Being more with less (Was: the waves of immigration)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Oct 18 2001 - 07:43:54 MDT

On Thu, Oct 18, 2001 at 12:36:42AM -0700, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> BE FOREWARNED! I will assert that unless an individual is at
> the core of their being attempting to *ELIMINATE* their "job"
> they are not being extropic. Anders should be attempting to
> develop agents that utilize a much smaller allocation of
> matter/energy to do everything he currently does -- so he can
> move onto much more difficult problems. The Extropian motto
> should be "Do more with less". When you can devote fewer
> resources towards the things that one "must" do -- then you
> can devote more resources towards the things that one would
> "like" to do (evolving greater complexity).

I think this a very good point. I fully agree on the basic idea (although
I think Robert and I differ on how this interacts with ethics later on).

So, what have I done to overcome Anders? I think the most successful
methods have been to increase the abstraction level of my work - instead
of making a single neural network simulation I have a script running a
hundred, an octave script processing the data, a matlab script doing the
visualisation in a repeatable manner. In the same way, on the theoretical
side the interesting issues isn't whether neural network A or B is best
for the job of emulating memory, but asking what

Still, much work remain. I would love to find a method to facilitate
writing scientific (and transhumanist) papers. I have some ideas of a
research management assistant program that keeps track of research
questions and suggests experiments. I really need to change my habits to
act on a higher abstraction level.

But this brings up the "ear of corn" problem: how much effort should be
put on pursuing labor saving project A and how much on simply doing
projects B, C and D? Many programmers spend a lot of time writing labor
saving code, sometimes apparently more time than they save (but if many
people use their devices, then they save a lot of time and thinking for
the rest of us). The general problem is really about learning and
planning, and likely doesn't have any neat general solution - we have to
learn from experience, make guesses and compete/learn with others what

> > The Extropy game is *supposed* to be about keeping our precious
> > brain matter from the ravages of Entropy....
> Randy, if you *really* believe this then you misunderstand
> extropianism. Extropianism cannot coexist with extreme
> survivalism. The above argument is the same as saying
> "No, no, don't eat that ear of corn -- it is an expression
> of nature creating the organized complexity of an ear
> of corn, you should not destroy it to create something
> potentially more complex (e.g. organized thoughts within a human
> brain)."

Exactly. We want *extropy*, not "no entropy". The goal is growth and
complexity, not stasis. After all, the only way of preserving ourselves
from entropy would be to freeze time.

> There may be a pseudo-extropian perspective in which rational
> debate says "I am complex" therefore "I should survive".
> But everything is relative. If you fail to keep up with
> the singularity then you face the "weakest link" scenario.
> I am looking at you Randy, staring you straight in the eye,
> saying "*Are* you the *most* complex expression of the matter
> and energy used to sustain a complex instantation?"
> If you cannot lay claim that you are the *most* complex
> instantiation with the fewest resources then people may turn
> to look at you and say "YOU *ARE* THE WEAKEST LINK -- GOODBYE".

This is where we appear to diverge ethically. From my position certain
systems - rational, self-sustaining complex systems exhibiting ethical
subjectship - have a right to remain in existence. However, this is a
negative right: I have a right not to be killed by you, but you have no
obligation to sustain my life. Various complications ensue when we
discuss the intricacies of living in societies where people are
co-dependent on each other, issues of beings on the border of the above
group and of course what other ethical obligations might imply a bit of
a positive right to life (i.e. what is the role of compassion etc). But
this implies that ethically even a very inefficient being that really is
a weakest link has a right to go on with its existence using resources
it owns.

But in the large scheme of things reality doesn't care the least for my
continued existence - only I (and some others) do. So if I want to
survive I better act in ways that promote my survival and growth.
Because I believe we are living in a fairly Red Queenish world (although
not quite as Red Queenish as some other here seem to think) we need to
grow and develop - and evolution has also made our brains such that we
*enjoy* growing and developing.
> "You must give up everything you are for what you might become".

As Zindell put it: You must remember that an oak tree is not a crime
against the acorn.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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