[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Alan Grimes agrimes at speakeasy.net
Mon Jan 23 05:38:41 UTC 2012

Natasha Vita-More wrote:
> Let's please be civil on this list Alan. I am speaking theoretically.
> Nevertheless, the human biological body is not what transhumanist seek, no
> matter what flavor.

I'm sorry, I'm going to have to get into definitions here. The term 
"biological" is at least an order of magnitude too vague to be usable in 
this context.

It is necessary to deconstruct the term to have a useful discussion.

The term biological tends to imply the following:

# Having a water/fatty acid based cellular structure.

# Using DNA exclusively as a carrier of genetic information. ( on some 
given number of chromasomes and rings).

# using organic chemistry exclusively.

Furthermore, there is the definition of human. Are you talking about a 
human as a being that is constructed through embryology and human-like 
tissue patterning or are you talking about *ALL* humanoid lifeforms?

There are a hundred different things I would change about my cellular 
structure, I would happily replace part of my genome with nano-memory. 
I'd love to have more capabilities on the molecular level. The number of 
minor tweaks and enhancements are too numerous to list. I'd re-enforce 
the weak areas of the skull so that I'd be much less likely to die from 
a well-placed blow to the head. I'd add in a built-in capability to swap 
limbs. I'd go even further and have the ability to graft on a variety of 
attachments (admittedly for erotic reasons). I'd refine all my senses, 
sensations, and lower level emotions to be more optimal in a number of 

If I actually tried to exhaust the list of ideas I've come up with, I'd 
be in the many hundreds of pages.

Now, what are your ideas about what a "posthuman" is?

I have heard exactly one idea. A posthuman is an emulation of a human 
neural pattern in a computer.

I have heard barely five ideas about how the pattern should be acquired.

1. The pattern should be acquired through electron microsopy on slices 
of frozen tissues.

2. The pattern should be acquired by perfusing nanites into the brain.

3. The pattern should be acquired through electron microsopy on a 
plastinated and stained brain.

4. The pattern should be acquired through replacing neurons one by one 
in a functioning brain. << least offensive but has been discounted by 
people pawning themselves off as "experts".

5. The pattern should be acquired by molecularly disassembling a brain 
using nanites.

And I have heard exactly three ideas about life after this procedure:

1. The upload would live in some virtual paradise (implausible; 
extremely unstable condition).

2. The upload would transition into some barely imaginable state of 
being that exists as some ill-defined entity within the computronium 
substrate. The desirability of which is highly dubious because it would 
obsolete nearly all existing human motivators and pretty much obliterate 
the concept of an individual mind.

3. Eugene Letilism which seems to state that uploading should be done as 
soon as possible as a defensive measure and that all uploads will face 
what appears to be a 99% hopeless evolutionary fight for survival; 
survival as "meat puppets" being completely hopeless.

A third idea is sometimes raised only to be viciously dismissed, that 
the upload would return to baseline reality as an android.

My apologies if I failed to list something that you had in mind. Unless 
it nullifies the framework I've laid out, then my point stands.

It is granted that a variety of issues are still awaiting scientific 
resolution, however a number of issues have been either ignored or 
glossed over:

A. How can it be claimed that an inorganic substrate invented last week 
will be more survivable than a hundred thousand different species of 
animals that have been evolving for the last hundred million years?

B. Where will the super-reliable, super-scalable, super-powerful, 
highly-usable software necessary to run critical life-sustaining 
subsystems come from while there don't appear to be any development 
projects either proposed or underway?

C. What is all this business about matroshaka brains? Do we each get 
one? Are we all crammed into a single one? Who gets to be sysadmin? 
Would individuals still exist? What rights would an individual have? 
Would being moderated/banned from all channels of communication be 
equivalent to a death penalty for uploads?

Look, I know I'm a freak, but when I fantasize about being able to 
bodily merge with other ppl, I try to resolve issues such as what would 
it be like, how would the neurons be connected, how deep would the 
mental layer of the merging be? What rights and capabilities would a 
participant in such a merging retain individually, who/what would make 
decisions as to how the collective would evolve over time? (I could go 

I'm confessing about this here because I desperately need to make the 
point that I'm not seeing much evidence that any of you have managed to 
drill down to nuts and bolts details of what you are proposing.

 > If this is not your view of transhumanism, then maybe
 > you might revisit the definition:  "human in transition" to becoming
 > posthuman.

I'm sorry but you have been misled into the state of mind that just 
because you are a prominent person in the transhumanist community that 
you own the term and can set its definition. I require the term have a 
different definition so therefore I claim that my own ideas are also a 
form of transhumanism. It should be obvious that my interests, desires, 
and preferred goals as a human being are neither better nor worse that 
your interests, desires, and preferred goals. The validity of all goals 
being purely self-referential.

> I am 100% for individuality, multiplicity, plurality, diversity within
> transhumanism;


> however, the human biological body with its limited lifespan
> simply is not the transhumanist vision.

Life extension is great too.

> And, furthermore, it is not what is
> wrong with transhumanism. Human enhancement is mainstream, as is the cyborg.
> This is not my opinion, it simply is reality.


Three cheers each for human enhancement entering the mainstream and 


Powers are not rights.

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