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IEET > Security > Biosecurity > Resilience > SciTech > Rights > FreeThought > Life > Innovation > Vision > Futurism > Technoprogressivism > Directors > George Dvorsky

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10 Futurist Phrases And Terms That Are Complete Bullshit


George Dvorsky
By George Dvorsky
io9

Posted: May 30, 2014

Last month io9 told you about 20 terms every self-respecting futurist should know, but now it's time to turn our attention to the opposite.  Here are 10 pseudofuturist catchphrases and concepts that need to be eliminated from your vocabulary.

1. "Transcendence"

Some futurists toss this word around in a way that's not too far removed from its religious roots. The hope is that our technologies can help us experience our existence beyond normal or physical bounds. Now, it very well may be true that we'll eventually learn how to emulate brains in a computer, but it's an open question as to whether or not we'll be able to transfer consciousness itself. In other words, the future may not for us — it'll be for our copies. So it's doubtful any biological being will ever literally experience the process of transcension (just the illusion of it).

What's more, life in a "transcendent" digitized realm, while full of incredible potential, will be no walk in the park; full release, or transcendence, is not likely an achievable goal. Emulated minds, or ems, will be prone to hacking, deletion, unauthorized copying, and subsistence wages. Indeed, a so-called uploaded mind may be free from its corporeal form, but it won't be free from economic and physical realities, including the safety and reliability of the supercomputer running the ems, and the costs involved in procuring sufficient processing power and storage space.

2. "The Singularity"

Vernor Vinge co-opted this term from cosmology as a way to describe a blind spot in our predictive thinking, or more specifically our inability to predict what will happen after the advent of greater-than-human machine intelligence. But since that time, the Technological Singularity has degenerated to a term void of any true meaning.

In addition to its quasi-religious connotations, it has become a veritable Rorschach Test for futurists. The Singularity has been used to describe accelerating change or a future time when progress in technology occurs almost instantly. It has also be used to describe humanity's transition into a posthuman condition, mind uploads, and the advent of a utopian era. Because of all the baggage this term has accumulated, and because the peril that awaits us coming clearer into focus (e.g. the Intelligence Explosion), it's a term that needs to be put to bed, replaced by more substantive and unambiguous hypotheses.

3."Technology Will Save the Future"

I wholeheartedly agree that we should use technology to build the kind of future we want for ourselves and our descendants. Absolutely. But it's important for us to acknowledge the challenges we're sure to face in trying to do so and the unintended consequences of our efforts.

Technology is a double-edged sword that's constantly putting us on the defensive. Our inventions often produce outcomes that need to be provisioned for. Guns have produced the need for gun control and bulletproof vests. Software has produced the need for antivirus programs and firewalls. Industrialization has resulted in labour unions, climate change, and the demand for geoengineering efforts. Airplanes have been co-opted as terrorist weapons. And on and on and on.

The evolution of our technologies could result in a future in which our planet is wrecked and depleted, our privacy gone, our civil liberties severely curtailed, and our political, social and economic structures severely altered. So while we should still strive to create the future, we must remember that we're going to have to adapt to this future.

4. "Will"

We often speak about things that will happen in the future as if there's a certain inevitability to it, or as if we're masters of our own destinies. Trouble is, different people have different visions of the future depending on their needs, values, and place of privilege; there will always be a tension arising from competing interests. What's more, we will undoubtedly hit some intractable technological and economic barriers along the way, not to mention some black swans (unexpected events) and mules (unexpected events beyond our current understanding of how the world works).

Another perspective comes from Jayar LaFontaine, a Foresight Strategist with Idea Couture. He told me,

The word "will" is wildly overused by futurists. It's small and innocuous, so it can be slipped into speech to create a sense of authority which is almost always inappropriate. More often than not, it indicates a futurist's personal biases on a subject rather than any serious assessment of certainty. And it can shut down fruitful conversations about the future, which for me is the whole point.

5. "Immortality"

Some folks in the radical life extension and transhumanist communities like to talk about achieving "immortality." Indeed, there's a very good chance that future humans will eventually enter into a state of so-called negligible senescence (the cessation of aging) — a remarkable development that will likely come about through the convergence of several tech sectors, including biotechnology, cybernetics, neuroscience, molecular nanotechnology, and others. But it's a prospect that has been taken just a bit too far.


The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

First, accidental or unavoidable deaths (like getting hit by a streetcar, being murdered, or inadvertently flying a spacecraft into a supernova) will always be a part of the human — or posthuman — condition. Indeed, the longer we live, the greater chance we have of getting killed in one way or another. Second, the universe is a finite thing — which means our existence is finite, too. That could mean an ultimate fate decided by the heat death of the universe, the Big Crunch, or the Big Rip. And contrary to the thinking of Frank Tipler, there's no loop hole — not even a life-resurrecting Omega Point.

6. "Disruptive"

Virtually every gadget that comes out of Silicon Valley these days is heralded as being disruptive. I don't think this word means what these companies think it means.

Honestly, for a technology to be truly disruptive it has to shake the foundations of society. Looking back through history, it's safe to say that the telegraph, trains, automobiles, and the Internet were truly disruptive. Looking ahead, it'll be various developments in molecular assembly, the social and economic consequences of mass automation, and the proliferation of AI and AGI.

7. "Future Shock"

This is a term that's getting old fast.

Sure, such a thing may have existed in the early 1970s when Alvin Toffler first came up with the idea (though I doubt it), but does anyone truly suffer from "future shock"? Toffler described it as "shattering stress and disorientation" caused by "too much change in too short a period of time," but I don't recall seeing it in the latest edition of the DSM-V.

No doubt, many folks in our society rail against change — like resistance to gay marriage or universal healthcare — but it would be inaccurate and unfair to refer to them as being in a state of shock. Reactionary, maybe.

8. "Moore's Law"

Nope, not a law. At best it's a consistent empirical regularity — and a fairly obvious one at that. Yes, processing speed is getting faster and faster. But why fetishize it by calling it a law? There are other similar observable regularities, including steady advancements in software, telecommunications, materials miniaturization, and even biotechnology. An in fact,mathematical "laws" can predict industrial growth and productivity in many sectors. What's more, Moore's Law is a poor barometer of progress (something it's often used for), particularly social and economic progress.

9. "The Robot Apocalypse"

Let's assume for a moment that an artificial superintelligence eventually emerges and it decides to destroy all humans (a huge stretch given that it's more likely to do this by accident or because it's indifferent). Because AI is often conflated with robotics, many people say the ensuing onslaught is likely to arrive in the form of marauding machines — the so-called robopocalypse.

Okay, sure, that's certainly one way a maniacal ASI could do it, but it's hardly the most efficient. A more likely scenario would involve the destruction of the atmosphere or terrestrial surface with some kind of nanophage. Or, it could infect the entire population with a deadly virus. Alternately, it could poison all water and the food supply. Or something unforeseen — it doesn't matter. The point is that it doesn't need to go to such clunky lengths to destroy us should it choose to do so.

10. "The End Of Humanity"

This one really bugs me. It's both misanthropic and an inaccurate depiction of the future. Some people have gotten it into their heads that the advent of the next era of human evolution necessarily implies the end of humanity. This is unlikely. Not only will biological, unmodified humans exist in the far future, they will always reserve the right to stay that way. So-called transhumans and posthumans are likely to exist (whether they be genetically modified, cybernetic, or digital), but they'll always inhabit a world occupied by regular plain old Homo sapiens.

This article was originally posted on io9.com


George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.
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COMMENTS


Techno-pessimist thinly veiled as a realist is squeamish about spirituality and would like futurists to stop using phrases that threaten his veil of “realism” or trigger his uncomfortable feelings. Not to say there aren’t a couple of valid points tossed in, but overall, saying these phrases are *complete* bs? That is a step too far and reeks of offal far more than the terms the author finds objectionable.





Tut, tut, George, and I do mean Tut! If you are saying that futurists and Transhumanists are often way, over optimistic, then I plead guilty as charged. But for Turings’ sake, a lot of this is merely, words, yes. This is true until basic and applied research get behind it all, and this will take a long while to assemble enough money, and capital, to get the job done.

Transcending for me means not aging or dying young, young being a body that now dies in their 70’s and 80’s and looking old. There must be levels of transcendence, a hierarchy of goals. Maybe superbly better robot limbs is a sort of transcendence? As Billy Clinton quipped, “Let’s not make perfect the enemy of good.”

I am not sure if this phrase had anything to do with Ms. Lewinsky?  A thought.





Agreement on most counts, possibly, in a general way, even all points.

Two minor quibbles/suggestions:

1) in point 4, you quote Jayar LaFontaine: “The word “will” is wildly overused by futurists. It’s small and innocuous, so it can be slipped into speech to create a sense of authority which is almost always inappropriate”

You then go on to continue to use the word in subsequent points, possibly even with the intent to thereby create a sense of authority… that would be inappropriate. It struck me hard in particular upon reading your claims in point 10, where you say: “Not only will biological, unmodified humans exist in the far future, they will always reserve the right to stay that way.” Upon which authority can you make that claim? grin

2) In point 1, you allude to questions about consciousness and the ability to upload/emulate it. No quibbles with the importance of the question, but instead a suggestion: If you have not yet spoke with or interviewed Ken Hayworth, I strongly suggest that you do (since you are clearly interested in digging deeper into the question). He is a clear and careful thinker and has a good background in the material. He has written what I consider a very lucid piece about this question: “Killed by Bad Philosophy” at http://brainpreservation.org/content/killed-bad-philosophy





I believe George must have been criticized at io9 and Gawker for being too transhumanist.

This article is a good example of how you can say things that are mostly right, yet in a totally negative and unnecessarily conflictual spirit. Did he really need “Bullshit” in the title?

George is constructing and attacking a straw-man. No transhumanist that I know uses “immortality” to mean living literally forever.

I personally use “will” in the sense of intention. “Tomorrow will be a sunny day” means that tomorrow I will do my f###ing best to be in a sunny place, and I am confident that I will succeed.

There are also a few questionable factual statements, for example “they’ll always inhabit a world occupied by regular plain old Homo sapiens.” Why is George so sure? There are no Neanderthals among us today.





George, for all the words you want banned, we will have to create new words that cover the same thing. In fact a lot of these terms that have been used, have been a means to convey extremely complex concepts, and give them a handle. Some of the words come totally from journalists, others from economists, and so forth. How about this, according to Sebastian Seung’s term for the ancient word, soul, is now connectome. Micho Kaku writes of laser beaming copies of ourselves through interstellar space, and recreate the human being from data comprising their connectome.

Words are a start but not a finish, technically, speaking. I know this, to be true, George. My connectome demands it!





I would agree with the obsolescence of “future shock.” The look and feel of daily life has actually gotten LESS “futuristic” in many ways since the 1970’s. Astronautics and aeronautics have regressed, antibiotics have stopped working, California’s governor tells his state’s citizens to take fewer showers and flush their toilets less because California has started to collapse to Third World infrastructure conditions, etc.

I see the neoreactionary movement as another manifestation of this trend away from “future shock.” Democratic states’ mind control efforts since the 1960’s have failed to indoctrinate the masses with the Enlightenment’s ideology, and now it has become socially possible to question key tenets of liberalism like human fungibility, feminism and even democracy itself. The dominant social philosophy in the next century might take on many of the characteristics of the beliefs of traditional societies before the Enlightenment.





Transhumanists keep making asses of themselves - and they have done this for several decades now - by saying that we’ll “become immortal” by arbitrary dates in this century which fall within many people’s current life expectancies, like the year 2045. I feel pretty confident in saying that “becoming immortal” cannot possibly mean living to January 1, 2045.





1. “Transcendence”

“Now, it very well may be true that we’ll eventually learn how to emulate brains in a computer, but it’s an open question as to whether or not we’ll be able to transfer consciousness itself. In other words, the future may not for us — it’ll be for our copies. So it’s doubtful any biological being will ever literally experience the process of transcension (just the illusion of it).”

So what have YOU lost exactly? The will to live/value life/aspire to goals/ideals..?
The contemplation for possibility is important to evaluate, yet short term thinking, both optimism and pessimism needs to be rational, but not an excuse for defeatism, ultimately?

Not believing, nor aspiring will get YOU nowhere fast, (although I am personally more interested in global economic change as means to provide for a prosperous and technological future in all areas of concern, existential and transcendental).

“What’s more, life in a “transcendent” digitized realm, while full of incredible potential, will be no walk in the park; full release, or transcendence, is not likely an achievable goal. Emulated minds, or ems, will be prone to hacking, deletion, unauthorized copying, and subsistence wages. Indeed, a so-called uploaded mind may be free from its corporeal form, but it won’t be free from economic and physical realities, including the safety and reliability of the supercomputer running the ems, and the costs involved in procuring sufficient processing power and storage space.”

Very negative, conflating our present Capitalism socioeconomic model towards uploading. Proposing possible barriers and complications to the ideology is not particularly useful, and especially as every one of these possible problems has a future solution. So is it relevant to argue about them now as supporting a barrier to success?

I would say that uploading is the ultimate effective solution to longevity, (and also pension-less retirement), as little or no physical substrate, nor little or no real estate may be required at all? Solar power from suns provides unlimited supply of FREE power available to each individual by the grace of participation in the evolution of the Universe, and by way of “citizenship” within this miraculous Cosmos.

Your dedicated uploaded Drive space may occupy future self-repairing machines orbiting the planet and taking their power directly from the Sun, your presence on Earth therefore a matter of technological communication, holographic or otherwise. Sure “monies” and retirement plans may still play a part of such technological future, yet FREE energy must drive costs down, despite the best of political barriers?

Existential risks: Solar flares, matter collisions etc, contingency for machines that self perpetuate, (by the grace of the Sun), duplication, backup, defragmenting, repairing and reallocating cluster memory space and other possible hardware problems is already contingency we employ in our digital computerised systems today - the outlook is bright, (Human politics aside)?

It may cost less than a few hundred bucks per annum to provide uploaded longevity space for aged citizens who prefer such a possibility from terra firma and cyborg-ification. And in such scenario, you are only as isolated from Earthly society/family and friends as follows your own preference? Even retirement space exploration is not an impossibility - for your copies?

So what have YOU lost exactly? The will to live/value life/aspire to goals/ideals..?


2. “The Singularity”

Does not compute, cannot imagine the non-imaginabubble. Existential threats from AGI, yadda, yadda, yadda..


3.“Technology Will Save the Future”

“I wholeheartedly agree that we should use technology to build the kind of future we want for ourselves and our descendants. Absolutely. But it’s important for us to acknowledge the challenges we’re sure to face in trying to do so and the unintended consequences of our efforts.”

The first and primary being Human politics and any excuse for pessimism/cynicism to help perpetuate and support an outmoded socioeconomic system, the primary function of which is to create “pseudo growth” through market scarcity and unresolved and ever increasing global debt. Now there’s the “biggest barrier” - not enough money - ever?


4. “Will”

Here’s another > “will to action” (and this specifically applies to advancedatheist comments).

“Divide and conquer”, misdirection, misinformation, institutionalised ignorance, (to possibilities and real innovations appearing today), promotion of individualism to deconstruct “social conscience” - are all “designed” to mitigate against an uncontrollable “rate of change” that threatens the status quo, yet I am not saying that controlling this rate of change cannot be constructive in some ways, and as pragmatism demands.

Capitalists/Oligarchs/Pharaohs all “fear” change and loss, yet what/where is such loss, in a technological future and abundance for all, (Solar driven)?

Humanity will not survive as a “Herd of Cats” for sure. Collectivism will be required to aspire to all technological and socio-political goals/obstacles. Once “everyone” wakes up to the need for global/citizen cooperation and collaboration, becomes enlightened to the divisiveness and misdirection employed by our state governance, (and they too become enlightened as to the redundancy of appeasing a social global elite), then obstacles to technological progress, (including mitigation of climate change), can progress?

These devices/gadgets “sweets and treats” that promote individualism over and above “social awareness” and organisation are indeed effective. That’s why God/Universe invented/evolved social media. Eventually all Narcissists will stop with the “Selfie’s” and “Facebook” page preoccupations and join Twitter *winks*


5. “Immortality”

Already commented. Your uploaded mind expires, is terminated by happenstance? Hey, “Universally” Shit happens, nothing lasts forever does it? (And seeing as this was not YOU anyhoo it doesn’t really matter does it?)


6. “Disruptive”

“Looking ahead, it’ll be various developments in molecular assembly, the social and economic consequences of mass automation, and the proliferation of AI and AGI.”

Totally agree!

Some folks think and feel that the “market” is the “invisible hand” of destruction and ultimate existential risk. Wanna talk disruptive? - change the core attitude to the problem? India call centres are at great risk from emerging technology and technological unemployment, and they only just opened yesteryear.


7. “Future Shock”

I am shell shocked, (ears still ringing), at the application of Global austerity, further reliance upon “debt” growth as solution to the failed economic cycles - that “will” prevent technological prosperity. Google glass does not shock me.


8. “Moore’s Law”

Moore’s Law will be superseded by Quantum computers, transistor density a thing of the past - is this Law still applicable to exponential growth and technology - is debatable, even where substrate is concerned?


9. “The Robot Apocalypse”
10. “The End Of Humanity”

Non sequitur.

 





Interesting thread. Unlike Giulio I think the title of the article is great, really grabs the attention. I also completely share the author’s complaint about futurists using the word “will” in a way that suggests inevitability. Of course one *can* mean “will” in the sense of intention, but even then strictly speaking the correct word is “shall”, as in, “This afternoon I shall go to the supermarket.” Furthermore, one uses such language precisely when one is not expecting any impediments. If one does expect impediments, one usually says things like, “This afternoon I am going to try to go to the supermarket.”

This may appear pedantic, and in a sense it is, but I also think it’s a crucial point, at least if one believes that clear and precise communication about the future is important. The fact is that many different futures are possible, some of which are more preferable than others (and of course we may have different views on which ones are preferable). Using language that suggests an unjustified sense of inevitability tends to lead either to complacency or defeatism, and I believe both to be enemies of progress.





Hi Peter, the intricacies of English will (shall?) never cease to amaze me.

Do you confirm that “shall” is more correct than “will” to indicate intention as opposed to inevitability? What is exactly the difference between:
“This afternoon I shall go to the supermarket,” and
“This afternoon I will go to the supermarket.” ?????
(the second sounds more like a statement of intention to me, but I am not a native speaker.)

What do our American friends think?





At least this is what I learnt at school (or somewhere anyway, maybe it’s all changed in the mean time):


For prediction, it’s still “I/we shall” but “you/he/she/they will”. “
I/we shall” also works as a statement of intention.
“I/we will” is more like a statement of defiant determination: “I will not let this happen!”
“you/he/she/they shall” is more like a decree: “the price of corn shall be set at 30 cents per kilo”

I’m not sure where that leaves “They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old”, though - I always wondered about that…

“This afternoon I will go to the supermarket” sounds like it should be followed by something like “...come hell or high water” or “...and there’s nothing you can do about it”.





“Transhumanists keep making asses of themselves - and they have done this for several decades now - by saying that we’ll ‘become immortal’ by arbitrary dates in this century which fall within many people’s current life expectancies, like the year 2045…”

Mark, you have a knack for getting to the point; but the above misses the purpose. The more complicated things become, the more reality has to be massaged. In the past one could discuss things without as much professionalized public relations being involved. Not so today. For instance if you or I were to be futurist talking heads and say something like this on TV:

The future is for those who survive. You’re on your own in a complicating world: you might not make it. You have to play games to survive. Including public relations- which is… b******t.

We wouldn’t last long! The unvarnished truth doesn’t sell.

Giulio, not to flatter you, yet the reason you don’t know transhumanists who use language such as ‘immortality’ is because you know smart people.





It IS easier to presume that consciousness is non-transferable, this gives adequate excuses for defeatism. Yet this is the last place I would expect to read such negativity?

Oh.. and YOU are not really your consciousness anyhow? Are you? (I thought this was a given?)


I’m really not sure who qualifies for a Transhumanist these daze, certainly it seems very little of the folks that comment here?





Cygnus, this is a decade of dull political correctness, we need to wait some time for the pendulum to swing again. I hope the next decade will see the return of the optimist, daring spirit of the 90s and the 60s.





@Peter - so, “We shall become like Gods, and the universe will become a magic place?”

Totally counter-intuitive to me, I think I’ll just use “‘ll” whenever I can wink





@ mykulgrey

“Techno-pessimist thinly veiled as a realist is squeamish about spirituality and would like futurists to stop using phrases that threaten his veil of “realism” or trigger his uncomfortable feelings. Not to say there aren’t a couple of valid points tossed in, but overall, saying these phrases are *complete* bs? That is a step too far and reeks of offal far more than the terms the author finds objectionable.”


Strange this comment was not here yesterday.. however, yes

Tis the sensational title that once again causes concern, and very surprising from George D.

 





Right, that’s why I believe George must have been criticized at io9 and Gawker for being too transhumanist. I guess the dull PC zealots had their way this time (see comment above).





“I’m really not sure who qualifies for a Transhumanist these daze, certainly it seems very little of the folks that comment here?”

“Cygnus, this is a decade of dull political correctness, we need to wait some time for the pendulum to swing again. I hope the next decade will see the return of the optimist, daring spirit of the 90s and the 60s.”

Not wishing just to rehash old arguments, but an organisation or movement that doesn’t permit any kind of “negativity”, criticism or consideration of risk within its ranks is in thrall to groupthink and is essentially a cult. So I’m glad this does NOT apply to IEET and (in general) those who comment here.

We can agree or disagree with George’s position on these issues, but to accuse him of “dull political correctness” is the reaction of cult members whose treasured beliefs have been questioned. Which, come to think of it, is precisely what we usually mean by the term “political correctness”.

I hope the next decade - or perhaps even earlier - will see the return to prominence of the optimist, because that will be a sign that things are going better for humanity. But it will also entail risks, since pride tends to precede a fall. And in reality there is plenty of optimism around today, tempered (fortunately) with a healthy dose of pessimism and awareness of risk. If you like optimism, why not be optimistic instead of criticising others for being negative.





@Peter re “the reaction of cult members whose treasured beliefs have been questioned. Which, come to think of it, is precisely what we usually mean by the term “political correctness.”

Yes, Political Correctness IS “the reaction of cult members whose treasured beliefs have been questioned.” PCs don’t tolerate any stones thrown at their sacred cows (we know what their sacred cows are, let’s not get into that).

re “If you like optimism, why not be optimistic instead of criticising others for being negative.”

In fact, I tend to ignore negative voices, with few exceptions (like now).





“If you like optimism, why not be optimistic instead of criticising others for being negative.”

Huh? isn’t it the article that proposes the negative, and thus being negative about this negativity must resolve to positivism?

Let’s examine the article title once more..

“10 Futurist Phrases And Terms That Are Complete Bullshit”

Are these terms Bullshit?
Are these terms qualified but have been exploited by Bullshit?
Can you simply remove the Bullshit from the terms to discuss them maturely?

Perhaps if there were more qualified comments on the content of the article and it’s validity it would help to resolve if these terms are really Bullshit?

We could play spin doctor all day long, but does it help the progress of awareness for the site and it’s visitors/readers? Certainly there are comments here that are regularly negative which reflects more on the sentiments of the commentators than provides any real topic for debate.

What is IEET hoping to achieve?
Why would anyone want to comment at IEET that does not believe in it’s goals/ideals?

Perhaps because it’s summer and the sun has come out, this Herd of Cats has decided not to concur on the most fundamental of ideals - perhaps they have merely lost a “will” for optimism, (I blame all of the things I highlight above, what’s the use in repeating oneself)?

“Captain Nemo: ...there is hope for the future. When the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass, in God’s good time.”

Captain Nemo spouting Bullshit?





CygnusX1, it’s you who are harping on about the use of the term “Bullshit” in the title instead of discussing the issues maturely. My point was: we cannot afford to criticise people just for being negative. There’s an essential place for being negative. So the term “complete bullshit” is an attention-grabbing exaggeration? Get over it, and engage with the actual issues. Sure the article was being “negative”, if you want to see it that way…but is it any the worse for that? Not, IMO, unless you think that anything “negative” is by definition unhelpful.





I’m pleased to see you picked up on my point with the use of the word “Bullshit”, subtle yes?

However, this is interesting..

“There’s an essential place for being negative. So the term “complete bullshit” is an attention-grabbing exaggeration?”

So you too believe this as exaggeration and Sensationalism?

Q: So why do you think George has utilized this? Perhaps not specifically for audiences here perhaps?

Do you think the term “Singularity” should be discarded as Bullshit? A brash proposal, and especially as some prominent Futurists subscribe to it makes me wonder now if George really does deem it Bullshit or is just playing to this Sensationalism?

Who knows, perhaps he does not subscribe? I don’t, but then, I wouldn’t dismiss it as much, and in the faces of the audience here?

Perhaps the bad press and PR for all these terms is not served positively by declaring/dismissing it all as Bullshit rather than debating it more fully?

As I say we can play spin doctor all day, it is not useful but yet more misdirection.





“I’m pleased to see you picked up on my point with the use of the word “Bullshit”, subtle yes?”
Um, your whole comment was about that, so it would have been difficult to avoid it.

“So you too believe this as exaggeration and Sensationalism?”
Sensationalism is your word, not mine. I am for linguistic precision in general when discussing serious topics (see my above comments), but no I do not share your dismay at George’s use of a bit of exaggeration in the title. A question of different sensitivities, perhaps?

“Q: So why do you think George has utilized this? Perhaps not specifically for audiences here perhaps?”

Frankly I don’t care why George used it. It’s just not very important. What are you afraid of: that the “Singularity” idea will suddenly disappear without trace because George “discarded [it] as Bullshit”? Don’t worry, it won’t.

“Perhaps the bad press and PR for all these terms is not served positively by declaring/dismissing it all as Bullshit rather than debating it more fully?”

Then debate it more fully (and maturely). I’m sure you can do better than “Does not compute, cannot imagine the non-imaginabubble. Existential threats from AGI, yadda, yadda, yadda..”.





lol

Ok, you got me.. replace “yadda, yadda, yadda” with “Bullshit” it fits just fine.





I’m really not sure who qualifies for a Transhumanist these daze, certainly it seems very little of the folks that comment here?

Now there’s a brave fellow. Too many would-be Chiefs and not enough Indians. How many of us are proactive in this? How many of us are doing quality research- or any research? We’re leaving it to others in the future to do the work.
But then so are the straights. Too many squares are waiting for Jesus to Return and Save them, rather than attempting to *save* themselves; if they can. It matters what squares think because they are in charge.





@Peter re “harping on about the use of the term “Bullshit” in the title instead of discussing the issues maturely…”

So how about I write some articles with titles like:
- Affirmative Action is complete Bullshit
- Atheism is complete Bullshit
- [something else that you like] is complete Bullshit





Let’s go back to the will/shall/intention thing:

(Peter) - “I/we will” is more like a statement of defiant determination: “I will not let this happen!”

This is more or less what I mean - not bland intention, but firm and defiant determination:
“We will be immortal” implicitly followed by things like “... or die trying,” “... and f### off if you don’t like it,” or things like that.
It isn’t a prediction, but a statement of very strong determination.

I still have the impression that Americans use will/shall differently, can you guys say something?





“So how about I write some articles with titles like: - [something else that you like] is complete Bullshit”

Well to be a perfect analogy it would need to be something like “10 dull PC fashions that are complete bullshit”, and then you can of course include atheism, affirmative action and so on in your list. I would certainly find it…provocative, but I’d also find it quite interesting, as an insight into your thinking if nothing else. Whether I would engage with it would depend very much what else was going on in my life at the time.

Like you I’d also be interested to know whether my “will/shall” analysis applies also to American English. Point taken about “we will be immortal”, though with one caveat: defiant determination is OK up to a point but it has its limitations. Understanding and empathising with others’ point of view - even those who, shock, horror, we might not consider sufficiently “Transhumanist” - probably works better in the long run. Also, if defiant determination means ignoring risks (because we refuse to recognise the possibility of failure) then this can of course make failure more likely, not less.





@Peter - great idea! I will write “10 dull PC fashions that are complete bullshit”

re “Understanding and empathising with others’ point of view probably works better in the long run”

I basically agree with one caveat: war can be unilateral, but peace must be bilateral. I am willing to empathise with all those who are willing to empathise with me, but (despite my admiration for Jesus) I don’t think offering he other cheek is a useful strategy.





@Peter re “if defiant determination means ignoring risks (because we refuse to recognise the possibility of failure) then this can of course make failure more likely, not less.”

If you ignore risks, you don’t need defiant determination - you don’t need defiant determination for an easy and totally safe walk in the park. Defiant determination means acknowledging risks and be prepared to do your best.





“I don’t think offering the other cheek is a useful strategy.”
Can be useful as a tactic, but in general I fully agree.

“Defiant determination means acknowledging risks and be prepared to do your best.”
But then let us ensure that our use of language fully reflects this. As a slogan, “We will be immortal” has its uses (just like, for example, “10 Futurist Phrases and Terms that are Complete Bullshit”), but it can also breed complacency. In fact, social scientists have found that people are more likely to solve problems when prompted to ask themselves whether they can than when prompted to tell themselves they can.

So: will we be immortal?





@Peter re “So: will we be immortal?”

If we is you and I, our generation, I am afraid the most likely answer is no, no way.

If we is our grandchildren and future generations, I see valid reasons to be confident that science can overcome mortality and engineer humans with indefinite lifespans, in bio/robotic bodies and/or as substrate-independent software minds. I am defiantly determined to do whatever little things I can do to help achieving that.

Perhaps future generations will become masters of space and time and find ways to extract our minds from here-and-now and copy us to their future worlds. This is the thought that helps me getting through the night with some enthusiasm for the next day.





“So: will we be immortal?”

“Will” we be immortal? - is insufficiently decisive, (breeds doubt, pessimism, negativity, lack of confidence, and thus Transhuman philosophy as questionable)?

“Shall” we be immortal? - inspires courage, conviction, collectivism, cooperation, success?

“Must” we be immortal? - invokes contemplation, apprehension, scepticism, even apathy/boredom?

I “shall” go to the Singularity (Bullshit) conference - may propose decision without due contemplation of full consequences?

I “will” go to the Singularity (Bullshit) conference -  may propose a final decision after a period of contemplation, indecisiveness, and thus be stronger inference, (and incorporate self determination, self delusion, self conviction)?

@ instamatic

“Now there’s a brave fellow. Too many would-be Chiefs and not enough Indians. How many of us are proactive in this? How many of us are doing quality research- or any research? We’re leaving it to others in the future to do the work.
But then so are the straights. Too many squares are waiting for Jesus to Return and Save them, rather than attempting to *save* themselves; if they can. It matters what squares think because they are in charge.”

Well Daddio, let’s not bring the squares into this debate again?

Sure enough we have lots of armchair philosophers here, this is a good thing, I feel. As I still reason that this site is all about “ethics” and scientists make for poor ethical reasoning, yet are very good with scientific facts, (unarguable)? Ask a lab tech working on nanotech whether he/she is a Transhumanist and you may well get the answer “Huh?”

However, a serious question..

Am I using too many d’s in my yadda?





No, you are doing just fine with two ‘d’s in your yaddas. Have no problem with you—but do have great difficulty with squares and will bring them up without cease. WTF would I be at IEET if I were interested in being straight? One cannot be both square and un-square—it does not go in the long run. This is an article on futurism; conventional v unconventional (e.g. de novo) is at the heart of both futurism and political dialectics.
Thus if one wishes to be a straight transhumanist there do exist worthwhile sites such as Mormon h+.

Main reason I am at IEET: was told IEET authors, who are appealing, want/need feedback. And though it might not appear to be a valid reason to you, it does to me- and those who advised so in the first instance.





‘Am I using too many d’s in my yadda?’

Not worried about your d’s or even p’s and q’s but I am happy you’ve cut down on your use of unnecessary question marks. If you don’t mind me saying so, it has made your comments much more readable and when you make straightforward points Cygnus, IMHO you make some interesting ones without the need for these odd flourishes.

The future tense in English (British, American or the many others that have evolved and are developing): do angels (of any kind) dare tread there? If you want to enter that swamp you can start by trying: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_tense (and it seems to be a problem in a lot of languages). However I will (ouch!) say that ‘will’ is generally used in the sense of prophesy but without any sense of inevitability; shall is used (not very often now) in the sense of intention and as a question as an offer to do something and the mixing of meaning between shall/will is obsolete in spoken English and pretty much in written English and is, in my view, best forgotten.  I don’t think there is any difference between Standard British and American English in this unless there have been recent developments which have not been codified in the standard versions.

Aside from the standardized versions of the language people have their own ideolects and I suspect that transhumanists and others are going to continue using the above terms in their own way regardless of what George thinks especially now that transhumanist ideas are entering the mainstream.

Immortality? Longevity? We just don’t know what the future will bring. Even if this universe dies, there may be others and we may find ways to migrate to them. You can tweak the concepts of transhumanism in such a way that it is difficult to be dogmatic about what is and is not possible in the future. It’s seems dark in the early 21st century but if humanity can survive the oncoming environmental crisis, then all bets are off. And that’s why I keep coming back to IEET, the sheer wonder of the ideas presented here.





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