Ben Hyink was a passionate transhumanist and secular activist, and an intern and intern coordinator with the IEET. He helped organize and lead the Humanity+ Student Network (H+SN) and the Chicago chapter of Humanity+, co-wrote the “Humanity+ Student Leadership Guide,”, and was the recipient of the 2007 JBS Haldane award for outstanding Transhumanist Student of the year. Having struggled with depression he ended his life last week.
Exposure to some types of information can constrain one’s real options and impose responsibilities one might rather avoid. To set the stage for a flourishing culture of mind uploads, we need to enable people to live with a freedom from some kinds of potentially harmful information.
Existence is the most fundamental thing which is taken for granted. When we actually think about it, we all find it pretty mysterious, but I wonder if you realize just how mysterious it really is. Here’s a few things to consider.
The first is Occam’s Razor. A simple logic tool, right?
As anyone familiar with classical political economy knows, true property rights are rooted in self-ownership. You own yourself, and by extension you own what you make through labor or voluntary transactions thereof. Land, however, is not a fruit of labor.
Thirty-one years old, Len was an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET since 2010. He was an internationally acclaimed cypherpunk and privacy advocate, a PhD candidate at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and a researcher with the COSIC research group. Suffering from depression, Len ended his own life on July 3, 2011.
Advance directives are documents which give guidance on what should be done when your health deteriorates to the point where you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Sadly, these documents are often neglected by the general public until it is too late, but it’s even more crucial for transhumanists to think about and complete these documents.
You may have heard of Peter Thiel, the right-wing “libertarian” co-founder of Paypal and early investor in Facebook. He seems to be a magnet for controversy and intrigue, with his penchant for casual misogyny and exoticphilanthropicendeavors. So, who or what is he really?
I have often referred to myself as a progressive but I have felt increasingly uneasy doing so. The word -progressive’, like virtually every other term which refers to a political ideology, has become so broadly applied as to become virtually meaningless.
While it may be impolitic now for technoprogressives to focus on uploading, for radical life extension advocates it is invaluable to have access to brief and compelling arguments in favor of the efficacy of such a process.
Some of you are members of our sister organization Humanity+ (formerly World Transhumanist Association), so I wanted to just drop a quick note about this week’s elections for the Humanity+ Board of Directors. (If you aren’t a voting member you have until Thursday to join and vote). All the candidate statements are here. There are four IEET folks in the running that I thought you should be aware of including IEET Board members Michael LaTorra and George Dvorsky, and IEET Fellows Mike Treder and Ben Goertzel.
Since I ended my technoprogressive manifesto with a dire warning about “barbarians within our midst”, I’ve been asked by a few of my readers to more clearly identify the threat to democracy I am so concerned about. Two words: Christian fascism.
I am fascinated by a few broad concurrent “trends” (to use that awfully abused and debased word of the corporate-militarist Futurological Congress) that seem to me likely to articulate (but never to determine) especially forcefully (but always unpredictably) the politics of technoscientific change, and emerging longevity and modification medicine (so-called) is one of these.
Believing that our technology will become, or make us, god-like is fundamentally undemocratic. We need to remain critical of this transcendentalizing tendency in techno-utopian discourse in order to work towards real liberatory uses of technology.
Musing on a somber topic (the fraught “intersection of crisis-response thinking and transformational-future thinking”), but in a playful mood, fellow IEET Fellow Jamais Cascio has proposed a bumper sticker that pithily captures an attitude I endorse heartily myself: “Singularity is not a Sustainability Strategy.”
The New Year has provided the occasion for the usual spate of to-do lists, wish-lists, and so on for the upcoming Congress. I for one am quite pleased to note how many of these lists have testified to what I have been calling here at Amor Mundi the politics of an emerging technoprogressive mainstream.
I am so pleased about the victories of Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, so pleased at the prospect of good folks in the Progressive Caucus finding their way into Leadership and oversight positions, and from a technoprogressive angle of view especially so pleased at what nearly everybody is coming to see as the indispensable role of peer-to-peer formations (blogs, online small contribution aggregation, rapid-fire online negative campaigning pushback, citizen oversight, and so on) in this election. This is an impact that is growing stronger by the hour, and all to the good for those of us who prefer democratic over nachine politics, whatever party label gets slapped onto the result.
A friend and colleague of mine has taken to using and even promoting the term “techno-radicalism” to describe what he is up to politically. This is a friend who shares a number of my own idiosyncratic political commitments and who, in consequence of this, has also sometimes described his perspective as a “technoprogressive” one. Of course, I sometimes use that latter term as a shorthand way of describing myself -– since for me (and this doesn’t seem to be true for everybody) the term “technoprogressive” designates nothing more mysterious than being a progressive who is especially interested in questions of technoscientific development, pretty much exactly as it sounds like it designates. Anyway, this friend was rather perplexed to find that the term “techno-radical” makes me really uncomfortable. Given my published arguments on questions of technology, ecology, and democracy, he had probably come to think of me as something of a “techno-radical” like himself. That’s fair enough as far as it goes, but my discomfort has a point and I think it pays to dwell on it a bit.
A friend and very interesting interlocutor of mine registered the impression earlier this afternoon that I appear to think technoprogressive folks are closer politically and culturally to what he called “environmental primitivists” than to “tech-positive libertarians.” I am assuming this means folks like John Zerzan on the one hand and Tim May on the other. Anyway, my friend wondered, “As time passes, and debates get hotter, can we imagine how the opposite might become true?”
The quick answer is simply to say that I personally feel no closer to luddite Deep Ecologists than to libertopian technophiles. Both perspectives seem to me wrongheaded for multiple, but mostly different, reasons. But I think it is more important to notice that the question has been framed here in a way that virtually ensures any answer that follows will be misleading.
MT Is there a substantial distinction between a technoprogressive and a transhumanist?
DC “Technoprogressive” is just a shorthand way of saying “technology-focused progressive.” My impression from the transhumanist-identified people I know is that most of them see themselves as part of a cultural movement with a unique shared identity and a coherent political program of the kind I would tend to associate with organized parties or membership organizations.
Over on technoliberation I have tried to provide initial responses to a couple of questions that seem to me pretty pertinent for any technoprogressive stance. Hopefully, the discussion of these questions will continue on there from here.
Human lives have always been defined both by their limits and by the strategies we use to cope with and overcome them. Many people who are coming now to be ever more fascinated (or appalled) by the spectacle of emerging, disruptive technological developments have begun to voice the hope (or the worry) that human beings are on the verge of a series of profound technological transformations of what have long been deeply definitive human limits. Is that really true? How could anyone confidently claim to know such a thing? How would we sensibly assess our circumstances in the midst of such technodevelopmental churn? Do we have the critical and ethical vocabularies on hand to cope with such transformations?
Over the years of my lifetime, conservative ideologues have seemed to frame their usual corporatist, militarist, deregulatory schemes more and more in apparently revolutionary terms. They seem to hyperventilate ever more conspicuously and insistently about their customary money-grabs and power-grabs in the faux-revolutionary cadences of “freedom on the march” and with faux-revolutionary visions of “free markets” surging, swarming, crystallizing, and well-nigh ejaculating the whole world over. And over these same years of my lifetime, the democratic left—already demoralized, perhaps, by the failures of long-privileged revolutionary vocabularies—seemed almost to sleepwalk into the rather uninspiring position of defending the fragile institutional attainments of imperfectly representative, imperfectly functional welfare states in apparently conservative terms. They have struggled reasonably but too-often ineffectually, spellbound with worry over the real harms to real people that have accompanied the long but apparently irresistable dismantlement of the social democratic status quo, such as it was.