[UPDATE: Goertzel informs me in the Moot that he is now just an "advisor" at SIAI though he remains "friendly" to their sect of the Robot Cult and is still hard at work coding the Robot God among his other transhumanistical and techno-immortalization efforts. He seemed to regard this correction as very important, so there ya go.]
Here's Ben's latest sensible and not at all Robot Culty idea:
The desert island nation of Nauru needs money badly, and has a population of less than 15,000. There are problems with water supply, but they could surely be solved with some technical ingenuity…
[Steal underpants… profit!]
Suppose 15,000 adult transhumanists (along with some kids, one would assume)
[A safer assumption might involve 14,990 white guys who have never been on a date or eaten a meal that didn't involve pushing buttons on a phone or a microwave.]
decided to emigrate to Nauru en masse over a 5-year period, on condition they could obtain full citizenship. Perhaps this could be negotiated with the Nauruan government.
[Negotiated by means of the well-noted diplomatic skills of prickly software coders and flamewarrior fanboys.]
Then after 5 years we would have a democracy in which transhumanists were the majority. Isn't this the easiest way to create a transhumanist nation? With all the amazing future possibilities that that implies?
[Amazing future possibilities such as 14,990 Piggies without their asthma inhalers still trying to plug their laptops into the bases of palm trees while complaining that Naboo wasn't anything like this in the movie?]
This would genuinely be of benefit to the residents of Nauru, which now has 90% unemployment. Unemployment would be reduced close to zero, and the economy would be tremendously enlarged. A win-win situation. Transhumanists would get freedom, and Nauruans would get a first-world economy…
[Because if history ever showed us anything at all it is that imperialism really always is such a good deal for occupied people.]
Tourism could become a major income stream, given the high density of interesting people which would make Nauru into a cultural mecca.
[This irresistible lure of the white guys of "The Future" helps explain why transhumanism has managed in three decades to swell from a marginal Robot Cult consisting almost entirely of a few hundred white guys in the US and Europe who can't tell the difference between science fictional wish-fulfillment fantasizing and serious scientific practice and policymaking to a few thousand white guys in the US and Europe who can't the difference between science fictional wish-fulfillment fantasizing and serious scientific practice and policymaking.]
By way of conclusion to this rather sad bit of snark, let me point out that Ben Goertzel's proposal is in fact the latest episode in a rather long comedy series in which various Robot Cultists pine after some separatist enclave. Goertzel's futurological Secret Pirate Island fantasy comes, for example, swift on the heels of failed dreams of creating a cryonics town in Arizona. After all, in a time of global warming and failing infrastructure what safer place for your frozen head could you find in all the world than in a desert survivalist compound in a Red State under the care of libertarian sociopaths many of whom think Atlas Shrugged is some kind of bible?
The curious -- and almost always richly hilarious -- ideological admixture of the libertopian and techno-utopian that produces what I like to call the Ayn Raelian sects of Robot Cultism are especially prominent among futurological clarion calls for radical separatism. Whether this move is inspired by the Strike of the Randroidal Soopermen or by the more quotidian flight of panicky white-racists from a diversifying America is a complicated question, but it is hard to miss the reactionary get-off-my-lawn undercurrents among the champions of seasteading, anti-aircraft platform principalities (futurological wet-dream-meet-reality), crappy cruise ship utopiae, as well as various endlessly and never anything but failed "private space programs" promising profitable-therefore?-inevitable space hotels, moon bases, edenic asteroid-belt treasure-caves, Martian and Europan colonies but leaving nothing behind but a litter of CGI-cartooned brochures, dead links to online manifestoes, and, sometimes, if you're very lucky, a chance to ride in a high-altitude airplane for a pile of cash in exchange for a scam artist assuring you this makes you an astronaut.
Needless to say, an inbred tinpot fiefdom monoculture is little likely to maintain anything remotely like the institutional and practical richness of the diverse creative commons on which actual scientific discovery and creative expressivity depends -- let alone the resilience to solve unexpected problems, among them the problems produced by the unanticipated consequences of prior problem-solving. Hell, who would even keep the Robot Cultists' hair cut or their asses wiped on Nauru?
I daresay these would-be techno-ruggified individualists probably need to get both that whole desktop nanofactory genie-in-a-bottle problem as well as that whole soul-migration into a shiny invulnerable robot body problem licked before and not after they decide to take their leave of the mehum masses upon whom they presently depend for their survival and flourishing whether or not they are quite aware of it in their declared futurological sooper-geniusness and extreme-level un-future-shock-ability and so on.
Of course, though I am quite pleased to ridicule these futurological escapist fantasies, I am the farthest thing from truly meaning to discourage this separatist impulse of theirs -- indeed, little could please me more than for the Robot Cultists and the Randroids who endlessly threaten and boast about "Going Galt" or hiding out in some mad-scientist lab to unleash their Robot God on us all to actually make a go of their fanciful little experiment and discover just how ill-prepared they really are to make it on their own, to get that circle-squared or that perpetual motion machine off the ground, to discover just how indifferent to them are the workings of the larger world to which they seem somehow to fancy themselves indispensable. Of course, I don't expect the Robot Cultists actually to make their migration or actually build their pleasure dome, but honestly what fun it would be to enjoy the festival of fail they would make in actually trying to put their money where their mouths were.
Of course, it's easy to see why a True Believer in techno-transcendentalizing acceleration of acceleration of acceleration in the midst of a popping petrochemical bubble all the straight white guys foolishly mistook for the Inevitable Triumph of the Genius of Western Civilization would pine now for a separatist monoculture of superlative futurologists. Inside it, they could still have -- nay, have more intensely even than hitherto -- the sub(cult)ural substance of "The Future" they already provide one another in the present in the palpability of their shared belief in the most hyperbolic futurological variations of that reductive, imperial, promotional, eugenic, immaterializing Civilizational narrative: They could enjoy the false-positive communal confirmation of their faithly community that their finitide, mortality, dis-ease, vulnerability, proneness to error, humiliation, violation, exploitation, contingency are all as nothing inasmuch as they are always-already collaborators in The Way to the techno-transcendence of that finitide, toward a super-predicated techno-quasi-godhood of super-intelligence, super-longevity, super-abundance that is at once unknowable and hence immune from criticism but utterly reassuring inasmuch as it is figured merely as the amplification beyond bound of every parochially preferred norm, category, wish of incumbent interest.