[ExI] Jaron Lanier on AI and Singularity, not transhumanism

Aleksei Riikonen aleksei at iki.fi
Tue Aug 10 04:03:29 UTC 2010

On Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:19 PM, Sabrina Ballard
<sabrina.ballard at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Could someone please clarify the difference between singularitarianism
> and transhumanism?
> I am getting quite confused on the terminology >.<
> So singulatarians believe in the impending singularity, a
> technological point of no return, past which we cannot yet comprehend
> technology

Not universally, no. The word "singularitarian", just like the word
"singularity", has become very difficult to use in a sensible manner
since these days people mean such a large variety of different things
by it. Given this confusion, every time one uses the word, one
essentially would need to proceed to explicitly cite what definition
one is using.

Here's a breakdown of the most common meanings of the word "singularity":


Then as to what was meant with "singularitarian" in this email thread
we are currently in... I don't really know, since the person using the
term didn't make it very explicit. (And Jaron Lanier in the original
op-ed that's being commented on seems to be mostly attacking the views
of a strawman, instead of views that actually would be widely held at
Singularity University, or elsewhere where people could be called
"singularitarians" according to some definition of the word.)

> And transhumanism believe in becoming a human that modern
> day humans would not understand

I'd define a transhumanist as someone who believes that (1) if
technological progress continues, we will be able to profoundly change
many things about ourselves, and that (2) this is not necessarily a
bad thing.

As a third criteria, one might add (or not) that one also actually
calls oneself a transhumanist, instead of hiding in the closet in fear
of looking weird and unusual, even though one in reality agrees with
what transhumanists are saying (closet transhumanism is *very*

Aleksei Riikonen - http://www.iki.fi/aleksei

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