Our frienemies over at Futurisms went to the H+ summit at Harvard and had lots to say. So many that after more than ten posts on the topic, there are still some scraps on the side.
One such scrap is the below photo, of J. Hughes, Natasha Vita-More and IEET intern (coffee! Bring me coffee. NOW NOW NOW) Ben Scarlato.
Ari Schulman does most of the post-conference digesting. At one point, he even takes on my hero and yours, Ron Bailey:
In his talk at the conference, Reason magazine science writer Ron Bailey used a common transhumanist trope, comparing the end of laws discriminating against racial minorities to the end of laws discriminating against another supposed minority — the enhanced. Bailey only does this implicitly, but it’s funny how often criticism of transhumanism gets explicitly compared to chauvinism for white males, since most transhumanists are, as most of the attendees at this conference were, males and predominantly white.
Aside from Bailey’s disdain [this guy!] for democracy, it’s worth pointing out that he also groups legal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research under the umbrella of “democratic tyranny,” yet evinces no concern for exercising tyranny over the rights of these beings.
Now, I’m sure there is a coherent thought struggling to get out from that mishmash of words, but I’m having trouble finding it. Most “enhancement” technologies would immediately provide benefit for the differently abled – be they those with physical restrictions, neurodiverse individuals, transsexual individuals, those with sense impairments, or even infertile individuals; even if it is indeed white men who would comprise the minority fighting for the right to be “enhanced.” The “too many white dudes” is a general problem in both philosophy and STEM in general, which happens to be the intersection where transhumanism finds itself.
But somehow I doubt that Schulman is concerned with our inability to speak for the subaltern, so I’ll just say thanks for posting that great picture of J, Natasha, and Ben.
Dr. J.: Yo Kyle, I also liked Ari’s shot of me interfacing the light at the end of the tunnel in the middle of a benighted audience, which he posted in his snarky review of my talk: