[ExI] POST-SCARCITY SYMBOLS Launched (defeat despair, create utopia, share hope).

samantha sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Sep 10 02:56:42 UTC 2010

 On 9/9/10 3:20 PM, John Grigg wrote:
> Samantha, I'm going to scream at you in my best adolescent fashion,
> "you are ruining my life!!!"  I will then run to my bedroom and slam
> the door as hard as I possibly can!!  Next, I will throw myself down
> onto my bed and cry my eyes out!!
> "Why, oh why, does she try to rip apart my fondest dreams?"  "How can
> anyone be that mean??!"  "Sam, you are a big Blue Meanie!!!  ; )
> I think you and Spike have brought up some good points, but I still
> think Singularity Utopia's (what the hell is this guy's real name for
> crying out loud??!) personal vision is a worthy one and very possibly
> within reach of humanity, if we work hard for it, and if good triumphs
> over the usual victors..., evil, ignorance, apathy, and fear.

Infinite resources within a finite spacetime boundary are not
possible.   That said thought there is at least virtually one hell of a
lot that can exist in a pretty tiny volume.   The limits of computation
say it is not infinite but it is way way more than what we can have down
here where most matter is "dumb as rocks" because most of it is a
freaking rock (or something even less organized).   So yeah, tremendous
room for huge dreams BUT please think twice as before selling it as what
we all should have or will have real soon now unless some nefarious
people don't let us.  There is such a tremendous amount of work between
here and such a "there" and likely at minimum at least 4 - 5 decades.  
That estimate is based on current expert estimates for the availability
of both full machine phase MNT and powerful enough AGI.  

> S.U. is mistaken in thinking we will ever truly have unlimited
> resources, as I tried to explain to him in a private email.  Energy
> and matter, however seemingly infinite they may seem in such a
> gigantic universe (or multiverse), still are ultimately finite.  I
> suspect very powerful lifeforms of various kinds will fill all niches
> and eventually eat everything up, unless we set limits.  And so even
> in a super-advanced post-singularity culture, there will need to be
> rules regarding growth.

There will be working rules how who requires how much resources of
whatever kind (likely in computational units for an upload).  But that
is may be largely a matter of economics within a minimal legal/ethical

> But still, it will be an amazing society where the sort of poverty,
> lack of medical care, lack of educational support, lack of healthy
> food, and lack of housing, will be seen as inconceivable.  But
> sentients will probably be much more demanding, despite their vastly
> higher standard of living.  And due to somewhat limited resources and
> social hierarchies, there will still be frustrated people/minds.

Well, if we are uploads we don't need food or likely medical care (well
debugging the stray mind virus I guess).  :)   But yes.  Desires expand
to and then beyond whatever the current supply is.   

> When mature nanotech first arrives, governments and corporations will
> do everything they can to firmly control it, and carefully portion out
> it's massive benefits based on social status and institutional power.

If by mature you mean full machine phase then I doubt that will last
long at all.  To easy to duplicate all the needed machinery.  It is a
separate very good question how you monitor or whether you do and to
what extent against nefarious uses of such tech.  But in a world where
effectively everything, even material goods, are information,
computation and a bit of matter and energy it is clear that the old
rules and understandings simply will not do.  That rich a new wine will
soon burst such old bottles.    Of course there are many intermediate
steps along the way where various controls will be attempted that are
variously justified in reality or not.

> They will of course want to contain such a vast potential for
> violence, which is only prudent.  But the scariest thing from their
> perspective will be how this technology might liberate individuals and
> small groups from even really needing their government.  You will find
> that governments are all about gaining and maintaining power, not
> giving it up!

Terrorism, again?  Can we think about anything else?   But yes, it is an
issue.  It would be better if the sort of deep anger, frustrations that
often leads to terrorism was largely ameliorated through most people
seeing in fact their circumstances rapidly improving.   Of course I
don't see how that is going to happen. 

> But I do believe the upcoming social contract between governments and
> common citizens will result in a near-utopia, as compared to how
> things are now.  But the big question is, will the common citizenry be
> granted reasonable freedoms and rights to benefit from the
> monumentally society-changing technologies that are coming their way?

I don't think governments as we know them are a net boon.  I think they
are and have been a horrific curse.  Even the term "common citzenry"
enshrines government over the people - over you and I.   Why is
government, which is after all only a collection of a small number of
human beings like ourselves, empowered to decide what "reasonable
freedoms and rights" are for the majority of beings like themselves? 
Sort of odd, isn't it?    Yet on the other hand, it is a common belief
among us relatively brainy folks that we do in fact no better about a
great number of things we are sure are very very important than the vast
majority of people know - if they even care.  Out of such homegrown
elitism the notion that a relative few should make decisions for a
majority - at least in things that matter a lot to all - naturally arises.

I am of two minds.   Ground work is that the changes are very rapid and
that increasingly the vast majority of people will not have economically
viable skills much longer.   I know many will disagree with this premise
and some on pretty substantial grounds but lets go with it a moment.  
Given this without some means of distributing goods and services to
people regardless of whether they have a marketable skills and a job or
not, many many people will be in relatively dire straights or at least
quite unhappy, frustrated, fearful and likely to be fodder for terrorism
and other violence.    Also, the fact of being one of the ones that does
have a job/income during this period is only in part a matter of
individual character, hard work, ambition and so on and partly is an
accident of ones genetic inheritance, birth,  upbringing and so on.   So
if we may descend to applying "fairness" to raw nature (always
questionable) then no, it isn't fair.  And in part we want to get to a
place where everyone can have similar amounts of luck or where such
original distribution of luck problems are correctable, e.g., being able
to raise one's IQ to genius levels regardless of what it was originally.   

So one view is that:

    * to avoid violence, terrorism and a lot of oppression to quel it as
      well as a lot of human misery;
    * to maximize human happiness and well-being;
    * to go beyond fear inherent in progress over one's continuing viability

that we must have some kind of system of redistribution beyond what we
do today on a piecemeal basis. 

On the other hand:

    * a species, even a few members originally, making it to
      transcendence of nature to this extend is rare and hard;
    * the effort to subsidize everyone costs a fortune and limits speed
      of innovation and achievement - perhaps catastrophically;
    * the re-distribution entails taking from the relatively more
      productive to give to the less productive and thus has major
      immediate moral issues;
    * it is not necessarily so that a very large majority of humanity
      wants any such future as we dream of;
    * tremendous loss of freedom is likely to enforce such global

Note in the second case that without such redistribution any "have"
individual or group of such is perfectly free to aid as many "have nots"
as ve wishes and can.  But no collection of individuals is allowed to
practice charity effectively by legalized robbery.    There are not
inconsiderable arguments on both sides.   It may be perfectly natural
that a tech singularity results in a great culling by its very nature -
regardless of what our wishes may be.   Perhaps those who say that
evolution, a sort of survival of the fittest and most useful, goes on
regardless of technological abilities have a point.   But I still hope
for better or less anxiety producing outcomes.

> On 9/6/10 Gregory Jones <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> "I can imagine plenty of reasons why some parts of humanity would
> intentionally create scarcity, such as reasoning that if the
> proletariat have plenty of everything, they will fail to pray to
> Mecca."
> Dear Spike (Gregory Jones) you make a good point. There are people who
> may object to post-scarcity, which is one of the reasons why I am
> attempting to inspire people into believing in the possibilities the
> future holds. If enough people believe in utopia, it will happen.

At the very least it is a huge leap individually and across all our
institutions to really down deep get and embrace post-scarcity.  It is
far far deeper than I think most people realize.   And we need this
change, if post-scarcity is possible or to the degree it is, when a mere
decade or five!  That is a change of consciousness much broader and
faster than any humanity has ever managed.  This is another reason why I
think it doubtful most people will go there, want to go there, or thing
there is any "there" at all there.    Half of them likely will believe
it is against what is demanded by karma/Jehovah/God/Cyclic
Nature/Goddess/Kali/Allah/whatever.   Although I think a lot of
religious belief would fall off pretty quickly if you could show much in
the way of the sweet by and by stuff the religions promise after death
could be had without the dying part and without guesswork/faith.

> To conclude: I think the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy has not
> been completely absorbed by some of the responders to this
> Post-Scarcity thread. The collective desires of the human race can
> create a dystopia or utopia. I hope you can understand this network
> effect. I hope you can change your views to a positive outlook because
> negative views can harm the entire world. You have the power to begin
> spreading hope. You can create utopia.

It may be our greatest mistake to think in such simple dichotomies as
dystopia vs utopia.
> I must admit that I really like this guy!  : )  And I think he actualy
> does an excellent job defending his worldview.  If people go around
> with a "realistic" and defeatist perspective that the major
> powers/institutions that run this world cannot be successfully worked
> with, then in many ways they have already won.  I think it has
> unfortunately become fashionable for otherwise very intelligent
> transhumanists to wear the robes of the cynic.  But as S.U. states,
> "positive thinking is the precursor to clear effective action."  And
> this is so very true...

I hope you don't think I am a cynic.  I am actually one of the wild-eyed
visionaries attempting to be just a tad more real.
> A fullblown Singularity may not occur within our lifetimes (though I
> doubt this), or governments just might be able to fully curb & control
> the world-changing shockwaves of such an event, but only time will
> tell.  I feel we all owe it to not just ourselves, but the children of
> today and tomorrow, to stay *tough mindedly* positive and fight for
> the wonderful world we envision.  A place that truly nurtures it's
> citizens, instead of neglecting them, or engulfing the majority into a
> tyranny.

If our governments can do that, can stop the world changing that a
singularity brings, then they are a very dangerous and unfortunate
institution indeed.  That would say they are capable of continuing
stasis indefinitely at best.

I very much agree that we need to vision big and work to achieve our
vision.  But what exactly that vision is an is not and the best way to
move towards getting there is not so clear.  Not among any significant
number of us and, unless I am unusual, not that fully clear within our
own mind. 

- samantha

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