[extropy-chat] Creating Transhumanity

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun May 8 22:45:39 UTC 2005

On Sun, May 08, 2005 at 03:50:43PM +1000, Brett Paatsch wrote:

> That cannot be the whole truth. Not if you accept that there has
> been people for longer than there has been money. 

Universally scarce goods were the precursor of money. Precious metals used to
be a just another bartering item (e.g. rubles originated as pieces hacked off 
a silver bar).
> Most of us would accept that at some point(s) in history people
> invented 'money' as a means of exchange. Before there was 
> money to "make things happen" there had to be other things,
> other 'drivers', to "make things happen".  Perhaps those 'drivers'
> were genes, (sex), perhaps they were memes, perhaps they were
> something else, but they definately were not money, not originally. 

I might be remembering this wrong, but Etruscans (the @ symbol used to refer
to a unit of trade, amphora) used wine to motivate people. Holding feasts in
general was a motivational system of high-status people -- you had to be
wealthy in order to be able afford that.
> This form of transhumanism looks just like another sort of elitism, or
> apoligia for the status quo by those that are benefitting from it, it has
> no deep roots in science or in an understanding of the natural world
> of which humans and all human constructions and institutions are a
> part.  

Research and development are expensive. Nanotechnology, artificial
intelligence and space are extremely expensive, risky technologies with a
long-term ROI. 
> What parent is driven to have children for financial reasons? Money

Until very recently, having many children was a source of cheap labour.

Not having many children despite heavy infant mortality was a recipe for
gene self-termination.

> is an enabler (at best) it is not a driver. 
> >Consider the small steps we have already made in the
> >transhuman direction: advanced medical technology, computers, 
> >the internet, stem cell research, all that.  It only goes forth when
> >market forces push it forward.
> Those things go forward because human agents take them forward,
> human agents constitute both the supply and the demand for those
> things, but they don't get to go forward when those human agents 
> are distracted by the necessity to chase away thieves and marauders. 
> I am unaware of any advances in medical technology, computing,
> the internet or stem cell research that happened under a transhuman
> flag or under a company or individual who said that they were doing
> the work that they were doing because of transhumanism.

I suspect many such advances have been made, despite of lack of explicit 

Actually, I suspect many consider transhumanism as an albatross around one's
neck, and would tend to shun association, even if they're aware that such a
label exists. 
> If transhumanism is going to be significant in world historical terms
> it will only be because human agents make it mean something. 
> In the case of embryonic stem cell research one of the biggest 
> political/social/ethical challenges is getting people to recognize that 
> there is a difference between a *potential* human being (an embryo)
> and an *actual* one.  Transhumanism isn't helping with this 
> discussion at all. If anything most transhumanist talk as though what
> could potentially happen, cryonics, Drexlerian nanotech, will happen 
> given enough time. (As though time was irrelevant for mortals).  By 
> living so far in a hypothetical potential future many transhumanists
> seem to be losing or failing to engage in the issues of the present. 
> With the possible exception of Natasha and a handful of others those
> that are engaging with the real issues of the day are doing so under
> their own names, and their own brands, not under a banner of
> transhumanism. 

Transhumanism is just a label for a common value cluster. It's perfectly
feasible to pursue that cluster of values in full ignorance of such a 
label. This is, in fact, what most people do.

However, in order to lobby effectively, and to establish agent cooperation
based on mutual recognition it is necessary to agree on a common label. 
</tired cliches>

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144            http://www.leitl.org
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
http://moleculardevices.org         http://nanomachines.net
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20050509/3e49aefd/attachment.bin>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list