Re: Extropian Principles reading list

Anders Sandberg (
13 Oct 1997 15:55:34 +0200

Max More <> writes:

> Eliezer: Hmmm, Godel, Escher, Bach *is* a superb book. I worked through
> that back when I was 18. However, as an overview of AI and cognitive
> science, I think that Hofstadter and Dennett's The Mind's I might be more
> accessible. (Or maybe I'll just include both, though this is supposed to be
> a select rather than comprehensive list.) Comments?

GEB is a hard book to classify. It is cognitive science and AI, but
also philosophy, art and entertainment. In the Aleph handbook we classified
it as Multidsciplinary.

> For those who suggested more Egan books, I'll be happy to include more by
> one of my favorite SF writers. I'm not so keen on Permutation City, though
> may include it. I will definitely include his brilliant collection Axiomatic.

Permutation City isn't a good novel in the reading sense, but it is *the*
book about uploading. As for extropian ideas, Distress is better and
(of course) Axiomatic. Maybe Axiomatic should be in the canon and the
other in the apocrypha.

> Anders: Tech Heaven may be a good cryonics story. Has anyone read Blake's
> book (i.e. Gregory Benford) whose title I cannot remember. I'd like to
> include *one* cryonics-related novel. I haven't read The Bohr Maker but
> will try to. I didn't much like Deception Well and don't see why it fits
> particularly well into this reading list. Out of Control is a good addition.

Well, you are probably right about DW. The Bohr Maker is so extropian
it screams - the villains are ecofascists and biofundamentalists, the
heros nano- and gene hackers from an interplanetary corporation-society.

> Has anyone read Robert Forward's Indistinguisable from Magic? (I believe it
> used to be known as Future Magic.) I think it may be a good overview of how
> far science and technology can be pushed. Perhaps I'll get to read it on
> the plane this week.

Forward's writing has never impressed me, it suffers from the info-dump
syndrome ("As you already know, the hyperdrive works by sending pellets
of negative matter into a strong toroidal electric field..."), but
the non-fiction is an accessible introduction to megascale engineering
and other stuff.

Another book that should be canon if it isn't already is Bernal's
_The World, the Flesh, the Devil_. It may need some annotations (it is
after all many decades old and written by a leftist), but it has
influenced transhumanist thinking very much.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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