Online discussion of "engaging the Greens" on nanotech, relinquishment

Anonymous Coward writes "Greenpeace, noted peace and ecology NGO, is hosting a debate on arms races and relenquishment – it's unofficial but is pretty detailed. It appears that the organization is debating Bill Joy's arguments and the general strategies of de-escalation and relenquishment."

More on this discussion was posted by jbash, who writes "People around Foresight are always talking about how we (whoever "we" are) need to go and engage the Green types (whoever they are) and talk about the implications of nanotechnology machine intelligence, and whatnot. Well, I was tracing some links from this very site, and, lo! I found one of "them" saying something about engaging "us".

Read more for the lengthy remainder of jbashís remarks.

NOTE: The Greenpeace site is extremely sssslllooooowwwww . . . jbash writes "Well, I was tracing some links from this very site, and, lo! I found one of "them" saying something about engaging "us"

So I engaged 'em. Follow the link to see what's ensued; looks like a lot of additional debate may happen. I've already learned a few things about some of the viewpoints over there, and I suspect that other users of Nanodot could also learn from exposure to them.

I promised to go and try to recruit more people from "my side" for the discussion, and this message is one way of doing that. I'm sure that lots of the people reading this will have things they want to say.

A few notes, which I'm sure most of you don't need. Perhaps there are a few who need reminders.

  1. There's a certain amount of hostility over there. It would be Most Unfortunate if an influx of equal or greater hostility from over here were to cause the discussion to degenerate beyond all chance of producing something. Most Unfortunate, indeed. Let's all keep our tempers, and try to damp down any nastiness rather than feeding it. One of the more annoying habits I've seen over there is accusing anybody who doesn't share all your values of being amoral. This should in general be ignored, not emulated.
  2. If you're a regular user of Nanodot or other technology-oriented, basically technophilic forums, you can often assume you have certain things in common with the other users. You can assume a lot less about the Greenpeace forum. Ideas are different, values are often very different, and even terminology has lots of important, yet hard-to-miss differences. Use of technical terms should usually be treated as at least partly metaphorical. If something sounds like complete gibberish, there's more chance that you just don't understand the assumptions behind it than that the person who posted it is an idiot. Likewise, people aren't always going to understand where you're coming from. Let's remember to identify assumptions.
  3. There are very real, perhaps irreconcilable conflicts of values. That's life. It helps to know where those conflicts lie… and it also helps to realize that the opposing set is not just going to disappear. None of us is going to have things all her own way, so our actions had better not be based on such an assumption. It's often possible to cooperate usefully with somebody even if you don't agree with that person's values. Some, but by no means all, people over there forget that. Let's try to minimize the number of people over here who also forget it.
  4. I sometimes hear people at Foresight meetings say that we need to go tell others, including environmentalists, about "our" issues, with the assumption that they haven't thought about them. Certainly there are many environmentalists who haven't thought about them, or who have simplistic, 1950s monster movies views of them. Those are not the people we're dealing with here. Some of the people debating over on the Greenpeace site have clearly thought about the implications of the specific technologies we worry about in some depth… and there are some closely related issues where they are clearly the experts compared to most of us. Being patronizing will not be productive.
  5. They have some flakes over there. Luckily, anybody who's used Nanodot for any length of time should have a lot of experience in dealing with flakes.

BTW, the Greenpeace system is slow as hell. And the "preview" button acts, at least for me, as a "post" button. And no rational quoting scheme works; they strip both <pre> and <blockquote>. Such is life."

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