RE: September 11: International Enough Day

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Sep 11 2002 - 18:44:03 MDT

> September 11th a day of remembrance? Perhaps. If one sentient being
> dies, that is a tragedy. If 3,000 sentient beings die, it is a
> proportionally greater tragedy. But let us also remember that the 3,000
> people who died in the World Trade Center were no more and no less
> precious than the other 150,000 people who died on that day; or the day
> before; or the day after; or any day throughout humanity's millennia-long
> history; for with each of them the universe lost something precious and
> unique before it had a chance to flower; and yet their lives were not
> wasted, for before they died they carried on the torch that would one day
> light the Singularity. It is a proud and terrible thing to be one of the
> very, very few sentients born before the Singularity; a mixture
> of tragedy
> and triumph, vulnerability and power.

Well, I guess that's one way to look at it ;)

It is interesting how our different human emotion makeups give us such
different emotional reactions to things like death and the Singularity

If no Singularity ever happens, then as far as I'm concerned, people's lives
*still* weren't wasted.

The Singularity will be the greatest achievement in human history, but yet,
it doesn't feel right to me to speak of it as if it's the *main thing* that
keeps human lives from being wasted.... What gives human lives meaning, in
large part, is the individual moments that constitute their

I don't think that dying before the Singularity is either proud or terrible.
I definitely don't see the "proud" part -- why be proud about happenstance?
And the terror of death is balanced by various joys that come along with the
knowledge of death, in complex & subtle ways....

For example, my grandfather is 87 and will die in the next 10 years most
likely. He is certainly not proud of this, but nor does he find it
terrible; he finds it natural and is basically pleased with the life he's
had, and comfortable with its finitude. He is nonreligious and believes in
no afterlife...

I find the thought of my own *premature* death or the premature death of my
family terrifying emotionally, but I don't find death via old age nearly so
terrifying -- though I do wish to avoid it. I also think that uploading and
drastically improving/modifying my mind may turn out being effectively a
form of death to my current human self, unless I decide to keep a copy of my
current self around for nostalgia purposes ;)

Of course, all this isn't the sort of thing that can be meaningfully argued
about; these emotional reactions are things we experience, not things we
reason to.... And ultimately, I think the Singularity is gonna take about
the same course regardless of the particular flavor of our feelings toward

-- Ben G

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:41 MDT