Are extropians "BUFFs"?

Steve Witham (
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 20:26:14 -0400

HelLO everyone.

I seem to be a reactivated playing piece.

Just read a day's worth of messages about the meaning of Extropianism.

My feeling is that too many specifiers narrow the specification.
In other words, to broaden the appeal of Extropianism, it might help
to simplify its description.

Right now, the closest thing to a central principle is "extropy," a word
that, well, doesn't make me salute every time I hear it. I mention it
because Max seems to find it central; maybe if he were to anchor
Extropianism, that would be where. But I would point to the people who
become lower-case "e" extropians. My simplification is that we're
"Bottom-Up Fast Futurists," or BUFFs.

Now, I'm stretching these terms to stand for slightly more complicated

"Bottom-Up" means we see history as good ideas, technologies, opportunities,
happening locally and spreading. Notice I packed technophilia and
optimism in there. Also, interest in libertarianism and spontaneous
order (see my P.S. to Ben below) and memes and such are close by. Also,
there's a difference from the planning- and statistical-trend- and
grand-vision-driven sorts of futurism. Another part of being bottom-up
is seeing oneself as part of the process.

"Fast Futurist" means someone who sees big change happening so fast that
the future is personally relevant, as opposed to a place where "future
generations" will live. We see ourselves in the future.

Allow me to go through the wonderful BEST DO IT SO catechism:

Boundless Expansion -- Uninterest in limits. See Dynamic Optimism.

Self Transformation -- This is seeing oneself there. Part of being bottom-
up is seeing oneself as a system, not a given for the world to be built
around. Also, the Fast Future happens in my lifetime, so I'd better steer.

Dynamic Optimism -- Partly a difference from doomsaying, which looks at
trends, and threats to existing orders. Bottom-up looks at opportunities.
The difference from smug optimism? maybe just the techie (=materialist?)
orientation, and the fact that things are happening Fast and Bottom-Up
(out of control), and that we're personally going to be involved.

Intelligent Technology -- just another technology, but it undercuts the
centrally-planned-home-for-future-generations-of-humans picture. And it's
a good example of a Bottom-Up Fast Future right in our faces and under our

Spontaneous Order -- A better word for bottom-up, but who wants to be a SOFF?

My extrapolation from personal experience is that extropians are people who
got used to seeing in a BUFF way. The idea of a "personality type" is
somewhat anti-ST, un-DO. Rather, the way we were seeing it then
(late 20th) at least, Extropianism seemed like a good idea at the time.


P.S. Ben Goertzel <> said:

>But I don't get the conceptual connection of Libertarianism with
>futuristic technology, complexity theory & spontaneous organization.
>After all, is the State itself not a "spontaneous organization? --

Good things and bad things (including things that reduce freedom)
happen within freedom. But overall more freedom means more good vs. bad.
Bad things and things that reduce freedom tend to be symbiotic. For
instance, scratch a monopoly and you'll find it relying on state power.
So, it's bad overall to reduce freedom *just because some bad things--
even unfreedom--happen within it.*

But even if you're not convinced, the Libs and complexity theorists and
other Spontaneous Orderphiles often find each other's ideas sympathetic.

-- The Tao you have dialed is not a working Tao.