RE: Meritocracies and freedom of information

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Sat Oct 13 2001 - 06:33:13 MDT

> This is a fundamental question for me -- on the one hand I would
> certainly like the information to be available to overthrow an
> oppressive government dedicated to limiting my freedoms. At the
> same time I am reluctant to adapt a position that makes such
> information available to people (essentially "other tribes")
> that would like to use it not only to destroy my security shield
> but *my* way of thinking entirely (be it *either* a U.S. self-preservation
> or an extropic maximization of information content perspective).

This problem worries me concerning the New Colony Project. Ideally, the colony would only have itself to worry about, without caring
about the existance of other peoples.

However, short of nuclear warfare on Earth, a nanotech accident or any other globally fatal disaster on Earth (*after* the colony
had established its independence while assuming no other significent, attack capable colonies exist), we must take into account
people who would want to free-ride on our information.

We could see why utopia designers always prefer isolated utopias - we can work out their social systems more easily. Isolationism
would not work, because:

1) The benefits from trade, especially when the colony starts operation, would prove overwhelming. Information trade, and trading
materials abundant in space with the abundant on Earth would turn great dividents indeed.

2) Spies could still work their way in, with some Earth societies justifying it as National Security or self-defence issue (for what
would you think of a nuclear, biological or even only nano-capable independent society you know little about)

Some of you might like to give our ideas away, but bear in mind that:

1) Other societies might not recipocate. This means they might have the *cheek* to demand we pay them Intellectual Property and
patent fees while they download our research information freely.

2) Even if other societies do recipocate, they might and might not censor the information they share with us. If they do censor, we
might find ourselves at the losing end, since they would know if we try to censor but we won't neccessarily know about their

3) We can use information as a bargaining chip. For instance, in return for some designs for using nanotech to produce nutritious
food for the masses, you can pursuade some nations to avoid pointing nuclear missiles or satellite weapons at you.

4) Different information has different value. We often hear of the common argument that an open information system will also reveal
the vulnerabilities of a system and one can fix it. However, what if:

a. the vulnerabilities take too long to fix compared to attacking them
b. the vulnerabilities take too much expense to fix in the short term future when one has insufficient resources (as when starting
up a colony)
c. the vulnerabilities concern one's safety and existance so much that any attack would have such devasting effect that one cannot
even afford a remote chance of exploitation

5) You have no guarantee of rational behavior from other colonies, even if your colony operates rationally. Some may perceive your
neutral accidental act of trangression of their boundaries as an agressive action. Some may have an irrational ideological dislike
of your colony, and want to destory it. As with irrational action, as we cannot predict it, anything can happen. Telling them about
ourselves may only provide them with a better way to attack us.

I, personally, would prefer a society with an open information flow than a censored one. However, until we can find out how to
resolve such troublesome issues, we might still need some censorship or having to refrain from construction of a large scale colony.


> So, here is the question:
> Should access to information be based on accreditation?

I understand that accreditation means, according to my dictionary, the act of certifying that an educational institution maintains
suitable standards (but applied to human beings instead). I hereby propose an alternative and also take the chance to eloborate on
some ideas I have.

I suggest that each society divide its people into at least two people, Aspiring Appendices (AA) and Mentally Mature (MM). An
extract from the New Colony Project paper follows (with slight corrections and eloboration):

Dual System of Laws (of Maturity)
This society would deploy a dual-system of laws, one to enable capable individuals to act freely, and the second will protect less
experienced individuals (as known in lay people's term as children) from potentially harmful stimuli that they cannot handle due to
lack of experience.

The former we shall call "Mentally Mature" (MM) and the latter "Aspiring Apprentices" (AA). This partially corresponds to what we
call the "Age of Majority" in "Common Law", but without any arbitrary age.

This allows people to gain the ability to take control their lives at their own pace. Unlike the "Age of Majority" concept, it does
not unnecessary force or remove responsibility from individuals. Unlike blanket proposals such as declaring unlimited freedom of
information or declaring censorship on all people of all undesirable information, it does not cause distress to those unprepared to
gain such information nor dissatisfaction to those who wish such a freedom.

By default, newcomers to the colony (such as by birth or emigration) will attain the status of AA unless they declare otherwise.
When an AA declares MM status, he or she must publish in the announcement area of a public forum such a declaration, and henceforth
will receive a certain trial period of a certain time that will allow him or her to retract the declaration.

Both MM and AA enjoys advantages (and corresponding disadvantages) in accordance to their status.

Rights & Limitations of "Aspiring Apprentices"
. Prohibition from Free Discussion of "Dirty" Politics, Violence & Pornography

Rights & Limitations of "Mentally Mature"
. Prohibition from doing anything of great future consequences with AA

We can rightfully understand that some AAs would, through their ignorance, wants to preview an MM lifestyle. We should prepare a
catalog of less controversial topics with analysis that we can show AAs for them to judge.

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