Re: [transadmin] Quick Suggestion

From: Alex Future Bokov (
Date: Sun Sep 17 2000 - 11:00:17 MDT


On Sat, 16 Sep 2000, E. Shaun Russell wrote:

> I am a bit embarassed to admit that I have not heard any cohesive talk
> about an Earthweb until now; as such, any questions I now ask will likely
> seem lightweight and redundant until I actually read some more documentation.

Don't worry, you're among friends.
> The whole concept sounds very heady and prestigious, and ultimately very
> do-able. Obviously, a "collaborative superconsciousness" of sorts should
> be tops on our ten-year to-do list. So what kind of

More like two years, tops.

> software\communications do we currently have to make something like this
> feasible? I'm not too concerned about the economics of it at this

Micropayments, pseudonymous identities that each have a reputation
associated with them, collaborative filtering, improved searching,
smart contracts, and a really intuitive but powerful interface for
discussion/collaboration and you pretty much have it.

Economics is important, because an economy already *is* a transhuman
decision making system. A group mind. The challenge is just to make it
smarter, remove more friction, allow it to expand into domains that up
till now have been reserved to individual intelligences.

> point...the technical basis is what is most important at such an early
> stage. Is there any work currently being done on such a project?

Yes, from several directions.
> Again, my apologies for sounding a bit awestruck, but this concept (on a
> feasible scale) has received little discussion in any circles I am familiar
> with.

I'm not sure that everybody who's working on the effort is fully aware
of its implications. Foresight Institute, for example, calls it 'social
software'. The trade press calls it 'online communities'. It definitely
needs more discussion, and that's why I want to round up all the
Transhumanist web developers et. al. and start a new forum on how to
design-ahead for this. That, by the way, is why I see the
weblog-on-every-desktop scenario as a desirable one, Eliezer-- it's an
intermediate step to EarthWeb (cf. our eGroups debate in front of Nick
Bostrom). Of course, competitive pressures will eventually force some
company someplace to develop the software, and then all web developers
everywhere to adopt it. However, I want Transhumanist-run companies
and Transhumanist web developers to have the founder advantage.

So, why should a Singularitarian care about EarthWeb?

1. Any new technology may face unforseen obstacles. That's why they're
called unforseen. Two semi-redundant technologies aiming for the same
goal are a safer bet.

2. EarthWeb will drive economic, engineering, and intellectual
developments that may make the job of SingInst easier. Correct me
if I'm wrong, but the optimistic time scale for >AI is 10-15 years.
The very pessimistic timescale for EarthWeb is 5 years. The large
scale behavior of EarthWeb itself may also inspire shortcuts and
warn of potential pitfalls that await Transhuman intelligences as
a class, whether individual or collective.

3. One way to think of EarthWeb is as an upload of human society...
laws, markets, reputations, relationships, institutions, factual
knowledge, creative works... pretty much everything except the actual
humans. Having such an infrastructure in place is a necessary
prerequisite to the uploading of humans... when uploading comes there
will be too many other things to worry about to be writing the rules of
human interaction from scratch at the same time.

- --

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