[ExI] Blackford and Egan on >H

Michael LaTorra mlatorra at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 16:29:09 UTC 2008

I think it would be a good idea to begin with Greg Egan's first comment from
the link below, which is not the text included in Damien's message:


Though a handful of self-described Transhumanists are thinking rationally
about real prospects for the future, the overwhelming majority might as well
belong to a religious cargo cult based on the notion that self-modifying AI
will have magical powers.

Worse, the word itself implies the replacement or overcoming of humanity,
which is a PR disaster. While at some level it's good to insist that every
quality of the human phenotype be subject to clear-eyed *scrutiny*, the word
"Transhumanist" appears to suggest the foregone conclusion that everything
about the present species is destined for the rubbish bin -- which neither
accords with what most people who've considered the matter would wish for,
nor does much to encourage anyone else to treat the movement seriously.

Russell, I share your concern that so many prominent Transhumanists are
anti-egalitarian, but at this stage, quite frankly, to first order I
consider a self-description of "Transhumanist" to be a useful filter to
identify crackpots. While this might be unfair on a tiny proportion of
people, I'm afraid anyone who doesn't want to sink with the whole drooling
sub-Nietzschean mob really ought to think of a better name for their
philosophy -- or perhaps even eschew labels altogether.

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 10:06 AM, Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com>

> See Russell Blackford's blog entry on transhumanism,
> http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/
> and especially the comments:
> <
> https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=24761391&postID=3749500042141962458
> >
> where Greg Egan offers remarks such as:
> <The word "transhumanism" (or, even worse, "posthumanism") sounds
> like a suicide note for the species, which effectively renders it a
> political suicide note for any movement by that name. No doubt there
> are people prepared to spend 90% of their time and energy explaining
> that they didn't *intend* any negative connotations, but this is not
> one of those cases where other people will be to blame if
> "transhumanists" are reviled as the enemies of humanity on purely
> linguistic grounds. It's no use people proclaiming "Please, read my
> 1,000-page manifesto, don't just look at one word!" The name is
> stupid, and anyone who doesn't drop it deserves the consequences.
> And I'm not sure quite how much solidarity I'm compelled to have with
> someone, just because they've also noticed that we're not going to
> see out the millennium with physical substrates identical to those
> we've had for the last 200,000 years. People who think their manifest
> destiny is to turn Jupiter into computronium so they can play 10^20
> characters simultaneously in their favourite RPG are infinitely more
> odious and dangerous than the average person who thinks this whole
> subject is science-fictional gibberish and would really just like to
> have 2.3 children that are members of his/her own species, so long as
> they don't have cystic fibrosis and live a slightly better life than
> their parents. >
> Damien Broderick
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