[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Amon Zero amon at doctrinezero.com
Wed Feb 1 08:49:35 UTC 2012

On 1 February 2012 00:10, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:

> If we got rid of depression, anger, sadness, melancholy, fatigue,
> bitchiness, sarcasm, fear, inattentiveness, frustration, boredom and
> all the other wonderful negative emotions, could you really call what
> you ended up with human in any sense of the word?
> So what is lost if we reach a state of paradise on earth? Everything.

As much as I agree that we'd have to be extremely careful when "engineering
out" evolutionarily adaptive emotions (such as disgust), from my point of
veering the statement above is veering into bona fide Luddo-Theological
territory. My responses would be:

A) So what if what is left isn't human? We're transhumanists, aren't we?

B) Sorry to say it, but that sounds like religious hyperbole. One could
just as easily say "nothing" (paradise may easily enough be defined as a
state of good-without-exception) - these are essentially meaningless,
deeply anti-practical statements whose only use is to argue for a "true
path" as opposed to some form of perceived deviation.

The fact of the matter is that when we feel happy, we don't imagine that
we've somehow lost something because we aren't sad. So if we were motivated
by shades of positive reinforcement rather than negative (to the extent
that may prove possible without scuppering critical instinctive survival
reactions), I doubt very much that there'd be a consensus that we had lost
anything at all. (and FWIW, I personally think there'd still be a place for
the likes of NIN or Tori Amos in that world! The "pain" they evoke is an
artistic recreation, not real, individually felt pain at all, in my

That's really beside the point anyway, I suppose, since reality is never
some extreme fantasy scenario, but an unpredictable mess of consequences
and practical considerations. It seems a little strange to see
conversations on this list making the same kind of black-or-white,
transhumanist-futures-good-or-bad dichotomy arguments that were common 25
years ago. Surely we can see that when technology changes human behaviour,
the outcomes are never simplistic, and can therefore never easily be
classified as all good or all bad?

- A
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