Re: 'Singularity Realism' - A few thoughts

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Mar 14 2004 - 19:01:13 MST

On Mar 13, 2004, at 6:32 AM, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> Philip,
> ***
>  I personally think that the singularity would have the greatest
> chance for a smooth ride if, on this side of the transition, we set
> out to make sure (as far as one can given the uncertainties of life)
> that the benefits of the change are directed substantially and
> sufficiently to making sure that the world is a better place for all
> people.  And to get things moving in that direction we have to start
> out with an attitude of understanding and sympathy for the vast
> majority of people.  And while acts of terrorism and brutality are not
> excusable at all, I think it is important that we understand how
> society throws up such people and behaviours.   
> ***
> Unfortunately, the average Muslim fundamentalist does not want our
> technology to make their lives better in any way.  They want to be
> left alone at a minimum; and would be happier if we did not exist. 
> Personally, I find it hard to empathize with people who want me dead
> when I have done them no wrong of any kind.  I can "understand" them
> intellectually to an extent, of course, but that's different.  I don't
> want *them* dead, but I do want to be in a position where they have
> less power to kill me than they do right now.  I'm sure I feel this
> issue more acutely than you due to being located in Washington DC, a
> prime terrorist attack target.

I disagree at least in part. I think the "average Muslim
fundamentalist" would be most happy if we would leave their countries
alone or at least not continue our history of supporting major
oppression and overthrows of their societies. I think it is rather
disingenuous for us to only look at what appears to be unreasoning
hatred and ignore the many reasons people in this part of the world
might have for hating the US. Hint, it is not simply because they are
"luddites" or fundamentalist. Millions of very modernized
non-fundamentalists in the area also have more than a little anger
toward the US and with good reason. It is very important and a real
part of rationality to understand how our (or our government's) actions
have directly contributed to and inflamed the violence and terrorism we
deplore. It is crucial we understand this if we really want to cure
the problem. If we do not then it is too easy to fall into the trap of
believing we should just kill them as long as they attack or even hate
us. This is not the way to any future I think we really want.

Also, we do need to consider how we will allow for (live and let live)
those people who want no real part of a high-tech future, much less a
Singularity if our compassion or "Friendliness" is going to mean much.

Our government has done the people of the Middle East a great deal of
harm and continues to do so. As a responsible citizen some of the
blame for those actions does fall on you and I. Some in the US blamed
the Iraqi people for not rising up and overthrowing Saddam. Yet the
same folks don't seem to understand why people elsewhere might blame
them for the actions of a government we supposedly voluntarily have
chosen and support monetarily and otherwise.

- samantha

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