Lazlo, and opt-in utopia for 6 billion

Well, my playing with lazlo has lead to something that you might almost call a application. THat’s probably being overgenerous, but you all can decide for yourself here. Please bear in mind that I’ve only been writing the script for a couple of days, and there is a bit of a learning curve involved.

I guess the real trick, on another topic, of designing a utopia is that you have to design it for 6 billion people – *AND* it has to be opt-in. After all, it’s not much of a utopia if you’re forced to go there / participate in it. So, how does one manage to:

a: give 6 billion people everything they want
b: permit Earth to return to a stable state – while being able to support those 6 billion people
c: not permit any of them to infringe on the rights of any others
d: Permit them to communicate and share art and creations and whatnot


This is harder than it looks.

I would observe that one thing that might help is if we had a ‘bill of rights for sentient creatures of Earth’. Of course, then we’d all have to ahve a argument over who is sentient. Is a dog sentient with protected rights? How about a dolphin? And when we get done having six million wars over that..

oh, brother.

9 Responses to “Lazlo, and opt-in utopia for 6 billion”

  1. bakeme Says:

    first you’d need an enormous chunk of defensible land–a continent, say–and an army to guard it from the free radicals looking to poach off your hard work. then you’d need a firm system of work-for-food n stuff. maybe an hourly minimum per week subject to quality evaluations by some bureaucracy or other. you’d need a system of mild punishment for those not willing to work, with exile from the society as the ultimate punishment.

    in order to maintain the urge for betterment evinced by capitalist societies in which one must work for a living or go homeless (as opposed to cuba, say), you’d need to set up a continuum of desirable items that require correspondingly more/better work in order to earn them: e.g. bigger, fancier apartments, tastier food, more fashionable clothing, faster computers, guitars, all the non-essentials.

    so you could make it socialist with a capitalist bent. everyone who’s willing to do some minimum amount of solid work a week (and it might not need to be much–that would depend on how many worked extra, how the total amount of work vs. people doing it actually balanced out in action) gets some minimal place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear. but we americans with our penchant for gross consumption and our mildly obsessive work ethic would by and large work extra to get ourselves the fancy stuff, i would guess.

    ‘money’ would still exist, but its function would be fundamentally changed. it would be more of a credit system, and you wouldn’t be allowed to let it pile up like the bushes and the perots of the world. whatever you don’t use goes back to the communal slush fund. while this would drive the rich folks and republicans right up the wall, if the system could find a balance everyone would benefit and the nation/society as a whole would have a great deal of financial stability.

    just a thought.

  2. asterjolly Says:

    why should only “sentient” creatures have a bill of rights?

  3. sheer_panic Says:

    I disagree.

    I think what you need is a largish fusion reactor, a excessive understanding of e=mc^2 that allows information to be turned into physical objects, and the open source model.

    The problem with this is it requires significant technologies that we haven’t deveoped yet. But we probably will! If we can defend ourselves from each other without killing each other long enough to have our bright hacker types work togeather.

    Money is supposed to be a tool that helps us exchange things for other things more effectively. It is a sign of a incomplete understanding of the world that some people insist on running corperations for a profit at the expense of employees and customers, and we let them. Not sure how to fix this, but sure that it can be fixed.

  4. sheer_panic Says:

    It is probably true that nonsentient life should have a bill of rights, however I don’t think that nonsentient life should be granted the same rights as sentient life.

    Nonsentient life should be granted the right not to be driven extinct, as we don’t know that it’s genotype won’t find a way to express itself sentiently at some point in the future.

    Nonsentient life should have the right not to be poisened by the actions of sentient life. Man should not be permitted to commit genocide.. now that we have the luxury of computers, perhaps we can stop killing all those poor trees? Of course, this requires building robots to build more computers so that everyone on earth can have them, and building computers that will last tens or hundreds of years, and figuring out the art of recycling them…

    What other rights should nonsentient life have, do you think?>

  5. asterjolly Says:

    I think it needs to be looked at on other levels as well.. as opposed to just individuals. Ecosystems have a right to health and resilience. The definition of ecosystem health can get really complicated, scientifically, but the basic idea is that we need to look at ecosystems as vital – not only so that we will survive, but because of their inherent value. Their biodiversity, their adaptations to change, etc etc. If ecosystems are protected or managed in a sustainable and holistic way, we wont need to worry so much about individuals, or individual species. It is often the case that the death of a particular tree, though obviously not the best thing for that inidividual, will in fact be good for the entire forest and allow that tree’s offspring and “family” to continue to thrive.

    I think nonsentient life’s most fundamental right is to be able to live and reproduce in the manner that they “choose”. But for nonsentient life its more of a genetic choice – ie, they evolved to live and function in a certain way, but we often dont let them, by taking away their habitat or hunting them so much that they cant find mates, or whatever.

    But then, i think that is our most fundamental right as well.

  6. bakeme Says:

    so you would do nothing until (and don’t forget if) we came up with these fantastic technologies?

  7. skotte Says:

    This is a huge matter to deal with — wouldnt it be better to start dealing with our own species fFirst? A bill of rights is not a terminus of regulations. it’s a fFoothold which can be added to as we learn and grow more.

    The US bill of rights is not perfect, the fFounding fFathers knew that. nor was it original. They looked at existing works and determined what could be improved to meet current trends.

    I don’t think we are ready to address the idea of trees needing a bill of rights. I will agree it would be a good goal. But let’s move in baby steps. Humans, then animals, then everything else.

    The goal is to move towards enlightenment.

    Thou art that.

  8. sheer_panic Says:

    Not at all. I think we must constantly strive to improve the source code that makes up our institutions. After all, you have to walk before you can run. I’m not waiting for the perfect battery, I’m trying to come up with ways to drive electric vehicles today. And so on. I’m just saying that our ultimate goal, if we’re going to talk about ultimate goals, is to not *have* to run away from ‘those who would poach off our hard work’ – but to encourage them to do so, and to share their own creations in return.

  9. choccyallo Says:

    Late as usual, but as ever your posts are inspiring. I’d say first step is answering these questions and getting buy-in:
    1. Out of 6 billion, how many of them actually know what they want?
    2. How many different “wants” is it possible to fulfill simultaneously? (I.e., if proportion x of 6 billion want to be comfortable, without any emotional disturbance or growth, you’ve got to build a society that allows at least proportion x to be insulated from reality; the society would have to also allow for those who want to move up the evolutionary chain and seek change, y, to achieve what they want – proportion y would therefore mandate that the society be flexible enough to allow for itself to evolve; etc. )
    3. What proportion feels they deserve to get what they want? (ie, what proportion will actually help instead of hinder you in this goal)
    4. Which of the moral assumptions you are making are “universal truths” vs. subjective desires of your own?
    5. At what point will you say, “fuck it” and strive to realize your own image of an ideal world, regardless of what x or y want?

    The way I look at it, to achieve your goal you’d come up with some equation like:
    ax^n + by^m + … + e = G
    where x, y etc == steps necessary for success of your goal, noting that at least some of these terms will contain terms like c(x[some interaction]y)^p
    and where e is an acceptable error constant for this equation…. what’s your acceptable margin of error? What variables (x‘s and y‘s) are you willing to leave out of your equation?

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