Memes and War

From: J. Andrew Rogers (
Date: Sat Nov 13 2004 - 17:56:03 MST

On Nov 13, 2004, at 2:56 PM, Thomas Buckner wrote:
> While my attitudes
> are generally libertarian, I find the
> Libertarian/Ayn Rand attitude toward economics to
> be rather sociopathic. Nobody has a 'right' to be
> a billionaire, since they do not work a thousand
> times harder than anyone else, nor are they a
> thousand times smarter. Intellectual capital
> always builds on the efforts of others who went
> before, thus taking something from the
> 'intellectual commons.'

Nobody has a 'right' to a thin dime either, nor even the 'right' to
live. We agree to let people acquire a billion dollars by convention
because it is beneficial to society, not because any particular person
has a 'right' to a billion dollars.

I would rather give a billion dollars to someone much smarter and more
disciplined than the average person (or some facsimile thereof) than
give a million dollars to a thousand truly average people. And that is
what free market economics does, putting resources in the hands of
those who have proven able to provide the most benefit to society with
those resources.

A lot of people like to say that nobody needs a billion dollars, but I
would assert that *society* needs those people to have a billion
dollars. And I would also point out that there are a hell of a lot of
valuable and very capital intensive projects that could easily consume
a billion dollars. The vast majority of important research and
development is still funded by deep pools of private capital owned by
motivated and intelligent individuals. Even mundane things like
medical research can easily cost in the ballpark of a billion dollars
for just one decent solution.

> When I mentioned 'socialism' earlier, I was
> lambasted with bad economic growth stats for
> Sweden. But I never said Sweden's economy was
> booming; I believe I used the word 'livable,'
> which refers to other factors, some intangible.
> However, I will simply point out that Sweden has
> a higher average life expectancy than the United
> States. Economic inequality is bad for the health
> (if you're on the bottom).

What is the point of living if your entire life is a cog in a life
support system? I'd rather not go through life marking time so that
the next generation can also mark time ad infinitum. Not just no, but
hell no.

The number of people who might lose a few years of life in a wild and
'dangerous' free market capitalist system pales in comparison to the
number of lives and years that will be saved by the very rapid advance
of technological development under such systems. I'd rather not force
everyone to share the misery for as long as possible under some
misguided notion of social equality.

> Anyone who dismisses my comments as the addled
> ravings of a granola-headed egalitarian naif
> should at least consider that a laissez-faire
> Libertarian AI might feel no responsibility to
> feed *you*. The social contract exists for a
> reason.

Umm... This arbitrary 'social contract' only exists insofar as it is
forced upon people at gunpoint. It is not an inviolable law of the
universe. Yet people generally get fed even when people are not forced
to feed them.

Good luck using threats of violence to force a super-intelligent AI to
do *anything*. This is a naive and dangerous view of AI.

j. andrew rogers

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