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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Robot Cultists Need Luddite Cultists But Technoscientific Progress Needs Neither

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, an exchange with JimF elaborating an important point. In yesterday's post, Are Techno-Immortalist Robot Cultists the Real "Deathists"? I wrote:
Contra Pellissier, I think it is fair to say that not everybody would want to spend 10,000 years living what passes for the lives they are now living, when the reality of suicide demonstrates that not everybody wants to live even the Biblical allotment of three score and ten.
To which point JimF applies some useful pressure:
And if you **could** live for hundreds or thousands of years (barring accidents), suicide might then become the commonest way out. This is a separate issue from the current **plausibility** of the whole >Hist "longevity" project, and discussing the **desirability** of the indefinite prolongation of "the life we are now living" only plays into the hands of those who scream "deathist" even at those who merely express skepticism at the **scientific** legitimacy of the project.
Oh, yes, I quite agree with you and I agree that this is actually also an important point. That is why I begin the post with this barb: "Robot Cultist Hank Pellissier argues that magic would be cool if it were real as a way of distracting your attention from the fact that magic is not real."

There is no question that the transhumanoids much prefer arguing with folks who think the techno-transcendental sooperpowers that obsess them are dangerous or bad to those who point out instead that these obsessions of theirs are conceptually incoherent, pseudo-scientific, pathologically symptomatic, and politically reactionary as I do.

Bioconservatives who wring their hands about AI and singularity and clone armies and post-humanoidal soopermen and so on are engaging in "a supernative futurology" that perfectly supplements and supports the superlative futurology of the Robot Cultists, just as the bioconservative championing of homo naturalis and the transhumanoid championing of homo superior are co-supportive supplements sustaining eugenicism.

While these hyperbolic discursive formations battle it out as eternal foes they also succeed in delineating the terms of technodevelopmental contestation in public discourse in ways that divert attention and concern away from the actual vicissitudes of funding, regulation, discovery, publication, production, distribution, education, marketing, cost, risk, benefit to the actual diversity of actual stakeholders in actual history onto eschatological narratives of progress, destiny, transcendence, apocalypse and activating irrational pathologies of dread and desire that already tend to freight technoscience discourse.


Dale Carrico said...

The problem with this formulation in this post of mine is that I really don't think supernative futurology is really symmetrical with superlative futurology.

There are many Robot Cultists who indulge in every single octopus arm of that discourse, GOFAI-dead ender cybernetic totalists and digital utopians who also believe in drextech genies in a bottle resurrecting their hamburgerized heads and then uploading their info souls into cyberspatial heaven or robot bodies in treasure caves after the Robot God of loving grave ends history and on and on and on. But I have found no comparably apocaloidal organization that indulges in disasterbatory wailing in anticipation of each of these Robot Cultic sects of techno-transcendental wish-fulfillment fantasizing.

Of course there are well-organized bioconservative critiques of enhancement medicine and their are lots of critiques of the irrational exuberance of the digital utopians and there is some overlap there (the New Atlantis Futurisms blog explores some of these connections sometimes), but the thing is that they only SOMETIMES argue eschatologically but just as often critique hyperbolic and incoherent claims in terms of present day stakeholder struggle as well.

Although one finds scattered moments of supernative futurology I really don't think it has anything like the discursive or organizational sustenance that drives the superlative futurology of the Robot Cultists. Indeed, often one notes Robot Cultists like to imagine themselves to be fighting far more fearsome organized "deathist" or "luddite" antagonists than actually exist, when the truth is that opposition in that mode tends to be less monolithic, more occasional, and intermixed with more legitimate critique than Robot Cultism is.

I daresay one thing that accounts for this is that superlative futurology is really just an extreme form of the techno reductionism, neoliberal developmentalism, neoconservative triumphalism, consumer fetishism, and deceptive/ hyperbolic marketing that utterly prevail and suffuse the contemporary normative landscape: Robot Cultists are just mirroring uncritically the terms in which elite-incumbency rules and then pretending that amplifying these terms into pseudo-theological articles of techno-transcendentalizing faith is something "revolutionary" and "new" rather than the bleakest imaginable submission to the present order.

John Howard said...

Insisting on an equal right to reproduce with someone regardless of their sex is also "conceptually incoherent, pseudo-scientific, pathologically symptomatic, and politically reactionary" but that doesn't stop you does it? You just say that as long as it is safe, wanted, and consensual, then it should be allowed, regardless of the risks to the child, the costs to society, the effects on culture. It's completely incoherent to put same-sex reproductive rights at the very tip top of priorities, when it can't even be done and might never be possible. It is as far-fetched as bringing a frozen brain back to life someday. But you do more than just rhapsodize about lifeway diversity and celebrate people who would choose to do it, like the Robot Cultists do, you make it the essential plank of government, refusing to compromise, putting civilization at risk. This is a real world situation that you could fix, but instead you chose to join the Robot Cultists when the chips are down. 9

Dale Carrico said...

What you claim is a tip top priority of mine is something that is not a priority of mine at all. The right to access to a non-existing technique you claim I insist on is something I don't insist on at all.

All things equal, I certainly have no more problem with queers than straight folks adopting wanted kids, queers than straights making recourse to surrogacy, lesbians than straight folks making recourse to artificial insemination or IVF.

I do think there is evidence of exploitation and misinformation and other harm in the global traffic of adoption, surrogacy, and egg harvestation, all of which calls for more regulation and monitoring, but I don't think queerness or straightness comes into it.

Some people speak of "reproductive cloning" but the techniques that seem remotely viable have been determined to be unsafe and are rightly banned. If other techniques arrive, if they are judged actually safe, then they should be made available to those who want them and forced on no one, straight or not.

There is nothing about the participation of queer folks in making families that "risks children" or "puts civilization at risk."

Nobody has to join a Robot Cult to advocate equitable consensual access to actually safe, actually available actually wanted therapies, nor to demand their regulation for safety at every stage of development and use. This is straightforward equitable consensual heathcare advocacy. Heck, my position advocating single payer is probably more out of the American mainstream than my position on access to ARTs (alternative/artificial reproductive techniques).

You have posted these homophobic freakouts on my blog and at other places where I have been published with alarming regularity. You keep attributing views to me that I do not hold at all, let alone prioritize. You have problems, John Howard, you hear voices in your head, you have a strange fascination with queer copulation that possibly better addressed with the help of a therapist than in these bizarre harangues in my comments section.

Dale Carrico said...

By the way, this is not the beginning of this discussion, John Howard, it is the end. I won't let you commandeer my discussion threads with this crap as you have often done in the past. You've had your queer little say for the day and that's the end of it. Now go beat off to twink porn or whatever it is you do when you aren't indulging in your homophobic harangues in my comments section.

John Howard said...

I insist on having a right to procreate with my spouse using our own genes to make genetic offspring together, so if you don't insist on having a right to procreate with your spouse, then stop saying you want equal rights. I am not insisting on having a right to unsafe technology, or even any technology at all, I just want the approval of the concept of making children together, the right, the green light, and approval and support after it happens. I do not want my right to have sex and make offspring with my wife equated to my right to make offspring with a man.

Civil Unions defined as "marriage minus conception rights" would make it possible to resolve the marriage debate and improve the actual lives of thousands of real couples right now. Don't choose incoherence and fantasy over science and society, endorse the compromise already, if you oppose Transhumanism that is.

Dale Carrico said...

What are you talking about? Do you think I think I am arguing for a "right" to re-write reality in the image of a world in which I can have butt babies when my boyfriend fucks me up the ass? I don't want butt babies. Nobody on earth is fighting for butt babies. You don't have to define civil unions as "marriage minus conception rights" if you want to protect the world from spontaneously re-scrambling itself into suddenly making butt babies possible when they are not possible. Neither do you have to define civil unions as "marriage minus rights to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

Everybody on earth but you hears about your crusade and thinks you surely mean to attack the rights of queer folks to adopt kids or have kids via ARTs -- which is obviously evil homophobic bullshit on your part. Frankly, I think your weird jeremiad against imaginary same-sex reproduction technology is also evil homophobic bullshit, but equally important is the fact that you are freaking out about things that don't even exist and then attributing views to other people they do not hold in public places.

Get help. All further comments from you will be deleted unread.

John Howard said...

I'm not talking about any of the ways people have children now, I'm only talking about using artificial gametes to create offspring from two people of the same sex. It wouldn't happen spontaneously in anyone's butt, it would happen in a lab using stem cells and hormone baths to produce sperm from a woman's cells or eggs from a man's, and then surrogates or artificial wombs to gestate them.

Dale Carrico said...

Same-sex reproduction using cyborg gametes doesn't exist, you're pulling this whole thing out of your own butt, it is your own special butt baby. Newflash! That's my point you homophobic freakjob! Okay, okay, I promise, that's the last one I'm letting through. They're just so hilarious I find it seriously hard to resist.