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

Monday, May 11, 2009

Take Your Vitamins, and You'll Meet the Robot God

Hat tip to Jim Fehlinger for drawing my attention to "a new bottle for some old wine," namely Transhumanist and Singularitarian darling Ray Kurzweil's latest offering for gulling the rubes: Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.

As is conventional in can-do futurological circle-squaring scams, Kurzweil makes sooperintelligent sooperhuman techno-immortalization into techno-heaven so eee-zee a child could do it! Note the "helpful mnemonic." Compared to the history-shattering Singularitarian Robot God we will one day meet, and some of us -- you know who you are! -- will actually become, I suppose we are all but children, after all. According to the publisher:
In 2004, Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD... make the case that new developments in medicine and technology will allow us to radically extend our life expectancies and slow down the aging process. Soon, our notion of what it means to be a 55-year-old [Kurzweil is 61 -- ed] will be as outdated as an eight-track tape player.

TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever presents a practical, enjoyable program so that readers can live long enough (and remain healthy long enough) to take full advantage of the biotech and nanotech advances [surely you know about those! --ed] that have already begun and will be occurring at an accelerating pace [mm hm --ed.] during the years ahead. To help readers [who can't be expected, after all, to be the brightest bulbs --ed.] remember the nine key components of the program, Ray and Terry have arranged them into a mnemonic:

Talk with your doctor
Calorie reduction
New technologies < - - - - - - [a/k/a "and then a miracle happens" --ed.]

This easy-to-follow program will help readers transcend the boundaries of our genetic legacy and live long enough to live forever.

Not only can taking your vitamins and regular exercise make you into a fetal transcendentalizing post-human super-god -- even as we speak! -- unlike every other person on the planet or in history who in taking vitamins and regular exercise has simply managed, if they are lucky and don't overdo it, to enjoy a comparatively healthier life, but apparently your techno-immortalization and super-humanization and robo-transcension via ramped up self-regard can even be "enjoyable."

I must say the already burgeoning genre of self-congratulatory self-obsessive self-mutilating something-for-nothing diet-fads exercise-fads self-esteem-fads get-rich-quick-fads have long pimpled the psychic landscape of America like loud crappy crumbling unwholesome McMansions pimple our literally desertifying terrain, but it does seem something of an "innovation" to offer up these self-regarding bromides as routes not just to a more youthful sexy body or enough easy money to make youthful sexy bodied people treat you like one of their number even if you palpably are not (more or less the American dream for the shabby-souled set), but as a route to personal "transcendence," to the effortless automagickal robo-transmogrifying attainment of quasi-religious superlatives, superintelligence, superlongevity, superabundance.

Perfectly ridiculous and perfectly exemplary superlative futurology, in a nutshell. Or, I suppose I should say, $$$uperlative Futurology.


jim said...

Just you wait, when Eleizer’s magic seed AI grows into god-like plastic surgeon it will turn me into a greater than human beauty, and you will be soooo jealous. My only problem will be getting stuck staring at myself in the mirror.

(That is, of course, assuming that Eleizer’s magic seed AI don’t turn into big mean giants that want to eat me! I give it a 50/50 chance unless he gets more money to do more research.)

Robin said...

Thank you for this. So much. The cartoonish futuristic-infomercial playing in my head ("Get your Robot God! How much would YOU pay?" etc.) will keep me smiling as I slog through my grading this week.

Robin said...

Also, I can't resist posting this NY Times article I was just pointed toward:

Vitamins Found to Curb Exercise Benefits

It's one thing for me to laugh at the idea that we have all the answers and our superlongetivity and robot bodies are around the corner, but it's another thing entirely for me to think the faithful are actually ushering in the mortality they so fear. (Not that I'm wishing death on anyone, but there's a level of irony that my cynical obnoxious side can't resist).