Podcast No. 57 Posted 8/1/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 57 Posted 8/1/2011

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TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The When of Terasem 4.5 – 4.5.6

SUB TITLE:  How Good Prevails over Bad through Extropy.

SUMMARY: The fundamentals of exponential growth imply that “good” will out-compete “bad” as extropy continues to unfold.  Diversity and unity as they apply to environmental adaptation and management are contrasted with anarchy, meaning absence of law and order.  Individual initiative is dependent on treasuring diversity since without this, we are not motivated to innovate.


Music  – “Earthseed” fades out, as the voice recording begins.

 (Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast number 57 on the Truths of Terasem, numbers 4.5 through 4.5.6, today.

(Linda)  We’ll be talking about how rapid growth gives “good” things an advantage over “bad” ones, if “good” is defined in an extropic, reality-based framework, versus vague feelings or mystical notions about it.

(Fred)  Right!  In the past, many philosophies were devoted to nothing more than explaining how “we’re the good guys and all others are the bad guys, no better than animals, and God is on our side while we try to wipe the other guys out”.  In these cases, philosophy had little purpose other than endorsing dogma and intimidating criticism.

(Linda)  Environmental adaptation and management is part of this set of Truths, too.  Along with finding so much common ground that anarchy can’t disturb commitments to unity.  And, “law and order” has to be more than just a political dogma.  Too often, and even at present in far too many cases, “law and order” is just used to enforce conformity and strangle diversity.

(Fred)  True.  In the name of “stability”, governments too often structure “law and order” to do little more than block diversity on the part of individuals, and in this sense law and order can become like a strait jacket.  The final Truth of this group, 4.5.6, says just about the same thing, with the words: “Honor individual initiative as the tool that ensures order is a platform rather than a prison.”

But let’s start at the beginning of this group, with 4.5: “Exponential growth is the key to understanding when Terasem achieves completion.”  Terasem expects that growth in technology on a compound-exponential basis will enable a lift-off of high technology a few decades from now that will be so rapid as to appear as if it were a perfectly vertical wall beyond which, to biological humans that have not been augmented, it will be almost impossible to see what the future will be like.  That’s why it’s referred to as a “Singularity”.

There will be risks of rapid technology development, for sure, where self-replicating nanobots are being perfected mainly by cyberpersons working in virtual realities at vastly accelerated rates.  There, a refined form of “Geoethical Nanotechnology” as defined by Martine Rothblatt will be essential.  Still, once the hard-AI lift-off takes place, difficulties that now seem very challenging like global warming should diminish in urgency.  From there on we’ll be able to spend most of our time on exploring and making changes to a universe that, as we’ve said in earlier podcasts, may be devoid of other high-tech life forms.  As Eric Drexler says in his book Engines of Creation:

“In short, we have a chance at a future with room enough for many worlds and many choices, and with time enough to explore them.  A tamed technology can stretch our limits, making the shape of technology pinch the shape of humanity less.  In an open future of wealth, room, and diversity, groups will be free to form almost any sort of society they wish, free to fail or set a shining example for the world.”

(Linda)   That’s a perfect lead in to today’s discussion.  A few words in 4.5 need to be clarified, though, about “Terasem achieving completion”.  Completion of what?  I’d take it to be, completion of all its goals. Those goals, almost without exception, are tied to advances in density of memory and computational speed, which at some levels seem achievable only through replicator nanotechnology.  We need to get into the underlying Truths to reach more specific ideas.

The next one certainly takes us into that.  In 4.5.1 we find, “Growth is how our reality is wired to ensure that good ultimately out-competes bad.”  How do we make sense of that?  Surely it can’t mean that doubling world population would double the good  in the world, or maybe cut the bad in half.

(Fred)  It really does sound like that at first glance, doesn’t it?  But the sense of it is not along that line, at all.  If we start with the big picture and zoom in on it, it may sound more plausible.  Let’s start with how to tell good from bad by looking at everything that’s happened from the Big Bang forward.  Also, let’s see how growth and order are intertwined.  Finally, let’s remember that extropy in the universe translates to “increase in the state of order”, and the faster that takes place, the greater the rapidity of increase in extropy.

The Big Bang provided a pinpoint of energy that expanded rapidly to tens of billions of light years in whatever framework we wish to think of.  From that came galaxies, stars that recycled periodic deaths into higher atomic weight elements, solid planets forming around new stars, and so forth.  The universe was becoming more diverse, but in an orderly way.  Over billions of years, with the emergence of biological life, the pace of extropy picked up considerably.

So far, this increase in order was good, vs. bad, since if what we call biological life hadn’t arisen, 3-4 billion years ago, we wouldn’t be here.  Still, it took a billion years or so for single cell life to increase its complexity to multicellular life, and another billion before life emerged from the sea.  An explosion of species on land followed, over the next billion, with reptiles ruling the land surface much of that time.  Self-organization of the universe marched ever more rapidly ahead, but it took a quantum leap, soon after the first primates began to stand upright.

Primate intelligence reached near-human levels about two million years ago.  Without this, we would not be here today.  From our stand point, we have to call this good.  By comparison, bad would have been slow growth in an earlier evolutionary state, where we might not ever have developed as we have.  But, we did.  Here we are.

Human civilization has gone through ups and downs as various cultures climbed from stone axe and fire to machine parts and rocket motors.  There were many vectors of humanity.  Some survived and some were snuffed out.  In his book Collapse, Jared Diamond recounts the end of, among others, the centuries’ old population of Easter Island, 35,000 strong at its peak, where palm trees eight feet in diameter furnished materials for ocean going canoes when the settlers arrived from the far Pacific, about same time Rome fell.  A thousand years or so later, after unsustainable population growth wiped out their food supply, they were reduced to cannibalism.  They pushed over each other’s stone gods and reduced what had once been a vibrant culture to empty, treeless grasslands.

(Linda)  Yet, at least in part through natural selection, humankind has survived and has found its way to this present day.  In his 2011 book Super Cooperators, by Martin Nowak, a professor of Biology and Mathematics at Harvard University and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, develops the following important ideas:

“The story of humanity is one that rests on the never-ending creative tension between the dark pursuit of selfish short-term interests and the shining example of striving toward collective long-term goals.  I believe the emphasis on cooperation puts a more optimistic sheen on life than the traditional take on Darwin, which condemns all life to a protracted and bloody struggle for survival and reproduction.  Mutation and natural selection are not enough in themselves to understand life…  You need cooperation too.  Cooperation was the principle architect of 4 billion years of evolution.  Cooperation built the first bacterial cells, then higher cells, then complex multicellular life and insect super-organisms.  Finally cooperation constructed humanity.

“I propose that “natural cooperation” be included as a fundamental principle to bolster those laid down by Darwin.  Cooperation can draw living matter upward to higher levels of organization.  It generates the possibility for greater diversity by new specializations, new niches, and new divisions of labor.   Cooperation makes evolution constructive and open-ended.”

History does document that barbarism continues to diminish over all.  Our society of today is more highly ordered than at any time in the past, and that is good.  We have cast aside many unscientific beliefs of the past, and that too is good.  We have left behind times like those of the Conquistadors from Spain who were, notwithstanding their acceptance of the Spanish Inquisition, horrified to find Aztec temples where the skulls of those sacrificed to their gods were piled before their temples by the hundreds, in some cases thousands, as if this were something to be proud of.  No wonder the Conquistadors thought their brutal and coercive religions in Europe were actually superior to those of the Aztecs.

(Fred)  Today’s civilization, with its global Internet connectedness and intertwined economies, its progressively aggregating nationalities, and its relief of human physical labor through machinery, as well as its relief of human intellectual dog-work through computers, is by any earlier comparison the most highly ordered civilization of any that ever existed, and that self-ordering increases every day.  We now stand at the threshold of upward movement so swift and dramatic that many are pinching themselves with disbelief, straddled between fear on the one hand and hope on the other.

Terasem stands on the hopeful side.  Its outlook is that we can learn from the past, and that we can put that learning to work, as we move into a future that has the potential to literally liberate us from biology and all of the natural selection drives that made us institutionalize competitiveness and hatred in the past along so many lines that it now takes pages to categorize them, starting with race, gender, age, nationality of origin, handicap challenges, and yes, non-scientific, religious beliefs with dogma-not-to-be-questioned.

Terasem offers a far reaching set of beliefs that are based on science and technology, rather than mysticism and superstition.  Others may emulate it and improve on it, but in these cases Terasem will find ways to meld and merge. As we move into cyberspace, war and abuse must be left behind.  Cooperation must be taken to higher and higher levels.  We will have a world like that which up to this time, we have only dreamed of, but never thought possible.  A world where the reasonable and compassionate are the standard of “good”, and the unreasonable and the blindly competitive are the standard of “bad”.

(Linda)  We’ve just finished talking about “good” versus “bad”, and “order” versus “anarchy”.  Can we take “diversity” and “unity”, and make sense of them in terms of “environmental adaptation” and “environmental management”?  Can all of these be fit together in a meaningful way?

(Fred)   They all fit, when we look at the next Truth: 4.5.2 “Rapid sustained growth is sustained by diversity for environmental adaptation and unity for environmental management”.  First, let’s look at “diversity” and “unity”, and how they apply to “environmental adaptation” and “environmental management”.  We may find that they fit together perfectly, in fact it might seem almost too commonplace, on the surface.

We could say that most of us are already united by the conviction that alternative energy production by wind and sunlight, by nuclear fission and (if possible) fusion, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, would be good, and that leaving no stone unturned represents a commitment to diversity at the same time.  We are adapting to environmental challenges by a management strategy, and with that one example alone we’ve reviewed a sensible application of this Truth.

(Linda)  Yes, but how does “rapid sustained growth” fit into that?

(Fred)  It means we focus on this as a priority, and forsake competitive nationalism and the interests of privileged minorities.  As a nation, the United States put aside all other priorities during World War II to help defeat the Nazi regime and restore order to world progress.  Later, as an internal initiative, we put the goal of landing a man on the Moon in a high priority position, and made it work.  If we have the kind of “unity of purpose” required, we can make almost any kind of “rapid sustained growth” a reality.

But we’re not talking just about energy or defending ourselves from terrorism here.  We’re talking about making technology evolve so rapidly it outruns environmental challenges and cleans up our environment for us.  It’s the diligent pursuit of having a cybercivilization perfect replicator nanotech that has the potential for digging ourselves out of an environmental hole that could swallow us if we just sit and wait, rather than committing ourselves to the goal of rapid, sustained growth of the technologies that could solve problems that otherwise seem unsolvable.

(Linda)  The next Truth, 4.5.3, builds on this.  It says, “Organization enables compounding of achievements and exponential growth whereas anarchy makes progress impossible.”  The term “organization” gets used in so many ways that it is easily misunderstood.  If we said “increased order” or “unified commitment to goals” that might be better.  Similarly, “anarchy” is a loaded term.  Let’s try, as a substitute, “blind head-butting and settling disagreements by fighting”.  Then, we’d have, “Unified commitment to goals enables compounding of achievements and exponential growth whereas blind head-butting and settling disagreements by fighting makes progress impossible.”

I think another quote from Nowak’s Super Cooperators is perfect here:

“We are SuperCooperators.  We are the only species on Earth that is able to draw on the support of all five mechanisms of cooperation, and we already do this to a remarkable extent.  But we now have to do even better.  We now have to strive to achieve the full potential of these mechanisms if we are to rise to the serious challenges that lie ahead.”

(Fred)  And that leads us directly into 4.5.4, where we find “Without law and order there is no progress toward joyful immortality.”  Earlier, Linda, you said, “Law and order” has to be more than a political truism, just used to enforce conformity and strangle diversity.”  That’s exactly how we have to take it here.

As used here, “law and order” can be taken to mean that through cooperation, if we all agree cheating and/or killing other people is bad, for example, there must be unflinching accountability for such acts.  We aren’t going to be able to move steadily toward what Terasem describes as joyful immortality otherwise.  Exactly how do we do this?  In Super Cooperators, Nowak describes five mechanisms of cooperation.  Those are a good start.  What we don’t mean by “law and order”, however, is huge, tax financed, bureaucracies enforcing laws that mostly perpetuate a status quo.

(Linda)  The next one, 4.4.5, is “Treasure diversity as the impetus for advancement within a well-ordered matrix,” and the last one, 4.5.6, is “Honor individual initiative as the tool that ensures order is a platform rather than a prison.”  Can you do the two of them as a single item?

(Fred)  Sure, Linda.  Individual initiative is dependent on “treasuring diversity” since without this we are not motivated to innovate.  “Well-ordered matrix”, in this context, implies that intellectual property rights are protected.  If we “honor” innovation, then “order” cannot mean “imprisoning” it.  Rather, it means defending it, thus serving as a stimulus, an impetus, a “platform”.  Cooperation is a mode of interaction for mutual benefit.  It’s another way of saying “diversity with unity”.

These two Truths could probably be fully understood without interpreting, but they fit so well with the earlier ones in this group that they serve to confirm, and add texture to the terms “good” and “bad”

(Linda) Next week, we’re going to delve into the ways consent is used not as the result of intimidation or coercion, but as the path to voluntary unity of the highest kind.  On the surface, they appear to be commonsense guides, but later we will see that this level of synergy and mutual understanding will be vital in applying Geoethical Nanotechnology to burning questions of priorities and risk, such as how to reach a reasonable middle ground when the dangers are great, but the dangers of not pressing forward are even greater.

(Fred)  As we’ll see, these are beautiful paradigms for how to avoid conflict in reaching consensus, and the subjects to which they apply are among the weightiest to ever have been discussed among sentient beings.  We can benefit from them now, but we can also see that those who will need them most will be those who, only decades from now, are talking with each other at thousands of times the speed of thought of biological humans.

(Linda) This next set of topics has more “dual application” than almost any of the others of the Truths of Terasem. I am definitely looking forward to next week’s session.

(Fred)  In anticipation of that, let me invite listeners to add their strength to our efforts to transcend biology and emerge in cyberspace as soon as possible.  To do this, joining Terasem is a fundamental step.  Find out how easy it is to join Terasem and be part of this future.  Simply go to terasemfaith.net.

(Linda) Mindfiles are your cost free launching pad for waking up in cyberspace. Start building your own mindfile at either CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com.  Plus, if you want to preserve your DNA very inexpensively, as an alternative to brain preservation or cryostasis, you can do that at LifeNaut.com, too.  And, don’t forget, Terasem is committed to helping those who join earlier, wake up in cyberspace sooner.

(Fred)  Are you an Android user?  Do you prefer the excitement of a game, to filling out questionnaires?  Then, go to PersonalityMD.com and download Mike Clancy’s new maze-based game as the fun way to build your mindfile.  A word of caution, though, it can be addicting!

(Linda) And for those of you who crave a mind expanding blog, you can’t beat mindclones.blogspot.com.  I guarantee you that Martine Rothblatt will stretch your neurons with discussions about mindclones, mindfiles and mindware.  Oh, and don’t forget, you can find the text version of these podcasts at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Fred)  If you like the music we use on these podcasts, which runs full length at the end of each podcast,  it’s the Terasem Anthem, called Earthseed, written by Martine Rothblatt.  She also plays flute and keyboard.  For a video version of Earthseed, with inspirational space artwork, go to the Join! tab on the terasemfaith.net website.

(Linda)  Join us, and our quest for an endless future…

(Fred)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.



Posted July 19, 2011 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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