[extropy-chat] Space colony behind the moon?

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Thu Oct 19 16:49:22 UTC 2006

On 10/19/06, Russell Wallace <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:

> *shakes head* It's not really about resource shortages, never was.

Oh yes it is.   Those "selfish genes" want to make more copies of
themselves.  Human social organizations are nothing more than highly complex
systems on top of that fundamental drive.  More resources guarantees males
more "wives".  More resources guarantees females a greater chance for
survival of ones offspring.  Jealousy, conquest, kidnapping or raping of
young women, slavery, wars, exploration for and colonization of better
locales, selling of explanations of reality (religions), etc. -- *ALL* go
back to the fundamental genetically driven desire to make more copies of
those genes.  Humans are K-selected so it tends to be biased towards
ensuring the survival of those offspring one does have.  As humans tend to
operate much more in the software (mental) realm than the hardware
(physical) realm -- we morph the drive for the survival of our genetic
offspring into a drive for the survival of our memetic offspring (in some

Getting genetic offspring requires "mates", getting memetic offspring
requires followers.

What drives conflict is pride, hate, the lust for power and the thrill of
> wielding it once obtained, the joy of watching _them_ suffer - the referent
> of "them" is almost infinitely fungible, but the drive is constant.

Pride, hate, lust, power, etc. are driven by the need to copy genetic and
memetic material.  I think deriving "joy" from the suffering of others (or
mindless accumulation of power) is perhaps a warping of the need to generate
control over ones environment which is a misdirection of the drive to
guarantee the survival of ones offspring.  If there is any truth to some of
the psychology one sees on common TV shows today, it tends to be driven by
those who experienced suffering or a lack of power when they were growing up
(so it is in compensation for an environment forced upon them).  There may
be some people who have the "outside of the standard box" genetic mutations
that cause them to be miswired at the neural level with respect to
experiencing empathy towards those who are in situations that would result
in suffering.

I remind you that you yourself once proposed a campaign of nuclear genocide
> against "faith-based thinkers",

Yes, and I still believe that the problem of those who follow without
understanding or knowledge is a significant problem.  And I've reached the
point where, like Dennett, where I think the only way to deal with it is
education before the meme sets are frozen in place.  And it is going to be
very very hard to keep those "addicted" to the propagation of faulty meme
sets from continuing their practices.

However, let us be *very* clear about one thing.  I have no desire for power
or wielding it.  That suggestion was born out of the fear that 600-800
billion "followers" with significant sources of wealth (primarily controlled
by an elite power group) represented a significant threat.  It was based on
calculations for the most efficient means for achieving "paradise" on Earth
for the largest number of people in the shortest time.  Because like it or
not -- not having robust MNT *is* currently and will continue to cause an
irrevocable loss of life [1].

and when you abandoned that you didn't move on to something driven by better
> motives, only to something more socially acceptable - having people tortured
> and raped for typing words on a computer keyboard.

I don't remember that so feel free to point out the message.  I believe the
end conclusion I reached was that providing people with alternate
information sources was a reasonable approach (something the U.S. *is* doing
with satellite news broadcasts in Arabic).  I suspect tribal group think
will make it relatively ineffective however.

I had a conversation awhile ago with someone who believes we'll have
> magic-genie nanotech here on Earth. Was he saying "great, no need for
> conflict then, we'll have plenty of resources"? No, he was proposing a
> global, inescapable tyranny with authority to arbitrarily suppress
> technology in case the dreaded other uses it to obtain power.

It may come to that -- whether "human" or "artificial".  And I for one am
reconciled to the fact that I would not choose to live in either situation.
There is a plateau of peaceful and constructive evolution on the top of the
mountain surrounded on all sides by the various tyrannical cliffs.  It is a
plateau which seems very difficult to reach.

No, the super-nanotech mythology is not the answer. Practical nanotech as a
> means to Diaspora - that might get somewhere.

It only postpones the problem.  As "The Wrath of Kahn" pointed out --
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."  -- "I don't care, I'll get even with
those Xyzzys -- Even if it takes me a thousand years or a million years or a
trillion years."  Diasporas can come back to haunt you.  Black holes with
sufficient mass and velocity can take out MBrains [2].  We either evolve to
a point where we transcend the "natural" genetic and memetic driving forces
or we end up being victims of them.


1. Spending 500 billion dollars (and eventually probably more) on a ground
war in Iraq is a significant fraction of the amount I once calculated as
necessary for having robust MNT *now*.  I view "paradise" for 5 billion
people as perhaps being worth the sacrifice of a few tens of millions (since
they are going to die anyway without robust MNT).  And *yes* I do realize
how this may sound to some people.  You cannot fault the people who are
clueless with respect to what is possible.  But the people who have read EoC
(now 20 years old), or who have read this list (and other similar lists) for
many years *already* have blood all over their hands.
2. The only place & form which is "really" safe is as a cold intergalactic
nano-robot swarm meme set constructed out of stable isotopes consuming only
that energy required to repair damage caused by cosmic rays, neutrino bursts
and an occasional high velocity ion one might encounter.  You have to reduce
your footprint to the point where harvesting or eliminating "you" costs much
much more than would be gained by such acts.
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