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