Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mind Uploading: Save Wikipedia From Bigotry Doom

Wired Science has an article on Save Mind Uploading From Wikipedia Doom: "The entry for mind uploading -- one of the cooler concepts of modern life -- may be deleted from Wikipedia if it's not improved. Involving the transference of a mind from biological brain to computer hardware -- or, for that matter, any other substrate... It's been postulated by such artificial intelligence luminaries as Ray Kurzweil, Marvin Minsky and Hans Moravec... In addition to its cultural role, mind uploading also reflects a fundamental assumption of modern neuroscience and cognitive theory: that consciousness does not require some mysterious, immaterial energizing force, but is contained in the physical interactions of a brain and its structure, and can thus be quantified and described."

The Wired blog has an invitation to participate in the Wikipedia discussion on the fate of the article and vote against its deletion. The same invitation has appeared on transhumanist websites, blogs and mailing lists, and it appears that the article will be kept. The Wired blog has popularized the concept of mind uploading, and I am sure some readers will explore transhumanist writings on mind uploading in more detail.

I agree that the Wikipedia article on Mind Uploading should be improved -- I will try to find some time next week, once the proposed deletion notice has been removed, to participate. But a Wikipedia reader who think an article should be improved should give the good example and begin improving it, not propose it for deletion. So i wonder why the article was immediately proposed for deletion instead of being edited to clarify the concepts, improve the wording, and add some of the hundreds of valid references to the work of creative and respected scientists, which is easy to find on the web. But then, it is not the first time that Wikipedia articles on transhumanism are removed or vandalized.

If I had more time I would contribute to Wikipedia much more -- I am very fond of Wikipedia and consider it as a proof that the Web is really beginning to change our lives in a very significant way. If you think of it, it is truly amazing that a repository of knowledge like Wikipedia is one click away, and I am developing the habit of looking into Wikipedia first whenever I want to know something about something new. And the fact that Wikipedia is open in a P2P crowdsourcing mode -- everyone can contribute to it -- is its main strength. It shows what real democracy can be.

But what is democracy? I think democracy at its best protects minority points of view. But democracy at its worst becomes a dictatorship of a moral majority of bigots and assholes, where minorities are oppressed and their ideas are suppressed. Democracy can become two wolves and a lamb discussing, of course democratically and by majority vote, what to have for dinner. I want to live in a democracy where hundreds of flowers can bloom, not in a dictatorship where only flowers of the approved party line are allowed to exist. I wish to do something to save Wikipedia from bigots.