

I doubt that everyone would leave the relative luddites to their own
devices. Some would seek to exploit them like beasts, while others
would seek to help those who refuse help; neither option seems to
promise effective aid.

Or is this even a matter of concern? For our sakes and theirs, should
most of us look back on them as no more interesting than the fragments
of the eggshell from which we emerged? Intellectually, this would seem
to be the safest approach, but instinct and a reading of history say
that, whenever there emerges a power discrepancy of that magnitude
between the elite and the common, the common act to balance that
discrepancy, with negative consequences for the elite.

All of this, though, does lead to an observation of use right now: when
trying to get support for your ideas, don't ask people to change just to
suit your own desires. The personal decisions of others are personal,
and based on their own values - even if they are insane when judged by
your values. Know what is flexible about someone, or at least what is
usually flexible about most people, before trying to bend it - and a
desire for or against immortality (including cryo) is rarely flexible.

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