Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hallelujah transhumanism!

Alright, I like pontificating on the future as much as other people, but really, tranhumanist types, the singularity stuff is getting too much attention and damaging legitimate attempts at more 'humble' science. I got thinking about this after reading the title of this Neurophilosophy post ("The Technological Rapture"). Isn't that what it is? Just another substitute for religion, but with nanobots and bytes instead of angels and miracles?

Yeah, it is, just with a more physical/material slant. Technology/God will come and sweep away the chosen ones that embrace it/him! Into a land of pure energy/spirit and knowledge/love! Those that choose to ignore progress/the lord will be left behind as the Earth is destroyed by man made disaster/demons or catastrophic solar event/rivers of blood and whatever!

What separates the two is the semi-feasibility of approaching a 'singularity' point where knowledge progresses faster than we can perceive it. Problem is... that happens NOW. 20% of the US has never sent an email. You have to pull your head out of math and science, and submerge it into sociology and philosophy a little here, kids. Or, if you need an equation/variable as a mental speed bump, how about this: Progress requires that the perceiver/creator both acquire knowledge and act on it (whether thinking/building/etc) in order to influence other perceivers/creators. Evolution dictates that organisms will act to increase fitness, therefore use of the aforementioned knowledge will be used to aid the individual with it. If speed of advancement is infinite, then the population instantaneously is cleaved to a single person/creator/etc with infinite lifespan (that kookie 'god moment' type thing). Any semi-intelligent person, say Mr #2 to Mr #1 above, would realize this and destroy Mr#1 in order to stay alive, as Mr#3 would gank Mr#2. The whole process converges to a "Mediocrilarity" where advancement cannot be faster than acting on it because the 'progressors' are held at some type of equilibrium point others can comprehend. Tada! Stalemate.

So, stop talking about brain implants like they'll be used to control planet-seized sentient robots that can time travel and fight angels with dark matter. It makes getting funding harder when everyone with a normal 9-5 job thinks you're wacko.

(Here are those recent articles on this. (shame on IEEE Spectrum for hosting this.))


Anonymous said...

yay, another sane person :)

Greg O'Byrne said...

So are you saying that we are NOT going to get said planet size robots anytime soon?


Erk said...


Arenamontanus said...

As a card-carrying transhumanist I'm of two minds about this: yes, there is a lot of embarrassing unfounded silliness out there, yet the "shut up, you are scaring the grant bodies" approach is IMHO the wrong one. It replaces a thick debate about ends with a thin debate about means. I have written a longer post/essay on why I think so here.

Besides, isn't the LOLLERMONKEYBOT! quite close in spirit to the planetsized robots? :-)

Kaj Sotala (Xuenay) said...

Isn't that what it is? Just another substitute for religion, but with nanobots and bytes instead of angels and miracles?

Well, not really. For the differences, see Rapture of the Nerds, Not.

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