Re: [SL4] washington post article

From: Greg A (
Date: Sun Apr 02 2000 - 03:07:51 MDT

I have an answer. How about:

Use MPC technology, such as that being developed by Fact Technologies, to
extend humanity's control of the universe through successive legions of
Vinge-style physical, digital, and social automation, while attempting to
restrain that growth to such an extent that it doesn't dilute our essential

By incorporating social automation in the mix, this allows us to reinforce
basic human social traits through automation, which would replicate only
through voluntary human commercial activity. From here on out, social
automation is the layer that will always be closest to us.

For a working example of what I consider true social automation, check out
General Magic's Portico service ( It's cheap as
voicemail plus cellular, and it accurate replicates the function of a
high-school intern level of secretarial competence. Plus it has a web
interface, and the one it lacks is probably better from a legal standpoint,
right? :)

- Greg

Greg A
Chief Executive Officer
Fact Technologies LLC
Giving Business A Mind Of Its Own.(TM)

510-681-8997 (direct)
510-549-1255 (fax)

----- Original Message -----
From: "patrick" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2000 10:17 AM
Subject: [SL4] washington post article

> From: patrick <>
> >From Internet Scientist, a Preview of Extinction
> By Joel Garreau
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Sunday, March 12, 2000; Page A15
> A respected creator of the Information Age has
> written an extraordinary critique of accelerating
> technological change in which he suggests that new
> technologies could cause "something like
> extinction" of humankind within the next two
> generations.
> The alarming prediction, intended to be
> provocative, is striking because it comes not from
> a critic of technology but rather from a man who
> invented much of it: Bill Joy, chief scientist and
> co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc., the leading
> Web technology manufacturer.
> Joy was an original co-chairman of a presidential
> commission on the future of information
> technology. His warning, he said in a telephone
> interview, is meant to be reminiscent of Albert
> Einstein's famous 1939 letter to President
> Franklin Delano Roosevelt alerting him to the
> possibility of an atomic bomb.
> In a 24-page article in the Wired magazine that
> will appear on the Web Tuesday, Joy says he finds
> himself essentially agreeing, to his horror, with
> a core argument of the Unabomber, Theodore
> Kaczynski--that advanced technology poses a threat
> to the human species. "I have always believed that
> making software more reliable, given its many
> uses, will make the world a safer and better
> place," Joy wrote in the article, which he worked
> on for six months. "If I were to come to believe
> the opposite, then I would be morally obligated to
> stop this work. I can now imagine that such a day
> may come."
> Joy enjoys a level-headed reputation in the
> industry. "Nobody is more phlegmatic than Bill,"
> said Stewart Brand, an Internet pioneer.
> "He is the adult in the room."
> Joy is disturbed by a suite of advances . He views
> as credible the prediction that by 2030, computers
> will be a million times more powerful than they
> are today. He respects the possibility that robots
> may exceed humans in intelligence, while being
> able to replicate themselves.
> He points to nanotechnology--the emerging science
> that seeks to create any desired object on an
> atom-by-atom basis--and agrees that it has the
> potential to allow inexpensive production of smart
> machines so small they could fit inside a blood
> vessel. Genetic technology, meanwhile, is
> inexorably generating the power to create new
> forms of life that could reproduce.
> What deeply worries him is that these technologies
> collectively create the ability to unleash
> self-replicating, mutating, mechanical or
> biological plagues. These would be "a replication
> attack in the physical world" comparable to the
> replication attack in the virtual world that
> recently caused the shutdowns of major commercial
> Web sites.
> "If you can let something loose that can make more
> copies of itself," Joy said in a telephone
> interview, "it is very difficult to recall. It is
> as easy as eradicating all the mosquitoes: They
> are everywhere and make more of themselves. If
> attacked, they mutate and become immune. . . .
> That creates the possibility of empowering
> individuals for extreme evil. If we don't do
> anything, the risk is very high of one crazy
> person doing something very bad."
> What further concerns him is the huge profits from
> any single advance that may seem beneficial in
> itself. "It is always hard to see the biggerimpact while you are in the
vortex of a change," Joy wrote. "We have long been driven by the
> overarching desire to know that is the natural science's quest, not
stopping to notice that the progress to newer and more powerful technologies
> can take on a life of its own."
> Finally, he argues, this threat to humanity is
> much greater than that of nuclear weapons because
> those are hard to build. By contrast, he says,
> these new technologies are not hard to come by.
> Therefore, he reasons, the problem will not be
> "rogue states, but rogue individuals."
> Joy acknowledges that to some people, this may all
> sound like science fiction. "After Y2K didn't
> happen," he said, "some people will feel free to
> dismiss this, saying everything will work out."
> Joy is less clear on how such a scenario could be
> prevented. When asked how he personally would stop
> this progression, he stumbled. "Sun has always
> struggled with being an ethical innovator," he
> said. "We are tool builders. I'm trailing off
> here."
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> GET A NEXTCARD VISA, in 30 seconds! Get rates as low as 0.0%
> Intro or 9.9% Fixed APR and no hidden fees. Apply NOW!
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Get a NextCard Visa, in 30 seconds! Get rates
as low as 2.9% Intro or 9.9% Fixed APR and no hidden fees.
Learn more at:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:06 MDT