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

Friday, December 26, 2008

Transhumanism = Gay Marriage? Oh... Kay, Then

Just because I couldn't resist, Expanded and Updated from the Moot, here is bioconservative John Howard explaining why I am indeed a transhumanist (secretly!) despite my relentless critique of the transhumanists, all because of my stance on gay marriage of all things:

There is a clear logical line that all people are on one side or the other: should we ban genetic engineering of people? All Transhumanists are on your side, all Bioconservatives are on my side. And I don't see the point of saying that some people on your side are not Transhumanists, or some people on my side are not Bioconservatives.

Probably most transhumanist-identified people will agree with me that the earth isn't flat, but that hardly makes it irrelevant to point out that only a vanishingly small minority of the people who do agree with me on that score are transhumanist-identified and that it may be jumping the gun a bit to go from our shared denial of a flat-earth to corralling me together with transhumanists who actually are more noted for extreme techno-utopian and crypto-eugenicist views which I actually endlessly explicitly excoriate hereabouts.

The mere fact that some people are crazier than you are doesn't make you sane.

This is one of those man in the mirror moments for you, John, if you're up to it.

You still want to allow people to create people basically however they want,

Do you think people are creating golems from clay and magic spells? Do you think sentient suffering robot sex-slaves are appearing on assembly-lines somewhere? What the hell are you even talking about?

Are you proposing a blanket ban on actually-existing IVF techniques or all practices of surrogacy? As it happens I am enormously concerned about the abuses and problems that freight actually-existing ARTS -- the fraud of duressed and misinformed donors and surrogate mothers, the real health-risks and complications associated with the multiple births eventuating from many currently over-utilized fertility treatments, and so on.

But, you know, all of this is real world stuff, unconnected to and unclarified by sweeping declamations against "The Unnatural" or fearmongering fantasies (not to mention corporatist hype usually from the opposite direction) involving designer babies or clone armies or the like.

yet you refuse to stop them if their education doesn't result in the cautious prudence you were needing for your own PR purposes. Maybe that's when you'll decide we need some rules?

Again, I'm not quite sure what I'm presumably refusing to stop here -- golems? androids? cloned Hitlers? bioengineered centaurs? actually existing IVF kids menacing the natural order somehow while fingerpainting in their kindergarten classrooms? It would be absurd in the extreme for you to cast me in the role of some libertopian anything-goes corporatist just because I "merely" advocate strong regulation and public oversight of healthcare provision based on informed nonduressed consent and consensus-science based assessments of risk rather than blanket prohibitions of even not-yet existing or possibly never-to-exist techniques that might some day violate what you have personally come to fetishize here and now as "The Natural" state of affairs where human beings and their sexual and reproductive practices are concerned.

[I]f you can't see that banning genetic engineering means limiting conception to a man and a woman, and prohibiting people from attempting to conceive with someone of the same sex, then you just are willfully refusing to see, I think.

Well, sure, of course I see that this is the case. Unless Jeebus sees fit to bless buttfuckers like me with a miracle butt-baby (I'd abort it, by the way), it doesn't seem likely that homosex is going to yield much in the way of reprosex any time soon without the aid of some as yet only hypothetical medical technique.

But, then, I don't advocate "banning genetic engineering," I advocate actual harm reduction and health facilitation through equitable consensual healthcare provision (in case you want to know how this cashes out at political ground-level: I am an advocate for universal single payer healthcare and a scene of consent that is truly informed and nonduressed, which for me leads to an advocacy of a universal basic income guarantee and access-to-knowledge politics), whether this means banning some techniques you would call "genetic engineering" or making access universal and safe to other techniques you would call "genetic engineering."

If a technique emerges through which samesex couples can conceive a healthy wanted child with actually negligible risk to their health then you can be sure I will advocate that those who actually desire to make recourse to such a procedure can do so, even if this scares some conservatives who happen to believe for the moment that this would amount to "playing god" or "violating nature" -- as such people once said with the same idiotic fervor of anaesthesia and vaccination and so on as well.

You can be sure that it won't only be weird transhumanist-identified Robot Cultists who would be on my side in championing such access. Indeed, I wouldn't much welcome transhumanist allies in championing this access personally, since I daresay one can expect the transhumanists to remain in such a case very much as they are now, a vanishingly marginal minority of superlative technocentrics riding a more mainstream technoscientifically-literate progressive bandwagon but hyperbolized with a little worse-than-useless techno-transcendentalizing handwaving in the hopes of conning a few more impressionable naifs into ponying up membership dues for their membership organizations to munch on.

Any one that doesn't want a law to keep reproduction natural, between a man and a woman, is a Transhumanist

If you truly believe this, then I must question your sanity a bit.

It is a pretty neat strategy to pursue gay marriage and Transhumanism separately, as if they were unrelated, but it's pretty clear they are one and the same thing.

Well, there you have it.


Anonymous said...

Dale said: "Unless Jeebus sees fit to bless buttfuckers like me with a miracle butt-baby (I'd abort it, by the way)"

O god, that cracked me the frak up! I can't wait to use a line like that on some weird religious conservative. Ha!

*Ahem* Sorry for not, uh, contributing anything of intellectual substance there, but really, what more needs to be said? I mean, what does Howard know? He thinks it's all about the four thousand or so transhumanists out there?

Helloooo! It's not all about the transhumanists, what about the Masons and the Jewish bankers! What about the Jesuits, they've been desperate for a way to reproduce for centuries! Could it be any more obvious?

Unknown said...

I wish to support Dale (!!!). Of course he will refuse my support and call me names for posting here, but I wish to support his point anyway.

John: as you may remember, I am a filthy unrepentant transhumanist. And I am here to tell you that Dale is not a transhumanist. He obsessively hates us, we hate him in return, and most transhumanists like me have stopped wasting time here.

But gay marriage has nothing to do with transhumanism. It has everything to do with civil and personal rights, which everyone should support. I find it difficult to understand how you can think an abstract concept --The Sacred Marriage Between A Man And A Woman-- is more important than the well being of actual persons. It is the other way around, persons are more important than empty words. Also: what does a married gay couple take away from you? They certainly don't take anything away from me. So why don't you live your own life and let others do the same?

As transhumanist, I think Dale is always wrong. As a person, I thin k in this case he is right.

Don't worry dale, I am disappearing again.

Dale Carrico said...

If you really want to impress me don't just disappear but transcend into an immortal robot overlord.

John Howard said...

I didn't see you had promoted these comments from the moot. I hope your readers scroll down to the Gay Smearage post to read my responses. I'll just note here that I don't say you're "secretly" a Transhumanist, just actually a Transhumanist, by the most useful and understandable definition of "Transhumanist" as someone who approves of germline genetic engineering and disapproves of a ban on genetic engineering.

John Howard said...

oh, guilio, just because Dale hates you and says he's not a transhumanist, and as different as you are or say you are, you both approve of genetic engineering, so you're both Transhumansists. Phhbbttbbt!

Unknown said...

Working on it. Take care - G.

Dale Carrico said...

How are you "working on it," Giulio? By confusing science fiction novels with science policy and beating off to big digitized boobies on Second Life?

Dale Carrico said...

[Y]ou both approve of genetic engineering, so you're both Transhumansists.

I daresay I would not approve of every technique and practice that might fall under the heading of "genetic engineering," especially if it were not deemed safe by a scientific consensus, but by all means keep on throwing sand in everybody's eyes and deranging the issue away from civil liberties in matters of therapy toward uncritical reactionary panic about boogie men and the scary gays.

A couple of generations ago your dumb dumb bioconservative ilk would be condemning sensible approval of safe and consensual anesthesia and vaccination as an "unnatural" assault on the dignity of humanity. Does your approval of those techniques where they are safe and wanted (assuming you do) make you and Giulio transhumanist brothers by your "reasoning" here?

John Howard said...

Question: what happens when you disapprove of a particular attempt of creating a person? I ask because not one form of genetic engineering has been deemed safe by any scientist, much less a consensus. In fact, a consensus of actual scientists (as opposed to hypothetical dreamers like you) has already voiced an opinion that genetic engineering of human children and same-sex conception would be unethical, so we don't need to speculate on this. (I can find some quotes from the stories on Kaguya and 'female sperm', where virtually every story has the obligatory quote from the researcher cautioning the writer that 'of course we wouldn't actually do this to create people, that would be unethical' if you promise to find a quote from a real scientist saying that it would be ethical to do their experiment on humans)

So, what happens? Nothing, apparently. You still insist that it is allowed and people should not be stopped from doing what they want, you still oppose a ban on unsafe techniques, even as you claim to disapprove. Tell me how it works, how will people be stopped from doing things you disapprove of, and when will we get around to stopping them? And what's on that list?

I don't call for a ban on "unnatural" things. You put the word in quotes as if I have used it, but I don't believe I have, and certainly not as a reason why it should be respected (I may have referred to 'natural conception' before, but I only use that term as a more readable shorthand instead of the cumbersome "conception using unmodified egg and sperm," not to refer to some divine 'naturalness' of it). It's a really weak argument that we have to allow genetic engineering and same-sex conception because we allow vaccines and anesthesia. In fact, if that's an argument you use unashamedly, how are you going to be able to differentiate between the GE you approve of and the GE you don't? I can differentiate between vaccines and genetic modification, but apparently you can't, so I call BS again. Your reasoning here seems to make any actual restrictions on anything completely impossible, which fits with your actual list of things you say should be restricted.

Dale Carrico said...

[W]hat happens when you disapprove of a particular attempt of creating a person?

Sounds like the first half of a joke. "John Howard" is apparently the punchline.

Dale Carrico said...

Can somebody explain to me what, if anything, I'm missing by the way? Isn't this Kaguya example John Howard keeps going on about an experiment from 2004 in which a mouse was born via something like parthenogenesis, a method that has very little nor is apt to have much application to human beings any time soon? How fruitful has this specific line of research been taken to be, after all? I don't think I've heard anything about it in years.

Certainly this is not a procedure that is remotely ready for prime time, and I've never heard of anybody who said otherwise who isn't an obvious fraud or abject fool. As is usually the case in matters like these those who might say otherwise seem in the main either to be futurological charlatans preying on the hopes of underinformed people or reactionary luddites whomping up panic in different underinformed people, both in the service of their own ideological agendas.

Just as I (and every sensible person I know) oppose "reproductive cloning" techniques as completely unsafe at the present, and deem them rightly illegal as things stand, so too should any human recourse to the parthenogenetic technique that produced this mouse be illegal, unless spectacular strides have been made that I don't know about.

I think all this is perfectly obvious and fairly commonplace as sentiments go, but I see no grounds to go from here to pronouncing pre-emptive bans in perpetuity on any safer more fruitful techniques along these lines that might eventuate from research in years to come.

I make no predictions as to whether or when such techniques might become safe enough to warrant access as part of the package of ARTs included in universal basic healthcare provision (which, as I have said, I strongly advocate), but you can be sure if and when the techniques are safe according to a consensus of scientific judgment and consented to by competent, well-informed citizens without duress who want them, then I'll champion both the techniques and celebrate the citizens who make recourse to them.

John Howard said...

Actually, it would not be illegal to attempt the same techniques that made Kaguya to make a human baby. There is no law against it. There is no federal cloning law, either, and most state cloning laws have huge loopholes if any genetic engineering is done. I don't recall anyone being threatened with punishment back when Dr. Zavos and Clonaid were each claiming to have cloned children a few years ago.

The wikipedia notes that the technique has no name, though it is related to parthenogenesis, it combines the genes of two parents of the same sex, where parthenogenesis just uses one parent, I think. So, if we were to write a law to prohibit people from trying to make a human Kaguya, what would the law say? If it was too specific to that one technique, how would it prevent people from trying a slightly different technique to achieve same-sex conception?

Can't you see the the whole goal has to be prohibited in order to prevent people from trying some new novel technique that hasn't been banned yet?

Since you seem to agree that no technique is safe currently, why not agree to the blanket ban in order to achieve equal protections via my Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise, but still insist that research continue and that if a technique emerges that is safe, then the CU's be converted to marriages and be allowed to attempt that particular technique to try to have children together?

Nothing about the Compromise insists that it last forever, that all research on it be prohibited. I will try to object in ten or twenty years if someone wants to allow some new technique, and I will champion the value of the ban lasting forever, but I won't be King. So, why not bite the bullet and agree with me to enact the compromise and get federal recognition and equal rights to same-sex couples now? Go to PamsHouseBlend and tell them that, as a person who has studied Transhumanism and rejected its selfish libertarianism corporatism and who fears duressed, uneducated uses of unregulated science, you think that same-sex conception should not be legal right now. You think it should only be legal after it's deemed safe by a consensus of scientific judgement and consented to by informed citizens, and until then, it should be illegal like cloning (should be). Tell them that, until then, we should prioritize getting equal protections in all other areas, rather than securing equal conception rights before we can use them. Tell them that marriage should continue to give the couple the immediate right to attempt to conceive together, and so we should not ask for same-sex marriage rights until same-sex conception is legal.

Do that on a few other blogs, and I'm telling you, on January 21st, same-sex couples could have equal protections, and every state would have uniform Civil Union laws. Massachusetts would have to turn all of its same-sex marriages into Civil Unions, but the net result would be positive for those couples, since they can't use conception rights now anyway.

Put technology to good use, let's show how powerful blogs can be in changing the landscape and helping people.

Dale Carrico said...

Can't you see the the whole goal has to be prohibited in order to prevent people from trying some new novel technique that hasn't been banned yet?

No, I certainly do not "see" that. You sound like a completely freaked out scare-mongering luddite to me.

Since you seem to agree that no technique is safe currently, why not agree to the blanket ban in order to achieve equal protections via my Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise

Heaven only knows what you would include under the statement "no technique is safe." Blanket bans to achieve "equal protection" from any benefit from useful and safe and wanted techniques eventuating from continues medical research hardly seems appealing to me, sorry.

As for your "Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise" -- all caps! -- you do realize that a "compromise" involves concessions in actual ends between actual stakeholders to an issue, right? Nobody cares at all about your insane preoccupation with Holy Egg and Sperm 4Evah! so your "compromise" is just an endless monologue with no hope of impact on the gay marriage issue at all as it plays out on planet earth. Queer folks like me are going to win this one, anyway, so you are really barking up the crazy tree in demanding we give up marriage for "separate but equal" civil unions, especially since you demand we concede marriage in exchange for something nobody but you personally seem to care about at all.

Do that [advocate the Holy Sperm and Egg 4Evah! Law] on a few other blogs, and I'm telling you, on January 21st, same-sex couples could have equal protections, and every state would have uniform Civil Union laws.

You can tell me that all you want, I will tell you that you are completely insane. Your assumptions simply do not connect up to anything even remotely like my sense of the stakes in play. It's homophobia not reprofetishism in the rather surreally specific form you exhibit that inspires hostility to gay marriage in most antigay bigots.

We're going to have to agree to disagree about this, because you're something of a zealot on this topic (I'm being polite), so further posting in this vein will be ignored or possibly just moderated away (something I don't like to do, so don't make me, just give this Egg and Sperm crapola a rest, okay?)....

jimf said...

> How are you "working on it," . . .? By confusing science fiction
> novels with science policy and beating off to big digitized boobies
> on Second Life?

Speaking of which, keep an eye out for the movie: