[extropy-chat] Yesterday's Seminar on Transhumanism and Religion in Second Life

Giu1i0 Pri5c0 pgptag at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 07:32:17 UTC 2007


Seminar on Transhumanism and Religion in Second Life

Sunday, April 29, 2007, uvvy island in

The event was organized by the Second Life
Chapter<http://transhumanism.com/secondlife/>of the World
Transhumanist Association <http://transhumanism.org/>.


Giulio Prisco <http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/board/#Prisco>,
Executive Director, World Transhumanist
Association<http://www.transhumanism.org/>(yours truly). I summarized
my article/book precis Engineering
Transcendence <http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/prisco20041201/>.

Extropia Dasilva<http://transumanar.com/index.php/site/extropia_dasilva_transhumanist_avatar/>,
Fascinating and Mysterious Virtual Personality. Extropia is a "transhumanist
avatar" who writes some of the best mind expanding stuff about first and
second life, the universe and everything. Her talk Climbing Technological
Mount Improbable<http://transumanar.com/index.php/site/climbing_technological_mount_improbable_by_extropia_dasilva/>is
available online.

James Hughes <http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/hughes/>, Executive
Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies <http://ieet.org/>.
James presented his paper "The Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist
Views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence in an Enhanced
Future" (link <http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/hughes20070401/>).

Lincoln Cannon<http://transfigurism.org/community/blogs/administration/archive/2007/04/11/2641.aspx?CommentPosted=true#commentmessage>,
President, Mormon Transhumanist Association <http://transfigurism.org/>.
Lincoln presented the fascinating blend of Mormonism and Transhumanism
developed by the MTA.

My presentation started, as usual, with a personal introduction slide where
I said that I am with the WTA but am now speaking on behalf of Giulio
Prisco, Giulio Perhaps (my avatar in SL), Yours Truly, the Fat Ugly Guy here
(my avatar again) and Myself. I presented my own views on transhumanism and
religion, which are not and cannot be represented as official WTA views. I
think the "cosmic" part of transhumanism *is* an alternative to religion,
firmly based on the scientific worldview, but able to provide much of what
most people search in a religion. My conclusion: "Our Manifest Destiny: our
species will spread to the stars, merge with its technology, and acquire
god-like powers. Uploading technology will permit cybernetic immortality
with the safeguard of backup copies. With "future magic", we may find a way
one day to bring back all persons who have ever lived. This can be an
alternative to religion, based on science, rationality and humanism. I am
very interested in the current experimental activities to memetically
engineer transhumanist alternatives to religion, based on science, but still
able to offer hope in "another life" even for those who are already dead".

Extropia gave, as usual, a very thoughtful and challenging
current trends towards a Singularity and beyond. Her conclusion: "If
technological Singularity is not the summit of Mount Improbable after all,
one might ask what is. Will science reveal the answer? Or maybe philosophy?
Perhaps theology? Or should we conjecture that these are all manifestations
of a grander overarching conceptual framework that we currently cannot
comprehend, but may come to appreciate as we ascend to a state that might
appropriately be defined as 'God'? I like to think so!".

James had a monster presentation of interfaces, similarities and
differences, and possible cross-talks between transhumanism and religions.
James is, of course, a smart politician who knows better than trying to be
too explicit on whether transhumanism can or cannot be an alternative to
religion. His conclusion: "Transhumanism is potentially compatible with many
metaphysics, theodicies, soteriologies and eschatologies. Religious will
incorporate the H+ project into their faiths to create trans-spiritualities.
The future religious landscape will be much more interesting". This concept
of infecting religions with transhumanist memes is not so different from my
concept of engineering religions based on transhumanism, and basically
similar to an equivalent strategy, often discussed on the lists, to develop
a transhumanist memetic presence in political movements.

Lincoln affirmed the basic compatibility between Mormonism and
Transhumanism. He stated that the views of the MTA are received "with
interest" by the larger Mormon community. His conclusions: "We believe that
scientific knowledge and technological power are among the means ordained of
God to enable such exaltation, including realization of diverse prophetic
visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this
world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end". This is, I
believe, a perfect explanation of why, despite what fundamentalists may say,
transhumanism is not at all incompatible with religion but, on the contrary,
each of the two sets of sensibilities can boost the other in a positive
feedback loop.

This was a very good event and I was especially pleased to see some of the
newcomers join the Second Life Chapter of the WTA.

Technical notes:

All speakers with the exception of Extropia used audio streaming for
presentations and answers to questions from the audience. James Hughes and
Lincoln Cannon used the Shoutcast plugin for Winamp to stream to our
Shoutcast server, and I used Nicecast on a Mac to do the same. The technical
challenge was the coordination of sound streams coming from different remote
locations (basically, the previous speaker has to stop broadcasting, the
next speaker must start broadcasting, nobody must start broadcasting at any
moment different from the scheduled moment, and an occasional restart of the
Shoutcast server may be required). Audio worked very well for James and
Lincoln (their voices were crystal clear). It worked very well also for me
but with some interruptions (I had to restart broadcasting several times).
This was due to a combination of other speakers starting their broadcast
while mine was still on and the fact that my Internet connection was not so
reliable yesterday.

About 60 persons attended, with a peak audience of 45. There was not too
much lag despite uvvy island being only a Class 4 sim.

Extropia's talk was disturbed by a griefer who, of course, was kicked out
and banned from the region. He may even have been (you never know) one of
the well known outspoken enemies of transhumanism. I can see his point - our
ideas *are* a danger for the narrow, fundamentalist mentality they

This page on the uvvy wiki <http://uvvy.com/index.php/TransRelSL> has more
pictures and will be updated with pictures, links, transcripts, audio and
video clips as they become available.
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