Re: Incomplete Singularity

Date: Wed Oct 11 2000 - 05:56:10 MDT

This worry about the Singularity implies that the technology exists or will
soon exist to prolong and vastly expand the length and quality of human
life/existence. My contention is why should the maddening crowds sweat the
details when the technology is even in the pipeline yet? Cryogenics is not a
sure thing for mammals, as we have no real means of ensuring revival. I am
not, against cryogenics and cheerfully, support it. Yet, that seems to be the
best we can do for now and maybe it'll work by the time revival technology is
available. Come up with the demonstrated technology to show that a
Singularity is soon possible (Uploading/Neural Replacement?) and Joe Six Pack
will embrace it.

In a message dated 10/11/2000 1:08:47 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< 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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