RE: Re[6]: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 08:01:57 MDT

Cliff wrote:
> BG> Sure, it's not impossible. But unfortunately, I see no reason to
> BG> believe this, other than wishful thinking.
> That's the sense in which I mentioned self-fulfilling prophecy
> thinking being of possible relevance. That is, in the absence of
> concrete data, I think it's more productive if I act *as if* people
> can be convinced of the potential for abundance than if I assume they
> cannot.

Well, for me this is a very concrete decision. What do I spend my time on?

I love AI research, but if it were clear to me I could do much more good by
evangelizing about the future -- trying to convince people to take abundance
into account into their thinking -- then I would do that. Kurzweil has
apparently made that decision -- to evangelize & leave the research to
others, because he feels there are plenty of other smart researchers out
there, but few as well positioned as he is to effectively evangelize....

My decision to commit so much of my life to AI development is partly a
consequence of my guess that AI research is more likely to lead to huge
positive consequences than other things I might do...

> That said, I wouldn't altogether discount the possibility of a
> cultural/spiritual revolution, although I don't think it likely.
> One could argue, for instance, that during the last century in the
> West there's been a rapid (exponential?) rise of the number of people
> interested in what's happening in the world at large and with the time
> to fulfill that interest...

The argument that there's been an exponential increase in peoples' free time
in the West seems fairly weak to me. There has been some increase since the
era of 12-hour days in the factory, but all in all, people seem remarkably
apt at filling up their free time with extra work, with soccer games for
their kids, with anything BUT deep reflection on the nature of themselves
and the cosmos and the future of intelligence ;>

> I have quite a bit of faith that reasonably intelligent folks can be
> convinced of the possibility of, and their self-interest in,
> abundance, but very little such faith when it comes to those parties
> (people and institutions) accustomed to power.

Sure.... The people in power in our society are by and large more
intelligent than average... BUT they have a big status-drive self-interest
in NOT moving toward a society of wild abundance, because in such a society,
the power of themselves and their offspring will likely be less...

-- Ben G

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