[extropy-chat] Brent and Natasha's thoughts

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Dec 27 18:29:00 UTC 2006

At 09:55 AM 12/27/2006 -0600, Natasha wrote:
>At 10:28 PM 12/25/2006, Brent wrote:


>>Many others, like Dirk Bruere, have attempted to organize extropians and 
>>transhumanists so that they can accomplish something useful together but 
>>have also failed miserably, commenting: “I came to the conclusion long 
>>ago that the only thing Transhumanists can agree on is 
>>Transhumanism.”  And all this is to say nothing of the painful and 
>>destructive tiffs between “extropians” and “transhumanists” and so on ad 
>>nausium.  Even on this extropy list, we go over so many issues over and 
>>over again, never making any quantifiable progress, so much so that many 
>>people leave in frustration.  Traditional Wikis don’t seem to be helping 
>>at all do they?
>It is ridiculous to force people to agree on diverse topics through one 
>signal political viewpoint. It simply will not work.  The problems stemmed 
>from a robust socialist overtake of WTA and a robust libertarian 
>centralist attempt to speak for ExI. Both were unable to value 
>transhumanism over their political stance.

True statement.  The fact is that we are not (yet) transhumanists, just the 
evolved social primates known as "humans."

>What we keeps pushing for was a more futurist political viewpoint that 
>works on solving problems rather than forcing any one political view as 
>the flawless means for solving problems. I had hoped that we could stretch 
>our imaginations and develop a new political viewpoint based on the tools 
>and methods of practicing futurists and develop a political outlook that 
>was novel and based on the new technologies that were developed and being 
>developed.  We were extropians after all and this is what I had hoped for 
>and frankly expected.  But my dream was diminished by hard-nosed political 
>dogmatists who would not work with me.  In fact, they did their best to 
>smear me and my reputation.

Political and religious dogmatists are the norm (or at least very common) 
for humans.  The question is *why*?  I.e., why was PROM like mental agent 
construction adaptive in our past?  I think I know the area of study that 
will elucidate this question.

>>  And what are we to take from the demoralizing and heart wrenching 
>> “Extropy Institute is closing its doors and opening a window for a 
>> proactive future.”????  I bet I’m not the only one that has cried a huge 
>> bucket of tears over this!
>No you are not.  Many of us have cried. :-(

Didn't understand any part of why this was done and am not at all sure I 
want to know.


>>  I think Extropians and Transhumanists are (or should be) the leaders of 
>> society.

There are different ways in which people can be leaders.  Influencing the 
decision makers is sometimes more important than being one of them.

>>They are the ones way out in front of everything, and definitely not 
>>thinking like everyone else.  They recognize the problems with all the 
>>herd or “flock” POV.  The problem is, the only way to accomplish 
>>anything, and to “lead” everyone is to organize and work together.  Any 
>>person alone can’t really accomplish much – though many individual 
>>Extropians like Max More, and Raymond Kurzweil
 have made Herculean 
>>accomplishments all by themselves.
>Tell Max this.  :-]
>>  But we can’t all be this great on our own and in the past the only 
>> really effective organization structure where people can work together 
>> was a simple hierarchy.  And of course in any hierarchy there is only 
>> room for one POV – and that is the POV of your superior.  All you can 
>> find at the ultimate top is some supposed “God”?  And any Extropian 
>> can’t tolerate or function within any such hierarchical structure, as a 
>> member of a “flock” or whatever, even if they have the chance of being 
>> given ultimate power in the top position.  They turn such down, and 
>> rightly so, as they recognize how immoral, secretive, paranoid, and evil 
>> any such hierarchical organization is or ultimately becomes right?

Interesting point.  I think considering the hunter gatherer life style and 
trying to understand the function of leaders might be useful--if somewhat 

>>  So, are we Extropians to be left on the sidelines as we scoff at the 
>> terrible leaders perched atop of the world’s dominant hierarchical 
>> immoral secretive fear mongering organizations as they blindly ridicule 
>> technology and lead everyone to hell in a handbasket?
>>  I think not.  I believe all that Extropians need is the right kind of 
>> tools that bridles differing POV and uses it to justly drive everyone 
>> forward in a very powerful way.  The greater the diversity the 
>> better!  Leaderless or networked managed organizations definitely aren’t 
>> as simple and easy as hierarchical ones – but I think – given the right 
>> tools and sophisticated voting, grouping and communicating systems, they 
>> will be able to blow hierarchical organizations away and outperform them 
>> every time.  And I think the necessary prerequisites to creating such 
>> tools are finally in place.  All that is required is the right vision 
>> and a little bit of mashing up of things.  So do any of you think we 
>> could do this like I do?
>Develop a fluid interconnected, immersive network of people who are 
>working on projects that are extropic and connect the dots.

Maybe.  The problem is that humans are not "blank slate" beings where 
culture determines everything.  We are full of left over mechanisms that 
were extremely important to reproductive success in the past.  Some of 
those mechanisms might even be lethal in a changed environment, as they 
were to most of the Southwest corn farmers.

>>  So there will be sections that read, "While some
>>Extropians blah blah blah, others maintain that ...".
>> >>>
>>Exactly, but how many extropians, and which extropians???  And can anyone 
>>really do any kind of justice writing some other’s POV in a “sympathetic” 
>>way?  Certainly not with any meaningful and important passion!  And how 
>>often does the media (or wiki contributor?) give way to much attention to 
>>some obscure and unjust POV and so on
  ad nausium in the name of getting 
>>“both sides of the story”?
>Not much.  Just who is writing the Wikipedia entries on transhumanism and 
>related pages?  Looks like about 4 people control it.  Just look at the 
>pseudonyms and the writing styles.
>>I’m hoping some of you might be interested enough to help out with some 
>>POV wiki development work.  I’m just some quixotic second rate programmer 
>>that can’t really do anything on my own.  And I’d sure like to know all 
>>of your POV on the power of a wiki that can justly and quantitatively 
>>handle all POV and whether or not something like this could indeed turn 
>>things around and maybe even “save the world”?
>Extropy as a transhumanist philosophy lives on.  It cannot "close its 
>doors." Only an edifice can do that and as such cannot deter the continued 
>growth of extropy or extropian transhumanists ("ETs").  Only ETs can 
>develop the means to continue on growing, innovating and 
>developing.  Maybe this is what Max and the rest of us would have liked 
>but didn't want to expect it because it seems that too many people want to 
>talk about changed but not get their hands dirty.

Heh.  Like that's a new problem.  :-)

>I had hoped that some of you would have taken the lead and carried parts 
>of the planks for a while.  You all have ample opportunity, especially 
>when antagonism was so damaging to ExI. But when I saw that we all allowed 
>Wikipedia to manipulate transhumanism through the voice of a handful of 
>people who are not extropians, it was clear to me that you simply did not 
>want to get your hands dirty and expected Max or the reset of us to do it 
>for you.
>This is precisely why "we" did not want to expect anything from "others."

It is possible that a deep understanding of evolutionary psychology might 
give *some* organization an advantage.  On the other hand, perhaps not.  By 
analogy it was many decades before genetic engineering was able to improve 
on what people had done breeding plants and animals.

On the other hand, understanding that some people play intense zero sum 
status games (driven by psychological traits they have but are not aware 
of) might make these episodes more amusing than painful.

Tearing down others and taking credit where you should acknowledge someone 
else are widespread zero sum human traits.  Talk about a double bind!  You 
can't point out the second without being accused of the first.

Of course the underlying motivation for virtually everything people do is 
social status.  It's an extremely uncomfortable subject to discuss, on a 
par with masturbation and for the same reason.  (Remember what Henry 
Kissenger said.)

I can discuss this further if there is interest.

Best wishes,


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