Re: Transhumanist Community

From: Chris Capel (
Date: Wed Dec 07 2005 - 18:11:30 MST

From: Brandon Reinhart <>:
> As far as I can tell, neither the WTA nor the Extropy Institute have public
> web forums. Instead, the two organizations rely on majordomo style email
> lists to facilitate communication. In my opinion this is a mistake.
> First, forums are more easily accessible than email lists. [...]
> Second, forums are potentially less "hostile" than email discussion lists.

Blogs, e-mailing lists, and web bulletin boards are all forums that (I
theorize) don't offer a good return for authors who have a high level
of expertise in a given subject area. It's not very entertaining to
have to take a purely educative stance in one's posting simply because
one knows so much more about a subject than everyone else. Unless one
expects replies to be interesting and enriching, one won't take the
time to post. So (my theory predicts that, and I have experience
personally) most active blogs end up being on subjects that the author
has limited expertise and lots of interest in, and comments (and
bulletin boards) are populated with people with even less expertise,
but still high levels of interest (and often of high intelligence and
literacy). There's an additional skew towards topics that are highly
subjective, since discussion is always plentiful on them, as opposed
to highly technical topics, since those often come down to simple
factual questions.

Since futurism is a highly technical and not very subjective topic,
there's a large bias against the success of any amateur-friendly forum
on the topic.

I think an identification of topics that don't require a lot of
expertise to comprehend and have a lot of room for people to have
differing opinions, room to have subjective, noisy, (and largely
pointless) debate about, would help to provide the raw fodder for
those (like me) that wish to start a public, amateur-friendly
discussion. While rehashing basic points of this or that subtopic over
and over again with slight variations may be distasteful and pointless
to those with real expertise in the subject, this is what real web
discussion looks like. It's what we're going to have to foster if we
want to gain any sort of visibility through the method.

Right now the only topic I've identified in this area is the
intersection of morality and the singularity, which is certainly hairy
enough, but which people don't tend to have clear opinions on one way
or another, and is probably to rarified to foster good discussion on a
large scale.

Life extension seems to be a much more fertile topic by these
criteria. People often have immediate and strong opinions and
questions about the implications of life extension tech. It's a much
more concrete topic for most people. And while it's not really
directly related to an AI-fueled singularity, it certainly can make
one understand on a visceral level the magnitude and scope of the
coming technological changes, and can certainly open one's mind to the
idea that some highly technical and abstract causes could be the most
important causes to support presently.

Chris Capel

"What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to bat a bee? What is it
like to be a bee being batted? What is it like to be a batted bee?"
-- The Mind's I (Hofstadter, Dennet)

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