Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
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#19: Transhumanism: there are at least ten different philosophical categories; which ones are you?

Hank Pellissier

Ethical Technology

December 13, 2015

According to IEET readers, what were the most stimulating stories of 2015? This month we’re answering that question by posting a countdown of the top 30 articles published this year on our blog (out of more than 1,000), based on how many total hits each one received.

The following piece was first published here on July 8, 2015, and is the #19 most viewed of the year.


Complete entry


Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/13  at  04:35 PM


And then there’s me.  Ya know… the succubus who doesn’t really fit in any of those categories because she’s a succubus and doesn’t see one single word up there about the reality of Morphological freedom and the probability of a world with a lot more cat-girls, vampires, and other non-human sentients who will be scattered everywhere.

Posted by spud100  on  12/15  at  10:52 PM

Ice, are you at all concerned that you and other people who can morph their appearence, after centuries in Virch, will become insane and mentally out of control? Philosophically, this question could apply to dying and then going to heaven. So, in my imagination, Abe Lincoln, could, over the years after his death, become less interested in US politics, and after 1933, some of the newer, fellow, deceased, describe a “movie” called King Kong. Over the years, the late president becomes increasingly infatuated, with the King Kong character, so much so, that honest abe, now wishes to become the mighty Kong. The writer of the Gettysburg Address eventually forgets his ties to humanity, and instead focuses on devouring young women sacrificed unto him.

This whole proposition is crazy, but how do our descendents living in Virch stay sane??

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/16  at  12:33 AM

First, allow me to disabuse you of one assumption you are making.

I am not at all talking of VR.  VR is merely a step, and not a destination. It’s at best, for me, a pleasant diversion to while away a few hours.  I have no intention of living in VR, or even much interest in VR in the manner of what you are implying in your questioning.

There is a effing universe out there, and far too many questions to find answers to for me to lock myself away in a limited fantasy that has definite boundaries, no matter how much fun spending some portion of my time there might be.

Now, given that, to answer your scenario, if Abe decides he wants to be Kong, SO LONG AS he is in his own private world, eating non-existent sacrifices who have no sentience, WHO CARES?  Unless he is ACTUALLY harming another sentient being, he’s free to do what he wants. If he decides to come up for air into the real world, he has to abide by the principles of not causing harm to other sentients, or BE HELD TO ACCOUNT, at which point, I personally would just toss him back into his fantasy, and lock him there. With a guardian AI monitoring him so if he finally decides he wants to stop being harmful to others, and rejoin reality, he has that choice.

Beyond that… how do you define sane? Right now, I can tell you flat out that the real me is a succubus, stuck in a human’s body, and the wrong gender on top of that, and because I can actually deal and function rationally in current society, and not run around trying to devour people’s souls (which I wouldn’t really do anyway. Seriously. I don’t even believe in souls) I can pass for a sane person.

But 50 years ago, just thinking I am a woman stuck in a man’s body would be termed insane. Being Gay was insane. Not being Religious was “insane”

I know dragons, Unicorns, werewolfs, cat girls, robots, aliens and virtual people. I also know that while right now, they may just be “dreams”, this will not always be the case, and it most certainly will NOT be merely Virtual. Look up a few of articles on where I see VR heading, and it’s not into dreamland, but into an overlay MERGED into day to day “reality”

I will not stay a “virtual” succubus. And I don’t really think that many humans will REMAIN in VR forever. We tend to get really chaffed by limits. VR only seems attractive now, because too few people find reality to be wondrous. We think VR will be a solution to boredom, but I’ve been in “virtual worlds” since before the Web even existed… and they always lose that sparkle once the shiny has worn off, and they become familiar. And I, personally, know far too much about what is developing because I have spent years researching it. I am not about to go hide my head in a VR world when I can have a ringside seat to humanities evolution into an infinity of possibilities.  John Smart and I have absolutely diametric views on that subject.

So… in essence…. I really don’t imagine that it will ever actually be any sort of real problem, but is merely a what if scenario that seems plausible now, but will be increasingly less plausible as time goes by.

Posted by spud100  on  12/16  at  12:40 PM

You don’t see the technical advances we all dream’t about, receding into the remote future? That is optimistic! Control of the solar system,  minerals, ices, etc, seem generations, away- despite spiffy articles about asteroidal gold mining. With VR anything is achievable, but Newtonian reality resists.

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/16  at  04:05 PM

Depends on what evidence you examine Spud, dear.

I am not an optimist. I don’t base anything on wishful thinking, regardless of how often I have been accused of it. I simply have been willing to examine evidence that most people refuse to. It’s all cause and effect.

I am fully aware how many people have been convinced by the hopelessness meme. It’s one that’s been programmed into you daily by people who desire nothing to ever change, because change threatens their hold on the social order, but progress cannot ever be stopped. Study history, because time after time after time, you will see attempts to prevent progress by those who are profiting from the status quo, always getting stronger and stronger, and more and more controlling… right up to the point that they collapse, and change rolls over them.

I recommend reading my articles, at the link posted above. All of them. And maybe start looking at the past to see what happens to those who try to prevent progress.

I don’t think things will magically “get better” Spud. I see an entire pattern of cause and effect that is about to bring down the house… so that we can move on to the much nicer house rising up from underneath it. And it’s going to be a quite rapid event when it happens. Time doesn’t pause for anyone… no matter how hard anyone wishes it would.

Everything, and I mean everything, I have ever written is based on logic and cause and effect. Nothing has ever been based on “hope” or “optimism.”

Posted by spud100  on  12/16  at  06:08 PM

You may indeed be correct, Ice. Hopelessness is not a meme instilled in us by evil, kapitalist, rulers, but more by learned experiences in life. My sense is that the billionaire ruling class gives not a thought to the middle class, whom they resent, if thought about, at all. I am guessing you anticipate SIAI, to spring up like dandelions, after a spring rain?I am not sure if you view this as wonderful, inevitable, and instantaneous? Color me doubtful, but I am viewing, a hard climb to the skies, if we get there at all. VR offers escape, for the price of electrons or photons. As Timothy Leary said 5 decades ago, “turn on, tune in, drop out.” With VR, the dropping out will last the ages, because there’s nothing else to physically change the universe.  My take is we’re screwed, but fortunately, most people thankfully, disagree with me.

Posted by spud100  on  12/16  at  07:33 PM

Fur shur, Instamatic. Writer Rudy Rucker, called his own attempt to cope with very tough times, “life with potholders,” but Rucker wasn’t referring to religion, in his case. For religious transhumanism, you need look no further than Ben Goertzel and Guilio Prisco’s re-worked version of Russian Cosmism. It has been presented on IEET in the last several years, but like many things is a work in progress. My way of thinking is that the fastest progress in this area, will rely on science discoveries that are not sensational, but matter of fact advances in understanding of the universe. By this I emphasize that the originators of these papers almost cerainly, will not wish, themselves, to go in the direction that I will take it. So be it.

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/16  at  11:45 PM

Spud, at no time did I say hopelessness was installed by “evil, kapitalist, rulers”.  I stated “It’s one that’s been programmed into you daily by people who desire nothing to ever change, because change threatens their hold on the social order”

That includes EVERYONE who finds ANY KIND of benefit from the “Status Quo.”

You think your buddy who gets all the girls wants a world where his “benefit” is meaningless, because everyone can have any body they want? Maybe your friend down the street doesn’t want gender equality, because it means he can’t order his wife around like he believes his religious beliefs entitle him to. That guy with the BMW at the local Walmart certainly doesn’t want any kind of change that will make that status symbol of his meaningless.

Everyday, from every level of society, you will find people who DO NOT WANT CHANGE, because they are afraid change will mean they lose status in comparison to others. From jocks who will not like enhancements that could let the geek play football as well as they can, to the geeks who don’t want the jocks to have mental enhancements to get as good grades as they do.

Every where, at every level, no matter how rich or how poor, there is a significant fraction of the populace who is TERRIFIED of change, and they are CONSTANTLY pushing the “hopelessness meme”. They can’t see any benefits, only potential losses to their self image.

You can’t fight city hall.
Why bother, it’s easier to go with the flow.
Don’t rock the boat.
Nothing ever changes, just give in.

Even your “but more by learned experiences in life” IS THE HOPELESSNESS MEME, PUSHED by YOU.

So far, ALL you have expressed has been “hopelessness” meme after “hopelessness” meme.

There is no need for a “conspiracy” spud. Not when you’re more than willing to promote that viewpoint yourself, instead of looking at the millions of advances occurring daily that are actively forcing change on society and where they are leading.

I don’t predict change because I am optimistic. I have said this over and over. I predict it because I SEE IT OCCURRING, and I simply extract it to the logical end.

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/17  at  06:48 PM

Lack of mass justice?  Lack of taste? Lack of virtue?

By who’s criteria? Yours?

Tell me how justice will not be far more easy to obtain in a world where no-one can escape being accountable? Where no-one can harm another human in secret? Where every action, no matter how trivial, is recorded?

As for taste and virtue? One man’s evil is another man’s good. And a side effect of not being able to escape accountability is the elimination of BIGOTRY AND OPPRESSION from ANYONE. For ANY reason.

Hell, I’ve even pointed out that in the future, once we’ve eliminated death as more than a temporary event through “backups”, we’re likely to have the most violent bloodsports humanity has ever known. Deathmatch arenas that would make Rome cringe. Why? Because it’s a great way to work out aggression for some people. And when YOU CANNOT PERMANENTLY HARM someone, who will care?

Paradise means different things to different people. So long as no-one is harming other WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT, anything should go.

Posted by RJP8915  on  12/17  at  10:16 PM

...Wow, a part of me knows better than to get involved, but I’m curious as to what happens if I wade in too.

@Valkyrie Ice - What happens if someone helps someone without their consent?  A la the Incredibles movie where Mr. Incredible rescues someone who doesn’t want to be rescued?  Thus causing a lawsuit, and “anti-hero” sentiment.

@Spud100 - I can relate to what Valkyrie is implying about non-human sentience, and a plethora of Forms/Bodies that we simply have to deal with.  I must ask you though what makes you consider “Sanity” a positive value?  I mean isn’t it just a relative mean based upon a norm?  I mean one could admit that arguing points online with people that one doesn’t know could be “crazy”...  Although I can agree with your sentiment about events taking time due to “reality’s constraints”, and possible pleasure about getting lost in the Virtual.

@Instamatic - I don’t think ideology can “die”.  It probably just takes on an appearance that one can’t readily identify.  I also think Religion is just a formalized ideology.  For instance, I consider the following as my “ideology”;  In a plane of nihilism where nothing has inherent worth.  It is up to us to build edifices that we deem of value, for what greater value can there be than what we instill into our “works”.  Yes, others may come along and devalue/destroy an “ideology”, or “works”.  And yet it is a learning experience.  We learn where our values lie, and we can build anew upon a firmer foundation.  To some extent I think this is what matters, the rebuilding.  Even though it is absurd because it will get torn down again.

Overall though, I found all your comments interesting.  Along with the article, and in that sense.  I must add that although I identified myself as some “label” the first time the article was originally posted.  I think it has likely changed to something I haven’t identified yet.

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/18  at  03:03 PM


The already ongoing creation of personal tutor like personal assistants is the answer to ignorance and “stupidity.”

The majority of that fear occurs due to lack of sufficient knowledge about the change in question by those who resist it. It’s not fear of change, so much as it is fear of UNKNOWN consequences from that change.

For an example, let’s examine a hypothetical lottery. Let’s say I told you that there is a 5% chance that if you lose the lottery, you lose your head, and a 95% chance that if you win, you get a hundred dollars.

Would you play that lottery? I am willing to bet you probably wouldn’t. The potential win to loss, even though the chance of losing is low, is too great. You would not play that lottery, and you would beg and plead with your friends and family to not play either, no?

But what if you misunderstood the rules of that lottery, and didn’t realize that it’s not a 95% chance to win $100, but a 95% chance to win 10^10 dollars… vs a 5% chance to lose your head. All due to the fact that misread ^ as times, instead of “to the power of”, because you didn’t understand the terminology.

That’s what lies behind so much of the fear of change. A overwhelming failure to understand the benefits vs the potential losses.  Read some of the comments to this article, where I point out the difference between privacy, and the difference between OMNIdirectional surveillance, in which EVERY member of society has equality of vision, vs UNIdirectional surveillance, in which only a select few have vision. Note how no matter how hard I try to point out the difference, several people cannot wrap their brains around the concept that there could EVER be equality of vision, instead of merely top down surveillance.

But with Watson class Assistants, and a continual program of “stealth education” combined with various other “intelligence enhancements” like perfect memory (lifeblogging hardware able to record every second of every day and archived for instant access, always on demand access to information via the net through your “personal watson”, etc.” we will also be entering a world in which the kind of ignorance we accept as “normal” today WILL NO LONGER EXIST.

And along with the elimination of ignorance, I strongly feel it is likely that fear will become less useful as a tool to manipulate society.

Posted by Valkyrie Ice  on  12/20  at  05:37 PM

Okay RJP, I’ve been thinking about your question at work for a bit… and to be honest. I suppose it comes down to your point of view.

As I see it, the “lawsuit” in the Incredibles was a sham. It really wasn’t about “not wanting to be helped so much as it was about “Hey, you’re famous, so you must be rich, and I WANT YOUR MONEY!!!!!”

In much the same way, the other “lawsuits” against the heros was pretty much the same thing. Liability lawsuits placed by people who’s property was damaged, or opportunistic “give me free money” cases.

And to be honest, we’ve already got “Good Samaritan” laws in place to protect well intentioned attempts to help someone who then sees that attempt at help as just an opportunity to exploit the person trying to help for “more benefits”

However, there will be one MAJOR difference in the future about this kind of situation.


So let’s look at the scene again, only this time, Mr. Incredible has a realtime HUD with a smart agent AI. As he’s trying to stop Bomb Voyage, he see the other guy, and instead of seeing a “innocent bystander who needs to be saved,” he sees a big Warning “Person committing Suicide, does not wish to be saved.”

After all, it was whatshisname’s choice, so *HIS* Smart Agent should easily be able to transmit that warning to Incredible’s HUD, and thus remove him from the “needing to be saved” category.

But, if he IS NOT transmitting a warning, and his “smart agent” had recorded absolutely nothing prior to the incident that would support the “committing suicide” claim, then it would be easy to establish from Incredibles smart agent that Incredible was “acting in good faith to help” and that Whatshisname was seeking to exploit the situation for personal gain.  With actual records of the event from both actor’s viewpoints, it would be much easier to determine intention.

And it would also probably result in a warning flag next time Whatshisname is involved with a similar situation, telling any potential “Good Samaritans” that he is a bitter and exploitative ass, and to not bother.

And this would be possible, because not only would they both be using “Always on HUDs” for interacting with the virtual and real world, as well as net access and communication, but because their personal smart agents would be lifeblogging them, to enable them both to have perfect recall, and would probably also be communicating in real time with “Reputation” apps, (see Cory Doctorow) which would allow people to access basic information about anyone they meet.

To be blunt, this all is part of what I have spent years discussing, i.e. the creation of INESCAPABLE ACCOUNTABILITY and omnidirectional surveillance.

However, I will also point out that with this kind of technology, the entire “Superhero” thing is pretty moot, because Syndrome is absolutely correct… when everyone is “super”... no-one is.

So to sum up, it’s going to be harder to accidentally help someone who doesn’t want to be helped when YOU KNOW THEY DO NOT WANT HELP before you help them. And, at the same time, it’s going to be far easier to know who DOES want help.

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