[extropy-chat] When Did (or Do) People Start Locking Doors?

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Fri Dec 15 23:50:57 UTC 2006

Damien Broderick wrote:
> Walking home in the hot winter sun today, I was aghast (as usual) by the
crap and detritus scattered along the street:

Yes, trash as a social marker. I think it has to do with signalling, a bit
like middle class values are so much about demonstrating that one is
investing in one's human capital - health, education and similar signals
tell a story about being successful in a meritocracy beyond just showing
off wealth and status (I might not be rich, but look at my *prospects*!).

Not caring about one's environment seems to signal that either it can't
get worse, or that it is not *my* environment. By throwing out the trash
they might also mark the territory to some extent by placing a symbolic
trace. There are of course other factors too: young litter more than old,
alone people litter more, and there is a correlation to eating fast food,
smoking and going to bars (class markers, class markers).

The deeper, an IMHO more worrisome thing, is that littering might be a
sign of short-term thinking. If there is something that is part of the
upper middle class perspective it is to have a long future perspective.
And faster future discounting seem to correlate with lower class. I think
there is a messy feedback here, including a bit of learned culture and
imitation of others, a bit of success being affected by short- vs
long-term planning, and adaptation to a more risky and uncertain

> Will nano
> abundance modify this socialization gap? I fear it won't, although the
detritus problem can be engineered away.

Socialization and having a reasonable time discount might be hard
problems. Hmm, maybe in the future adulthood will be regarded as happening
when you finally start to take a long-term view of things. People grow up
in posthuman ghettos, eventually graduating after an indefinite period
when they realize that they don't have to stay there and instead join the
real mainstream for their real socialization.

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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