Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Nick Bostrom <>
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 16:40:03 PDT

Robin writes:

> Nick B. writes:

> >The slave owners lacked certain essential technologies. For example,
> >they could not read the slaves' minds, and they could not simply
> >program the slaves to totally embrace whatever values the slave
> >owners wanted them to have. ... peoples' brains will no longer be
> >blackboxes where all sorts of unexpected things can happen; they
> >will be computational structures amendable to direct
> >manipulation by anybody in power at time zero.
> There is a vast difference between a single world government and a
> such a totalitarian power. Even when it in principle possible to read
> and modify brains, it will be at first very expensive.

Do you agree that this technology could be a strongly stabilizing
factor once it's cheap? And how could it be very expensive if it
requires nanotechnology? If you have one brain-scan machine, you can
use nanotech to cheeply give you (almost) any number you want.

> I find it pretty
> implausible that the first power to effectively use nanotech for military
> purposes will quickly also have the power to economically change human
> brains to be joyfully obedient without substantially sacrificing their
> productivity.

I don't find it implausible, but I suspect it will be irrelevant
since I believe that (biological) humans will at this stage, or
soon thereafter, not contribute significantly to the total

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics
Received on Fri May 1 23:22:50 1998

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