[extropy-chat] transhumanism=doomsday cult b.s?

Robert Picone rpicone at gmail.com
Wed Jan 31 09:07:20 UTC 2007

On 1/30/07, kevin.osborne <kevin.osborne at gmail.com> wrote:
> tell me if I'm wrong but:
> - is transhumanism just another refuge for norm-rejecting
> fringe-dwellers seeking yet another hippie/indie/alternative refuge
> from their non-conformity?

Well, it's definitely not a majority, conformist view if you want to qualify

it that way, but it does seem to have a definite logical basis that
movements that you seem to want to liken to it seem to be largely
missing.  Any non-religious philosophy for the most part isn't going to be
accepted by the norm, but I still think society can benefit from all sorts

- is it just another 'salvation' cult for ex-fundamental religious
> nutjobs who've found that atheism, too, might provide them with
> eternal life in the kingdom of (upload-)heaven?

Well, I've yet to hear of an ex-fundamentalist transhumanist, and I'm
not sure I've ever met one that likens a much longer life span to the
concept of heaven in any way, it doesn't go along very much with the
idea.  We'll still be human in some way, we'll still exist in the real
it will still be possible to "kill" us, and as such we'll still have
and conflict, I don't see people's future consciousnesses, even in fairly
extreme scenarios, being much different than their present ones in ways
that really matter (i.e. ignoring speed, data throughput and medium).
The only kind of salvation I could see myself finding in transhumanism
could be fixed by a few painkillers right now.

- is all the 'existential risk' and 'friendly a.i' gibbering just yet
> another doomsday cult squealing 'the end is nigh!' in their wearable
> billboards?

Well, that's one way to look at it, but once again I'd differentiate an
end based upon logical arguments of cause and effect and potential
widespread technologies from an end based upon a rough guess of
the likelihood of the realization of someone's vision from thousands
of years ago.

- is the brain-mod and bod-mod culture just yet another terminus for
> the neurotic masses who buy 'self-help' and 'lose body fat!'
> be-someone-better books?

Well, the current body mod community probably doesn't have much
overlap with those people.  I can't really imagine that guy with the pierced

nose lip and eyebrow sitting around all day watching Oprah.  Regardless,
I'm sure there's plenty of overlap here with transhumanists in general, but
is that really such a bad thing?...  I mean the intention of reading self
help books is good even if they're asking someone else to teach them to
be better rather than focusing on more personal goals.  Or do you have
a problem with the idea of anyone ever being less than their potential?

- are we all being seduced by the new 'second coming' a.k.a 'the
> singularity' where all the true believers will be saved and transcend
> to eden?

Well, really I don't see any advantage for the singularity's "true
being believers in this case, hell, as they're far more likely to be early
adopters to various technologies, the true believers are more likely to
take the brunt of a financial beating that mainstream society likely
suffer from when they adopt similar technologies.  So again, I see a
distinction, getting a definite advantage from the belief itself and lending

itself to elitism would be the only real problem with the above scenario I
can think of....  Neither of which seem to be problems here.

- in a sub-culture that on the surface espouses rationalism, are we in
> fact in danger of blindly drinking the fanboy kool-aid of a fantasy
> future that may in fact be far beyond our means as a collective?

 I think most people accept that discussion is almost completely
speculation and most admit they have very little certainty how things
will happen, only that certain concepts, the ones that seem to make
the most definite sense to them, seem to be likely.

-> are we simply feeding the coffers of 'faction' SF-writers and
> > providing unwarranted attention to run-of-the-mill nutjobs who just
> > happen to sell future shock as their 'chicken little' axe-to-grind?

Probably, to some extent but I highly doubt that there's enough buying
power here to make much of anyone rich...  And nutjobs need to eat too...

> feel free to go off like a firecracker, I'm clearly trolling. as a
> > wannabe-sceptic with a history of gulliblity I'm trying to sound out
> > some querulous(possibly pernicious) points that inquire as to the
> > nudity of our little extropian emperor...
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