[ExI] Artificiality

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Fri Jun 12 02:17:41 UTC 2009

On Thu, 11 Jun 2009, Adam Raizen wrote:

> On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 06:16, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl> wrote:
> > > Western culture has a strong bias against anything 'artificial' and I
> > would
> > > think that extropians would be less likely to suffer from this. Some
> >
> > Well, who knows, maybe they (as well as some other people) will be more
> > likely to prosper because of this?
> >
> Or maybe they'll just be unnecessarily depriving themselves.

I think this is not a problem as long as people think reasonably. So they 
would not deprive themselves of anything that they really need. Being 
biased and prejudiced is not quite a sign of reason, so once we start 
acting in harmony with the facts the problem of bias will be a lot smaller.

If there is any other problem, I cannot see it.

> > So, while I am not enemy of artificiality, I am against (in a soft sense)
> > being mindless and using surrogates to meet real needs. In case of sugar,
> > when I need something sweet, then let it be sugar because this is what I
> > really need, not some replacement. In other words, I don't need to just
> > feel this sweetness in my mouth. There are some other side effects of
> > eating a candy, which is what I really want (and this is why I want
> > something sweet, when I want it). And if I don't need a candy, then I
> > should not eat it.
> I agree with not being mindless. I am not actually an extremist on this
> (though I may have come off as one). If I'm not cooking, I eat mostly what's
> served, including sugar and aspartame. When I'm cooking, I hardly use any
> sweeteners of any kind except for occasionally sucralose with some hot
> chocolate. But it does seem to me that there are cultural ideas about what
> is good and natural which cause a lot of people to lose a sense of
> proportion regarding a lot of things, and it's not clear to me that the
> things that people tend to get worked up about (e.g., artificial sweeteners)
> are likely to be so much worse than things that bother almost no one (e.g.,
> living in cities).
> Refined sugar is more artificial than bread. Humans evolved a strong desire
> for sugar when it was invariably found in fruit along with a lot of
> micronutrients and fiber, and undernutrition was a constant problem, and
> overnutrition almost never was. IIRC, refined sugar causes an increase in
> serotonin. If your serotonin is low, you may in a sense need sugar, but that
> is not a good way to correct low serotonin.

Uhm, no, I don't think I have this kind of need for sugar. There are few 
different sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc) sources that I like (refined 
sugar, honey, fruits, in no particular order) and I simply take what I 
have a taste for (in most cases fruits, sometimes chocolate etc). To 
replace sugar with a-sweetener is to me somewhat strange, like replacing 
fruit or honey with their chemically fabricated substitutes. While sugar 
can be nasty in big doses, my level of consumption does not justify
production of chemical replacement.

Besides, those substitutes get processed by ones body' organs, introducing 
products that in other case would not make it so far inside (for details, 
you can read wikipedia articles - one example includes methanol, which 
most mentally sane people would avoid, but they ingest it by aspartame). 
Digesting sucrose produces two simpler sugars, glucose and fructose, and 
they are then transported into the blood. I cannot see anything wrong with 
this, especially since I don't overdose it. For me, table sugar and 
a-sweeteners are simply, totally,incomparable. Having a choice between 
methanol and fructose-glucose mix, guess what I would prefer.

> Nah, being moderate is, I believe, a side effect of watching oneself.
> > Being able to tell oneself something like "that's enough". Without this,
> > anything can be bad. Even oxygen and water - funny, isn't it?
> >
> That is an excellent point, I think.

While I can easily agree with most of what you write (especially the last 
sentence :-) ), I also think that all this is a bit more complicated. I 
mean relations between humans and their artificial inventions. In most 
cases, all this stuff has been made to solve some real needs and did not 
look bad until very recently. I also think that our further 
"artificialisation" is inevitable. As of city life, I don't think there is 
any good alternative. Especially if humanity is to go in some interesting 
direction. Perhaps some time from now, improvements in telecommunications 
and VR can help a little. But still, it would be difficult to support a 
good university without properly sized infrastructure. And living in a 
country is hard if you have to work physically to sustain yourself (as far 
as I can tell). So, a good amount of money is required to support this 
dream and obviously, most people will not be able to do this.

Now, the only real problem that I can see, is marketing malpractice. It 
makes people doing and buying unnecessary things, cheap trash and the 
like. This makes their lifes oversimplyfied, making them believe that they 
are happy while in reality it destroys them from inside, both physically 
and mentally.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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