[extropy-chat] Sustainability philosopy as a justification for existence

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Mon Sep 4 17:44:11 UTC 2006

I've been wrestling lately with the question about how one justifies ones
existence [1].  From an extropic perspective it would appear to me that one
has to be acting on the stage in such a way as to contribute to
sustainability, survival, evolution and presumably increasing complexity of
humanity.  I could argue that many people who are currently "retired" do not
meet this criteria.[2]  Many people living in the third world do not meet
this criteria.  Many people with strong religious beliefs do not meet this
criteria.  There are some "green" folks who would.  There are some research
scientists, technology developers, investment managers who do.

The allocation of resources in large part determines the rate of progress
along the singularity curve and how many people will end up dying.
Ultimately even a Matrioshka Brain has limits on energy and information
storage resources.  The energy resources are probably much more limited than
the information storage resources.  So one gets into a question, not of
whether to kill people (erase copies), but how much "run time" to give them
and when they should get to have it [4].  This relates to the rich vs. poor
discussions one gets into now-a-days of who has the resources and who
doesn't (relating of course to taxation, relative needs, social safety net
discussions, etc.).  But I do not see in any current political system,
religion or philosophy a "raison d'etre" which seems to justify ones "right"
to a share of the resources (and in particular justifies a greater or lesser
share of said resources).

This can be thought of in near term perspectives -- does one buy a Flex Fuel
car or a Hybrid car (or does one bike to work)?  Is one "religiously" strict
with oneself -- i.e. the money saved by buying a 1972 inefficient highly
polluting vehicle (perhaps 20-40x cheaper than a new "green" car) invested
in companies producing ethanol, solar cells, better food crops, lifespan
extension, etc.  Or do you take that money and use it for some "frivolous"

Will a "justification for ones existence" perspective be created and adopted
by many indivuals soon or is the only hope for it well into the post robust
nanotechnology period when personal survival concerns have shifted from the
"hard" reality to the "soft" (virtual) reality?


1. Ignore the whole "survival and reproduction" programming built into ones
genome and mind.  It is after all *just* a program and as any programmer
knows programs are created to be improved upon.
2. One can of course make investment payoff justifications, e.g. my father
fought in WWII contributing to the survival of the "free" world as we know
it and has therefore "paid" a debt to humanity that is now being repaid even
if he is living an "unsustainable" lifestyle currently.  I will freely admit
these justifications can become quite elaborate [3] which is why I'm
choosing to put them "on the shelf" for now.
3. For example one might justify the "evil" of Windows by the good the Gates
Foundation is and/or may yet do.
4. I've been reading (and cursing) the Linux virtual memory swapping and
scheduling code recently -- and what I've read isn't making me happy in
terms of a "best of all possible worlds" perspective.
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