Friday, October 12, 2007

Hijacking the Singularity

Death is an engineering problem, and some time over the next few decades it's one we're going to lick. This is something I've believed for a long time - since I was a teenager, I'd say - and I haven't seen anything to dissuade me. If anything, medical technology's progress has been even better than I expected.

Ah, but what of our would-be masters in the New World Order? They're smart people, after all. They wouldn't be where they are if they weren't. They know what the future is bringing as well as I do, as well as anyone does. And there can be no doubt at all that they'll be right at the front of the line to receive the new immortality treatments (well, maybe they'll wait until they've been taken for a test-drive on the bodies of African clinical testing subjects.)

Now, one of the primary drives of any dictator or oligarch is to extend and hold onto their power. They know how they acquired it - by climbing over the backs of the less ambitious, stabbing them in the back when required, making temporary alliances when they had to - and they know how to keep it (stamping on the toes of anyone trying to climb the same ladder they did.) But in ages past, the most any of them could really hope for, long term, was to pass on power to an heir, because do what they might they would eventually be enfeebled, then killed, by the aging process. The argument could be made that this has been a great leveling influence in human history. Dynasties rarely last more than a few generations: being born into wealth and power tends to lead to degenerates on the throne, while at the same time the natural instinct of the nobility to spread their DNA far and wide by screwing every barmaid, servant girl, and prostitute they come close to means that there's a large pool of tough, ambitious people with royal blood coursing through their commoner veins.

Immortality changes that equation, and does so drastically. Suddenly the guys at the top have the prospect of staying at the top, not for a few decades, but for a few millenia. That's got to be one powerful motivator, and I think it goes a long way towards explaining why the new world order's plans seem to have been kicking into high gear these past couple of decades, especially so since the turn of the millenium.

You see, immortality offers the elite the chance to be the elite forever, but only if they can suppress the normal turmoil that ensures a turning over of the social order once every generation or three. The prospect of living forever on top is a pretty sweet one, but the prospect of being the lord of creation one century, only to find oneself just one of the masses the next, must be a frightening one. In a world of eight billion immortals, all wealthy as Midas by our standards (thanks to robots, AI, and nanotech), and all wise as Socrates (thanks to intelligence augmentation and the internet), staying at the top of the heap forever would be pretty much impossible.

There's only one way around that: get rid of the other people. Step one is to substitute mechanical labor for human labor, automating everything with AIs and robots. Once you've pulled that trick - one that we're only a few decades away from - ordinary working folk are pretty well superfluous. Now, we might naturally expect that this would allow the species to cast off the shackles of labor and live in a golden age post-scarcity economy. Those of us within the transhumanist movement have been singing that chorus ever since the 90s.

The elites don't see it that way. They already have all the wealth they could possibly want; they already lead lives unmarred by labor. Robotics, AI, and nanotech have very little to offer them along those lines ... but they could be deeply dangerous to their place at the top of the period. So, once the technology exists to fully automate the economy, they will try and wipe us out. I'm guessing it'll be through some kind of supervirus, or possibly a succession of them. Neutron bombs might see use too. Anything that will remove the human components of the economy without damaging the physical infrastructure.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as much in favor of technology as I've always been. It has the potential to turn our world into a paradise, a heavenly kingdom on earth where mankind lives free of disease, poverty, war, ignorance, famine, and even death ... where every day is the best day of your life, and stretching ahead of you are as many of those days as you want. But living in our midst, controlling our governments and our banks and our churches and damn near every other institution of any real power or influence, are psychopaths whose selfishness has reached an intensity never before seen in human history, men and women who see everything I see ... and want to keep it all for themselves. They plan to hijack the Singularity, and right now, everything is going according to their plan.

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emily said...

I am just full of links lately. Look at this one.

Keitousama said...

Yeah, that would have been my opinion up until a month ago. Funny how much difference a month can make.