Re: 12 million Americans read about superintelligent AI
Tue, 28 Oct 1997 18:34:05 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 97-10-28 10:38:00 EST, Carl Feynman writes:

> I was fairly surprised that Horn was so
> receptive to the concept. He is in a position of some authority, and I
> would have thought the establishment more resistant to notions that might
> so thoroughly dis-establish it.

and then in a message dated 97-10-28 10:58:32 EST, Anders Sandberg writes:

> Authorities doesn't *have* to always attack new ideas, even if that
> has become "folk wisdom" by now. It seems that as long as the threat
> to the establishment is not "real" in the sense that it exists in the
> physical world rather in potentia, it is not perceived as a threat and
> can be studied fairly objectively, but when it becomes a present
> threat all resources are arrayed against it.
> This is a form of short-sightedness that seems to appear in most large
> institutions, and which IMHO will almost guarantee that most of the
> current institutions will not survive the first decades of the next
> century.

A couple of observations. First, I am seeing more and more transhuman and
extropic ideas discussed in the popular media and popping up in odd places.
As I've mentioned a few times, it seems that Forbes magazine's editorial
staff has some not-so-closet extropians on it. And, as an example of the
latter phenomenon, just the other day in a meeting, a 50-ish lawyer said to
me that he wished he had a computer connected to the net all the time he
could carry in his pocket and view through his glasses. This fellow was not
particularly "advanced" in his thinking otherwise -- in fact, I would call
him a decided "good old boy" in his cultural mein. One of my young
associates looked across the room at me with raised eyebrows when the older
lawyer said this, as if to say "Man, this crazy stuff you've been talking
about might be right, after all!" These sorts of isolated events have a way
of adding up to something more than just quantitative change at a certain

Second, Anders' point about how the "establishment" reacts to
paradigm-challenging matters made me think of something I read this morning
in "The Passions of the Western Mind." Apparently the idea that the Church
was immediately and adamantly opposed to the heliocentric theory is actually
a simplistic generalization. In fact, Copernicus was a respected adviser to
the papacy, his work was patronized by leading clerics throughout his life
and the text of his book was part of the curriculum in some church
institutions. It was only when heliocentrism became identified with a
broader front of challenge to the church that folks got burned at the stake
for it. Perhaps there's a lesson there for those who would engage in
guerilla memetics . . .

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
-- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover