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Friday, March 22, 2013

More Signs of the Singularity! TIME Covers Cancer Edition



joe said...

Connected somewhat, Dvorsky's latest...eugh "work"

He also works James Hughes into it and seems to assume a lot...I don't think he has ever heard the expression "Assumptions are the mother of all fuck ups".

Oh well.

jimf said...

I'm afraid the "cure" for cancer hasn't changed all that
much in lo these many decades. It's still pretty much
"First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you."
to quote the late Molly Ivins.

And then, like as not, you die anyway.

(I remember, when I was a little kid, having fear struck into
my heart just by the tone of the hushed whispers in which
the grownups in my family would sometimes say "She [or he]
has a tumor." I didn't know what a "tumor" was in those
days, but I sure knew it didn't sound like something you'd want
for Christmas.)

See also

The latter has a description of the exquisite sensations
Hitchens experienced after undergoing cutting-edge proton radiation

There was a big billboard on the Jersey side heading into the
Lincoln Tunnel not that long ago advertising a cancer treatment
center where you can get proton therapy. They made it sound
like something you wouldn't want to miss.

jimf said...
The Terminal Cancer Patient Who Won a Marathon
March 21, 2013

But Iram Leon stands on the sidelines of his own race against
time. Lodged in his brain is an untreatable and inoperable cancerous
tumor that statistics suggest will kill him before he is 40,
eight years from now. Medical science is advancing at a rate that
doesn't preclude the development of a treatment, but it's not
clear if it will come in time.

"No one knows what technology will be available in five years,"
said Allan Friedman, Duke University Hospital neurosurgeon in chief,
who in 2011 removed as much of Leon's brain tumor as possible.
Valerie Harper Amazingly Optimistic About Incurable Cancer:
‘I’m Not Dying Until I Do’
Dodai Stewart
Mar 11, 2013

At first I saw, oh my god, three months to live… It's not the
whole truth. It's not… It could be six [months], it could be
five years. You just don't know. The thing I have, it's very rare,
and it's serious, and it's incurable so far. So I'm holding on
to the "so far." But I'm also quite ready to say bye-bye.
Woman, 23, has her head frozen so she can be reborn after
a cure for her brain cancer is found - against the wishes
of her religious family
By James Nye
24 January 2013

A dying young woman has decided to place her faith in science. . .

Kim died on January 17th and spent the final two weeks of her
life at a hospice n Scottsdale, Arizona, so that she was near
to the cryopreservation center that she chose.

Dale Carrico said...

seems to assume a lot

A futurologist making lots of assumptions? The hell you say!

Dale Carrico said...

What I meant to highlight in the post is the incessant recourse to hyperbolic figurations of healthcare developments, especially in areas where people's fears make them especially susceptible of such hype, and through this highlighting connect to the broader phoney baloney techno-transcendental hyperbole of Robot Cultic accelerationalism. As to the larger issues rising up here in the Moot -- as a general matter I think one is better off facing facts than denying them (here, mortality, including the more palpable mortality of mortal illness) but I don't see much point in pressing this point, since we all have our little frailties and psychic crutches after all. To refuse a conspicuously suffering person with little hope their enabling delusion seems pointlessly cruel. When it comes to people claiming faith-based beliefs (whether in angelic intervention, crystal healing, or techno-magicks) are as warranted as claims backed by consensus science, there I draw a pretty forceful line -- even when that hurts people's feelings -- and when it comes to private concerns diverting money from the credulous or constituencies diverting public funds from scientific into pseudo-scientific ventures (very much including futurological moonshine operations), then I draw that line even more forcefully still. I personally think cryonics outfits should be outlawed, unless they market themselves as, and only as, highly kooky means of corpse disposal, like compressing cremating remains into costume jewelry or shooting folks' ashes into space.

Black guy from the future past said...

>"Assumptions are the mother of all fuck ups"

@joe It's literally a motherfuckup! AHHAHAAA!!!

Black guy from the future past said...

All of these fucking articles from the same goddamn news giant/corporation, reveals that the foundations of our society is basically built around marketing and hype. The problems you list, attack, and expound on Dale, are indeed very old and I wonder if we will ever surmount them. The transhumanist rhetoric, marketing, and hype sensibilities, existed LONG before such a fad such as the current transhumanist fan club (I now refuse to call it a movement) sprang up. It's at the foundation of American society and history, and I wonder if this civilization will survive as it's myths, which are it's foundations, are attacked and destroyed. I hold out no hope for America Dale. The people in it, and the systems that comprise it, refuse to change in any fundamental way. How bout you Dale? You feeling optimistic?

Dale Carrico said...

Since there is abundant evidence that change happens unexpectedly and since the alternative to struggle for change is giving in to the worst I don't really spend much time caring about whether I'm feeling optimistic or pessimistic about the possibilities for the change I push for in my writing, teaching, and organizing. As I always say, nobody ever truly knows enough about what is going on to be fully justified in despair.

Your larger point that futurology is part of a larger and more prevailing deceptive discourse is true: Adorno and Horkheimer called it the Culture Industry, Guy Debord the Spectacle, and Naomi Klein the Logo. Their elegant formulations are mostly online, and while none of them tell quite the whole story and all of them lead you down blind alleys going nowhere (especially too many rationalizations for pleasurably disorganized non-scalable pseudo-activism and ironic consumption mistaken for resistance) together they provide analytic clarity and ammunition for conviction that is pretty indispensable. Check them out if you haven't already.

jimf said...

> . . .rhetoric, marketing, and hype sensibilities. . . [are]
> at the foundation of American society and history. . .

> I hold out no hope for America Dale. The people in it, and the
> systems that comprise it, refuse to change in any fundamental way.

Oh, surely that's an exaggeration. Though I suppose you could
quibble endlessly about the meaning of "fundamental".

> You feeling optimistic?

Well, in the long run, we're all dead. Most certainly
as physical individuals, and if you don't believe in an
afterlife (I don't), then most certainly as conscious entities.
("Sophisticated" religious people -- I'm not too sophisticated,
so I get my notion of "sophisticated" from C. S. Lewis ;-> --
acknowledge that what they believe lies beyond death is
in any case unimaginable beforehand.)

We know from history that civilizations die.

We (non-Creationists ;-> ) know from the geologic record
that species die (even seemingly indestructible things
like trilobites, that had a 350 million year run before
being wiped out by whatever horrible event or events
happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary).

We know from astronomy that the sun will die (and
take the earth with it).

We suspect from cosmology and advanced physics that the
entire universe (or at least this iteration of it) will die.

Existentialism, anyone?

“Come, what do we gain by evasions? We are under the harrow
and can’t escape. Reality, looked at steadily, is unbearable.
And how or why did such a reality blossom (or fester) here and
there into the terrible phenomenon called consciousness?
Why did it produce things like us who can see it and,
seeing it, recoil in loathing? Who (stranger still) want
to see it and take pains to find it out, even when no need
compels them and even though the sight of it makes an
incurable ulcer in their hearts? People. . . who would have
truth at any price.”

― C.S. Lewis, _A Grief Observed_

jimf said...

"Almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to
convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.
And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies
of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant
witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere.
When they want to convince you that earth is your home,
notice how they set about it. They begin by trying to persuade
you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to
your sense of exile in earth as it is. Next, they tell you
that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future,
thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is
not here and now... If all the happiness they promised could
come to man on earth, yet still each generation would lose it
by death, including the last generation of all, and the whole
story would be nothing, not even a story, for ever and ever...
As if we could believe that any social or biological development
on this planet will delay the senility of the sun or reverse
the second law of thermodynamics..."

C. S. Lewis, _The Weight of Glory_

"All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath;
love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish...
Back of everything is the great spectre of universal death;
the all-encompassing blackness...

The fact that we can die, that we can be ill at all, is what
perplexes us; the fact that we now for a moment live and
are well is irrelevant to that perplexity. We need a life
not correlated with death, a health not liable to illness,
a kind of good that will not perish, a good in fact that
flies beyond the Goods of nature...

This sadness lies at the heart of every merely positivistic,
agnostic, or naturalistic scheme of philosophy. Let sanguine
healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of
living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still
the evil background is really there to be thought of,
and the skull will grin in at the banquet...

The lustre of the present hour is always borrowed from the
background of possibilities it goes with. Let our common
experiences be enveloped in an eternal moral order; let our
suffering have an immortal significance; let Heaven smile
upon the earth, and deities pay their visits; let faith
and hope be the atmosphere which man breathes in; -- and
his days pass by with zest; they stir with prospects, they
thrill with remoter values. Place round them on the contrary
the curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent
meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular science
evolutionism of our time are all that is visible ultimately,
and the thrill stops short, or turns rather to anxious trembling."

William James, _The Varieties of Religious Experience_,
Lectures VI and VII, "The Sick Soul"

On the other hand,

"I live and have my day, my son succeeds me and has his
day, his son in in turn succeeds him. What is there in
all this to make a tragedy about? On the contrary, if I
lived forever the joys of life would inevitably in
the end lose all their savor. As it is, they remain
perenially fresh.

'I warmed both hands before the fire of life. It sinks,
and I am ready to depart.'

This attitude is quite as rational as that of indignation
with death. If therefore moods were to be decided by reason,
there would be quite as much reason for cheerfulness as
for despair."

Bertrand Russell, _The Conquest of Happiness_,
Chapter 2, "Byronic Unhappiness"