Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Apr 11 2002 - 03:07:57 MDT

Evan Reese wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carlo Wood" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Sunday, April 07, 2002 7:11 AM
> Subject: Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)
>>Actually, apart from the singularity (which was a new idea to
>>me recently), I've always been convinced that humanity will
>>die unless we manage to get away from this planet and
>>colonize other planets. If not because there is a high risk
>>of putting ALL our genes (and everything we every accomplished)
>>on one planet together with atom bombs and polution, or because
>>soon we'll run out of materials, energy and destroy our environment
>>behond the point where we can survive, then because the sun
>>will burn up (or explode) in the end.
> That's several billion years from now, and I think we'll be able to handle
> that, or be long gone before then. The rest of this is just bogus.

Huh? That climate change is a threat is not bogus. Nor is the
danger inherent in a full atomic exchange (which is still
unfortunately possible), or wreaking the ozone layer and
overeating the planet, or being whacked by a couple of
kilometers of nickel-iron meteor. All of these and more are a
real danger as long as we are on one planet and at our present
level of effective intelligence. If we develop nanotech at our
present level of effective intelligence and wisdom there is also
quite considerable threat along with promise.

>>If you look at the way the whole industry has evolved till now
>>then it isn't reasonable to expect we will change anything until it
>>is too late (poisoned atmosphere, more humans then the earth
>>and feed and a civilisation that is fragile and will break
>>down totally when we don't even get MORE people, MORE pollution
>>and MORE raw materials; which is impossible at some point).
> The atmosphere is a lot cleaner now than it was even 20, let alone 50 years
> ago. The population in the developed world is already below replacement
> level, and the rest of the world is showing signs of leveling off as well.
> As I said, bogus.

The world is also a bit hotter and the ozone hole is relatively
new on that timescale. Way too much of our human resources are
undereducated, undernourished and so on to be of maximum benefit
to themselves and all of us. Most of our intelligence, energy
and resources is used in the goal of accumulating more monetary
tokens than all those others one is in competition with. The
current scarcity based model imho, can lead to not much better
even in the face of real physical and information abundance.

>>Whether you like it or not, the progress that humanity is
>>making (and is needed for the Singularity), like the computer
>>market (and needed research fundings) and internet is going
>>to fall down when America, or Europe or Japan etc turns into
>>an area like Libanon or Irak. Humanity is constantly on the
>>edge of Not Making It. Perhaps there will not be total self-
>>destruction, but surely we won't get another chance to colonize
>>other planets, or initiate the Singularity.
> U.s. turning into something like Lebanon or Iraq? Where's your evidence for
> this nutty statement? Yes, nutty. I stand by my description.

Well we do have a rabid evangelical at the head of Justice, a
president who many will argue was not duly elected and who does
not read his briefing papers generally but has them read to him,
a cabinet full of relics from 10-20 years ago administration,
increasing attacks on human rights and security of person and
effects, a much larger percentage of people in jail than any
other nation, a press that is overly-homogenized and sanitized
and a wacky notion of never ending war againt "the Evil Ones".
We have forces working hard to kill the power of nearly
limitless access to information and computational capability. So
yes, imho, this country could very quickly go to the dogs. Will
it be like Lebanon or Iraq? Dunno. But if it doesn't change
its course where it ends up will almost certainly not be pretty.

>>Intelligent people realize this.
> You mean that anyone who doesn't see things the way you do isn't
> intelligent?
>>Some react with depression.
>>Some react by starting to party and drink alcohol.
>>Some react by putting all their energy into initiating the Singularity.
> I never said, nor would I say, that people should not invest their energies
> in advancing the singularity. (Although I don't think it will really affect
> the arrival date one iota.) I was simply asking Eliezer why he thought so
> much effort was necessary to advance something that is already advancing
> quite rapidly, and why he seemed to think humanity was toast if it didn't
> come off.

If people do not invest in Singularity it will not happen or we
will not survive it. Why? Because without investment in the
benefits of increasing techological prowess and direction toward
the goals that truly lead to abundance AND greater effective
intelligence, we could easily degenerate socially and
politically to the point where a deadly war or getting caught by
some other tragedy is quite likely before the point of no return
to Singularity is acheived. If we are together enough on a war
footing to keep advancing to the point of no return then the
escalation of ultra-high-tech weaponry will very likely finish
us off before we pass Singularity. Our weapons and their brains
may survive us but I doubt we will survive them.

So I would advise people to work toward Singularity and toward a
state of psychology and sociology geared toward abundance and
producing an unlimited future. I would advise everyone to work
toward it as if your life and the life and destiny of the entire
human race depends on it. Because it does.

- samantha

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