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Old 10-13-2016   #1
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A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Humanity Mk II: why the future of humanity will be just as purposeless as the past
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Old 10-13-2016   #2
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Not to be too much of a self-promoting dick, but I wrote about the future this article describes in my book Welcome to the Arms Race, published last year - in other words a future that is both trans/posthuman and completely atomized, one where the technologies described so optimistically by Harari lead to greater and more jagged social and cultural stratification than even exists at present, rather than some kind of collective liberal human project - in other words, MORE war, MORE murder, MORE religious disputes, etc. In particular, Gray sums up pretty much exactly what was in my mind when I was creating some of the characters:

there are likely to be as many types of super-human and post-human being as there are human groups with the technology to create them.

If such new species appear, they will be created by governments and powerful corporations, and used by any group that can get its hands on them – criminal cartels, terrorist networks, religious cults, and so on. Over time, these new species will be modified and redesigned, first by their human controllers, then by the new species themselves. It won’t be too long ­before some of them slip free from their human creators. One type may come out on top, at least for a while, but there is nothing to suggest this process will end in a godlike being that is supreme over all the rest. Like the evolution of human beings, post-human evolution will be a process of drift, with no direction or endpoint.

No such conception can be found in polytheistic faiths, which see people as essentially disparate in their goals and values. The idea that the human species could act as a conscious agent is a relic of monotheism, one that – like so many people today – Harari is unable to shake off.


I think John Gray would enjoy the book.
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Old 10-13-2016   #3
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

This is the key passage for me:

Quote
If Harari fails to take these possibilities into account, one reason is that he shrinks from giving up the idea that we can shape our lives. Questioning free will, he writes, is “not just a philosophical exercise. It has practical implications. If organisms indeed lack free will, it implies we could manipulate and even control their desires using drugs, genetic engineering or direct brain stimulation.” This is “the only way to ensure lasting contentment . . . Forget economic growth, social reforms and political revolutions: in order to raise global happiness levels, we need to manipulate human biochemistry.” Yet who are “we”, exactly? An elite of benevolent scientists, perhaps? If choice is an illusion, however, those who do the manipulating will be no freer than those who are being manipulated.
Strange how many people in this area, advocating the same ideas as Harari, can't seem to grasp this very simple point.

As Lewis wrote, the Ancients had propagation; we merely have propaganda.

“Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved." - Max Weber
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Old 10-13-2016   #4
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Yes, the stunning inability of rabid determinists to acknowledge that they, too, are no less programmed than the 'mob' never fails to shock me, and only shows again how very few people take their premises to their logical conclusions. The idea of being part of a controlling elite is just too much, I guess.
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Old 10-13-2016   #5
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

As CS Lewis has said, " “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please… At the moment, then, of Man’s victory over Nature, we find the whole human race subjected to some individual men, and those individuals subjected to that in themselves which is purely ‘natural’ – to their irrational impulses...." So Lewis concluded Man's final conquest is the abolition of Man.
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Old 10-13-2016   #6
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Heh, can't imagine there being a huge chance of folks who constantly use C. S. Lewis quotes ever even watching a video with "SAM HARRIS" in its title.
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Old 10-13-2016   #7
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

I don't believe I've ever used a CS Lewis quote in my life before today.

And for the record, Harris is another deluded person. He is a hardcore determinist who constantly blathers on about 'the choices we need to make' and 'the options available to us' etc etc. Guess he must be one of the elite who has the freedom of the will to do so, eh?
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Old 10-14-2016   #8
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

If determinism is true, the hortatory speeches of determinists are themselves parts of the determined sequence of events. I wonder if it hurts a little bit, for those "in the know," to realize they are fated to play the buffoonish role of hortatory determinist.
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Old 10-14-2016   #9
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Justin, I'm glad you are behaving like a self promoting dick, because I'm ordering your book tomorrow morning.

Transhumanism is the kind of thing you get when you live in a secular society filled with people who still have the need to believe in something, even if that something is a nothing. This is a religion in the making, with its high priests, holy texts and warring factions, and just like those old timey ones, filled with promises and threats. It even has its political pretenses, like every organized religion should, as can be seen with the case of Zoltan Istvan's silly Transhumanist party

It's a funny thing that, other than the high echelons like Kurzweil and friends, many of the people knee deep in transhumanism discourse are, in fact, not involved in the actual research and development of said technologies. Take a serious but brilliant engineer who works with robotics or a geneticist doing information encoding at the genetic level, buy them a couple of beers and ask about these things and they will laugh it off. Not in the near future. All this high talk about mind uploading and the like, and yet no one has found the seat of consciousness, and who knows if anyone ever will. For my part, I have had out of body experiences, premonitory dreams, even mild natural telepathy and quite honestly I can't see how the firing of simple neurons and biochemistry explains it away. More to the point; my "smart phone" keeps crashing, my neighbor's burned to a crisp the other day, and now you're telling me that in 45 years I will be a robot god with perfect body and a harem of virtual slave girls, Mr. Kurzweil?

Considering we've been basically the same anatomical modern humans for the last 180,000 years and our cognition hasn't changed much in that time, I don't expect some plastic and aluminium prostheses and brain software plug ins to do much more, although I do LOVE John Gray's suggestion of reading the Iliad as Post-Human fiction.

As for Harris, it is hard to think that someone who keeps affirming himself by writing god knows how many books, including a very silly one about his spiritual awakening (one that boils down to my-way-is-the-only-way zeal), believes for a second that he is just wetware. But hey, there's people out there who believe they are Napoleon of Jesus, so who am I to judge?

Anyway, people die...
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I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
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Old 10-14-2016   #10
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Re: A wonderful demolition of Transhumanist nonsense

Quote Originally Posted by Hidden X View Post
Heh, can't imagine there being a huge chance of folks who constantly use C. S. Lewis quotes ever even watching a video with "SAM HARRIS" in its title.
That's a failure of your imagination, I'm afraid.

“Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved." - Max Weber
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