[extropy-chat] Is the future under control?

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Tue Jan 16 20:43:31 UTC 2007

BillK wrote:
> I feel I should mention that my original post wasn't really advocating
> more regulation. It was meant more on the lines of "Look - the
> future's uncontrollable!".  :)

Sure. I never doubted your extropian credentials :-)

> I was responding to Jef's complaint that the people and decision
> makers weren't rational enough to solve the complex problems facing
> us.

No, and I doubt it is ever possible to achieve that. If we have entities
around of power X, then they are likely to create problems of complexity X
- but there are many such entities, so the total complexity of problems
will be much higher than X. Meaning that decisionmakers better be
distributed, collective solutions rather than just trying to introduce
super-decisionmakers of complexity Y (who produce their own Y-problems).

I guess I am a collectivist dynamist libertarian.

> Mind you life might become interesting when nano factories and virus
> manipulation become readily available and start to appear in the
> garages and basements of every geek, angry teen and criminal.

Yup. Fortunately competence appears to be inversely correlated with
sentiment, so most will be pretty harmless. But just having more such
risks around is going to make the world a lot more dangerous. And so far,
if the War on Terror has shown us anything, we are bad at thinking in
terms of security (c.f. all the stories in Crypto-gram).

> Did you notice that spam hit a peak of 94% of all email in December?
> <http://www.onestopclick.com/news/Email-spam-hits-new-record_18033578.html>
> Think how much fun they will have with nano factories.

You just gave me a great business idea: anti-spam for nanofactured
advertisements (they are blowing in the wind, creeping under your window,
popping up in your breakfast cereal!). A mixture between environmental
reclamation, recycling and antispam.

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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