Re: v2.5 vs v3.0

From: Elaine Walker (
Date: Fri Oct 13 2000 - 01:12:51 MDT

Hi Dan,

The people I know in the pro-space movement who are the leaders
and movers and shakers - the ones who are going to get us into
space - are optimists for sure. (Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society, or Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier
Foundation, or Peter Diamandis of the
X-Prize Foundation, or Henry Vanderbilt of the
Space Access Society, etc, etc). However,
they are not practical people by any stretch of the imagination.
They are quite dynamic indeed.

Really, though, I haven't been around for all of the discussions that
went on in the process of updating the principles, so this is just my
two cents. I would never expect any principles to be changed back, and
backtracking like that seems to go against what extropianism stands
for anyway. I was just venting. And I am very happy to be in
touch with such a dynamic (I'm scared to use that word now) group of
people again.

BTW, we don't KNOW we're getting into space. We are flying in circles
and important missions are being cancelled. NASA's gigantic "humans
in space" budget has been spent on the shuttle, then the ISS (all
well and good, but not leaving Earth's gravity well) and is now going
to be spent on a 4.5 billion dollar thing called the Space Launch
Initiative which is not as good as it sounds, and again, all within
the great gravity well. We do have a sliver of a chance to encourage
our new president to initiate a humans to Mars program. Please see and add your "reason for going into space".
That will help the cause. I have not announced this page to the world
yet. Just started it up and am waiting to get more "reasons" first.


> Speaking as one of the people who was strongly in favor of calling it
> "Practical Optimism," I take issue.
> Optimism is optimism. The question is only whether you'll have
> optimism in a constructive way or in a destructive way.
> When I told people that extropy is about "dynamic optimism," they
> didn't hear the word "dynamic." They didn't see that we're
> prepared to shift strategies in order to move forward. All they saw
> was the "optimism;" calling it "dynamic" was merely there for
> emphasis, as far as they were concerned.
> For all the connotations are worth, being "dynamically optimistic"
> doesn't sound significantly different from being "extremely
> optimistic." But there's more to be said about the principle than
> that, as you know. I think "Practical Optimism" communicates the mood
> correctly.
> We're still headed for space; we're still aiming for boundless
> expansion, and we still think that we'll get there. But now people
> know that we're not just HOPING to get into space; we think we're
> *going* to get there, by doing what we have to do to bring about
> progress. We're *smart* optimists, which is what "dynamic optimism"
> failed to communicate.
> As for Perpetual Progress replacing Boundless Expansion... who cares
> about "bigger"? What we want is to get *better*. Boundless Expansion
> connotes that bigger is better, a half-baked philosophical principle
> that nobody here endorsed. I worry that you're right that Perpetual
> Progress doesn't sound as good as Boundless Expansion, though.
> As for Spontaneous Order... did Spontaneous Order mean something
> different for you than Open Society, Self Direction and Rational
> Thinking? Something else?
> -----------------------------------
> To play the devil's advocate, there IS something else I meant by
> Spontaneous Order isn't captured in the current list.
> As far as the philosophy of mind goes, I'm a functionalist. I think
> that things that act like brains are conscious. Some people
> occasionally try to run a certain kind of reductio ad absurdum
> argument on functionalists, arguing: "What if a whole group of people
> got together and started acting like individual neurons, and their
> neuron-like activity made them act just like a brain? Would THAT make
> their organization conscious?" I answer yes. I think this happens to
> be one of the deeply interesting facts about our world.
> Autocatalysis is one of the things intelligence does, IMO. It's a
> necessary but insufficient condition for being smart. Things that
> achieve Spontaneous Order are important in their own right, because
> they have one of those special characteristics that smart things have.
> Not coincidentally, almost everything we take to be beautiful, or even
> interesting, is Spontaneously Ordered.
> I'm not saying that all Spontaneously Ordered systems should be
> granted rights or anything like that... I'm just saying that such
> systems are inherently interesting, and important. That's something
> the current principles don't take into account. Maybe they shouldn't,
> for the same reason we shouldn't call it "dynamic optimism." But *I*
> really like Spontaneous Order. I think it's cool.
> That's all. :)
> -Dan

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