Re: Extropian Form Letter (was: an exhortation to action)

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Sun, 01 Dec 1996 14:44:28 -0600

> So don't bother persuading them, either! At most, present uploading as
> something that people who want to can do; if you know people will want
> to, keep it to yourself -- don't try to force them to change their
> self-conceptions to that extent. But, it's your foot to shoot off...
Another good point. I don't think you're going to have a choice. In a
sense you will, but by that point we'll be so smart that the correct
choice will be totally obvious. I'll try to say that if anyone, once
superintelligent, wants to stay in their physical body, they will
undoubtedly be permitted to do so...
Again, you make a good memetic point. Uploading in the disembodied
sense shouldn't be discussed without a good reason. Upgrading (to avoid
obsolescence) should be mentioned and even exalted, but nothing should
be mentioned to be taken away.

> Eliezer, wake up! I'm not saying it's not gripping -- I'm saying it's
> repulsive! If you take no other piece of advice I offer, take this one:
> toss the "end" idea altogether, and replace it completely with the idea
> of "new beginnings". To most people, endings mean grief (basic psychology)
> -- you don't want people associating Singularity with loss, but with gain.
Yes! Somebody is thinking in terms of psychology instead of elaborate
debates! I'll take your advice. Parenthetically, though, shouldn't the
end of misery be a joy (very basic psychology, derived from a
behaviorist book about rats)? I take your point, though. Now the only
problem is avoiding contamination from the "New Age" meme...

> People want to be at the helm, not overrun by a juggernaut.
Can't think of any way to get around that one without just plain lying.
I'll try to present it in a nice way, though: "WE will have powers
beyond OUR imagination..."

Thanks for the practical advice - the only practical advice I've gotten
so far. Your points on some things being hard to accept have been
absorbed into my writing skills forever and ever. I do think we
disagree on some points of the Singularity - you seem to think of it as
a singular "wham" rather than an iterated "*WHAM*". The recursive
nature of *WHAM* is perhaps clearer to me than to others. Normal humans
are rarely *completely* outclassed, which makes it both harder to convey
and - now that I think about it - more frightening. I, as an Algernon,
am still awed by "Godel, Escher, Bach" years later...

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

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