I've noticed from reading H+ literature over the decades that transhumanists tend to focus on superpowers based on athletic models, like super strength, stamina and agility; affective models, like super-empathy; and, of course, cognitive models, the usual super-intelligence fantasies. (This leaves out a really useful power, which I'll get to below.) Robert Ettinger published a book 40 years ago which explores many of those ideas, but the padawan transhumanists seem to have neglected it for the most part because they don't care about the history of this odd way of thinking about the human condition versus possible alternatives. My exasperation with the padawan transhumanists these days partly derives from my knowledge of H+ history and how the febrile visions from That '70's Transhumanism I grew up with haven't worked out.I will note that it isn't always exactly clear if Mr., er, "Plus" is really a critic of Robot Cultism as such rather than really a kind of paleo-Robot Cult circa Ettinger/L5/Durk&Sandy dead-ender, but be that as it may he does make fairly withering observations about some of the nonsense the current crop of Robot Cultists characteristically spew. But what really interests me is that his ideological fall-back position from advocacy of Robot Cultism has been an advocacy of fairly straightforward right-wing white power and plutocracy politics.
Observe this curious formulation:
We already have people with apparent super-powers among us called "entrepreneurs," the most advanced of whom can make more money in a few years than most Americans can earn in several lifetimes. The U.S. government has an official policy of tracking and regulating the activities of such individuals because of the economic advantages they enjoy over ordinary mortals. We've already stepped onto the slippery slope to the outright persecution of such super-beings.I do not think this is very far from what one hears from Ayn Rand, the same literal worship of plutocrats coupled to paranoid fantasies of the persecution of the most relentlessly pampered and privileged people in the history of the world (Rand actually wrote an unconsciously Swiftian number entitled "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" howling about the tyranny of anti-trust laws in a world actually devoted to Too Big To Fail). I would note, as an aside, that the correlation goes both ways, once one recalls that the magical capitalist Bible Atlas Shrugged is stuffed with futurological conceits, John Galt's free-energy motor and hologram-hidden secret sooper-scientist base, Rearden's miracle metal, all the weird evopsycho crap about inherently subservient ladies aching for rape, and so on. But what seems revealing to me about Mark Plus's fallback from Robot Cultism into right-wing plutocratic white-power politics is that its intuitive plausibility as an ideological trajectory seems to me essentially facilitated by the extent to which the futurological is already deeply in service to corporate-military elite-incumbent interests rarely more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from white-racist plutocratic politics in the first place (one notes a correlate in the ultimate dependency of Movement Republicanism on the extreme Randroidal/ Friedmananian ideology and the fact that Randian pieties and Friedmanian libertarianism never had any autonomous political life except to the extent that they were imperfectly implemented in Movement Republican realpolitik):
It cannot be really that hard to grasp the extent to which futurological faith in techno-immortalism and nano-abundance and digital-utopia amounts to an amplification of consumer society's skin kreme/boner pill death-and-aging denialism and utterly fetishized gizmo-and-game-show acquiescence, or to grasp who benefits most from such aspirations and distractions. Neither can it really be that hard to grasp the extent to which futurological preoccupations with eugenic "enhancement" medicine, with the insistence on outsourcing politics to technocratic experts, with an "acceleration of acceleration" discourse that reframes neoliberal precarity as evidence of eternal triumphal civilizational progress in the direction of wordly paradise connect to racism, imperialism, manifest destiny, civilizing missions, western ethnocentrism. My point is not to declare Robot Cultists conscious and malignant white-racists and plutocrats (though there is more than enough of that to make sensible decent people profoundly uncomfortable), but to declare even those Robot Cultists who are avowed anti-racists and socialists are devoted to an ideological formation that structurally conduces to the benefit of corporate-military elite-incumbency in ways that should give even them pause, but which certainly render the whole enterprise hopefully reactionary for sensible people in general. Notice that this facet of the critique doesn't even touch on the inherent pseudo-scientificity and uncritically faith-based character of the belief system, both of which render Robot Cultism unacceptable for sensible people in general on entirely separate grounds.