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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Enjoyable Twitter Exchange Over Cryonics Between Alex Knapp and Michael Anissimov

I don't think Michael quite gets it that by identifying cryonics and burial as "immortalization techniques" Alex has directed our attention to the essentially faith-based character of the cryonics scam. Later, when Alex has backed Michael into a corner provoking a rather desperate full-throated assertion of Robot Cultic faith -- "We will recover memories from dead animal brains within 10 years, I predict"! -- Alex remorselessly exposes the marginality of that claim from the reality of actual scientific practice and consensus, revealing the "status" of Michael's "prediction" as an assertion equivalent to that of any snake-oil salesman or faithly proselytizer. Illuminating, and Alex is much nicer than I would manage to be. For example, in answer to Michael's opening question, I must say I would find it hard to resist pointing out that everybody knows, and that includes Michael Anissimov even as he insinuates otherwise, that billions of people now living who are not "cryopreserved" do indeed make plans to ensure a better tomorrow, and many millions struggle to make the world a better, safer, fairer, more sustainable, more democratic place for their children and their children's children. The handful of death-denialist techno-fetishizing futurologists who are "cryopreserved" right about now are far from being the only ones with a claim to "care about the future" -- especially where "The Future" is not imagined to designate the Heaven some pine to live in because they hate and fear the vulnerable material bodies they live in and the fraught material history in which real scientific and political progress is made.


jimf said...

(From the last Dvorsky installment, below.)

> The endless circulation and amplification of the earth-alienated
> vantage of techno-fixated futurological disdain of the earth we
> are evolved to flourish and were born responsible to as nothing but
> "a rock we need to get off or we're doomed" -- a sentiment usually
> accompanying articles making claims like this one, and almost
> inevitably appearing in their comments if not in the article
> itself, not to mention its implication in Very Serious think-tank
> position papers premised on the economic "escape hatch" of endless
> growth and advertisements promoting the existential "escape hatch"
> of heedless consumption -- is no small part of the reason why we
> collaborate in this criminal suicidal genocidal planecidal madness.

And, the quote from Anissimov:

> We will recover memories from dead animal brains within 10 years, I predict.

You know, I used to buy all this stuff wholesale. I really did.

I remember a conversation I had back in 1976 with a guy who
was (and probably still is) a serious environmentalist and
nature-lover. I was 24 at the time; he was a couple of years
older than me.

He was lamenting the disappearance of species in this human-dominated
age (though I don't think it was yet spoken of as the most recent "mass
extinction event"), but I blithely waved away his concerns
by opining "Oh, all we need to do is collect and archive genetic samples
of all the threatened species. Then, in a few years, we can
resurrect them if we want to." (This was before _Jurassic Park_, too. ;-> ).

The sheer naivete -- the fatuous smugness -- of that attitude!
I'm amazed my interlocutor refrained from punching me in my
snotty little nose! (He was a nice guy, though.)

I continued to buy this sort of nonsense all through the 1990s, having read
Moravec's _Mind Children_ in '88 and _Beyond Humanity: CyberEvolution and
Future Minds_ in '96 (I discovered Greg Egan the same year).

It took my actually interacting with (and finally, meeting) real
>Hists and Singularitarians (in the flesh! Not in Second Life or,
uh, as uploads) for me to finally realize how self-deludedly
nuts (faith-based, denialist, narcissistic, heads-up-asses) the
whole package is.

"We will recover memories from dead animal brains within 10 years,
I predict."

Well, why not. We can already make cheese from armpit bacteria.

Athena Andreadis said...

Of course, as both Twitter discussants know (but only one will admit) there's a reason why nobody works on recovering memories from dead animal brains: degradation of the neural network removes all mind.

joe said...

Oh God help us...that last "No one" can almost feel the sadness pouring out of him as he tapped it out...

He's like a kid being told Santa might not get past airport security this christmas.

joe said...

Sorry for the off topic Dale but...ugh...look who they let post on Io9 now...

Your favorite Italian :) .

Io9 used to be a nice place to visit...

Dale Carrico said...

In their quest to attract an audience comparable to their sister sites io9 has apparently opted for eyeballs at any cost, a long-term loser strategy if I ever heard one, since nobody with any respect for consensus science practice or interest in imaginative science fiction will read for long a site the geekdom equivalent of wingnut daily news. Spotlighting Robot Cultists as they are now -- and if you thought Dvorsky was jumping the shark, Prisco's New Age cyber-angels meets right wing talking points really is the worst of the worst -- one wonders if champions of homeopathy and defenders of Scientology are next on the menu. Annalee Newitz is a smart cookie with good politics, she knows better and that makes this all the worse -- she should hand her head in shame to be associated with these flagrant charlatans and ignoramuses.