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IEET > Security > Rights > Life > Vision > Contributors > Gennady Stolyarov II

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Thoughts on Zoltan Istvan’s “The Transhumanist Wager”: A Review


Gennady Stolyarov II
By Gennady Stolyarov II
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 6, 2013

Zoltan Istvan’s new novel The Transhumanist Wager has been compared to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. (See, for instance, Giulio Prisco’s review.) But to what extent are the books alike, and in what respects? To be sure, the story and the writing style are gripping, the characters are vivid, and the universe created by Istvan gave me an experience highly reminiscent of my reading of Atlas Shrugged more than a decade ago.

Even this alone allows me to highly recommend The Transhumanist Wager as a work of literary art – a philosophical thriller. Moreover, the didactic purpose of the novel, its interplay of clearly identified good and evil forces, and its culmination in an extensive speech where the protagonist elaborates on his philosophical principles (as well as its punctuation by multiple smaller speeches throughout) provide clear parallels to Atlas Shrugged.

Giulio Prisco calls the philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager’s protagonist, Jethro Knights, “an extreme, militant version of the radically libertarian formulation of transhumanism”. However, this is the area where I perceive the most significant departure from the parallels to Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism (which she did not like to be called “libertarian”, though it was in essence) has the principle of individual rights and the rejection of the initiation of force at its ethical core. Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged was formed by a withdrawal of the great thinkers and creators from the world of those who exploited and enslaved them. However, there was no active conquest of that world by Rand’s heroes; rather, without the men of the mind, the power structures of the world simply fell apart on their own accord.


Infinity Tower - Main tower and artificial island designed by Arch. Richard Moreta Castillo, created to be reproduced in different latitudes.
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Jethro Knights creates his own seasteading nation, Transhumania, a fascinating haven for innovation and a refuge for transhumanist scientists oppressed by their governments and targeted by religious fundamentalist terrorism. The concept of an autonomous bastion of innovation is timely and promising; it was echoed by the recent statements from Larry Page of Google in favor of setting aside a part of the world to allow for unbridled experimentation. Transhumania, due to its technological superiority, spectacularly beats back a hostile invasion by the combined navies of the world. It is when the Transhumanians go on the offensive that the parallels to Galt’s Gulch cease. Instead of letting the non-transhumanist world crumble or embrace transhumanism on its own accord, Jethro Knights conquers it, destroys all of its political, religious, and cultural centerpieces, and establishes a worldwide dictatorship – including some highly non-libertarian elements, such as compulsory education, restrictions on reproduction, and an espousal of the view that even some human beings who have not initiated force may not have an inviolate right to their lives, but are rather judged on their “usefulness” – however defined (perhaps, in the case of Transhumania, usefulness in advancing the transhumanist vision as understood by Jethro Knights).

Jethro Knights permits a certain degree of freedom – enough to sustain technological progress, high standards of living, and due process in the resolution of everyday disputes – but, ultimately, all of the liberties in Transhumania are contingent on their compatibility with Jethro’s own philosophy; they are not recognized as absolute rights even for those who disagree. John Galt would have been gentler. He would have simply withdrawn his support from those who would not deal with him as honest creators of value, but he would have left them to their own devices otherwise, unless they initiated force against him and against other rational creators of value.

Zoltan Istvan

The outcome of The Transhumanist Wager is complicated by the fact that Jethro’s militancy is the direct response to the horrific acts of terrorism committed by religious fundamentalists at the behest of Reverend Belinas, who also has considerable behind-the-scenes influence on the US government in the novel. Clearly, the anti-transhumanists were the initiators of force for the majority of the novel, and, so long as they perpetrated acts of violence against pro-technology scientists and philosophers, they were valid targets for retaliation and neutralization – just like all terrorists and murderers are. For the majority of the book, I was, without question, on Jethro’s side when it came to his practice, though not always his theory – but it was upon reading about the offensive phase of his war that I came to differ in both, especially since Transhumania had the technological capacity to surgically eliminate only those who directly attacked it or masterminded such attacks, thereafter leaving the rest of the world powerless to destroy Transhumania, but also free to come to recognize the merits of radical life extension and general technological progress on its own in a less jarring, perhaps more gradual process.

An alternative scenario to the novel’s ending could have been a series of political upheavals in the old nations of the world, where the leaders who had targeted transhumanist scientists were recognized to be thoroughly wasteful and destructive, and were replaced by neutral or techno-progressive politicians who, partly for pragmatic reasons and partly arising out of their own attraction to technology, decided to trade with Transhumania instead of waging war on it.

The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan

Jethro’s concept of the “omnipotender” is a vision of the individual seeking as much power as he can get, ultimately aiming to achieve power over the entire universe. It is not clear whether power in this vision means simply the ability to achieve one’s objectives, or control in a hierarchical sense, which necessarily involves the subordination of other intelligent beings. I support power in the sense of the taming of the wilderness and the empowerment of the self for the sake of life’s betterment, but not in the sense of depriving others of a similar prerogative. Ayn Rand’s vision of the proper rationally egoistic outlook is extremely clear on the point that one must neither sacrifice oneself to others nor sacrifice others to oneself.

Istvan’s numerous critical references to altruism and collectivism clearly express his agreement with the first half of that maxim – but what about the second? Jethro’s statements that he would be ready to sacrifice the lives of even those closest to him in order to achieve his transhumanist vision certainly suggest that the character of Jethro might not give others the same sphere of inviolate action that he would seek for himself. Of course, Jethro also dismisses as a contrived hypothetical the suggestion that such sacrifice would be necessary (at least, in Jethro’s view, for the time being), and I agree. Yet a more satisfying response would have been not that he is ready to make such a sacrifice, but that the sacrifice itself is absolutely not required for individual advancement by the laws of reality, and therefore it is nonsensical to even acknowledge its possibility. Jethro gave his archenemy, Belinas, far too much of a philosophical concession by even picking sides in the false dichotomy between self-sacrifice to others and the subjugation of others to oneself.

Perhaps the best way to view The Transhumanist Wager is as a cautionary tale of whatmight happen if the enemies of technological progress and radical life extension begin to forcefully clamp down on the scientists who try to make these breakthroughs happen. A climate of violence and terror, rather than civil discourse and an embrace of life-enhancing progress, will breed societal interactions that follow entirely different rules, and produce entirely different incentives, from those which allow a civilized society to smoothly function and advance. I hope that we, at least in the Western world, can avoid a scenario where those different rules and incentives take hold.

I am a transhumanist, but I am also a humanist, in the sense that I see the advancement of humanity and the improvement of the human condition as the desired aims of technological progress. In this sense, I am fond of the reference to the goal of transhumanists as the achievement of a “humanity plus”. Transhumanism is and ought to be, fundamentally, a continuation of the melioristic drive of the 18th-century Enlightenment, ridding man of the limitations and terrible sufferings which have historically been considered part of necessary “human nature” but which are, in reality, the outcome of the contingent material shortcomings with which our species happened to be burdened from its inception. Will it be possible to entice and persuade enough people to embrace the transhumanist vision voluntarily? I certainly hope so, since even a sizable minority of individuals would suffice to drive forward the technological advances which the rest of humanity would embrace for other, non-philosophical reasons.

In the absence of a full-fledged embrace of this humanistic vision of transhumanism, at the very least I hope that it would be possible to “sneak around” the common objections and restrictions and achieve a technological fait accompli through the dissemination of philosophically neutral tools, such as the Internet and mobile devices, that enhance individual opportunities and alter the balance of power between individuals and institutions. In this possible future, some of the old “cultural baggage” – as Jethro would refer to it – would most likely remain – including religions, which are among the hardest cultural elements for people to give up.

However, this “baggage” itself would gradually evolve in its essential outlook and impact upon the world, much like Western Christianity today is far gentler than the Christianity of the 3rd, 11th, or 17th centuries. Perhaps, instead of fighting transhumanism, some representatives of old cultural labels will attempt to preserve their own relevance amidst transhuman-oriented developments. This will require reinterpreting doctrines, and will certainly engender fierce debate within many religious, political, and societal circles. However, there may yet be hope that the progressive wings of each of these old institutions and ideologies (“progressive” in the sense of being open to progress, not to be mistaken for any current partisan affiliation) will do the equivalent work to that entailed in a transhumanist revolution, except in a gradual, peaceful, seamless manner.

Yet, on the other hand, the immense urgency of achieving life extension is, without question, a sentiment I strongly identify with. Jethro’s experience, early in the novel, of stepping on a defective mine has autobiographical parallels to Istvan’s own experience in Vietnam. A brush with death certainly highlights the fragility of life and the urgency of pursuing its continuation. Pausing to contemplate that, were it not for a stroke of luck at some prior moment, one could be dead now – and all of the vivid and precious experiences one is having could one day be snuffed out, with not even a memory remaining – certainly motivates one to think about what the most direct, the most effective means of averting such a horrific outcome would be. Will a gradual, humane, humanistic transition to a world of indefinite life extension work out in time for us? What can we do to make it happen sooner?

Can we do it within the framework of the principles of libertarianism in addition to those of transhumanism? Which approaches are the most promising at present, and which, on the other hand, could be counterproductive? How do we attempt to enlist the help of the “mainstream” world while avoiding or overcoming its opposition? For me, reading The Transhumanist Wager provided further impetus to keep asking these important, open, and as of yet unresolved questions – in the hopes that someday the ambition to achieve indefinite life extension in our lifetimes will give rise to a clear ultra-effective strategy that can put this most precious of all goals in sight.


Gennady Stolyarov II is an actuary, science-fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, and composer. He recently wrote Death is Wrong, an illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension. Mr. Stolyarov is Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress.


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COMMENTS


Re “Giulio Prisco calls the philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager’s protagonist, Jethro Knights, “an extreme, militant version of the radically libertarian formulation of transhumanism”.”

I (partly) changed my mind on Knights vs. Galt and “libertarianism” in The Transhumanist Wager after writing my first review, see:
http://skefia.com/2013/10/21/video-hangout-on-air-futurists-discuss-the-transhumanist-wager-with-zoltan-istvan/

I think The Transhumanist Wager [] promotes an interpretation of transhumanism that I find far too militant and devoid of compassion. At the same time, while Zoltan and Jethro don’t have all the answers, they do ask important questions, and offer some valid answers. I find their [ideas] too militant and uncompromising, but at the same time, I think it’s important to affirm [similar] ideas loud and clear in today’s dull, politically correct, anti-libertarian cultural climate.

The above paragraph is an edited version of what I wrote in my review, where I used the term “libertarian” to refer to Jethro’s ideas. But on second thought, Jethro is not a libertarian, certainly not in the live-and-let-live sense that is dear to my heart, and the frequently voiced comparison with John Galt is mistaken. John Galt wants to be left in peace, but Jethro Knights is an authoritarian control freak. Real libertarians would take any measures to protect themselves from aggression, but they would not impose their rule on others. I appreciate Jethro’s radical and uncompromising transhumanism a lot, but his ways are those of Stalin, not Gandhi.





Thanks IEET for running this review. And thanks Gennady Stolyarov II for writing it. I am trying to get more Objectivists (whose numbers are very large) to consider transhumanism as a natural and logical evolution of some of their ideas. So I appreciate you posting this review, and I will be spreading this link around in Objectivist circles in hopes that more of them will consider embracing and supporting life extension science.





Libertarian = Pro Liberty

+ No Man/Woman should live their lives for the benefit of another, (this “must” include indirect coercion, force, subjugation and the exploitation of others, Human and Transhuman alike) It’s not Rocket science?

Rational Self interest - yes, but the “progressive” Libertarian incorporates compassion and with notions of “raising all boats”, (not just “Lifeboats”)?

Despite Rand’s “insistence” upon Selfishness as prime mover, Galt and fellow protagonists were hardly Self-obsessive’s?

Rand was often obstinate in defence, and in face of her integrity?

 





The views in this article are not necessarily the opinion of the IEET

@Zoltan - You said: “Objectivists (whose numbers are very large) to consider transhumanism as a natural and logical evolution of some of their ideas.”

While some areas of life can be compared to Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” it is my personal view and most philosophy departments around the world as pure garbage. “Objectivism” is not even taken seriously as a part of academic philosophy these days, rather it is mostly related to the American Libertarian Party, whose views are nationalist and tend to be radical capitalist in nature.

Given how the world works today, if “Objectivism” was reality (and in some ways it is, for many large corporations can be said to be in bed with the U.S. government) then we would live in a world of unaccountable tyranny.





A “Corporate entity” may be described as objectivist and as existing objectively to maximize profit and growth, (sustain survival at all costs and efficiencies), using specifically Capitalism, (True Rand did not associate with the label Libertarian)?

Seems the Neo-Liberal, (Reagan/Republican and Thatcher/UK “Conservative”), have hijacked the label Libertarian since way back when - and to drag us back to the Eighties, these Neo-Liberal/Libertarians would have it, (the best of status quo times)? What of progress then? Expansion of the class divide is “their objective”?

However, The most important question is..

Is there any room for Humanism in Transhumanism? - This is an important choice for any individual contemplating affiliation, (the wrong answer could in fact seriously hinder and damage the > “movement”)

After all that has been highlighted recently, (not necessarily a bad thing), personal sentiments are to “take a step back”, re-evaluate, draw breath, reflect and decide - is Techno-progressive a more meaningful and rational label and methodology for widespread acceptance? Less haste more speed?

 

 





@Kris Hi Kris, I understand your point about Objectivism not being a real part of the academic philosophical community. This is essentially correct. I myself have said quite a few times I’m not an Objectivist, even though I do like and very much appreciate Ayn Rand (my experience of reading her novel The Fountainhead, about the integrity of the artist, remains an important part of my thinking).

That said, I do think there are many Objectivists out there who, if prompted properly, could come to embrace and support the life extension movement and transhumanism. I am actively trying to help that happen. I realize there is a difficult line between Objectivist libertarian ideas and their radical capitalism, especially in today’s world with Big government. One aims to paint a clear picture of the divisive issues, but reality often proves far too complex for that.

Thanks also for pointing out this article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IEET. IEET has been kind enough over the last few months to present a wide variety of reviews (some positive, some negative) on “The Transhumanist Wager” for the benefit of the community to contemplate. I do very much appreciate that.

@CygnusX1: You are right: This is the most important question: Is there any room for Humanism in Transhumanism?

It’s a very thorny question that could take dozens of books to really dive into and answer. I personally wonder about this question a lot!





@Zoltan, We would also like to thank you for your participation on this most important topic. Your efforts at furthering the discussion of possible transhumanist/posthumanist futures is greatly appreciated.





It is interesting contrasting libertarianism, objectivism, and the philosophy encapsulated in the book “The Transhumanist’s Wager” which I’ll call militant transhumanism.

Libertarianism: One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state. -thefreedictionary.com

“Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism…has the principle of individual rights and the rejection of the initiation of force at its ethical core…Ayn Rand’s vision of the proper rationally egoistic outlook is extremely clear on the point that one must neither sacrifice oneself to others nor sacrifice others to oneself.”

“Giulio Prisco calls the philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager’s protagonist, Jethro Knights, “an extreme, militant version of the radically libertarian formulation of transhumanism”.”

I would like to point out that Transhumania is not a bastion of individual rights, nor a minimization of the state.  Instead, I would describe it as a technocracy (the government or control of society or industry by an elite of technical experts) with a transhumanist mission.

“Jethro Knights creates his own seasteading nation, Transhumania, a fascinating haven for innovation and a refuge for transhumanist scientists oppressed by their governments and targeted by religious fundamentalist terrorism…including some highly non-libertarian elements, such as compulsory education, restrictions on reproduction, and an espousal of the view that even some human beings who have not initiated force may not have an inviolate right to their lives, but are rather judged on their “usefulness” – however defined (perhaps, in the case of Transhumania, usefulness in advancing the transhumanist vision as understood by Jethro Knights).”

Therefore, I disagree with Prisco’s characterization of Jethro Knight’s philosophy as “an extreme, militant version of the radically libertarian formulation of transhumanism,” based upon it’s manifestation in Transhumania, and characterize it as not particularly concerned with individual rights, nor violence, and instead as a functional technocratic approach to advancing a transhumanism agenda.

Functionalism: belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing.





@ dobermanmac

“Functionalism: belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing.”

” would like to point out that Transhumania is not a bastion of individual rights, nor a minimization of the state.  Instead, I would describe it as a technocracy (the government or control of society or industry by an elite of technical experts) with a transhumanist mission.”

You have highlighted your viewpoints regarding functionalism before, and you have a point - cells of the body may be deemed as successful, cooperative and subject to application of functionalism, (Darwinian, and as applied also to philosophy for technology, machines and algorithm etc).

However, do you not think that Humans are more than merely functional? Creativity, speculation, involving space-time redundancy, leading to crazy notions/ideas and expanding intelligence may be deemed as functional ultimately, yet incrementally described as worthless and dysfunctional?

So too Social wants and needs, emotions and emotional obstructions described as debilitating and counter-productive?

My point - is that a “Technocracy” does not need to be reliant, be focused, upon functionalism entirely. Nor too any technocratic society/civilization need not be obsessed with efficiency and productive worth, (promoting eugenics etc).

I can envisage myself, a technocratic future, where leaders are techno-savvy, yet are not merely scientists and boffins, (Tin men without hearts?) Scientists may make the worst leaders?

What is the worth of technology and utility and progress if not for the betterment and value of Humans, (Humanism)?

What is the use and utility of money if not to provide for the wants and needs of Humans, (all Humans). What other use is there for it?





@ CygnusX1

“What is the worth of technology and utility and progress if not for the betterment and value of Humans, (Humanism)?

What is the use and utility of money if not to provide for the wants and needs of Humans, (all Humans). What other use is there for it?”

In my opinion, “the philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager’s protagonist, Jethro Knights…Jethro’s concept of the “omnipotender” is a vision of the individual seeking as much power as he can get, ultimately aiming to achieve power over the entire universe. It is not clear whether power in this vision means simply the ability to achieve one’s objectives, or control in a hierarchical sense, which necessarily involves the subordination of other intelligent beings.”

In other words, my motto is “Immortality first, and everything else second.”  I would like to qualify this by saying I don’t support a philosophy of an absolute lack of personal freedom, in the sense of a person only living to serve the state, but I also don’t support a philosophy of an absolute maximization of personal freedom, in the sense of a libertarian.

For instance, my pursuit of immortality (and power) isn’t going to prevent me from recreation and personal fulfillment, nor would it cause me to prescribe a system whereby it would prevent others from having personal time - it is just that it is incidental to the primary mission of the pursuit of a transhumanist agenda.





@ dobermanmac

“In other words, my motto is “Immortality first, and everything else second.”

“For instance, my pursuit of immortality (and power) isn’t going to prevent me from recreation and personal fulfillment, nor would it cause me to prescribe a system whereby it would prevent others from having personal time - it is just that it is incidental to the primary mission of the pursuit of a transhumanist agenda.”

So how about mind uploading as solution to Omnipotent power struggles, conflicts and war?

Would you be happy in your own virtual Universe, (this obviously does not exclude those you “feel” you love)?

 





“Jethro’s statements that he would be ready to sacrifice the lives of even those closest to him in order to achieve his transhumanist vision certainly suggest that the character of Jethro might not give others the same sphere of inviolate action that he would seek for himself. Of course, Jethro also dismisses as a contrived hypothetical the suggestion that such sacrifice would be necessary (at least, in Jethro’s view, for the time being), and I agree. Yet a more satisfying response would have been not that he is ready to make such a sacrifice, but that the sacrifice itself is absolutely not required for individual advancement by the laws of reality, and therefore it is nonsensical to even acknowledge its possibility. Jethro gave his archenemy, Belinas, far too much of a philosophical concession by even picking sides in the false dichotomy between self-sacrifice to others and the subjugation of others to oneself.”

I don’t understand this. On what grounds would Jethro be making the claim that such sacrifice was “absolutely not required”? If we allow (as surely we must) the possibility that “the enemies of technological progress and radical life extension [might] begin to forcefully clamp down on the scientists who try to make these breakthroughs happen” leading to “a climate of violence and terror, rather than civil discourse and an embrace of life-enhancing progress”, then surely we must also allow that the sacrifice of others *might* be required for individual advancement by the laws of reality (as they would then pertain). And if that is the case, how can it be more satisfying for Jethro to refuse even to acknowledge the possibility? Since when was dodging the question “satisfactory”?





@ CygnusX1

“So how about mind uploading as solution to Omnipotent power struggles, conflicts and war?

Would you be happy in your own virtual Universe, (this obviously does not exclude those you “feel” you love)?”

Mind uploading introduces the problem of identity.  Frankly, it sounds like you are suggesting a retreat into fantasy as a way to conquor the world…

I’m reminded of an exchange in the series Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex, Season One, Episode One:

“If you don’t like this world, change yourself first! If you don’t like that idea, then close your eyes and ears, and live in solitude! If you don’t like that either…[gun cocked and put to the head].”

Of course, that suggests a static world, when the whole point is to change the world…I’m not going to get anywhere imagining that I’m immortal.  BTW, I am a Schizoid, so have a very rich fantasy world.





@ dobermanmac

Yes, this is precisely what I am suggesting, that pursuing mind uploading is easier and even more satisfactory than attempting to change and bend the World and Universe to our own will, (immoral in itself)?

Even now we are closer to submersive VR than correcting any social ills in our material existence. I am certainly not proposing we give up in attempting to make the world a better, more peaceful and secure and prosperous place for all Humans with the use of technology - but bending the World to our own “individual” will is asking for troubles, and merely perpetuates conflicts between Humans ever more?

Is it easier, more satisfactory, for Jethro to pursue immortality via uploading, creating his own utopia? Is it easier than attempting to subjugate Humans to his own ideals, thereby stepping beyond the remit of his own philosophy promoting freedoms, (the folly of many a dictator who aspired to greater hopes and Unity for the World - Alexander, Napoleon)?

Just what is required for a Human brain to exist beyond the body, which nutrients and hormones are required to perpetuate existence? Can the brain alone be restored and reanimated from mortal death? Would a brain and it’s Self-identity be “happy” to exist in a VR Environment or even employing a “surrogate” to interact with the material World?

What is easier to achieve in the long view, subjugation of the Universe or immersive VR?

Brain longevity would also be easier and preconcludes possible mind uploading.

All of the above VR speculation also supports a teology for the “Simulation argument”, a Transhuman but not Post-Human ontological view of/for existence - an environment where Human Souls, (colloquial), are created and multiply to share this existence - a reality similar if not the same? as we experience this so called “material World” here and now?

Yet even in an immerse VR environment, Utopia may not be exactly what we hope? Human minds cannot dissociate from struggling, cannot substantiate their own existence without suffering, there is no pleasure/Joy without pain?

Changing our viewpoint of circumstance is promoted as wisdom to ease our own sufferings and outlook yes. Although this does not serve to remove “material” obstructions, only in a VR Environment could our own consciousness and reflection reconstruct our reality?

 





@CygnusX1
I’m wondering about the distinction you’re making between “attempting to make the world a better, more peaceful and secure and prosperous place for all Humans with the use of technology” and “bending the World to our own “individual” will”. Certainly there are many ways to do the latter that do not imply the former, but isn’t the former in fact an example of the latter?

Regarding subversive VR, it is possible that you have far more experience of this than I do, but it might be instructive to think about what really happens (today) when we are having a submersible (to the extent that today’s technology allows) VR experience. Essentially we are experiencing an artificially created world, which may indeed correspond more closely to our views about how “life should be” than the one we experience the rest of the time, but it is also (even) more temporal, vulnerable, ephemeral. When I go to the cinema, for example, the experience can be quite immersive, but then come the credits and I’m back on the “real” world. So while escape from time to time is healthy and can be enriching, it would seem less than wise to make that the main focus.

Now, if uploading was a realistic goal in the relatively near future, then I would certainly be interested in exploring it further. The issues regarding identity raised by dobermanmac are real and non-trivial, but to some extent they pertain even when we think about our future biological selves. I can certainly imagine identifying more with an uploaded future self that has very similar personality, memories and so on than with a future self that is biologically continuous with my present self but markedly different in those aspects (post-stroke or Alzheimer’s-afflicted, for example). But for the moment I’m not convinced that it is.

This being the case, I prefer to indeed try to “bend the world to my individual will”, and perhaps that is one of the main reason why we have tended to squabble so much on this site. You see this as “asking for trouble” and “perpetuating conflict”, whereas I see it as simply a logical consequence of (i) not (yet) being part of a hive mind, and (ii) having aspirations. But then, I’m a moral subjectivist, so I indeed see “attempting to make the world a better, more peaceful and secure and prosperous place for all Humans with the use of technology” as an example of bending the world to your own individual will - even if it is a goal I fully support - rather than compliance with some kind of objectively true, universal values.

Perhaps it might also help to explain why I don’t think “bending the world to our own “individual” will” is necessarily asking for trouble or will necessarily perpetuate conflict. It really depends what you are trying to do (i.e. what your “will” is), and how you go about it. It is of course the case that much evil has been done on the name of doing good, but this does not prove that a desire to do good (as one sees it, i.e. an essentially altruistic take on trying to bend the world to one’s individual will) was the cause of the evil, or even necessarily present. Of course it also helps if one is prepared to be somewhat flexible about one’s goals, though not so much that one is merely a reed swaying in the wind.





And now “submersive” got autocorrect to “submersible”! Grrrr.
Also, to be clearer, the last sentence of the third para could read “for the moment I’m not convinced that mind uploading is a realistic goal in the relatively near future”.

By the way, “Although this does not serve to remove “material” obstructions, only in a VR Environment could our own consciousness and reflection reconstruct our reality?” strikes me as wildly and unrealistically pessimistic with regard to our ability to remove “material” obstructions. For example, by writing The Transhumanist Wager, Zoltan Istvan has clearly changed the world. Anyone who promotes a vision with infectious enthusiasm changes the world, and so helps to remove “material” obstructions. It’s how all progress is made,  CygnusX1…indeed, it’s the only reason we have VR for some of us to retreat into.





@ CygnusX1

I see your point that VR would be easier and cleaner than reality.  Frankly, it fits right into the Buddhist view that life is an illusion.  Furthermore, I’ve used the same argument for a full body prosthesis rather than SENS.

OTH, most people in our “reality oriented” world would think that retreating into fantasy is both a cop out, and a form of mental illness.  I am a Schizoid, and have a very rich internal life, but even I wouldn’t want to settle for being a king in my dreams to being peasant in reality (sort of like choosing to be a discontented human, rather than a contented pig).

Besides, who would want to play a game where they can write the rules, and they can always win - that would take all the fun out of it.  I mean, if I was a hedonist, I would just put a wire into the pleasure center of my brain and keep hitting the switch.  Dominance/submission and the zero sum game is what I live for.





In any case, VR exists only in and as a result of the real, material, physical world. Like all human creations, it has emerged within it, and is an inherent part of it. Of course, whether others think that retreating into fantasy is a cop out or a form of mental illness is in a sense neither here nor there, provided that you are so thoroughly immersed in your VR that you are not troubled by their comments. But even if reality is an illusion, as Einstein said it is and extremely persistent one, and the same cannot yet be said for VR. And even if one does believe the most promising way to be happy is to retreat into VR-fuelled fantasy, one still has to work at removing whatever material obstructions are getting in the way (such as comments posted by others at IEET, coupked to one’s tendency to read them and one’s emotional response to them).





Though the Transhumanist Wager raises many good points and stimulates a fertile discussion of transhumanist philosophy, it fails badly in one point which I deem critical to the future of transhumanism. The whole development of the story, its characters, their relations and interactions and of course the outcome are staged on the basis of the contemporary human psychological construct. This very construct having its roots in the evolution of the human ape goes deeper in its implications than any “cultural baggage” that is mentioned in the book. A struggle of vain egos, a simplistic value system of ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’, good guys and bad guys that hopelessly fail to perceive the complexity and interconnectivity of all life including us humans, the belief that coercion can be philosophically justified or work on the long term and most of all the ‘spirit of revenge’ (to use Nietzsche’s own term) that is so strongly embedded in the story, are only a few examples to this “ape mentality”.

Nietzsche’s concept of the Overman from which the author draws much inspiration is poorly interpreted and remains imprisoned within the limitations of the contemporary human mind, the very limitations it was meant to overcome and breakthrough. It is no wonder therefore that the transhumanist vision presented in the book rapidly escalates into a pointless violent struggle that do not offer at its culmination a real evolutionary and liberating path, but rather more of the same old ape mentality now endowed with everything technological but profoundly boring in its repeating the tragedies of history.

I must admit that I was quite disappointed especially because I strongly identify with the passion of the author and the apparent effort he invested. Disappointed is perhaps a too reserved word here. I deeply pained what I realize as an ultimate failure in a disguise of a victory of Jethro the protagonist. And even more that he falls into the illusion of accomplishing a real transformation while merely submitting to the imperatives of the common human mind and the historical pattern it inexorably propagates.

But perhaps this book is a much needed wake up call to transhumanists; a finger pointing towards that which is missing from the transhumanist vision: a vision of a new mind, a new psychology and a new culture. A vision of a path that will liberate us from our own conditioned and wanting humanity and propel us towards the post human. Indeed we will one day become immortal and roam the stars. We will become as gods. Still, if we fail to pursue such a path, we will become ape-gods, as grotesque and pathetic as they will be grand. The seeds of just that future can already be found in the last pages of the Transhumanist Wager.

In so many fields our imagination soars ever so further and still when it comes to transforming our own minds, the dynamic intelligent pattern that defines us, our imagination terribly fails to dream beyond its historical self. Do we really want the same ape mind immeasurably augmented technologically to run this planet and even beyond? More tools may take us to the stars and to indefinite life extension eventually. More tools will allow us one day to redesign our own brains as well. But into what are we going to redesign the core of our mentality, our emotions our prime motivators, our values and the very core of our identity? Technology will allow us an ever extended freedom, but what are we going to become with such an open ended freedom?

Without addressing these difficult questions the transhumanist endeavor will ever remain arrested in infancy.





Maybe part of the difficulty is that these issues of mentality are so thoroughly bound up with our identity that if we change our “ape mind” we feel we will no longer be ourselves. But you are right: this kind of transcendence is essential, either in order to prevent an awful technodystopia, or simply to prevent the whole transhumanist dream from descending into squabbling, opposition and ruin. As ever, mindfulness techniques strike me as among the most promising ways to achieve such transcendence.





@ Spaceweaver

Strong and vibrant words.

What is the core goal of longevity and immortality, what is the root motivation? - the perpetuation of Self, (identity)?

Contemplating the transformation of Self is difficult to imagine for us apes, (and maybe/most likely for the protagonist in the book), as the ego and the Self are one and the same, and as this ego fears for it’s own demise, it cannot aspire to Godly Unity/Oneness/Communion, stunted by this Self-ish intent.

As debated above, whilst Rand’s Objectivist philosophy espouses and declares “Self-ishness” as prime mover and motivation, the book may be attractive and appeal to 80’s Silicon Valley mindsets and some Libertarians alike, but as you say this is only part of the potential and possibilities imagined for Trans-humans, (ie VR, mind-merging, technological oneness/sharing, (ugly word), psychological and ethereal transformation etc).

Perhaps the story will evolve to aspire to “theological” ideals and aspirations that are ultimately adverse to this Self-ishness.

In my VR simulation, all is at peace, and harmony perpetuates, as long as all remains within the boundaries of “my” ethics and sensitivities.

“Welcome to my world, won’t you come on in? (just don’t start trouble!)” The perfect habitat for the Trans-human, (not Post-human - whatever that may be - perhaps nihilist potential/machine intelligence)?


The aspired greatness lies somewhere between Christians adhering to their hopes and faith, sacrificing themselves whilst being destroyed/thrown to Lions, and the rational intent and will to power for “Self/Ego” preservation at all costs?

Why do Humans sacrifice themselves for ......?
Foolish, yet noble?

 

 





It depends how abrupt a transformation one is talking about. I think most people can accept a gradual transformation, and indeed there are many who manage to attain a degree of serenity in the face of their own annihilation. So while the self- (or Self-, if you prefer) preservation instinct makes transformation indeed difficult to contemplate, we are not entirely hopeless at it.

I guess my question is, just how “adverse to this Self-ishness” should we aspire to become? To some extent you have answered it with “The aspired greatness lies somewhere between Christians adhering to their hopes and faith, sacrificing themselves whilst being destroyed/thrown to Lions, and the rational intent and will to power for “Self/Ego” preservation at all costs?” but can we be more precise?

Here again, utilitarianism seems to provide good guidance. Martyrdom for the sake of martyrdom is indeed foolish, and while there is indeed something “noble” about the self-sacrifice involved, the same ultimately can be said for the suicide bomber. On the other hand, the moment one puts one’s own self-preservation so thoroughly above the interests of the greater community that one cannot contemplate sacrificing oneself for others in any situation, one seems to be header for some awfully dystopic futures.





Your comments make me think more than any other, anywhere, Pete. What comes to mind is where. Being consistently self-sacrificing in Scandinavia (as I saw) is no great hardship as far as could be seen by a visitor. In America, real self-sacrifice means a lower standard of living. In China self sacrifice can mean death or, just say, a bunk at a labor camp. What would the Chinese economy have been and what would it be today without the sacrifices of inmates in those camps? You were in China for a week or two; perhaps you got an inkling.
America claims to have been built by the sacrifices of Christians- starting with New England Puritans. What isn’t mentioned is how sacrifice can mean the involuntary sacrifice of Native Americans:

“the natives made sacrifices for us.”

Yes, because they were the victims of genocide. This is an aside, but it illustrates the trickiness of semantics.





Good points, Intomorrow. In some parts of the world we have managed to bring about a reasonably good alignment between “what’s good for me” and “what’s good for the community”, but (i) “the community” may mean a narrow tribal entity rather than, let ‘s say, “all sentient beings”, and (ii) in other parts of the world, thuggishness rules.

I suppose we will know we have reached a truly ethical society when we don’t have to worry about ethics any more, because there will be no more ethical dilemmas? As it is, ethical dilemmas remain - even in Scandinavia - and thus an ongoing conflict between what we might think is right (to the extent that we even know) and what we instinctively want. Still, “what we instinctively want” is also manipulable, to a degree. Once we have clarified our values, we can gradually align our habits with them so that what we feel like doing aligns with what we think we should be doing. It doesn’t always lead to happiness, but for the moment I know of no better way to live.





“Once we have clarified our values, we can gradually align our habits with them so that what we feel like doing aligns with what we think we should be doing. It doesn’t always lead to happiness, but for the moment I know of no better way to live.”

Yes, something along the lines of what, just say, Buddhism offers; for instance equanimity rather than happiness.

“I suppose we will know we have reached a truly ethical society when we don’t have to worry about ethics any more, because there will be no more ethical dilemmas?”

The answer is yes: we simply cannot imagine what it will be like when hominid is no longer hominid. Could a human of 2 million BCE possibly have had the slightest notion of what life would eventually be in Mesopotamia 6,000 yrs ago? No.

 

 

 





Yet not quite equanimity either: I don’t want to be completely equanimous. This is the discussion I had with CygnusX1 recently, and to some extent also on is thread, e.g. (from CygnusX1) “I am certainly not proposing we give up in attempting to make the world a better, more peaceful and secure and prosperous place for all Humans with the use of technology.” If we were completely equanimous, we simply wouldn’t bother.

Here again, James’ recent “radical mindfulness” video is spot on: mindfulness must be a vehicle not for pacification, but to create a breed of “edgy people compassionately deconstructing the world’s nonsense”. Equanimity, which we nurture through mindfulness techniques, gives us the stability and discipline to do this, but too much of it, and it becomes an impediment.





Correct; notice I was careful to qualify it:

“something along the lines of what, just say, Buddhism offers; for instance equanimity rather than happiness.”

When one mediates—and remember, this is merely an example—one doesn’t do so with preconceptions. It isn’t as if one is an Abrahamic-faith devotee expecting to reach Paradise. The equanimity involved in meditation, just for instance, would be the act of meditation itself—not the goal of ‘reaching’ equanimity. (Or bliss, say). As with virtue; one *pursues* virtue, one doesn’t attain virtue- or equanimity.





Yet if equanimity is not the goal, this might raise the question, what is the goal? What kind of purpose should we pursue? In this context Spaceweaver’s words are, as CygnusX1 notes, indeed strong and vibrant, and his question remains fundamental: “into what are we going to redesign the core of our mentality, our emotions our prime motivators, our values and the very core of our identity?”

You are, of course, right when you say that we can no more imagine this than a human of 2 million years ago could imagine life in even the most primitive cities, yet surely we can try to look one or two steps ahead? We need be clear about what it is we hope for, and if our visions differ, we need to open ourselves to differing views, achieving enough equanimity to be flexible, without becoming so dispassionate that we stop caring at all.





“Yet if equanimity is not the goal, this might raise the question, what is the goal? What kind of purpose should we pursue? In this context Spaceweaver’s words are, as CygnusX1 notes, indeed strong and vibrant, and his question remains fundamental: “into what are we going to redesign the core of our mentality, our emotions our prime motivators, our values and the very core of our identity?... We need be clear about what it is we hope for, and if our visions differ, we need to open ourselves to differing views, achieving enough equanimity to be flexible, without becoming so dispassionate that we stop caring at all.”

‘Goal’ infers a final outcome- unfortunately there is no final destination, no goal. What kind of purpose should we pursue?:
Everyone save for the conscienceless pursues some sort of virtue; a mobster will usually be virtuous in caring for his children and grandkids but act as a reptile towards the outside world.

“yet surely we can try to look one or two steps ahead?”

Yes, however not beyond that—looking far into the future is futile. I now perceive (thanks to IEET) how important SF is for inspiration.. yet as far as can be seen it is more F than S.





Agreed on all fronts…yet still I think we can (and should try to) do better than “everyone save for the conscienceless pursues some sort of virtue”. This is true, of course, and not only in the sense you seem to mean it (where “virtue” essentially means caring for someone other than oneself) but also more generally. For example, one might say that all but the most utterly dissolute practise some form of self-discipline, here the dichotomy being not between the self and others but between short-term gratification and delayed gratification. But so far we are just talking factually: describing the situation as it presents itself.

The more interesting question, for me, is how we would like this to evolve. Would we like people to become more empathetic, and/or more altruistic (not quite the same thing), than the currently are? To what extent do we see Spaceweaver’s question as important, as worth discussing, and more pertinently what would we *like* the answer to be? And to what extent do we agree with Spaceweaver that this is currently missing from the transhumanist vision? (I think my own answer to that last question is: not altogether, but it is under-emphasised.)





Peter, it seems to me that the transhumanist vision do not only under-emphasizing, as you say, this kind of questions but is seriously lacking the philosophical tools and discourse from which such questions can be addressed and be well formulated in the first place.

Thinking in terms of goals is derived from a mind ecology of want. Bound by such ecology we identify desirable circumstances that are based on what we think or imagine that we lack now. The problem starts to be exposed when you try to replace the overall mind ecology into that of abundance. In such ecology, nothing is missing from the present situation of yours or anyone’s. Alternatively, we can also use the term equanimity to address a state arising from emptiness (in the Buddhist sense) where one’s mind abides in a state where all desires subside irrespective to the immediate circumstantial conditions. At any of the cases the future contracts into a NOW because there is no projection of change away from this NOW. At the extreme, there is no future at all (and no past as well). Whether such state is achieved by meditation or by an ecology of abundance is less important. It can be argued that there is no essential difference. What is important to this discussion is that such state of system/mind is a prime attractor in the terminology of dynamic systems. Once the system’s dynamics (a single human mind, a group, or a civilization) have entered such an attractor it will tend to stabilize into more or less invariable state.

One immediately notices that such state of a system/mind is missing an evolutionary dynamics unless some external perturbations will disrupt it and take it away from this attractor (i.e. eliminate the state of abundance or equanimity and create again a motion driven by want, or in other words re-invoke desire). Such system/mind will not tend to evolve on its own away from its ‘perfect’ or close to perfect state of equanimity.

We need therefor to think deeper how to create/design/formulate states of system/mind that exist in abundance and are intrinsically free and yet do not abandon their evolutionary motion. We need to seek for motivations and desires which are not driven by want and are profoundly disassociated from it. To be a bit more concrete, we can compare goal oriented movements that need clear definite future goals (always related to a present situation and different from it in a distinct manner) in order to be motivated, to artistic exploration/experimentation of future possibilities that are not constrained by such goals and do not project definite future products. Still, such artistic movements do aspire to introduce change and the transformation of the present into an as yet unknown future.

Importantly, natural evolution works in such ‘artistic’ manner. Evolution is not goal oriented though it might look as if it is in retrospective observing its products. Evolution is ultimately experimental and exploratory but does not set any future goals. Evolution does not judge the present as having or lacking anything and in a manner of speaking it shares the attribute of emptiness with minds in a state of equanimity.

In my research work which involves philosophical, system theoretical and psychological aspects, I am trying to create a framework for dealing with the questions I mentioned in my previous post. I do not think we are at the stage of figuring the ‘what’ from a transhumanist perspective. It seems that we need to figure (discover, create) first how to think about the future rather than trying to figure what future will it be. This shift from the what to the how is a profound shift in our mentality as we need to focus on process rather than products, on experimenting rather than projecting/controlling and on free mind dynamics rather than constrained mind dynamics.

Would appreciate your input on that.





Hi Spaceweaver, thanks for this.

Actually I’m wondering to what extent an ecology of abundance or “total equanimity” are really attractor states. I would rather say they are neutrally stable, in that if one is really equanimous then one must also be equanimous as to whether one remains equanimous. Some external signal is required to shift the system away from that state, but it can be an arbitrarily small one. A genuine attractor state (requiring a signal of a certain strength to escape from it) would rather be equanimity-about-everything-except-remaining-equanimous. This is indeed what practises like meditation achieve, temporarily: there is a goal to be equanimous, and while as Intomorrow says one never quite achieves it, the goal is there, and it remains an attractor state until the Tibetan bell rings. (Disruptions intrude, of course, in the form of unbidden thoughts etc, but precisely because of the equanimity/mindfulness-goal one tries to get rid of them, with greater or lesser success.)

What might be (more?) helpful, though, is to consider the emotional dimension of “want”, abundance, and “artistic” creativity. The “artistic” analogy is instructive here IMO, because one will often hear artists say, “I wanted this” or “I wanted that”, and there does seem to be a goal-oriented aspect to what they do, even though it may be somewhat ill-defined at first. From this perspective perhaps evolution is more genuinely random than “artistic” (randomness, however, being an essentially element of creativity).

Against this emotional perspective, isn’t the real problem with the “ecology of want” that it is too anxiety/fear-based? One can have a goal, which might be more hope/enthusiasm-based, but as long as it remains that way one will be playful and flexible in the way one goes about achieving it. Here values can also be helpful, where values are “this is what I like to do and experience, and/or how I like to behave”, while goals are more specific and future-orientated. For example, I see goal-setting as a sometimes-useful way to align my actual lifestyle and behaviour with my values, and I have learnt over the years to hone the extent to which I take them seriously (not enough = they fail to do what they are supposed to; too much = the tail ends up wagging the dog).

Going back to evolution: if evolution is essentially randomness plus selection, and bearing in mind that evolution has brought us cancer and suffering, maybe emulating evolution is not the right answer either? Indeed, it could lead to the kind of Social Darwinism dystopias that George Dvorsky critiqued here recently: modelling evolution, one might consider the “process” to be emulated as being essentially “might makes right”.

On the other hand, if we apply mindfulness (as a temporary attractor state) in order to calm our neurotic, over-anxious minds and keep us in touch with reality, and thus remain playful and values-oriented in the way we pursue our goals, then perhaps this will give is the ways to think about the future that we need?





Ok I’ll start by saying this is just my opinion, mostly based on personal experience. Also these newly formed principles seemed to appear from nowhere basically overnight but the confidence I have in these completely new ideas which i can get deep into for literally days at a time, almost losing myself in the idea. Im 24 yrs young & somewhere around age 16 my child like naive view on the world as well as desire to live got darker and more hopeless until bout 6 months ago I started to seriously contemplate suicide, questioning our purpose an the meaning of life. I didnt talk bout it to anyone really as I wasn’t looking for help or attention it was much bigger than that. I’ve always kept an open mind & tried to use a rational yet free thought process. I take all factors into consideration, weighing pros & cons, put myself in the shoes of anyone affected and used the facts in science as well as my personal experiences before making decisions. This goes for everyday situations as well as my religion and beliefs in paranormal. Last January I totaled my car, got a DUI, lost my job and all I’d worked for the past 5 yrs. Had my best friend die of methadone overdose, the rest of them either sucked into drugs or started families. I see this and realise I dont want either of these things. Ive always figured it was just normal a young guy not knowing what he wants, but when I look around and realize im almost half way to retirement age and had no dreams, goals, ambitions, will to live…I got worried, depressed, an felt like I didnt ask to be here so whos anyone to tell me i cant end it. Well..
If I used the thought process which I believed was the most efficient way to live life & make decisions, Id do the math an end up with the same tragic conclusion, Life sucks. The simple things I once loved doing daily,  now I wanted no part of. I used to not be able to get girls or sex off my mind but now suddenly found I have no sexual desires or the need for companionship. With my religion being a work in progress still, I didn’t have an understanding of faith but ive always been a good person and believed I was in good hands, whoevers they may be. Also felt strongly about reincarnation. So as I sit alone the other night I start researching the only thing I have ever really felt passionate about, which is anything that is unknown, simply put. This one video I came across completely changed my life, but how? It was about the first man who successfully removed a human brain withouth losing its ability to send/recieve electrical activity and neurological synapses.  In his own words, He could talk to it and it could hear him. Obviously lacking a body most ppl wouldnt find this too significant. To me it was like being reborn, this time the polar opposite of negative and instead of pessimistic I now feel almost overly optomistic. Like not the sky but the end of the massive galactic universe was now the limit, or why put a limit now? I say this because I just coincidentally happened to have found that video, another where a monkeys head was removed and sewn onto anothers body, not only was it alive and functioning but the monkey was still himself in every way.  He retained his old memories, behavior and personality. The head was rejected after a short time but this is an issue we can already resolve, through gene splicing and DNA enhancements. So this raises the question, is there a soul? If there is it is also transplantable.  So we are arriving a point in time where we see a lot of earth shattering breakthroughs which will dramatically change everything about life and all so near one another as well as just in time to leave this planet and save it from our own destruction. The limitations which imprisoned us no longer existing. This for some reason has changed my view on everything completely different and crystal clear, these thoughts provoking ideas in my head that I seem to pull out of thin air, yet to me seems like common sense, but last week I wasnt capable of such thinking. I have much much more interesting theories that I think you guys would find interesting but I dont want to lose ya here as im sure I already sound quite nutty. As for your question sorry for the long answer but I feel like you guys are more familiar with subject as well as more educated so if this is just so obvious you didnt need to mention it then sorry for my incompitence. There are MANY benefits almost endless, to me the biggest one being the ability to travel anywhere in the universe, meet many other life forr
s from planets unheard of, as well as moving off of Earth so it can replenish itself while we are exploring the universe as we should be. If reincarnations real, cool! But why bother if you can just live1000 years without dying, speciqlly if we have no control over our past life memories can be lost in the process of starting over. They also are aleady able to cut out a small section of your brain and replace it with a little resistor chip which can not only perform & function but possibly better in many ways. Instead of death, destruction and an overall negative view of the world past present and future, I now see endless possibilities that are so exciting to think about, its the wonderment of childhood all over again but these arent just dreams I know they are possible in our lifetime.  Sorry again for ridiculously long explination, my mind has never felt so active and awake. Share thoughts PLEASE this is how we grow.

 





Here’s something that’s bugged me about The Transhumanist Wager for the longest time:  I feel like I read it already.

And I’ve never read any Any Rand.  How?  Brace yourselves.

www.furaffinity.net/view/7809418/

When I read the plot overview in a review on the IEET - “A small seasteading micronation sets forth augmenting people; the world takes offense and intervenes militarily, and the underdogs stand off the military might set against them.”  Unlike the events in the Wager, (which I have not read and have not yet fully spoiled; I will if I have to, but I’d prefer to read the book first) there are moral hazards, and moral failures, but the characters in Reborn never quite become villains, and during quieter parts of the timeline, manage to do a great deal of diplomatic good in the world - but not without making some powerful people squirm.

There’s a good deal of “Crisis in Zefra” in the writing style, and a bunch of Tom Clancy - you can feel the influence pretty clearly at points.  Unlike Zoltan, this represents the author’s first effort, and unlike the Wager, it has never seen a professional editor.  A little foreshadowing (I asked the author) was accidentally cut in the final release, and the geopolitics look dated, at best, in light of the Arab Spring - but fundamentally the story is a fun page-turner that will make you think, expose you to a new point of view (even among transhumanists, there are some seriously minority opinions in here; being hosted on FurAffinity, this should not be a surprise).  If you start wondering “what if x happened”, do yourself a favor and read a few more pages; this happened to me at least three times, and each was addressed within the chapter.

I’m told a significant rework has recently been undertaken, but won’t be ready for some time yet.





@DustyMcGill
Thanks for contributing. I’m interested in quite a lot of what you’ve written, especially about your commitment to “rational yet free thought process”, your passion for the unknown, and the way the video you saw took you from a “Life sucks” conclusion to “almost overly optimistic”.

Like you say, sharing thoughts is how we grow, and personally I find your passion for the unknown quite healthy. One doesn’t want to believe just anything, but at the same time it is important to keep an open mind and consider that anything we think we know might actually be wrong.

Also, what to do in those moments when we are convinced that life sucks? Firstly, consider that this too might be mistaken, and that what appears to be a rational conclusion based on evidence may actually be far more emotion-influenced than we think. (None of us are purely rational, however much we might like to think we are.) I have also found it helpful sometimes just to pay attention to the various strategies I’m using, often unconsciously, to feel better. Sometimes they work well, other times they are counterproductive (especially in the long run), so it’s worth knowing what they are so you can exercise more conscious control over them.

That’s my two-cents-worth anyway. Re “im almost half way to retirement age”: from my almost-47-year-old perspective you are YOUNG…and I’m still nowhere near retirement!





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