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

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Things Futurologists Say

Futurologists saying things we can't do would be cool if we could do them aren't actually contributing to science. Futurologists saying things we can't do could be done if we discovered how to do them aren't actually saying anything. Futurologists saying we will discover how to do things we can't do just because we don't know we can't is fraud, or at best false advertising.

More Futurological Brickbats here

5 comments:

jimf said...

> Futurologists saying we will discover how to do things we
> can't do just because we don't know we can't is fraud, or
> at best advertising.

Sez **you**! ;->

You know, there's a tactic among the Singularitarians on LessWrong
(you can take a good guess who originated it) in which the
philosophical chestnut "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary
evidence" is set on its head. The "rational" version now
becomes "Extraordinary skepticism about extraordinary claims
(such as superintelligent AI, brain uploading, and the
usual furniture of the Singularity) is a demonstration of
**irrational over-confidence** in the low probability
assigned _a priori_ to an outcome."

Here's an example. Oni and Pony:

PZ Myers' blog post from last year --

And everyone gets a robot pony!
Jul 14 2012
by PZ Myers
[Bad Science, Kooks, Science, Technology]
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/07/14/and-everyone-gets-a-robot-pony/
-------------------
Oy, singularitarians. Chris Hallquist has a post up about
the brain uploading problem — every time I see this kind of discussion,
I cringe at the simple-minded naivete that’s always on display.
Here’s all we have to do to upload a brain, for instance:

> The version of the uploading idea: take a preserved dead brain, slice
> it into very thin slices, scan the slices, and build a computer simulation
> of the entire brain.
>
> If this process manages to give you a sufficiently accurate simulation. . .

It won’t. It can’t. . .
-------------------

-- engendered a Google+ discussion thread containing one
"usual suspect" who has appeared in threads on this blog,
together with several who haven't.

https://plus.google.com/106808239073321070854/posts/VLZYBoG2pHg
-------------------
Luke Parrish
Jul 14, 2012

PZ totally misunderstands what a simulation is.
===


Jan Moren
Jul 14, 2012

No; he's right on the mark. People seem to vastly underestimate
how much detail you'd need to actually make a simulation that
could stand in for the original person. . .

And I rather think the onus is on the proponents to show how
the technology would be possible, not the other way around.
===


John Baez
Jul 14, 2012

I'm not sure I believe in oni in this case.
===


Luke Parrish
Jul 15, 2012

Sure the burden is on the more extraordinary claim. . .

My position is just that saying we can't develop this recording
technology in 200 years is a really strong claim. . .
===


John Baez
Jul 15, 2012

The reason I don't believe in this 'onus' idea is that developing
new technologies like nuclear fusion power or artificial intelligence
or brain scans is not primarily about winning debates. The people
who believe the technology can work need to get it to work, while
the people who don't can sit back and scoff - and this is just
fine, since we need people to try lots of things, only some of
which will ultimately work. I don't expect either side to
convince the other until and unless the technology is actually
developed and works.

(Of course, the 'debate' aspect does become important when
it's a matter of dividing government spending
among a large number of projects. So, if you're trying to
stop governments from spending money
on some sort of research, you can post blog articles saying
it won't work, or better yet convince people at the funding
agencies that it won't work.)
===

Alexander Kruel
Jul 15, 2012

I don't mind people researching brain preservation. . .
What I mind are claims that signing up for some sort of brain
preservation is **rational** or even a moral imperative. . .

I reject any sort of handwaving involving highly conjunctive reasoning
assigning arbitrary amounts of expected value to one's survival,
the assumption that enough information [is] somehow being preserved,
the rise of vast superintelligences and optimism that the future
is going to be desirable. . .
===

And on it went.

Cassidy Jones said...

Hey Dale, commented here a year or so ago, you seemed to be quite considerate so I thought I might say a few things that have been on my mind. May be disconnected but eh. I've struggled with depression in the since I was 12 or so (still not a particularly happy person), I'm autistic and have major social anxiety issues, gender dysphoria...I've been socially isolated since middle school. Luckily a little over half a year ago I got a few relatively close albeit online friends, plus an ex-boyfriend of six months which was the closest relationship I've ever had, we're still good friends which is great. I'm not particularly emotionally stable, so when he wanted to date other people in addition to me I was very torn up, which led to that...He's now dating 5-7 people (I lost track), but I'm pretty calm about that now. We're not quite as close though. Anyway...sorry for rambling. About transhumanism, I agree with you about disability, what I know anyway, which is partly why I don't feel comfortable calling myself that. Now getting into why I sympathize with parts of that, it's pretty obvious...I'm pretty much crippled, and I hate my body, so I hope that sometime in my life I'll be able to get the body I feel like I should have, and that someday I'll be the outgoing, self-confident and empathetic person I've always wanted to be but was never able to. I mean, I'm not sure if it's going to happen, but it doesn't too unreasonable that body modification techniques could progress to the point you could reliably give transitioning people fully functioning genitalia and give them the feminine/masculine/etc. appearance they want. And psychopharmocology might someday develop safe and sustainable empathogens, so that sufferers of autism (when they do see that as undesirable) social anxiety, and so on could more easily find deeper connections with others if they want. About immortality, the way I see it is, every disease has a possible cure. It seems pretty certain that everyone alive today will die at some point, along with everyone in the future. I do think that's rather sad, and if anything were possible to stop that, that would be awesome. But that doesn't seem to be physically possible. But all diseases being potentially curable seems very reasonable to me. Sure, bold predictions about imminent end of disease are very likely wrong, but I don't see the idea that we might get rid of most of them someday as inherently pseudoscientific. ...But yeah, sorry for my stupid ranting. >_<

Dale Carrico said...

You don't have to join a Robot Cult to approve of and make consensual recourse to effective available healthcare and mental healthcare resources and support, or to advocate for wider access to these resources and more research. There are vibrant communities and organizations of support and activism for universal healthcare, for advocacy for disabled/differently en-abled folks, neuro-atypical folks, transfolks, and although the Robot Cultists seem more than happy to showboat at the edges of some of these movements from time to time to score points I do not see them as actual contributors to any of these movements in any substantial way. It isn't for me to tell you what your daydreams should look like, but I'm afraid that hating your embodied life isn't exactly going to get you anywhere while therapy might. The actual claims of techno-immortalists and transhumanoid enhancement wouldbe sooper-humans are indeed pseudo-scientific at best -- and apologiae for BigPharma profiteering and eugenicism at worst -- and that is true however fervently you wish otherwise and that means you are wasting your time with them. The fact is that you will always live in a mortal, vulnerable, error prone body among frail mistaken humans sharing a finite world from which they want infinitely many different things that will always need painstaking reconciliation. There's no getting around it. You are going to die. Until then, learn more, help out, choose love over fear, and live a little. It's not tragic, it's not sad, it is the horizon within the terms of which the whole measure of connection, freedom, expression, discovery, and joy in unimaginable complexity is given on this earth.

jimf said...

> I've struggled with depression in the since I was 12 or so
> (still not a particularly happy person), I'm autistic and have
> major social anxiety issues, gender dysphoria...I've been socially
> isolated since middle school. . . I'm not particularly emotionally
> stable. . . About transhumanism. . . Now getting into why I
> sympathize with parts of that, it's pretty obvious...I'm
> pretty much crippled, and I hate my body, so I hope that
> sometime in my life I'll be able to get the body I feel like
> I should have, and that someday I'll be the outgoing, self-confident
> and empathetic person I've always wanted to be but was never able to. . .

There are no doubt many people dragged into the >Hist orbit
who have similar stories. Here are a couple of other examples:


http://chronopause.com/index.php/2011/08/09/fucked/
-----------------
Khannea Suntzu says:
August 10, 2011 at 5:00 am

. . .I feel fucked too.

I am on disability, in rent-controlled housing, with very
little chan[c]e to work, with a diagnosed PTSD that emerged
because of constant fear over parental abandonment and abuse.
I am dependent on fairly expensive ‘life or death’ medication
and not taking it translates to pain comparable to that
you feel when receiving root canal with no anasthesia.
Worse, I have ADHD, CFS, a sleep disorder and a bipolar disorder.
And oh right, some transhumanists call me ‘lazy’. Worse,
I have zero social network where I live. None left, they all
went away or died. In the city I live there are three friends
I talk to with any regularity. . .
===


http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=11777
-----------------
From: "John Grigg"
Subject: My views on things

"[L]earning disabilities, a.d.d., clinical depression and my father's
abandonment of me has hamstrung me in my life. I am so frustrated and angry
by these things. . .

To me cryonics offers the possibility of a life here in this world that is
what I should have had in the first place. . .

I belong to the Mormon church. I even served a two-year mission. . .
We believe in the resurrection of the body in a perfect,
immortalized form. . .

I feel that I need cryonics to peer over the horizon
of world events. If Christ is coming back which I believe he is,
it could be in a few decades, but perhaps not till at least the
late 21st century. I might be brought back to face the final
tribulation events! [Though s]ometimes I think the very technologies
the extropians talk about could be the basis for the
power of the AntiChrist, should he arise."
------------------------

jimf said...

> About transhumanism. . . why I sympathize. . .
> [is] pretty obvious. . . I'm
> pretty much crippled, and I hate my body. . .

Here's another example I just happened on yesterday.

FWIW. (I do not consider this gloat-worthy. Just. . .
an unusually honest statement of an unusually strong
motivation for wishing there might be shortcuts to
techno-heaven.)

http://pleasegodno.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/transhumanist-forums-or-lack-thereof/
-------------------
I hate the human race.
That’s right, HATE.

Everyone has a good social life except me due to my ugly face
(I have no friends, get kicked out of everywhere I go after a
while just for being myself).

Everyone is married except me due to my ugly face (why the
FUCK do people still perpetuate this SCUM institution called
marriage anyway? WHAT FUCKING CENTURY IS THIS?)

Everyone has a functional and stable mind except me (I suffer
from VERY mild Asperger syndrome and have paranoid issues,
I make growling, barking and shrieking noises in public and
flip the bird at random members of the public).

I fear and distrust human 1.0 and wish for the speedy arrival
of human 2.0 as soon as freaking POSSIBLE. Our thoughts about
“society” are archaic (don’t talk to anyone unless you know them,
don’t think for yourself unless you want to be ostracised
permanently).

I hate who I am. I want to be a cyber-enhanced, semi-godlike
being, still looking human of course, but orders of magnitude
faster thinking and better looking than I currently am.

I want the Transhuman Singularity to happen more than anyone
else, but alas, the signs are currently pointing to NO.