Re: WIRED 6.01/Technocracy R.I.P.
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 16:13:02 -0800 (PST)

On Tue, 30 Dec 1997, Hal Finney wrote:

> I wrote earlier today about knee-jerk libertarianism. Let us agree that
> people are free to exploit whatever technologies they like in order to
> improve their lives. When we speak of "talking about" changes and
> "engineering their flow" it is in the context of mutually voluntary
> interactions, of persuasion and reason, not force and coercion. This
> provides an unthreatening context to discuss the opportunities and
> dangers which change presents.
> I would support a form of "dynamism" which recognizes that change is
> inevitable, and that change is not to be opposed per se. But at the same
> time, within the dynamic context we still want to think carefully and
> critically about the new possibilities available to us, their implications
> and effects.
> Hal

This seems to me exactly right. It's true that some people fear change on
principle, but as you say, change is inevitable; at any rate, too many
people are too invested in particular changes that benefit them for any
stasist conspiracy to roll back the trajectory of technological
development wholesale. My impression is that Postrel was actually trying
to repackage libertarianism for the WIRED audience, and that part of the
problem is that libertarianism in its traditional (American) form is
probably inadequate to the future that WIRED and extropian communities are
sensing around the bend... Postrel writes: "What dynamists do agree on
is protecting processes rather than trying to engineer outcomes." This
seems to me dangerous nonsense at best. Even the project of maintaining a
market order is engineering an outcome as much as protecting a process
(especially considering the highly institutionally and legislatively
mediated things that pass for "markets" these days). If it really is the
case that extropian transhumanism aspires to be a kind of movement (as
opposed to just a meeting-place for folks who seem to share certain
idiosyncratic preoccupations), then I hope it hangs its hat on something
with more ideological teeth than the vacuous "change is good."

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

It is impossible to make significant change by force.
The only way to make significant change is
to make the thing you want to change obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Death, where is thy sting-a-ling?" -- Noel Coward