Re: MORALITY: right & wrong (was: A Bioethical Foundation for Human Rights)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 00:56:33 MST

On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 03:03:30PM -0800, Wei Dai wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 10:19:23PM +0100, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Note that this also provides an answer to those who fear that we will
> > force everybody with us: we seek to make it possible to ignore us
> > totally too. It is always good to have a control group or reserve in
> > case the transhuman project fails in one way or another (or if it turns
> > out that there *is* an objective morality, and it is derived from the
> > Old Testament).
> I agree we should try to allow people to keep their current lifestyles if
> they want, but I don't think we should depend on that point as a defensive
> argument, because there is no evidence that it would be possible. It's
> almost certain that humans will have no self-defense against attacks by
> posthumans. Some charitable posthumans will operate reservations and
> protect these humans, but it may be expensive to do on a large scale, and
> I doubt that critics of transhumanism would consider the protectees'
> lifestyles (i.e. living in reservations in a world of posthumans) to be
> equivalent to their current lifestyles anyway.

I'm not discussing the posthuman world here, but the world of tomorrow.
While people do worry about scenarios where superintelligent grey goo
from the stars eats humanity, the most powerful impact is with the idea
that within a few years you *must* get yourself a better brain in order
to avoid becoming poor and powerless. That slots neatly into a lot of
political pre-programming and gives us a ready-made organized political
resistance to our projects. To worsen things, most people are used to
ideologies that prescribe the same behavior for all humans, and do not
accept the idea that other humans may have other goals.

We need to handle this, both by showing how our ambitions are not
compulsory, but also by a careful economic and social analysis of the
impact of enhancing technologies in society. Easier said than done.

>From the beginning of Tom Purdom's "Fossil Games" (a rather good story,

Morgan.s mother and father had given him a state-of-the-art inheritance.
It was only state-of-the-art-2117 but they had seen where the world was
going. They had mortgaged 20 percent of their future income so they
could order a package that included all the genetic enhancements
Morgan.s chromosomes could absorb, along with two full decades of
postnatal development programs. Morgan was in his fifties when his
father committed suicide. By that time his father could barely
communicate with half the people he encountered in his day to day
business activities.

Morgan.s mother survived by working as a low-level freelance prostitute.
The medical technology that was state-of-the-art-2157 could eliminate
all the relevant physical effects of aging and a hidden computer link
could guide her responses. For half an long as no one demanded
anything too unusual.she could give her younger customers the illusion
they were interacting with someone who was their intellectual and
psychological equal. Morgan tried to help her, but there wasn.t much he
could do. He had already decided he couldn.t survive in a solar system
in which half the human population had been born with brains, glands,
and nervous systems that were state-of-the-art-2150 and later. He had
blocked his mother.s situation out of his memory and lived at
subsistence level for almost three decades. Every yen, franc, and yuri
he could scrape together had been shoved into the safest investments his
management program could locate. Then he had taken all his hard-won
capital and bought two hundred shares in an asteroid habitat a group of
developers had outfitted with fusion reactors, plasma drives, solar
sails, and anything else that might make a small island move at 9
percent the speed of light. And he and three thousand other
"uncompetitive," "under-enhanced" humans had crept away from the solar
system. And set off to explore the galaxy.

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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