Posthumanists and perhaps especially transhumanists tend to downplay the value conflicts that are likely to emerge in the wake of a rapidly changing technoscientific landscape. What follows are six questions and scenarios that are designed to focus thinking by drawing together several tendencies that are not normally related to each other but which nevertheless provide the basis for future value conflicts.
- Will ecological thinking eventuate in an instrumentalization of life? Generally speaking, biology – especially when a nervous system is involved — is more energy efficient when it comes to storing, accessing and processing information than even the best silicon-based computers. While we still don’t quite know why this is the case, we are nevertheless acquiring greater powers of ‘informing’ biological processes through strategic interventions, ranging from correcting ‘genetic errors’ to growing purpose-made organs, including neurons, from stem-cells. In that case, might we not ‘grow’ some organs to function in largely the same capacity as silicon-based computers – especially if it helps to reduce the overall burden that human activity places on the planet? (E.g. the brains in the vats in the film The Minority Report which engage in the precognition of crime.) In other words, this new ‘instrumentalization of life’ may be the most environmentally friendly way to prolong our own survival. But is this a good enough reason? Would these specially created organic thought-beings require legal protection or even rights? The environmental movement has been, generally speaking, against the multiplication of artificial life forms (e.g. the controversies surrounding genetically modified organisms), but in this scenario these life forms would potentially provide a means to achieve ecologically friendly goals.
- Will concerns for social justice force us to enhance animals? We are becoming more capable of recognizing and decoding animal thoughts and feelings, a fact which has helped to bolster those concerned with animal welfare, not to mention ‘animal rights’. At the same time, we are also developing prosthetic devices (of the sort already worn by Steven Hawking) which can enhance the powers of disabled humans so their thoughts and feelings are can be communicated to a wider audience and hence enable them to participate in society more effectively. Might we not wish to apply similar prosthetics to animals – and perhaps even ourselves — in order to facilitate the transaction of thoughts and feelings between humans and animals? This proposal might aim ultimately to secure some mutually agreeable ‘social contract’, whereby animals are incorporated more explicitly in the human life-world — not as merely wards but as something closer to citizens. (See, e.g., Donaldson and Kymlicka’s Zoopolis.) However, would this set of policy initiatives constitute a violation of the animals’ species integrity and simply be a more insidious form of human domination?
- Will human longevity stifle the prospects for social renewal? For the past 150 years, medicine has been preoccupied with the defeat of death, starting from reducing infant mortality to extending the human lifespan indefinitely. However, we also see that as people live longer, healthier lives, they also tend to have fewer children. This has already created a pensions crisis in welfare states, in which the diminishing ranks of the next generation work to sustain people who live long beyond the retirement age. How do we prevent this impending intergenerational conflict? Moreover, precisely because each successive generation enters the world without the burden of the previous generations’ memories, it is better disposed to strike in new directions. All told then, then, should death become discretionary in the future, with a positive revaluation of suicide and euthanasia? Moreover, should people be incentivized to have children as part of a societal innovation strategy?
- Will the end of death trivialize life? A set of trends taken together call into question the finality of death, which is significant because strong normative attitudes against murder and extinction are due largely to the putative irreversibility of these states. Indeed, some have argued that the sanctity – if not the very meaning — of human life itself is intimately related to the finality of death. However, there is a concerted effort to change all this – including cryonics, digital emulations of the brain, DNA-driven ‘de-extinction’ of past species, etc. Should these technologies be allowed to flourish, in effect, to ‘resurrect’ the deceased? As it happens, ‘rights of the dead’ are not recognized in human rights legislation and environmentalists generally oppose introducing new species to the ecology, which would seem to include not only brand new organisms but also those which once roamed the earth.
- Will political systems be capable of delivering on visions of future human income? There are two general visions of how humans will earn their keep in the future, especially in light of what is projected to be mass technologically induced unemployment, which will include many ordinary professional jobs. One would be to provide humans with a ‘universal basic income’ funded by some tax on the producers of labour redundancy in both the industrial and the professional classes. The other vision is that people would be provided regular ‘micropayments’ based on the information they routinely provide over the internet, which is becoming the universal interface for human expression. The first vision cuts against the general ‘lower tax’ and ‘anti-redistributive’ mindset of the post-Cold War era, whereas the latter vision cuts against perceived public preference for the maintenance of privacy in the face of government surveillance. In effect, both visions of future human income demand that the state reinvents its modern role as guarantor of, respectively, welfare and security – yet now against the backdrop of rapid technological change and laissez faire cultural tendencies.
- Will greater information access turn ‘poverty’ into a lifestyle prejudice? Mobile phone penetration is greater in some impoverished parts of Africa and Asia than in the United States and some other developed countries. While this has made the developed world more informationally available to the developing world, the impact of this technology on the latter’s living conditions has been decidedly mixed. Meanwhile as we come to a greater understanding of the physiology of impoverished people, we realize that their nervous systems are well adapted to conditions of extreme stress, as are their cultures more generally. (See e.g. Banerjee and Duflo’s Poor Economics.) In that case, there may come a point when the rationale for ‘development aid’ might disappear, and ‘poverty’ itself may be seen as a prejudicial term. Of course, the developing world may continue to require external assistance in dealing with wars and other (by their standards) extreme conditions, just as any other society might. But otherwise, we might decide in an anti-paternalistic spirit that they should be seen as sufficiently knowledgeable of their own interests to be able to lead what people in the developed world might generally regard as a suboptimal existence – one in which, say, the life expectancies between those in the developing and developed worlds remain significant and quite possibly increase over time.
The following is a selection of points of interest to futurism and forecasts of the political future from the recent Mont Order Conference of July 2016:
STATEMENT 1: NEW SECRET WIKI CREATED
The Mont Order’s secret wiki created via PBworks holds information on the origin and literature of the Mont Order as well as our current structure, ranks and members. Members will be invited via email and will be able to contribute pages or post comments and questions on this literature. The public will not have access to it.
STATEMENT 3: FRIENDS OF THE MONT ORDER GROUP IS EFFECTIVE
The Friends of the Mont Order group created by Raincoaster at Facebook has seen a surprising growth in membership. Our hope is that it will reach a point where members can confidently post to the group and a minimal amount of admin involvement is needed. Due to the continued growth in its membership and the high amount of activity there, the group can be deemed a success so far.
STATEMENT 8: ON ANTI-ISLAM MEDIA AND POLICIES IN EUROPE AND THE US
“Integration”, humiliation of Muslims by the state, and blaming Islam for violence are non-answers to terrorist threats. These steps will only deepen tensions and extremist views on all sides in European countries, where terrorist incidents have occurred. We have noted that incidents in Europe are beginning to resemble a more American pattern of “mass shootings” but similar tragedies have curiously not been occurring in the UK. In addition, editorial policies of Western media clearly follow a pattern of only describing attacks as “terrorist” after an attacker is described to be a Muslim.
POLL ALSO TAKING PLACE
(Vote Here) From a MONT member: “All funding of religious groups by non-citizens should be banned” (expanded: “Religions should be treated the same way as political parties”). Justified by the way Saudi Arabia uses mosque financing to spread its political power and extremism particularly in Europe. Might also bring states and authorities to account for spreading extremism rather than blaming communities. Might also allow Muslim communities to take control of their own future rather than taking orders from foreign clerics. Should this be advocated as law? (NOTE: The UK already bans political parties from getting foreign funds. What is being advocated in the UK context is only that religious groups be also added to these lists of groups. In the context of other countries, they would copy the above element of UK law and then add the religious groups to the lists.)
The Mont Order, often just called Mont, is an information society of writers and networks based in different countries who collaborate to broaden their influence. To date, this has been achieved mainly through the internet.
The Mont Order has held online audio conferences since February 2015.
Shared website: lordre.net
Shared Twitter timeline: @MontOrder
Subscribe to updates from this society: feeds.feedburner.com/lordre/tajQ
“Appearances have always played a much more important part than reality in history, where the unreal is always of greater moment than the real.“
–Gustav LeBon, The Crowd (1895)
I’ve gotten no substantive response to my last post on vaccine safety– neither in the comments, nor the TruthSift diagram, nor anywhere else, nor have the papers I submitted to two medical journals… but I have gotten emails telling me I’m delusional and suggesting I seek psychiatric attention. And this of course is integral to the explanation of how such delusions as vaccine safety persist so widely when it is so demonstrably a delusion: the majority who believe the majority must be right because its the majority are emotionally unwilling to confront the evidence. They assume the experts have done that, and they rely on the experts. But the experts assume other experts have been there. Ask your Pediatrician if he’s personally read Bishop et al and formulated an opinion on vaccine aluminum. Neither has the National Academy, except perhaps their members have and decided, perhaps tacitly, not to review the subject. Their decision not to review the animal literature was not tacit, they said they explicitly decided to omit it, although elsewhere they say they couldn’t find human evidence that addressed the issues. So everybody is trusting somebody else, and nobody has picked up the ball. And can you blame them? Because when I pick up the ball, what I receive in return is hate mail and people’s scorn. The emotional response cuts off any possible inspection of the logic.
On most questions where a majority with authority is facing a minority of dissenters or skeptics, the majority is delusional.
In other words, you are living in the matrix; much of what you and people believe is fundamentlaly wrong.
Reason 1, as above, is that the majority forms its view by circular reasoning, and rejects any attempt at logical discussion without considering it seriously, so it is prone to delusion.
Once the crowd concluded vaccines are safe and effective, for example, the question of whether the aluminum is damaging can apparently no longer be raised (even as more gets added to vaccines). And when I or others try to raise it, we are scorned and hated, and ineffectual in changing the opinion supported by circular reasoning. When new research papers appear that call it into question, they are ignored, neither cited in the safety surveys nor influencing medical practice in any way. This paragraph is all simple reporting of what has repeatedly happened.
Reason 2 is a minority wouldn’t be holding out without a good reason, because they are punished for their opposition with scorn and hatred at least. Except perhaps for explicitly religious issues, the usual reason they are so stubborn is they are defending rational truth.
Reason 3 is there’s often big money to be made or political power to be gained by influencing the majority opinion, and experts given good budgets appear to be pretty good at influencing majority opinion, especially with the aid of mass media, covertly staged stunts, and in many areas time enough to have long ago started from kids and education. On the other hand, rationality and reality don’t usually have press agents or forward looking media strategies, and there’s little or no money in swaying the minority position.
Show me a question with a majority with authority facing a minority where the majority isn’t delusional, and I’ll show you a minority that’s being paid under the table or planted to discredit rationalists in other controversial areas. At least I’ll suggest you strongly consider that as an alternative theory of what you see. The only one I can think of off hand are flat-earthers.
Mass Delusions were famously studied in 19th century first by Charles Mackay in
Popular Mass Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1852) but more interestingly IMO in Gustave Le Bon, (1895) The Crowd. This latter was arguably the single book that had the most influence on the shape of the twentieth century. By their own accounts “The Crowd” was on Theodore Roosevelt’s bedside table, and dogeared by Mussolini. Lenin and Stalin took from it, and “Hitler’s indebtedness to Le Bon bordered on plagiarism” in the words of historian and Hitler-biographer Robert G. L. Waite. Sigmund Freud wrote a book discussing Le Bon, and Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, acknowledged his deep debt, as Goebbels did of Bernays’ reflected insights.
Bernays equally isn’t as widely known as he should be. He invented the field of public relations, the “panel of doctors”, the slogan “making the world safe for democracy”, the diamond engagement ring, broke the taboo on women’s smoking and practically doubled sales by recruiting protesters smoking “torches of freedom”, bacon and eggs, and flouridated water, among many other things. There weren’t any decent safety studies on fluoridated water, and some modern studies say its taking multiple IQ points off the population, and nations and regions that don’t fluoridate have just as good teeth today as nations and regions that do, and putting fluoride in mouthwash and toothpaste rather than the drinking water would plainly have made a lot more sense from the point of view of public safety and health, but one thing you can count on: once he put it in the water supply and convinced everybody it was a health measure, you couldn’t sue for damage from fluoride runoff any more, and potentially multi-asbestos scale class action suits against the Government and aluminum manufacturers disappeared. Since Bernays got done, just raising the issue of fluoride gets you branded fruitcake and shunned to this day.
They are also still “making the world safe for democracy”, which he coined for WW1. But is this what they are doing, or is that another widely held delusion?
Bernays also wrote the book Propaganda which begins: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
I’ve quoted from and summarized and discussed Le Bon extensively before so I will give only a brief flavor here.
“It is not necessary that a crowd should be numerous for the faculty of seeing what is taking place before its eyes to be destroyed and for the real facts to be replaced with hallucinations unrelated to them….
“To return to the faculty of observation possessed by crowds, our conclusion is that their collective observations are as erroneous as possible, and that most often they merely represent the illusion of an individual who, by a process of contagion, has suggestioned his fellows.”
“The events with regard to which there exists the most doubt are certainly those which have been observed by the greatest number of persons. To say that a fact has been simultaneously verified by thousands of witnesses is to say, as a rule, that the real fact is very different from the accepted account of it.”…
“By the mere fact that an individual forms part of a crowd, his intellectual standard is immediately and considerably lowered….
“The inferior reasoning of crowds is based, just as is the reasoning of a high order, on the association of ideas, but between the ideas associated by crowds there are only apparent bonds of analogy or succession. The mode of reasoning of crowds resembles that of the Esquimaux who, knowing from experience that ice, a transparent body, melts in the mouth, concludes that glass, also a transparent body, should also melt in the mouth…
The characteristics of the reasoning of crowds are the association of dissimilar things possessing a merely apparent connection between each other, and the immediate generalization of particular cases. It is arguments of this kind that are always presented to crowds by those who know how to manage them. They are the only arguments by which crowds are to be influenced. A chain of logical argumentation is totally incomprehensible to crowds…”
“When these convictions [of crowds] are closely examined,…, it is apparent that they always assume a particular form which I can not better define than giving it the name of a religious sentiment…
Intolerance and fanatacism are the necessary accompaniments of the religious sentiment. They are inevitably displayed by those who believe themselves in the possession of the secret of earthly or eternal happiness. These two characteristics are to be found in all men grouped together when they are inspired by a conviction of any kind. The Jacobins of the Reign of Terror were at bottom as religious as the Catholics of the Inquisition, and their cruel ardour proceeded from the same source. The convictions of crowds assume those characteristics of blind submission, fierce intolerance, and the need of violent propaganda which are inherent in the religious sentiment, and it is for this reason that it may be said that all their beliefs have a religous form.
Whether the feelings exhibited by a crowd be good or bad, they present the double character of being very simple and very exaggerated… a throng knows neither doubt nor uncertainty.”
The Red pill
So, now what’s in the red pill? Why, its a placebo. You can use any old red jelly bean. But if you swallow it and believe that the majority may be totally delusional about anything, and start looking into practically any subject with dissenters with an open mind, then I predict if you are skilled at critical thinking, you will shortways find the majority is in fact delusional, that is, you are indeed living in the matrix.
Much more widely than you are likely to imagine. For example, the news is basically propaganda, in lockstep among all the mainstream media, who accept whatever the government and political correctness tells them to believe uncritically. Was the passenger plane over Ukraine brought down by missile or strafing? Did the CDC conspire to hide a vaccine autism connection? Is the congress being run behind the scenes by a uniparty? You won’t find any of those subjects discussed unless to whitewash in the US mainstream media. What you want in a media system is ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity. –Joseph Goebbels The history books are no better, as Le Bon observed. The banking system is all based on smoke and mirrors and a healthy skim. Etc.
I don’t expect TruthSift.com to convince the masses they are delusional, because Le Bon assures me logic will never sway a crowd, but I offer it as a tool to shortcut a lot of work for those who swallow the red pill. Rather than having to study a field in detail for years as I have with vaccines and needing to be able to supply PhD level understanding of what you are reading and needing the confidence of your convictions against the many, you can much more rapidly peruse a diagram and find what the real situation is, assuming the diagram has been created and debated.
So I beg readers here to create such diagrams on TruthSift for any topic you are interested in.
Of course, they are fun and interesting too.
I also commend TruthSift to corporations and others wanting to escape the kind of crowd think delusions so well characterized by Le Bon, and achieve actual rationality in your decisions. Use it on Private Diagrams. Everybody in your organization will be able to contribute to the document, if you invite them, exactly where its pertinent. It will naturally divide and conquer your problems in ways where different people can address different problems, achieving true collaboration. Nobody will be able to get confused or pursue some other agenda without being transparently refereed. The answer will be far more rationally derived and argued for than what you are doing now. You can allow people to contribute under pseudonyms if you want. http://TruthSift.com
.#democracy. #you. #indie. #webcontent. #contentmarketing. @HJBentham.
Technology and “stateness”
Internecine warfare in the United States
- @ClubOfINFO — Rather than location, education or privilege, having something to offer seems to now be the only determining factor for a writer or activist to be published and gain a voice internationally.
For people who believe they have something decisive to offer to futurist discussions about where technology is carrying society and the state, there is no reason to defer to academics and self-proclaimed experts. Everyone’s interests should be taken into consideration, and all should take part in what should be the most democratic explosion in history.
Who is more “luddite”: the individual or the state?
In a recent TED talk, an individual – the robot body of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking in Vancouver – said he beat the state. He argued that, while the internet enabled states with unprecedented powers to spy, it has also provided individuals with the ability to singlehandedly “win” against the state by exposing such abuse to the public. Snowden’s statement highlights the way in which the internet, along with other emerging technologies that promise similar decentralization and power to the individual, could be called a double-edged sword.
The capacity of democratized technology to either free people or control them often seems balanced in such a way that new technologies can be validly heralded as liberators or as enslavers, depending on one’s own personal experience with them. However, in spite of this duality, the overwhelming direction does seem to go towards empowering the individual rather than the state. After all, as Snowden so succinctly put it, he did “win”. We know the era of powerful states and monolithic corporations dictating the capabilities of the individual is coming to an end, as what could be called a libertarian or DIY culture is taking hold instead. As Kevin Kelly has put it, technology possesses its own will, and a specific preference for greater freedom.
The fear that advanced technology plays only into the hands of elites to the disadvantage of most of the world is quite common among progressives, as has been described by the IEET’s James Hughes. In reality, the alarmists who signal dangers and negative political outcomes from emerging technologies are missing a big piece of the puzzle. This piece is already forcing itself on us increasingly in the headlines, showing that our era’s defining technologies actually have far more potential to empower and liberate the masses of people now than ever before in history.
Further, the liberation is much more likely to ensue if technologies can advance in a maximally unregulated and un-policed manner. A democratic explosion of liberating technology is possible in the lives of the voiceless and worst-off people in the world, and several emerging technologies could feature significantly in that explosion.
To understand this possibility, it is important to direct our attention to two different kinds of disparity in the world. The first is the inequality that makes the citizens of a country voiceless and powerless in the face of the power of a strong state and massive corporations. The second is the inequality between the weak states or regions and the strong states or regions of the world-economy.
Both of the two arenas suggested above appear to be related. Strong states and corporations benefit exclusively from the system, and find the justification for their power in a global division of labor that says a cherished few can produce things of more value than the other countries. This division of labor exploits the weaker peripheral majority of the world as unrewarded instruments in the global production process, while the high-tech sophisticated work that is maximally profitable remains in the rich minority spaces of strong states and firms. With the club of powerful states and firms essential to the functioning of the world-system, trends that weaken the traditional power of the nation-state or cause rewards to be more equitably distributed are direct threats to the survival of the current global mode of production.
Already, the state is threatened by its inability to control the world of information, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel was mocked for calling “neuland” or “virgin territory.” As idiosyncratic as her choice of words may have seemed, it reflects the attitude of many heads of state. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy had already used almost exactly the same meaning when describing the internet. The ongoing digitization of politics may appear to be unrelated to the world-economy, but it is relevant, because it betrays the worsening ability of powerful states to stay in control of decisive technologies in the long term, as we shall see.
Many progressives and critics of modern society see advanced and emerging technologies as inherently benefiting only powerful and elitist goals. However, as James Hughes argues in Citizen Cyborg, much of this view is simply not rational and leans towards a primitivist stance on modern industrial developments. It also adheres to an old-fashioned way of thinking that was true in a time when all the decisive technologies were unwieldy and had to be rigidly controlled or sanctioned by governments and powerful monopolistic firms to even be operated with any efficacy.
In attempting to rein in technology now, states and corporations will increasingly find themselves having to appeal to emotional or outright fabricated security concerns to maintain their profits. As patents and other forms of protection are increasingly circumvented by the geeks, pirates, cyber-idealists, Assanges and Snowdens being created by the internet culture, the only defense for statist and corporate interests will be to call these troublesome individuals security threats. By saying a radical new technology could become a threat, e.g. it could be used by terrorists, it could be hacked, there could be an accident, etc. powerful regimes and firms give themselves a convenient mandate to keep their technologies in their own hands, behind their walls, and prevent them from getting out to empower the public or weaker regimes such as those in the Global South. Regimes in the Global South must be weak for the present world-economy to function, so painting an empowered Global South as a deadly and irresponsible threat is probably going to be increasingly necessary for the Global North to maintain its privileges. By appealing to this narrative, the dominant states and firms will become true “luddites”: they are going to smash (discredit) the technologies they don’t like, so they get to keep their job (dominating the profitable production processes).
Increased numbers of progressives do overwhelmingly recognize the powerful potential of the internet to empower the public and traditionally weaker sections of global society. In fact, the internet has made a huge impact on the history of protest and the history of dissent, making it indispensable to progressive causes and the alternate media endorsed by progressives. However, progressive support for other areas of the democratization of technology and freedom of world-liberating technologies from regulation and authoritarian policing is very thin (just consider their responses to GM technology).
Reservations held by progressives about emerging technologies are not very consistent with the view of the internet as a useful political instrument. Many lack the understanding that the internet is not a fluke in technology, but part of a larger trend. Progressives would do best to learn the trend set by the internet, and adopt an anarchic view of technology as something that is becoming overwhelmingly liberating and increasingly easy for the common people to conquer and use for themselves.
A number of emerging technologies have high democratic value, being set to liberate and empower people more rapidly than ever in history. From personal computers to 3D printers, nanotechnologyand perhaps the salient breakthroughs of synthetic biology, the one thing all the big advancements in emerging technologies today have in common is that they do not have any great need to be monopolized by governments and corporations. Possibly the most important observation of their democratic potential is that these devices all seem to have the potential to copy themselves. Synthetic organisms may be the first man-made products to have this ability, while other man-made things do not. They may not need to be supplied or replaced by any authority or special provider. In theory, such devices could be leaked once and become rapidly available everywhere, just as information can be rapidly pirated and circulated on the internet every day.
The global division of labor, and by extension the massive inequality in terms of rewards in the present world-system, would face an existential threat from the leaking of decisive emerging technologies. World inequality, if it is a product of a large division of labor, would not survive the leaking and decentralization of a generation of advanced self-replicating, redundant manufacturing technologies into the poorer parts of the world-economy.
The last line of defense available to states and massive corporations, to protect against their privileged economic and political positions being damaged by the circulation of self-sustaining technologies, would be for them to rant about security and try to whip up paranoia. If they do so, then the security concerns about emerging technologies will come to be seen by many as the discourse to create authoritarian controls over who can and who can’t have something. At that time, there would be no doubt that the true luddites interfering in the inevitable course of technology are the rich and powerful – not the poor and disenfranchised.
To sum up, there is a trend of techno-liberation set to break a number of emerging technologies free. Many remain the apparent trademarks of powerful companies at present, but still they carry powerful democratic potential even as they remain locked in the Pandora’s Box of security arguments and fears. People who care about subverting global inequality should not be deterred by such rhetoric.
They should covet emerging technologies, such as synthetic organisms, as a gift and a perfect means of liberation for the poorer parts of the world-economy. This should be pursued without hesitation, in the hope that yet more democratic opportunities like the internet will surface and become available to the world’s marginal and oppressed people.
Transhumanism, Eugenics and IQ:
The aim of this short essay is not to delve into philosophy, yet on some level it is un-avoidable when talking about Transhumanism. An important goal of this movement is the use of technology for the enhancement, uplifting and perhaps…the transcendence of the shortcomings of the human condition. Technology in general seems to be keeping pace and is in sync with both Moore’s law and Kurzweil’s law and his predictions.
Yet, there is an emerging strain of Transhumanists — propelled by radical ideology, and if left un-questioned might raise the specter of Eugenics, wreaking havoc and potentially inviting retaliation from the masses. The outcome being, the stymieing human transcendence. One can only hope that along with physical augmentation technology and advances in bio-tech, Eugenics will be a thing of the past.
Soon enough, at least IQ Augmentation technology will be within reach (cost-wise) of the common man — in the form of an on-demand, non-invasive, memory and intelligence augmentation device. So… will Google Glass or similar Intelligence Augmentation device, forever banish the argument for “intellectual” Eugenics? Read an article on 4 ways that Google glass makes us Transhuman.
Technology without borders:
There is an essay on IEET titled: The Specter of Eugenics: IQ, White Supremacy, and Human Enhancement. It makes for interesting reading, including, the comments that follow it.
The following passage from the novel “Memories with Maya” is relevant to that essay.
He took a file out and opened it in front of us. Each paper was watermarked ‘Classified’.
“This is a proposal to regulate and govern the ownership of Dirrogates,” he said.
Krish and I looked at each other, and then we were listening.
“I see it, and I’m sure you both do as well, the immense opportunity there is in licensing Dirrogates to work overseas right at clients’ premises. BPO two point zero like you’ve never seen,” he said. “Our country is a huge business outsourcing destination. Why not have actual Dirrogates working at the client’s facility where they can communicate with other human staff. — Memories with Maya
A little explanation: Dirrogates are Digital Surrogates in the novel. An avatar of a real person, driven by markerless performance capture hardware such as a Kinect-like depth camera. Full skeletal and facial tracking animates a person’s Digital Surrogate and the Dirrogate can be seen by a human wearing Augmented Reality visors. Thus a human (the Dirrogate operator) is able to “tele-travel” to any location on Earth, given its exact geo-coordinates.
At the chosen destination, another depth cam streams a live, real-time 3D model of the room/location so the Dirrogate (operator) can “see” live humans overlaid with a 3D mesh of themselves and a fitted video draped texture map. In essence — a live person cloaked in a Computer generated mesh created in real-time by the depth camera… idea-seeding for Kinect 2 hackers.
What would a Dirrogate look like in the real-world? The video below, is a crude (non photo-realistic) Dirrogate entering the real world.
Dirrogates, Immigration and Pseudo Minduploads:
This brings up the question: If we can have Digital Surrogates, or indeed, pseudo mind-uploads taking on 3D printed mechanical-surrogate bodies, what is the future for physical borders and Immigration policies?
Which brings us to a related point: Does one need a visa to visit the United States of America to “work”?
As an analogy, consider the pseudo mind-upload in the video below.
Does it matter if the boy is in the same town that the school is in or if he were in another country? Now consider the case of a customer service executive, or an immigrant from a third world country using a pseudo mind-upload to Tele-Travel to his work place in down-town New York — to “drive” a Google Taxi Cab until such a time that driverless car AI is perfected.
This article first appeared under the title “Techno-Optimists & Pessimists are Brothers in Arms” at Transhumanity.net, where Franco is a contributing editor.
It is all too easy to assume that techno-optimists and techno-pessimists are diametrically opposed. But while they may have different destinations in mind, the road to get there – what they need to do to achieve their respective ends – is a shared one. Techno-optimists, Techno-progressives, Techno-gaians and Techno-utopians express hope and passion for technologies’ liberating and empowering potentials, while techno-pessimists are fearful of their dystopic and dehumanizing potentials. Optimists want to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can improve self and society, while pessimists seek to spread awareness of the ways in which technology can make matters worse. Techno-criticism is the neutral middle, where the unbiased study of culture and technology take place, and so should not be confused with Techno-pessimism.
But they both agree on the underlying premise that technologies can and likely will have profoundly transformative effects on self and society. They agree not only that we have the power to shape the outcomes such technologies can foster, that we have the power to affect and to a large extent determine the ultimate embodiment and repercussions of such technologies, but also that such technologies impel us to make concerted efforts towards determining such repercussions and embodiments! It may not look that way from the inside-out, but they are fighting to realize their vision of Humanity’s brightest future. Until we reach the day when the majority of humanity has extensively acknowledged the expansive power such transformative technologies hold, Techno-optimists & Techno-pessimists, Transhumanists & Luddites, and Revolutionaries & Revivalists alike are on the same side! Both camps are on a campaign to alert planet earth of the titanic transformations rushing foreforth upon its horizon. Both agree on the underlying potential such technologies hold for changing the world and the self – whether encased as Prized Present or in Pandora’s Box – and both are weary for the world to wake up and smell the rising.
And besides, we’re all in it together, no? At least Techno-pessimists are thinking about such issues, and putting forth their appraisals. At least they’ve begun to consider what is at stake. Is a techno-pessimist closer to a Technoprogressive or Transhumanist than one who doesn’t take a stance either way is? Maybe.
Not that the likes of Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama and other Neo-Luddites, Developmental Critics, or Anarcho-Primitivists are to be heralded or left to lie without rebuttal. Their pessimism still does cause palpable harm, as in the delays in Stem-Cell research caused by G.W. Bush’s “President’s Council on Bioethics” evidenced. Thus we shouldn’t simply smile politely and let them on their merry way… But neither should we automatically jump to out-snuff their wild-fires of panic. We should instead let them whip up their frenzies, but be there waiting in the wings to attest for Icarus’s insight, and to offer Prometheus a light. Let them have their say, because it increases public awareness of the cause, because it clues people in to the fact that there many dangers are possible with these technologies (even if we disagree on the nature and extent of those dangers), but be sure to be there waiting, ready to refute their specific and untenable solutions, and not their call for fear in the first place. We are right to simultenaciously fear and hope for technology’s powerful potential. But considering that both Neo-Luddites and Neohumanists alike agree on the transformative and world-whirling capabilities of such technologies, is it more likely that we can take them in hand and shape the course of their eventual realization by outright relinquishment, or by taking advantage of those very transformative potentialities so as to increase our ability to shape them, in a self-recursive feedback loop fitting for Man, the Homoautofabber?
The very beliefs that Neo-Luddism share with Technoprogressivism and Transhumanism constitute one of the best reasons for arguing that their specific approach – outright relinquishment more often than not, or at least curtailing and slowing of development in certain areas to so large an extent that it shouldn’t even be called Differential Technological Development – is an untenable one. They seek to point out the massively transformative potential of technology, and then use this as an excuse to mitigate their dangers and ameliorate their potential downfalls. We should take their approach, pat them on the back (not too heartily, of course) for their starting point, and then flip the course around. We seek to point out the massively transformative potential of technology, but instead of arguing that the transformative potentialities of such technologies justifies their relinquishment, we should instead argue that those same transformative potentialities actually increase our potential to successfully shape their outcome and mitigate their potentially problematizing aspects!
What are the chances that as soon as it becomes possible to use technology in massively immoral ways, we also gain the ability to shape and determine the parameters of our own moralities — and through the very technologies that created the potential problems in the first place, no less? What are the chances that as soon as technology seems to be building upon itself in an unending upward avalanche of momentous momentum, we also gain — through the use of those very same technologies — the ability to better forecast cascading causes and effects into the postmost outpost and to better track trends into the forward-flitting future? The technologies that hold such transformative potential are neither good nor bad, but morally ambiguous. They have the power to spiral out of control, to be strung as leash or noose around humanity’s neck — but they also have the potential to increase our degree self-determination and our control — or our degree of choice — over the circumstances and capabilities afforded by our environments.
A closed circle can seem like just that, until adding a vertical dimension reveals that it was an upward spiral all along. We’ve turned upon ourselves to find (or perhaps just refine) ourselves at least once before, when meat went meta and matter turned upon itself to make mind. Perhaps this was but echoes through time of that final feedback for forward freedom we stand to face, upright and with eyes sun-undaunted, in a future so near that it might as well be here, where the fat of fate is now kindled anew to light our own spindled fires aspiring ever higher, into parts and selves wholly unknown — and holier for it.
Techno-pessimists, Neo-Luddites, Revivalists and Relinquishists alike are not wholly wrong, just mostly. Rather the backlash against technology’s profoundly transformative potentials represents one small step in the right direction, and one giant leap left-field. So let’s unite in their plight to ignite consideration of the dangerous potentialities of technology in the eyes of humanity, but fight them when they move to stop the motion with a whimpered halt, rather than to continue the discussion with daring determination and impassioned exalt of aug- and of alt-.