[extropy-chat] Still confused / make 10M pounds for free

John john.heritage at v21.me.uk
Mon Sep 4 02:14:30 UTC 2006

> pondered.  Religions largely don't seem to be about any real
> exploration or truth seeking, oddly enough.

What's even odder, and bitterly ironic, is that religion and science used to 
be genuine bed buddies. It was only when the discoveries of the religiously 
pious scientist threatend their dominance over the everyday man and woman, 
by presenting pathways by which they too could gain power over their 
environment without having to have masses of people below them to boss 
around, that they rapidly departed company.

I recall the use of a particularly complex steam driven water pump, 
involving sliding weights and pulleys, to automatically open the doors of 
churches in an attempt to awe inspire their visitors.

> Increasingly I believe the masses are irrelevant and the attempt to
> convince them is an utter waste of precious time and resources.   I do
> not like this conclusion of mine but that doesn't entitle me to reject
> it.

This is an idea I've been working on recently as well. That you need to 
assess whether it's genuinely easier for you to 'inform and transform' the 
masses by standard means or to remain anonymous and only seed or initate the 
change once you've exploited the extra time and resources not having to 
inform them gives you to develop something to grab their attention with.

You can argue with a religious guy until you're throat hurts and you have a 
headache, and he'll probably just feel even more certain in his beliefs. 
Instead, you could spend your time developing a cure to death. When it's 
ready, and he's about to die, he'll suddenly believe you.

In fact, here's an example of my thinking that I tried out in reality;

My sister used to sign on with the DSS and spend all of the money going out 
clubbing and paying for mood enhancing pills - at one point she was talking 
about "scamming" a few thousand out of a mental health program, although she 
didn't get round to that. Her friends used to routinely take part in 
questionable applications for additional support - "my back hurts!". My step 
sister has similar question marks floating around, e.g. she somewhat 
routinely checks into a psychiatric hospital and then checks back out (a 
nurse across the road from us told us this is something she's watched happen 
a number of times with similar patients).

My friends at school used to sign on for EMA in sixth form then take the 
money (meant for books and equipment) out partying with them or visit strip 
bars and burn up 50UKP in a few minutes - about five times more than I had 
spare. The DSS stated on their site something to the effect of "If you're 
not working, you should sign on as you may be missing out on money you 

Despite not working and not having much money, I'd been brought up being 
told to save money and not take it unless I really needed it. So watching 
all this really, really annoyed me (especially as I'd previously spent some 
time in the box job mentioned later) and I tried to figure out ways of 
changing it.

The DSS don't tell you what to spend money on. It's not illegal, for 
instance, to take it out clubbing with you and use it to buy socially 
acceptable drugs or pay strippers to wiggle around for five minutes.

I devised a truely beautiful plan, to me anyway.

I would sign on and take every pound of my benefits and spend it buying 
national lottery tickets - so in each week I'd buy about a year's worth of 
lottery tickets for a normal person. The only rule to this game was that I 
absolutely could not lie or cheat the people giving it to me - "my back 
hurts!" when it didn't, for example.

Sounds terrible, however stop and compare it to something like... buying 
beer or paying strippers. Potentially, I could have won a gigantic amount of 
cash, never presented a tax problem again and have actually given a lot more 
to society than normal people do - I would have probably given at least some 
of it away to Chernoybl Child or the NSPCC. Neither do lottery tickets 
result in 70% of admissions to hospital A&E, lung cancer, 16 year olds 
addicted to legal drugs or legal assault by second hand smoke. Whilst the 
probability of winning the jackpot is still low, it's also much higher than 
becoming a multimillionaire by spending that same money paying for alcohol.

My brother was having a fit about the idea and couldn't get over how morally 
wrong it was, despite it being perfectly within the rules of signing on.

His comeback was, "If it bothers you, you should write a letter to the 

The point I was trying to demonstrate was that if I won I could publically 
point out that I'd just won my 10 million pounds with fractions of other 
peoples' working lives. Fractions they prefer to forget about even though 
they're being spent on things arguably far less useful than lottery tickets 
by millions of people every Friday and Saturday night out.

I'd be rich and not have spent a single penny. In effect, everyone else 
would have paid to make me thousands of times richer than them.

This plan failed after just the first try due to a technical problem. They 
put me on disability benefits and I wasn't disabled. Rather, it was that I'd 
genuinely been too sick to make it up to my signing on appointment one day. 
I later discoverd I hadn't been changed to disability benefits and the 
ensuing confusion made me give up - not wanting to accidentally claim 
disability benefits when I wasn't genuinely disabled.

I was also interested in judging first hand how active the system was in 
getting people back into work. Suffice it to say, you basically -can-not- 
remain unemployed for more than a few weeks without lying. It's really that 
simple. There are a multitude of companies that will pay you a decent amount 
of money a day to do boring contract work, like being on your feet for 12h 
box packing a few million baby wipes (which I did for a few days - neither 
do I have any idea how the world in it's entirity could possibly the 
quantity of baby wipe that left those machines each day).

Theoretically, my rule about not lying to them was also incorrect. It was 
just to keep me legally and morally safe - the latter only seemed to work 
for me, everyone I told about this plan seemed quite angry with the idea, 
not grasping the greater picture (or if they did, they didn't grasp it 

My rule was incorrect in light of the fact that it's impossible to remain 
unemployed in the UK for more than a few weeks without lying - meaning that 
the people I was trying to make a point about had to also be lying.

But it served as an excellent example of 'bring down a system from within' 
thinking. I could have made up as many smart memes and comments as I wanted 
and worked at it until I wore myself down and still not achieved anything. 
By winning the lottery with someone else's tax donations, I would have 
almost certainly forced an immediate review of the system once I told 
everyone how I'd done it.

I think transhumanism is presently at a similiar point.

The problem transhumanism faces is that there is still no serious motivation 
or evidence that the general public can grasp onto. We see the possibilities 
because we spend everyday reading about science and technology, allowing us 
to interlace all the new developments to see where it's potentially going. 
That takes a huge amount of commitment and just dropping the general points 
on people doesn't provide them with enough to make an accurate long range 
projection in the same way that we can.

Neither is there something you can tease them with and have them believe 
you. They just think we're the same rambling nutters who were predicting 
moon bases and robot servants fifty years ago - and, to an extent, perhaps 
some of us are.

My lottery plan provided a super tangible and worthy tease for the public - 
everyone wants to be mega rich and people are made mega rich twice weekly by 
the national lottery (buying huge quantities of tickets, like I did, also 
directly increases the chances of that happening - almost exponentially so 
in the eyes of the people who see you doing it).

I also had an explaination set up for how we could reform the DSS to take 
account of all the people who waste tax money on alcohol, clubbing, and 
other 'useless' stuff - DSS credit cards that allow the tracking of money 
spent, swipe it at bargin booze every other day and your support is cut off; 
or just block purchases of certain items.

I think transhumanism is at a point where it's worthwhile talking to the 
public about it, but the real drive should be to try and catch all the 
students and research staff who are doing related jobs - not wait a hope 
that they happen to tune into Radio 4 at the appropiate time or just drift 
in by themselves. They'll already have a much better background to interlace 
the things you prompt them with and see how they can be come together in the 
long term.

There'll be thousands of students in A-Level years and University who'd make 
prime candidates for transhumanism, and take very little effort to 
enlighten, who'll be slipping by perhaps due to the catch net of 
transhumanists being aimed a little to wide at first - e.g. media 
campaigning the general public as opposed to university science departments. 
You have to weigh up the gain to effort balance.

It's a sad fact as Samantha says, but, as with everything R&D based, I think 
it'll only be once transhumanism starts releasing tangible things that are 
desired by the general public, that the masses will wake up to the idea. By 
which time, most of the ground work will have already been done by people 
like us. Intially, a lot of transhumanists will see that as wasted effort 
that could have been distributed over a wider group. I'd agree with that. 
I'd only disagree on the group being targetted. E.g. The general public 
can't help drive R&D by buying transhumanist products since transhumanist 
products don't exist for them to buy at the moment - or are very indirectly 
linked and not desirable to a lot of them (like wind turbines). It'll also 
take forever for their opinion to build up enough to make valid changes on 
the way tax is spent. You'd be much better off just promoting science in 
general to the government, directly.

Another point aimed more at the general public is that some of the 
transhumanist ideas end up being blocked by mass opinion. Stem cell research 
for instance. Again, arguably you could spend time explaining why it's right 
to those who oppose it, but ultimately the conversion yeild
is probably going to be very low. Unfortunately, once most people are set 
they're set for life it would seem. They'll only want to know when all the 
work is finished, an ethical source developed (although not necessarily 
depending on the extent of the next bit) and they need it themselves (how 
many religious people argue against science and then take antibiotics to 
really stick one to God's opinion?). Raising awareness will help, but 
ultimately, you'll probably be better off going more directly towards the 
government again - trying to win it just by informing the public will turn 
you into a wreck.

There are, of coarse, exceptions to everything. But I do really think that 
transhumanists who greatly disagree with these ideas seriously need to take 
a step back for a second and have a pragmatic think about things - like my 
brother needed to with his paper idea.

My biggest personal problem with science is the frequency with which I see 
'US Naval Yard' or 'Department of Defence' as the sole sponsors of R&D that 
should be used more creatively. As someone who's about to take a degree 
involving nanotech and electronics, that's probably also going to be 
something I'm involved with throughout my adult life.

I will be practicing what I preach on arrival at university and attempting 
to get some of my fellow nanotech students involved.

I'm impressed to see more and more women getting involved in transhumanism 
as opposed to just sci-fi nerdy geeks like me (just kidding you guys!)... 
Anna, Gina (Nanogirl), Samantha, Natasha. I'm used to seeing all of zero 
women on technical discussion groups.

All the best,

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list