Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Michael Anissimov hydrates his trousers ...

and J. Storrs Hall has him sit in his lap.

Let me preface this by stipulating that both of these men are deservedly admired for their intellect generally and their grasp of the technical challenges inherent to the development of molecular or nano-scale manufacturing specifically. That being said, I cannot fathom why either would waste any of that intellectual horsepower on the silly "concerns" they both go on about in the linked-to piece. Presumably there are simply no pending developments in any of the on-going efforts to create the stated technology that either gentleman might more profitably direct his attention towards.

How depressing.

Mr. Anissimov says:

I consider it likely that a singleton will emerge in the 21st century, whether we want it to or not, as a natural consequence of expanding technological powers on a finite-sized planet, as well as a historical trend of aggregation of powers at higher geopolitical levels. Note that the singleton concept does not specify what degree or scope of decision-making powers the entity (which, as pointed out, could be a worldwide democracy) has. 99% of policy choices could very well be made at the local and national levels, while a singleton intervenes in those 1% of choices with global importance.

Two things come quickly to mind about all of the above; first, pretty much all of the bullet-points of recorded human history have involved disputes over formation of precisely this socio-political arrangement [Master of all I survey]. I can't imagine any circumstance unique to this millennium that will change the basic drive for contention amongst human beings, whatever the technology developed. Secondly (and I'm kind-of embarrassed to have to point out something as obvious as this to these two men), since it apparently does need to be said, any governmental entity having the power to enforce it's decision making even 1% of the time necessarily must have the power to do so the remaining 99% of the time too, should it choose to do so. Only some of the questions this begs are: which 1%, to what extreme, to who's benefit/detriment, at what point of provocation and so forth.

Really fella's, is this sort of fantasy Civ speculation that urgent an issue?

I particularly like Mr. Anissimov's follow-up:

To me, what I’d want most out of a singleton would be a coherent and organized approach to problems that face the entire planet. Instead of a disorganized patchwork, there’d be more decisive action on global risks. No authoritarianism in cultural, political, or economic matters is implied.

Let me just say, Sir, if you truly believe that any such arrangement as you stipulate is remotely possible (never mind likely), I am available for employment as your personal source of common sense. As illustration of what you might expect from such an arrangement between us, consider for as long as necessary just how likely it might be for any entity possessing the means to enforce your compliance with it's directive to feel constrained by your subsequent objection regarding some putative cultural, political or economic aspect of said directive.

Take your time (if you're paying me).

I have no desire to turn this into some variant of Fisking, if only because I do respect both gentlemen despite my current mockery. Dr. Hall would do well to laugh as politely as he is able and gently point out the silliness being put on display. Mr. Anissimov needs to devote his attention toward developing a more credible (not to mention more logically consistent) oogy-boogy strawman with which to void his bladder in decent privacy in future.

The present example is just embarrassing, boys.

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