Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Nick Bostrom <>
Date: Mon Apr 27 1998 - 15:13:36 PDT

Damien R. Sullivan wrote:

> In some ways we're approaching this 'singleton'. We don't have a single
> government, or single absolute sovereign, but we do have a concept of
> civilization, and civilized rules. More openness, like Brin's
> transparent society, might be a way of reducing the danger of major
> disaster without having an explicit ruling monolith.

I agree.

> All the cells of an animal have the same program, the same genome, yet
> internal control of cancer cells is still an important task of the immune
> system. So the mutual surveillance of civilized human beings might not be
> much more costly than what Nick's idea of a singleton would actually require
> to function.

I should have stated more clearly that I intended the notion of a
singleton to be abstract enough to include such an entity as group
of civilized individuals that surveil each other and take joint
action to supress any member that tries to violate the decisions that
the group (perhaps through a democratic process) has made. The
decisions that the group take might be limited to ones ensuring
security and the enforcement of property rights. However, if some
individuals wanted to for another group, they could do so but they
would be prevented from taking any actions that seriously threatened
the first group and its laws.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics
Received on Mon Apr 27 21:24:43 1998

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