What is now "Humanity +" used to be the World Transhumanist Association, but since they decided that was a bit too obviously culty they decided to rebrand themselves "Humanity +" instead. This is very sensible, since people are always criticizing distressing eugenicist tendencies in transhumanism, and it is hard to think of a better way to assuage such concerns than for a bunch of very ordinary mostly white bald guys exhibiting at most quotidian intelligence declaring themselves to be "Humans, but, you know, better" (speaking of which, Dvorsky used to be a muckety muck in a failed transhumanoid outfit that actually called itself "Betterhumans" quite explicitly). If all of this isn't plain to you, you probably aren't one of the better sort of human who is attracted to Robot Cults, heck you might even be "Humanity-minus," poor mite.
that advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities,Although there is more than one ethics in the world, this commonplace sanewashing transhumanoid formulation either pretends there is only one, or simply helps transhumanoids who would rather not get more specific about just which ethical views they happen to have in mind to sidestep such thorny issues. Similarly, there is of course no such thing as "technology in general" one can advocate the use of, whether ethically or not, whatever transhumanoids might happen to mean by that at the moment. Rather than a monolithic "technology" there is a complex, dynamic constellation of existing and emerging and posited techniques and artifacts none of which has been imagined or used in all the ways it might be, and the effects of the actual uses of which will be different depending on who you are talking to, how they are situated, what they want out of life, what their capacities are, and so on. The fact that "technology" is no more specified than "ethics" in this formulation possibly matters a bit less than it might otherwise seem to do, however, since almost inevitably the HumanityPlus sooper-folks talk about "technology" that doesn't exist, that doesn't seem likely to come to exist, practically speaking, anything like soon enough for reasonable people to devote much of their time to it, and in many cases cannot possibly exist because it depends on conceptually incoherent notions or scientifically discredited assumptions. That Robot Cultists are interested only in "expanding human capacities" is less reassuring than it might initially seem to be, when it is realized that what will seem to be an expansion of capacities will depend on initial assumptions about which ends are desirable and which ends are not, assumptions about which there are actually often quite fraught disagreements, hence there are few neutrally universalizably "expanding" capacities to be had, and also when it is realized that optimizing for the accomplishment of some desirable ends is inevitably paid for in the disabling frustration of the accomplishment of other ends that might also be desirable and probably are to some people transhumanoids simply aren't paying attention to.
is holding their annual conference next weekend from December 1-2 at the Seven Hills Conference Center at SF State in San Francisco.It would be instructive to know how many of the speakers or attendees of the conference twenty years ago would have confidently predicted that the 2012 conference would be taking place, not in San Francisco, but in an orbital space hotel, in an undersea dome city, in a floating libertopian artificial island/ cruise ship, in a cypherpunk data haven in a world without nation-states, in a secret lab in the asteroid belt, or among info-selves uploaded in cyberspace. It would be instructive to know how many of the speakers or attendees of the conference in San Francisco this year (and many of them will be the same people, you know) would now confidently predict that the 2032 conference should be taking place in an orbital space hotel, in an undersea dome city, in a floating libertopian artificial island/ cruise ship, in a cypherpunk data haven in a world without nation-states, in a secret lab in the asteroid belt, or among info-selves uploaded in cyberspace.
The theme for this year's confab is "Writing the Future" -- and seeing as that's exactly what we do here at io9, we'll be there to represent and share our insights.Given the extent to which Robot Cultists systematically confuse science fiction for science practice the theme this year seems quite appropriate, in fact doubly so when one goes on to recognize that the endlessly reiterated "insights" of transhumanoids, singularitarians, techno-immortalists, nano-cornucopiasts, digi-utopians, geo-engineers and so on really amount to hoary science fiction clichés offered up in pseudo-scientific pop-journalism cadences simply bereft of the inventive plotting, resonant settings, provocative themes, and complex characterizations demanded of actually good science fiction writing. By the way, I disagree that io9 is "Writing The Future," since I believe it is writing hopes and anxieties of the demanding shared present through the speculative projection and even allegorization of "futures" reflecting that present through analytic critical awareness and imaginative funhouse mirrors. I have always read the io9 slogan "We Come From The Future" as a tongue-in-cheek recognition that the substance of futurity inheres in the openness in the present produced by the ineradicable diversity of the stakeholders sharing it. I am not surprised that Dvorsky imagines himself as a kind of prophetic ambassador from his parochial, personally preferred vision of The Future, since this is after all the techno-transcendental black box into which all Robot Cultists stuff their infantile fears and wish-fulfillment fantasies, and substantiate the luminous reality of together in the shared rituals of fervent affirmation among True Believers in conventions like this one.
The ultimate aim of the conference will be to "encourage refined communication about the future in creative ways, and thereby promote serious attention to the opportunities and risks we are facing."This means: Clap louder and "The Future" we dream of will happen!
Subsequently, the conference will primarily focus on how emerging sciences and technologies are communicated and how this affects the way the future unfolds.This means: Clapping louder is more important than actually doing the work of becoming a scientist or doing scientific research (no, coding is not biology or plasma physics, sorry, most coders are scrubbing urinals not doing science), or actually grasping the stakeholder landscape shaping science education, or the funding, regulation, implementation, promotion, and distributional effects of actual scientific research and technodevelopment change, or policy outcomes informed by consensus science results.
Specific subject areas will include advances in robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, human enhancement, brain-computer integration, regenerative medicine, and radical life extensionA host of modest but interesting scientific results and technical developments will be divested of their qualifications, nuances, diverse stakes and then hyberbolized into portals enabling techno-transcendental wish-fulfillment fantasies about becoming all-knowing, immortal, and rich beyond the dreams of avarice. To add insult to injury, this outrageous debauching of science will then be described by its perpetrators as the championing of science.
Humanity+ @ San Francisco conference starts next week -- and io9 will be there!Whether they flog for the Robot Cult or ridicule it will be one more data point (hiring George Dvorsky was another one) in the narrative of io9's sad decline into reactionary pseudo-science or welcome return to progressive sfnal fandom.
These breakthroughsNone of which ("nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, human enhancement, brain-computer integration, regenerative medicine, and radical life extension") has, you know, happened.
and future visions are often conveyed by scientists, futurists, sci-fi writers, and the media. To that end, Humanity+ has assembled an impressive list of speakers, a group that includes science fiction authors Kim Stanley Robinson and David Brin, acclaimed biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, designer and theorist Natasha Vita-More, and futurists Jamais Cascio, Ramez Naam, Max More, James Hughes, and many more.this is what is meant by accelerating change?
And of course, io9 will be there as well. Annalee will be speaking about "Slow Futures: Using History to Write about Tomorrow," and I'll be there to talk about futureshock and how I cover the future beat.Futureshock is the way dumb boys dreaming of dumb toys congratulate themselves on their credulity in the face of what the rest of us experience as futurefatigue. "The Future Beat" amounts to a largely static cast of pseudo scientists and guru-wannabes peddling the same techno-transcendence to the rubes while people of good will and good sense struggle together against complacency, ignorance, and greed to discover a little more and reform a little more in the service of an actually better world.
We certainly hope to see you there next weekend. Tickets are still available here.Tickets still available? You shock me.