Re: Ethics and the Public

From: Christian L. (
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 14:46:58 MST

Eliezer wrote:
>In matters like these,
>opinions have weight because of their factual correctness or

>In terms of ultimate goals, if 99% of the people on Earth
>don't want the Singularity for itself, they are welcome to stay on Earth
>after the Singularity finishes, but I must deny them their moral right to
>deny me transhumanity based on their own moral judgements. *That* part is

Suppose the UN decides to ban all Singularity-related research because it is
"incompatible with human dignity". If I understand you correctly, you would
go ahead anyway to the best of your ability?

The reason I ask is because I think that this is the most likely outcome if
a sufficient number of people understood the concept of the Singularity and
believed that it was a real possibility. The UN is now debating a world-wide
ban on human cloning for no other reason than that cloning is scary stuff
(see "dignity" above). And as you all know, the implications of cloning is
nothing compared to those of the Singularity.

If not an outright ban on AI-related research, my guess is that you could
face a 10-year moratorium on AI-research (precautionary principle and all
that). In this timeframe, there could be nanotech grey goo disasters or what
have you.

There is of course also the inevitable rise of neo-Luddite terrorist groups
who would probably go to any length to stop you. The world will be at stake
for them, literally. They could even have widespread public support.

>the *only* acceptable excuse for obeying public opinion in a
>case like that is if you genuinely think that the large majority opinion
>is correct.

With all this in mind, and what Eliezer wrote above, I suggest a simpler way
of meme-spreading than what's been suggested by most people here: Don't do
it. Don't spread the meme.

Just how getting the Sing-meme widespread would greatly benefit the
Singularity is not at all obvious to me. These are the reasons I have come

1) More people hear about the Singularity ==> More brilliant AI-programmers
and open minded investors hear about S.

Brilliant AI programmers would probably hear about you anyway. Investors
would be harder to get probably, but not impossible.
The main problem is, as I described above, for every person that hears about
S. and is pro-S, there will be 10 that is anti-S.

2) If the meme start spreading anyway, it would be better if we put some
positive spin on it to begin with.

This is probably true, but I think what positive spin SingInst/SL4 produces
will be swamped by negative spin once the meme is out in the media. Some
people have stated that the meme is bound to start spreading (like the
HIV-virus i believe the metaphor was). I do not think this must be the case
(I could elaborate on this, but in a separate post).

3) People have a right to know. (This is mostly unspoken, but this might be
the strongest reason for some)

People would also have a right to see the other side of the Singularity. If
the two "rights" are mutually exclusive (which I think they are), one must
take precedent over the other. To me, the obvious choice is the Singularity.

Are there more reasons that I have left out that are more/as important?

I think that making the S-meme widespread would harm your work more than
help it. Since SingInst is thinking about paying people to do logotypes, I
must suppose you don't agree with me. What are your arguments for this?


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