Re: The Tao of the Sysop Scenario

From: Brian Phillips (
Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 20:09:12 MDT

Quoeth Eliezer:
> It so happens that I believe that the Sysop Scenario is not influenced by
> either Judeo-Christian apocalyptism, nor by Taoistic philosophy. A Sysop
> is neither God nor the Tao; a Sysop is a Sysop. Are there concrete
> differences? Sure; the Tao may not coerce, but (in Eastern philosophy)
> the Tao still does influence all living things, pervasively, in terms of
> higher-level patterns and not just the underlying matter, and the Tao does
> this without first asking permission. Thus a Sysop is not the Tao.
 Nice try Eliezer...but there is a ..ahem..rather large hole there.
The Dao does not ask permission. It does not require it. It just *is*.
The Sysop is not the Dao, but it's primary fundamental trait lacking
for this qualification is not permissiveness or passivity, but it's
origination. The Sysop is an artifact. Dao is (non)design.
But it was a nice try. Pop-culture "Taoism" is not likely to pass unnoticed
in a forum of this caliber. You have people hanging out who know
as much about it as you do about your interests. :)

> Nonetheless, to accuse Friendly AI of being contaminated by
> Judeo-Christian ideas, or to analogize between the Sysop and God, is to
> display Western parochialism. Any culturally sophisticated antagonist
> should accuse Friendly AI of having been contaminated by Taoism and Zen
> Buddhism.
  Eliezar *this* culturally sophisticated 'antagonist' (friendly of course)
immediately point out that there is a wide difference between philosophical
Daoism (and Ch'an Buddhism) as practiced by the clergy, the "vulgar"
religous "Great Dao" practiced in the countryside, and the "Western
Tao" written about in the West these days.
  There is a significant millenariun component to the Great Dao of the
Establishing the "Kingdom of Peace" (funny funny yes?) where war dies and
all things correspond with the Plan of Heaven is in line with a Friendly
But I doubt any of the people involved with Friendly AI know that much about
Eastern thought, to judge from your posts. No offense.
> I deny both accusations, of course, and would as soon draw no analogy at
> all between FAI and *any* religion. You can judge this by the fact that I
> didn't think of this defense for quite some time after hearing the
> original accusations of theological contamination. Still, I thought I'd
> bring it up, since at the last check a few people were still unconvinced.
  I don't think anyone with a bit of sense is thinking of your work as being
"theologically contaminated". The harshest honest criticism possibly
merited is that the mental attitude of hope is incongruent with most common
memes except the religous ones. As a product of the agnostic/aethist/secular
humanist/transhumanist philosophy spectrum FAI is bound to be perceived
in religous terms by the Masses, and in that are the Whore of
Babylon, and the FAI/Sysop is either the Antichrist or the False Prophet.
That's the obvious perception most will make. ::shrugs:::
  I'd be interested however, in a Devil's Advocate post from you, explaining
(satirically) how the Sysop scenario is a manifestation of your own Messiah
complex from an ethnic Jewish POV! Christianity aside. That would be funny.

"What is the saying of the mutual supporting of the hard and the soft?
 The one has never known difficulty if the hard and soft mutuallu assist
each other. Hard and soft should use the Yang and the Yin hands.
This would enable one to open the heaven, expose the earth, and
cause a great wave in the ocean"

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