Re: "Cyberpower" and futurism in Forbes magazine

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 17:28:09 -0600

> You can also twist information for any use such as
> religious or pollitical to make it sound like you're agreeing with their
> ideals such as telling bleeding heart liberals that nano will be the
> utility to accomplish their goal of world peace and unlimited wealth. (Even
> though there will still be capitalism, we just won't meantion that!)

Let's not, shall we? It is true that nanotech - or my own vehicle, the
Singularity - would be able to completely fulfill almost any ethical
wish imaginable. BUT. If we go around preaching nano-paradise, we will
be rightly regarded as loons.

In the words of Drexler:

"I would emphasize that I have been invited to give talks
at places like the physical sciences colloquium series at
IBM's main research center, at Xerox PARC, and so forth,
so these ideas are being taken seriously by serious
technical people, but it is a mixed reaction. You want that
reaction to be as positive as possible, so I plead with
BULLSHIT DOWN, and even to be rather restrained in
talking about wild consequences, which are in fact true
and technically defensible, because they don't sound that
way. People need to have their thinking grow into
longer-term consequences gradually; you don't begin
there." [Emphasis mine.]

And my own reply:

The problem with people expounding their Utopian visions of a nanotech
world is that their consequences *aren't wild enough*. Looking at
of instantly healing wounds, or any material object being instantly
available, doesn't give you the sense of looking into the future. It
you the sense that you're looking into an unimaginative person's
childhood fantasy of omnipotence, and that predisposes you to treat
nanotechnology in the same way. Worse, it attracts other people with
unimaginative fantasies of omnipotence. There's no better way to turn
into a bunch of parlor pinks, sipping coffee and planning the Revolution
without actually doing anything.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I know.