Re: JOIN: Joshua Fox

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Mon Feb 06 2006 - 14:26:29 MST

On 2/6/06, Joshua Fox <> wrote:
> Socialist theory of the late 19th Century and Singularity theory of the
> early 21st both believe that inevitable forces of history take the world
> through successively more evolved phases, which must inevitably
> culminate--within a few decades of the time of the theorizing--in an
> ultimate Utopian phase. Nineteenth Century Socialist philosophers
> honestly thought they had a firm _scientific_ basis, and they were
> wrong. How can we be sure that we are different?

I'm not sure we're different. I don't think the Singularity is inevitable.
In fact, I can think of three plausible scenarios in which it never happens,
and there might be a fourth and fifth for all I know.

I will claim the Singularity is _possible_. Parallel: socialism was
certainly possible; check.

Desirable? Socialism is a political state, and turned out to be undesirable
for political reasons. The Singularity is a technical state; whether or not
it's desirable will depend entirely on the associated politics. Parallel:
not applicable; this is a separate question.

Necessary? Yes. Without the Singularity, we die. Maybe early, maybe later,
but die nonetheless. Again, parallel not applicable, because this is _not_ a
prediction of the future. In the absence of a Singularity, the loss of
everything we value will occur _independently_ of the reasons why it didn't
happen, because the reasons for this fate are not about the contingencies of
history; they are about the shape of the adaptive landscape. Put simply,
neither civilization nor humanity as we know them are stable; they are not
even in equilibrium. The current state of affairs isn't persistent; like a
rocket flying through the air, we will either keep going up, or we will go
down, but the one thing we won't do is just hang suspended in mid air.

I think that adequately addresses the parallels.

- Russell

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