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Bill Joy today: we need to give the good guys a head start

Bill Joy gives an interview in the December 2003 Wired in which he updates his views on potentially dangerous technologies. The bottom line: "These technologies won't stop themselves, so we need to do whatever we can to give the good guys a head start." The technologies being considered are nanotechnology, genomics, and robotics, by which is meant machine intelligence. [Bill's proposal -- giving the good guys a head start -- sounds right to me. --CP]

19 Responses to “Bill Joy today: we need to give the good guys a head start”

  1. Kadamose Says:

    Catastrophe IS Coming.

    Bill Joy is totally correct on that. However, catastrophe is unavoidable, simply because humans have such mundane desires such as greed, lust, and power. Technology only amplifies these traits and does not help dispose of them in any manner. As long as these traits exist, mankind is doomed and has no future.

    Therefore, let it be known that I accept catastrophe and all of the consequences that come with it. My ultimate desire is to actually see more than 75% of the world's population completely obliterated – the world is in such a horrible state right now that it won't matter what kind of technology we have at our disposal. The world needs to go through a major cleansing process (in other words, it needs a very large enema) and the only way to truly clean it up is for the cancer that is destroying it (mankind) to commit 'cell suicide'.

    I long for the day when there is no more pathetic United States, or any other government body – I want to truly be free and to be able to do ANYTHING I desire. I want to see a world where there is no money system – where there is no stupid religion or idiotic beliefs in a non-existant god. And to top it off, I want to become a god. Nanotechnology will grant me that wish and more – therefore, Mr. Joy, I say stop worrying about the dangers and the implications…they're going to happen no matter what because most people are inferior, undeveloped Neanderthals who don't know how to control their animalistic urges, and certainly don't know better, regardless of the situation or the time period.

    It's just best to be prepared for the worst – and when that worst case scenario comes to fruition, simply hope that you surive it, because a literal heaven on earth will await those who survive.

  2. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    Kadamose, you once again demonstrate that you don't know what you are talking about. One doesn't make a statement that it is reasonable to eliminate 4+ billion people by providing an unsupported claim that "the world is in such a horrible state" that would justify such actions. I'm sure if you asked the people living in such "horrible" states whether they would prefer to be alive or dead that they would pick alive.

    You also provide no support for the statement that "it won't matter what kind of technology we have at our disposal". In contrast I think that both biotechnology and nanotechnology can do a significant amount to improve the quality of life on the planet (and support even larger populations). I base that statement on over a decade of studying biotechnology and perhaps 5 years of studying nanotechnology. Can you claim similar amounts of knowledge?

    Suggesting a world "cleansing" makes you appear to be a modern day Hitler.

    If those are your true opinions then in my opinion you (a) don't know what you are talking about; (b) don't provide any justification for your opinions; and (c) are potentially a dangerous individual.

    I find Joy's perspective interesting because it suggests that some of the effort that Foresight put into pointing things out to him after the original article was written (I made some of these points myself with respect to the biotech industry) may have produced a potentially productive shift in his perspective.

    Robert

  3. chis Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    The issue at the core of the problem is control. I strongly disagree with Kadamose and his simplistic knee-jerk spasm. CHANGE is coming.

    I base that statement on over a decade of studying humanity and the predicament we currently find ourselves in. One thing I have learnt is that 99.99% of the masses are totally oblivious to the 'reality' of the world they live in.

    This reality I refer to, and Kadamose sounds like he has a limited understanding of, is that 99% of the population of the planet live in total subordination to the power of control. Basically, they exist to fulfill the wishes of a ruling class and have been stripped of all meaningful control over their lives. I know alot of people will argue until they are purple that they are in complete control of their own lives – even in western 'democratic' nations, but there is a very good reason 99% have been subdued.

    This reason is because you have to dedicate your life to understanding the true situation. You have to disassociate yourself from the system in order to truly comprehend it. But in doing so you place yourself in a situation of self-imposed hardship – financially, socially and therefore psychologically. This isn't a natural human behavioral trait, and so the masses don't do this.

    However, technological progress in the next 2 decades will enable a fundamental shift in the distribution of the power of control because future technology will alter fundamental issues that existing systems of control are constructed around. One example mentioned: economic – the power to control how and what the society produces and how it is distributed. This power currently lies in the hands of business executives under the guidance of shareholders. Before molecular manufacturing: supply &LT demand, after: supply == demand. Therefore the only true cost is material, and the most fundamental capitalist economic principal becomes void. If this happens, this power of control over production shifts to whoever hold a molecular manufacturing factory. Considering a factory can replicate itself, this means everyone.

    But like all great revolutions that have come before, a blood price must be paid. The exact nature of this is in the hands of the present day rulers. They do, after all is said and done, command the ultimate human resource: brute physical force – the military. Unfortunately, the pain inflicted will not reach the top echelons of power, so the struggle to 'relieve' the masters of our universe from their self appointed positions of grandeur, could be messy. It's simply too soon to tell, but the so-called 'war on terrorism' (or rich powerfull people killing poor powerless people) is just the beginning of the death-throws emanating from the incumbent establishment that must be endured.

    The end result after this transition can be easily predicted: equality. TRUE equality for everyone, as opposed to todayís situation of equality imposed by those who have the power to enforce their subjective interpretation of equality – often tainted by greed, self importance, ignorance and even pathological imbalance. Yes George, I'm talking about you: "God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them; then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did; and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act." George Bush speaking with Abu Mazen at the June 2003 summit on the 'Road Map to Peace in the Middle East'.

    Anyway, like all life and death decisions facing the collective wellbeing of the species, we will ultimately be successful because of our adaptability, resourcefulness and never-ending drive to improve the human condition. After this point however, everything becomes cloudy again as we learn how to build a global collective that is in true harmony not only with it's members (us) but also our environment.

  4. brettl Says:

    Is this the alt.anarchy site now?

    What is all of this anarchy, death and "the masses" spew doing here? The advent of combustion didn't destroy the world and depopulate it, nor did transistors. Why would nano be any different? And what does this have to do with Bill Joy's interview in Wired?

  5. Kadamose Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    Kadamose, you once again demonstrate that you don't know what you are talking about. One doesn't make a statement that it is reasonable to eliminate 4+ billion people by providing an unsupported claim that "the world is in such a horrible state" that would justify such actions. I'm sure if you asked the people living in such "horrible" states whether they would prefer to be alive or dead that they would pick alive.

    I don't know what I'm talking about? Oh, you're implying that I'm crazy? I'm not crazy, I'm simply expressing my opinion through my observations. I don't know what kind of observations you have made, but most people's lives are like this:

    They are born, they grow up, they get married, they have children, they go to work, they grow old, and then they die. Rinse and repeat.

    As much as I like the idea of 'liberating' slaves, it's simply too late – these people are nothing more than braindead zombies now. Once Nanotechnology destroys the money system, the status quo, and the work force, these people will not be able to cope with this dramatic, new change. Therefore, liberation can only be found in death.

    You also provide no support for the statement that "it won't matter what kind of technology we have at our disposal".

    I am man of few words, most of the time – and I find no reason to constantly defend my opinions, considering most people don't have the brain capacity to convince me that my opinions are flawed. But I'll make an exception with you because you do, indeed, have a brain, and you are far more experienced than I am at this point.

    While it is true that Nanotechnology and biotechnology will heal some, if not most, of the wounds we have caused to this planet, it doesn't mean the technology will be used to do that. We already have the technology to replace gasoline and diesel based automobiles with hydrogen counterparts – but is this being done? No, it's not. What's worse, is even though hydrogen based vehicles are out, they are much more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. If the government were really interested in cleaning up the planet (in regard to autobiles) it would do a 'trade in' program, where anyone with a gasoline based vehicle could trade their current transportation for a hydrogen counterpart FOR FREE. The gasoline based vehicles will then be illegal to use, and recycled into something a bit more useful. Will this ever be done? No, it won't, thus proving my point.

    The manufacturing plants will continue to spew their waste, the rainforests will continue to be cut down, and more and more animals will become extinct, due to human negligence. This is not going to change and something needs to be done to stop it.

    Suggesting a world "cleansing" makes you appear to be a modern day Hitler.

    I don't consider that an insult. If people truly valued human life, then they would value their environment just as equally. Besides, I don't consider 'braindead zombies' to be human beings anymore – they're simply flesh-eating consumers with no minds of their own. They run on instinct, and instinct, alone. Euthanization is their only cure.

    If those are your true opinions then in my opinion you (a) don't know what you are talking about; (b) don't provide any justification for your opinions; and (c) are potentially a dangerous individual

    That would be both b and c.

    I find Joy's perspective interesting because it suggests that some of the effort that Foresight put into pointing things out to him after the original article was written (I made some of these points myself with respect to the biotech industry) may have produced a potentially productive shift in his perspective.

    Well, that's great that Bill Joy's perspective has changed somewhat. He is a tough cookie. However, it doesn't matter if his perspective has changed or not – or anyone else's for that matter – the so called 'good guys' are simply the 'bad guys' in disguise, who fear dramatic change just as everyone else. They don't want to see the money system go away (i.e Christine Peterson) and they certainly don't want the government to be destroyed. Therefore, ultimately, there are no 'good guys' and catasphrophe will surely follow in their footsteps.

  6. Phil Bowermaster Says:

    Head Start

    Bill's proposal — giving the good guys a head start — sounds right to me. –

    Well, it looks like the good guys have their head start (also here.) Or perhaps not. After all, if the bad guys are making significant progress, thy're not as likely to share the details.

  7. Iron Sun Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    I find no reason to constantly defend my opinions, considering most people don't have the brain capacity to convince me that my opinions are flawed.

    Uh huh. Finished your "reading" yet and are ready to prove to us that molecular manipulation can lead to fusion, like you promised (toward the bottom) a while ago? I cordially invite you to reread the whole linked thread for the bottom line on your opinions and justifications.

    Just about every single request for verification of a wild statement made by you in this forum has been stonewalled or waved off. It may have harmed your credibility somewhat. If you want to claim that you don't care whether you are believed by worthless scum, then why bother publicly espousing your views in the first place? (That's a rhetorical question, please spare us.)

  8. Anonymous Coward Says:

    he stands by everything he said

    in other words, he doesn't believe that mankind is about exploring the universe. He doesn't understand that the purpose of life is to survive, and the way intelligent life survives is by knowledge of itself and the outside environment. He doens't understand that knowledge is always incomplete and leads to more; that we can't turn back(don't think hunter gatherors are primitive, and don't think that is the way you want to live either). And his answer to supervolcanoes and asteroid collisions? Even the human species has to die off some day right?

  9. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Re:Head Start

    why does the good guys get the head start in isreal; there are competent dna manufacuring guys in europe, japan, and the U.S. Don't think they missed that article including the technical specifics.

  10. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Re:he stands by everything he said

    he also doesn't understand that humans are lifeforms also, and that lifeforms are about evolving; and therefore, humans are about evolving towards a technologization to be able to take in the flood of information and to be able to learn all that there is

  11. Morgaine Says:

    Control of means of production

    The advent of combustion didn't destroy the world and depopulate it, nor did transistors.

    Fire might indeed have been a relevant analogy, if one can imagine a world where flame could be started only in the temples of high priests and distributed only under their strict control, and then suddenly a means was found to allow anyone to create fire at any time, at will, and for no significant cost. That would have been very revolutionary, and the high priests would no doubt have found that this was not progress but terrorism and anarchy. That's where we currently are with P2P networks and the music industry, and that's where we will be with nanotech in due course — it's pretty inevitable that existing power centers will react badly.

    Transistors in contrast are not a good analogy, as their introduction did not threaten the control held by industrial and political power barons over the means of production.

  12. Morgaine Says:

    Engineering the future

    I'm just glad to see that Bill Joy has become positive again, at least in that article. The only people who benefit from the spreading of fear are those who use it to raise their own profile or to reinforce their own position of power.

    Good engineering is about coming up with relevant design requirements and addressing them with good design solutions, and fear mongering contributes nothing to the process. Maybe Bill Joy has realized that now, as his "wakeup call" did nothing to improve the engineering and everything to empower those who will seek to stamp it out once its implications become more obvious. He seems to be more focussed on getting things done and on more positive statements now.

  13. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Engineering the future

    But has Joy really shifted positions?

    There is that one sentence, which seems analogous to the Einstein/Szilard letter (Nuclear energy can make weapons. The Axis is working on this. We must beat them to it.) or a vague acknowledgement of recent concerns about terrorism. But from my reading of the rest of interview, he seemed as worried as he's always been. He mentioned that he was thinking about a book to more clearly outline specific plans to control these technologies, but I got the impression that nothing has gelled up for him. While it's becoming obvious to him that we can't stop the coming of nanotechnology, it still seems clear that, given our current laxity with biotech and computer security, the future doesn't like bright.

    Has Joy commented on the Foresight Guidelines?

  14. brettl Says:

    Re:Control of means of production

    Transistors in contrast are not a good analogy, as their introduction did not threaten the control held by industrial and political power barons over the means of production

    This is a good question. Is the assembler really going to be so distributed that anyone with the ability to do a little CAD work is going to be able to design their own atomically correct widgets?

    I'm uncertain as to whether MNT will be truly Promethian.

  15. Morgaine Says:

    Re:Control of means of production

    Is the assembler really going to be so distributed that anyone with the ability to do a little CAD work is going to be able to design their own atomically correct widgets?

    Who can tell? But with work in this area ramping up vigorously across the world even in these early days, it would seem reasonable that there won't be just one approach adopted and available, so talking about the design of "the assembler" in the singular is probably incorrect.

    Ultimately, such fabrication technology is likely to be able to manufacture anything that can be properly described to it, within the constraints of the mechanochemistry involved. This more or less implies that any further constraints would be systemic or designed into the interface rather than inherent. In other words, the system may not allow you to create more, but it can, intrinsically. This suggests that any built-in restrictions would be only temporary.

  16. lattice Says:

    Comments on Bill Joy's Designing Our Future

    What I found most interesting was Bill's comments on designing our future. More thought is needed on this subject by the media. Assuming we could design our future, how could this be done? How could folks come to better agreement on what to design without giving the nefarious ideas to complicate the situation? Are these examples of "punctuated evolution"? Are we now finally seeing how we are all process driven like a "biological entity" and "living system" that the nefarious could be looked upon as a rougue virus we must keep at bay? If we see a new "virus" developing in some technologies how could we stop it from evolving to "attack" the organism as a whole? Maybe we as humans have finally crossed a critical threshold in the way we all look at ourselves and what we want in our future?

  17. MitchellPorter Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    most people are inferior, undeveloped Neanderthals who don't know how to control their animalistic urges

    Perhaps they have a philosophy a bit like

    I want to truly be free and to be able to do ANYTHING I desire

    And explain to me how that isn't a desire for power. It may not be a desire for power over other people, but it's still a desire for power, and just as capable of distorting your rationality.

  18. Kadamose Says:

    Re:Catastrophe IS Coming.

    It's not a desire for power, it's more or less a desire to take back what's rightfully mine – the control of my own life. For example, if I want to learn how to create a nuclear warhead, then I should be able to have access to that information – no questions asked. It's about living without the influence of oppression; it has nothing to do with power.

    Besides, no one should have to follow rules made by someone else, especially by another human being. Ask yourself, who makes the rules today? It's not gods, and it surely isn't people speaking in the place of some divine creator – instead, it's people like you and I who are making the rules, so they can have some sort of illusionary foothold to control the people like cattle. I simply will not tolerate it any longer – if these people do not pull their heads out of their fat asses soon, then they will pay a price in blood, which, ironically, will be by their own hands. Good riddance, I say.

  19. Anonymous Coward Says:

    wow, you sound like me

    I to have separated myself from society; i did so around junior high; i have come to see it as the control variables in a scientific experiment where you keep one variable constant and let the other go through the motions. I am also a little disturbed by some similaritied between my understanding of humanity and Kadamose's. To me, a lot of people cannot be saved; they will cry wolf and claim we're converting them and converting is not allowed(this is the christian double standard where the christians get to convert but we can't point out anything wrong with them and their bible). Besides the christians in modern day industrial civilization, there's the hunter gatherors still around. What are you going to do about them? Nothing! Same thing with the majority of the industrialists which is once again why I suggest an Asimovian "Foundation" project for the senior associates. Kadamose is intent on purposely taking them out; my solution is to step out of the way of the inevitable clash; let them destroy themselves which is what they are going to do.

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