I've updated the prefatory comments on the splash pages for the Superlative Summary and the Bioconservative Bestiary, and taken together with a few of my Futurological Brickbats these excerpts provide a summarizing sketch of my anti-futurological critique but also help clarify the distinctions and relations within that general critique between my critiques of superlative futurology as against mainstream corporate-militarist developmental futurism and also between superlative futurology as against supernative futurology (sometimes described in terms of "transhumanism" as against "bioconservatism," so-called).
I write quite a lot here at Amor Mundi about the damaging and deranging impacts of futurological discourses on sensible deliberation about technoscientific change. I focus on the pernicious effects of both the prevailing corporate-militarist futurology of neoliberal global developmentalism and disciplinary bioethics as marketing, policy-making, and ideological discourses, but also the Superlative Futurology championed among the so-called transhumanists, extropians, techno-immortalists, longevity-pill-poppers, cryonicists, digital-utopians, cybernetic-totalists, AI-deadenders, singularitarians, geo-engineers, technofixers, nano-cornucopiasts, and other assorted nuts whom I like to lampoon as "Robot Cultists."
There is considerable overlap between these mainstream and superlative futurological modes, both share a tendency to reductionism conjoined to a (compensatory?) hyperbole bordering on arrant fraud, not to mention an eerie hostility to the materiality of the furniture of the world (whether this takes the form of a preference for financialization over production, or for the digital over the real), the materiality of the mortal vulnerable aging body, the materiality of the brains, vantages, and socialities in which intelligence is incarnated, among many other logical, topical, and tropological continuities.
The characteristic gesture of superlative, as against mainstream, futurological discourses will be the appropriation of worldly concerns -- such as the administration of basic healthcare, education, or security, say -- redirected (in a radically amplified variation on conventional marketing and promotional hyperbole) into a faith-based discourse promising not just the usual quick profits or youthful skin but the promise of a techno-transcendence of human finitude, a personal transcendence modeled in its basic contours and relying for much of its intuitive plausibility on the disavowed theological omnipredicates of a godhood (omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence) translated instead into pseudo-scientific terms (superintelligence, superlongevity, superabundance).
Adherents of superlative futurology across the organizational archipelago of Robot Cult sects are indulging, in essence, in faith-based initiatives. They are infantile wish-fulfillment fantasists who fancy that they will "arrive" at a personally techno-transcedentalizing destination they denominate "The Future." This image of "The Future" is one in which they are invested at the cost of a radically de-politicizing repudiation of the open futurity that inheres in the present by way of the plurality of the stakeholders investing it; and the arrival at this "The Future" is one they hope to accomplish primarily through the fervency of their belief in that "The Future," whatever this fervency forecloses in the way of equity, diversity, or sense. And, being fantastical, the substance of "The Future" is one they experience as a premonition always only in the sub(cult)ural experience of the shared fervency of Belief of their fellow faithful.
"Bioconservative" is a term I use to describe positions that oppose particular medical or other technodevelopmental outcomes in the name of a defense of "the natural" deployed as a moral category. Needless to say, there may be endlessly many good reasons to oppose particular medical or technoscientific outcomes on their merits, apart from bioconservative worries about their "unnaturalness" or our "playing God" (which we surely already did in inventing Him/Her/It/Them). Such opposition on the merits isn't inevitably "bioconservative" or "luddite" by my lights, as far too many futurological cheerleaders would have it. But it is also true that many critiques of the furniture and preoccupations of "technological society" will raise legitimate questions of safety, inequity, misinformation, misplaced priorities commandeered into the service of a larger bioconservative project of anti-democratizing naturalization of incumbent interests and parochial concerns, and it is important to disarticulate these strands in assessing the force of a technodevelopmental critique.
I tend to regard the obvious antagonism between bioconservative and transhumanist advocacy also as a mutually enabling partnership in hyperbole, rather as the antagonism between technophobic and technophilic attitudes masks the pernicious undercriticality toward matters of technodevelopmental social struggle they share and to which they contribute more or less equally, rather as the obvious antagonism between supernative and superlative ideologies yield mirror image retro-futurisms.
Futurity is a register of freedom, "The Future" another prison-house built to confine it. Futurity is the openness in the present arising out of the ineradicable diversity of calculating, contending, and collaborative stakeholders who struggle to make and remake the shared world, peer to peer. Futurity cannot be delineated but only lived, in serial presents attesting always unpredictably to struggle and to expression. "The Future," to the contrary, brandishing the shackle of its definite article, is always described from a parochial present and is always a funhouse mirror reflecting a parochial present back to itself, amplifying its desires and fears, confirming its prejudices, reassuring its Believers that the Key to History is in their hands. To speak of "The Future" is always to indulge in reaction. All futurisms are finally retro-futurisms.
The speculative fictions and scenarios and games of the futurologists are "speculative" less in the sense of critical thought than in the sense of financial speculation, just as their "futures" are far closer to the ones that get traded on stock exchanges as bundled-risk pseudo-commodities than to the substantial futurity that names the openness in every present arising out of the ineradicable diversity of its stakeholders, peer to peer. Futurologists really have only four stories to tell with which they account for any real or imagined device, technique, or developmental moment: Genesis, Resurrection, Ascension, and Apocalypse. As any evangelist will tell you, that's more than enough to fleece a flock with.