[ExI] Next year in 44 Nysa?

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sat Jul 28 18:46:23 UTC 2012

I am currently enjoying reading the game module "Rimward" for the 
roleplaying game Eclipse Phase. For those who haven't encountered the 
game, it is an excellent hard sf game of "transhuman conspiracy and 
horror" set ten years after the singularity went badly wrong. It has a 
very rich setting and actually does try to allow the players to explore 
trans- and posthuman modes of existence. Rimward is the source book 
about the outer part of the solar system. One of the major factions 
is... the Extropians.

It is pretty fun to see how a game actually gets things mostly right, 
and then takes our ideas out for a spin (after all, it is a game). A quote:

> While author FM-2030 may have been the first to really identify the 
> concepts behind transhumanism, it was Dr. Max More who defined the 
> term and created an ongoing dialogue with others through his Extropy 
> Institute, mailing list, magazine, and conferences. Dr. More defined 
> “extropy” as the opposite of entropy, or “the extent of a living or 
> organizational system’s intelligence, functional order, vitality, 
> energy, life, experience, and capacity and drive for improvement and 
> growth.” Early extropians developed a futuristic outlook based on the 
> proactionary principle, emphasized rational thinking and optimism, and 
> were acutely interested in the possibilities of life extension, AI, 
> nanotechnology, cryonics, space exploration, robotics, uploading, and 
> more. The vast majority of these early transhumanists held a 
> libertarian or anarcho-capitalist political viewpoint, though the 
> transhumanist movement soon expanded and developed a more 
> technoprogressive agenda.
> Among the hypercapitalist CEOs and management who pushed our species’ 
> expansion into space were a number of self-described libertarian 
> transhumanists. A dedicated group of these idealists, including 
> prominent libertarian billionaires Hayek Taggart and Petra Thiel, 
> united forces and established a new corporation, Extropy Now, with the 
> explicit intent of establishing the first independent outpost in the 
> solar system. Diverting many of their personal assets, they staked a 
> homesteading claim on the asteroid 44 Nysa, previously mined and 
> recently abandoned by Triple Peaks Prospecting, one of Taggart’s many 
> Belt resource exploitation ventures. Naming it Extropia, in honor of 
> those early thinkers and activists, they established a society that 
> operated entirely on a free market basis with interactions mediated by 
> social contracts.
> Over time, numerous other Extropian outposts were founded. Extropia 
> remains the largest, and to this day serves as an ideological neutral 
> zone between the inner and outer system factions.

It then goes on explaining how an anarcho-capitalist society functions; 
not too different from David Friedman's sketch in "The Machinery of 
Freedom", but with more AI support.

> Nomic is a freelance judiciary AGI, one of many making their home on 
> Extropia. She is arguably one of the most well-known and respected 
> private courts; her reputation remains extraordinarily high despite 
> some controversy and her nature as an AGI.

There are plenty of other kinds of transhumanists in the setting, 
ranging from anarchist technoprogressives (who gets perhaps the biggest 
writup in this module, simply because most of us have a hard time 
understanding how the heck anarchism is supposed to work) to the 
somewhat Nietzschean ultimates, not to mention the *really* divergent 
groups like exhumans. But in many ways transhumanism is about as 
mainstream as liberalism today - it has been around for generations, and 
nobody but a Jovian would bat an eyelid at bring uploaded into a robot 
octopus body (still, most cool people stand out from the proles by 
insisting on wearing hard-to-maintain and expensive biological bodies).

I love roleplaying games that explain ideological differences by saying 
that one faction is Keynesian and another is Hayekian. Things have 
certainly come a long way since tunnels and trolls.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford University

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list