[extropy-chat] Tyranny in place

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Fri Oct 6 16:12:16 UTC 2006

On 10/6/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> With the faint-hearted, sickening, and virulent memes you're peddling,
> that
> circumstance [we revert to barbarism] is made more likely.

What you're doing here is reading my words for their affect value. I quite
carefully formulated a number of paragraphs in an attempt to say precisely
what I meant and not what I didn't mean, and you're using only a single bit:
good guy vs bad guy.

As it happens, you have tagged my sympathies entirely incorrectly; if you
look at what I actually wrote, you'll note that I specifically stated the
likes of al-Qaida are our enemies and have to be fought. What I am opposed
to is autoimmune disease: allowing our supposed protectors to turn inwards
and target us instead of our enemies.

Perhaps more fundamentally, I'm arguing precisely against making decisions
by affect value. Not every proposal that wraps itself in stirring words
about fighting the bad guys is actually going to be helpful against said bad
guys. (Reader's home exercise: think of 57 historical examples.)

Well... okay, so you wouldn't?  You'd panic, most likely, and unlike me your
> emotions would be a cauldron that'd probably entirely interfere with
> rational
> thought.  I know exactly how I'd feel; I daresay you don't.  And I know
> what
> I'd think and what I'd advise.

As it happens, I do know what I would feel, think and advocate in that
event, though I don't spend time contemplating it every day; I think it
better to spend my mental energy on things that have a significant chance of
being actually helpful.

Returning to the above argument, failure to recognize enemies for what they
> are, and failure to make personal sacrifices (call them irrational for
> your
> vehicle if you like) will be the death of civilization. Would you really
> be willing
> to in any way to hazard your honor, your fortune, and your sacred life to
> come
> to the aid of your country?  (The order there, sad to say, is different
> today.)
> No, I'm sure you would not.  That, after all, would be patriotic. Okay,
> then
> what about coming to the aid of your civilization instead?  Same answer?

I'm afraid you are entirely incorrect. I could claim (and happen to believe)
that if the primary threat today came from armed men speaking a foreign
language, I would have volunteered for military service, but boasts are wind
and deeds are hard, so I will note instead what I have chosen to spend my
life, fortune and sacred honor on: attempting to figure out how to develop
AI. It's not glamorous, it doesn't earn the respect of my fellow man, it's a
very long way past the difficulty level at which it stopped being fun, and
an objective assessment of the probability of success indicates that I'm
going to die trying, but as far as I can see it has a higher expected
(success probability times value if successful) contribution to the survival
and welfare of my country, civilization and species than anything else I
could do.

Some people thought it wasn't rational in 1938 to "fight for King and
> country"
> and look what happened next.  There is causality, and you *are* making the
> West weak, both in appearance and reality.

If you're looking to criticize someone for trying to make the West weak,
you've got the wrong guy I'm afraid.
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