X-Message-Number: 12296
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: for George Smith
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 14:43:41 +1000 (EST)

To George Smith and others:

Saul Kent's message illustrates an unpalatable fact that George Smith and 
others should take to heart. Yes, scientific research can achieve many
things. No, the order (and even the list of things it achieves) depend not
simply on the laws of the universe (aside from human beings) but on the
society which supports that scientific research.

This is why the USSR did so well in physics, math, and other such
sciences, and completely failed to make significant advances in
biotechnology (unless you include the breeding of virulent viruses as
bioweapons). It's also why the Romans, the Greeks, and even the Chinese
(who were for a while much more advanced than any other civilization on
Earth) failed to carry through to industrialization. Why would the 
Greeks and Romans bother when they had so many slaves to do their bidding?
And the main driver of Chinese society was their governmental bureaucracy:
any science they did they did as a sideline.

As for nanotechnology, as I read about actual attempts to do things at
that scale (I'm NOT talking about theory here --- theory alone gets us
nowhere --- but actual working devices), I also note that the main focus
of such activities by our society at large isn't in doing any kind of
medical repair at all, but at making better computers (and overcoming the
imminent failure of silicon to serve as a suitable substrate for fast
enough computers). 

Contemporary society in Europe and the US does have at least one blind
spot, and immortality lies at the center of that blind spot. It may very
well have others that we'll discover with time and thought (I will not
waste time here giving other such spots). And that blind spot means that
we simply CANNOT assume that the scientific advances we need will be 
achieved by people other than cryonicists and immortalists. Yes, it's
conceivable that we will CONVERT our society to our point of view, and
THEN achieve the needed advances. But that seems unlikely unless we
get further along in achieving them ourselves.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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