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Dark Matter of Transhumanism


March 30, 2013

Enjoy watching my talk at Stanford Advancing Humanity Symposium. In this talk I am sharing our wonder about why haven’t the ideas of life extension won. It is not clear why isn’t every person on Earth concerned with their longevity. There are several serious reasons that I mention in my presentation, but even all of them combined don’t give the answer to this question. I am also looking at different possible scenarios of how the extending longevity ideas could rise to power. I’d like to know which scenarios you think is the most likely one. Please, share your thoughts.

Here’re the slides.


...

Complete entry


COMMENTS



Posted by Intomorrow  on  03/31  at  12:44 AM

"...why haven’t the ideas of life extension won. It is not clear why isn’t every person on Earth concerned with their longevity."


You hit on the two most important questions above, IMO-- however though perhaps they are not the two most important questions they are undeniably important.
One cue I did not notice until after one or two decades in the Midwest can be summed up as retro-ambiance, a preference for the old-time rhythms, routines, incl. routines of nature. It is crucial to comprehending backwardness. Related is what a scientist wrote on how anti-technological bias is due to the "misapplication of technologies", which is entirely valid- too apparent in fact; the mind rebels at thinking how tech has been misapplied since WWI, say. To place a timeframe on it.

Nostalgia is, to state the obvious, nostalgia not merely for one's past when one was younger but also for 'simpler' times in history (i.e. the Romantic era), for ages when toxic waste was not a major issue.. no need for the EPA in the late-18th to 19th centuries.
What the nostalgic ignore, it goes without saying here, is the nasty short and brutish 'quality' of life even in the Romantic period. But such inescapable logic is ignored because of the religious sentiment that God/Christ (they both live at the same address) is in charge. Secular intellectuals are mistrusted less for their errors/impiety than for their lack of religiosity. You can even meet neo-fundamentalist doctors, engineers, scientists who think longevity is superficial; God, the Source, the Creator to the religionist, is what matters. That which is created is considered secondary or tertiary. Now, there is an interest in longevity yet it is a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses (all is not vanity-all is status) interest in life extension and expensive operations paid for by someone else-- even if they can afford it. Plus not to forget unceasing weightloss programs; someone is happy about losing ten pounds albeit they binge during the next holiday. Sin-repent, sin-repent.
And 'drinking', alcoholism: they throw off their puritanical legacy and become sillier drunk than any 'tard in a group home. Alcoholism is a sin forgiven by God because when a rube gets 'drunk' he can't help himself, it's just the Devil, you see. It is letting go, temporarily letting go of sanity-- and if a guy cracks up his car or has a fight in a bar, God and the insurance corporations will fork over the money to pay for damages. Heaven is considered the ultimate corporate insurance headquarters.
"All mah wealth cain't buy me health,
and so I smoke a pack of tea a day"

It is not that rubes are entirely disinterested in h+ (I tell them h+ is tantamount to 'bionics' and they grasp it straightaway) however they don't think it holds much relevance to their spiritual lives; their familial lives, their investments material and otherwise. 'Bionics' is real to them but disconnected from reality in the same manner and for the same reason 'spirit' is disconnected from the flesh. Plus when they think of h+ they think of increased insurance costs to pay for it! They possess an amusingly quaint spiritual-materialist duality in their minds. When you couple that with a love of the rugged outdoors as a Hollywood-type backdrop, you can perceive the lure of the past. To them, God created the outdoors; plants swaying fragrantly in the wind, plantae that have existed for millions upon millions of years.
It is wired into their individual subconsciouses, and the Collective Subconscious.

Though I share Maria's puzzlement at the overlooking of advantages of radical life extension, having experienced the Back to Nature era circa 1969- '79, it is more understandable. Frankly it is difficult to teach old dogs new tricks, and naturally old dogs pass on their biases to their pups.

Yet when it comes to practical matters such as repairing autos, construction work, building weapons, invading nations, throwing people in prisons, clawing their way to the top, they sober up quickly and become focused like a laser. You can't keep up with the Joneses if your mind is in church 24/7.

In the '80s a televangelist was asked why if he was Christian he was so interested in money; he replied,
"because I'm not stupid",
and what more of an answer did he need to give?: he said it all in those four words.



Posted by Taiwanlight  on  03/31  at  12:30 PM

Let me double-up on a comment (if IEET doesn't mind) - shortened - I posted on another thread "Is Immortality in our future?' I think it has some relevance to the conundrum.


"I think the topic is of great interest to us here (not to mention a few other billion probably). Perhaps it’s, pardon the pun, been done to death on transhumanist circles already?

If we discuss many other topics here, and they don’t happen within our lifetimes we can shrug on our deathbeds. We don’t have so much of a dog in the fight over say, asteroid mining or the Internet of things.


There’s an emotional component to the possibility of immortality and I imagine I may speak for many when I say that because of the possibility of great and terminal disappointment in this area, we don’t like to discuss it much.

The 64,000 century question of course is whether longevity prolongation can occur within the the next twenty years or so. It’s impossible to say but if you had asked me twenty years ago if I would see the birth of something like the Internet within two or three years I would have said it required at least another 10-15 years but in fact it was 1994 when it started for us regular Joes. So because of the increasing speed of developments I would not rule out that we may get some remarkable breakthroughs even in the next 5 years now. And that might still be conservative.

On the other hand, maybe there’s some roadblock with aging that will hold things up that I will be saying hello to the invertebrates before the developments occur. Aubrey does seem pretty confident however.

So really, all we can do is hope and pray (if you’re the spiritual type) and that might be why there’s so little discussion."

Perhaps people are taking the attitude of getting on with their lives, quietly hoping that life extension will pan out, feeling that there's nothing they can do about helping to bring it about? The technical issues are rather complicated and a bit beyond many of us. In the meantime they have their religions and philosophies to take comfort in. That's pretty much my position anyway though of course, I'm interested to hear of developments - if I can understand them.

The other issue is that many people are not even sure if they want life extension anyway. Life is difficult for many and they honestly don't enjoy it that much. They may not be sure what they'll do if it's offered to them. I think those who do enjoy it very often believe everyone feels that way. No, not necessarily.




Posted by Taiwanlight  on  03/31  at  12:43 PM

'It is not clear why isn’t every person on Earth concerned with their longevity'

Well, there are 1 or 2 billion trying to live on a couple of bucks a day. Simple day-to-day survival is their priority.



Posted by Christian Corralejo  on  03/31  at  12:57 PM

As they saying goes, focus on quality of life before quantity of life. Otherwise an exceedingly long life wouldn't be worth living.



Posted by Intomorrow  on  03/31  at  08:20 PM

"Well, there are 1 or 2 billion trying to live on a couple of bucks a day. Simple day-to-day survival is their priority. "

Taiwanlight, you get precisely to the point above. Taiwanlight is right- you are the light of Taiwan.






Posted by Taiwanlight  on  04/08  at  02:58 PM

Intomorrow - thank you for your kind compliment. I think I can say it's the nicest thing anyone has said to me on an Internet forum - it quite made my day. I could only wish that the folks on the Taiwan forum I frequent thought the same!

I'm sure Ms Konovalenko is a decent human being but I felt the above comment was somewhat thoughtless. Though I have transhumanist sympathies it's at times l feel Dale Carrico has a point at least at times, that transhumanist thinkers have to be careful not to have their heads in the clouds too much (well he makes his points rather more strongly in his weirdly convoluted style).

Yes imagination, optimism, reaching for the stars - they're important but folks lets spare a thought for those who do not have the luxury of time or money to contribute or even speculate upon the weird and wonderful topics we cover. Political and social action (yes, I'm walking into a minefield here and I don't claim to be an activist though I try to help out with Amnesty International) helping our neighbors (and that can include reaching out to people who are in pain on the Internet) or even donating a few bucks to try and help out the aforementioned two billion are all important. I'm pleased that IEET publishes articles on wood stoves in Africa and the like.

I'm a humble English teacher in Taiwan whose own economic situation is not wonderful. Yet I try to remember I'm living like a king compared to even some people living in the developed world. I remember my own struggles with illness and unemployment and the despair I used to feel.

I have cable TV, cellphone, computer, all the food I can eat (some weird and wonderful stuff here) clean drinking water (albeit in bottles) excellent inexpensive medical care (an american colleague with health issues remarked today that he would have been bankrupted in the 'greatest country in the world). If I want to go the movies or a restaurant, I won't be in danger from a thug from the UK (also 'the greatest country in the world'. Maybe they're cloning them?) (well maybe the crazy drivers of Taiwan, there's always something. But at least I'm used to them). We can talk about longevity, uploading, enhancement, parallel universes (come to Taiwan) robots and all that and it's mind-expanding but let's come back down to Earth (a drag, I know) from time to time and consider those less fortunate than us.




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