Re: Ethics and the Public

From: Christian L. (
Date: Sun Jan 27 2002 - 07:31:50 MST

Cursed be time zones! 37 new messages during the night...! Oh well...

>From: "Simon McClenahan" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: Re: Ethics and the Public
>Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 17:37:46 -0600
>From: "Christian L." <>
> > Suppose the UN decides to ban all Singularity-related research because
> > "incompatible with human dignity". If I understand you correctly, you
> > go ahead anyway to the best of your ability?
>I know I would. Any person, government or society that wishes to oppress me
>is going to get a fight. Not only from me, but from other people who have
>the reasoning capability to understand why I do what I'm doing, and also
>protesters who are against intolerance (who are pro-tolerance) for other
>cultures such as Singulatarians

Not necessarily. This is not like, for instance, people protesting against
the Chinese government harassing the Falun Gong movement, while they
themselves are not religious. If the Falun Gong can live in peace, this does
not affect these protestors directly.

Anyone who supports you in a similar fashion must be a Singularitarian
himself, because the end result of letting you live and work freely would be
the Singularity, which would affect him/her directly. You cannot be
"neutral" about something that will inevitably affect you directly.

>It's scary, but people will get over it.

I don't think so. It took me a number of years to feel comfortable with
transhumanism, and a few extra years to accept the Singularity. I am sure
that many of the members of this list have had a similar experience. The
members of this list are mostly highly educated/intelligent so for a person
of "average" education levels, it should take even longer to "get over it".
If the Singularity is only 10-20 years off, most people will not have gotten
over it in that time, I believe.

I think there is a threshold of how much change people can cope with, and we
are approaching that threshold as we approach the Singularity.

>The next
>generation of children will be born into the scary new world, and the old
>people are going to die along with their fears.

No, if the Singularity is 10-20 years off it is THIS generation that will
face it.

> > There is of course also the inevitable rise of neo-Luddite terrorist
> > who would probably go to any length to stop you. The world will be at
> > for them, literally. They could even have widespread public support.
>Both of these scenarios I consider worst-case, because they would occur
>through lack of reasoning and lack of tolerance.

Not at all, their goal is to stop the Singularity from happening. A good way
of achieving that is by killing the people involved in research. That is not
flawed reasoning. They would probably see it as saving humanity from certain
destruction by inhuman machines.

>Fundamental Muslims,
>Christians, et al. are intolerant groups of people, and they are
>in numbers as we speak.

The only reason for being "tolerant" towards Singularity-related research is
if you want the Singularity to happen. I suspect that the majority of the
world's population don't want that, so they will be an "intolerant group of
people" (with respect to the Singularity).

>Atheism (lazy-ism?) and agnostics are plentiful now
>because their own experiences have shown them that the intolerant religions
>just don't make sense for whatever reason.

No more than 1-3% of the world's population are atheist/agnostics if I
remember correctly.

> > The main problem is, as I described above, for every person that hears
> > S. and is pro-S, there will be 10 that is anti-S.
>Maybe I'm an optimist, but I think that there are more reasonable people in
>the world to reduce that ratio by a lot. Say, 3 to 1.

I speak from personal experience. Most people that I have spoken to about
these issues feel deeply scared about even SL3 material. And most of these
are highly intelligent. I think the deepest cause of this is the inherited
fear of change. Transhumanism is about embracing change, and
Singularitarianism even more so.

What are your own experience when talking to people about SL3-4 stuff?


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