Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's Be Mean to Giulio Prisco

Updated and adapted for shits and giggles from the Moot, some more of the incomparably idiotic stylings of Giulio Prisco, Holy High Pontifex of the Order of Cosmic Engineers, and exemplary superlative futurologist:
Extro dearest, I think you are wasting your time. You can say the most reasonable things like 2+2=4,

...or that your organismic brain can be "migrated" into cyberspace or into a shiny robot body and thus immortalized to "live" in a virtual or nanoslavebotic treasure cave in the company of history-shattering superintelligent Robot Gods...
but our host and his disciples

...people who agree with him on some questions while refraining, unlike we ourselves, from heading and championing literal membership organizations declaring themselves to be world-historical "movements" and "-isms" with shared "principles" delineated in online manifestos for all to see...
will claim that you said 4+4=2,

...even if you say it...
and call you an "eugenicist" or other names

...like when some of us declare there to be no difference between deafening a child with a poker and a deaf person selecting for deafness in a wanted child before birth because deafness is harm by definition, or when some of us declare all neuro-atypicality as inherently non-optimal, or when some of us declare that the mere fact that nonhuman animals exhibit non-human intelligence would constitute an ethical duty to "uplift" them into human-conformity if we could...
There is just no way to explain something to someone who does not want to understand.

It's true, Giulio, you'll just have to pray for us sinners who simply stubbornly refuse to recognize the Robot God as our lord and savior despite the flat-out manifest obviousness of the truths of the superlative aspirations to which you cling in your own faithfulness.

64 comments:

Giulio Prisco said...

Why, of course I will pray for the salvation of your mindfile, and your disciples' too. The Robot God, in Their mercy and wisdom, may choose to listen to my humble prayer.

Though I am afraid They may rather choose not to favor intellectually dishonest liars.

To the reader: I am referring to Dale's nonsense about eugenics. None of the transhumanists Dale likes to insult is remotely in favor of normative eugenics. This is one of the lies he likes to invent in support of his hysteria.

If I am mistaken: please prove me wrong: names, dates, quotes.

jimf said...

> Let's Be Mean to Giulio Prisco
> . . . for shits and giggles. . .

Human comedy on the net. From my e-mail archive:

What a delight it would be if the >Hist boards contained
(instead of the continual humorless whining such as the recent
responses to Dale Carrico's "libertopian" remarks on WTA-talk),
gems of flamage such as:

http://groups.google.com/group/gnu.misc.discuss/msg/cf793bc5e8c55e16

The second dumbest thing about Jim Collier is his arrogant conceit of
controlling the subject matter of Usenet threads that he graces with
his august participation. Interested parties may refer to the locus
of my disagreement with the Ten Million Dollar KotM ["King of the Mountain",
presumably] Extraordinaire at. . . For our new
readers, herewith a brief sampling of Usenet Collieriana:

1. "I'm more literate than most store clerks."

2. "I honestly have no opinion of whether you are the asshole in
person that you are in this newsgroup, nor do I wish to start an
on-going feud with you, unless of course you wish to enlist among
the NANAE [news.admin.net-abuse.email] morons... and then I might
pursue you to your grave."

3. "I only write real-time software that works on many platforms,
little man, and the twenty-three employees and six contractors who
work for me, and I, make a fair chunk of change in the process."

4. "is this moron androgynous, or is it a true gender chameleon?"

5 "I don't run a $10 million company on give-away software, I'm
afraid."

6. "It's hard to damn a life, but when the damnable lifeform is so
obviously subhuman, what else is one to do?"

7. "I'm not interested in busses. I've got two cars."

8. "you moronic result of one of your father's misplaced cum-shots
in the general direction of the farm animals"

9. "I already knew that."

10. "It is *you* who are a compulsive, neurotic lot, moron moo-moo."
------------------------------

More Memorable Collieriana:
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=9hqnuh%24ot8%241%40siamese.noc.ucla.edu

OTOH, despite his erudition, Z's bile and
spleen and other exudates give me a sour
stomach, and his convoluted syntax makes me nod off
after a while (then again, I couldn't take a steady
diet of Oscar Wilde, either).

Dale Carrico said...

You're counting on me not devoting the time it takes to scour sources to document clearly what you very well know to be transhumanist commonplaces. Fine. I'll do it, and I expect no apologies only the usual facile weaseling from you, once I do it, but this will take a little time.

I'll focus on the three actual claims I attributed to transhumanists -- [1] selecting for deafness amounting to the same harm as deafening a living child, [2] neuro-atypicality identified with sub-optimality, [3] different-intelligence in nonhuman animals constituting a *duty* to "uplift" them into human conformity if possible. Do you need for me to explain how these are eugenic premises even before I document their prevalence, by the way?

Full documentation forthcoming, but it may take more than today to do it right (lecture prep, real job).

jimf said...

> ". . .the Ten Million Dollar KotM ["King of the Mountain",
> presumably] Extraordinaire. . ."

Nope, it was "Kook of the Month". ;->

Anonymous said...

“None of the transhumanists Dale likes to insult is remotely in favor of normative eugenics. This is one of the lies he likes to invent in support of his hysteria.”The problem is that transhumanists often say contradictory things without realizing it! For example, despite vigorously defending “morphological freedom” and “technological self-determination”, James Hughes wrote a statement in his essay Democratic Transhumanism 2.0. that can is interpreted by many as favoring normative eugenics:

“One of the most important progressive demands will be to ensure universal access to genetic choice technologies which permit parents to guarantee their children biological capacities equal to those of other children.”

Giulio Prisco said...

Dale: Full documentation forthcomingI am waiting for it. I disagree on all 3 statements as they are formulated here.

Dale Carrico said...

I wrote: [T]he three actual claims I attributed to transhumanists -- [1] selecting for deafness amounting to the same harm as deafening a living child, [2] neuro-atypicality identified with sub-optimality, [3] different-intelligence in nonhuman animals constituting a *duty* to "uplift" them into human conformity if possible.Robot Cultist Giulio Prisco -- after calling me a liar to make this attribution, replied: I disagree on all 3 statements as they are formulated here.Just to be clear: Do you mean [1] you disagree with the statements yourself, [2] you disagree that the statements are advocated by prominent transhumanists, or [3] you disagree that these statements should be called eugenicist?

By the way, I believe James Hughes is the most respectable transhumanist-identified person who has defended all three of these claims in the past and recent past. I have argued round and round with him many times in public on these issues, and so he leaps to mind.

You do realize that there are many transhumanists who cheerfully admit to their admiration for so-called "liberal eugenics"? Your knee-jerk assertion that I must be telling lies to make this charge we both know quite well to be a transhumanist commonplace is fairly flabbergasting -- very Dolores Umbridge of you, but without the fashion sense. I regard that the use of "enhancement" in universalizing therapeutic contexts in inherently eugenicist, by the way. You'll find years of arguments in this vein anthologized here. It's not like I keep these views, or the analyses that underlie them, any kind of secret.

Anyway, as I said, James Hughes's is the work I'm going to be scouring through for choice bits on each of these three claims when I find a spare hour or two to do real research rather than tossing off instant effortless responses to you clowns like this one.

seth said...

As long as the club doesn't mind, I'll just talk around his Holy High Pontifex. I've tried to interlocute with him on two previous occasions to no avail. But then, I've also tried to interlocute with my own born-again-wingnut family, also to no avail. Faith-based worldviews tend not to hold themselves accountable to the norms of things like society, or even conversation. Anyhooo....

For my $$$, there's no need to go further than his initial statement in this thread: he, and transhumanists more generally, according to him, support only *non-normative* eugenics. That they're still eugenics doesn't seem to be a problem for him, which seems to me to be a pretty big problem.

Or maybe it's just that a lack of faith holds back those (like me) who like to have a bit of coherence in their worldview, I mean, maybe if I can find a way to really really believe, Giulio and his entourage will then be able to get eugenics right, in contrast to all the other clubs that have gotten it wrong in the past.

I'm sure it deserves better placement than this particular thread, given its namesake, but I found this gem in _The Life of the Mind_ ("Willing," 159) today and can't help a little dissemination:

"Men, forever tempted to lift the veil of the future-with the aid of computers or horoscopes or the intestines of sacrificial animals-have a worse record to sho in these "sciences" than in almost any other scientific endeavor."

I'm probably not as well versed in the literature (that of consensus science or that of cranks) as anybody else here, but I can't imagine that the facticity of that statement has changed a bit since the 70's.

Giulio Prisco said...

I disagree with the statements myself. Specifically I disagree with "same harm" in 1, the implied "all" in 2, and "duty" in 3.

I use the term "enhancement" out of habit and am not particularly attached to it. Actually I prefer "modification". I think a modification is an enhancement if and only if the person who undertakes it considers it an enhancement. I think everyone should be free to choose any modification available to them.

Dale Carrico said...

Once again, the three statements I attributed to prominent transhumanists were:

[1] that selecting for deafness amounting to the same harm as deafening a living child,

[2] that neuro-atypicality is to be identified with sub-optimality,

and that

[3] different-intelligence in nonhuman animals constituting a *duty* to "uplift" them into human conformity if possible

Giulio says: "I disagree with the statements myself. Specifically I disagree with "same harm" in 1, the implied "all" in 2, and "duty" in 3."

I am glad to hear it. I wonder if you're being a weasel though, if you forgive me. To wit, [1] Do you think selecting for deafness constitutes harm even if not the "same harm" as deafening a living child would be? [2] Do you agree that neuroatypicality is to be judged against a standard of "optimality" in the first place, a standard that empowers state prohibitions, but that your standards are simply more liberal than those of some of your transhumanist friends? [3] While disagreeing that there is a duty to "uplift" nonhuman animal intelligence into conformity with human intelligence do you think it would be desirable to do so just because nonhuman intelligence differs from the human here and now?

Giulio goes on to say: I use the term "enhancement" out of habit and am not particularly attached to it. Actually I prefer "modification". I think a modification is an enhancement if and only if the person who undertakes it considers it an enhancement. I think everyone should be free to choose any modification available to them.I am glad to hear it. I advocate well-regulated accountable informed nonduressed consensual prosthetic self-determination, a politics of choice applied as widely as possible to human affairs. It seems we might agree here.

Do you agree that your views are not shared by many prominent transhumanists, and do you agree that this is a problem to which you should some of your energies given your ongoing and very public identification (which is certainly not compelled by necessity, history, or, frankly, any practical considerations whatsoever) with these transhumanists? The question of enhancement is hardly peripheral to transhumanist discourse -- many transhumanist-identified folks describe it as definitive. If this matters to you, does its mattering ever find any reflection in your advocacy at all? Just curious.

And, by the way, if we are agreed that there are many prominent transhumanists who differ from you on these questions, why exactly did you call me a liar and a smear-merchant in saying just that earlier on in the thread, demanding names and dates as if this was the most shocking accusation you had ever heard in your life?

Giulio Prisco said...

[1] Yes if it results in a unhappy child, not necessarily otherwise, [2] No, and I am generally against most kinds of state prohibitions, [3] Not necessarily, and certainly not _just because_. Here also I think the main consideration should be the happiness of the entity involved.

Some time ago I wrote "As far as I am concerned, everyone is free to grow wings, gills and an echolocation system, or some modification that others would rather consider a diminution, or no modification at all and just stay as she is, or whatever else. As long as she is happy with it I will be happy for her, provided of course she extends the same live-and-let-live tolerance to me."

I do NOT agree that my views are not shared by many prominent transhumanists. On the contrary I thing the vast majority of transhumanists hold views similar to mine.

Some self identified transhumanists may differ. But these are not _many_, and then there are also transhumanist racists, homophobes etc. In any large sample of persons there must be some jerks, and it is naive to expect that transhumanists are an exception.

Dale Carrico said...

Giulio -- you just retreated into feel-good vacuities, I'm okay you're okay, live and let live, everything's cool if everybody's happy.

I personally insist on consensual prosthetic self-determination, but precisely because I really do value consent -- rather than just playing feel-good lip-service to it to score debate points or PR-flack for a Robot Cult -- I also know that pro forma consent can be compromised by physical and monetary duress, legal jeopardy, ignorance, misinformation, fraud (including hyperbole), and so I insist on conditions in which acts of consent are legible as informed and nonduressed. Glib libertopian declarations of tolerance and liberty don't cut the mustard in the real world, and function as de facto endorsements of exploitation and fraud in the real world.

Medical discourse actually has a long history of insensitivity to abuses of authority and unequal distributions of therapeutic costs, risks, and benefits that are exacerbated by glib handwaving about "optimal health" and "enhancement" as if these always parochial notions are terms everybody agrees on and which can form the basis for universal standards. Glib recourse to such standards doesn't cut the mustard in the real world, either, if you want to pretend to give a damn and so get off the hook when some of your friends start citing the Bell Curve and talking about how eugenicism has got a bad rap. Are you going to pretend that those are not debates that have flared up on your transhumanist discussion lists with enormous numbers of reactionary views crawling out of the woodwork every time -- are you going to pretend that I'm lying or deluded and drum up false nostril-flaring outrage to demand names and dates again as though none of that ever happens? My point isn't to suggest that every transhumanist-identified person secretly holds these views -- these were debates, not recitations of a creed in unison (although it is indicative that they were treated as debates at all, when most reasonably educated enlightened people have moved on from treating eugenic or race-based notions as particularly worthy of serious debate in the first place) -- but they still seem to me to be symptomatic of transhumanist assumptions in a way you need to come to terms with if it really is true that you aren't eugenicist.

It's as if the complete saturation of transhumanist discourse with claims about "enhancement" "optimality" "humanity-plus" "betterhumans" are matters of complete indifference to you -- hey, what possible implications could any of that have? If some transhumanists sound a little eugenicist, racist, or what have you, that's always just "a few bad apples" it isn't indicative of anything. It just doesn't cut the mustard, Giulio.

As a side note, it's hilarious to me how an incredibly small defensive faith-based subculture will at once identify so strongly with all its members in their shared identity, their shared -ism, and yet if you try to pin any questionalable belief on any of them according to actually asserted arguments, they immediately insist that the asserted argument is non-representative. If one has to literally understand the personal philosophy of every separate member qua individual, then their is no membership -- if there is a membership then you are indeed implicated in the views of your fellow-members so long as you do not actively repudiate or resist them. That's just the way it is. If a subculture grows large and old there is justification for some wiggle room on this score, there is some justice in the bad apples argument -- but transhumanism, singularitarianism, extropianism, cryonicism and so on are newfangled and utterly marginal, there is no excuse or justification whatsoever for any of those sorts of moves.

Giulio Prisco said...

I'm okay you're okay, live and let live, everything's cool if everybody's happy are not feel-good vacuities, but the foundations of a mature society.

I and many others often call bullshit on transhumanist lists just like we often call bullshit here. If somebody there says that people musy be forced to conform to a norm, I call bullshit. If somebody here says that AI and uploading are impossible in principle, I call bullshit.

if there is a membership then you are indeed implicated in the views of your fellow-members.I am sure I don't need to remind you of the looong history of homophoby, aggressive xenophoby and racism in the socialist movement, do I. Many socialists have very actively fought these disturbing tendencies within their groups, yet continued to identify as socialists. As you know there are similar examples in all groups, from religions to sport fan clubs.

Dale Carrico said...

What, you're trying to red bait me because I'm to the left of Bill Clinton? I advocate democratization, consensualization, and diversification of public affairs -- I am a progressive Democrat here in America and probably a social democrat as these things are reckoned in Europe. It's an ongoing question whether the appeal of basic guaranteed income commits me to socialism -- Erik Olin Wright says so, Milton Friedman says no -- but I certainly think advocating socialism makes little sense for progressives in the US, love Bernie Sanders though I do.

But that aside -- there have been millions upon millions of socialist-identified people for well over a century, with real longstanding problems, real accomplishments, real debates that are accepted as such for generations.

Transhumanism is a couple of decades old and has never had more than a few thousand self-identified members -- mostly privileged North Atlantic white guys -- and has no accomplishments to speak of, unless you count all the noise it makes and the way it provides sensational deranging public narratives for sensationalist media and already people already deranged with fear and greed in the face of disruptive technoscientific change.

If somebody here says that AI and uploading are impossible in principle, I call bullshit.When I say these things are impossible, and I do, I am not saying they are "too hard" thereby inspiring no doubt the deluded can-do faith-based initiatives of Robot Cultists. I am saying that when you guys talk about AI and uploading you are indulging in bad poetry, you are making incoherent utterances that fail to pass muster as science. "Impossible" doesn't mean "too hard," it means "incoherent," in the terms actually in play. Are you even capable of grasping the most basic terms of the critique you pretend to have been engaging with for years?

Giulio Prisco said...

"Impossible" doesn't mean "too hard," it means "incoherent," in the terms actually in play.OK. Assume the brain is understood at the level of detail required by what follows. Suppose some future offshore clinic in the asteroid belt can do a bit-by-bit precise, lossless data dump of the informational content of my brain. Suppose the information is loaded to a computational engine functionally equivalent to the processing that takes place in the brain. Suppose this computational engine is wired to a VR generator able to deliver inputs indistinguishable from current sensorial inputs up to the relevant accuracy. Suppose everything is linked to a common VR shared by all patients of the clinic. I say that I continue to live in the VR, and so do the other patients.

You have said that "too hard" is not the issue, so we can assume that the tech is there. Can you explain to me what the fuck is incoherent in this scenario?

Dale Carrico said...

Oh. My. God.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I must say that I'm somewhat curious about [1]. I get that the intentions are completely different, but the result is the same: someone who possesses a trait that puts her at a disadvantage to the vast majority of the human race. This will be someone who is always going to have a hard time communicating with so-called "normal people," and she will thus be at a competitive disadvantage to other people who can communicate "normally," right? Am I missing something?

Let me draw an analogy for what I'm saying: say you're given a species that is rewarded with food after winning footraces, so that the slowest among them are sure to die. Now, imagine if you will one member of this species who got into a fight with its parents and ended up with a broken leg. Come the race the next day, this poor animal would definitely lose against all of the other fast animals, and thus he would die eventually.

Now, picture another member of this same species whose parents don't think that having a lame leg is such a horrible thing and decided to have him be born selectively so that he would be born with a crippled leg. Come the time for the races, this animal would lose, and he would, again, die.

Now, I'm not saying that the trials that deaf people live with are at all life-threatening, but they are still hardships that make life for them compared to, what, 90%-95% of the human race? This is a genuinely bad thing to have happen to a person, regardless of the intentions of the parents. Again, I must query, am I just completely missing something? Do you honestly believe that deaf people do not have, on average, a more difficult life that people who can hear? What about blind versus sighted? Hell, what about a deaf and blind person versus someone whose senses all function in the usual way?

If I am misinterpreting you, then please let me know. I really am legitimately curious to know your rationale behind [1].

Anonymous said...

Ok, I must say that I'm somewhat curious about [1]. I get that the intentions are completely different, but the result is the same: someone who possesses a trait that puts her at a disadvantage to the vast majority of the human race. This will be someone who is always going to have a hard time communicating with so-called "normal people," and she will thus be at a competitive disadvantage to other people who can communicate "normally," right? Am I missing something?

Let me draw an analogy for what I'm saying: say you're given a species that is rewarded with food after winning footraces, so that the slowest among them are sure to die. Now, imagine if you will one member of this species who got into a fight with its parents and ended up with a broken leg. Come the race the next day, this poor animal would definitely lose against all of the other fast animals, and thus he would die eventually.

Now, picture another member of this same species whose parents don't think that having a lame leg is such a horrible thing and decided to have him be born selectively so that he would be born with a crippled leg. Come the time for the races, this animal would lose, and he would, again, die.

Now, I'm not saying that the trials that deaf people live with are at all life-threatening, but they are still hardships that make life for them compared to, what, 90%-95% of the human race? This is a genuinely bad thing to have happen to a person, regardless of the intentions of the parents. Again, I must query, am I just completely missing something? Do you honestly believe that deaf people do not have, on average, a more difficult life that people who can hear? What about blind versus sighted? Hell, what about a deaf and blind person versus someone whose senses all function in the usual way?

If I am misinterpreting you, then please let me know. I really am legitimately curious to know your rationale behind [1].

Dale Carrico said...

There's more than one way to flourish in a wanted human lifeway, and there are millions of flourishing deaf people on earth.

It is eugenicist, first, to describe them as "disadvantaged" rather just different, but more to the point it is eugenicist to figure humanity as a race in some kind of a "race" to a finish line -- just what do you think you get at the end of the race?

Dead, that's what you get.

Life is hard for everybody, literally everybody, there are hardships and triumphs for the whole diversity of humanity.

What matters is not some abstract pre-emptive determination of what kinds of liveways are the "optimal ones" according to some parochial standards that reflects your situational prejudices (thereupon described as most virtuous or most efficient or most natural according to whichever particular mode of self-righteous asshole you happen to be), what matters is whether a lifeway is wanted or not in a way that -- if susceptible of address -- is truly informed and nonduressed and consensual.

If you really want to know whether deaf people or blind people or neuroatypical people or people with Downs or who knows what different morphologies, capacities, and so on regard themselves as "disadvantaged" in some more definitive way than other people with whom you and they share the world -- rather than, say, in some contextually specific ways or in respect to specific aims among many on offer -- my advice is: ask them.

Isn't the whole point of culture to trump the brute idiocy of natural selection for reproductive fitness? Why would one want to re-write culture in the image of that kind of cutthroat competitive triage?

All that aside, even conceding the premises that drive the objection -- which obviously I don't, finding them in fact both facile and disgusting -- how do you know that it isn't the resilience of diversity itself that yields a "competitive advantage" for a population in the aggregate, facing problems not all of which we know in advance, that should matter if you really feel the need to go all Social Darwinistic in this way?

Nature is more co-operative and symbiotic than red in tooth and claw and competitive, and variation and plurality is the law of the earth, not homogeneity and rugged indivualism. Those who say otherwise are finding in "nature" what they want to see there, for reasons only their therapists or hairdressers or bartenders can say for sure. (imho)

AnneC said...

Dale wrote: If you really want to know whether deaf people or blind people or neuroatypical people or people with Downs or who knows what different morphologies, capacities, and so on regard themselves as "disadvantaged" in some more definitive way than other people with whom you and they share the world -- rather than, say, in some contextually specific ways or in respect to specific aims among many on offer -- my advice is: ask them.YES. This. A thousand times this.

And I can guarantee that you're going to get a whole slew of different sorts of answers. And in time if you pay attention you will most likely come to see that when it comes to pretty much every non-fatal variation in existence, you're going to find some people with that variation who are okay with it and who may, gasp, even value it or aspects of it, and people who would rather be without it.

The bottom line of course is that *when* it comes to nonfatal variations of all kinds, there is NO basis for all the time and energy spent by "bioethicists" sorting variables off somewhere in space (while real people of course live our lives right here on the ground) via eloquent hysterical abstraction trying to determine whether our "kind" ought or ought not to exist, once and for all.

I've had many many rounds of discussion with Hughes et. al. on subjects like neuro-atypicality and they were instructive, but also wearisome after a while. One can only take so much "oh but YOU seem to be okay" (as if I need their approval to exist!), particularly when one knows that if these folks had had their way, they'd have blenderized and remolded one's brain during one's formative years (as, well, at least in my case, it wasn't anything close to clear-cut how I would "turn out").

seth said...

much as it concerns me that i might appear below as something of a eugenicist myself, i cannot help but speak to an amazing thing that i see in evidence in this discussion.

earlier, and in a different thread, Dale chides Guilio for his duplicity: "either you don't understand the post or you don't care about it and yet still somehow care enough to declare you don't care. Either way, I find your assurance that you "don't disagree" pretty odd, since I see little indication that you have arrived at the basic comprehension that should precede agreement or disagreement."

Now Anne chimes in with Dale's admonition that "If you really want to know [what's good for people who aren't you]: ask them."

What Anne and Dale are calling for is a very specific thing that Guilio either can't or won't do, namely, the act of listening.

Guilio doesn't listen. I guess it's possible that he just doesn't hear, but either way he consistently forces himself into discursive space without making so much a gestural commitment to the integrity of that discursive space. He habitually resorts to pie-in-the-sky where he is taken to argumentative task, and in most (if not all) of these cases, the primary charge against him is that he treats pie-in-the-sky as consensus science.

That he consistently, repeatedly, and across the brevity of his time fails, utterly, to so much as respond to this charge, that he finds it so easy, nay, natural, to respond to the charge of "false prophet" with the mere reiteration of the same silly prophesies, belies that he is not listening.

perhaps he cannot listen. perhaps he is, in terms of ethics or aesthetics, deaf.

in short, he seems to me to be the best available candidate for a model of truly pristine, even a truly humanist eugenics.

Once again, from "Willing" (174):

"Man's listening transforms the silent claim of Being into speech, and 'language is the language of Being as the clouds are the clouds of the sky.'"

If Guilio, and those like him, are incapable of coherent and accountable participation in discursive space, can "they" really be said to possess Being? Perhaps we should prioritize finding that kind of dumb within the genome; then maybe we can select against it, and that kind of dumb won't ever have to happen to us again.

jimf said...

> One can only take so much "oh but YOU seem to be okay" (as
> if I need their approval to exist!), particularly when one
> knows that if these folks had had their way, they'd have
> blenderized and remolded one's brain during one's formative
> years (as, well, at least in my case, it wasn't anything
> close to clear-cut how I would "turn out").

I wonder if you've ever seen the (original) _Twilight Zone_
episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" (1964),
based on Charles Beaumont's story "The Beautiful People" (1952).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_12_Looks_Just_Like_You

1 of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpM8qC16tTU

2 of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9s3bJXG3W4

3 of 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWKwcO_2GTo

Giulio Prisco said...

seth: Guilio doesn't listenMaybe, but at least I make an effort to spell others' names correctly.

jimf said...

seth wrote:

> What Anne and Dale are calling for is a very specific thing
> that Giulio either can't or won't do, namely, the act of listening.
>
> Giulio doesn't listen. I guess it's possible that he just doesn't
> hear, but either way he consistently forces himself into discursive
> space without making so much a gestural commitment to the integrity
> of that discursive space. . .
>
> Perhaps he cannot listen. perhaps he is, in terms of ethics or
> aesthetics, deaf.

From the blog of one Michael Prescott:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2005/07/the_importance_.html
----------------
The importance of being earnest

One of the most useful intellectual skills to
cultivate is the ability to enter into sympathetic
engagement with any idea or argument you are considering.
The only way to really understand what another person
is saying is to listen closely, and the only way to
listen closely is first to find, or at least pretend
to find, some common ground between the other person
and yourself. You need not maintain this sympathetic
engagement, this provisional or illusionary agreement,
for very long -- just long enough to absorb and
grasp the points at issue.

On the other hand, an inability or an unwillingness
to drop your guard and make room, even temporarily,
for an idea that you may find distasteful is the main
impediment to really understanding what other people
are saying and, therefore, to being able to effectively
refute what they say.

I thought of this today when flipping through a book
that I admit to having bought in the expectation of
a cheap laugh, and not for any intellectual merit
that it may possess: Ayn Rand's Marginalia. That's
right, her marginalia. In their continuing effort
to publish every word that Ayn Rand ever committed
to paper during the course of her 77 years, those
in charge of her estate have published her private
letters, her private journals, and yes, even the
scribbled notes in the margins of books she was
reading.

Supposedly, these notes give us an insight into Rand's
brilliant mind at work. No doubt this was editor
Robert Mayhew's intention, and no doubt this is how
the collection of jottings will be received by her
more uncritical admirers. Not being an admirer of
Ayn Rand myself, I had a rather different reaction.
I was simply amazed -- and amused -- at how consistently
she failed to understand the most basic points points
of the books in question.

In his introduction, Mayhew says he did not include many
of Rand's positive comments because they were generally
insubstantial. This collection, then, is not a representative
sample of her reactions to her reading material. Even
bearing this in mind, I found the fury and frustrated
rage exhibited by Rand in these remarks to be extraordinary.
Hardly a page goes by without encountering angry
exclamation points, and even double and triple exclamation
points, sometimes augmented by question marks in comic-book
fashion. ("!!?!") The terms "God-damn" and "bastard" are
unimaginatively and gratingly repeated. Repeatedly I came
across another burst of venom to the effect that whatever
sentence or paragraph Rand had just read is the worst,
most horrible, most abysmal, most corrupt, most despicable
thing she has ever, ever, ever encountered!!! The woman
lived in a simmering stew of her own bile.

She came at the books she read, it would seem, not from the
perspective of honestly and conscientiously trying to
understand the author's position, but instead by assuming
an adversarial and combative stance from the very start
and then finding the most negative and malicious spin to
put on the author's formulations. This approach enabled
her to vent a considerable amount of rage. It does not
seem to have aided her comprehension of the material in
front of her.

To me this is most obvious in her treatment of [C. S. Lewis's]
The Abolition of Man, which, other than John Herman Randall's
Aristotle and Ludwig von Mises's Bureaucracy, is the only book
in this collection that I've read. (I suppose someday I should
get around to reading Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom,
which is considered a classic of free-market polemic -- though
Rand of course finds it poisonously wrongheaded. The rest
of the books, except for von Mises's Human Action and two books
by Henry Hazlitt and John Hospers, are largely forgotten today.)

Lewis's book is hardly a difficult read. It was aimed at an
educated but not highbrow segment of the public, and his
cautions on the potential misuse of science seem chillingly
prescient in these days of genetic engineering, animal cloning,
and embryonic stem cell research. He develops his case
methodically, building on the premise that man's power over
nature translates into the power of some men over others.
Rand furiously contests this idea, though she makes precious
little argument against it, relying mainly on personal
invective against Lewis himself, who is variously characterized
as an "abysmal bastard ... monster ... mediocrity ... bastard ...
old fool ... incredible, medieval monstrosity ... lousy bastard ...
drivelling non-entity ... God-damn, beaten mystic ...
abysmal caricature ... bastard ... abysmal scum." (These
quotes give you the tenor of the master philosopher's coolly
analytical mind.)

In one marginal note Rand scrawls, "This monster literally
thinks that to give men new knowledge is to gain power (!)
over them." Of course what Lewis says is that it is the holders
and utilizers of new knowledge, who do not "give" it to
others but use it for themselves, who gain de facto power
over their fellow human beings. He is fearful of the emerging
possibilities of "eugenics ... prenatal conditioning [and]
education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology,"
which may someday be wielded by an elite he calls the
Conditioners. "Man's conquest of Nature, if the dreams of
some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a
few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men."
And "the power of Man to make himself what he pleases
means ... the power of some men to make other men what
they please." Should this come to pass, "the man-moulders
of the new age will be armed with the power of an omnicompetent
state and an irresistible scientific technique ...
They [will] know how to produce conscience and [will] decide
what kind of conscience they will produce."*

Lewis was clearly arguing against one possible vision
of the future, the dystopia best fictionalized in Aldous Huxley's
Brave New World. I find his points compelling, but of course
they are debatable. In order to be properly debated, however,
they must first be understood. Rand shows no interest in
even trying to understand what Lewis is saying -- which is
unfortunate, since recent headlines have made his concerns
more relevant than ever.

Earlier, Lewis develops the argument that basic moral values
cannot be rationally defended but must be accepted as given,
as part of the fabric of human nature, common to all
communities and societies, though not always equally
well-developed or implemented. This view, known as
moral intuitionism, is a serious ethical position and
one that has been defended by many prominent philosophers,
especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
(It is enjoying something of a resurgence today.)
Rand was vehemently opposed to this view, believing that
it smacked of faith, which was, as she understood it,
the archenemy of reason.

Lewis argues that in the realm of values, as in other
realms of thought, you must begin with certain fundamental
assumptions; "you cannot go on 'explaining away' forever:
you will find that you have explained explanation itself.
You cannot go on 'seeing through' things forever."
Rand furiously rejects this idea, and you can practically
hear her pen stabbing at the page as she writes,
"By 'seeing through,' he means: 'rational understanding!'
Oh, BS! -- and total BS!" But Lewis's entire point is that
"rational understanding" must start somewhere, just as
geometry or set theory must begin with certain axioms
that cannot themselves be proven by the system in question.
It takes more than declarations of "BS!" to vanquish
this argument -- or, for that matter, any argument.

Rand is always telling the authors she reads what they
"actually" are saying. Most of the time what she thinks
they are "actually" saying bears no relationship whatsoever
to anything they have written or even implied. With
regard to Lewis, she says that his view boils down to the
claim that the more we know, the more we are bound by
reality: "Science shrinks the realm of his whim. (!!)"
This is a thorough misunderstanding of Lewis's essay --
an essay, let me repeat, aimed at the intelligent
general reader and not requiring any special expertise
to to decipher.

Thus, although Ayn Rand's Marginalia hardly demonstrates
the genius that Rand's admirers believe she possessed,
it does unintentionally serve an instructional purpose.
It shows how important it is to enter into a temporary
but sincere sympathy with an author whose view you are
trying to understand -- that is, if you are trying to
understand it at all. To put it another way, in reading,
it's important to be earnest -- to embrace a spirit of
respect, honest consideration, and goodwill. You'll find
those qualities in most serious thinkers. You will not
find them, I'm afraid, in Ayn Rand's marginal notes.
----------------

seth said...

oh no, i'm afraid you've got me Guilio.

and in the face of your eugenics and inability to listen, my unwillingness to correctly spell your name speaks hordes.

i'll spell your name right when we're when the stated purpose of the thread isn't your derision.

Giulio Prisco said...

Shet, I am not going to insist further on your inability to spell foreign names correctly. I may also have mistyped one letter, who knows.

I _am_ going to insist on your using the term "eugenics". Please read the comments above, and tell me exactly what I have said that sounds like eugenics. In passing, you may also wish to explain what you mean by "*non-normative* eugenics", which sounds self-contradictory to me.

Sorry to have missed your comments on two previous occasions (and the comment above, which I had missed on a first read of this thread). I usually answer comments directed to me.

seth said...

Guilio, you are absolutely the last person on this planet toward whom i feel any real obligation to demonstrate that i'm paying attention, or that i understand the terms in play. this is precisely where you fall short, so what could it possibly matter, what difference could possibly be made by my jumping through the silly hoop you imagine yourself holding out. all of that notwithstanding:

to the question of whether selecting for deafness would constitute harm, Guilio sez: "Yes..."

That's eugenics; if you don't get this, it's because you're not listening.

i do realize that there were 10 words following that affirmation. but like so many of Guilio's formulations, the meaningfulness of those 10 words depends on being able to see the future. in the meantime (until the robot god figures out how to assess the deaf child's future happiness), the 'yes' is the only part of the response that matters.

to the initial charge levied by Dale against Guilio for being a eugenicist, Guilio sez: "None of the transhumanists Dale likes to insult is remotely in favor of normative eugenics."

i read this statement as implying that there exist, for Guilio, some form of eugenics other than normative eugenics (i.e., 'non-normative eugenics'), that he can live with. like, say, universally selecting against deafness, or anything else that might fall under a rubric of "liberal eugenics."

and just so you know, Guilio, it's not that you've ever not responded to the things i've said: on both of the occasions i referred to, you did issue a response, by which i mean to say that you gave utterance.

it's just that it wasn't intelligible utterance in terms of the conversation taking place. i mean, you say words, and i know what they mean, but there's scant evidence that you're actually trying to understand or respond to the issues being raised.

talking doesn't automatically constitute participation in a conversation.

Giulio Prisco said...

to the question of whether selecting for deafness would constitute harm, Guilio sez: "Yes..." i do realize that there were 10 words following that affirmation. but... the 'yes' is the only part of the response that matters.Bullshit. I said "Yes if it results in a unhappy child, not necessarily otherwise." I wish to ask our gracious host, or whoever cares, if this is eugenics in their own opinion.

Dale Carrico said...

Seth is perfectly right to call bullshit on your "happiness" dodge, Giulio. Do you mean to say you cannot know whether or not selecting for deafness constitutes harm until you poll the child later in life to discover whether or not they are happy, whether or not they attribute their happiness or not to the deafness that was selected for, whether or not you agree with them in their assessment of the relation of that selection to their state of mind? Do you have any expectation about the "result" -- that selection for deafness will yield happiness or not? Either answer will likely amount to a eugenic rationale. If you don't have any expectation then it doesn't make sense that you would want to describe selection as a "harming" (in any sense that properly provokes the moral, legal, or regulatory judgments that freight the notion of "harm" in discussions of issues like these) whether it became one element in the mosaic yielding happiness or not in the later life of the child born out of that selection, among many other circumstances.

jimf said...

> to the question of whether selecting for deafness would
> constitute harm, Guilio sez: "Yes..."
>
> That's eugenics; if you don't get this, it's because you're not
> listening. . .
>
> [Any qualification of the 'yes'] depends on being able to
> see the future. in the meantime (until the robot god figures
> out how to assess the deaf child's future happiness), the
> 'yes' is the only part of the response that matters.

Of course, in the wonderful world of Iain Banks' "Culture",
any such modifications are completely and harmlessly
reversible. So the "patient" can try it with and without.

Wouldn't **that** be nice!

(Greg Egan, on an altogether more sophisticated level,
recognizes, in _Diaspora_, that some mental modifications --
he calls them "Outlooks", would effectively, following
voluntary adoption, trap their adopters in an
inescapable world view. The character Inoshiro, following
his traumatic experiences with the "flesher" survivors
of the gamma-ray burst that fries the surface of Earth,
assumes such an Outlook, much to his former friend
Yatima's disappointment.)



"Come and see Hashim's new piece."

"Maybe later." Hashim was one of Inoshiro's Ashton-Laval artist friends. Yatima found
most of their work bewildering, though whether it was the interpolis difference in mental
architecture or just vis own personal taste, ve wasn't sure. Certainly, Inoshiro insisted
that it was all "sublime."

"It's real time, ephemeral. Now or never."

"Not true: you could record it for me, or I could send a proxy --"

stretched vis pewter face into an exaggerated scowl. "Don't be such a philistine. Once
the artist decides the parameters, they're sacrosanct --"

"Hashim's parameters are just incomprehensible. Look, I know I won't like it. You go."

Inoshiro hesitated, slowly letting vis features shrink back to normal size. "You could
appreciate Hashim's work, if you wanted to. If you ran the right outlook."

Yatima stared at ver. "Is that what you do?"

"Yes." Inoshiro stretched out vis hand, and a flower sprouted from the palm, a
green-and-violet orchid which emitted an Ashton-Laval library address. "I didn't tell
you before, because you might have told Blanca ... and then it would have got back
to one of my parents. And you know what they're like."

Yatima shrugged. "You're a citizen, it's none of their business."

Inoshiro rolled vis eyes and gave ver vis best martyred look. Yatima doubted that ve'd
ever understand families: there was nothing any of Inoshiro's relatives could do to punish
ver for using the outlook, let alone actually stop ver. All reproving messages could be
filtered out; all family gatherings that turned into haranguing sessions could be instantly
deserted. Yet Blanca's parents -- three of them Inoshiro's -- had badgered ver into breaking up
with Gabriel (if only temporarily); the prospect of exogamy with Carter-Zimmerman was
apparently beyond the pale. Now that they were together again, Blanca (for some reason)
had to avoid Inoshiro as well as the rest of the family -- and presumably Inoshiro no
longer feared that vis part-sibling would blab.

Yatima was a little wounded. "I wouldn't have told Blanca, if you'd asked me not to."

"Yeah, yeah. Do you think I don't remember Ve practically adopted you?"

"Only when I was in the womb!" Yatima still liked Blanca very much, but they didn't even
see each other all that often, now.

Inoshiro sighed. "Okay: I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. Now are you going to come see
the piece?"

Yatima sniffed the flower again, warily. The Ashton-Laval address smelt distinctly
foreign ... but that was just unfamiliarity. Ve had vis exoself take a copy of the outlook
and scrutinize it carefully. Yatima knew that Radiya, and most other miners, used outlooks
to keep themselves focused on their work, gigatau after gigatau. Any citizen with a mind
broadly modeled on a flesher's was vulnerable to drift: the decay over time of even the
most cherished goals and values. Flexibility was an essential part of the flesher legacy,
but after a dozen computational equivalents of the pre-Introdus lifespan, even the most
robust personality was liable to unwind into an entropic mess. None of the polises' founders
had chosen to build predetermined stabilizing mechanisms into their basic designs, though,
lest the entire species ossify into tribes of self-perpetuating monomaniacs, parasitized
by a handful of memes. It was judged far safer for each citizen to be free to choose from
a wide variety of outlooks: software that could run inside your exoself and reinforce
the qualities you valued most, if and when you felt the need for such an anchor. The
possibilities for short-term cross-cultural experimentation were almost incidental.

Each outlook offered a slightly different package of values and aesthetics, often built
up from the ancestral reasons-to-be-cheerful that still lingered to some degree in most
citizens' minds: Regularities and periodicities -- rhythms like days and seasons. Harmonies
and elaborations, in sounds and images, and in ideas. Novelty. Reminiscence and anticipation.
Gossip, companionship, empathy, compassion. Solitude and silence. There was a continuum
which stretched all the way from trivial aesthetic preferences to emotional associations
to the cornerstones of morality and identity.

Yatima had vis exoself's analysis of the outlook appear in the scape in front of ver
as a pair of before-and-after maps of vis own most affected neural structures.

The maps were like nets, with spheres at every junction to represent symbols; proportionate
changes in the symbols' size showed how the outlook would tweak them.

"'Death' gets a tenfold boost? Spare me."

"Only because it's so underdeveloped initially."

Yatima shot ver a poisonous look, then rendered the snaps private, and stood examining
them with an air of intense concentration.

"Make up your mind; it's starting soon."

"You mean make my mind Hashim's?"

"Hashim doesn't use an outlook."

"So it's all down to raw artistic talent? Isn't that what they all say?"

"Just ... make a decision."

Vis exoself's verdict on the potential for parasitism was fairly sanguine, though there
could he no guarantees. If ve ran the outlook for a few kilotau, ve ought to be able to stop.

Yatima made a matching flower grow from vis own palm. "Why do you keep talking me into
these crazy stunts?"

Inoshiro's face formed the pure gestalt sign for unappreciated benefactor. "If I don't
save you from the Mines, who will?"

Yatima ran the outlook. At once, certain features of the scape seized vis attention: a
thin streak of cloud in the blue sky, a cluster of distant trees, the wind rippling
through the grass nearby. It was like switching from one gestalt color map to another,
and seeing some objects leap out because they'd changed more than the rest. After a
moment the effect died down, but Yatima still felt distinctly modified; the equilibrium
had shifted in the tug-of-war between all the symbols in vis mind, and the ordinary
buzz of consciousness had a slightly different tone to it.

"Are you okay?" Inoshiro actually looked concerned, and Yatima felt a rare, raw surge
of affection for ver. Inoshiro always wanted to show ver what ve'd found in vis endless
fossicking through the Coalition's possibilities -- because ve really did want ver to
know what the choices were.

"I'm still myself. I think."

"Pity." Inoshiro sent the address, and they jumped into Hashim's artwork together.


. . .


Inoshiro was listening politely, but with a slight smile that left no doubt that ve was
highly amused. Ve said, "We can't save anyone, Yatima. We can't help anyone."

"No? What have you been doing for the last twenty years, then? Wasting your time?"

Inoshiro shook vis head, as if the question was absurd.

Yatima was bewildered. "You're the one who kept dragging me out of the Mines, out into
the world! And now Carter-Zimmerman are going out into the world to try to keep what happened
to the fleshers from happening to us. If you don't care about hypothetical alien civilizations,
you must still care about the Coalition!"

Inoshiro said, "I feel great compassion for all conscious beings. But there's nothing to be done.
There will always be suffering. There will always be death."

"Oh, will you listen to yourself? Always! Always! You sound like that phosphoric acid replicator
[ancient Pepsi-cola can] you fried outside Atlanta!" Yatima turned away, trying to calm down.
Ve knew that Inoshiro had felt the death of the fleshers more deeply than ve had. Maybe ve should
have waited before raising the subject; maybe it seemed disrespectful to the dead to talk so soon
about leaving the Earth behind.

It was too late now, though. Ve had to finish saying what ve'd come here to say.

"I'm migrating to Carter-Zimmerman. What they're doing makes sense, and I want to be part of it."

Inoshiro nodded blithely. "Then I wish you well."

"That's it? Good luck and bon voyage?" Yatima tried to read vis face, but Inoshiro just gazed
back with a psychoblast's innocence. "What's happened to you? What have you done to yourself?"

Inoshiro smiled beatifically and held out vis hands. A white lotus flower blossomed from the center
of each palm, both emitting identical reference tags. Yatima hesitated, then followed their scent.

It was an old outlook, buried in the Ashton-Laval library, copied nine centuries before from
one of the ancient memetic replicators that had infested the fleshers. It imposed a hermetically
sealed package of beliefs about the nature of the self, and the futility of striving ... including
explicit renunciations of every mode of reasoning able to illuminate the core beliefs' failings.
Analysis with a standard tool confirmed that the outlook was universally self-affirming.
Once you ran it. you could not change your mind. Once you ran it, you could not be talked
out of it. Yatima said numbly, "You were smarter than that. Stronger than that." But when Inoshiro
was wounded by Lacerta, what hadn't ve done that might have made a difference? That might have
spared ver the need for the kind of anesthetic that dissolved everything ve'd once been?

Inoshiro laughed. "So what am I now? Wise enough to be weak? Or strong enough to be foolish?"

"What you are now --" Ve couldn't say it.

What you are now is not Inoshiro.

Yatima stood motionless beside ver, sick with grief, angry and helpless. Ve was not in the
fleshers' world anymore; there was no nanoware bullet ve could fire into this imaginary body.
Inoshiro had made vis choice, destroying vis old self and creating a new one to follow the
ancient meme's dictates, and no one else had the right to question this, let alone the power to
reverse it.

Yatima reached out to the scape and crumpled the satellite into a twisted ball of metal floating
between them, leaving nothing but the Earth and the stars. Then ve reached out again and grabbed
the sky, inverting it and compressing it into a luminous sphere sitting in vis hand.

"You can still leave Konishi." Yatima made the sphere emit the address of the portal to Carter-Zimmerman,
and held it out to Inoshiro. "Whatever you've done, you still have that choice."

Inoshiro said gently, "It's not for me, Orphan. I wish you well, but I've seen enough."

Ve vanished.

Yatima floated in the darkness for a long time, mourning Lacerta's last victim.

Anonymous said...

I am a progressive Democrat here in America and probably a social democrat as these things are reckoned in Europe. It's an ongoing question whether the appeal of basic guaranteed income commits me to socialism -- Erik Olin Wright says so, Milton Friedman says no -- but I certainly think advocating socialism makes little sense for progressives in the US, love Bernie Sanders though I do.What do you think of the work of Joel Kovel?

Anonymous said...

Seth has written one of the most accurate and scathing criticism of Giulio Prisco on record.

I would only add that I think, beyond the transhumanist fanaticism which deafens him, that Prisco doesn't listen partly because he is permanently stuck on defensive mode in light of the pain he feels due to all the embarrassing criticisms written online by Dale Carrico, Wesley Smith and others, which he tries to shrug off by unconvincingly claiming that it is beneficial to him as "as long as they spell his name right".

It's quite a sad spectacle...

Dale Carrico said...

What do you think of the work of Joel Kovel?Pray be more specific? I devote a week to ecosocialism in my environmental theory course, and Kovel is someone I have my students read. There's plenty to like.

AnneC said...

jimf: Indeed I have seen that Twilight Zone episode. The original TZ series was a major favorite of mine growing up. They used to have 4th of July marathons on some channels and I would try and watch them all day!

anon: Regardless of the rest of the content of your quote I wouldn't stick Dale alongside Wesley Smith. Smith has his own bizarro unexamined assumptions; he is more like what a lot of transhumanists think Dale is like, but isn't. I mean, really, Smith seems to have the idea that animal rights are some kind of a threat to "human dignity", which to me is just nonsensical.

Giulio Prisco said...

One thing must be said about you guys, you are endearingly pathetic. At times I feel guilty for making fun of you.

Anonymous, if that is what you want to be called: don't worry, I am not embarrassed of the "criticisms written online by Dale Carrico, Wesley Smith and others". I find it amusing, and would find it even more amusing if I were to take it seriously. Shet's "criticism", that concern for the happiness of others equals eugenics, does not really deserve consideration. By the way, you used to sign with your own name one year ago, why are you so timid now? Just curiosity.

Anne: care to explain to me what is the difference between Dale and Smith? They say the same things with different words, and recently also the words sound similar.

Dale Carrico said...

Shorter Giulio Prisco: La la la la la! Not listening! Not listening!

Dale Carrico said...

By the way, any serious person (I obviously don't mean His High Holy Pontifex of the Superlative Futurological "Order of Cosmic Engineers") who wants to understand how I might differ from both transhumanist and bioconservatie variations on eugenicism might get a glimmer by reading this.

Anonymous said...

Pray be more specific? I devote a week to ecosocialism in my environmental theory course, and Kovel is someone I have my students read. There's plenty to like.In light of the fact that my question followed your comment that you "certainly think advocating socialism makes little sense for progressives in the US"; I was wondering whether you thought it makes little sense for Kovel to be advocating his brand of socialism rather than limiting himself to the progressive Democratic line you subscribe to.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm not a socialist (although many anti-socialists in the US would certainly accuse me of being one, and some for good reasons) and I think it is silly to think one contributes more to actual progress in American conditions through an advocacy of socialism than through the language of secular democracy and progressivism. Kovel would probably disagree with me about that. He is known for many arguments that do not reduce to that question, however, about which I have learned and which I teach and which I think provide a great arsenal of arguments that secular democratic progressives like me can use to advocate democratization and sustainability and resist extractive-industrial- futurized- financialized- corporate-militarist formations in the present. I think it is a bit weird for you to seize on a comment about the impracticalities of the socialist brand in US conditions and then ask me to use it as lens through which to approve or disapprove in some blanket fashion the work of Kovel which hardly reduces to such a question at all, rather a matter of skewing the priorities and complexities at hand.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the rest of the content of your quote I wouldn't stick Dale alongside Wesley Smith. Smith has his own bizarro unexamined assumptions; he is more like what a lot of transhumanists think Dale is like, but isn't. I mean, really, Smith seems to have the idea that animal rights are some kind of a threat to "human dignity", which to me is just nonsensical.I am fully aware that Dale Carrico is a "technoprogressive" and Wesley Smith a "bioconservative". However, their ideological differences doesn't change the fact both men agree that transhumanism is a cult. So I don't see why we should freak out about sticking the two together solely in the context of making a point when we all know how strongly they disagree on everything else.

It's like saying both liberal John Stewart and conservative Rush Limbaugh agree that John McCain is a tool. Do we really need to explain that these two people come to that conclusion from different perspectives and one of them is a big fat idiot?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, if that is what you want to be called: don't worry, I am not embarrassed of the "criticisms written online by Dale Carrico, Wesley Smith and others". I find it amusing, and would find it even more amusing if I were to take it seriously.Bullshit (as you would say)! We all know from one of your outbursts on the WTA talk list that you were very angry that your reputation as a respected IT and VR consultant would be tarnished by accusations that you sounded like a cultist.

Shet's "criticism", that concern for the happiness of others equals eugenics, does not really deserve consideration.

I was referring to Seth's criticism of you as being a person who doesn't listen. So you are proving his point again.

By the way, you used to sign with your own name one year ago, why are you so timid now? Just curiosity.For years now to this very day, I have been contributing without any timidity to the WTA talk list. I've even engaged you in debate on that list quite recently. The only reason why I and others post here anonymously is because Carrico has a tendency to spend too much time attacking a commentator for being a libertarian (or whatever "-ism" he subscribes to) rather than limiting himself to attacking his comment, which sometimes is not inspired by his libertarian outlook...

seth said...

Guilio, you un-listening, belligerent tool:

It isn't your shiny, self-perceived altruism that makes you a eugenicist, though it is true that such shiny, unevaluated self-assertions of altruism pretty much always accompany the utterance of eugenicists.

You're a eugenicist because you think you're in a better position to determine what's better for people-not-you than those actual people are, because you don't think it necessary to consult said people-not-you to make that determination, and because you would unilaterally impose your notion of the better on those people-not-you with not so much as a 'by your leave.'

Where I pity you is in the fact that within this thread, the entirety of which has been dedicated to the dream of your improvement, that understanding (the understanding expressed in the previous paragraph [i'm trying to make it really easy for you here {i know it's hard, Guilio}]) has been expressed already in more than one instance. It is truly sad that you think yourself to be responding, conversing, engaging. And it is terrifying that you consider yourself to be somewhere near the cutting edge of what the human species is doing. You don't/can't participate coherently in sound discursive space, Guilio: you're not even human.

At the very least, you should consider making an effort to realize your own humanity before you start to imagine any kind of post-humanity. If you wonder what I mean by this, get out a dictionary, and start parsing this thread. I'll give you a hint, though: it involves listening, by which I mean to say 'attending to the utterance of others.'

Oh, and a smart first step might be relaxing, and considering the possibility that you might be wrong occasionally.

Barring that effort (which might one day lead to your being an actual speaking person as opposed to the mule-with-voice-box you are today), I hope one day, for your own sake, that you can wake up and see yourself for the incomparable idiot that you are, that you can perceive the consistent incoherence of your utterance, and then make (what might be your first) well informed decision to jump in front of the closest fast-moving bus or train.

Dear god, not that i even believe in her, robot or otherwise, but dear god, I hope this moron isn't procreating.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a bit weird for you to seize on a comment about the impracticalities of the socialist brand in US conditions and then ask me to use it as lens through which to approve or disapprove in some blanket fashion the work of Kovel which hardly reduces to such a question at all, rather a matter of skewing the priorities and complexities at hand.First of all, you often "seize" on one sentence or even a single word in someone's article, essay or comment and go off on a tangent (however interesting and profound it may be) so I don't understand why you make a fuss when people do it to you.

Second, I was just curious to know your views about Kovel in light of the fact that we already know that you teach some of his work to your students AND your opinion that advocating socialism makes little sense for progressives in the US. Simply interested in knowing how you reconcile what may seem like a contradiction to an uninformed reader of yor blog. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Dale Carrico said...

I don't agree with everything that I think it is important to know, I don't agree with everything everbody who says some things I agree with says, I don't agree that a single disagreement provides a particularly useful lens through which to offer up blanket judgments about figures who say and are known for saying incomparably more than one thing, let alone that specific thing.

I think you found a "contradiction" or "perplexity" where it makes little sense to find one. There's no point in hammering at this nail, though, since it's not something that really matters that much to anybody.

I do take issue with your statement that I "often 'seize' on one sentence or even a single word in someone's article, essay or comment and go off on a tangent[.]" Obviously people of good will may differ on assessments about these sorts of things, but I want to point out that from my perspective the words and sentences I "seize on" honestly look to me to be symptoms or warrants on which what is actually decisive or definitive about a discourse I am analyzing actually depend for their intelligibility or force. When I think I'm going on a "tangent," I usually say as much. Otherwise, you can be sure that I am trying to get at what appears to be the heart of things by my lights.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a socialist (although many anti-socialists in the US would certainly accuse me of being one, and some for good reasons) and I think it is silly to think one contributes more to actual progress in American conditions through an advocacy of socialism than through the language of secular democracy and progressivism.OR you are a socialist who 1) is afraid of being marginalized in academia and the public square if you publicly advocate socialism, and 2) uses the language of secular democracy and progressivism to better promote a democratic socialist agenda. In light of the American conditions you speak of, I can respect that.

But I only have one question: If you know that the American progressivism you advocate is utterly inadequate to help us face the perfect storm of converging crises including climate change, peak oil, and financial recession because it will never get to the root cause of all these problems (capitalism whether it be free or mixed), how do you manage this cognitive dissonance?

Dale Carrico said...

OR you are a socialist who 1) is afraid of being marginalized in academia and the public square if you publicly advocate socialism, and 2) uses the language of secular democracy and progressivism to better promote a democratic socialist agenda.I'm not sure I agree it would be particularly marginalizing in the academy I actually care about to declare myself a "socialist." The fact is there is a wide array of positions that can be and have been called "socialist" and I'm just trying to be sensitive to the history through which "socialist" means what it seems to mean in the context of the US. There are many views that can be rightly described as "socialist" that don't really seem to fit my own politics as well as other labels do. Given that, I fail to understand what is the benefit of shoe-horning myself into a label that may be ill-fitting to a number of the people with whom I would want actually to be communicating my aspirations, especially when there are other vocabularies on offer which do the job better? It makes sense to me that Erik Olin Wright might call me a socialist in his terms because of my advocacy of basic income (which I don't really think is anything like a near-term realizable goal in the context of the US in any case, and so I advocate expansions of welfare entitlements and subsidization of p2p formations funded by more progressive taxes in the meantime, something that is perfectly intelligible across the socialist and non-socialist left), his assignment of that label to me makes sense, but I don't think that nudges me into a general assumption of that label since I don't agree that his are the terms in which that label has its actual public currency in the US. I think democratic socialists would be well pleased with many of my political aspirations, but that doesn't make me a stealth socialist, necessarily. I suspect there are many instances in which my differences with some varieties of socialist assumptions cause me to celebrate incremental progressive reforms that they see as differences that make no difference.

If you know that the American progressivism you advocate is utterly inadequate to help us face the perfect storm of converging crises including climate change, peak oil, and financial recession because it will never get to the root cause of all these problems (capitalism whether it be free or mixed), how do you manage this cognitive dissonance?But I don't "know" that, and neither do you. If you think you know that, you know something that makes you ignorant -- in the crucial sense in which we "ignore" realities the better to vouchsafe cherished knowledges.

Let me try to get at it this way. Violent revolution unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would address, and if progressive reform is all that remains to you it is pointless to contemplate whether or not it is "adequate" to the weight of incumbency and injustice.

The air of reform is all the air we have to breath, if we would not take up the blade and become murderers and hence people with whom we would not want to live for the rest of our lives, and so debates about its inadequacies seem to me to be fairly narcissistic when all is said and done.

BUt more to the point, I think those who get caught up in the impasse of the dual immpossibilities of both revolution and reformism forget that what is possible through reform changes in the face of changing realities and that the changes arising from reform cannot be known at the moment they are enacted.

In "knowing" that reform is inadequate to the reality of violence and injustice in the world you claim to know something that cannot be known. I think it is a mistake to fetishize what we currently take to be the "root" causes of immiseration -- even if it is so often true that an interrogation of such roots is the best practice we have through which to alienate folks from the assumptions that facilitate their collaboration in their own exploitation.

But more important is that roots are different from possibilities, possibilities are not given or determined by origins or roots. With every genuinely democratizing consensualizing diversifying effect produced through activism the whole terrain of the possible and the important is transformed, the horizon in which reform is enacted is nudged sunward.

I don't think this is a problem of cognitive dissonance but a problem of patience and realism and courage arising from a recognition of the condition of plurality that defines all genuinely political discussions. By the way, I have always loved the Situationist slogan "Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible." It made a secular democratic progressive reformist out of me.

Anonymous said...

Carrico: Let me try to get at it this way. Violent revolution unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would address, and if progressive reform is all that remains to you it is pointless to contemplate whether or not it is "adequate" to the weight of incumbency and injustice. The air of reform is all the air we have to breath, if we would not take up the blade and become murderers and hence people with whom we would not want to live for the rest of our lives, and so debates about its inadequacies seem to me to be fairly narcissistic when all is said and done.

Me: That was a beautiful speech but who talked about violent revolution? Not all socialists advocate revolution. Many advocate reformism to create a socialist society. However, the reformism of American progressives simply seeks to substain capitalism while removing some of its social injustices. You know better than anyone that the history of the 20th century teaches us that the capitalist class will always fight and succeed in reversing many (but not all) of the progressive reforms we acheive and start taking for granted. That's what the era of neoliberalism was all about. So it is the people who seriously think that timid progressive reforms will make capitalism sustainable who aren't being realistic...

Anonymous said...

Seth: Dear god, not that i even believe in her, robot or otherwise, but dear god, I hope this moron isn't procreating

Me: Although I agree with everything else you have said about Prisco, you should know that kind of line is actually a very eugenicist thing to think and say regardless of how facetious/ironic/sarcastic it was meant to be... :/

seth said...

Dale writes: "If you think you know that, you know something that makes you ignorant -- in the crucial sense in which we "ignore" realities the better to vouchsafe cherished knowledges."

This catches, i think, what is likely the way that Giulio's particular kind of dumb functions, which would make it something very close to the way it is experienced (there's a trail for you here, Giulio).

The 21 years of experience as a born-again-wingnut that I can claim for myself is the means whereby I presume to know something of what's going on inside the head our would-be dancing partner. For years, my belief made it possible and even demanded my "'ignor[ing]' realities...to vouchsafe cherished knowledges."

Dale, when you say that "Violent revolution unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would address," do you see that as being always true? I think I can agree with that right here right now, but there are extant situations onto which I don't feel I could rightly project such an understanding. First and foremost, obviously, such situations aren't mine, so I'm not trying to set myself up to argue in support of one particular employment of violence or another. But I do think that the force of the claim might have something to do with its particular setting, namely one internal-to and somewhat advanced-within a hegemony.

At the end of the day, I agree that in this context, "progressive reform is all that remains [and] it is pointless to contemplate whether or not it is "adequate" to the weight of incumbency and injustice," and I think that this perspective offers a way out of many forms of political apathy, and undermines many tendencies toward the fetishization of one's politics, and the consequent fracturing of the power that's available to be taken up in the space between people.

But couldn't that formulation, conceivably at least, measure out differently in a different place, or even here at a different time?

(pleeze jebus don't let this read like one of Giulio's imaginative formulations.)

Dale Carrico said...

I think you are learning too many wrong lessons from history, "Anonymous."

Neoliberalism did not succeed in reversing anything like as many progressive reforms as it wanted (which is not the least to deny the horror of millions upon millions of dead and suffering victims of neoliberalism), and we are embarking on another progressive era with a legacy of disseminated knowledges and tattered but tangible progressive accomplishments to build on.

Neoliberalism from Mt. Pelerin to Chicago to Chile to Reagan to TINA to NAFTA to Bush's Killer Clowns actually provides a useful lesson in the efficacy of disciplined organization. Rich incumbents organized in the aftermath of the New Deal and the Marshall Plan to save and consolidate their privileges and slowed the accomplishment of social democracy worldwide for over three wasted devastated decades.

I am not sure it is useful to decry the "capitalist class" without taking great care to describe what you mean by it. Is corporate-militarism adequately described by the term "capitalism"? Is extractive-industrialism usefully identified with that same capitalist class? Is modest entrepreneurialism anathema, even under conditions of steeply progressive income and property taxes subsidizing extensive general welfare and equal recourse to the law?

I think all that is quite as tricky an issue as too glib an identification of the planetary precariat with the orthodox Marxist idea of the proletariat. I don't think orthodox Marxism -- or socialisms definitely indebted to Marx (I have taught Marx, sympathetically and critically to hundreds of students for over a decade, by the way) -- survives the postwar postcolonial biopolitical interventions of Arendt and Foucault and Fanon.

I think you are too quick, perhaps, to assume my progressivism "timid" just because I think it can proceed through legible secular democratic stakeholder politics and reformism.

I didn't mean to vilify you by introducing the spectre of violent revolution into the discussion -- indeed, that is for me personally the question that defines my own sense of the possible and important confronting radical politics. My own repudiation of violence was the defining moment for my own radicalism. I am happy to leave it to you to explain to me of what your own political "non-timidity" consists, disconnected from the question of violence that was so definitive for me.

seth said...

"that kind of line is actually a very eugenicist thing to think and say"

i think i can see that, and am glad to have it pointed out. guess i was justified in being nervous earlier in launching this little stab at reversal and satire.

but that being said, i doubt i'll ever get to the point where i don't celebrate the admittance and growth of a child into and within a family that will not just love it, but will strive to facilitate for it a developmental environment as free as possible from the all too pervasive influences of racism, sexism, and faith-based systems (both religious and economic) and all the bullshit they facilitate and encourage.

by the same token, it puts a quiver in my gut when, for example, i find out that one of my cousins, from within the born-again-wingnut tribe from whence i came, is going to spawn yet again. i know it makes me a bit of an arrogant prig, and maybe i should do more to conceal it (though it seems i'm more likely to learn something about it by fucking up (from time to time, Giulio, not habitually) and talking, i.e. making myself accountable about it.) i doubt that my judging in this way will ever change, as i have a sense of how easy it can be to simply go on being an insufferable idiot, or worse.

When some people have kids, i think, "damn, there world just got a bit better." in other instances, i think, "damn, that kid's got pretty tough odds," or "damn, i hope they've got better model's available than mom &/or pop."

All that being said, though, I will concede that I don't will to control anybody's ability to procreate.

In that vein, Giulio, I'll say that I apologize for suggesting that you don't deserve this one legitimate space in which you can strive, and even achieve a little immortality. It would be nice of you, though, should you choose to procreate, to not try to oblige your child to your own intellectual shortcomings.

seth said...

3rd paragraph up in my last should read:

When some people have kids, i think, "damn, the world just got a bit better." in other instances, i think, "damn, that kid's got pretty tough odds," or "damn, i hope that kid's got better models available than their mom(s) &/or pop(s)."

Dale Carrico said...

Dale, when you say that "Violent revolution unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would address," do you see that as being always true?

Well, this is politics we are talking about and so one can never say never when all is said and done... But, as far as it goes, yeah, I do think it is pretty overwhelmingly generally true that violent revolution unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would address.

This is not to say that this means that there actually always will be nonviolent alternatives available -- the organized criminality of Nazi totalitarianism as discussed by Arendt in "Moral Responsibility Under Dictatorship" and the organized criminality of colonialism as discussed by Fanon in "Concerning Violence" in Wretched of the Earth both seem to demonstrate that violent revolution indeed can be justified.

But it is crucial to note that this justification does not circumvent the recognition by either Arendt or Fanon that this justified violence nonetheless unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would combat. It's just that for those caught up in that organized violence, the exchange of one evil for another is literally the only available route into history. No reasonable or ethical person under any circumstances but those would ever affirm the evil of violence once they understood this reality.

These circumstances of organized criminality differ in kind from the evils confronted even by King in the segregated South, even by those who suffered under the flabbergasting dictatorship of Stalin, or who suffer and die now from neoliberal porecarization in a planet of slums (as described so well by Mike Davis among other). This is absolutely not to diminish the suffering or horror of the latter forms of violence and exploitation as against the former, but to grasp structural differences in the organization of these horrors that impact the resistances actually available in the face of their evil.

I agree that in this context, "progressive reform is all that remains [and] it is pointless to contemplate whether or not it is 'adequate' to the weight of incumbency and injustice," and I think that this perspective offers a way out of many forms of political apathy, and undermines many tendencies toward the fetishization of one's politics, and the consequent fracturing of the power that's available to be taken up in the space between people.Me, too.

But couldn't that formulation, conceivably at least, measure out differently in a different place, or even here at a different time?You can be sure that it does and it will. Plurality is the occasion of the political, unpredictability the ineradicable price of its freedom. Still, the general principle that violence unleashes forces as bad as the ones it would combat remains both profound and very useful to remember when the chips are down and to weave into one's personal practice even when it seems difficult, all the same. At any rate, that's my personal call.

[By the way, shouldn't this exchange be connected to some other thread in the Moot at this point? Feel free to migrate it upstream.]

Anonymous said...

Seth: In that vein, Giulio, I'll say that I apologize for suggesting that you don't deserve this one legitimate space in which you can strive, and even achieve a little immortality. It would be nice of you, though, should you choose to procreate, to not try to oblige your child to your own intellectual shortcomings.

Me: LOL Well said. :)

Giulio Prisco said...

Shet accuses me of being an eugenicist: "You're a eugenicist because you think you're in a better position to determine what's better for people-not-you than those actual people are, because you don't think it necessary to consult said people-not-you to make that determination, and because you would unilaterally impose your notion of the better on those people-not-you with not so much as a 'by your leave.".

I have said exactly the opposite hundreds of times, on many discussion groups including this. So I can only answer by inviting Shet to find one quote, just one, in support of his crap. He is, of course, fabricating his straw man out of thin air and in complete disregard for what I actually say, and there are hundreds of consistent records all over the internet. What I find realy amusing is that he also accuses me of "not listening".

Then he says: "you're not even human" and invites me to "jump in front of the closest fast-moving bus or train", which does not really deserve serious consideration. I will only note that similar statements can be, and have been, interpreted as exhortations to violence.

And then the best: "dear god, I hope this moron isn't procreating". Which is, as other posters have noted, a very eugenicist thing to say.

I think we are done here.

Dagon said...

Dale, I am ever so sorry, but you are lying and you are losing it.

You exhibit an irrational hatred of people fundamentally at odds with you and your opinionated (crass) ideology and you are now drifting into the realm of bullying, ranting and demonizing.

I suggest you stop this, on your end, and either become excruciatingly polite, extremely fact based and productive. This is going all wrong and you are taking what could be an extremely productive dialogue (and you know what I mean, I told you in private, and I deeply share your concerns about affluence disparity, the fascist elements at work in transhumanism - and I keep claiming income disparities + rapidly advancing technologies can literally kill billions in the next decades) is deteriorating in a sideshow.

This isn't you. You should be better.

Dale Carrico said...

"Dagon," I am finding your comment especially bizarre -- about what exactly am I "lying" here? What exactly is "going wrong"?

What was the content of your private communication with me that supposedly bears on this? I don't doubt this private exchange happened, but frankly I don't immediately recall it, you realize surely that as a teacher of theory I get between a half dozen and twenty or so e-mails a day from students involving me in intellectual discussions and these tend to get muddled in retrospect.

It seems you agree with me that superlative futurology structurally tends to anti-democracy in ways that are troubling but somehow my assertions to that effect are also deceptive, irrational, crass, demonizing?

When you say "this isn't you" about my ridicule of Robot Cultists, a ridicule I have exhibited relentlessly throughout my public discourse wherever superlativity is in play, I daresay I find that I must question somewhat your abilities as an observer.

And finally, I'm not quite sure how to put this, but is your rather oddly phrased "suggestion" that I "become excruciating polite" from here on out intended as some kind of threat? Am I soon to hear from some Robot Cult lawyer or something? Or perhaps you mean to unleash a swarm of nanobotic futurological "conversion" mites into my orange juice? Honestly, what are you getting it in all this? Are you quite mad?

Dagon said...

Dale, you strike me as a sadist. I can only hope when you were young you didn't torture any animals. It is good these days you only use words, but I sometimes worry.

Dale, please tell me one thing - if these robot cultists are such a small and marginal (lunatic) fringe why spend so much time on all this?

And why do you consistently generalize these people. These aren't all evil people, many are quite agreeable. I know some aren't and are effectively fascists, but by no means all of them.

Why, why, why? Your tirades are becoming pointless and all about yourself. The vast majority of what you say is not for valid criticism - it is poking fun and self-aggrandizement. The only reason people don't see this is because you have this doting and uncritical cheerleader pool and because you make so much verbal firework you consistently intimidate people to death.

Dale, doing such a thing intentionally is very rude.

Dale, nevertheless you serve a purpose. You may not agree, but this H+ian thing will be big. My intuition screams it. You can't stop this from going mainstream, in only a few years.

The question however is if you will just be "that guy that used to scream a lot" or whether or not you are able to mobilize the H+ians with good intent to oppose the malignant elements in H+ianism. You can make a significant difference there. I will even help you target the bad apples by name, with quotes if need be.

If you don't agree, be at least polite. As for your last comment

"And finally, I'm not quite sure how to put this, but is your rather oddly phrased "suggestion" that I "become excruciating polite" from here on out intended as some kind of threat? Am I soon to hear from some Robot Cult lawyer or something? Or perhaps you mean to unleash a swarm of nanobotic futurological "conversion" mites into my orange juice? Honestly, what are you getting it in all this? Are you quite mad?"

You are losing it. Please come to your senses.

Dale Carrico said...

It is true, Giulio, that you have explicitly repudiated coercive state-backed eugenics programs. That's a good thing, but hardly exceptional post-Nazism, post-Tuskegee.

As I have written elsewhere (click the sidebar to the left entitled Lifeway Diversity and Eugenicist Reactions for an anthology of posts on these topics, for example) even while rejecting eugenicism in such obtrusive forms one can still participate in the dissemination of eugenicist attitudes -- glib declarations that nonfatal variations connecting to actually wanted lifeways constitute harms, competitive disadvantages, undue burdens on parents or society at large, and so on. In the aggregate these disseminated attitudes can assume a normative force and dimensions comparable to coercion in their effects (although I think it is important to distinguish them). Further, these assumptions, once they acquire hegemonic status, once they become "commonsensical," go on to articulate legal standards and regulatory assumptions that actually do re-connect with the administration of public health and function to circumscribe viable lifeways in ways amounting to eugenics all the same, and a eugenics underwritten in the final instance by the legitimated coercion uniquely available to the state.

Glib transhumanist talk of "enhancement" (as though agreement already exists as to which lifeways are and should be wanted ones), optimality, disadvantage, undue burden and so on, where nonfatal variations and actually wanted lifeways are under interrogation, contribute to the ongoing consolidation of these prejudicial eugenicist attitudes, backed soon enough with the force of actual regulations and laws, public prejudices, institutional assumptions, and financial incentives. I already covered this in comment twelve, but who's counting?

I agree that Seth's comment about hoping you don't procreate expressed a strikingly eugenicist attitude -- striking even if it was just a dumb joke -- especially given that the thrust of his argument was to excoriate eugenicism. I think that the interesting lesson in that paradoxical juxtaposition is that it indicates just how widely disseminated eugenic assumptions and norms really already are within our biopolitical modernity.

Even those who know well enough to disapprove of bald eugenicism are often still caught up in its discourse and deploy it themselves, as it were, unconsciously, caught up in prevailing eugenicist norms and assumptions. That is a lesson you could really learn from yourself, Giulio, and especially if you honestly mean it when you claim to oppose eugenicist discourse.

I think it pays to recall the origin of this particular set of exchanges. Giulio reacted to one of many criticisms I level at transhumanists, namely, that they are indulging in a de facto eugenicist discourse. He called this defamation rather than disagreement (typically enough, since transhumanism is a sub(cult)ural discourse rather than simply a propositional one).

Later he seemed to backtrack from this, and no longer denied that eugenicist views were indeed often expressed among particular transhumanist-identified people (bad apples, no doubt) so much as he denied advocating it himself, personally. Although he would probably still disagree that transhumanism is structurally eugenicist whatever the avowed intentions of particular adherents of the discourse, this is not a point he has engaged with any seriousness, retreating instead to general affirmations of best outcomes that beg all the relevant questions at hand (the "happiness" exchanges above).

I do think Giulio supported his case pretty convincingly that he does not in fact approve coercive state-backed eugenics and I have already cheerfully said so (comment ten). Again, I can't say that I regard this as particularly exceptional, post-Nazism, post-Tuskegee.

And, of course, none of that is quite in point in any case since:

a, his personal demurral doesn't speak to the structural tendency of transhumanist discourse in general;

b, his demurral is rendered at best superficial if it does not inspire active ongoing resistance to eugenicist tendencies in transhumanist discourse in general, if I am right to discern these, since he both claims to disapprove these but meanwhile maintains such a strong public identification with that discourse;

c, his demurral from affirming coercive state-backed eugenics amounts to rejection of the iceberg-tip of eugenicism, leaving still in question the less-baldly coercive eugenicism of transhumanist investment in enhancement discourse in general, which in turn is a symptom of far more prevailing normative eugenicism inhering in market-oriented public health and global developmental discourses.

Dale Carrico said...

Dale, please tell me one thing - if these robot cultists are such a small and marginal (lunatic) fringe why spend so much time on all this? Answer here, among countless other places.

why do you consistently generalize these people. These aren't all evil peopleI critique a discourse, the discourse is symptomized in actual arguments made by actual people in public places. If people don't want their utterances subjected to public scrutiny they shouldn't publish them. If people want to take structural analyses of a discourse personally that is entirely their business.

It isn't my business or my interest to psychoanalyze strangers, so if I speak of a deranging entailment of a discourse it remains to people themselves to make the determination if the shoe fits wear it on a case by case basis. Transhumanists do invite generalization when they go from simply asserting belief in propositions to actually declaring themselves members of a world-historical "movement," the views of which are, after all, shared, yielding a unique sub(cult)ural identity.

Your tirades are becoming pointlessWhy respond to them, then?

you have this doting and uncritical cheerleader poolThis is certainly a curious charge given that transhumanism is, well, an avowed "-ism," a self-proclaimed movement, with membership organizations, and conferences, and breathless online manifestos, and True Believers and would-be gurus, and the whole nine yards, while I have none of these things, want none of these things, relentlessly make fun of these things. Projection, much?

you are able to mobilize the H+ians
with good intent
Superlative futurologists are True Believers and in general very little likely open to persuasion or sense in my view. I use them to mobilize a critique of prevailing anti-demoncratizing corporate-militarist futurological and developmental discourse and illustrate points in their extremity connected with that more general relevance. I am not, thank heavens, primarily motivated by an altruistic desire to "save Robot Cultists from themselves." What a quixotic endeavor that would be!

If you don't agree, be at least polite.I ridicule the ridiculous, and I make no apologies for that.

You are losing it. Please come to your senses. If excoriating and ridiculing Robot Cultists is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

jimf said...

"Dagon" wrote:

> Dale, you strike me as a sadist. . . [I]f these robot cultists
> are such a small and marginal (lunatic) fringe why spend so much
> time on all this? . . . Why, why, why? Your tirades are becoming
> pointless and all about yourself. The vast majority of what you
> say is not for valid criticism - it is poking fun and
> self-aggrandizement. The only reason people don't see this is
> because you have this doting and uncritical cheerleader pool
> and because you make so much verbal firework you consistently
> intimidate people to death.

Well! I've been called faggot and I've been called queer, but
I've never been called a **cheerleader**.

In other words, Dale, **you're** the cultist.

"Narcissistic mirroring", anyone?

> I will even help you target the bad apples by name, with quotes if
> need be.

Oh, please do!

And shame on you, Dale, for intimidating the poor little Ayn
Randians and transhumanists! Why don't you pick on somebody your
own size?

(Like, um, Donna Harraway?)

Anonymous said...

Dagon: Dale, nevertheless you serve a purpose. You may not agree, but this H+ian thing will be big. My intuition screams it. You can't stop this from going mainstream, in only a few years.

Me: LOL Is this crank for real or am I missing some inside joke that's going on?

jimf said...

"Dagon" [whose handle, I gather, is taken from the Cthulhu Mythos --
I've never read any Lovecraft, but I've seen the movie ;-> ]
wrote:

> I will even help you target the bad apples by name, with quotes if
> need be.

Well, here are some quotes, from a quick Google:


http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/01/serious-stories.html

Why are you biased toward the status quo for this human desire for
"meaning" or "intensity" (both of which boil down to "emotional motivation").
The vast majority of terminal goals that I can imagine can be better
pursued if fewer people (in the wide sense; people = sentient actors)
are struggling to have an effect on the universe because they're more
afraid of meaninglessness than of doing harm.

Posted by: Dagon
January 09, 2009


http://www.nabble.com/-sl4--Friendly-AI-in-the-media%3A-Terminator%2C-the-Sarah-Connor-Chronicles-to21101525.html

Re: [sl4] Friendly AI in the media: Terminator, the Sarah Connor Chronicles
2009/2/19 Michael Anissimov

> http://www.free-tv-video-online.info/internet/terminator_the_sarah_connor_chronicles/

Can someone give me the gist of what happened? Are there any online transcripts?

Did you watch the rest of the whole thing? No other FAI-relevant material whatsoever?
Man, TV is such crap.

I know they are making 3 more Terminator movies. Hopefully some of Eliezer's writings
will be required reading for the actors, but I somehow doubt it.

--
Michael Anissimov
Lifeboat Foundation http://lifeboat.com
SIAI Supporter http://singinst.org
Blog: http://acceleratingfuture.com


Re: [sl4] Friendly AI in the media: Terminator, the Sarah Connor Chronicles
by Dagon Gmail Feb 20, 2009

. . .

It's the same old shtick of taking a slightly unsettling theme, spinning a lot
of sinister innuendo around it creating a lovecraftian sense of foreboding,
and then the revelation. A wild roller coster ride of lows and highs that left
me bored yet nauseous. Superficiality catering to a demographic that
validates my elitism and contempt.


http://www.sl4.org/archive/0708/16528.html

Re: Nonsingularitarian America and us
From: Dagon Gmail
Date: Thu Aug 16 2007

. . .

As is evident I have developed a fundamentally decreased faith (to use
but a word) in the potency to get anything right of the US. As a matter of
fact (staying on topic and into the framework of SL4) I would assert that
the the political US has become a severe impediment to the onset of
a singularity. I would say that the last 6 years have pushed the world away
from a singularity rather than towards it. One would almost believe it
was done intentional.

AnneC said...

Um, wha? I have stated on at least one occasion, possibly more, right on this blog, that particular modes of ridicule don't sit well with me. Moreover I've picked at things that to me have looked like "psychoanalyzing" (regardless of whether I was right or not, I know I at least mentioned it).

In other words, I may think Dale makes a lot of reasonable points and looks at things from a perspective that is all too rare (in terms of actually being able to see that superlativity itself is pretty much made of words, not machines and laboratories) -- but I am nobody's uncritical cheerleader.

And, I think that the superlative-minded folks getting hysterical over Dale's stuff aren't even getting hysterical at the bits I myself wouldn't personally support (as my personality/cognitive style is just not geared toward certain things), but at stuff they are just plain reading completely wrong. Seriously.

Also I am reminded here of a Philip K. Dick story called "The Chromium Fence". Recommended reading!