[ExI] Humans are a uniquely dangerous species

Will Steinberg steinberg.will at gmail.com
Wed Dec 11 04:58:20 UTC 2019

On Mon, Dec 9, 2019 at 9:45 PM Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Sun, Dec 8, 2019 at 2:09 AM Will Steinberg via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Rafal:
>> Is slavery a technology?  It is interesting to try and think of at what
>> point the first slaves emerged.  Power hierarchies already exist among
>> animals but when did the subjugation of another species or kin group
>> begin?  I think that subjugation is a pre-technological alternative to
>> wiping out another species entirely.  A kind of teleological within-species
>> parasitism.
> ### This is a good way of thinking about slavery. There are physically
> existing tools (manacles, whips), organizational schemes, legal frameworks
> that are necessary to make slavery into a viable enterprise.
> Extracting resources by force from a hunter-gatherer is difficult - if you
> keep him confined, he produces no resources to be expropriated, if you let
> him hunt, he can easily run away. This is why hunter-gatherers usually do
> not practice slavery, except in the limited sense of abducting women to be
> used as a reproductive resource. And this is why hunter-gatherers usually
> promptly slaughter the men they defeat.

I agree with what you say, but I am also sure that there are some
pre-technological terms of slavery or tantamount-slavery that are
possible.  For instance, imagine that the ruling class has conquered the
best hunting/gathering ground and patrols it.  If they see you hunting
there, they kill you, unless you give them a cut of your spoils.  This is
more like feudalism than slavery.  But I also imagine a hunting ground in,
say, a mountain valley, which is difficult to escape from and has members
of the ruling tribe posted at all exits.  They kill any out-class humans
who try to leave.  What's more, they kill any of the trapped out-class
humans who do not provide them with spoils.

Here, the environment for the slave humans has been totally manufactured.
>From their perspective, the way to best increase their fitness is to
hunt/gather and give the spoils to their rulers to prevent their own
deaths.  This could take place for multiple generations, until the
worldview of the slave class is completely oriented around the slavery
paradigm--it will be all they know.

With enough time, the slave genome/memome may become seriously ingrained.

Anyway this is just to say that extreme power hierarchies (such as slavery)
can exist without any physical technology.  That technology makes
enforcement much easier, but a slave class could be created by early
tool-less humans.
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