Robert A Freitas Jr on Ray Kurzweil’s Accelerated Intelligence site
Complex topic Robert, with some great development of ideas, and some implicit assumptions, some of which seem to me to be clearly flawed.
I doubt that nanotech can completely control thought, influence certainly, but not “control”. I am sure it can be used to control action, but that requires some intelligence behind the control.
There is always danger form someone who is sufficiently smart, sufficiently patient, and sufficiently committed – for whatever reason (be it a grievance or a vision).
It seems clear to me, that the greatest danger is in promoting centralised systems. The greatest security seems to come from massive redundancy, and decentralising everything. I know your 1981 paper for NASA on a variation on that theme got nowhere in the current strategic environment, and my own independently developed thesis on http://www.solnx.org has gained little traction, and remains out there.
It is now clear to me, that it is the systemic incentive structure implicit in market valuation (aka money) that is the greatest single and immediate existential threat we face (which is not to deny the reality of threats from nanotech, AI, biotech, or tyrants).
Markets have served us well in our history as a way of distributing scarce resources and as a way of encouraging innovation.
The problem with market valuation is that it cannot do anything with real distributed abundance other than value it at zero (or negative).
Markets are based on the notion of scarcity. Someone has to not have enough what you have more than enough of, for what you have to to be of value to them.
Thus there can never be a real market incentive to deliver universal abundance, no matter how valuable such a thing might be to all of the individuals in the market.
In the coming age of robotic production, markets and money are becoming the greatest limiting factors to human productivity and human prosperity and freedom.
It seems clear to me that the old saying that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance” will be true throughout eternity.
There can be no guarantees – any sort of guarantee would fundamentally undermine the whole notion of freedom.
And if we are delivering systems that ensure that everyone has their survival needs met, and everyone has access to education and resources and travel and communication, such that they can choose their own reasonable paths in life; then the vast bulk of humanity is primed to operate in cooperative fashion, and will in fact generally work to safeguard their freedom.
As a side issue, it seems clear to me also that choosing a path in life that is determined by genetically or culturally derived feelings of happiness is not necessarily a line of choice that anyone should be promoting.
Evolution has never had to deal with what we have to deal with now.
I know from my own experience of being given a 50% chance of living 5 months (3 years ago, after a diagnosis of terminal metastasised melanoma), doing some research, and giving up all of the foods that I found tasty, allowed me to beat the cancer (I am now tumour free, I am also strict vegan, following 55 years of being a carnivore). I have never felt healthier, and according to medical checks, have probably never been healthier.
So our genetic and cultural ideas of happiness can be extremely deceptive.
They worked (on average, over time) in our evolutionary past, but not necessarily in our present.
Choice is a wonderful thing – few people have much real experience of dealing with it; fewer still have experience of going beyond the biological and cultural ideas of happiness; or beyond the cultural bounds of value.