[ExI] Human extinction

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Aug 20 07:23:32 UTC 2008

Damien writes

> Lee wrote:
>>billions of people have never heard of uploading, and many
>>would completely fail to understand it if they did hear
>>about it. In those cases, we'd upload them in a flash,
>>if, say we knew that a Gamma Ray burst was imminent
>>and this was the only way to save their lives, right?
> This is magical thinking, isn't it?

Oh, quite, as I didn't feel like putting much effort into making
it any kind of realistic scenario. That would have taken a few
minutes' additional work. I didn't think that anyone here
would mind  :-)

> You posit a world in which an unknown technology not
> only can copy a complete consciousness into a different
> substrate "in a flash" but can do this to *billions of people*,
> and yet somehow those billions have remained ignorant of 
> this technology during its development and deployment
> across the globe.

Jeesh!  You are *certainly* aware that the ENTIRE point
was one of analyzing our moral and ethical concerns!
Why should I have to take even two extra minutes to dream
up something more satisfactory, when the point is clearly
made that under *some* circumstances, one would and 
ought to violate other's knowing consent to certain actions.

Okay, imagine it's 1912 at your knowledge that the hospitalized
sleeping patients in the medical ward (---oh, oh, do I have now
to worry about whether large ocean going vessels in 1912
really had medical wards?).  On ethical grounds, ought one
to transfer, without their consent, these drugged and sleeping
(perhaps comatose) patients to very risky small lifeboats in
the open sea? Or should one ethically feel compelled to awaken
each person and carefully explain the predicament? This question,
of course, is entirely rhetorical, and you don't miss my point at all.

> Worse, where is this uploading supposed to be happening that is proof 
> against the blast of an incoming GRB? Deep under the crust?

I'll admit that the thought crossed my mind for half a second or so
that certain kinds of hardware will be proof against GRB radiation,
and so therefore so will the running software on them.

> This isn't a gedanken, Lee, it's a cartoon word salad. Seems to me.

I'll admit that going through the work of creating an entirely realistic
or at least believable world is not only entertaining to readers, but
can increase the accuracy of  their decision making as well as make
clearer the crucial human dilemmas that are being presented. But
philosophers seldom engage in this bread-and-butter work of the
SF professional. Besides, fantasy writers do vastly worse than I've
done here with their blatant admission of magic---yet their characters
too can face interesting and provocative moral dilemmas, and nobody
complains about it.


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