Future Technologies of Death

Lee Daniel Crocker (lcrocker@mercury.colossus.net)
Mon, 22 Dec 1997 16:48:03 -0800 (PST)

Putting aside for the moment the realities of the day
(something I am loathe to do, but can be coaxed into
on occasion), and what technological/political solutions
work in the present, it probably does make sense to
think seriously about whether technologies designed to
end life are a necessary part of /any/ extropic future,
or whether they should properly be seen as a stopgap
measure that can be done away with under the proper
conditions in the future.

It is, after all, our goal to encourage development of
life, is it not? Is it really possible that we might be
able to evolve into beings/societies that don't find
violence as necessary as we do today? Is evolutionary
progress possible wihtout using death as a method of

I think this last question is the salient point: if we
don't have death as a means of selection, what will take
its place? Speed of expansion? Control of resources?
Is perfect passive security even theoretically possible?

What is a resource? Ultimately, if mass-energy is finite,
and "life" must be implemented as patterns of mass-energy
that can be destroyed and re-used by other patterns with
volition (whatever that is), how can our patterns prevent
themselves from being destroyed by sufficiently energetic
predators? Can we prevent the creation of such predators
to begin with? After all, since our evolution is memetic
now instead of genetic, can't we just produce anti-death
memes exclusively?

I think that last question is a no: I can't imagine that
sufficient diversity for growth is possible without fatal
risk. Discoveries cannot be planned or controlled: they
are made at random, and risky ones are often made before
the safe ones, and failure to exploit the risky ones will
cause us to fall behind those who do.

Can we manipulate the variables of the evolutionary
equation to maximize growth and minimize death? Again,
I don't see how. Maximizing one variable is likely to
strictly determine all the others. Can we maximize
under the constraint of non-violence? Would the winner
of such a scenario be the non-violent one or the one who
took more risks?

I don't have any answers here--as fits a subject about
the possibilities of the future instead of the details
of the present--but even the questions make me doubt
whether non-violence is really possible, even in the
future. I'd like to be proven wrong.

Lee Daniel Crocker <lee@piclab.com> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC