A Rapture for the Rich?

The other day my girlfriend Io brought up a good point: how will the singularity benefit all mankind if it’s rich people that will have access to these technologies? It’s certainly a valid question, one which I’ve thought about. Some science fiction writers have written of a dystopian future ruled by a race of transhumanists who oppress inferior humans. This is certainly not the oneness that I’ve been promoting in this blog, so I’ll have to argue why this won’t be an insurmountable problem.

Our economic system suffers from many ailments, for instance there are many delays between production, analysis, and consumer demand that cause major oscillations in the system, leading to recessions and peaks. if our economy was a person it would be bipolar. Another poison in the system is positive feedback loops, namely that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. the accumulation of 90% of the wealth in 10% if the population (figures vary country to country) is overall damaging to the whole system, just as colonialism hurt the colonized as well as the colonizer.

These problems in our system arise because our brains are too small to comprehend a thing as complex as our economy. I believe that supercomputers will greatly help us fix our system in time, and bring us more equality. Additionally, the cohesion in thought that the singularity will bring will certainly help us tackle our problems.

But here we arrive at a paradox, back where we began. If the rich transcend their bodies first and are able to communicate in novel ways, what’s to stop them from using these powers to continue to improve their position above others? Well, once again I must say that a smart person should know that in oppressing others you only oppress yourself. I would hope that rich people would gain this wisdom with their transcendence, however, even I see this as wishful thinking.

My true hope lies in the rest of humanity, and I see some pretty encouraging things happening. People are trying to put satellites into space to make the internet free for everyone. the Singularity University has its students find a way to help one billion people in ten years. Education and standard of living have been on an upward trend throughout history, and each time is certainly better than the time before. I acknowledge that at first there may be great inequality in this transition, but this cannot persist for long as money loses meaning (along with individuality and identity). The poverty

of billions of people on this planet is of utmost concern to those interested in the singularity, because by empowering them we truly empower ourselves.

update: I’ve written a newer article on wealth inequality, somewhat in light of the occupy wall street protests, but also other developments in my thoughts



About Prometheus

I write about the coming technological singularity and its implications for our sense of identity, individuality, meaning, and existence. I argue that the most significant aspect of the singularity is the convergence of our consciousnesses into one superconsciousness, and that we should be very happy about this.

Posted on May 3, 2011, in Consciousness, Ethics, Technological Singularity, Values and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You assume malice is the result of ignorance. Our economies suck because not only are people idiots, but because some don’t care or intend things to go that way. If I can engineer crises to benefit myself according to my standards, then what’s the problem? That YOU don’t like it? Tough. I’m Bernanke or I’m Mario Draghi and I like it. Back to work, peasant boy.

    If morality has no objective meaning and is only the wiring of our minds, there’s no reason why changes as deep as those posited by transhumanists can’t be made. After all, if morality is arbitrary, all notions of better and worse are arbitrary (or at most correlative with survival, but that’s merely a tautological fact; that which survives is such that it survives). So we can’t judge the value (a moral concept) of transhumanism in any objective sense other in terms of present human “wiring”. But what if we were to rewire what we saw as moral? You claim it’s better for everyone if the rich benefit the poor (Aquinas would agree with you here). But what is better? For the psychopath, this certainly isn’t the case. He couldn’t be proven wrong either. If he were to suffer because of his actions in some way, he wouldn’t understand such consequences as evil. On the contrary, he wouldn’t suffer these consequences, he’s see them as morally indifferent. All that matters to him is the goal he set out to realize. And because desire and morality are deeply related, for him, his desires are his morality. Your would merely be yours and here would be no justification for you to claim his were warped in any objective sense. He would claim the same about you and he would have no qualms realizing his aims on the corpses of children. Power would be the basis for morality.

    Doesn’t that sound familiar?

    Back to moral wiring: why not rewire moral sense to remove your desire for the singularity? It would be cheaper. Remember, you have free right over the brain now. There’s no limitation you have to work with. You can make anything as you wish. You can change your wish or remove it altogether.

    Two more things: why on earth would any rational person want to merge his consciousness with other people? What a terrible prospect. Second, the idea of downloading my consciousness is beyond bogus unless you want to shake up our knowledge of physics to the ground. Good luck.

    • Oh wow, I hadn’t noticed this comment before I responded to your first. there is clearly something troubling you, you are expressing a lot of anger in the your writing. I don’t think this is about my views…

      but I’ll respond anyway.

      it’s quite self evident that malice is, by and large, a result of ignorance. yes, there are many psychopaths who know and just don’t care, but it’s the rest of of who don’t know enough to stop them. wars, violent crime, death, all decline in inverse proportion to education. correlation is not causation, but as I said, this is pretty self evident. love has to be stronger than hate, or nothing would exist.

      in the end, yes, power is the basis for morality. it’s not really arbitrary, it’s forms a specific pattern. morality is a pattern, a kind of social structure, a set of assumptions about right and wrong which absolutely support the particular power structure in question.

      not sure why I would want to rewire my desire for the singularity (not really a question of morality to me), and anyway, we need to get there before we can really do that effectively. but that would basically mean killing us in any meaningful sense anyway, it would mean cutting out our desire for discovery, innovation, truth, adaptation. same thing goes with the merging consciousness thing, and we do it all the time, because that’s who we are. you and I are doing it right now, though on a smaller scale than what’s to come, and with more… friction.

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