[ExI] Human extinction

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Aug 19 04:42:30 UTC 2008

Samantha writes

> [Lee wrote]
>> I would [non-destructively] upload everyone on Earth right now
>> [i.e. make copies of them that run on more secure hardware] if I
>> could, simply in order to save billions of lives should the worst
>> occur. From my point of view, it would be very unethical
>> to expose countless people to unknown hazards, such as
>> Gamma Ray bursts, if I could do something about it.
> So you don't believe people should have the right to decide whether they 
> want to be uploaded or even backed up?  Are you sure you want to go 
> there?  I can see arguments for such a position but it flies in the face 
> of freedom of choice.

While I'd never phrase it that way, yes, I do agree that 
people should have "the right" to decide, much in the
way that people ought to be free to kill themselves (under
suitable protocols) if they wish.

But very few people have expressly stated that they
absolutely do not want to be backed up. So if it was
a button labeled "back up all Earth people now", and
my only choice was to press or not press, I'd press.

> It is a particular instance of the elitist authoritarian
> assumption that you know better and that you should 
> implement your decision "for their own good". 

There is a continuum here. A favorite example of a friend
of mine is this: you're stranded on a desert island with a
number of people who seem to be much more delirious
than you are, and you alone can read Latin. A cask of
water washes ashore that says (in Latin) "Danger. Botulism.
Do not drink.". Now here is where my friend and I differed.

He says that you unconditionally rush over to the barrel of
water and release it into the sand. I say that you take this
action *only* if you are absolutely convinced that there
exists an objective reason why your knowledge is superior
to theirs and your judgment is superior to theirs. 

So sometimes, in extreme cases, you *do* implement
decisions for other people's own good. But in normal
daily life, my two provisos above are absent.

>> Around 100,000 [75,000] religious people perish
>> every single day.  Or do you want to upload their
>> brain tumors and heart conditions too? How about
>> a compromise: everyone starts to feel a little better,
>> the truly despondent and suicidal start to feel a lot
>> better, and though they continue to be reported on
>> the news, no one actually hears about anyone they
>> know being involved in traffic accidents, accidental
>> deaths, wars, or disease.
>> And for those who are reading too fast, I would not be
>> affecting the people who live here and their lives right
>> here *at all*.  No reason they can't live uploaded while
>> they continue to live here too.
> I still would want you to ask permission first.

Are there cases that would cause you to change your
mind? I.e., you're the sole astronaut returning from a
deep space mission at nearly the speed of light, and
you know that impending death to all life on Earth is
following you in, only minutes away. You can only contact
one Lee Corbin, and you know (from the above) exactly what
he will do if he finds out about this, and is given by you
the secret password that will enable him to upload everyone.

You going to tell, and cause that so-called "right to decide"
by six billion people to be overridden? Or are you going to
keep flying, and let us all perish?


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