Re: QUOTE: Bey on extropians

Anders Sandberg (
11 Nov 1997 20:25:10 +0100

Steve Witham <> writes:

> Some recent (& controversial) survey said that around the world, when
> *women* are reasonably educated, they decide how many kids to have based
> on fairly rational estimates of the economic prospects for the kids.
> Btw "we have the technology already", & it doesn't cost $6M.

It is not controversial, this has been known for a while among
demographers. Education may not be the solution to *everything*, but
it comes close :-)

I have been thinking of what basis we should evaluate technology
on. At least on this list it seems very logical to start with the
Extropian Principles and the basic concept of extropy.

In the section on Intelligent Technology Max writes:

We will co-evolve with the products of our minds, integrating
with them, finally merging with our intelligent technology in
a posthuman synthesis, amplifying our abilities and extending
our freedom.

This suggests strongly that the extropian view of technology is that
it is a tool to amplify extropy. Technology that amplifies extropy
well is good technology, technology that decreases extropy is bad
technology. Extropy is defined as:

EXTROPY: A measure of intelligence, information, energy, life,
experience, diversity, opportunity, and growth. The collection
of forces which oppose entropy.

So the Internet is in general good technology, not just because it is
useful (what?! The net useful? :-) but also because it embodies
positive values to us. On the other hand television is in some
respects a non-extropian technology since it promotes a identical
broadcasts to a passive audience aimed the lowest common denominator
(while at the same time it gives experience and information). So an
extropian critique of the Internet would focus on how to make the net
more extropic and safeguard it against becoming a new television

Note that the above definitions suggests that polluting technology
(beside being wasteful) is also strongly entropic; extropianism has an
environmental ethos at its core, it is just not expressed in the
conventional sense and may extend to all complex systems.

Another quote from the Principles:

We favor careful and cautious development of powerful
technologies, but will neither stifle evolutionary advancement
nor cringe before the unfamiliar. Regarding timidity and
stagnation as unworthy of us, we choose to stride valiantly
into the future.

This clearly rejects arguments from unfamiliarity and "if we don't
know if it is dangerous, let's assume it is", while pointing out that
we want to rationally evaluate the technology. After all, we plan to
be living with it. Rational risk analysis, open technology and public
discussions are to be promoted, and technologies that attempt to avoid
this are inherently suspect (e.g. see the comments about secret
cryptosystems in the PGP manual).

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