Events have taken such a dark turn in the United States with the election of Trump that many have felt the need to go back to the dystopian classics to get their bearings. These were novels written in the first half of the prior century when totalitarianism wasn’t just something relegated to gray photos in our history books while we lived our days in the bright neo-liberal sunlight of the post- Cold War era, but actually roamed alive and deadly in the real world.
Posthumanists and perhaps especially transhumanists tend to downplay the value conflicts that are likely to emerge in the wake of a rapidly changing technoscientific landscape. What follows are six questions and scenarios that are designed to focus thinking by drawing together several tendencies that are not normally related to each other but which nevertheless provide the basis for future value conflicts.
I’ve long written how we should envision America as a continuing revolution against the failed feudal model that crushed human hope in 99% of human societies, across 6000 years. Indeed, our major issues today have little to do with the hoary, lobotomizing “left-right axis.” Not when Enterprise, markets, entrepreneurship and national defense all do vastly better across Democratic administrations, and the state gathers more power into its hands, across Republican ones.
L’un des objectifs du transhumanisme est l’allongement de la durée de vie en bonne santé, voire l’amortalité (vivre sans limitation de durée). De nombreuses personnes rejettent cette idée de façon brutale, presque instinctive, comme si l’on s’attaquait à leurs valeurs les plus intimes.
First items you all have probably heard by now - news that Donald Trump’s senior staff all use the same RNC email server that mysteriously disappeared 22 million messages during George W. Bush’s administration and one that U.S. intelligence services believe was compromised by the Russians at the same time as the DNC’s. The Trump campaign hammered Hillary Clinton for her using a private email server, during her tenure as Secretary of State. Also five members of DT’s staff turn out to have been registered to vote in more than one state. Ah, consistency.
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.
~ George Orwell
[Note: This is (roughly) the text of a talk I delivered at TEDxWHU on the 4th February 2017. A video of the talk should be available within a few weeks.]
There is a cave about 350km from here, in the Swabian Jura. It is called the Hohle Fels (this picture is the entrance to it). Archaeologists have been excavating it since the late 1800s and have discovered a number of important artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic era. In June 2005, they announced an interesting discovery.
(I keep intending to return to my existential concerns about the meaning of life, but the troublesome situation in my home country keeps bringing me back to politics.)
In today’s New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat penned, “How Populism Stumbles.” Douthat argues that movements like Trump’s fail because of bigotry, extremism and, especially, hubris. With this in mind Douthat dismisses my worries about authoritarianism:
I’ve called for this since way back in the last century, illustrating it in The Transparent Society and in novels like Earth. We must unleash whistleblowers on the world. Envision Edward Snowden and the Panama Papers revealer, only far more extensively, with protections and rewards that lure secrets out of shadows.
Depuis le début de l’ère industrielle, l’idée du remplacement de l’homme par la machine dans le milieu du travail a fait du chemin, au point de paraître crédible aujourd’hui. En effet, les percées en intelligence artificielle lèvent une inquiétude : et si l’humain devenait obsolète.
The folks at Davos this week are trying to behave as if everything is normal. Sure, England is Brexiting from Europe and the United States appears to be retreating from the global stage altogether. But somehow the word from Switzerland is that a mix of the right interest rates, investment strategies, and business optimism will keep free trade and globalization on course and safe from this boorish surge of populism.
Corporations give the appearance of buckling under pressure from Donald Trump to create more jobs in America. GM just announced it will be investing $1 billion more in US factories, and hiring as many as 7,000 workers over the next two years. Walmart claims it will add 10,000.
Given all the chaos and pessimism lately and in light of the fact that with the inauguration of Trump we will be walking into very dangerous times, it’s perhaps a good moment for a little bit of hope, though the progressive rallies over the last few days certainly make me feel hopeful.
We still have a responsibility to prevent the ethical misuse of new technologies, as well as helping make their impact on human welfare a positive one. But we now have a more fundamental challenge: to help defend the very concept and practice of the measurement and analysis of quantitative fact.
Implicitly, I’ve been a Transhumanist since childhood. My Mormon parents taught me, from before my earliest memories, that we are all children of God with potential to be God. And not just any kind of god. Not the kind that would raise itself above others in hubris. But rather the kind of God that would raise each other together. We all, they taught me, have potential to be like Jesus. We all have potential to be Christ, a unified community of compassionate creators. Faith in God, then, signified trust in human potential as much as trust in grace that affords such potential.
We write to draw the attention to the need for increased support for biological research of ageing and improving healthy longevity for the population in India. This subject is pressing and urgent for the global society, and for Indian society and economy in particular.
Stuck Between Fantasy And Reality
From the very beginning of industrial era, the idea of replacing humans with machines caught on and has persisted, to the point of appearing credible today. Indeed, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are raising concerns about the significance of humankind in the future. That still far event horizon forecasts a society lead by strong artificial intelligences which may bring us to our obsolescence. Homo sapiens will be at best forced to the margins of active duty like the utopian post-work post-scarcity society in Iain M. Banks’s science-fiction The Culture Series,; and at worse, wiped out. Because, as Eliezer Yudkowsky said: “The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.”
It has been a common conviction among atheist life-extensionists that religion generally, and particular branches of Christianity, are somehow intrinsically averse to far-reaching biomedical interventions or even to the idea of human life-extension, placing a greater emphasis on faith-healing and life in the world to come.
What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about alleged Russian election-rigging than they are about proven Republican election-rigging? After all, American oligarchs like the Koch Brothers have no more right to undermine our democracy than Russian oligarchs do.
Inspiring and catalyzing creativity worldwide, Mark Hatch has been instrumental in jumpstarting the Maker Movement. He has now joined Network Society Ventures as a General Partner, leveraging his knowledge, skills, and passion to invest together with us in a new generation of startups.
When it comes to Cabinet-level appointments, Donald Trump hasn’t lost his ability to astonish and dismay. At this point his staffing process has pretty much turned into an extended exercise in trolling, a test to see how much humiliation the American people will endure.
Les perspectives démographiques envisagées par les transhumanistes n’impliquent pas seulement un allongement radical de la durée de vie en bonne santé mais aussi une diminution de la part des plus jeunes dans la population. Quelles conséquences pourraient avoir une raréfaction de l’enfance ?
In his blog Erasmatazz, Chris Crawford recently published the thoughtful piece: “The Crisis of Legitimacy.” His main thesis is that the legitimacy of Trump’s forthcoming presidency is very much in question. First of all, Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than Trump so it is “reasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump won on a legal technicality …” In addition the legitimacy of the election itself is questionable, inasmuch as it was affected by Trump’s mendacity, fake news stories, FBI intervention, Russian influence, voter suppression targeting minority voters, flawed vote counting, and more. As Crawford puts it, the election hardly looks“free and fair”.
This is the time of year when people try to make sense of the preceding twelve months. It’s a fool’s errand, in one sense. A year is an arbitrary division of time. We decide what it means in retrospect, and we never get it exactly right. But the meaning we give it will guide our actions in the future, in thousands of conscious and unconscious ways.
It is a noticeable feature of intellectual life that many people research the same topics, but do so using different conceptual and disciplinary baggage, and consequently fail to appreciate how the conclusions they reach echo or complement the conclusions reached by others.