[ExI] The Transhumanist Edge

Eschatoon Magic eschatoon at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 15:15:49 UTC 2009


Some critics prefer to hide their delusional heads in the sand, but it
is becoming evident that transhumanist ideas are accepted by more and
more of the leading thinkers and doers of our age. For a little
reality check, naysayers should read some of the quotes below, which
do not come from a transhumanist mailing list but from some of the
most influential and respected scientists of our times.

The Times - Science minds reveal vision of life, the universe and
everything reports: the discussion website edge.org has asked some of
the world's finest minds the question: "What will change everything?".
The answers, which include contributions from authors, philosophers
and other intellectuals, as well as from researchers, cover all manner
of predictions of "game-changing scientific ideas and developments"
that they expect to live to see… There are predictions of accelerated
human evolution, engineered super-intelligent brains, greatly extended
lifespans and even a kind of victory of death.

The question is simple: "WHAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING? What
game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live
to see?"

The answers are collected at Edge's World Question Center. Some well
known transhumanist thinkers like Nick Bostrom and Aubrey de Grey have
been interviewed and submitted great entries. But the most interesting
thing is the definitely transhumanist tone of many, many of the most
interesting answers. It is, I think, evident that transhumanist memes
are spreading from the original small groups of visionary thinkers to
mainstream science, business and media.

George Dvorsky has listed some of the most interesting transhumanist
answers in his blog post Edge.org answers overwhelmingly
transhumanist. My own favorites (besides Nick and Aubrey) in George's

Gregory Paul: The first major upgrade of the human brain and the mind
it generates since the pleistocene: "...it should be possible to use
alternative, technological means to produce conscious thought. Efforts
are already underway to replace damaged brain parts such as the
hippocampus with hypercomputer implants. If and when the initial
medical imperative is met, elective implants will undoubtedly be used
to upgrade normal brain operations. As the fast evolving devices
improve they will begin to outperform the original brain, it will make
less and less sense to continue to do one's thinking in the old
biological clunker, and formerly human minds will become entirely
artificial as they move into ultra sophisticated, dispersed robot
systems. Assuming that the above developments are practical,
technological progress will not merely improve the human condition, it
should replace it. The conceit that humans in anything like their
present form will be able to compete in a world of immortal superminds
with unlimited intellectual capacity is naïve; there simply will not
be much for people to do. Do not for a minute imagine a society of
crude Terminators, or Datas that crave to be as human as possible.
Future robots will be devices of subtle sophistication and sensitivity
that will expose humans as the big brained apes we truly are. The
logic predicts that most humans will choose to become robotic."

Freeman Dyson: "Radiotelepathy", the direct communication of feelings
and thought from brain to brain: "These physical tools would make
possible the practice of "Radiotelepathy", the direct communication of
feelings and thoughts from brain to brain. The ancient myth of
telepathy, induced by occult and spooky action-at-a-distance, would be
replaced by a prosaic kind of telepathy induced by physical tools. To
make radiotelepathy possible, we have only to invent two new
technologies, first the direct conversion of neural signals into radio
signals and vice versa, and second the placement of microscopic radio
transmitters and receivers within the tissue of a living brain. I do
not have any idea of the way these inventions will be achieved, but I
expect them to emerge from the rapid progress of neurology before the
twenty-first century is over."

Frank J. Tipler: But we shall all be changed: "Humanity will see,
before I die, the "Singularity," the day when we finally create a
human level artificial intelligence. This involves considering the
physics advances that will be required to create the computer that is
capable of running a strong AI program." Another interesting quote
from Tipler's answer: "I remain cautiously optimistic that we will
develop the ultimate technology described above, and transfer it with
faltering hands to our ultimate successors, the AI's and the human
downloads, who will be thus enabled to expand outward into
interstellar space, engulf the universe, and live forever."

David Eagleman: Silicon immortality: downloading consciousness into
computers: "While medicine will advance in the next half century, we
are not on a crash-course for achieving immortality by curing all
disease. Bodies simply wear down with use. We are on a crash-course,
however, with technologies that let us store unthinkable amounts of
data and run gargantuan simulations. Therefore, well before we
understand how brains work, we will find ourselves able to digitally
copy the brain's structure and able to download the conscious mind
into a computer." Also: "If the computational hypothesis of brain
function is correct, it suggests that an exact replica of your brain
will hold your memories, will act and think and feel the way you do,
and will experience your consciousness—irrespective of whether it's
built out of biological cells, Tinkertoys, or zeros and ones… Assuming
we haven't missed anything important in our theoretical frameworks,
then we have the problem cornered and I expect to see the downloading
of consciousness come to fruition in my lifetime."

Eschatoon Magic
aka Giulio Prisco

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list