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Monday, April 07, 2008

"Not Exactly Sport"

I wrote, just yesterday that "engaging in 'technical' discussions with crackpots validates them more than they deserve... though I imagine that at least some actual scientists might enjoy the sport of it."

Richard Jones, whose blog Soft Machines I read regularly and recommend enthusiastically, replied in the Moot:
Unlike Dale, I am a molecular scientist (a physicist, to be precise) and I have extensively engaged in technical discussions with enthusiasts for molecular nanotechnology (see here, for example); after spending quite a lot of time doing this I have, from a different starting point, come to the same conclusion as Dale, that the essence of these arguments isn't actually technical at all, but ideological.

It's not exactly sport, though; there's no professional reward for doing it, and it gets wearisome and time-consuming. For this reason, very few practising nano-scientists do get involved (an exception to this is Philip Moriarty -- see this long correspondence). In a way this is unfortunate, because I think that many enthusiasts for MNT are genuinely unaware of how strong the scientific consensus is against their ideas.

One of the reasons for the difficulties of these conversations is that some of the most vocal proponents of MNT (with some honourable exceptions) aren't as familiar with the basic physics, chemistry and materials science background as they should be. To be fair, it can be difficult for those outside academia and without access to the technical literature to keep up with developments (this is another strong argument for open-access publishing, of course [hear! hear! -- d]), but sometimes it seems as though some MNT enthusiasts' main source of science understanding is from reading and reproducing press releases.

There's maybe a difficulty of tone, too -- I've been accused of being occasionally disrespectful or disdainful to my interlocutors. There has sometimes perhaps been some truth in this, which I regret, though I claim in mitigation some provocation (for example by the not infrequent suggestion that I'm arguing in bad faith). But it does suggest to me that these communities don't have the same traditions of robust self-criticism and vigorous argument that science at its best does. I have to say that my reaction to some of the moans one gets about how unfairly MNT supporters are treated in some of these exchanges is to think to myself, these are people who've never seen a set of referees' reports from Physical Review Letters or Nature, or been at the receiving end of a rough bout of questioning after a conference talk on some controversial science issue. Proper scientific discourse does have some robust exchanges, and you need this if you are going to avoid group-think or wishful thinking.

Discuss.

29 comments:

De Thezier said...

Richard Jones is my new hero! :D

jfehlinger said...

Richard Jones wrote:

> I have extensively engaged in technical discussions with enthusiasts
> for molecular nanotechnology. . .; after spending quite a lot of time
> doing this I have. . . come to the. . . conclusion. . ., that the
> essence of these arguments isn't actually technical at all, but ideological.
>
> . . .
>
> I think that many enthusiasts for MNT are genuinely unaware of
> how strong the scientific consensus is against their ideas. . .
>
> [I]t does suggest to me that these communities don't have the
> same traditions of robust self-criticism and vigorous argument
> that science at its best does. I have to say that my reaction to
> some of the moans one gets about how unfairly MNT supporters are
> treated in some of these exchanges is to think to myself, these
> are people who've never seen a set of referees' reports from
> Physical Review Letters or Nature, or been at the receiving end
> of a rough bout of questioning after a conference talk on some
> controversial science issue. Proper scientific discourse does
> have some robust exchanges, and you need this if you are going
> to avoid group-think or wishful thinking.

Yes, well, sometimes the easiest thing to do, if you're one of
the folks whom Dale characterizes as "soopergeniuses" (and whom
I would characterize as likely candidates for a diagnosis of
Narcissistic Personality Disorder), is simply to avoid criticism
by declaring yourself superior to the critical fray, and to accrete
a claque of admirers who will insulate you from any indications
to the contrary.

Quote without comment:

http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2004-April/005930.html
-------------------------------------------------------
"These are extraordinarily different things[:]
The practice of science is a social process.
The consensus of science is an opinion poll.

The actual working part of science is Bayesian probability theory, which
individual scientists and their social dynamics partially and imperfectly
mirror. . . .

Science intrinsically requires individual researchers setting their
judgment above that of the scientific community. The social process of
science encourages people to do the work and recognizes when they have
done the work. The social process is not an actual human brain, has not
the power of intelligence. If individuals do not have novel opinions and,
yes, disagreements, for the scientific process to recognize as correct,
there is no science. . . .

The overall rationality of academia is simply not good enough to handle
some necessary problems, as the case of Drexler illustrates. Individual
humans routinely do better than the academic consensus. . . .

Yes, the Way of rationality is difficult to follow. As illustrated by the
difficulty that academia encounters in following [it]. The social process of
science has too many known flaws for me to accept it as my upper bound.
Academia is simply not that impressive, and is routinely beaten by
individual scientists who learn to examine the evidence supporting the
consensus, apply simple filters to distinguish conclusive experimental
support from herd behavior. Robyn Dawes is among the scientists who have
helped document the pervasiveness of plausible-sounding consensuses that
directly contradict the available experimental evidence. Richard Feynman
correctly dismissed psychoanalysis, despite the consensus, because he
looked and lo, there was no supporting evidence whatsoever. Feynman tells
of how embarassing lessons taught him to do this on individual issues of
physics as well, look up the original experiments and make sure the
consensus was well-supported.

Given the lessons of history, you should sit up and pay attention if Chris
Phoenix says that distinguished but elderly scientists are making blanket
pronunciations of impossibility *without doing any math*, and without
paying any attention to the math, in a case where math has been done. If
you advocate a blanket acceptance of consensus so blind that I cannot even
apply this simple filter - I'm sorry, I just can't see it. It seems I
must accept the sky is green, if Richard Smalley says so.

I can do better than that, and so can you."
-------------------------------------------------------

Michael Anissimov said...

"One of the reasons for the difficulties of these conversations is that some of the most vocal proponents of MNT (with some honourable exceptions) aren't as familiar with the basic physics, chemistry and materials science background as they should be."

The most vocal proponents of MNT are Ralph Merkle, Robert Freitas, Chris Phoenix, Eric Drexler, Damian Allis, Tihamer Toth-Fejel, etc...

peco said...

Michael, what happened to your blog?

Richard Jones said...

Michael, I don't understand your point. As it happens, I do personally have real respect for some of the people on your list, but if this is an argument from authority, it's one that won't get much wider traction, as the names are not ones that people from outside your own immediate circles will be very familiar with (with one obvious exception).

Robin said...

Thanks for the blog recommendation - Soft Machines is now on my reading list :)

I really appreciate specialists coming to support Dale here. I just think that anyone who is critical of Dale's responses at this point doesn't understand that he's basically arguing science against fundamentalism. It's about the most fun I've had reading a blog in a long time.

Anonymous said...

fundamentalism

That's a bit extreme, but I basically agree.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I meant to say that I think molecular nanotechnology itself is feasible (not in 15 years), but the speed at which it can be developed is exaggerated.

Michael Anissimov said...

Richard, my point is that this group is not ideologically motivated, and they're all honest and extremely intelligent scientists. Chris Phoenix in particular... I think it's disingenuous to say these people, the primary MNT advocates, don't have a physics, chemistry, and materials science background, and are motivated by ideology.

Peco, my blog is down because some people at Dreamhost decided to turn it off, contradicting their advertised bandwidth. (Hit frontpage of Digg/Reddit. Long story I'll post when it goes back up in a couple days.)

giulio said...

"anyone who is critical of Dale's responses at this point doesn't understand that he's basically arguing science against fundamentalism"

I don't understand how you can say this. Dale reacts hysterically to whoever dares considering the plausibility of what he calls "superlative technologies", regardless of the caveats and scientific arguments.

Basically we are saying something like, "these are very speculative technologies, which may or may not be developed someday". Such quite reasonable positions are rejected by Dale a-priori, usually with personal insults to the infidels who dare formulating them.

So, Dale is arguing fundamentalism against science. At this point, this is clear and evident.

jfehlinger said...

Giulio Prisco wrote:

> Basically we are saying something like, "these are very speculative
> technologies, which may or may not be developed someday". Such quite
> reasonable positions. . .

Now **that**'s disingenuous!

And Dale (and others) feel a responsibility to point
out exactly how and why.

Richard Jones said...

Michael, how many of your list of MNT advocates are self-identified transhumanists? Doesn't it strike you as odd, if ideology plays no part in this, that when self-identified transhumanists form a very small fraction of the total pool of technically qualified people, MNT advocates seem to be drawn almost exclusively from that small fraction?

You mention Chris Phoenix in connection with the question of who has a background in physics, chemistry, and materials science. Chris is a smart fellow, but he has a Masters degree in computer science, and has published, I believe, one peer reviewed paper about nanotechnology - "Design of a primitive nanofactory" - which was entirely at the systems level (for calibration, someone like Philip Moriarty, who is a well-regarded early to mid career nanoscience researcher, has published more than 60 peer reviewed papers on topics such as single molecule manipulation). It's quite possible for people who aren't conventionally credentialled to make important contributions. But, in judging the expertise of a commentator on MNT, a technically-qualified observer will be looking for evidence of a common level of understanding of the necessary background science - MNT advocates often complain that critics of MNT haven't read the relevant literature, (particularly Drexler's "Nanosystems"), but I think critics have a right to expect in return that advocates of MNT are starting with a good knowledge of the nanoscience literature. You'd expect the level of understanding of solid state physics you'd get from knowing one of the standard student texts well - for example, knowing what a normal mode analysis is and understanding how it's the basis of the classical and quantum theory of phonons (you need this to appreciate the issues of thermal motion and heat dissipation). You'd expect to see a knowledge of the literature on surface reconstruction and cluster physics, to appreciate the issues of stability of nanoscale machine parts. And, to be credible in commenting on issues of practicality, you'd expect to see evidence of a feel for the practical tradecraft of experimental surface science and scanning probe microscopy. It's on issues like this that technically qualified people are going to judge the relative degree of qualification of participants in things like the Phoenix/Moriarty debate.

Giulio says we are saying something like, "these are very speculative technologies, which may or may not be developed someday". But this is not what you (meaning the community of transhumanists and MNT advocates) are saying at all! CRN has issued 8 scenarios, every single one of which takes as read the feasibility of nanofactories being developed within 15 years! The most visible spokesman for transhumanism, Ray Kurzweil, says we will have medical nanobots reversing all aspects of the ageing process in 20 to 25 years! It's this combination of rigid technological determinism, admitting no alternative possible trajectory for technology, and projected timescales that seem to technically qualified observers to be unrealistically short (even if the technologies are admitted to be possible in principle) that makes it clear that we are not talking here about the dispassionate consideration of a number of possible highly speculative futures.

It's exactly because you are projecting such unrealistically short timescales, and seem to be so wedded to this rigid technological determinism, that people start to wonder, "what is behind this, why do people want to believe this so badly?" And at that point scientists like me start to realise that it is the philosophers and cultural critics we need to call on to try and make sense of what is going on, and to comment on the significance of these movements. This is why the analysis of people like Dale is valuable. I'd also point to the work of the German philosopher Alfred Nordmann, to show that Dale isn't labouring entirely alone in this vineyard - I've found his paper "If and then - a critique of speculative nanoethics" very helpful.

giulio said...

Richard: "Giulio says we are saying something like, "these are very speculative technologies, which may or may not be developed someday". But this is not what you (meaning the community of transhumanists and MNT advocates) are saying at all!"

But this is what _I_ am saying. I may have mentioned, on occasions, that I do not share the predictions of Kurzweil as far as timescales are concerned. I also do not share the most optimist predictions of CNR. In both cases, I push the actual date of implementation few-to-many decades after their estimate.

But I think their predictions are not incompatible with physical laws as they are currently understood, which makes me suspect that sooner or later they might be actually achieved.

This, plus a personal positive value judgment and optimist (instead of pessimist) outlook, is _all_ I am saying. Fundamentalist bigots like Dale prefer to ignore facts and stick to what they prefer to believe to make their point (which is, that we are all jerks). That is why I am not so interested anymore in continuing this discussion, knowing that what I actually say will be ignored.

jfehlinger said...

Giulio Prisco wrote:

> I think their [i.e., "the most optimist predictions of CNR"]
> predictions are not incompatible with physical laws as they
> are currently understood, which makes me suspect that sooner or
> later they might be actually achieved.
>
> This, plus a personal positive value judgment and optimist
> (instead of pessimist) outlook, is _all_ I am saying. Fundamentalist
> bigots like Dale prefer to ignore facts and stick to what they prefer
> to believe to make their point (which is, that we are all jerks).

Now here's something amusing. Erstwhile commenter on this
blog, "Roko", wrote on his own blog "Transhuman Goodness"
( http://transhumangoodness.blogspot.com/2008/03/law-of-intended-consequences-poor-paper.html ):

> I think that all transhumanists should strive to achieve a
> state within the transhumanist movement where any bad material
> gets criticized, no matter who writes it. Guido made this point
> well on the TSN-Global List:
>
> "We must avoid group thinking and cheerful nodding. Our ideas won't
> survive out in the wild if we keep silencing dissent, or at least,
> making it unpleasant."
>
> I could not agree more. I am beginning to see the wisdom of
> Eliezer Yudkowsly's post "Every Cause Wants To Be A Cult":
>
> “In the same sense that every thermal differential wants to equalize
> itself, and every computer program wants to become a collection of
> ad-hoc patches, every Cause wants to be a cult. It's a high-entropy state
> into which the system trends, an attractor in human psychology. It may
> have nothing to do with whether the Cause is truly Noble. You might think
> that a Good Cause would rub off its goodness on every aspect of the
> people associated with it - that the Cause's followers would also be
> less susceptible to status games, ingroup-outgroup bias, affective spirals,
> leader-gods. But believing one true idea won't switch off the halo effect.
> A noble cause won't make its adherents something other than human.”
>
> This all applies to transhumanism, just as much as it applies to the
> Republican Party or Scientology: it takes constant effort to prevent the
> slide into culthood, just like it takes constant effort to keep a fridge cold.
> I regard this blog post as part of that effort.

So, Giulio, what are you doing to keep the fridge cold?

(BTW, a commenter named "michael" -- but not otherwise identified, alas ;-> --
replied "Amen." to Roko's interesting piece.)

jfehlinger said...

BTW, in his Overcoming Bias article, our Mr. Y. wrote
( http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/12/every-cause-wan.html )

> On one notable occasion there was a group that went semicultish
> whose rallying cry was "Rationality! Reason! Objective reality!"
> (More on this in future posts.) Labeling the Great Idea "rationality"
> won't protect you any more than putting up a sign over your house that
> says "Cold!" You still have to run the air conditioner - expend the
> required energy per unit time to reverse the natural slide into
> cultishness. Worshipping rationality won't make you sane any more than
> worshipping gravity enables you to fly. You can't talk to thermodynamics
> and you can't pray to probability theory. You can use it, but not
> join it as an in-group.

Hold onto your hats, folks, Eliezer's fixin' to diss Ayn Rand!

(Hat tip to Jeff Walker here -- and to **me**, who sent Eliezer a copy
of _The Ayn Rand Cult_ 5 years ago. I guess he must've read it.)

News flash!! Water is wet!! Details at 11.

giulio said...

"So, Giulio, what are you doing to keep the fridge cold?"

For example, thinking independently with my own head and making my own evaluations and estimates.

jfehlinger said...

> For example, thinking independently with my own head. . .

Well, that's always the best head to think independently with.

Michael Anissimov said...

Richard,

The majority of CRN task force members are not transhumanists. Most members of Foresight aren't transhumanists either. However, among those who see a substantial chance that MNT will be developed in coming decades, many are indeed transhumanists. This is a common response to the possible (human enhancement) futures this technology would enable. So it is hardly a surprise that many who assign a non-negligible probability to MNT are transhumanist. Also contributing to this is that the primary popularizer of MNT, Drexler, mixed transhumanist ideas with his initial exposition of the concept.

I see no reason we can't disentangle these ideas and look at them separately. My own position is that MNT seems plausible -- I'd give it at least a 50% chance of being developed in the first half of this century. Additionally, if it will be developed at all, it seems likely to be developed within the next fifty years. Otherwise, it may not be physically feasible to use anything but ribosomes for molecular manufacturing.

Note that when I talk about "MNT", I mean it in the original, general sense of encompassing biological molecular manufacturing as well as possibilities of DMS. Engines of Creation and other MNT books make frequent reference to the use of proteins for "soft" MNT. This could be used as a possible bridge to hard MNT, or as a stand-alone technology.

My transhumanist beliefs are there, but like other MNT-watchers, letting them inject irrational wishful thinking into the analysis is something to be avoided. Your criticism is actually somewhat ironic, considering that Freitas and Merkle have actually compiled a more comprehensive list of possible challenges to MNT than the one you did. Rather than ignoring the technical criticisms you pointed out, these scientists accepted them and added their own. Is this something "True Believers" would do?

The CRN scenarios were created with the assumption that nanofactories become real within 10-15 years. That was the premise of the study. Not all participants on the CRN task force think this is certain or even likely -- it's just what we were asked to do in this case.

I repudiate Kurzweil's technological determinism.

jfehlinger said...

Michael Anissimov:

> I repudiate Kurzweil's technological determinism.

I guess this position post-dates that photo of you I saw
a couple of years ago dancing around waving a pre-release
copy of _The Singularity Is Near_.

Richard Jones said...

Giulio, the set of things that do not contradict the laws of physics is much larger than the set of things that are technically feasible, and the set of things that are technically feasible is itself necessarily much larger than the set of things that will actually happen.

Michael, you'll have noticed that my "six challenges" post included an explicit welcome of the direction of recent work by Drexler and Allis, and it's clear that the recent stuff Freitas has been doing is very worthwhile. Good luck to both Michael and Giulio in convincing your fellow travellers to moderate their claims. Frankly, I wonder what will be left of transhumanism when you take away the technological determinism, but there we are.

I'm off for a few days so I'll bow out and thank Dale for the hospitality of his blog.

Dale Carrico said...

Richard responds to Giulio that "the set of things that do not contradict the laws of physics is much larger than the set of things that are technically feasible, and the set of things that are technically feasible is itself necessarily much larger than the set of things that will actually happen."

This really is one of the key things, isn't it? In the very first piece in which I started to critique Superlative technocentricity, Transformation Not Transcendence, I wrote:

“Permitted in principle by the laws of physics” is a larger set of propositions than “stuff that can be plausibly engineered” is a larger set of propositions than “stuff people actually want” is a larger set of propositions than “stuff people are willing to pay for” is a larger set of propositions than “things people still want in the longer-term that they wanted enough to pay for in the shorter-term.”

"Glib corporate-futurists and other hype-notized technophiliacs are of course notoriously quick to pronounce outcomes “immanent” and “inevitable” (genetically-engineered immortality! nanotech abundance! uploading consciousness! superintelligent AI! bigger penises!), just because a survey of science at the moment implies to them that an outcome they especially desire or dread is “permitted in principle by the laws of physics.” But nested within that set like concentric rings on a tree-trunk are ever more restricted and more plausible sets, of which the target set at the center is the set of things people tend to still want enough over the longer-term that they are satisfied to pay (or have paid) for them.

"I think it is a good exercise, and sometimes a good penance, for technocentrics to take special care around their use of the word "inevitable" to describe outcomes that are radically different from states of affairs that obtain today.

"My suspicion is that this is a word technophiles actually use more to signal the usual attitude of the faithful; namely, "I'm not interested in arguing with you anymore." Too often, “inevitable” is a word that signals an inability to chart an intelligible sequence of developmental stages that could plausibly delineate a path from where we are to whatever Superlative State is imagined to be likely and attractive. And by plausible, I mean both technically and politically plausible."

Dale Carrico said...

Richard comments: "Frankly, I wonder what will be left of transhumanism when you take away the technological determinism, but there we are." This point has a more general force. Drop the immortalist handwaving and you're left with commitments to universal healthcare and Pro-Choice politics -- and you don't have to join a Robot Cult to advocate that. Drop the singularitariansim and you're left with commitments to open source and conventional security concerns -- and you don't have to join a Robot Cult to advocate that. Drop the scientism and reductionist thought-policing and you just become a defender of consensus science where matters of prediction and control are concerned -- and you don't have to join a Robot Cult to advocate that. People don't feel a compelling tug from transhumanism for the technology -- one can find blue-skying about technology in many sf and pop tech and geek spaces that don't solicit True Belief in Superlative Techno-Futures or substitute techno-utopianism for policy discourse… the technology is the occasion, the pretext for the Superlativity, for the problematic compensations of Faith in the midst of the distress and desire provoked by disruptive technoscientific change. Transhumanists seeking to insulate themselves from criticism and increase their memberships and fundraising can "moderate" their claims in the face of criticism, but this is always damage control, stealthy cynical repackaging in the service of palatability. The more "moderate" formulations never remain commonsensical, but either drift back into their pre-"moderated" superlative forms in the absence of ongoing scrutiny or they acquire new essentially superlative connotations to the Faithful, as "technoprogressive" has for the transhumanists who stole and distorted it. Without the "extreme" beliefs that solicit its faithfulness and hence provoke the experience of "belonging" among its members, transhumanism doesn't have much or possibly any substance to advocate in the first place. It's just techno-utopian scientistic reductionism with a dose of technocratic elitism, a vulnerability to eugenicism, an embarrassing susceptibility to corporate-militarist techno-hype, and in many of its partisans what looks like a deeply unhealthy dose of body-loathing and flat-out panic at the prospect of death.

jfehlinger said...

Dale wrote:

> Drop the immortalist handwaving. . . [d]rop the singularitarianism. . .
> [d]rop the scientism. . . and you don't have to join a Robot Cult
> to advocate [sensible public policies].

Similarly, drop the priestly posturing, drop the "soopergenius"
pretensions of high-shock-level-hood or Uber-"rationality",
drop the apocalyptic and paradisal proselytizing,
drop the "let's pretend we're running the world" conference
organizing and fund-raising, the courting of HOllywood
celebrities, venture capitalists and million-dollar-a-year
speakers, and whaddya got left? Good old SF fandom.
Nothing wrong with that (unless you're a megalomaniac
or a confidence trickster, and have a burning need to be
seen as a shaker and mover of events on a planetary,
or even galactic, scale).

Dale Carrico said...

Michael Anissimov writes: "The majority of CRN task force members are not transhumanists. Most members of Foresight aren't transhumanists either. However, among those who see a substantial chance that MNT will be developed in coming decades, many are indeed transhumanists. This is a common response"

-- among the vanishingly few, and therefore actually completely uncommon, folks who buy in --

"to the possible (human enhancement) futures this technology would enable."

Would. Mm-hm.

"So it is hardly a surprise that many who assign a non-negligible probability to MNT are transhumanist."

Quite to the contrary of the implication of your initial protestations to the contrary, then?

Of course, elsewhere Michael quite straitforwardly identifies both Foresight and CRN as "transhumanist organizations," for example here. (Amorous Mundyites, just for fun, how many other places can you find in which Michael identifies CRN and Foresight as "transhumanist organizations" or part of the "trasnhumanist movement"? The Google is fun! Keep those cards and letters coming in, kids!)

I see no reason we can't disentangle these ideas and look at them separately.

Especially when doing so relieves the strain a forceful critique imposes on the more respectable associations for one's Robot Cult, eh?

My own position is that MNT seems plausible -- I'd give it at least a 50% chance of being developed in the first half of this century.

That nanoscale techniques will likely transform materials science and manufacturing processes is indeed highly plausible. That the very particular outcomes labelled "MNT" with which transhumanists and singularitarians are so personally identified seems to me less plausible, that these outcomes would emerge in isolation from other outcomes that would undermine the arrival of the specific futures in which these particular visions of "MNT" figure definitively and with which these transhumanists and singularitarians also identify seems to me vanishingly implausible, while the anti-political fantasy of the technoconstituted arrival of superabundance via this "MNT" (or via ubiquitous automation, immersive virtuality, or what have you, there are many variations) by means of which stakeholder politics can be permanently circumvented -- what I denote as the Nanosanta variation of Superlative Technology Discourse -- seems to me impossible.

My transhumanist beliefs are there, but like other MNT-watchers, letting them inject irrational wishful thinking into the analysis is something to be avoided.

At least when you get called on it.

I repudiate Kurzweil's technological determinism.

At least when you get called on it.

giulio said...

Richard: "Giulio, the set of things that do not contradict the laws of physics is much larger than the set of things that are technically feasible, and the set of things that are technically feasible is itself necessarily much larger than the set of things that will actually happen."

I agree with the second point, but not on the first - if something does not contradict the laws of physics, I see it as feasible in principle, even if it can be way too difficult to achieve in practice for any given level of technology.

"I wonder what will be left of transhumanism when you take away the technological determinism"

A beautiful vision of a future with many more options for happiness, intellectual enjoyment, and raw fun, for all persons.

_Of course_ I know that more options for good imply more options for bad, but I think it is worth trying.

Dale Carrico said...

[W]haddya got left? Good old SF fandom.

Ayep.

Michael Anissimov said...

-- among the vanishingly few, and therefore actually completely uncommon, folks who buy in --

This is really amusing coming from someone whose anti-transhumanist blog gets less than 1% the traffic of my pro-transhumanist blog.

Dale Carrico said...

This is really amusing coming from someone whose anti-transhumanist blog gets less than 1% the traffic of my pro-transhumanist blog.

Far be it from me to start comparing dick sizes with someone who, as a transhumanist, no doubt has access to the latest exciting "enhancement techniques," but it is probably worth mentioning that Michael could have an incomparably higher traffic even than he presently does and still represent a vanishingly small marginal Robot-Cult cul-de-sac dreaming of the day it could grow up and be as big as Scientology (and just think how glorious that would be).

I write because I am a writer. Michael is promoting a sub(cult)ural movement of Superlative Technocentrics who want to sweep the world, and so needs the traffic far more than I do. By all means support him with your click.

Dale Carrico said...

Giulio: I think it is worth trying

"It" here refers to the "beautiful vision" of Robot Cultism.

Hype doesn't equal "trying," although listening to it long enough gets quite trying indeed.