Re: nagging questions

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Sep 04 2000 - 21:14:11 MDT

Thanks to all for some interesting and helpful replies to my questions.
I will give in turn my reactions, thoughts and resultants. It may be a
piece at a time. Especially this one as I have to run back to the day

gabriel C wrote:
> I do not believe that we as singularitarians have the option of being "of
> two minds". It is wise to have a perspective on all things you encounter in
> your life, but this is far beyond the pale of ordinary things. Plus, we
> can't afford the time or divisive mindset this might bring about. If we
> doubt the work in front of us, the Singularity might not be reached before
> we as a race destroy ourselves.

This is not understandable to me. We are planning the creation of a
god, literally. And our efforts may succeed or fail. In our failure or
success we may still create something that destroys all of humanity and
may or not be whole or sane enough or self-healing enough to be any
great improvement over same. We need to second guess ourselves quite a
lot I would think about whether what we are doing is the right thing,
about whether our methods lead to the right results, about our abilities
and about our reasons for being on this quest. Even assuming all the
arguments for doing this are exactly correct, we, as the type of beings
we are, still need to question. If for nothing else than to self-check
periodically and to remind ourselves of what is the goal and why and to
be able to pull others into the work.

> What are you missing? The same thing we all are. The lack of sight beyond
> the wall of super-evolution that is the Singularity. How do we deal with it?
> I can't claim knowledge of how anyone else on this list sleeps at night with
> the knowledge we have, but i go forward knowing that I must work for it with
> all available resources because there is no other choice. It IS inevitable,
> as you said, and while there is the chance of the loss of the human race,
> well, there are myriad threats to our species. The Singularity, while itself
> a possible threat, is the ONLY way we can stop the other inevitability:
> global self-genocide. We must not second guess ourselves.

I do not see yet that the Singularity is the ONLY way or alternately
that global self-genocide is inevitable UNLESS we create the
Singularity. Another possible way is to condition, evangelize, teach
enough of humanity at least at enough of the key positions a different
way of seeing life and what they are doing such that the threat of
self-inflicted global catastrophe goes down. Look where we are. Used
rightly the technology within our grasp can literally turn this world
into a paradise beyond the dreams of mystics. What stands in our way is
a lot of conditioning of tooth and claw, endless competition, endless
us/them and the quite limited general intelligence of the majority of
human beings and even of those of us who are the exceptions. Technology
that increases effective intelligence (and I disagree all such is ruled
by the Law of Algernon) and that starts humans on self-growth toward a
attitude conducive to the wiser use of these tools, may well keep us
from self-destruction. Some such technology is the growing list of
computer aids external and increasingly internal. It is part of the
Transhuman/Extropian dream of evolving the race. It is not a bad
dream. Or at least I don't see why it is necessarily impossible. And
it has the advantage of being quite inline with many current trends.

Of course, the reasons to doubt that scenario are also many. Mature
human minds are difficult to capture and difficult to reform. There is
some evidence that something on the order of 50% of the population never
reached the mental development state of formal operations. Due to
aspects of brain physiology there is reason to believe that if they
matured without reaching that stage then they never will unless and
until we can rewire brains at a pretty extreme level. Yet these people
have just as much of a vote as you and I. And of course, existing
centers of power will not all convert to a new way of thinking and
being. Some of them will fight with great ferocity. If they lay hands
on some of the "weapons of the gods" then destruction may well ensue.

Dunno. It just goes against my programming, it seems a bit like walking
away from the human race to do the alchemistic thing of huddling
together with a some like minded folks in front of our supercomputers
attempting to give birth to a god. It both draws and repels me. If I
become convinced it is in fact the ONLY way then my full energies will
go into the work. If not then I must consider other options. I
generally don't like putting all the eggs in one basket.

- samantha

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