[ExI] RPGs and transhumanism

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Feb 27 11:45:23 UTC 2011

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> "Post-apocalyptic transhuman conspiracy and horror"?  You had me interested until I saw that.   It seems mainly about fighting off various disasters more than actually building positive futures.   OK, it still looks pretty interesting.   But is this really part of a message we want to send about the future?  Definitely looks very worth exploring and more fun than simply talking about various futuristic ideas without end.

GURP Transhuman Space is much closer to the kind of future we probably 
want (except that the rate of technological growth is a bit slower)... 
and as a result it is not as exciting. As I wrote in my Eclipse Phase 
the THS world doesn't need saving, but the EP one does. That makes the 
game far more interesting to play, since there is a feeling that there 
is something at stake. If you want positive futures, check out 
Freemarket. http://projectdonut.com/freemarket/ "We are a society of 
functionally immortal, cybernetically modified, telepathic infovores. 
You are now one of us. Welcome!"

I think the problem with positive transhumanist futures is that they 
gloss over the bad aspects, and people do recognize this. It is much 
more interesting to figure out how to make positive futures work when 
subjected to stress.

Take the manufacturing technology of Eclipse Phase as an example. There 
exist fairly mature MNT fabrication, so in principle the only limit of 
personal manufacturing is energy (that can be collected as sunlight in 
the inner system or come from a fusion reactor in the outer) and the 
rarest elements needed (cheap, unless you live in the middle of 
nowhere). Except that now every society needs to decide how to handle 
it: allow anybody to make anything they got a blueprint for (the answer 
of the Autonomist Alliance), limit manufacturing to approved blueprints 
(the Planetary Consortium) or keep this technology in the hands of 
responsible government people (the Jovian Republic). I think most can 
recognize that the last answer is pretty limiting and repressive... yet 
the bioconservative republic does have a point in that the free use of 
these technologies led to a near-extinction disaster. The autonomists 
are free to print what they want, including weapons of mass destruction 
and personal weapons... makes things rather dangerous and unstable 
unless they impose social controls on what you do (and the more I think 
about social controls in anarchist societies, the scarier they look - 
the extropian habitats can at least handle it through PPL companies and 
insurance). And of course, open matter printers allow for all sorts of 
nasty physical/digital viruses - malware in EP is *evil*. The Consortium 
approach requires heavy DRM and certification, avoiding the risk of 
people making too dangerous stuff but also creating artificial 
scarcities that help incumbent content producers. So, which one do you 
choose? How do you make it better? These issues are all part of the game 

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

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