Re: Luddites attack genegineered crop

Anders Sandberg (
24 Oct 1997 18:39:53 +0200

"den Otter" <> writes:

> > "den Otter" <> writes:
> > > Actually, you can tell these luddites are scum even without knowing
> > > too much about their background and general history, methinks.
> > > The genlabs simply need better protection, like guards that hit first
> > > and ask questions later, or some vicious dogs.
> >
> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > That position is dangerous, and doesn't solve anything.
> It *does* prevent the destruction of important research material and
> equipment, so the most urgent problem is solved.

The research material and equipment is expensive but insured; what I
am arguing is not that research facilities and similar places should
be left unguarded (there are enough problems with theft in normal
institutions), but that extreme security measures 1) focuses on the
wrong part of the problem, the symptom, and 2) is likely to create an
even more explosive situation.

If Frankenstein had had his lab in a small cottage inside the village
instead of a forbidding castle in the mountains, the villagers would
have been less inclined to storm him with torches and pitchforks.

What we really need is to make people understand the new technologies
with an open mind. Just educating them about how they work has the
surprising effect of just polarizing the opinion (the
pro-genengineering camp becomes more pro, the anti-camp more
anti). This is very hard, but we need to do it or else we are going to
need your defenses even in our homes ("A transhuman! Kill the ugly

> > To quote somebody who was interviewed on Swedish television
> > (unfortunately without the regional dialect which really made it
> > funny): "There should be an end to progress so people can keep their
> > jobs!". That view is dangerously common, and people in general fear
> > change despite the fact that it helps them in the long run. It is very
> > easy to use this fear to strike against proponents or technologies of
> > change such as genetic engineering, the Internet och
> > transhumanists. Think about it.
> I've thought about it a lot. I don't see anyone attacking the internet now
> or in the (near) future, unless it attacks us first (which is at least
> theoretically possible).

Take a look at the controversies about pornography on the internet,
the spread of illegal information and terrorism. I don't know about
dutch media, but here in sweden the coverage have tended towards the
very negative. Several politicians have proposed some rather draconian
measures to prevent the spread of this nastiness, but have failed
largely due to party politics. The first time internet was mentioned
seriously in a swedish movie it was of course a movie about
international child pornography. However, the negative opinion is
changing since at least 30% of all swedes now have access to the net,
and are discovering that it isn't a swamp of evil or the cybernetic
heaven, but a fairly boring/useful/useless place. But I guess that
when people start to move to untaxable digital money, the government
will see that as a direct attack.

> Transhumanism might be attacked (regardless of what its proponents
> might say or do) when it gets "too big for comfort". Right now
> transhumanists are usually seen as a bunch of computer nerds with
> silly SF fantasies, harmless Utopians. When there will be more the
> government and the press and (thus) the public _might_ "rediscover"
> them and some "incriminating evidence" will be fabricated to justify
> persecution. Its been done time and again...

Exactly. And frankly, it isn't that hard to find disturbing stuff in
transhumanism that could easily be used against it. That is why we
need to get our ideas into the mainstream as much as possible instead
of trying to work in splendid isolation - we are vulnerable as a
separate group.

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