[ExI] Natasha's Response re: Libertarianism, Extropiansim &Transhumanism

Natasha Vita-More natasha at natasha.cc
Thu Jun 23 13:45:59 UTC 2011

Hi Kevin,
My reasponse below:



 <http://www.natasha.cc/> Natasha Vita-More


Chair, <http://humanityplus.org/>  Humanity+
PhD Researcher, Univ. of Plymouth, UK



From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Kevin Haskell
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 5:12 AM
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Subject: Re: [ExI] Natasha's Response re: Libertarianism,Extropiansim


Quoting <natasha at natasha.cc>

>You have misunderstood and sorely misconstrued what I wrote. I will
briefly reply below:

Just to be clear, this is what you originally wrote: "

> For me, I am not a libertarian, an anarchist or a singulartarian.  I
> am transhumanist and I support Extropy above all else.  I don't like
> Extropy tethered to other stuff that is not expressly focused on life
> expansion and well being. 
Precisely.  This does not mean that I am not political or that I do not
support the Singularity. I simply do not subscribe to any one political
party and I am not what is known as a singulartarian.  There are many
theorists, experts, activists and knowledgeable individuals of the
Technological Singularity who are not "singulartarian".

>Quoting Kevin Haskell <kgh1kgh2 at gmail.com>:

> Thanks, Natasha.  Regarding your reply, I needed to re-orient myself and
> just check out the differences between what you were expressing, and what
> understood Extropy to be as I remembered it, and did it the old fashioned
> way: Google.

>I have no idea what you are talking about.  Instead of googling, just
>go read Max More's writings and go to Extropy Institute's website.

Well, again, I was just attempting to clarify the differences between what I
'personally remembered' about Extropianism and what you had written.
That's...pretty much it.  

As to Googeling, the Extropy Institute's website, with Extropy's principles
written by Max More within it, was the very first page that came up when I
did Google it.  So, it worked pretty nicely. 
Yes, the principles are great and it is good that Max revisits them. 

Lastly, why do you think I wrote, in my last sentence, "Thanks again for
sharing your particular thoughts on that, and for inspiring me to do my due
diligence to get better clarification on general Extropian philosophy (and
thanks to Max More,)" if I hadn't already read, by that time, the principles
of what Max More had written?

> So, it looks like some fine lines have been drawn in the past few years
> helped me understand the difference.  From your own perspective, and
> me if I am wrong, you wish to leave out any externalities which may affect
> the achievement of developing H+ technologies, such as politics, and just
> focus on the actual technologies themselves, and the benefits you would
> like to see them bring.

>What?  I am a proponent of technology.  I said libertarian, not
>politics. My focus is more on design, theory, and culture that is
>affected by technology.

Okay, thank you for the clarifications.

> Secondly, Extropianism, (as related to but different from Extropism, which
> was another new one for me,)  as as an idea seems to favor the positive
> future scenarios as expressed by Ray Kurzweil (who I take it you agree
> with,)

>Not completely. Extropism is Kevin Kelly's hijacking of Extropy but it
>is better just to say Extropy.

Fair enough.

> not really agreeing with Ben Goertel that H+ tech could just as
> easily lead us into either good or bad future, and we just don't know, and
> steadfastly separating yourselves from the dystopian future scenarios of
> Hugo de Garis.

>I do not agree with de Garis's artelict, but I wrote about these
>issues/arguments some years ago myself. I agree very much with Ben
>Goertzel and that has nothing to do with de Garis' artelict dystopic

Right. The point was to show that Ben held a moderate position of
expectations, as juxtaposed with Kurzweil's optimism and de Garis'
negativism.  Didn't mean to make you think I meant that Ben's 'negative' was
the same as de Garis' specific negative concept. 
I think Kurzweil is not optimistic, I think he is an advocate of exponential
acceleration as a matter of technological fact.  De Garis is not negative, I
think he is presenting a particular theory that is more science fiction than
science fact.  I think Goertzel is mostly interested in AGI.  But all in
all, I think Max More's view on "surges" is the most appropriate theoretical
position on a Technological Singularity. 

> In short, Extropianism has clarified that it expects, with effort, of
> course, a good outcome from H+ tech for both humans and machines, and
> different from Transhumanism, but rather, an optimistic branch that might
> best be described by Kevin Warwick's "Cyborginist" concepts.

>Extropy is transhumanism.  The Cyborgist ideas of Warwick are not a
>worldview and lack the vision of the transhuman and transhumanism.

So, if Extropy "is" Transhumanism, and this was really the original question
I started out with, why did everyone stop calling themselves "Extropians,"
(which means someone who supports the concepts of "Extropy"), and begin
calling themselves Transhumanists?  It was just a straightforward question
to everyone on the list about the change in terminology.  
This is a good question.  I never liked the term "extropians" or
"extropianism" because Extropy is similar to a cybernetic approach and
within this approach is the worldview of transhumanism, which is a
philosophy of Extropy. Certainly other people see that Extropy is the core
philosophy of transhumanism, which is okay too. But all in all transhumanism
cannot exist without Extropy because it is Extropy that presents the concept
of continuous expansion, critical thinking and practical optimism.  One
issue here is the topic of negentropy, which still should be discussed and
revisited in the 21st century.  I don't recall any discussions on it for 10
years or so.  
People do not call themselves extropians today because transhumanism is a
term that was promoted over Extropy in the late 1990s in order to push the
political views of the WTA and to promote Huxley as being the originator of
the ideas, which is entirely incorrect and a political move by WTA that
backfired on the organization and its principles.  Today we are more even
minded and Humanity+ has combined the beneficial work of WTA with ExI and
produced a more even minded organization that is inclusive rather than
Nevertheless, the term "transhumanist" is not as scary to the general public
as "extropian" and the term Extropy and extropian may gain momentum in later
years because thing change and no one really knows what ideas stick or
terms, etc. 

Regarding Warwick, his ideas seem to fit quite nicely within the
"Transhumanist" conecept.  Unless I am missing something, he is seeking
progress in health, length of life, and development of superior qualities of
people through the use and physical adaptation of technology. In short, he
is seeking the evolution of mankind through technology. 
Well, frankly these things have been promoted by transhumanists for decades!
It is just recently that the general public has become interested, including
Kevin.  While Kevin has been deeply engageding in cyborgization of his body
for a very long time and a forerunner in this domain, the ideas of
transhumanism are now posted it on his cyborg theory.  But when we think of
cyorg, it is Manfred Clynes' vision and cybernetics.  I do not know why
Kevin does not call himself a transhumanist but it seems that is may be
because  he is deeply invested in the term cyborg for his work.  
 Since you define Extropy and Transhumanism as being the same, and wrote "I
don't like Extropy tethered to other stuff that is not expressly focused on
life expansion and well being," then you and Professor Warwick appear to be
working for the exact same thing.    
Yes, Kevin is and yes he promotes the term cyborg and yes he should be more
respectful of transhumanism and Extropy I think.  But what the heck! Stelarc
ignores it as well, as do others who are deeply invested in their own
theories.  That should be respected. The only problem is I think it is
undermining to claim transhumanists are not focused on smart futures.

> Would it be fair to say Natasha, that since you do not like the idea of
> Singularity, that this is the one main area that you are in disagreement
> with the Extropian ideals?

>I never said I do not like the Singularity or its theories.  In fact,
>I am involved with different working groups on the Singularity.

Forgive me. I thought that since your wrote "For me, I am not a libertarian,
an anarchist or a singulartarian" that you meant you didn't like the
theories of Singularity, and certainly am surprised to hear that you are
working with Singularity groups. Are you making a distinction in the
language, meaning that humans can't be "Singularitarians," but can just work
for the creation of the Singularity?   
For goodness sakes, of course!  Someone who works on the Singularity and
writes about it, etc. is not necessarily a "Singularitarian".   

> Thanks again for sharing your particular thoughts on that, and for
> me to do my due diligence to get better clarification on general Extropian
> philosphy (and thanks to Max More.)

>I'm afraid your due diligence is not accurate and you have
>misconstrued what I said.  I said that I do not favor libertarian
>ideas or the dogma of singularitarianism, not the technological
>singularity.  Big difference.


My "due diligence" comment, if you read it again, above, was directed at my
clarification of the general Extropian philosophy, not what you said.  I was
merely thanking you for the inspiration to check.  Please re-read that if
you were not clear about it. 
The philosophy of Extropy is crucial for transhumanism.  It is deeply
integrated in the worldview of transhumanism.   

Regarding you, I was attempting to clarify your personal views, which is why
I asked you to correct me where needed.  You did so.

Incidentally, let's be clear on what you originally wrote.  You never
originally stated that you did not favor the "dogma" of Singularitarianism,
and that you did support the 'technological Singualrity,' you merely stated
that you did not consider yourself a Singularitarian.    

Big difference.   
You are correct and I could have said this, but it seemed obvious to me. I
I  do not favor the dogma of Singularitarianism because it is a about "isms"
and not the Technological Singularity as I learned of it from Vernor Vinge
and as Extropy Institute introduced it as its conferences in the 1990s.  
I am very interested in and lecture on the Singularity but I do not call
myself a Singularitarian because I do not think that superintelligences will
kill off our species and I do not think that Friendly AI is the answer, it
is just one theory.  I do think that humans will merge more and more with
machines and that humans will integrate with AGI.  I think we will have to
learn how to accept new intelligences that are not offspring of the homo
sapiens sapiens species and that will be both difficult and rewarding.  
The central issues  about the Technological Singularity is about how we
adapt to our future, how we make wise choices, how we diversify and how we
help others understand what this means and to prepare for it. It will
happen, but most likely in surges rather than hitting a wall.

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