[ExI] Private and government R&D

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 29 19:27:29 UTC 2009

--- On Mon, 6/29/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:41 PM, Dan<dan_ust at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
>> I agree preferences play a role here.  I'm not sure
>> anyone disagreed with that.  But the point is whose
>> preferences and who pays the bill.  In any system, coercive
>> or voluntary, there will be demands and the system will have
>> ways of meeting those demands.  It seems to me that a
>> voluntary system works better because each person has an
>> effective and efficient way of making her or his demands
>> felt.
> What I am trying to say, also to keep myself out of a
> debate which has
> "religious" subtones and is not really likely to be
> resolved here, is
> that whatever the respective efficiency of any conceivable
> system,
> none of them can guarantee the desidered outcome by
> definition.

Okay, though at least in the voluntary case -- which includes the market -- even if most people don't want to fund transhumanist research, you can, if the society remains voluntary, still fund such research.  In the statist case, if most people including the government don't want to fund it, it doesn't get done (or is done privately underground).
> In fact, if the "market" refuses, or is indifferent to,
> transhumanism-relevant techs, cultural products, arts,
> services, or,
> even more probably, the fundamentals which are are required
> for them
> to happen, etc., the market laws are still respected, and
> whatever
> their "efficiency" may be, it still does not bring us
> anywhere.

Actually, no.  In the present world, there are people like you, most people on this list, me, etc. who want such research.  If, let's say, tomorrow, the world turned completely libertarian -- i.e., no more coerced funding for anything, including the research you know and love -- would that mean no one would step up and fund the stuff?  I hardly think that'd be the case.  Do you?  Why?
> An entirely different question is whether the "market" is
> the most
> suitable tool to see them developed - which may well be the
> case, depending on the circumstances.

Well, the market is merely one voluntary method of working these things out.  It can coexist with other voluntary methods.

> But for me, being firstly and above all a transhumanist,
> *not* a
> libertarian or a socialist, this is a purely technical
> issue, to be
> resolved on empirical grounds, more or less as the issue of
> whether to
> get our energy from space-based solar satellites or from
> tokamaks or
> both, so that I do not care much for advocating one thing
> or another on "principled" grounds.

I understand, though my fear is that people who see all of this as a purely academic debate will be the types who will cheer on, say, a fascist regime that develops the tech they like (say, like rockets) and arm people (or postpeople) who will eventually do a lot more harm than good.  The system this stuff is developed under is not neutral.  If you use coercive methods, these will have some impact not only what specific project are taken on and how efficient these are done, but also on what ultimately happens.  This isn't a matter of tokamaks vs. SSPSs either.*  It's more a matter of whether you'll end up with more enforcement technology than liberating technology.  Choices made coercively are likely to be made to reinforce and extend coercion.



*  That, as we can see, it looks like tokamak research is a dead end.  I could be wrong about that, but after half a century of research, how come we don't see tokamaks powering up entire nations?  Now we don't have a crystal ball, so nobody circa 1960 probably could've known that the tokamak resources might have been better used on other projects, but it's funny how this publicly funded project keeps on going...  I'd almost bet that tokamaks will never work but will continue to be funded for the next five decades.

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