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

Friday, September 27, 2013

Existenz Abstracts on the Transhumanoids

Abstracts for contributions to the forthcoming Existenz journal issue The Future of Humanity and the Question of Post-Humanity, are up, mine included:
Futurological Discourse and Posthuman Terrains

Seven basic distinctions seem to me key to grasping futurology as both a discursive and a sub-cultural phenomenon: (1) technology and technologies: the actual constellation of artifacts and techniques in the diversity of their stakes and specificities as against technology as a de-politicizing myth disavowing these specificities; (2) progress and destiny: techno-developmental social struggles in the service of avowed political ends in a material historical frame as against a paradoxical naturalization of progress into destiny, usually via a rhetoric of determination, autonomy, convergence, and/or "accelerationalist" momentum; (3) mainstream futurology and superlative futurism: hyperbolic techno-fixated norms and forms that suffuse popular marketing, promotional, consumer discourses as well as neoliberal administrative, developmentalist discourses as against the futurist amplification of this speculativeness, reductiveness, and hyperbole into faith-based, techno-transcendental, putatively scientific but in fact pseudo-scientific, quasi-theological aspirations toward superintelligence, supercapacitation and superabundance miming the omni-predication of what I like to dub "judeochrislamic" divinity; (4) superlativity and supernativity: posthuman/transhuman against bioconservative/naturalizing futurisms (or more broadly, between undercritically technophilic as against undercritically technophobic orientations), highlighting continuities and inter-dependencies of the two, as distinguished in turn from legible democratizing technodevelopmental social struggle, consensus science and sustainable public investment; (5) posthumanism and transhumanism: post-humanisms as variations of superlative futurology (eugenic transhumanism, apocalyptic singularitarianism, techno-immortalism, and so on) against post-humanisms as variations of the critique of humanism, amounting to a distinction of moralizing prevalence as against ethical reconciliation; (6) transhuman discourses and transhuman subcultures: material differences in the objects and archives of discursive as against subcultural formations, for example, differences between relations of figures, tropes, citations among published texts and conventions as against organizational relations among members, officers, funders, fans, and so on; (7) futurity and "The Future": distinguishing between the political openness inhering in the present in the presence of ineradicable stakeholder diversity as against instrumentalizing projections of parochial fears and fantasies and stakes that would disavow and so foreclose futurity.

Keywords: Arendt, Hannah; Eugenics; Futurology; Futurism; Futurity; Lewis, C.S.; Posthumanism; Progress; Public Relations; Technology; Transhumanism.

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