Re: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Sep 15 2002 - 17:18:23 MDT

mike99 wrote:

> Much though I would prefer to agree with Samantha here about the potential
> for spiritually-based transformation of consciousness on a mass scale, I am
> compelled by my knowledge of history and by my personal experience in this
> realm to conclude that any such transformation will be small-scale and
> individual. Like Ben, I think our human shortcomings--what Stewart Brand
> calls our "human cussedness"--as being hard-wired artifacts of our
> evolutionary origins. We need transhuman transformation to overcome these on
> a mass scale. (One or two Gandhis we can get now, but that's not enough.)
> And, in my opinion, that needed transhuman transformation will not transpire
> without some essential tools, the most important of which is Friendly AI.

Perhaps, while we can't espect a major spiritual transformation,
we can expect enough of a shift in beliefs and perceptions that
we can re-order some of our institutions, our economics and
parts of our politics and expectations to be based on abundance
ratheer than scarcity. I don't think it requires turning
everyone or even thousands into a fully realized master or even
a serious spiritual seeker in order to accomplish a real
transformation of how many things in this world work (more or
less) today. It does require a new vision of what is possible
and some progress on making it real.

I don't think so much is so hard-wired that it is beyond our
efforts to overcome, transcend or ameliorate some of its
effects. Especially not now as we come to understand our own
genome and our own brains. The history of civilization shows
that we can overcome to some degree at least, even without such
knowledge and the positive effect of increasing abundance. I
don't think it is wired into our evolution that the only way to
live is through endless competition for material things even in
times of great abundance. There are certainly many societies in
near-paradisical conditions that don't seem to be driven so
deeply by evolution in such directions. I don't think it is
hardwired that everything should have a price put on it and be
owned by someone, especially not in the realm of information and

I don't agree we have to wait for hardware upgrades to get on
with changing some of the base assumptions that are ripping our
world apart.

> There are no guarantees that we will succeed in this endeavor. But what
> choice do what have except to try? The alternative is either to go on as
> things are now until humanity kills itself (or dies off), or else to
> transcend into transhumanity via a positive Singularity.

I don't think positive Singularity is just or even primarily a
matter of technology.

- samantha

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