X-Message-Number: 21659
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 09:49:26 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #21652 - #21657

This time again for various people:

For Mike Perry:
Send me $15 US and I will send you a copy of TALES OF SKASTOWE.

As for your other arguments, the basic problem with a symbolic
world is that we made the symbols and as symbols they were
arbitrary. We interpret them, IF we wish to, as another world,
but they do not become any more real because of our interpretation
of them. You're also explaining the importance to your ideas
about the possibility of creating a language (languages are
symbolic) which needs no contact with real things to be 
correctly interpreted as to the meaning of statements in it.
I have suggested why even mathematics doesn't fit as the start
of such a language: different sets of postulates can often
have multiple interpretations (one actual ADVANTAGE of math,
but not for your purposes), and that even at the level of 
counting we encounter definitions based on reality. 

As for my discussion of expansion, I wasn't really talking about how
immortality (or extremely long life spans) would make people nicer,
even though I think that would be one of its consequences. I was
talking about how it would make people think differently about
distances in time. Right now, without any (so far only imagined)
superlight speed space drives, even going to a close star takes
more years than our current lifespan. If we expect to live for
a much longer time, those stars will look much closer to us. And
not only the stars, but dangers coming from astronomical events:
and so we'd become interested in taking steps NOW to avoid a 
supernova by a star which will be close to the Sun in 100,000
years. Expansion need not involve simple multiplication of the
number of people: we'll want to expand to control events in 
a wider and wider area of the Universe, just for our own future

For Mike Treder:
If you put such conditions on formation of institutions able 
to deal with molecular nanotechnology, then we can all just give
up. You're not going to get anything like the agreement you
speak about in the time scale you imagine. Why? Just read the
daily paper about politics.

Yes, I am much more optimistic than you, not just because I
do not believe in a Singularity but many of the fears expressed
about a technology which is (slowly) coming into play look
quite silly. I will give you an analogy. When I was growing up
the US and the USSR were in deep rivalry, and various thinkers
were announcing that nuclear war was imminent. However neither
the US nor the USSR, in their political leaders, really wanted
a nuclear war. Funny thing --- despite all the simulation games
which people played, which inevitably ended with nuclear war,
somehow no serious nuclear war has happened (so far, the 2nd
World War is the only one in which nuclear weapons were used).

If you can find me a group of scientists who want to create
the feared gray goo, please tell me their address, phone number,
and email address.

               Best wishes and long long life for all,

                    Thomas Donaldson

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