Strange Loops Dept.

An interview with Douglas R. Hofstader of Gödel, Escher, Bach fame; he's long been one of my favorite thinkers, and it's nice to see him still in fine form. He also had a few pithy things to say about "singularists":

.... the vision that Kurzweil offers (and other very smart people offer it too, such as Hans Moravec, Vernor Vinge, perhaps Marvin Minsky, and many others — usually people who strike me as being overgrown teen-age sci-fi addicts, I have to say) is repugnant to me. On the surface it may sound very idealistic and utopian, but deep down I find it extremely selfish and greedy. “Me, me, me!” is how it sounds to me — “I want to live forever!” But who knows? I don't even like thinking about this nutty technology-glorifying scenario, now usually called “The Singularity” (also called by some “The Rapture of the Nerds” — a great phrase!) — it just gives me the creeps. Sorry!

My feeling is that extropian thinking is a self-indulgence — it's on the order of planning how to subdivide the space on the dark side of one of Jupiter's moons when we don't even have a realistic plan for getting there yet. It's nice to think about, sure, but it doesn't really address the fact that for starters we still live in a world where people still hate each other's guts on pointless principle. To think that uploading ourselves into digital nerd-topia is a shortcut to brotherly coexistence is not to think at all.

Tags: dharma

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