Jones has written several contrarian pieces over the years about the hyperbolic expectations that freight the popular imagination of nanotechnology resulting from what I would call superlative futurological handwaving by the likes of Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler, and lately he has taken on another superlative futurological proposal (one to which I have devoted no small of attention myself), so-called, mind uploading.
Because Jones criticizes these imaginary techniques from a technical perspective attuned to the actual scientific consensus in the relevant fields his writing are different from my own, but like the writings of Athena Andreadis -- who is also a working scientist ferociously critical of techno-immortalist hyperbole and evo-psycho reductionism -- Jones is also aware of the cultural and rhetorical dimensions that play out in transhumanist and singularitarian and nano-cornucopiast discourses and takes seriously that much of the seeming force and plausibility of futurological belief does not ultimately derive from its technoscientific claims and hence neither is it effectively engaged simply by exposing the deficiencies in these claims.
I am happy to say that just as I have learned quite a bit by reading Jones' technical criticisms of futurological fancies, he has often seemed to appreciate my own rhetorical criticism (which is not to imply that he agrees with me on particulars), and in his most recent piece Does Transhumanism Matter? Jones has done me the extraordinary compliment of summarizing in a scrupulous and sympathetic way some of the key themes of a piece of mine Futurological Discourses and Posthuman Terrains in a way that reveals the complementarity of our critical vantages. I strongly recommend Jones' piece to those who find my critique congenial but who may find my way of writing -- emerging out of a lifetime love of paradoxical literature exacerbated by my training in dense critical theory -- a chore: Richard Jones, again like Athena Andreadis, may be the graceful and also more concise and clear writer you are pining for.
I cannot say that I found much if anything to disagree with in Jones' reading. And so I will simply mention a few things I was especially pleased to see in Jones piece. The first of these was that Jones takes seriously the political thrust of my critique of futurology, which I would not necessarily have expected and was enormously gratified to see revealed:
I was also pleased that Jones emphasized my proposal that transhumanist futurisms are not so much opposed to their most conspicuous critics, the various "bioconservative naturalists," as complementary to and co-dependent on them:To Carrico, there is a continuity between the mainstream futurologists – “the quintessential intellectuals propping up the neoliberal order” – and the “superlative” futurology of the transhumanists, with its promises of material abundance through nanotechnology, perfect wisdom through artificial intelligence, and eternal life through radical life extension. The respect with which these transhumanist claims are treated by the super-rich elite of Silicon Valley provides the link. One can make a good living telling rich and powerful people what they want to hear, which is generally that it’s right that they’re rich and powerful, and that in the future they will become more so (and perhaps will live for ever into the bargain)... One could argue that tranhumanism/singularitarianism constitutes the state religion of Californian techno-neoliberalism, and like all state religions its purpose is to justify the power of the incumbents.
Another prominent critique of transhumanism comes from the conservative, often religious, strand of thought sometimes labelled “bioconservatives”. Carrico strongly dissociates himself from this point of view, and indeed regards these two apparently contending points of view, not as polar opposites, but as “a longstanding clash of reactionary eugenic parochialisms”. Bioconservatives regard the “natural” as a moral category, and look back to an ideal past which never existed, just as the ideal future that the transhumanists look forward to will never exist either. Carrico sees a eugenic streak in both mindsets, as well as an intolerance of diversity and an unwillingness to allow people to choose what they actually want. It’s this diversity that Carrico wants to keep hold of, as we talk, not of The Future, but of the many possible futures that could emerge from the proper way democracy should balance the different desires and wishes of many different people.If I have the least quibble with Jones' understanding of my critique it comes when he distinguishes his own optimism from my skepticism:
One can certainly construct... lists of regrets for previous technologies didn’t live up to their promises, and one should certainly try and learn from them. I would want to sound more optimistic, and point out that what this list illustrates is not that we shouldn’t have set out to develop those technologies, but that we should have steered them down more congenial roads, and perhaps that we could have done so had we created better political and economic circumstances. Ultimately, I think I do believe that there has been progress.Of course, I quite agree that wonderful scientific discoveries and clever useful inventions have been made that are worthy of celebration, even in the midst of a generation of tech bubbles and irrationally exuberant libertechbrotarian con-artisty. I am, after all, as big a NASA and renewable energy/agriculture/tramsportation and universal healthcare geek as anybody I have ever met.
What I specifically insist on is that progress is always  progress toward a specified end, and that  politically speaking democratic progress is progress in the direction of equity-in-diversity, and that  technoscientific vicisstitudes, to be progressive in my sense, must equitably distribute the costs, risks, and benefits of change to the diversity of their stakeholders by their lights. Historically speaking, the chief beneficiaries of technoscientific developments have only rarely been the same as the ones who have borne the brunt of their costs and risks, and I refuse to describe such outcomes as progressive -- even if generations later I must count myself among the beneficiaries of the compulsory and unnecessary sacrifice of multitudes myself. What should be clear about such a perspective is that it is scarcely a comment on "technology" at all, but on the reactionary plutocratic politics that governs these injustices.
That I address my concerns and pin my hopes for progressive change to the hearing of an audience that shows every sign of reluctance in the main to be distracted in their pleasures by awareness of their real costs in the long term and to majorities of fellow earthlings seems to me to be the surest evidence of my optimism, if anything. I actually don't think Jones fails to recognize this in my work or disagrees with the conviction particularly -- I just think he likes to strike a balance of cheer with his denunciations and has more patience than I do with coddling readily alienated potential allies prone to defensiveness about their complicity in any too sweeping a critique of the status quo the amplification of which is so much of what passes for "The Future" of the futurologists. As I said, I lack the patient temperament to sustain such an approach for long, but I happily concede its force and consider myself lucky to have such a reader and ally as Jones who does.