Diametrically Opposed

You know, when it comes to diametrically opposed views, it’s not Atheists and Pagans who are glaring at each other across the boardroom table-or rather, not all Atheists and Pagans.
It’s rather that tiny subset of Atheists, the Transhumanists, whom most Pagans find very, very little common ground with, and vice versa of course.

I wandered across an article in New Scientist today,which covers the ninth annual meeting of the World Transhumanist Association.

My first reaction when bumping my nose on the Transhumanist paradigm is utter fear and revulsion, which is quite revealing, really, about me. I mean- who are these jokers?

I remember a poll over at my Learned Blogfriend Oaksong. The results were about what one would expect – more males than females in favour of ‘eternal life’ , with a dropping away in enthusiasm for it on both sides of roughly middle age.

Some good points were raised in the course of that discussion,though. Not least because a couple of the participants were members of my favourite musical band- Gaia Consort.

Well, back to the question of who are these jokers who think it’s a good idea to upload human consciousness into computer hardware – apparently, members of the patriarchal backbone, white middle aged male technogeeks , some of whom think they are scientists. Now, I was born into and raised up in a scientific family . I have lived most of my life among scientists, studied and worked with them – I am one, in fact. Wonderful people who are or were also scientists include Carl Sagan and my third year astrophysics lecturer David Bennewith. But these jerks only think, or want to believe, that they are members of one of the most accomplished, intelligent and humane subsets of humanity on earth today – they most distinctly are not.

Here’s Marvin Minsky, “Father” of AI (and that nomenclature gives you an idea of where he’s coming from):

“Ordinary citizens wouldn’t know what to do with eternal life,” says Minsky. “The masses don’t have any clear-cut goals or purpose.”

Excuse me, Mr Minsky? A bit of an elitist mindset we’ve got there, not so?

Do you really believe that you’re so much better than me? I invite you to any kind of intelligence test you care to name – you’ll be up against me, and I guarantee you , you won’t walk away the clear winner.

As far as humans go, Mr. Minsky, my gamma – male dog is a better person than you are.

This kind of thinking is the direct cause of us finding ourselves where we are today-in a society which believes that violence and threats of violence solve everything, on a planet we have whipped into submission to within an inch of Her life-taking us all down with Her.

Way to go, you overinflated buffoons.

Had enough of the Libertarian who thinks he’s the only type fit to live forever? Here’s some more:

“Scientists shouldn’t have ethical responsibility for their inventions, they should be able to do what they want,” he says. “You shouldn’t ask them to have the same values as other people.”

But the most telling remark- the quote which reminds us that these folk are operating from a basepoint of fear of not knowing everything, comes from AI fundi Eliezer Yudkowsky .:

“Saying AI will save the world or cure cancer sounds better than saying ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen’.”

Oh really? That at least is the bare truth.

One day, you will assimilate the fact that none of us know diddly squat about the Universe, although we try. And then you will,perhaps, be free.

Pic courtesy Accelerating Future


11 responses to “Diametrically Opposed

  1. aquilaThey are scary aren’t they and very misguided. We are not meant for eternal life and have no means to cope with it. It would drive us insane. We are meant to return to the stardust from whence we came which, to me, is a beautiful thought.Science and arrogance together can come up with some really bad ideas. Some in the USA are considering the possibility of warming up Mars with greenhouse gases so the planet becomes habitable. My reaction to this is, OK, we have become the biggest danger to our own planet because we really don’t understand the workings of the universe and now we are considering being a danger to another!


  2. …apart from that, Paul, the very essence of being a living human being on this planet,in this universe, is essentially connected to the fact that our tenure is limited.Was it Frank Herbert who said, through one of his characters, that “The beauty of life is bound up in the fact that it can surprise you” ? Or something along those lines.Take away the inevitability of death, and we would be something else altogether.Transhuman, I suppose.No thanks.Love,Terri


  3. Thank you for the Learned Blogfriend designation :-)I agree that there’s a strong strain of gleeful elitist megalomania running through much of the transhumanist discourse these days. It’s similar to the thinking of a lot of groups who believe that they’ve found the One True Way. I think you know that I’m a bit more sympathetic to some of the ideas than you are, but there’s a lot I’d like to distance myself from. For instance, I can’t grasp why someone would pursue the idea of uploading one’s personality into a computer for example; sure, there’s a simulated you there, but even if it’s identical down to the last detail, there’s no continuity. The original you is still left behind.I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at the Amor Mundi blog– it’s by one of the writers who used to be with Worldchanging– but he’s made a lot of posts lately that have been very critical of the transhumanist movement that you may be interested in.Never thirst,Bill/Oaksong


  4. “Saying AI will save the world or cure cancer sounds better than saying ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen’.”What a remarkably ignorant statement, and one totally at odds with scientific thinking. Scientists don’t posit “answers” to issues when they have no idea if the proposed technology is even up to solving the problem.You’re right, aquila – that statement reeks of fear and loathing of death.


  5. Very interesting, I just did a quick scan of the link, will try to read it better later. I didn’t see any mention of spirit though. The dream that brought me here shows a future where people are disconnected from each other emotionally and spiritually. I would like to see that dream not come true. A light rain here this morning. Guess I won’t be working on George’s truck today. I should get off my duff and build at least a roof that I can work under.I made a big pot of soup this morning, it’s simmering now. Have a great day, hugs.


  6. Great post. What I love about these folks is that they assume that humans are the be-all and end-all of the universe, there could be nothing out there that’s better or more complicated than a human mind. If they’re right, the universe sucks.


  7. That’s a Richard Dawkins mind, Anne.Although I’m dearly fond of the man in the Chair of Public Understanding of Science-for his enthusiasm and awe in the face of the universe-he sometimes just fails to get it.But then, ‘we’ have an urgent need to find the universe as explicable as possible-otherwise ‘we’ feel powerless.Love,Terri


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