Sunday, May 2, 2010

Has Transhumansim already won?

Comments to Michael Anissimov's Transhumanism Has Already Won and TransAlchemy's If Transhumanism Has Won, Who Lost?:

I agree with Michael's first statement: "It’s 2010, and transhumanism has already won. Billions of people around the world would love to upgrade their bodies, extend their youth, and amplify their powers of perception, thought, and action with the assistance of safe and tested technologies. The urge to be something more, to go beyond, is the norm rather than the exception."

Transhumanism wins by disappearing into the fabric of daily routine. As enhancement products become available, if they can really improve the quality of life consumers will buy them, regardless of the whining of "bio-ethicists". Soon we will have brain implants to boost our cognitive abilities, and later we will be able to become post-biological beings with indefinite lifespans via mind uploading. Once these options are available, many people will use them without paying attention to big philosophical words. For our generation, sending the first email was something momentous - but today's kids just use Facebook on their Iphones. And this is how it should be. Tomorrow's kids will just use their brain implants and merge with software. The Singularity will happen, but it will feel like daily routine.

Mike Treder writes: "That’s why, 20 years from now, transhumanism might be largely forgotten--because everyone will be a transhumanist. Though, of course, they won’t call themselves that. As Giulio Prisco puts it, 'That would mean transhumanism, once revolutionary and disruptive, has dissolved into the fabric of the zeitgeist, and everyone just assumes that human enhancement and transcendence of all limits is good.'"

Michael continues: "At their base, the world’s major two largest religions — Christianity and Islam — are transhumanistic. After all, they promise transcension from death and the concerns of the flesh, and being upgraded to that archetypical transhuman — the Angel... We will plant flowers and trees across the universe. All we have to do is survive our embryonic stage, stay in control of our own destiny, and expand outwards in every direction at the speed of light."

I also agree with this. The smartest strategy for traditional religious at this moment, would be to begin integrating transhumanism in their doctrine (like the Mormon Transhumanist Association). Of course they will not do this, yet, because they are power systems, they understand very well that transhumanism can be a very powerful competitor in their memetic space, and they want to preserve their power and money. Therefore, they will continue to try fighting transhumanism until is too late.

TransAlchemy is a team of two anti-transhumanist activists who publish an interesting blog and video podcast. I must admit to reading and watching them often: they are often interesting, and they often seem to understand transhumanism perhaps better than many transhumanists. They are Terrans who wish to "Save the Humans" and fight Cosmists. But the "[Angels who]... expand outwards in every direction at the speed of light" are humans: they are the next phase of the evolution of our species. They are our children, and you don't fight your children, because it would be fighting yourself.

However, TransAlchemy say: "We must accept the possibility that there is a probability, greater than 0%, that "God exists"... As transhuman-centric technologies will aim to keep you trapped within the comfortable boundaries of this universe, religions would seek to return to the creator of the universe."

I accept the possibility that perhaps God exists, in a certain sense: one or more Gods who evolved naturally (that is, not supernaturally), but created our world as a synthetic reality (we may be NPCs in their videogames) and can intervene in our reality in ways that we could only call supernatural (they cannot violate their own physics, but they can violate the simulated physics of our reality). Perhaps they will resurrect us all in a better simulation.

But transhumanists don't accept limits, not even "the comfortable boundaries of this universe". If there are ways to reach beyond, we will try to use our engineering ability to reach beyond when the time is right, and "seek to return to the creator of the universe". And of course I cannot even begin to speculate about the motivations of super-intelligent beings, but I know one thing: if we could create synthetic realities inhabited by sentient beings, I would hope that one day they find out how to talk to us as equals. The plan of God may be that we become Gods.