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

From: Chris Rae (
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 09:41:06 MDT

Hi guys,

I'm new to the SL4 list, so please, be gentle ;)

I've been lurking for a few days, and feel I have something to contribute
to the thread...

> How big would the temptation be for any current superpower to grab the
> first workable nanotech or the first usable general AI and use it to
> wield power over others?

I couldn't agree more! In fact, the temptation IS too great according to
the following:

It seems that the use of future tech is already being considered as a
'politically useful tool' by the likes of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfield.

>Again, I don't think convincing humanity at large is of anywhere near
>the importance as is convincing those in power -- those who have a far
>greater ability, and IMO greater subjective motivation (misguided, but
>present) to stop or divert progress towards universal abundance.

I agree, but I doubt very much that you would be successful in convincing
those with power to submit to anything but a greater power. In fact, I
think you would end up encased in a 44 gallon drum and sent to the bottom
of the ocean if you tried to sell the case for abundance. Even though the
ship (humanity) may be sinking, you are asking people to give up their
first class cabin to try & paddle it to an island paradise that's beyond
the horizon. The very means (greed) by which these people have attained
their position within the hierarchy dictates that they will not give up
what they have without a fight.

I have put some thought into this a few months ago, & came to the
conclusion that the only viable means of dismantling the hierarchical power
structures (economic or political) humanity has created, is from the bottom
up. One possible solution is abundance. By suppling the desires of the
masses with material wealth (presumably from a general assembler created by
an AI), the structure of the hierarchy will begin to disintegrate as the
individuals are no longer bound by financial necessity.

However, it is likely to be 10-20 years before this is possible. In the
mean time, I believe it is possible to make substantial progress towards
this scenario - before a general assembler is available. For example, one
idea I am actively pursue is creating a software company that has no
internal hierarchy. There are no company owners, shareholders or managers.
Instead, workers are organized into cells, such as 'development', 'sales',
'support' etc. The idea is that each worker is an entity that is equal in
every respect - including their share of the profit that the cell makes.
The catch is, that because there are no business owners siphoning off
profit (which is how the elite attain their wealth), the company will be
able to offer substantially higher wages to it's workers. Also, because
making profit is the responsibility of the workers, the cell will function
at maximum efficiency. Basically, each individual is directly responsible
for their own income, the business is just a frame work in which they
operate. If this type of model proves successful it will spread very
quickly. This will erode the hierarchical economic power structure created
by capitalism by eliminating the accumulation of massive sums of wealth -
from the bottom up. Basically, the idea is: you can't be an emperor if you
have no slaves.

Currently, this is about as far as I have gone with the concept, as I'm now
focusing all my efforts into establishing the software company. My point
is, that there are things we can do today that will 'prepare' humanity for
the singularity, we just need to be creative, and if necessary play the
game on the level that the greedy, selfish individuals who currently hold
power (by appealing to the masses own sense of greed to create conformity).
I believe that "scarcity based" / "zero sum" / "selfish" thinking is 90%
nurture and 10% nature, here's why:

However, the question we should be asking is how long can we continue on
our current trajectory, and does that leave us with enough time to reach
the singularity. I strongly believe that recent world events are an
indication of the current economic/social/political crisis (mainly within
the US). My reasoning is, that 18 months ago, I would have laughed at the
idea there could be a nuclear exchange, but today, I consider it a very
real (currently however, very unlikely) possibility - IF things turn ugly
in the middle east and Israel or Pakistan (the 2 nearest nuclear powers)
are dragged into the war. I realize that this situation is completely out
of our control, however, it is important to recognize that global stability
may diminish in the future and apply that knowledge to any long term plans.


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