[ExI] Isn't Bostrom seriously bordering on the reactionary?
hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Thu Jun 16 21:58:18 UTC 2011
2011/6/16 Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>:
> On 16 June 2011 19:00, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> When the cost to the "do gooders" gets low enough, they will come
>> knocking on everyone's door. That was the thought behind "The Clinic
> Not sure I understand that... :-/
The Clinic Seed
In the clear light of a late afternoon Lothar's and Mabo's Land Rover
approached the tata over an almost invisible track several kilometers
off the crumbling road between Mango and Dapaong.
Lothar, a heavy-set black man, was dressed in lightweight khaki shorts
and a fishnet shirt. He wore old running shoes without socks; an
outlandish Australian bush hat folded up on one side over his thick
gray hair, and carried a pouch at his belt.
Lothar’s younger appearing companion, Mabo, was armed with an AK-47.
Mabo sported cut off 501 jeans, a ragged red tee shirt and a fairly
new pair of running shoes. In place of a hat he had an American-style
bright blue "do-rag" over a reversed baseball cap.
Both the bush hat and the “do-rag” were made of utility fog.  The
fog interfaced to their neural implants.
Image 1 - African Village
The tata, a mud walled settlement of 21 traditional round houses with
palm frond roofs, was set against the wall of a wide wadi.  The
tata incorporated two rusting metal roofed buildings that were too hot
to live in during the dry season (which was just starting) but made
adequate storage sheds. Outside the wall were more than a dozen
melted-down-to-stumps ruins of other round houses--the result of
smallpox that had slopped deep into Africa after being released by a
desperate Russia during the "-stan" wars on their southern border.
Image 2 - African Village
Rumors of miracle working strangers had been rife for weeks among the
Tamberma  so the appearance of the duo's Land Rover at the gate of
the tata was not a complete surprise. The Land Rover had several
dozen little hooks welded on it. On many of the hooks were hung
fetishes of obvious potency.
Lothar introduced himself in Tamari with more than a hint of Ditamari,
 but could be understood. His ethnic background was hard for the
villagers to judge. There seemed to be a lot of European in his
features, but (because his skin was set to “dark”) he was as black as
the villagers. Mabo had features more typically African. Both of
them moved with the easy grace of the rejuvenated.
The tata inhabitants greeted both cordially. Rich visitors had been
common a generation ago but were so rare now that the children hung
back and did not beg.
The visitors turned out to be good guests, providing several large
tins of meat and a sack of ground corn. Two of the tins were opened,
mixed with corn and along with local vegetables cooked up by the women
into a communal meal. During the repast, Lothar was asked the
provenance of his name.
"One hundred years ago an African, a 'Prince of the Seven Nations,'
named Lothar lived many day's walks from here." Lothar pointed
vaguely to the southeast.
"A powerful white magician, Mandrake, came to Africa to learn our
magic." This visibly impressed the villagers.
Lothar touched his hat--which morphed into a fez and then with another
touch into a magician top hat. "Prince Lothar became Mandrake's
friend. He gave up his claim to be king and went across the sea to be
"I carry his name and his mana."  Lothar touched his hat--which
morphed into a fez and then with another touch into a magician top
hat. A third touch brought the hat back to the bushman hat
There was a good deal of ooing and ahhing over this, partly because
the ambiguities of the language made it possible that Lothar was a
prince. Well, anyone with a Land Rover and an armed servant had to be
Lothar's mission (explained to the elders when the children had gone
to bed) was to trade for one of the tata's fetishes.
Image 3 - Monkey Skulls
"I am fated to experience a great danger." Lothar told the tata dwellers.
This boggled the tata elders. What would a man with a Land Rover and
an armed guard consider great danger?
"I was instructed by a powerful seer 'Foundation Gates' to obtain a
protective fetish from as many Tamberma tatas as possible."
"The only thing I have to trade for one of your valuable and powerful
fetishes is a seed that grows into a clinic."
The village elders excused themselves to consider Lothar's offer
apart. Lothar’s hat and Mabo’s “do rag” configured themselves as
sound receptors and fed the overheard discussion to their neural
"The man may be a shaman, but he's barkin' mad!" said Elder 1.
"Yeah, but that's no reason not to rip him off," commented Elder 2.
"I don't think we can get any more canned meat, or corn meal. The
kids looked." said Elder 3.
"We have plenty of fetishes from the houses of people who died of the pox."
"He didn't say he needed one that worked."
"Do you think this 'clinic seed' is worth anything?"
The nearest medical help was a day's walk for a healthy person. With
fuel for wheeled transport being hard to get, the seriously sick or
injured would sometimes die on the way.
"Strange tales have come from the North, it might be."
After some hard bargaining, the tata elders swapped a prime monkey
skull fetish for a clinic seed. The planting was to be made in the
morning since the Land Rover was parked outside the wall.
"Can you teach me this language and how to read?" Zaba asked.
There was a short pause, which was really a very long pause for
Suskulan as he projected what would happen and thought about the
unstated (though obvious) reason he had been given the upgrade.
"Yes" Suskulan said at last inflecting his voice to a sigh. "But it
will change you and the rest of the people of the tata in ways you
cannot foresee and may not like. You can sleep through the nine or ten
days it will take to finish healing you. Are you sure you want to do
"Yes," said Zaba firmly, "I want to learn."
And thus was the fate of this particular tata determined, though in
truth something like this had been ordained since Lothar and Mabo
traded the clinic seed that became Suskulan for a fetish and before
that when the Foundation organized the distribution of clinic seeds,
and before that when an early clinic design was released under a
creative commons license, and before that . . . leading back and back
in time to when proto humans first discovered that a broken stone's
sharp edge was just the thing to get at the meat under a hide.
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