[extropy-chat] Rational force?

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Tue Dec 12 05:26:25 UTC 2006

On 12/12/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> It is indeed dangerous.  Life does not proceed without risks.

To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late; only our genes and
works might be immortal. But here's why I think our current time is such a
desperate crisis: we're floating, gasping in a void, tech-wise.

As Rome crumbled, people did not forget how to smelt iron or plough fields -
for those things could be sustained by a village. They forgot how to build
roads and aqueducts - for those things could only be sustained by a great

As the West crumbles, people will not forget how to make tractors and rifles
- for those things can be sustained by a small community, perhaps towns and
their surrounding fields and villages, machine tools and workshops, early
20th century tech. They will forget how to make 65 nanometer chips, for
those things can only be sustained by a great civilization, economically
viable in the field of a billion consumers with wealth and leisure time to
spare for video games and $5 billion factories.

Must we resign ourselves to H.P. Lovecraft's idea that man's last
civilization will be "the cruel empire of Tsan Chan, five thousand years
from now", before man disappears into the fossil record and the cutting edge
of terrestrial biology tracks geology into the planet's "horror-filled core"
to fade to the end?

I think not. There is a reachable edge. With sufficiently advanced hardware
technology, factories can be made on the scale of a town - or a Kalpana One.
With sufficiently advanced software technology, machines can be programmed
by a small team rather than requiring man-millennia of labor. The current
desperate void is a passing stage.

If I fail to figure out the software half in time, it won't be for lack of
trying; but let's try to not actively cut the available time please? If we
can't create, then not destroy? If we can't defeat the enemy called Death
now, then not do his work, nor yet surrender, but hold back the tide as long
as we can - nor dynamite the dykes.

"Till shade is gone, till water is gone,
into the Shadow with teeth bared,
screaming defiance with the last breath,
to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last Day."
- Robert Jordan, 'The Wheel of Time'
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