Re: Uploads and betrayal

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 1 Dec 1999 11:01:51 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 1 Dec 1999, Charlie Stross wrote:

> No, this isn't some half-witted Star Trek Borg implementation. It's
> politics. Noam Chomsky had a point when he observed that the mechanisms of
> political coercion in a nominally democratically accountable state must
> be more subtle than those in a dictatorship.

And they may be so much more "subtle" that they may be relatively ineffective. Look at the Police strategy last night in Seattle. Sure, they had to resort to declaring an emergency, bring in loads of police, but on the other side of the coin, some of the protestors (let us not say the "responsible demonstrators"), had done a fair amount of property damage in the downtown area). Now, the give-and-take of the police moving these individuals out of downtown was interesting to watch. Fire some tear gas and pepper bombs, slowly walk up the block, stop, wait, repeat. Relatively orderly (and boring if you were watching it on prime time for 2 hours).

The "coercion" wasn't particulary subtle and didn't particulary change the minds of the demonstrators, but it did effectively negate them.

> Try and extrapolate this
> theory to a framework where human nature is maleable and we arrive at
> something very frightening indeed:

Ah, but there is a distinction between someone taking action in a "shared" space and a "private" space. Since your mind is presumably a private space, direct modification there would not be a good thing. However spin control (or physcial control) of public spaces may be justified in cases where minority actions may harm the interests of private property owners or the majority as a whole.

I'd be more worried about (a) trends in goverment allowing wiretaps on digital communications, (b) cryptography regulations; (c) the weight of law enforcement (removal of internet access for an individual in NY after the FBI simply visited his ISP); (d) legal actions in Australia making Internet a highly regulated carrier, etc.

You don't want to worry about the "spin-controlled" information sources, you want to worry about the lack of "non-spin-controlled" sources.

> "Welcome to eutopia! Everyone you see here is happy and smiling;
> and that's not because there are any mass graves or gulags in the
> background! Unlike all previous totalitarian ideologies, ours is based
> on the abolition of unhappiness. Pissed off? Don't like our way of life?
> Never mind, we'll be able to tune your qualia so that you're perfectly
> happy with the way things are!"

I've always thought one of the interesting quotes I got from my pursuit of enlightenment was:
"Don't change the beliefs, transform the believer".

Unhappiness is an irrational concept. It is based on the fiction that reality can be any way other than the way it exactly is. Comparing your reality to a "dream" of what reality could be and being unhappy may be a useful motivational tool built into us by nature, but it is has *no* basis in physical reality.

How rational is it to "not like your way of life" when you are the one "thinking" you don't like it? How stupid -- given a choice, are you are going to *think* things that make you unhappy?

[And you do have a choice even though you may have convinced yourself otherwise...]

> Being able to change what we want implies that _others_ can change what
> we want.

Horse puckies. If you are silly enough to write a public access method for your "wants" and make it available to the net, then you get what you deserve.

In the meantime, if you don't want "others" to "change" what you want, I'd suggest, you immediately move to the Sahara desert miles and miles away from anyone. There you might stand a chance that nobody will talk to you in such a way that your thoughts might be influenced. In fact, I'd strongly suggest you spend the rest of your life meditating. With the white noise of meditation filling up your mind, it will probably be quite difficult for anyone to influence your "thoughts".