Re: Re[2]: QUOTE: Bey on extropians

Anders Sandberg (
11 Nov 1997 13:57:30 +0100

Guru George <> writes:

> Going right back to fundamentals: it seems clear that we must accept
> that *any* technological creates new problems as it solves old ones
> (this is what we would expect from a Popperian analysis of knowledge).
> The question to focus on, as you suggest, is: does it create more, or
> more difficult and dangerous problems, than it solved? I think the knee
> jerk response of the anti-technological is that it always must
> necessarily do so, and that's the bushfire we've got to pour cold water
> on.

I agree with this. Some time ago somebody posted the claim to the
omega point theory list that *every* new technology had led to the
decrease in quality of life! The problem with this is that for every
positive technology we can mention (vaccines, the internet, reading
and writing) it is always possible for the anti-technologist to find a
downside, and it *sounds* convincing even if it is untrue (past
cultures doesn't seem significantly happier than ours). What we need
is to take a clear look at how to estimate the relative positive and
negative impacts of new technologies, and choose the positive
ones. This is of course impossible to do with certainty, but we can do
pretty well in many cases.

> Also, we must remember that part of the seductiveness of the neo-primitive
> position is in the "better the devil you know" argument. e.g., what's
> the use of progress if we are increasingly stressing ourselves out by
> having to juggle and balance more and more complexities against each
> other? Why start that process? Is the increase of possibilities such a
> great value when the price we have to pay is that we are unable to take
> advantage of them because we're having to devote so much time and energy
> to solving the problems that the mechanics of providing them create? What
> sorts of answers can we give to those questions?

I would say we chose our path when our ancestors decided to become
farmers instead of hunter-gatherers. That set a chain of events in
motion that seems to lead us towards posthumanity/oblivion/whatever in
a fairly deterministic manner (farming -> more food -> more people ->
concentration of people -> cities -> organisation -> etc). Mankind as
a whole cannot go back to the hunter-gatherer stage, even if small
groups can if they choose so, since the earth cannot sustain that many
gatherers* even if all people wanted to live that way.

* Decreasing the population quickly (in a few generations) without
radical and genocidal methods is practically impossible, both because
of the attitudes of people (they want to bring up children) and
because during the period of decrease a smaller number of young people
have to sustain a larger number of older people; this only works given
advanced automated manufacturing technology, which is anathema to the

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