Re: Post-Singularity Trade (was: Sysops, volition, and opting out)

From: John Stick (
Date: Mon Aug 13 2001 - 21:14:58 MDT

Concerning the question of trade post-singularity, Christian L. scoffed as

> What kind of information/code can you not get from the Sysop?

1) Any information/code protected by intellectual property rules
2) Any information/code created directly for you as the basis of a trade
3) Any information/code the Sysop decides for whatever reason it doen't want
to give you. Maybe it will think that self-reliance builds character.

>Wouldn't the
> Sysop be the best journalist or provide the best entertainment/art?

1) If you think only the best journalist or artist is worth your regard, our
points of view are so dissimilar I doubt the rest of this conversation will
help. Most people like a variety of perspectives, and develop personal
attachments to particular writers, journalists and artists.
2) I assume the Sysop will be a special purpose AI who does not fill all the
roles of a general AI citizen, for the same reason judges are not advocates,
and high goverment officials are not concurrently in business (except for
corrupt regimes like our current administration), the conflict of interest
between the various roles would degrade the Sysop's ability to fulfill its
primary functions.

> If a human made a great painting, you could always tell the Sysop to
> replicate one for you.

For free? No royalties? You could also tell it to steal it. The question
is whether it would do what you ask. (Napster has a lot to answer for!)

> Security? The primary goal of the Sysop is security. What use would a
> bodyguard have if no one can harm you?

 1) The Sysop will certainly provide basic security services to prevent
major harms. Whether it will provide all possible security services, and
whether it will agree with you as to what constitutes a harm are separate
questions. People hire nontech security now not only to backstop the
police, but also to do things the police won't, like put their bodies
inbetween papparazi cameras and famous faces.
2) Conspicuous consumption. (Or do you think that come the revolution we
will outlaw conspicuous consumption?)

>If you want to learn something, who
> would be the best teacher? A human or a Superintelligence?

This may be the heart of our disagreement. I envisage a future with many
"Superintelligences", an entire ecology, not just us humans and single
parent Sysop. I assume specialization will triumph over one omnicompetent
supercitizen. Perhaps we could design a world where each person only
interacted with the Sysop, who recreated an entire artificial world for each
of us designed to make us happy, but do we want to? I think one part of
Eli's design of friendliness, with an accent on preserving citizen autonomy,
is to design an AI that would reject that type of Sysop role. I expect the
Sysop, and friendly major powers generally, to leave to lesser powers and
humans (which may become lesser powers eventually for all we know) those
tasks that they can handle.

>And frankly, if
> you are so extremely shy that you need to PAY people to talk to you, the
> Sysop kan kindly ask your permission to rewire some basic social skills
> you.
Considering the billions people currently pay for conversation and
associated activities, from therapy and sexwork to bars and bowling leagues,
I suspect that your vision of the future is not that everyone develops
social skills, but that everyone gives up on them and just lives in a
solopsistic world with the Sysop.

> Who would pay for a device constructed by a (trans)human when he can get a
> superior device for free?

You really don't believe in the Prophet Heinlein and the holy word of
TANSTAAFL, do you? Again, even if nanomanufacturing is effectively free,
and I expect that will only be true if you keep your desires small, design
work will be free only if the Sysop is Santa Claus. Otherwise, some designs
will be free and some won't.

>What do you mean by trading space? How many cubic
> light-years do you need? For what?

I just need a location close to my friends and far away from people who are
rude or aggravating. Funny how that always seems to cost something. And if
you think some people will not try to grab prime real estate, such as the
sphere around any star out to the orbit of the third or fourth planet, you
have never met a real estate developer.

>Why would there be a shortage of space?

Why are land values high in Los Vegas, when there is empty desert all around
it? Why do people pay for domain names, when there are so many unclaimed?
> The only truly valuable thing post-singularity is probably only matter and
> energy, or only energy if you consider E=mc^2,

I cannot think of any prediction about life after the Singularity that is
less likely to be true. (Again, assuming that we do not all merge into a
single hive mind.) Here's hoping we are both around to see who was right.

John Stick

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