Re: Multiple Future Bens

From: Christian Weisgerber (
Date: Tue Dec 24 2002 - 12:42:15 MST

Ben Goertzel <> wrote:

> I've been thinking about what I'm going to do with myself in 15-30 years or
> so...
> What I think I'd like to do is to create a *series* of 5 Bens:

The responses so far have an implicit assumption: "given ideal
conditions...". Well folks, in reality conditions tend to be far
from ideal, and I am very skeptical that this will just go away
when the Rapture^WSingularity cometh.

When you are actually given the choice of transforming yourself,
practical concerns will likely dominate your decision. Like, can
you pay for it? I'd like to inject one pragmatic consideration in
particular into this dicussion: Will the change increase or decrease
your dependence on a specialized environment?

A solitary Homo sapiens can only marginally survive in a natural
terrestrial environment. If you drop me on a lonely island,
Robinson-style, I'll probably starve before long. A survivalist
may avoid that fate but is quite likely to sooner or later suffer
a disabling injury or disease and perish in consequence. Plain
humans only survive well in groups. If you drop me into any human
society on Earth (that doesn't outright kill me out of xenophobia),
I will survive there. I can eat the same food, I can learn their
language, etc.

How will the proposed transformations affect this? Becoming...

> Ben3: A Ben in a humanoid robot body, with the ability to breathe in space,
> fly, etc.

... sounds enticing, doesn't it? But, wait a second. That magnificient
robot body will stop working if you don't follow the regular service
intervals specified by Robotics Inc., who also happen to be the
sole supplier of spare parts. And the global Business Improvement
Act of 2025 has outlawed infringing on any company's monopoly.

In contrast, consider the mad millionaire from Greg Egan's _Distress_
who turns his body into a self-sufficient ecology that would allow
him to survive even on a diet of old tires after the Big War.

Uploading is a favorite of many transhumanists. But living as a
brain in a jar, pardon, a program on hardware not under your control
is about as dystopian a vision as they come ("I Have No Mouth And
I Must Scream").

Personally, when I grow up I want to be a god. That's Ben5 alright,
the unlimited upload. But that assumes there is a sufficiently
redundant substrate for me to run on, either public or my personal
property, so that pulling the plug on me is at least as difficult
and legally discouraged as splitting my current meaty head with a
cleaver is; it assumes that I can still interact with and affect
the outside world; it assumes that either the substrate or the code
and database I consist of have mobility; and so on.

We may be put to the choice when those ideal conditions have not
been met.

Christian "naddy" Weisgerber                

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