Re: Opting out of the Sysop scenario?

From: Durant Schoon (
Date: Mon Aug 06 2001 - 12:17:24 MDT

> From: James Higgins <>
> Further, why couldn't individuals come and go from the Sysop's
> sphere? Let's say I want to go check out Alpha Centauri. The sysop denies
> me this ability because that is outside her control. I leave the Sysop's
> domain, travel to Alpha Centarui, do my stuff and then return, reentering
> the Sysop's domain.
> So, what are your thoughts?

What? and bring back a Trojan Horse from an UnFriendly SI? ;-)


As Dan Clemmensen mentioned:

"The sysop controls and allocates all available resources."

which has an underlying assumption to it, that is, when the
Singularity ramps up, we are speculating that we will spread
nano-spores to investigate and colonize all matter that has no
detectable sentience beings present. Isn't it interesting that
the arc of Life to fill every available niche might scale to all
known mattter.

This does, however, sound a bit like that nasty human project of
just a few generations back: Imperialism, only now on a galactic
scale. Hopefully Friendly Imperialism (preserving and enhancing
volition) is actually the right thing to do (I think it is). The
SI is charged with coming up with some version of a Prime
Directive(*). So shortly after Singularity (or part of) we spread
out to Alpha Centauri and reach all places where one might even
think of travelling. Where ever you go, we will be there. The
good thing is that if an Alien SI has something better than
Friendliness, our SI should be smart enough to adopt it. (Scotty,
Memetic Shields on full!)

One possibility is that all the dark matter in the universe is
already "colonized" by an earlier SI.


There is another psychological aspect of JamesH's concern and that
is control. Humans (and many other animals) hate to be under the
control of another. As someone who likes the idea of a Unix Reality
Scenario(*), I have to tell you I am not a masochist who would
ordinarily like to have my entire world dictated to me. However, I
am quite willing to enter into a social contract which protects
my volition and the volition of others I care about, just like I
use a version of UNIX at work which (mostly) protects people from
destroying other's data (purposefully or otherwise). I do not rebel
against this, protesting my lack of permission to roam around and
view everyone's files. I guess some people might feel this is an
unfair limitation, but I doubt they would last long at any company.

Perhaps we can think about it as a legal system. We all agree to obey
the rules for our own protection, vs. reverting to anarchy. This is
a starting point however, because any technologically deficient Legal
System can't statisfy everyone. The current U.S. system violates the
volition of, say, murderers and adults who want to have sex with
children. It allows humans to slaughter animals which really annoys
members of PETA. It allows abortions which really annoys the Christian
Right. It prevents you from growing certain natural plants and
smoking them. In a VR enhanced society with Friendliness, we can live
out our fantasies, whatever they are, in complete safety with respect
to other sentient beings. A lowest level prevention mechanism of a
physical operating system would prevent one sentient from actually
harming another.

This "prevention" though, is a form of "control". There seems no way
around it. It is the *feeling* of being under another's control that
is bitterly rejected. Perhaps one way out of the contradiction is to
voluntarily live in a make believe world where we "think" we have
complete free will and then periodically are "revived", reminded
that we, ourselves, set ourselves up to believe this fake reality for
our own peace of mind and are given the choice of continuing the
simulation or not.

On the one hand, we want freedom. On the other we don't want to
allow ourselves to harm one another.


Would you be willing to take "The Illusion of Freedom with Periodic
Resuscitation" as a compromise? ;-) If not you could always stay
on old Earth OR try to travel faster than the galactically
spreading'll have those real choices at least. The other
way is to deactive your "need" to feel free of the Operating System,
but for some reason, I don't think you'd want to do that.

(*) As in Star Trek's Prime Directive not to interfere with a less
advanced civilization.

(**) Are we trying to replace the phrase "Sysop", which is too

Durant Schoon

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