Re: Pre-Singularity human enlightenment

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Sep 23 2002 - 00:55:32 MDT

mike99 wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>>1: See whether humans can use feedback from realtime fMRI to help
>>identify internal rationalization, hatred, tribal-based thinking, etc.
>>You may not get all the bugs, but if you can get just some, it may be
>>enough to tip the internal mental balance. Evolution has no experience
>>puppeteering humans with access to that information.
> I would like to see this attempted. It may, however, require far smaller,
> portable equipment in order to capture the brain events in the midst of
> real-life activities. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging in this
> way could be similar to the use of biofeedback machines by meditators. Also,
> the work of Dr. Michael Persinger at Laurentian University in applying
> external magnetic field to induce brain changes may give some hints.
> Persinger is especially interested in how transient electrical spikes in the
> temporal lobe are correlated with subjective reports of blissful, unitary
> mystical states. Stimulating different areas can result in hellish, paranoid
> states.

I believe if you look up SQUIDs
( and can predict
effective room temperature superconductors and continued
miniturization of electronics that you end up with a quite
effective way to watch the brain at work. I do not agree
however that you will find most of the itneresting large scale
patterns, for good or ill, simply by mapping the brain at such a
level, much less effective means of accentuating the positive
patterns and mitigating the negative ones.

>>2: Collaborative filtering and/or the Earthweb; a means whereby one good
>>idea can very rapidly spread to billions and be built upon by thousands.
>>Accelerated memetic evolution.
> I think the Net has already shown us that this is a real possibility. In
> order to work effectively though, we probably need ubiquitous computing,
> high-bandwidth wireless, and sufficient security/authentication so that
> people feel comfortable with a high degree of intimate real-time
> communication.

It can, I believe, work quite effectively long before most of
this is in place. I do agree that security of a kind that is
*not* seen as synonymous with zero privacy would be a very good
thing fo this and other purposes. I don't know that more
ubiquitous computing that a web-app would be absolutely
essential at this point and while high-bandwidth wireless is on
my shopping list for many reasons I don't think it is essential
to an EarthWeb scenario - high bandwidth yes, wireless not

>>Or computer-mediated telepathy between 64-node clustered humans whose
>>prefrontal cortices have learned to talk to one another over meganeuron
>>broadband connections.
> This is a development I'd like to see, but one which would probably freak
> out a lot of the population, even if they had no interaction with the
> clustered humans. We need to watch our backs for approaching peasants with
> pitchforks when we begin walking down this road. Scare headline: "When SL0's
> Attack!"

If they like that then they will just love what happens when we
have early neural i/o with wearable computers and ubiquitous
high-speed wireless. Persons so equipped have access to the
global computer grid and to one another to a degree that can
verge on telepathy I see no reason it would be limited to
specialized 64-node clusters with surgical enhancements. They
would simply be better at it.

>>Some form of transhumanity which can be achieved as rapidly as possible
>>using our existing technological base; that's a big enough hammer. I
>>don't believe there's much else that *really would* work, however nice it
>>Uplifting the heart and firing the imagination is a crucial part of
>>reaching enough people, but having a workable strategy comes first.
>>Otherwise the cheering doesn't *accomplish* anything. Humans like
>>cheering and will cheer whether or not anything gets done as a result. I
>>am deeply suspicious of cheering, and I speak as a cheerleader.
> I agree that cheering is both necessary and insufficient. In fact, wrongly
> used it can be downright counterproductive. Homo sapiens in large groups can
> be swept up in mass cheering to the point that they abandon reason and go
> with surges of emotion.

What I am talking about hasn't a darn thing to do with
"cheering" of this kind and it certainly doesn't have anything
to do with Nazi mass-hysteria (below).

> There is a reason why the Nazis favored mass
> rallies held at night with torches, marching bands, and emotional speeches
> designed to pluck the heartstrings of nationalism, tribalism, racism, etc.
> Subtract the racism and similar ideas, replace them with salvation through
> faith, change the musical genre, and you're got a Christian fundamentalist
> revival meeting.

While some revival meetings and equivalent mass therapy programs
and so on use explicitly or implicitly certain techniques of
mass mental programming, this also has not a damn thing to do
with what I was speaking of.

- samantha

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