From: Nicq MacDonald (
Date: Wed Nov 15 2000 - 20:06:16 MST

> Well, the easy answer is that we may put the finishing touches on a
> Friendly seed AI which will set nanites to work for us. But I'll do a
> little more work, since I doubt that will satisfy you.

I'm afraid of two possibilities-

1. John Horgan's predictions regarding the end of scientific progress will
come true- and we will be unable to develop a Transhuman AI that may save us
and we will end up destroying our planet through war and environmental

2. All these precautions and ideas for programming an ethical AI fail, and
we end up enslaved to a superconsious, survivalist computer that sees us as
little more than tools or servants.

> Now, in case you weren't aware of it, Earth's resources can't be saved
> forever, or even anything like forever. The Earth will be swallowed
> up by our dying sun billions of years from now; some large rock will
> almost certainly come flying at us out of the Oort cloud MUCH sooner
> than that.

Resource depletion will occur in my lifetime- the Earth being swallowed by
the sun will not.

> I'm sure I can never convince you that technological progress can make
> us happier. I will point out that we tend to be happier the wealthier
> we are, but this tendency is weak. Granted, crime tends to be lower,
> and, more generally, rich civilizations tend to be freer (on anybody's
> terms) than poor civilizations. * We also enjoy living longer, so long
> as we don't run out of resources. But happiness, while it can
> correlate with these things, is not captured in any of the above.

My father is a multimillionaire, I attend a private college, I own an
expensive computer, expensive clothing, etc. etc. Yet for some reason, I
feel incomplete. I'm frequently depressed (I've been to two
psychotherapists- both say I'm fine and that I don't need medication), and
no matter how much I study, my life just feels more insignificant and
pointless. Yet, at the same time, I see many people with far less material
wealth than I that seem far more satisfied, happy, and purposeful.

> * [The noble savage is not a myth, but he's hardly the norm. Spare me
> your hamlet of paradise story; *most* hamlets are hellholes.]

I've never been a believer in the idea of the "Noble Savage". I believe
that any utopian political philosophy, whether it's that of Rousseau, Marx,
or Rand, can only lead to disaster.

> As for our arts, there the correlation to wealthier and more leisurely
> societies is far more obvious. So, for those who WANT challenging and
> engaging art, a high-technology society will be in the best way to get
> it. If you want high art, you look to where there's the MOST art,
> namely rich time periods and cultures like the Renaissance, like the
> musings of the idle priesthood in the East and in the West, like the
> 20th century (more than all of these put together).

True enough. But tell me, what is art? If you deny spirituality, you've
pretty much dissolved any meaning of the artistic experience.

> By the way, try to be open minded to those working for profit. They
> are, in fact, working for the masses. They're the ones finding the
> common bonds between their peers, sharing in their solidarity. The
> people prize them most of all. That's why they keep paying.

True as well.

> Leisure is easier when you're richer. Breaks come more naturally when
> you have time to spare. The "world" of death looks less appealing
> when the future has never looked so good, and you can be sure you'll
> be there to see it.
> Assuming we make it, of course.

That's the catch.


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