Re: Pre-Singularity human enlightenment

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Sun Sep 22 2002 - 00:26:17 MDT


SA>ESY> Okay. I have no problem with restricting it to the last 10,000
SA>ESY> years if it's something that requires writing but hasn't been tried
SA>ESY> over that time, or the last 500 years if it's something that
SA>ESY> requires printing but has never been tried, and is significantly
SA>ESY> different and significantly more powerful than anything that has
SA>ESY> previously been tried.

SA> I am attempting to point out that exponentially increasing
SA> technology cuts more than one way. It enables psychological,
SA> social and economic changes that would not have been considred
SA> or would not have been viable earlier. I also have some
SA> misgiving about the truly effective or worth doing, by
SA> implication above, being limited to the "significantly
SA> different" and "significantly more powerful". It tends to
SA> limit consideration to *the* most singnificantly different and
SA> more powerful we can conceive of. It tends to miss cumulative
SA> effects.

SA> If you can focus enough people a bit differently that can
SA> accomplish wonders. It is a lot more than "cheering". It is
SA> changed lives, perceptions and actions (to name a short list)
SA> that I am after. I want to see a changed set of assumptions
SA> about what life is about and what its possibilities are, locally
SA> and globally.

Samantha, I agree. Cultural change does accrete and accumulate --
often in ways difficult to see when one is in the midst of it.
Cultural change has been accelerating right along with technological
change -- to paint a picture in terms of forces, yes largely driven by
it, but that misses some essential points.


Example one: was Jesus' approach a "failure"? Surely this is too
simplistic a way to view things. He (or at least someone or some
group or *something*) had a huge impact. That the message was
subverted within a century or two (or 70 years) does not mean the
message had no impact. It is in fact impossible to assess these
things as we don't have a spare control society handy -- at least
until we develop the parallel time machine ;) Perhaps things would
have been worse without that message; perhaps it made some things
worse short term, but better over the long term...hard to say,
although I lean towards a time-released-/time-bomb-meme

(side note: condemning usury / advocating for an interest
free form of currency IMO encourages abundance thinking)

So. Let's take some other cases, less emburdened by the myriad
ideological skirmishes small and large that have accreted to the Jesus
story over the centuries.

Ghandi: quite successful in spreading a non-violence-as-both-ethic-
and-tactic meme. Not an unqualified, overwhelming 100% of the world
followed his example success to be sure. But certainly no "failure".

Ghandi's autobiography and _Ghandi_ were worldwide successes. What's
the most recent century in which the civilized world embraced a
story featuring a non-violence preaching and practicing hero?

Influence, too. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement did
much to spread those memes -- and this converges with technological
acceleration of communications technologies: TV footage and newspaper
imagery did much to capture the imagination. Putting a flower in the
barrel of that gun. Monks burning themselves over Vietnam.
Tiananmen square student vs. tank faceoff.

Relevance to abundance indirect: emphasis on individual freedom from
oppression and coercion, brotherly love; condemnation of one-sided

Of more direct relevance, there's Marxism, its memetic impact largely
due to an "if we all played nice and shared" (i.e. non-competition)
message. Didn't *quite* work out as planned...but in cultural
history, the thought *does* count for something.

The neophile/transhumanist/extropian/singularity braid of memes has
significantly advanced abundance thinking as well, and IMO (I'm not a
transhumanist or extropian, and haven't read in depth on them) shows a
strong (direct or indirect) Buckminster Fuller influence -- who was a
strong advocate, and more importantly, engineer and demonstrator of
abundance. That influence, his memes, have intertwined themselves in
other threads as well, e.g., the _Whole Earth Catalog_ (Stewart Brand,
ed.) introduced him to a wide audience and Robert Anton Wilson links
extensively to him; they and others both have exposed him to greater

Open Source deserves mention as well: a meme that could be described
as a runaway explosion. Richard Stallman is a pretty good example of
the influence of some of the above threads as well (hippie culture,


Notice something about these examples: with the exception of Jesus all
pretty recent. With IMO an increasing and increasingly visible

Notice something else about these examples. Alleged dude Jesus:
allegedly killed by power holders. Marxism: undermined by internal
power seekers and external power holders. Ghandi: God the Brits must
have hated that. And oh, he got shot too. MLK and the civil rights
movement: your friendly local FBI agent is *on the case*, Mr. Hoover!
Also shot down (MLK, Kent square). Chinese dissidents in jail and
executed...ehm, am I belaboring this point yet?

(Perhaps things have gotten better: people openly question the FBI's
benevolence, people openly condemn Chinese crackdowns and agitate
for the US to threaten withdrawal of favored treatment, etc.
(I have faith Ashcroft represents a temporary and lesser pendulum

It is IMO undoable to separate the peace & plenty message, from the
oppression-coercion-usury suck message, from the free yourself and
others from power games message. And that last is *inherently*
inimical to power structures.

Perhaps there are systemic measures we can attempt to transform those
structures in addition to transforming their participants...

Michael Roy Ames:
MRA> I have noticed this quality in children (becoming more receptive
MRA> to new ways of looking at things). The current growing
MRA> environment for children (of school age in the western world)
MRA> contains many SL3 and even some SL4 memes... ideas that are
MRA> readily accepted by many kids.

Anecdotal support for some of the above.

MRA> The vast majority of people are just too wrapped up in day-to-day
MRA> survival+primate-social stuff to (as Samantha paints) 'think in
MRA> a much more "holistic" or integral manner with much more real
MRA> care for the maximization of all individual potentials'. Is
MRA> there any way to compress that into a three-word sound bite? ;)

The subject, "pre-Singularity human enlightenment", isn't bad.
Accepting abundance. Post scarcity thinking. Peace and plenty
realization. RTFLP (Read The Fucking Lord's Prayer ;)

ESY> 1: See whether humans can use feedback from realtime fMRI to help
ESY> identify internal rationalization, hatred, tribal-based thinking,
ESY> etc. You may not get all the bugs, but if you can get just some, it
ESY> may be enough to tip the internal mental balance. Evolution has no
ESY> experience puppeteering humans with access to that information.

Such identification can be inspired by reading and conversation. Some
of this can result from therapy or analysis. Some of this is
reportedly intentionally engineered in the successive initiation
rituals of Freemasonry. Certain aspects are explicitly dealt with in
Fuller's "World Game."

I doubt the levels of abstraction you imply can be captured by visual
images, no matter how detailed their record of brain activation
patterns. Anger, sure; hatred, arguably...

SA>ESY> 2: Collaborative filtering and/or the Earthweb; a means whereby one
SA>ESY> good idea can very rapidly spread to billions and be built upon by
SA>ESY> thousands. Accelerated memetic evolution.

Excellent; in some ways starting to happen. One possible example is
the blogging world and its subcultures, which may be developing into
such a network rapidly. One early sign is the rapid spread of better
blogging tools and approaches (e.g., "trackback") *through blogs*;
another is the increasing exposure imo-worthy ideas like spinsanity's,
dailyhowler's, comp.risks', virusmyths' etc. are getting through blogs
-- some of which filters pretty rapidly to mainstream media).

SA>ESY> 3: See whether humans who talk to infrahuman but clear-thinking
SA>ESY> Friendly AIs learn anything from that about how to think
SA>ESY> rationally. In other words, AI-trained humans may be doable
SA>ESY> pre-Singularity.

Apropos of this, read the bit starting with "Suppose I were an
extraterrestrial" at (long-ass url split in two):

[1] Witness the fact that many people independently arrive at the
conclusion that the Palestinians would have had or might still have
far more success had they followed that example.

That they in fact *didn't* is not the only relevant datapoint here.
AFAIK nobody has employed non-violence on Ghandi's scale in most of
human history prior to this century. What's encouraging to me is that
in my experience, so many folk make this same observation -- the
"Palestinians *would have had better results* with nonviolence" meme
can be found in articles, editorials, columns, blogs. That's an
abundance theme meme.

[2] There is no [2].


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