[ExI] Isn't Bostrom seriously bordering on the reactionary?

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 14:30:49 UTC 2011

2011/6/15 Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>:
> On 15 June 2011 01:16, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I have been in the thick of this stuff for since the mid 1970s.  It's
>> my opinion that the human species, _as we know it today_ will be
>> extinct not much later than mid century.  But unlike any other
>> extinction a lot, perhaps most, of us may exist in a conscious form
>> right though the extinction.
> My personal view is that the only plausible definition of "exinction" is the
> fact of not not leaving anything behind.

Nothing like what I anticipate has happened before, so existing
definitions may not apply.

A species that has no breeding population is today considered extinct.
 It is consider a different species when it can no longer interbreed
with the parent species.

Even if individuals carry their consciousness over into a post
singularity world, I really doubt what they become could breed with
the current version of humans.  Assuming, of course, that they have
any interest in breeding at all.

It is an unsolved question to me if humans will produced one last
generations of clean genomes or not.  My guess is no because I expect
things will happen so fast beyond the point we have that ability that
there will be no time for a generation.

On the other hand, cleaning the junk DNA out of the human genome would
make us more like birds (who have relatively little junk) and we might
raise a generation of humans who grew to adulthood in a year (like

> Unless we believe that humankind
> goes extinct at each generation there is no really plausible argument to
> claim that the australopithecus went extinct but my grand-grand father did
> not. Of course, I have more in common with the latter, but there is no real
> threshold where the increase in difference justify such a definitory leap.
> On the other hand, everything is subject to *change*. We can certainly have
> preferences as to the direction of change (I have for instance a strong
> preference for a change in *multiple* directions), but to concern oneself
> with the indefinite preservation some "essential" trait of simianity, or
> humanity for that matter in Bostrom's style, IMHO is both futile and prone
> to make *real* extinction more likely. Mutare o perire, "To change or to
> perish?", the title or Riccardo Campa's book on transhumanism summarises
> this point well enough.
>> As to speeding it up or slowing it down, I doubt there is much that
>> Nick or anyone else can do to affect the course of technology
>> development.
>> I only hope it is fast enough to prevent a massive die off.
> Mmhhh. I am inclined on the contrary to think that the course of technology
> development is a fragile thing entirely dependent on cultural and societal
> prerequisites that I see currently threatened.

That might be true, but my point was that individuals have little
effect.  People who do things have more effect than folks who just
write and talk about stuff.

> In any event, to think so
> would be to keep on the safe side for those who are keen on technology
> development (if the Rapture is going to take place inevitably irrespective
> of the faith and the good work of its believers, nothing wrong in keeping up
> the good work anyway, right?).
> But I fully agree upon the fact that the slowing down, or insufficient
> acceleration, of technological progress is probably a higher risk (in *my*
> sense) than the contrary.

I think we should get used to the fact that the singularity is
probably going to be Chinese flavored.


> --
> Stefano Vaj
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