Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Nick Bostrom <>
Date: Mon May 04 1998 - 20:29:57 PDT

 Robin Hanson wrote:

> Nick writes:
> >I think that by using our creativity we can find ways around most of
> >the singleton's appearent weaknesses.
> This is the faith in good government, that while we see lots of horrible
> things governments do, we see some good things too, and it's just a
> matter of designing better government institutions. The converse faith
> in private markets is that even though we've seen lots of kinds of
> market failures, markets sure work great in lots of places, and better
> market instiutions are evolving all the time, and would evolve even
> better/faster if government would get out of the way.

I don't think it's useful to consider the singleton discussion as a
continuation of the traditional debate between the merits of markets
vs. government. First, the singleton could very well use market
mechanisms internally to produce its output. Second, the condition
under which it is supposed to exist is different from the historical
conditions that we are familiar with. Even if it were a question of
which is best, government or markets, (which it isn't) it is quite
possible that even though one thing has been best in the past it will
not be best when there is mature nanotechnology, mind-reading,
superintelligence and other future technologies.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics
Received on Tue May 5 02:37:12 1998

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