[ExI] Is Transhumanism Coercive?

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed Oct 26 20:25:39 UTC 2011

On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 4:35 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
> Kelly Anderson wrote:
>> So we have two kinds of "coercion", the soft coercion of the
>> marketplace, the Darwinian survival pressures, and the hard coercion
>> of government. So how governments respond to transhumanism is likely
>> to be where most of the hard coercion comes from... and the
>> marketplace will place it's own subtle pressures on people to conform
>> to the new zeitgeist of tomorrow's technology.
> Don't forget the cultural and social pressure. How often do you do things
> because it is what is expected of people in your role? (whether that role is
> student, rebel, male, Newfoundlander, ...) A lot of these behaviors are
> induced by our surrounding culture. And there is a tremendous amount of
> feedback going on that deeply affects our behavior:

Agreed. Surely this is the main root of religious memeplexes... There
are probably other meme "channels" out there as well... propaganda,
mental illness, advertising, corporate communications and the still
quiet voice of nature... I'm sure there are others. :-)

> Right now a lot of new foreign students have come to Oxford. They do not
> understand the subtle rules of British queues. So they misbehave (in the
> eyes of us locals) and get subtle feedback - frowns, averted eyes, bodies
> turned slightly so that elbows point in their direction. Within a few months
> they will behave like the rest of us do in the queues.

Sure. The British have a lot of unwritten rules, as everyone else
does. When I last visited China in 1987, for example, I got stares
when I put trash into a trash can. When I asked what I had done, it
was explained to me that many street sweepers' jobs depended upon
people throwing their litter into the street... and how cruel could I
be to deprive them of a means to make a living. It was truly a moment
of zen. I hear things have changed now... by the way.

> Transhumanism will become part of this system of culture and social pressure
> if it becomes mainstream. What kind of enhancement school do you go for? How
> do you live up to the informal norms of proper enhancement behavior?

Yes, it's just like, "what iPod model do you have". The young are
particularly susceptible to this sort of thing, which is why we have
so many fyborg youth.

>> The real question in my mind is whether the Amish
>> will be able to continue their lifestyle... or will they be perceived
>> at some future point as not worth the bother...
> And this is why one should care about property rights and similar things. If
> the primordial slime owns shares in the higher intelligence it will tend to
> treat the slime well if property rights are preserved.

I truly hope things work out that way, but the socialist trend would
seem to indicate that it may not work out so well...

> The Amish are unlikely to be in trouble since they have a sufficiently
> protected niche within the US society cooperative core: rights are mutually
> recognized, there is enough feedback to handle changes in the surrounding
> social matrix. There are no doubt limits to how isolated a group can be and
> still enjoy proper protection, but the Amish show that they can be pretty
> wide.

But will the US stay the same into the indefinite future??? That
remains to be seen.

>>> The problem is when people both want to stay outside the
>>> mainstream but do not want to pay the cost: they must then convince
>>> enough
>>> of the rest that they have a moral claim to get repaid by the mainstream
>>> to
>>> cover the cost of what they perceive as exclusion.
>> Enter socialism.
> I'm not sure what you mean by socialism here and onwards. It doesn't sound
> like you are referring to the economic or political system.

Both. When money is taken from the rich (enhanced/machines) and given
to the poor (unenhanced) that is socialism... or did I miss the train
to the political science class?

> Note that the above demand can be made to any kind of society, for any
> reason - and might be granted for equally diverse reasons. When people give
> food to begging monks, they might do that for the rationally selfish reason
> of improving their karma.

The difference is free choice. I can choose to give money to a monk,
or not. I cannot choose whether to pay taxes (other than by choosing
not to have an income, or buy anything that has sales tax) because
that is forced at the end of a gun. Libertarianism is not against the
redistribution of wealth, it is against the FORCED redistribution of
wealth. If the redistribution is done voluntarily by the wealth
holder, then all is well, and you don't have socialism. The reason
they would make this choice is irrelevant.

>> I'm uninterested in the government
>> footing the bill. Whoever writes the checks makes the rules...
> That is an interesting problem with demanding compensation for being
> excluded. If you are compensated for not fitting in you become somewhat
> dependent on the rest of society (even if the compensation is non-monetary,
> like moral support). If you want to remain truly independent you cannot
> claim compensation.

I completely agree with this position. As someone who has taken
government money and services, I can tell you that it comes at a
considerable cost to your personal freedom and self esteem.


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