We're sorry we created the Torment Nexus

In the above Science-fiction author Charlie Stross says that he tells lies
for money and reminds us that science fiction is fiction, and it's true
that the particular story told is fiction, but if a science-fiction author
is good the world in which his story is embedded is physically possible and
perhaps even probable. He says that if science fiction authors wish to make
a living then their stories had better be enjoyable, and that means there
needs to be drama, there needs to be conflict. Michael Crichton would have
never been able to sell his novel "Jurassic Park" if everything had gone
exactly as the designers originally thought it would and the book was just
a tour of an amusement park that operated like a well oiled machine and all
the people and animals in it were happy and healthy. Dystopian stories are
much more entertaining than utopian stories, and more impactful too; 1984
may be one reason 1984 was not like 1984.The only modern utopian novel I
can think of is B F Skinner's "Walden Two".....well... at least Skinner
thought it was utopian, I didn't.

Stross also informs me of a new acronym I've never heard of before
"TESCREAL '', apparently it stands for Transhumanism, Extropianism,
Singularitarianism, Cosmism, Rationalism,  Effective Altruism, and
longtermism. I believe in Transhumanism and Extropianism as originally
described by Max More, and It's hard for me to believe that anybody would
oppose altruism that is effective or believes that irrationality was
preferable to rationality. As for Sngularitarianism, I am as certain as I
am certain of anything that we are heading straight for a Singularity, but
I am not at all certain it will be good for me personally or good for the
human race in general, it's just a fact that we should prepare for it the
best we can. I don't know a lot about Cosmism but what I do know doesn't
sound too bad, it certainly beats the hell out of Christianity. But I
definitely do NOT believe in longtermism, not because I think it's
unethical but because it won't work. I used to say that things are changing
so fast it's foolish to make plans more than 10 years ahead, it would be
like asking the Wright brothers to work on the problem of airport
congestion 10 years before they made their first airplane; but now due to
the recent huge advances in AI I think even 5 years is problematic.

I have difficulty understanding Stross's position, sometimes he seems to be
saying that AI will lead to disaster, but then he says anybody who thinks
AI is real is a weirdo and is "*hyping the current grifter's fantasy of
large language models as 'artificial intelligence*' ". He blasts Ray
Kurzweil for thinking AI is not a danger and blasts Eliezer Yudkowsky for
thinking it is and says it's weird for him to be so rational and silly for
him to terrify himself over AI. In fact Stross names a very large number of
people and movements in the article but he doesn't have one good word to
say about any of them.

He criticizes Nick Bostrom for focusing "*on the philosophical implications
of digitizing human brains so we can all be raptured up to live in the
great cloud computer in the sky, a very modern riff on the Christian
eschatological theory of resurrection*", and it would be foolish of me to
deny that there are similarities between uploading and the Christian
rapture, but that's not surprising considering the fact that Information is
as close as you can get to the traditional concept of the soul and still
remain within the scientific method. Consider the similarities:

The soul is non material and so is information.
It's difficult to pin down a unique physical location for the soul, and the
same is true for information.
The soul is the essential, must have, part of consciousness,  exactly the
same situation is true for information.
The soul is immortal and so, potentially, is information.

But there are also important differences:

A soul is unique but information can be duplicated.
The soul is and will always remain unfathomable, but information is
understandable, in fact information is the ONLY thing that is
Information unambiguously exists, I don't think anyone would deny that, but
even if the soul exists it will never be proven scientifically.

So do I agree with "TESCREAL"? I don't know, but I do know two things, I
don't like acronyms and I don't agree with Charlie Stross.
John K Clark    See what's on my new list at  Extropolis

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