[sl4] Human nature

From: Stuart Armstrong (dragondreaming@googlemail.com)
Date: Wed Jul 16 2008 - 08:59:12 MDT

In the preceeding debate about governments, I often used phrases like
"assuming human nature remains essentially identical", or words to
that effect. It was needed so that we could debate in a meaninful way,
but it is also a very stupid idea.

Tiny changes could completely change human nature as we know it;
consider the modern attitudes, and compare with those of previous
ages. And a singularity in anything but a tiny change.

So what are the most likely differences that could transform human
nature? For a simple comparaison, take everyone today, move them past
the singularity, and see what would be dramatically different even if
everyone is the same person.

My best guesses are:

1) A loss of the sense of self.

With multiple backups, subroutines, interchangeable memory nodes,
better anlysis of other people's minds, maybe "programs" running on a
distributed network of post-humans, personal identity will be
dramatically weakned. How this is coped with will probably be the
philosophical and spiritual/religious opportunity of the post singular

2) The loss of human universals.

It will be quite easy to copy or create beings that seem human in
every way, except for a few differences (cf my idea to solving the
problem of violence). If you add self modification, then we will be
able to assume a lot less about someone when we meet them, even if
they seem "human". The "values that every human shares" will become a
thing of the past.

3) Egalitarianism?

What format will egalitarianism take in the new world? There is
tremendous potential for a world without any concept of egalitarianism
at all; there is also tremendous potential for a world with enforced
equality, precisely because the birth differences can be ironed out.
Most likely, the concept will mutate again, and there will be some
kernel of "rights" granted to all "thinking entities of a certain
class". I feel that there will be some rights to reliable information,
and some rights to disseminate opinion in a way that reaches others;
and of course some right to life, and autonomy, and some
self-modification rights. Beyond that, I can't say; many potential
worlds imaginable out there, and the facts on the ground may preclude,
or demand, certain rights.


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