Transhumanity, like it or not? (was: Prince Charles gets nervous)

Jeff Bone jbone at deepfile.com
Mon Apr 28 14:12:34 PDT 2003


On Monday, Apr 28, 2003, at 12:05 US/Central, Russell Turpin wrote:

> The problem with the argument above is that it
> essentially closes the option for people who DON'T
> want to become trans-human.

Russell, they close the option for themselves.  Or rather, the option 
closes itself for them.

> You almost seem to say
> that they are doomed to extinction, in the not too
> distant future, or at least, that you view the
> latter as a sort of lifeboat to that probability.

Yes, I do.  (If I'm parsing you correctly.)

> For much of humanity the continuation of humanity
> -- meaning primates like you and I now are -- will
> remain qualitatively more important than the
> propagation of its "intellectual descendants."

I'm not sure what you're arguing about, here.  If the choices are 
strictly "continuity in any necessary form whatsoever" vs. "no 
continuity at all" then IMHO only an irrational nihilist (who we can 
probably ignore, easily refute if necessary) argues for the latter.  
The prospect of any sort of current-model humanity getting (in 
significant numbers) off-planet, out-of-system, and safely ducking 
various kinds of existential risks seems, by turns, increasingly, 
vanishingly unlikely --- belonging in the realm of what will eventually 
be viewed as quaint, even pre-technological (relatively speaking) 
sci-fi.

There will be no Star Trek;  that meme set represents a *failure of 
imagination* over the long haul.  (Low shock level.)  It seems very 
likely that we either move to "silicon" (metaphor) (at least for 
transit purposes) or all humanity will likely die on this mudball / in 
orbit around our particular fireball etc.

Why bother to build giant, expensive, slow ships when just a few grams 
of even moderately efficient computronium can (a) carry millions of 
minds, (b) be accelerated to much higher speeds much more efficiently, 
and (c) travel much more safely given a lower impact profile?  And even 
despite "why bother" arguments, the "economics" of macro-scale ships 
carrying corporeal entities and all their needs are unfavorable to the 
point of physical impracticality for most interstellar travel.  (And 
almost every solution to making the economics tenable leads also to 
transhumanity-precursor technology.)

If you upload folks for the purpose of interstellar transit / diaspora, 
well, I submit that they're transhuman whether or not they ever 
re-corporealize.

> If you say the latter isn't possible, they will say:
> let's work on it more. Regardless, they do NOT view
> the latter as an acceptable alternative to the
> former.

Good point.

So the key to winning the day in this is to produce iron-clad, 
convincing arguments that it truly is an either-or scenario:  either 
transhumanity, or extinction.  Or, perhaps:  either transhumanity in 
myriad flavors or no humanity of any flavor.  Note that "yes to 
transhumanity" does not imply forced transhumanity for any single 
individual, so the neo-Luddites can obey their death-memes while the 
rest of us watch their little die-off.

jb



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