Mar 26, 2014
Posted by Harry J. Bentham in categories: economics, government, surveillance, transparency
Who is more “luddite”: the individual or the state?
Who is more “luddite”: the individual or the state?
The aim of this short essay is not to delve into philosophy, yet on some level it is un-avoidable when talking about Transhumanism. An important goal of this movement is the use of technology for the enhancement, uplifting and perhaps…the transcendence of the shortcomings of the human condition. Technology in general seems to be keeping pace and is in sync with both Moore’s law and Kurzweil’s law and his predictions.
Yet, there is an emerging strain of Transhumanists — propelled by radical ideology, and if left un-questioned might raise the specter of Eugenics, wreaking havoc and potentially inviting retaliation from the masses. The outcome being, the stymieing human transcendence. One can only hope that along with physical augmentation technology and advances in bio-tech, Eugenics will be a thing of the past.
Soon enough, at least IQ Augmentation technology will be within reach (cost-wise) of the common man — in the form of an on-demand, non-invasive, memory and intelligence augmentation device. So… will Google Glass or similar Intelligence Augmentation device, forever banish the argument for “intellectual” Eugenics? Read an article on 4 ways that Google glass makes us Transhuman.
This article first appeared under the title “Techno-Optimists & Pessimists are Brothers in Arms” at Transhumanity.net, where Franco is a contributing editor.
It is all too easy to assume that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are diametrically opposed. But while they may have different destinations in mind, the road to get there – what they need to do to achieve their respective ends – is a shared one. Techno-optimists, Techno-progressives, Techno-gaians and Techno-utopians express hope and passion for technologies’ liberating and empowering potentials, while techno-pessimists are fearful of their dystopic and dehumanizing potentials. Optimists want to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can improve self and society, while pessimists seek to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can make matters worse. Techno-criticism is the neutral middle, where the unbiased study of culture and technology take place, and so should not be confused with Techno-pessimism.
But they both agree on the underlying premise that technologies can and likely will have profoundly transformative effects on self and society. They agree not only that we have the power to shape the outcomes such technologies can foster, that we have the power to affect and to a large extent determine the ultimate embodiment and repercussions of such technologies, but also that such technologies impel us to make concerted efforts towards determining such repercussions and embodiments! It may not look that way from the inside-out, but they are fighting to realize their vision of Humanity’s brightest future. Until we reach the day when the majority of humanity has extensively acknowledged the expansive power such transformative technologies hold, Techno-optimists & Techno-pessimists, Transhumanists & Luddites, and Revolutionaries & Revivalists alike are on the same side! Both camps are on a campaign to alert planet earth of the titanic transformations rushing foreforth upon its horizon. Both agree on the underlying potential such technologies hold for changing the world and the self – whether encased as Prized Present or in Pandora’s Box – and both are weary for the world to wake up and smell the rising.
And besides, we’re all in it together, no? At least Techno-pessimists are thinking about such issues, and putting forth their appraisals. At least they’ve begun to consider what is at stake. Is a techno-pessimist closer to a Technoprogressive or Transhumanist than one who doesn’t take a stance either way is? Maybe.
I recently posted this on the only two other sites that will allow me to express my opinions;
I see the problem as one of self similarity; trying to go cheap being the downfall of all these schemes to work around human physiology.
When I first became interested in space travel several years ago I would comment on a couple blogs and find myself constantly arguing with private space proponents– and saying over and over again, “there is no cheap.” I was finally excommunicated from that bunch and banned from posting. They would start calling me an idiot and other insults and when I tried to return the favor the moderator would block my replies. The person who runs those two sites works for a firm promoting space tourism– go figure.
The problem is that while the aerospace industry made some money off the space program as an outgrowth of the military industrial complex, it soon became clear that spaceships are hard money– they have to work. The example of this is the outrage over the Apollo 1 fire and subsequent oversight of contractors– a practice which disappeared after Apollo and resulted in the Space Shuttle being such a poor design. A portion of the shuttle development money reportedly went under the table into the B-1 bomber program; how much we will never know. Swing wings are not easy to build which is why you do not see it anymore; cuts into profits.
It is a race against time– will this knowledge save us or destroy us? Genetic modification may eventually reverse aging and bring about a new age but it is more likely the end of the world is coming.
The Fermi Paradox informs us that intelligent life may not be intelligent enough to keep from destroying itself. Nothing will destroy us faster or more certainly than an engineered pathogen (except possibly an asteroid or comet impact). The only answer to this threat is an off world survival colony. Ceres would be perfect.
A secret agent travels to a secret underground desert base being used to develop space weapons to investigate a series of mysterious murders. The agent finds a secret transmitter was built into a supercomputer that controls the base and a stealth plane flying overhead is controlling the computer and causing the deaths. The agent does battle with two powerful robots in the climax of the story.
Gog is a great story worthy of a sci fi action epic today– and was originally made in 1954. Why can’t they just remake these movies word for word and scene for scene with as few changes as possible? The terrible job done on so many remade sci fi classics is really a mystery. How can such great special effects and actors be used to murder a perfect story that had already been told well once? Amazing.
In contrast to Gog we have the fairly recent movie Stealth released in 2005 that has talent, special effects, and probably the worst story ever conceived. An artificially intelligent fighter plane going off the reservation? The rip-off of HAL from 2001 is so ridiculous.
Fantastic Voyage (1966) was a not so good story that succeeded in spite of stretching suspension of disbelief beyond the limit. It was a great movie and might succeed today if instead of miniaturized and injected into a human body it was instead a submarine exploring a giant organism under the ice of a moon in the outer solar system. Just an idea.
The glacial pace of NASA’s human spaceflight program –even with the glaciers melting– may possibly see human beings leave Earth’s gravitational field in 2025. Possibly.
The missing piece of the puzzle is a radiation sanctuary massive enough to protect a crew from a major solar event on such a journey.
“The more anxiety one produces, the more the discussion there would be about how real and how possible actual existential threats are.”
John Hunt recently queried me on what steps I might take to form an organization to advocate for survival colonies and planetary defense. His comment on anxiety is quite succinct. In truth the landing on the moon was the product of fear– of the former Soviet Union’s lead in rocket technology. As we as a nation quelled that anxiety the budget for human space flight dwindled. But the fear of a nuclear winter continued to grow along with the size of our arsenals.
Interestingly, at the height of the cold war, evidence of yet another threat to human existence was uncovered in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico in 1981; Chicxulub. But even before the dinosaur killer was discovered, perhaps the greatest threat of all to humanity was born in 1973 when Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen created the first genetically modified organism. The money to answer both of these threats by going into space continues to be expended by the military industrial complex.
Mile wide rocks in space and microscopic organisms on earth are both threats to our existence, but the third and undoubtedly greatest threat is our own apathy. Why do we expend the tremendous resources of our race on everything BUT keeping it from going extinct?
Tags: Christian Astronomers, cognitive psychology, Cognitive Science, collective intelligence, colonization, culture, education, existential risks, extinction, Fermi Paradox, future, galactic colonization, health, humanity, Interstellar Travel, nuclear, politics, research, risks, space, sustainability, technology, Terrorism
Four years ago MARCUS WOHLSEN wrote about genetic engineering as a hobby. We are faced with a growing list of pathogens that with a little modification could bring about the end of civilization. It could happen tomorrow.
If you are afraid of guns in the United States, the only solution is to leave. There are millions of guns, many more than estimated, sitting in closets and packed away from when grandpa died. We face the same situation with the Hanta virus, and several others that are in the environment. There is no getting rid of them and no stopping anyone with not-too-expensive lab equipment from playing god and changing them into the end of the world.
The solution is survival colonies in space. Though it sounds bizarre, these colonies should be “manned” by fertile women and maintain sperm banks. 99 men and one woman is the end of the world, while 99 women and a sperm bank is a new one.
I have been corresponding with John Hunt and have decided that perhaps it is time to start moving toward forming a group that can accomplish something.
The recent death of Neil Armstrong has people thinking about space. The explosion of a meteor over Britain and the curiosity rover on Mars are also in the news. But there is really nothing new under the sun. There is nothing that will hold people’s attention for very long outside of their own immediate comfort and basic needs. Money is the central idea of our civilization and everything else is soon forgotten. But this idea of money as the center of all activity is a death sentence. Human beings die and species eventually become extinct just as worlds and suns also are destroyed or burn out. Each of us is in the position of a circus freak on death row. Bizarre, self centered, doomed; a cosmic joke. Of all the creatures on this planet, we are the freaks the other creatures would come to mock– if they were like us. If they were supposedly intelligent like us. But are we actually the intelligent ones? The argument can be made that we lack a necessary characteristic to be considered truly intelligent life forms.
Truly intelligent creatures would be struggling with three problems if they found themselves in our situation as human beings on Earth in the first decades of this 21st century;
1. Mortality. With technology possible to delay death and eventually reverse the aging process, intelligent beings would be directing the balance of planetary resources towards conquering “natural” death.
Tags: AI, cognitive psychology, Cognitive Science, collective intelligence, colonization, culture, education, existential risks, extinction, Fermi Paradox, future, galactic colonization, grass roots, health, humanity, nuclear, politics, research, risks, space, sustainability, technology, Terrorism, transhumanism