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

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Robot Cultism In the Name of Diversity

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, "citrakayah" asks:
And what of the transhumanists, such as myself, who do not invision a 'perfected human' but the use of transhumanist technologies to allow for a more diverse human population?
There is no such thing as special "transhumanist" technologies, any more than there is such a thing as "technology in general" to which we can ascribe general properties like "liberating" "dehumanizing" "accelerating" "advancing" and so on. What there are, are always only actually-existing actually-emerging technoscientific knowledges and techniques and artifacts, what there are, are interminable ultimately unpredictable technodevelopmental changes with costs, risks, and benefits that can be more or can be less equitably distributed to the diversity of their stakeholders. To say otherwise is to traffic in error, misinformation, deception, self-deception, and sometimes outright fraud.

I've written endlessly many words on these topics, but it really is very simple.

If you really, truly care as you say you do about diversity and about equity-in-diversity (the second is harder, and more important), then fight for that by fighting for more democracy, for more progressive taxation to fund general welfare that renders the scene of consent more legible and to fund public investment in sustainable civilizational infrastructure without which we will soon be reduced (to the extent that we are not already) to the most brutal imaginable inequities.

Technodevelopmental struggle is of course a great gaudy player in those democratizing, secularizing, consensualizing, planetizing struggles right now, there is no denying it, but technodevelopmental struggle is still social struggle, it is subsumed nonetheless under the terms of larger, older, quite familiar social struggles in fact and contributes nothing of its own to the key principles driving that struggle. Nothing. Those who tell you otherwise are making a fool of you -- still true even if they are also making fools of themselves. (I've made the error myself, so I know what I'm talking about.)

If you really, truly do not envision an "enhanced" "perfected" "post-human" techno-transcendentalized via techno-theological omni/sooper-predication into a omniscient/sooper-intelligent omnipotent/sooper-powered omnibenevolent/sooper-abundant techno-demigod with whom you identify at the expense of identification with your fellow humans/earthlings sharing this problematic planet with you here and now, as you say you do not, then you need to take a hard look at the company you are keeping, because you have gone seriously astray.

7 comments:

Darth Imperius said...

You use many words but say very little with any clarity. I wonder if you could state very clearly for the record what is your own ideology, your vision for humanity and civilization going forward? Singularitarians and Transhumanists have done this and opened themselves up to attack, so perhaps it’s time you did the same. Is there anything more to your ideology than liberty, brotherhood and equality? Is your ambition that of an animal in a trap, a slave in a cage, a rebellious child? What sort of world are you seeking to build and be the master of?

Are you one of those who believe that man is the measure of all things? How can this be, if man is not the apex of evolution, but merely a bridge from animal to overman? Doesn’t the long history of life on this planet suggest that struggle drives us forward more than any moralism? What makes you think the universe cares about your petty quasi-Christian values? Did the universe spare the Neanderthals from extinction, or the countless other species and cultures we homo sapiens have annihilated? Don’t you think the world is inescapably “Satanic” at its core, driven ultimately by violence and power, and that attempts by Christians and secular humanists to impose their moral order upon it is sheer hubris and futility? I would like to know quite seriously how you can believe the things you believe, and think them to be profound or universal truths. Thank you.

Dale Carrico said...

Very top line of the sidebar: About Amor Mundi. Further insults, trolls, comment thread hijacking pseudo-radical walls of text, and anything with even a whiff of racism from you will be deleted from the Moot. No more of that liberal generosity you so detest for you from me anymore.

Darth Imperius said...

Thank you, that was helpful.
From your description, you are clearly in the technoprogressive camp, so I don’t see much to distinguish you from most Singularitarians. You both posit a total break from history, an overthrow of all the old "evils" via science and technology, the infinite power of man to revolutionize the world via his reason. So it seems very odd to me that you would choose to focus your attacks on those who are so close to you ideologically – who are really the tip of the spear of the Enlightenment which made people like you possible – when there are much more threatening ideologies on the rise globally which would bury your kind forever. I think you need travel more to get more perspective, and choose your enemies more wisely!

Also, you say you love the world, but surely the world includes much that is diametrically opposed to your values. For example, when I observe my dog or any male mammal, I see a violent, hierarchical, sexist fascist, and I’m just fine with that. I love this world at least as much as you do; the problem is that we are seeing totally different worlds. Can this difference be resolved somewhere other than the battlefield? I will meditate upon this question, and I hope you do the same.

Dale Carrico said...

You both posit a total break from history, an overthrow of all the old "evils" via science and technology, the infinite power of man to revolutionize the world via his reason.

Actually, no I don't.

Also, you say you love the world, but surely the world includes much that is diametrically opposed to your values.

You wish. Loving the world and making and supporting judgments are perfectly compatible.

I see a violent, hierarchical, sexist fascist, and I’m just fine with that.

We already know you are an asshole.

Go bug somebody else now, please. At least for today, okay?

Eudoxia said...

So Darth Imperius was for real. Best example of Poe's law I've seen in my days on the Internet.

From your description, you are clearly in the technoprogressive camp, so I don’t see much to distinguish you from most Singularitarians.

You must be new here. Have a complimentary blood-stained p2p Foundation shirt.

Chad Lott said...

When I observe my dog I see a sweet, dumb little creature that would eat cat shit if I let it.

I don't think it's at all intelligent to base an argument on the behavior of our pets.

jimf said...

> Doesn’t the long history of life on this planet suggest that struggle
> drives us forward more than any moralism?

I think I've mentioned this before to Mr. Darth ("Mr. Darth, we
no have Windex on star destroyer."), but the "struggle" is only
part of the story. Yes, it's an important part. But there's
other stuff going on. There's cooperation as well as competition.
We would not exist if not for two biological milestones --
prokaryotes throwing in their lot together to give rise to
eukaryotic cells, and then eukaryotic cells throwing in
their lot together to give rise to multicellular organisms
with specialized organs and tissues. Including nervous
systems and brains (in the case of animals -- the plant kingdom
continues to thrive and groove on Our Mr. Sun without
the help of nervous systems, thank you very much -- not
than any self-respecting animal would want to live that way. ;-> ).

Oh, and I guess I should include another milestone in the
case of human beings -- a dense, specialized, interdependent
social organization (a few people might still be capable of
living in isolation, even without language, like Victor of
Aveyron, but few would choose it willingly) giving us
language and money and credit cards and YouTube.

Yes, it's true that adolescent males love reading about and
role-playing in Emperor of the Universe stories about
interstellar feudal empires in which they get to be Paul Atreides
and everybody else is a peon. I guess that's what you mean
by the "male will to power".

If you can believe Robert Wright's _Nonzero_ or Pinker's
_Better Angels_, the world is **not** headed back to feudalism
anytime soon.

Unless the whole tech civ comes crashing down and resets
the clock back to the Middle Ages. Or earlier. TBD.

By the way, I think Dale's ideology (and mine, if I have one)
might partly be characterized as the "anti - 12-year-old
mouth-breathing wanker who fancies himself Emperor of the
Universe" ideology.