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« Rewind Your Brain | Main | New Technical Information »

October 05, 2005


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Tom Craver

Do we have to choose a highest priority? The options don't look mutually exclusive, and actually most of them seem to support each other.

Mike Treder, CRN

Tom, I agree that choosing a single priority would not make any sense. But in making policy, it is necessary to establish a heirarchy of needs and wants.

Janessa Ravenwood

Hierarchy of Priorities (my take):
1. Avoiding Excessive Regulation
2. Defense Against Terrorism (a delicate trade-off with #1 to be sure, but you have to draw a line somewhere on the maximum amount of security that it’s reasonable to tolerate and then take your chances, just like we do now – 100% security is an illusion and trying too hard to hit it will prove intolerable)
3. IP Law Reform (And/or lots of public domain designs – at least for basic things, even if not for luxuries/toys. This will enable things like poverty and starvation to be greatly alleviated. Not that I’m not a fan of the private sector, but nano-manufacturing will cut straight to the heart of IP law, where I see a LOT of corruption and bad laws. Of course, if it’s as easy to get around them then as it is now, then just viva the black market and we’ll continue to ignore them at least some of the time. The “bio-piracy” of finding something in nature and then claiming a patent for it is somewhat analogous to the types of shenanigans I could see some companies trying to pull.)


Seems to me the top priority would be to stop humanity from destroying itself.

What does that take? Obviously, we can't have terrorists; but, where do terrorists come from?

It is obvious you can't give fullblown mnt to every child born and say let it do what it does.

I mean, there's some obvious stuff.

I've been through a couple of things the last week or so, and I'm a little tired, but I thought that maybe the first sentence and the fact that there are some 'obvious' no's is a good starting point.

I've actually quite a new idea which I'd like to share in due time, but I am tired and so . . . this is all from me for now.

occam's comic

It seems to me that the top priority should be to have a plan that has some chance of working.

What does that take? Obviously, we can't get all (or even most, or any?) the governments in the world to agree to implement a reasonable plan before we have nano-factories and the problems they cause.

So what kind of options do we have left?

i would like to suggest that we "replicate" socially the same design strategy that is used in the nano-factory. In other words we find "bottom - up" strategies that can be replicated. Don't try to solve all the problems at once. Focus on finding small scale solutions to small scale problems (how do I stay warm when its cold? how do i see when its dark? what am I having for dinner? etc. etc.) and make sure the answers to the problems are replicated (shared) as widely as possible. Work to reduce the need for governments and the desirability of violent conflict.

You don't need convince any governments, all you need to do in this strategy is to work cooperatively with a growing number of like minded people. The rapidly falling costs of computers and communication should make large scale cooperation easier.

michael vassar

Agreed that we need a strategy that might actually work. Sadly, the only one I know of is to try to help out the Singularity Institute (www.singinst.org), and that seems more like a long shot than like a best bet. We don't know how to do the bottom up or the top down organizing needed, nor do we have good reason to expect to be particularly good at either. Please make realistic suggestions. We may still survive this, but new ideas are needed.

Janessa Ravenwood

Michael: But that's the problem - not everyone agrees on the *goal* of nano development/regulation strategy. Without consensus on that, I'm seeing a lot competing strategy suggestions. Which means that any realistic ones may or may not be what one wishes to hear, depending on what side one is on.

occam's comic

Ok let me pull out my razor here and see if I can cut away some overly complex “solutions”.

CRN’s tentative solution:
Identify the major problems
Get many powerful organizations to think about the problems and potential solutions.
Develop sound policies that address the problems.
Get many (all) governments to agree to sound policy.
Implement the policy.
Do all the above before you have nano-factories.

CUT (too much work not enough time)

Develop Friendly AI and hand over control of our lives to our new Cyber Soviet Master (or our AI Nanny) before we have nano-factories.

CUT (probably a bad idea even if it is doable)

Work with like minded people to develop small scale (nano-tech) solutions to the everyday problems we all face and then share the solutions with others.

Tom Craver

Maybe we could agree on this prioritization?

1) Enable all individuals composing humanity to be as free as possible, bounded by self-consistency. [E.g. this does not mean making a psychotic axe murderer free to kill others, nor giving children the same rights as adults.]

2) Sustain the long term existence of the human race, contingent upon (1). [E.g. no mind-control that keeps humanity alive as biological robots, even if we think this would somehow make the human race more likely to survive. But keep powerful tools out of the hands of those who are insane enough to use them as weapons of mass destruction.]

3) Arrange for the greatest likelihood that individuals will be able to find happiness in their lives, contingent upon (1) and (2). [Support scientific research, institute the rule of law and reasonable property rights, etc.]

Note that agreeing on these as priorities doesn't mean we've agreed on their implementation. Some may even disagree with the examples I've used above.

E.g. does (2) mean the US is justified in invading Iraq and Iran? Or that Europe, should they develop MNT first, would be justified in using it to pacify the "dangerously aggressive" United States? Clearly it is still possible to disagree.

Phillip Huggan

Maximize product of 1 X 2 X 3, with an agreed upon multiplier for sentient entities which don't yet exist.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Occomic, "Work with like minded people to develop small scale (nano-tech) solutions to the everyday problems we all face and then share the solutions with others."

This isn't a complete solution. Unrestricted MM will create non-everyday problems. It may create problems that don't have good solutions. It may create problems too quickly for solutions to be evolved or developed or replicated.

Just a few hours before you posted your comment, I made a post to the CRN Policy Task Force discussion list. Here's the relevant part:

"CRN was founded for the purpose of developing good policy and getting it implemented. It seems like an obvious response to a tough problem. .... But a lot has to go right for policy to work, and I'm starting to think we maybe should have defined our mission more broadly.

Policy requires:
- understanding the problem's background
- identifying good and bad outcomes
- designing policies that will work
- designing implementation strategies
- getting buy-in
- creating institutions or organizations
- that will be effective
- that will be flexible
- but can't easily be corrupted or subverted

.... I think we had better start looking for approaches beyond just policymaking. What are they???"


I still don't feel like writing up my new ideas in full, but I'm sure it will come sooner than later.

I thought I'd at least leave you with this for now.

For the breif life I've lived, I had come to think that sticking to the truth beats out the false; that the false is like a hole in a donut, so no matter how you twist it, the lie, the falsity is still there and will eventually bring the false down. If you stick with the false, your in what I call the liars paradox(not the famous Russel paradox, but maybe somewhat inspired!); the liars paradox is that to cover up the lie, the liar has to lie some more, and eventually the guy has dug a hole so deep, it doesn't just catch up to him/her; he can't get out of it; he has blood on the hands; he's in to deep; he can't get out of it without(sometimes) suicide and maybe take somebody else out with him/her.

You people want to ignore and think you can get away with not facing truths around here; this is what I see and feel - sorry. I don't mean to totally attack you(i'm pretty sure we are at least in talking relations now); i don't think your bad anymore than I think our President or any other president is bad, but, sounds to me that you guys are stuck with things and don't want to let go. And now, you fear and want to bottle 'everybody' up.

Well, I'm starting to say more than I wanted to, but I think I can finish off with one more thought without having to write up everything else up. Humanity has progressed in stages, and in each stage, some part of humanity has stayed behind; back then, people had a place to go if they didn't like things or had a new idea - to another land. You guys want to stay back and babysit the industrial mess, then that is your business, but there is an evolution of humanity towars science that 'should' happen, and they are goin to be just fine without somebody bottling them up with the rest of the 'past' humanity who are not psychologically ready for a scientific future. Pulling up stakes and moving away from those who want to stagnate is a historically tried and true method, and no, those people moving towards the future will not destroy themselves as I'll explain later. Mnt are not dynamical systems; they do not evolve on their own; and those who chose to go towards the future will not have the time to think about conquering all of galactic space which the human future will find itself, and even if some minority does think about conquering, everybody else is going to have mnt, and there will be so many spread so far, it's an absurd propostion!

You guys/( any gals?) just are not seeing it, and even refusing to see it because I've posted before that humanity is the scientifically depedent species, and you had no idea how to respond to that.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

David, if I were confident that the people moving toward the future would have more power than the people stuck in the past, I would be a lot less worried.

Remember that one of my biggest worries is that MNT will be used for an old-fashioned war. Even if the old-fashioned people are not as creative, they can still misuse such a powerful technology for long enough to destroy the embryonic forward-lookers. Especially if the only way forward is by evolving new ideas, which takes time.

And Darwinian evolution is a very destructive process; I'd prefer to avoid destructive evolution on a global scale. One possible way to do this is to implement enough information sharing and evaluation technologies that evolution can be more Lamarckian.



i'm not coming up with much of reply right now; i think my next crn post will be my new ideas, although, I must say that I'm not to sure if there is enough time to implement my ideas.

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