[extropy-chat] Creating Transhumanity

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Mon May 9 00:51:45 UTC 2005

--- Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> 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. 

     Yup. This describes my situation exactly. I was
interested in and made career choices regarding
life-extension through stem cells and genetic and
physiological augmentation long before I was aware of
the existence of ExI or transhumanism in general. It
just seemed to be a logical and lucrative course of
action. Then in the midst of graduate school (PhD in
microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics) I
discovered you guys and thought, "wow, I am not such a
crazy apostate weirdo... there are other people out
there that want to live a thousand years too and they
realize that it is scientifically feasable and morally
justifiable to do so." That essentially was the whole
reason I signed onto this list. I would rather be part
of a movement than a lone crack-pot. 
     But to be totally honest I am somewhat in love
with my own humanity and so there are aspects of
transhumanism I am not terribly comfortable with. I
for one would not go out of my way to rush the
singularity to our doorsteps. I love life as I know
it. I don't think I would love life with my psyche
trapped in some unix box, or with me at the beck and
call of some all-powerful AI. 
> 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. 

 Yes it is a label and that can be good or bad,
depending entirely on how it is perceived. On one hand
one would like to think that our cluster of values
would sell itself on its own merits. Unfortunately
however experience has taught me that this is not how
the world works. The difference between brand name
peanut butter and generic peanut butter is not the
ingredients or the processing. It is entirely the
label and the spin. I for one think that our label
would sell better if it was seen by the mainstream as
being sexy, chic, and powerful. I don't think that
transhumanists have done a good enough job on this
front. Instead I think we give the world the
impression that we are a bunch of irreverant amoral
geeks that sit at our computers and argue about how
what the world will be like 10,000 years from now.
     I know most of people on this list detest
Scientology and Dianetics but that should not mean
that we can't learn anything from them. They didn't
reach critical mass until they recruited hollywood
celebraties like Tom Cruise and John Travolta into
their midst.
      So taking this into account, I don't think that
it is nessesary that every extrope on this list need
write a book, invent the elixir of eternal life, or
make a billion dollars in order to proactively create
transhumanity. I believe that it is sufficient that
every list member find what they are best at doing. It
doesn't really matter what this is even if it is just
underwater-basket-weaving, golf, or reciting poetry
and strive to do as well as humanly possible. Then
once they are at that level, they need to do it just a
little bit better so that the world will take notice.
Then when the world is paying attention to them, they
need to proudly own up to being a transhumanist or
Extrope or whatever you decide THE LABEL ought to be.
Once any movement or product becomes associated with
famous powerful beautiful people, you will have to
beat the wannabes off with a stick.  

The Avantguardian 
Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"The surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that they haven't attempted to contact us." 
-Bill Watterson

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