Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Randall Randall (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 23:23:33 MST

On Sunday, January 4, 2004, at 07:12 PM, Lawrence Foard wrote:
> On Sat, 3 Jan 2004, Randall Randall wrote:
>> On Saturday, January 3, 2004, at 12:22 PM, Lawrence Foard wrote:
>>> And why wouldn't a society where individuals worked only in others
>>> interests not work? Imagine that the pleasure reward from service
>>> is proportional to the good done by the act.
>> How do you make that true? Prices are one reasonably
>> efficient way. If you have another way, I'm willing
>> to hear about it (but this list may not be the proper
>> venue).
> Its already true to an extent for humans, do something beneficial to
> another person, or society as a whole and see how you feel. This is
> one driving force behind free software, the feeling of satisfaction
> from knowing that your software is being used by 1 million people, even
> if only a few actually realize you had anything to do with it.
> Creatures seek pleasure, if you make >>effectively<< helping to solve
> others problems a source of pleasure, then there is no need for a
> monetary
> system. There is still a 'payment' of sorts, the creatures whose toilet
> you unplugged would acknowledge that it was highly beneficial to them.

Right, but the monetary system works for both kinds of
entity, so why not use it? To use a non-monetary system,
it seems you'd have to make selfishness nonexistent, but
to use a monetary system, you don't have to make altruism
nonexistent. Money is more general.

>> Without this information,
>> you may spend your time producing goods that no one
>> wants. It doesn't matter how altruistic you are about
>> donating your time to producing sewer-cleaning tutorials
>> if no one wants them; you're just wasting your time.
> And you will quickly become discouraged because your pleasure
> seeking has been fruitless, and will go onto a more pleasure
> producing activity.

...or one in which you'll be just as fruitless. The
selection pressure to be useful is less intense, so
we can expect less usefulness in general.

>>> Humans as currently wired have a mix of self interest and altruistic
>>> pleasure. Even as we are altruistic pleasure can be one of the
>>> greatest
>>> pleasures.
>> How many times in your life has someone given you
>> a gift that they expected you to be overjoyed with,
>> but which you were indifferent to, or simply didn't
>> like? Now rule out all the instances where you
>> told the person what you needed.
> There is no reason to keep needs secret.

Nor was I suggesting that you should keep needs
secret (!?). I was trying to point out the problem
of limited information. You don't know what the
people around you need unless they tell you. Prices
are an efficient method for them to communicate their
needs in a way that prompts others to deal first with
the needs that are most important to the person who
needs them.

> It would have many things in common with a capitalist system,
> with payment in pleasure instead of cash. However there is no
> fixed money supply,

There isn't a fixed money supply now. That's a very long
discussion, though.

> the available pleasure is always equal to
> the need. Again I'm talking about a society of engineered beings,
> I don't think human brain wiring is up to this as it stands. If
> you have too many selfish beings the system collapses.

I agree with this last.

> However even as things stand hyper capitalists often overlook just
> how much the modern world owes to altruism of this sort. Those who
> did for the pleasure of giving rather than for financial gain.

The great thing about markets is that they easily accomodate those
who do things for the pleasure of giving. Those people are greatly
rewarded (if they're really doing good) as a side effect, but I
don't see this as a bad thing.

Randall Randall

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