Luddism vs. singularitarianism

From: Aleksei Riikonen (
Date: Sun May 11 2003 - 00:19:04 MDT

(This post of mine consists of repeating some basic considerations. Feel
free to ignore me, unless you're a luddite ;)

Bellious Moon wrote (Sat May 10 2003 - 21:45:46 MDT):
> There are a number of secular people out there who have some idea of what
> the singularity is and oppose it on the ground that advanced technology
> either poses a great threat to the environment and/or it will be used for
> oppressive purposes. And for one I believe the public is warranted to be
> suspicious of highly disruptive technology. I want to know who is going
> to control this technology and what kind of safeguards are going to be
> put in place to prevent it from being put to qustionable use. I'm
> beginning to agree with Ted Kaczynski that perhaps the invention of
> agriculture itself was a mistake. A neolithic, hunting-gathering
> lifestyle with no big centralized governments and oppressive economies is
> starting to sound good to me. Perhaps the Luddites were right all along.

The work of the singularitarian movement and especially the SIAI is all
about developing mechanisms to safeguard radical technological development.
I trust that you are aware of the concepts of Friendly AI and the Sysop
Scenario, for example.

I, for one, have been quite the luddite before becoming familiar with the
singularitarian way of thinking, and have been really sympathetic to
Kaczynski. It isn't rare at all to see singularitarians give a rather high
probability of mankind blowing itself up in a few decades etc, and I don't
think that we are underestimating the risks or not paying a lot -- if not
most -- of our attention to them. And if the grim scenarios come true, I
don't mind if someone considers the invention of agriculture a mistake.

It is, however, totally irrelevant whether the invention of agriculture was
a mistake. What matters is coming up with methods to cope in our current
predicament. Have the luddites presented anything realistic? You're never
going to get the majority, or even a significant portion thereof, to become
hunter-gatherers again, and if you yourself and a few friends go back to
the neolithic style of living, you've won nothing. The majority will still
be perfectly, and increasingly, capable of destroying our planet etc. One
doesn't even need a majority for that.

Unless the luddites think they'll be able to stop technological development
by force (thoroughly unrealistic; there won't be enough of them, though
they are strong enough to hinder the positive aspects of technological
progress, and unfortunately are somewhat active in this respect), their way
of thinking is just a way of closing your eyes from the problems of the
world. And that at its best.

Aleksei Riikonen -

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:42 MDT