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

From: Christian L. (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 18:34:51 MDT

John Stick wrote:
>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

The function of the Sysop is to give me what I want without violating the
volition of others. Intellectual property rules are a way of saying: My wish
is that you do not own this information/code. This is a request, but it
violates my volition, because I want that information. The person I get it
from is not harmed in any way by the fact that I can copy that information.
Therefore intellectual property would probably not be allowed in the sysop
scenario. Information would be free.

>2) Any information/code created directly for you as the basis of a trade

...could be created by the Sysop for free (granting a request).

>3) Any information/code the Sysop decides for whatever reason it doen't
>to give you. Maybe it will think that self-reliance builds character.

Well, this is not what I call Friendly behaviour since it violates my
violition. Compare: Maybe it thinks that agonizing pain builds character
(what doesn't kill you makes you stronger). If the sysop think I need
character building, it could ask my premission to alter my "mind-file".

> >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,

Not so. My point with the painting was: if you like the writing of a
(non-sysop) journalist, you get a copy of his work at Sysop Times[TM].

>points of view are so dissimilar I doubt the rest of this conversation will

Dissimilarity can be stimulating, don't you agree?

>2) I assume the Sysop will be a special purpose AI who does not fill all
>roles of a general AI citizen, for the same reason judges are not
>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.

I don't follow you... Are you saying for example that the Sysop cannot run a
newspaper because all the articles would be pro-Sysop? The primary function
is to be the granter of wishes. How would that function degrade if it has
various roles?

> > 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!)

See intellectual property above. No, the Sysop wouldn't steal the painting,
that would violate the painter's volition (I assume she would like to keep
her painting). Why would I want to steal it when I can have a perfect copy?

> >
> > 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

Violation of volition is harm.

>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.

Yes, privacy is an interesting question. Personally I think that my need for
knowing what color your underpants are overrides your need to keep that fact
to yourself. (So, tell me already! ;) ) I cannot see what purpose not
letting anyone know that information would have, since noone can use the
information (or any information) to harm you.

>2) Conspicuous consumption. (Or do you think that come the revolution we
>will outlaw conspicuous consumption?)

Since I had never heard this term before, I googled it and found:

"In the late nineteenth century, the economist and sociologist Thorstein
coined the term "conspicuous consumption" to describe the ostentatious
squandering of resources by the wealthy classes."

So, you would buy security just to show off that you have money(energy)? I
think you would be hard pressed to find someone willing to give you their
energy in the first place.

> >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.

This is indeed possible, but the Sysop would still be the smartest, no? If
not, some UnFriendly AI could take over. And if you can be tought by the
smartest for free, why pay for someone less smart?

>I assume specialization will triumph over one omnicompetent

Wouldn't those specializations be sub-processes of the Sysop?

>Perhaps we could design a world where each person only
>interacted with the Sysop, who recreated an entire artificial world for
>of us designed to make us happy, but do we want to?

"We" has nothing to do with it. As Maggie Thatcher said: there is no
society, only individuals. If someone wants to sit blissed out in a
VR-world, that is what he'll do.

>I think one part of
>Eli's design of friendliness, with an accent on preserving citizen
>is to design an AI that would reject that type of Sysop role.

Yes, if by "that role" you mean forcing everyone to sit blissed out in front
of their proverbial TV-screens.

>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.

Yes, everyone will do what he wishes. But each task that a lesser Power can
handle, the Sysop can handle better. Therefore, no need to pay a lesser
Power to do something when you can get it for free from the Sysop.

> >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,

Therapy can be done easily with rewiring. If you want to talk to a stranger
about your problems, talk to a Sysop avatar. Same with sex. If the Sysop can
take you to unimaginable heights of eroticicm for free, why would you go to
a crummy red-light district place and pay for it?

Or you could always talk about problems with your friends (that is free
too). Or have sex with them.

I don't see why you would pay to go into a bar. Everyone in the bar could
use their share of matter/energy to replicate beer, snacks or what have you.
Most people you meet in a bar would not charge you for speaking with them,
and the same if you want to have sex (and they want it too of course).
Above goes for bowling too.

>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.

That is a scenario, given the circumstances (Sysop).

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

The point was that he IS Santa Claus. The scenario would be that the Sysop
divides the matter evenly between the people, and you could do what you want
with your share.

>Otherwise, some designs
>will be free and some won't.

This would not be considered Friendly.

> >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.

If you want to live in meatspace, you could use your share of matter to
replicate a space-station where you and your friends could live.

>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.

Strictly speaking, this is not space, this is space and lots of matter. The
sysop would distribute the matter evenly, and maybe the space too. If a
person grabs all space around the planets of Sol-system and charges everyone
who tries to fly there, that would be a breach of the volition of the people
who want to fly there.

> >Why would there be a shortage of space?
>Why are land values high in Los Vegas, when there is empty desert all
>it? Why do people pay for domain names, when there are so many unclaimed?

That's because you have lots of infrastructure in Las Vegas and not in the
desert. In the sysop scenario, infrastructure is everywhere so one place is
probably as good as another.

If your domain name was a place to live, why would it matter if you lived in instead of

> > The only truly valuable thing post-singularity is probably only matter
> > 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.

Hmm... I shouldn't have said "post-singularity". What I meant was: given the
premises of the Sysop-scenario, the only valuables would be energy
(Information would be valuable of course but free, so you can't trade it
(like James Higgins said)). I am not claiming to make predictions here. I
don't think we can understand the post-singularity world, but the Sysop
scenario is probably as plausible as anything...

I am simply arguing about the possible behaviours of creatures with
intelligence close to humans in the Sysop scenario. I would wager that there
will be no (or very little) trade going on, since you can get just about any
information for free and you have only one thing to trade: energy/matter.

>(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.

I certainly hope to stick around. If we read this conversation as a
prediction however, I am predicting that we will both be wrong. ;)

>John Stick


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