Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

From: Evan Reese (
Date: Fri Apr 12 2002 - 00:40:19 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Samantha Atkins" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2002 2:07 AM
Subject: Re: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

> Evan Reese wrote:
> > Carlo Wood wrote:
> >>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
> > 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.

The fact that the climate is warming is not bogus, but the climate change is
a threat is. It comes about from the generalized fear of change that is a
part of many people's outlook. The geological shows that a warmer Earth
than the one we have now is far from a threat..

As far as these others: There is a big difference between 'possible' and
'real danger'. At the rate tech is advancing, if a rock doesn't blam us in
the next 30 years, then it's not a threat; before that time, it's irrational
to worry about something we are in no position to deal with.

 Nuclear exchange? Between whom? The only other country with enough nukes
to threaten a worldwide catastrophe is Russia, and the possibility of an
exchange between us and them is remote. Certainly, other countries have
some, and others will have them in the future; but a few detonations -
tragic though that may be - does not a racial wipeout make. You need a lot
more than any of these countries have - or will have presingularity - for
any real danger of that.
> >
> >>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
> > 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
> > 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.
Those are - in themselves - not very good things, but they hardly constitute
an 'Eve of Destruction' scenario. I think you're being self-indulgent - as
many moderns are - who are still in a paleolithic mindset, looking around
for threats from the predators and worrying about whether the crops will be
flooded out or dry up and blow away and all those other threats our
ancestors had to face just to survive. (Someone should write a book called
_The Maladapted Mind_ showing how many of our ancient adapted mentality is
out of step with the modern society.)

> >>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
> > 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".

Maybe you advocate just turning the other cheek to those responsible for
911, but I do not. So you disagree with - or don't like - whose in office.
There are forces militating against the extremes these people *might* in
their heart of hearts want to go to that do not exist in dictatorships.
That's what checks and balances are for. They work pretty well, overall; so
I think your unrealistically extrapolating what some of these people *might*
like to do into actual actions that won't happen under our system of

The media is a helluva lot bigger than the big media companies (I guess)
you're thinking of. I can get news from all over the world, so can anyone
else with an account. So even if you are correct, it is immaterial. The
world is more than just the U.S.

> 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.

There are always opposing forces in 'life, the universe, and everything'.
The question is: Which direction is the tide flowing? I think the tide is
flowing toward a positive future, and it only gets more powerful with
passing time. Some people want to control information or resources for
their own selfish ends; they always have. They'll either realize which way
the wind (changing metaphors in midstream, here) is blowing and tack
accordingly, or get smashed against the shoals of history. The collapse of
the Soviet Union is only the most prominent recent example of this. The
list could be expanded at great length.

Change to what? Everybody wants changes of some kind or another. I want
some things to change, as well. The difference between us is that I do not
have apocoliptic visions if things don't turn out the way I'd prefer. Maybe
that's where you need to get your energy from to move forward. If so,
that's unfortunate. But I don't feel a threat of doom hanging over me to
motivate me to act. I think that's a sad way to live if that's the case.

> >
> >>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
> > in advancing the singularity. (Although I don't think it will really
> > the arrival date one iota.) I was simply asking Eliezer why he thought
> > much effort was necessary to advance something that is already advancing
> > quite rapidly, and why he seemed to think humanity was toast if it
> > 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.

As I've already said, I don't believe any of this
> 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.
No, it doesn't

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