>IMHO it's in a trough on the hype curve. Tech needs to improve before it'll rise again.
You're assuming that the technology will still be attractive even as other technologies improve in parallel or as we learn more about how the use of technology effects people.
The article mentions RNA vaccines are partially transhuman, but I'm not sure I buy that. Maybe my concept is wrong, but the perception I got was always more cyborg than biological.
The magnet implants always seemed to have a very, very low benefit to me. Making interfacing with computers even easier seems to have a similarly low benefit. We are already at the point where people go on tech cleanses, your technology gives you screen time reports so you can make sure you are not using it too much, people are abandoning social networks. We are literally trying to use computers less.
> We are already at the point where people go on tech cleanses, your technology gives you screen time reports so you can make sure you are not using it too much, people are abandoning social networks. We are literally trying to use computers less.
That's just it though, those screen time reports are because people are forced to consume things through tech that forces them to be immobile and looking at a small screen next to them, and people go on tech cleanses not because of the problems of microchips and the conveniences of instant coffee from cheap appliances, but because constant bombardment of the thoughts and opinions of everyone, everywhere, all at once becomes problematic and draining very quickly, even as it's addictive.
Transhumanist doesn't have to mean jacked into the internet in new and horrible ways. The GP comment itself notes how a simple magnet exposed a new sense they did not have previously. Nothing about magnet under the skin seems to be like something someone would necessarily look to be free from in a tech cleanse. Some people would likely think it brings them closer to nature.
That's exactly it.
We're not trying to use computers less, we're trying to be used less by computers, specifically someone else's computers that they've so pervasively embedded into society through monopolistic practices that would make Rockefeller blush.
The failure here isn't technology, the failure is human greed and regulators inability to mitigate it.
> Nothing about magnet under the skin seems to be like something someone would necessarily look to be free from in a tech cleanse.
Poster literally tech cleansed of the magnet permanently because it got so annoying.
> I've seen transdermal plastic beads put in some interesting places - but they're hardly transhumanist.
Transdermal metal beads, in the form of little bells, were put in "interesting places" in India in the 1500s.
> Tech needs to improve before it'll rise again.
No, it doesn’t, and waiting for the iteration of tech-consumerism that resembles your childhood fantasies is everything that was wrong with the transhumanist movement. It attracted too many people who sat on the sidelines and did nothing to move the needle. It was a magnet for people who couldn’t cope with reality, which occasionally helped, but usually stirred chaos.
It definitely needs a rebranding. In fact, a reasonably good attempt was made as early as the 1980s.
> It attracted too many people who sat on the sidelines and did nothing to move the needle.
You'd have to be capable of pushing the boundaries of science and engineering to really push this needle. Plus the money is in oil/adtech and AFAIK this isn't low hanging fruit that anyone can just grab.
Not sure who you are but I'm absolutely sure that very few who made contributions to the transhumanist community did so through "pushing the boundaries of science and engineering". https://web.archive.org/web/20050510004128/http://www.singin...
> Singularity activists can engage in a variety of productive roles related to advancing the Singularity Institute, roles that are just as necessary and critical as the researchers' roles. These include becoming donors, publicists, organizers, speakers, writers, graphic artists, grant writers, networkers and fundraisers.
Thiel became a major donor and co-hosted a summit not long after this call to action. The participation was extraordinary for having been during the "AI Winter", and it became a yearly event for some time. Major investments eventually started pouring into AI/ML tech.
Just curious, what 1980s attempt are you referring to?
Extropianism (talked about in the post I linked) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extropianism#Introduction
I would really like to know more about this topic. Is there a forum that people who dabble in mods post to?
I think I agree with the thrust of what you are saying, in that we do need to think about the negative externalities of different technologies before scaling them out as a species.
I am getting a little tripped up on your usage of 'the natural world' and 'environmental destruction' though. Aren't humans 'natural'? And if we are natural, shouldn't anything that springs from us also be 'natural'? We are subject to the 'laws of nature'. Is a beaver dam a natural thing? An ant hill? A bee hive? A bird's nest?
It's obviously nitpicking semantics and word usage, but I think people often use 'natural world' to refer to their own human preferences for how the world should look (often just as it looked as they were growing up), and by using the term 'nature', it carries a sense of absolute purity, and anything that goes against it must be wrong.
'Natural' arguments have been used throughout history, and still get frequently used today as a cudgel to dismiss any sort of social/technological change happening.
Now this is not to say that there can't be arguments against certain changes or that all change is the same, but the invocation of what's 'natural' always feels like a cheap rhetorical tactic in place of a stronger argument about why one state of the world is inferior to another state of the world.
Are you serious?
An ant hill or a beaver dam are mere reorganizations of known matter types, and could be analogized to humans building things like walls. Stone, and even some types of mortar, participate in the great cosmic dance of Gaia , just like the works of the animals cited above. They decay, they are broken down by various processes over time, they are fashioned of things found in the environment.
PFAS, by comparison, does not, cannot, and is not, respectively. It doesn't break down, and was never present in any ecosystem nor any part of the water cycle until a few decades ago -- an fraction of an eyeblink in the sort of evolutionary time it'll take for PFAS' presence to be integrated into the cosmic dance of Gaia, and until then it's just gonna cause cancer.
I can agree that invoking the naturalistic fallacy isn't good argumentative practice, but some things are decidedly unnatural. Creating novel waterproofing chemicals that don't have naturally-occurring ways to break down and then dumping them into the water supply isn't something beavers, or ants, or birds, can do. Humans have transcended the natural world. I can tell because of all the new types of things we're adding to it.
 should be read less as some pseudoreligious thing and more a handwave about the ancient, stable systems that repurpose atoms from moribund things into newer, more vital things: microbes, fungus, rot, uptake of substances by plants, etc
Not sure that's accurate. Animals aren't trying to create things that break down easily; they're not trying to do anything but survive. The argument is circular: if animals make it, it's part of Gaia else it's 'unnatural'. Animals didn't make plastics, so they're 'unnatural'. By definition I guess, not by any real difference between them and bone or termite mounds or dinosaur bones or geodes...you know, things that can last for millennia.
Hell, even the Earth itself is made of crystals and granite and lead and arsenic and on and on. What's more natural than mother earth?
I don't applaud plastics entering the environment carelessly. But not sure we have a handle on why it's bad, when we say its not natural.
> Creating novel waterproofing chemicals that don't have naturally-occurring ways to break down and then dumping them into the water supply isn't something beavers, or ants, or birds, can do.
Genes encode proteins, proteins are chemicals, so evolution creates new proteins, and organisms often dump them to environment. The difference is that other organisms produce new chemicals through genetic evolution and not memetic evolution, like humans. Some of these chemicals are initially non-breakable, for example after lignin was introduced, it took millions of years to evolve organisms able to break it.
I invite you to learn more about termites, their physical mounds and their rearing of young.
Specifically, how a co-evolved gut parasite allows termites to do the things they do and requires a fecal transplant, at birth, for every new termite.
In the continuum between beaver dams and human highways this kind of physical and biological organization should figure prominently… and I hope you find it interesting.
You're just playing with semantics. If everything humans do is natural than everything is natural: computers, plastics, concrete, etc. The purpose of using the word natural is to distinguish from what is unnatural, and without grabbing a dictionary, for me that generally means something that does not "naturally" occur (i.e. without human intervention specifically) in the natural world.
Chemical engineers create unnatural things, things that don't exist in the natural world.
That's the whole point. Word "natural" is not good in any serious argument because it simply doesn't have well-recognized unambiguous semantics most people can agree on. Ask a bunch of folks if some things are natural and while they'll most likely agree on the basics (wild forest flower is most likely would be called "natural", while a mobile phone is most likely not) the opinions will start to diverge on less obvious stuff (e.g. penicillin).
It's like a concept of "god" - everyone has their own idea what it might mean. (full disclosure: I'm ignostic).
With such words it's best to either start with a definition, or pick some different, less ambiguous term.
I guess when I say “natural,” what I truly mean is “that which is not made by man.” Any substance which is found in the natural environment and mechanically altered does not count in my definition of man-made; this is essentially the same notion of natural that revolvingocelot points out.
I think the crusade against “natural bias” is unfounded. Of course there are plenty of natural things that are not good for us—such as viruses— but the painful and uncomfortable truth about natural maladies like viruses is that they represent nature working as intended (protecting us from the ills of overpopulation, for example).
The bottom line is that changing everything we dislike about nature can lead to our demise. She’s already thought a million steps ahead of whatever we hope to accomplish.
You are still anthropomorphousising nature. Nature does not intend to protect us from anything, much less from overpopulation. Nature does not intend anything as a whole. Each living creature simply intends to survive and multiply. Not changing anything about nature will also lead to our demise. Most non-human organisms (maybe all other than domesticated dogs and lifestock) are either ambivalent or opportunistically trying to kill us. Because we are made of carbon and therefore contain useful energy.
Anthropomorphousising I believe is the greatest and most wide spread cognitive limitation of humanity.
A lot of, probably even majority of viruses are a good thing - they add horizontal gene transfer to improve the evolution and survival chances of species, sometimes even multiple ones at once, also making our own human virome.
I would define "natural" as meaning something that has evolved on this planet, and through that process has reached a sustainable, though arbitrarily complex balance in the ecosystem.
Speaking of pumping the breaks, I really enjoyed the recent documentary, The Year Earth Changed, which explores how the lockdowns from COVID had a significant positive impact on the natural world. The message is optimistic—essentially, it is still possible to make an impact if we're able to change our behavior.
One of the more moving stories is the that Himalayas were visible for the first time 30 years in Jalandhar, which were previously hidden due to air pollution. Infant mortality rates amongst a number of species improved substantially as well (whales, penguins, dolphins, and cheetahs are among a few the documentary covered).
Transhumanism , like all trans- movements is not about maintaining the "natural" order of things, whatever that is. Nature is not better in absolute
> I believe humanity needs to pump the breaks and take a critical step back to evaluate the damage we’ve caused.
I agree, but I don't think this will happen as long as the money continues to be made. And as long as those with the money keep employing psychologists to essentially hack their customers into compliance, there won't be any resistance from that side, either.
After 3 years of tai chi I learned that most of us are pretty oblivious to the limits of the human body. And that as someone who was previously an endurance athlete.
Sports medicine is optimizing the effort/return of such pursuits, but we also have islands of information that could be normalized as well, in particular looking for missed opportunities for complementary interactions. If you took Wim Hoff and made him a master of yoga and tai chi, would he be even more 'alien' to the rest of us? Maybe we need to set the minimum bar higher?
Now I'm curious about the lessons you learned from tai chi!
Sure why not.
The biggest are that some things cannot really be explained with words. They can be highlighted, they can be pitched, but at the end of the day you need to feel someone doing it before you understand. Either yourself or a model.
Time and again I was reminded of the first line of the Tao Te Ching (many, but not all tai chi people pay lip service to Taoism):
> The Tao that can be written is not the eternal Tao.
If you pull on that thread enough you learn that intellectualizing everything doesn't work, and you start to wonder what else in your life you've been intellectualizing that maybe you shouldn't be, and what you're doing and how you're feeling about the things that don't respond well to it. We in tech are particularly bad at this. The act of participating in HN is pretty heavily tilted toward it, and in my very limited experience looking at cybernetics and transhumanism through that filter, I find a whole lot of questions I want to ask the person daydreaming about this altered state they are looking for. Are you trying to become more than human because it's awesome, or less than human because it hurts?
In a more pedestrian bent, there are a lot of positions the human body thinks it can't maintain but it actually can, and for much longer than you would have imagined (though things always look easy until you try them, which takes away some of the marvel. Big deal, I could stand like that for a minute. No, no you can't.) I have to be careful on rocky terrain or near boats to turn around and say, "Kids, don't try what I just did, you will hurt yourself. Take my hand, and I won't ask you twice." Gaps and slippery surfaces are made deceptively mundane looking by some of my betters. I know a couple of people who can do the form in socks. Including horse stance.
Edit #? I got into it for joint and back pain. I never achieved complete relief from the back pain, but I can do some things with my muscles that stretch and reset things without 'doing a stretch'. It's half parlor trick, but very useful in situations like crowds or lines, or where busting out into a stretch is a faux pas, like in the middle of someone else's argument, or story.
I wonder if Ted Kaczynski will be hailed as a great philosopher in the future and humans 100 years from now will condemn our time for our treatment of him while justifying his actions as that of a desperate man on the right side of history. It's ironic writing this on a website.
From the manifesto:
> But it is obvious that modern [REDACTED] philoso- phers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psycho- logical needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satis- fies the drive for power. More importantly, the [REDACTED] hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior).
Without looking, what should [REDACTED] be replaced by?
I always find this kind of argument ironic because one, it's obviously intensely psychological itself, as are most philosophical attitudes (which does little to disqualify them) and secondly if you just were to take postmodern philosophy as a predictive science I don't think any discipline has been more prescient in describing our current condition.
For those that follow that want to know the answer: leftish.
No. He is only famous because of the callous methods he used to get his paper published.
Within the confines of this thought experiment: I wonder sometimes if anybody would have read it at all had he not committed these crimes. Obviously the gravity of his crimes overshadowed any bit of sense in what he wrote, and effectively nullifies all ability in most people to even bring reason to the words as they read them.
That being said, there is undoubted truth in some of what he said regarding the perils of modern technology and the sociological effects on society. In the beginning it was great. These inventions unified everyone and made knowledge available, but then we got so far ahead of ourselves, that knowledge is now buried upon layer and layer of neon colored saccharine trash.
Rewilding is an extreme answer, but an answer nonetheless. Could humanity ever have the discipline to only allow “some technology?” Maybe, but the extreme answer will always be there waiting for us.
That his ideas were undermined by his actions is just as sad as the actions themselves. They weren’t terrible ideas. As you’ve pointed out, we might be on the path to a dystopian future where we’ll look back and say, “Damn, Ted was right.”
>Rewilding is an extreme answer, but an answer nonetheless.
Right up until the point some easily solvable by science calamity occurs and people re-invent science for that reason.
I mean at this point we're treading off into "The Foundation" and setting up techno-priests to regulate learning and technology.
What do you mean the future ? I hail my Ted as a hero on the right side of history now.
What's your threshold? How many innocent people does he have to kill and/or maim before you no longer are willing to consider him a hero?
And yes, they were innocent. The one I met personally was a tech at the store where I bought my first computer. (And if you consider that enough to make him "not innocent", well, you're using a computer to read and comment here, so...)
To me, he is condemned by his methods. If you're willing to deliberately, actively, persistently attempt to blow up innocent people, I can't trust your judgment on how people should interact with each other to make society better.
There is a great book (a tiny novella) called Psalm for the Wild Built that explores these ideas very beautifully. Highly recommend it.
This looks like my cup of tea. Thanks for the recommendation!
what i found peculiar of all these identity movements is how much corporate fingerprints is behind them.
a holistic, humane, and spiritual approach to elevating our collective awareness is written off as voodoo from "others" yet the rich, affluent in the West are increasingly gravitating towards it while the rest attack each other.
human advancement need not be digitally/pharmaceutically driven but good luck telling this to giants.
Corporatism is taking what people want (whether it's a shiny phone, or oneness, or meditative creds) and then selling that.
Optimistically you would say they are selling expertise. You can try to figure out meditation on your own - but there's a lot of cranks and nonsense and some stuff that works. Or you can give headspace $20/mo and they will give you a good experience.
Of course no mass produced experience can ever meet the true need. You can't mass market meditation - and we know this! Ask the Buddhists!
> To become transhuman or posthuman, you'd first have to understand what it is to be human
I'm post-adolescent (at least biologically, please don't bring up all of my emotional immaturity), and I still don't (and definitely didn't then) understand what it is to be adolescent.
I live in a post-feudal society, and while I think we understand a few things about what it means to be feudal, I wouldn't bet on us having a full and complete understanding.
There's a plant on my balcony that's post-living, and as far as I know it never understood anything at all, much less understood what it was to be living.
Why is transhuman-ness or posthuman-ness a special exception to the general rule that surpassing (or at least passing) something does not in fact require understanding it?
I am interpreting the parent as saying before we can say something is post-human, we have to define (understand) what "human" is. If we cannot agree on what it is to be human, how can anyone be post-human? I.e. you can't define a "noun with modifier" until you define the noun.
You can differentiate a human from a dolphin ?
Then you know all that is to be known about what an human is.
You don't need to understand "dolphin-ness" to know that by enabling a dolphin to talk or fly you created a post-dolphin.
Post/Transhumanism is not just about physical changes. Those changes , of course, will create/lead to philosophical/metaphysical questions, but no one understands transhumanism as a "branch of philosophy that questions itself about ...."
You didn’t have to create a new technology that enabled you to transition to post-adolescent.
I think your parent commenter meant “_we_ would have to understand”, as a species, rather than all or any of us individually.
In practice just the people creating the technology. But it’s a big leap.
But we did have to invent the (social) technology that enabled us to transition to a post-feudal society. And we did so without fully understanding feudal society.
For another technological example, we didn't fully understand bronze when we transitioned to the iron age (in fact, at least in the west, the transition to the iron age happened in large part due to our understanding of bronze getting substantially worse).
That seems like an artificial barrier.
We can improve certain aspects of ourselves without deeply understanding the entirety of what it is to be human.
Came to say the same thing with the same post-adolescent argument ;)
You could potentially make a thing that acts like you, that's it. The only reason our existence is tolerable is that we agree with the guy that when he goes to bed he is dead and I take over in the morning and I make the same deal tomorrow.
Salami tactics (Yes Minister) would work around this. Replace and extend your brain and nervous system small parts at a time. Until one day you are entirely hardware, and thus your consciousness entirely software. Continuity of consciousness remains uninterrupted.
Sure, as soon as you offload your conscience though I think you are dead.
I quite like that phrasing (in your second sentence); did you come up with it yourself, or did you catch it somewhere?
I think I've read it somewhere but I never keep track of citations. Might have been Michael Keaton in that movie, moral of the story, if you copy yourself then your copy is gonna bang your wife.
What, or where, is the "I" in this deal?
I would like to draw attention to a classic transhumanist philosopher whose style has remained consistent for decades.
The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life.
The abolitionist project is hugely ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and morally urgent. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved because they served the fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture - a motivational system based on heritable gradients of bliss. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. It is predicted that the world's last unpleasant experience will be a precisely dateable event. Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown. The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed absurd. Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as psychological pain, too, could ever be banished is equally counter-intuitive. The feasibility of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of social policy and ethical choice.
This seems to be the progression with everything.
I have small portable machines stuck to my body that monitor my blood sugar and inject insulin as needed. In this sense for me transhumanism is here. This stuff keeps me alive and keeps me healthy.
I think we'll start seeing a lot more genetic modification that will go hand in hand with biological/machine modification. Just sticking technology in us quite often triggers immune responses that our body fights, these things will have to grow hand in hand.
Agree. It seems like this article is just talking about trans humanism as a cultural topic that goes in and out of popularity. But real transhumanism occurring seems inevitable if technology continues to march forward.
Is anyone in the year 2100 really going to be talking about genetic modification or wearables? No, they will be everywhere
I think we're going to be talking about genetic modification as long as there are people around who are able to talk. The possibilities are infinite, and the religious opposition is strong. It could very plausibly lead to us becoming a different species-- or at the other extreme, wiping ourselves out.
My parents are convinced it will lead to the Mark of the Beast, and there are millions of people who are raising their children to believe the same. Blood will be shed over this. It could easily lead to full blown war(s). The conversation is not going to be over in the year 2100 unless humanity as we know it has come to an end.
The biggest example is our cell phones. They may not be implanted (yet), but we keep them physically with us 24x7 and they have significantly altered our behavior.
As with most technology, there are more pros of keeping phones out of our bodies, so that "yet" might just need to be replaced with a big "if".
“The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed yet” (Gibson, but not sure)
For a tribe in the Amazon forest, Shanghai or Tokyo could be from a scifi movie set 500 years in their future. For a villager in a small-sized town in Belgium perhaps only 5 or 10yrs in the future.
So transhumanism is not something that will be : it always was and currently is. It just a word for a mindset that embraces these changes and want them to happen faster and sooner.
> "Transhumanism" is already here, in a way. We have medications including some complex drugs, most people at least take multi-vitamins, we have surgeries and sometimes do weird stuff like transplant limbs or faces. Even simpler, we have knowledge of diet and health which lets us stay in better shape than before
This reminds me of the religious claim that the the second coming of Christ and the judgement isn't an upcoming event, but actually already happened in 70 A.D.. It's entirely a rationalization around the fact that Jesus predicted (written in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that the apocalypse would happen during the lifetime of the audience he was talking to.
Like Push, and like my friend Aaron, Sasha killed himself: https://transhumanism.fandom.com/wiki/Alexander_Chislenko
We need to figure out how we can have what you imagined MIT would be like without driving our best thinkers to suicide.
I should add that Sasha seemed not just a talker, but a doer. He'd worked at Maes's startup, and, shortly before his untimely death, had joined a investment firm, to advise on tech directions, and vet companies.
No, it was not replaced by VR. I am a trans humanist. As soon as there's a better than natural artificial heart proven to work for decades and with low risks, I will happily undergo surgery. Major cause of death avoided.
My eyes are good for now, but I imagine in 20 years they will start really going downhill. If there's an artificial option, I will switch.
Same goes for most organs.
Unfortunately all these advances are decades away. Connecting to the nervous system isn't a solved problem, so no comparable arms or hands any time soon, even though they may be much more durable, strong, fast very soon. You still need the skin to feel. OK, maybe not "need", but really want.
Transhumanism isn't just advanced medicine. The idea isn't to replace a human heart with an artificial heart that's mostly functionally identical (current-day technology). The whole idea is to transcend biological limits using technology, i.e. develop eyes, ears, and brains that are functionally different and superior.
Prolonging human longevity is just one of the (many) goals of the transhumanist movement). Its core definition (according to Oxford dictionary) is: "the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology."
The original transhumanist dream was that we would each gain more control over our biology (that sounds like freedom to me); the realities of today's world mean that we would instead gain marginally more control, while corporations and governments gain exponentially more control (that sounds like tyranny to me).
> while corporations and governments gain exponentially more control
that is unavoidable. Transhumanism doesn't guarantee preserving full individuality. Achieving transhumanism most probably would require giving up significant degree of individuality as the tightly connected "collectives/hives" - once such possibility become practical - would outcompete individuals. I.e. Borg is one of the most probable and close description of the future transhuman society.
It's inevitable that artificial organs will be better than the natural ones. But you first have to reach parity.
In every movement you have over-enthusiasts/utopists who don't see the challenges. But even in a game like Deus Ex you can see it's not difficult to see the utopia  from reality .
Now, like everything : no one will get a new limb if he knows a corp will make him a slave for life. So for these companies to succeed they must guarantee peace of mind to their users. You don't fear getting addicted to aspirin every time u take it. Perhaps open-sourced with generics parts.
On a more philosophical note, car makers gave us more freedom by transcending our biological limitations (higher speed, no tiredness) but in exchange of some loss of freedom (loan, accessible areas, time lost finding a parking spot, etc). Nothing comes without a cost.
Am I being dense? What does VR have to do with transhumanism? Seems like a total non-sequitur.
See my answer to bufferoverflow.
Also: virtual reality isn't just a heads-up display or an iPhone camera feature. Augmented ears that can hear things normal humans can't hear, augmented eyes, or an augmented brain inherently means you lose sovereignty over your own mind since there is a necessary and irreducible degree of trust you need to have in your government and in corporations: trust that they are not interfering with what you hear, see, or think.
I count that as virtual reality, just as movie theaters (where, early on, people screamed when they saw a train driving towards the camera, i.e. towards them, though that may be apocryphal) were a very primitive and early form of virtual reality. Ok, duh, movie theaters aren't dystopian. But the frontier is soon going to breach the boundaries of our bodies and skulls. There are clear dangers involved.
Neither the Free Software movement, nor any "cognitive sovereignty" legislation as proposed by some transhumanists, would solve this. There's a fundamental trust issue that seems unsolvable.
I am trying to provoke thought; to me, the core issue with transhumanism is that other humans will be capable of subtly, undetectably and plausibly-deniably change your perception of reality and of yourself. Even people who focus on the "politically dystopian" aspects of transhumanism tend to ignore this; and instead focus on inequality, discrimination, and so on, which in my view are secondary.
Why wouldn't free software solve this? Where it is successful, it keeps your government and corporations from making you run software you don't want or keeping undesirable features (like interfering with what you hear or see) secret from you.
It's true that some backdoors or vulnerabilities might go unnoticed, but you can choose firmware with an extremely low chance of those. If your enhancement needs are modest, you might even be able to write your own firmware from scratch.
It might be convenient for you to choose to trust some little-known firmware that hardly anybody has vetted, in order to get extra functionality. And there's always the possibility that all the supposedly independent people who have vetted some firmware are part of a conspiracy to hide its antifeatures. But that's very different from it being necessary to trust governments and corporations.
You can augment your ears and eyes by purchasing night vision tubes (more tubes are better, better light input area and field of view, but they ultimately need to combine into two phosphor screens projecting into your eyes), a active hearing protection headset, and possibly a HUD projector to attach to the front of one of the night vision tubes. Attach all that to a high-cut helmet, and possibly a battery/compute/etc unit under your rear plate. More modern active hearing systems (3M Comtac V/Ops Core AMP/possibly others) let you set how much you want outside sounds to be amplified, and do advanced signal processing to prevent passthrough of not just loud explosive noises, but other noises that would normally prevent you from comfortably turning up the amplification as high as you might want to hear potentially relevant sounds. I guess strapping 50,000 USD worth of stuff to your body just to look like a mix between a 1990s MIT Mixed Reality Lab reject and mass shooter might be a deterrent to people actually doing this though.
Most transhumanists I know are interested in biological immortality, mind uploading, hive minds, etc. VR does nothing for that.
That's bullshit. Transhumanism is about overcoming the human condition. Ibuprofen, penicillin and even ancient technology like animal husbandry or irrigation are more important to transhumanism than VR goggles and pointless magnet implants.
Ironically, this comment is the perfect example for the real reason for the downfall of transhumanism: It has become popular and thus poisoned by clueless tech pornographers with zero understanding of the philosophy.
Zero progressives I know want that. Most distrust technology generally, and hate surveillance especially, government or otherwise. You've created a straw-man.
Tbf, it depends a lot on who you're labeling "progressive." If you go by people who label themselves progressive, you have to count the entire Democratic party, who generally love (and often operate) surveillance.
Of course, Republicans love it too, but that's irrelevant to the question of whether a love of surveillance is widespread among progressives.
I really don't feel that's a fair comparison.
The transgender community needs to stop pushing the notion that it's healthy and desirable; it's not - it's a devastating hormonal/fertility disorder.
We can't even look into the extent to which the androgenisation of humanity is the consequence of the pollutants that we've introduced into the environment.
Now, comparing this to trans-humanist body mods - how many of those result in sterility?
The changes that trans-humans want are intended to extend the capabilities of the human; but a sex change leaves an individual in a physically compromised super-position of the body that they were born with, and the body that fits the mind.
> trans people make body modifications that don't prioritize my values (fertility)
Doesn't seem like a very strong argument that it doesn't fit into the cyberpunk ethos. Modifying your body for reasons you care about seems very cyberpunk, and exactly the sort of thing that other people would have moral qualms over, especially if they don't share your values. Certainly the technology could be improved for people who do care about fertility, but, well, newer, improved versions of body modification technology is also very cyberpunk.
A disingenuously paraphrasing quote?
But I'm not espousing my values, but values vital to the continuation of life.
Values that have been around for thousands of millions of years.
Perhaps there's the potential for this to change, but it'll just be fertility in another form.
Cyberpunk != transhumanism
Is an amputee cyberpunk?
There are a million things more dangerous to the continuation of the human race than a few people willingly becoming sterile to solve other issues with their body. For decades we were shoving lead into gasoline and poisoning an entire generation for the sake of more money, for example. And the 'androgenization of humanity' seems like some nonsense, considering there's zero data or otherwise to back that up.
> a few people willingly becoming sterile to solve other issues with their body.
Most of the controversy around trans issues that I've seen would not exist if this was the only dimension to it.
I mean you're quite frankly arguing with a straw man, and being vague with the word "healthy", no trans community is advocating that taking opposite hormones is physically healthy.
They push for it because that's the only viable option for them to appear as the opposite gender which helps them mentally.
Although it is funny you're in a way talking about how men are turning into femboy meme.
You mention sterility. As a thought experiment, what if the science was perfected that you could change gender perfectly (ala The Culture novels). Would you still feel the same way about it?
I think if you could undergo a perfect and reversible sex change operation as easily as changing your clothes, it would become simply a matter of fashion - but with that kind of technology, changing your sex would be one of the least interesting things you could do, and new controversies would arise: for example, is it ethical to modify your body to look exactly like someone else’s body? And how far can you go with body modification before it stretches credulity to identify as a human, and what does that mean for the concept of human rights?
Personally I think that would fantastic and fun. Who wouldn’t want to see what life is like on the other side?
Grow a hollow in a vat and insert the brain?
It'd be prohibitively expensive for most, but why not?
Oh, so the reason conservatives are concerned about the birth rate is so they have ammo against gay, trans, and women on the pill. Got it. I was wondering why an issue that won't be a major concern until after 2100 was becoming popular.
Putting aside the debate and controversy around transgender folks, if I just step back and think about the act itself, it is truly an incredible act of will over self... redefining yourself, redefining your relationship to society, acting so strongly against the defaults of your life... I'm not sure I could do it.
As an act of tremendous will over self I genuinely respect it.
One can exercise tremendous change over ones self, but one cannot redefine ones relationship with society since relationships aren't one-way. That's always going to be a potential source of friction.
Sounds like a religious conversion to me.
Especially those that require body modification, such as Jewish and Islam's adult circumcision.
I think a lot of people have a hard time with the idea that you could believe something enough to actually change the direction of your life in response to that belief. It raises a lot of uncomfortable feelings to see someone do that.
I think a big fraction of the anti-transgender movement is not against adults modifying their bodies, but against a) children modifying their bodies, b) persons with modified bodies claiming to be the opposite gender thanks to their modifications (or indeed, before any modification). They probably would have much less of a problem with an adult replacing one of their eyes with an x-ray camera or whatever.
I wish that were the case - but it’s a significantly smaller fraction than it needs to be.
The largest fraction of the anti-transgender movement is clearly the American conservative Christian right, who has completely chosen to ignore human rights in favour of Old Testament values.
(Source: I’m transgender, and I’m terrified what’s going on in the USA.)
The fraction of people who want to prevent children transitioning or claiming youre a different gender, versus people against general body mods, is smaller than it needs to be? That might be a really good point if true.
> Argue based on some extreme strawman
You yourself are arguing based on an extreme straw man here. Does that make you a neo-nazi as well?
Interestingly, I think you illustrate another important factor in anti-transgender resistance: a subsection of proponents are extremely quick on the trigger to accuse any disagreement of being bigoted, hateful, violent, and, as you have, fascist. This does nothing but drive increasingly negative perceptions towards transgenderism as a concept, both among those who were skeptical and among those who were initially neutral towards the concept.
I suggest that if you truly want to further your cause, you should find a way to interact with those who don’t agree with you that doesn’t involve accusing them of being a nazi.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say adrianN is probably not a Nazi.
I don't identify with anything you just wrote.
But I call bullshit on your bullshit. It's easy as cake to brainwash kids. They look up to you in so many ways, especially after they outgrow the first year "vegetative" phase. Kids can be programmed to believe literally anything.
I consider myself to be quite far on the left side of the political spectrum.
you are so unreasonable it's almost funny. why even continue after your first statement? why even make your first statement? go bait somewhere else.
I don't think it's a one-dimensional line with pro/anti modification. For example, if you were against people integrating weapons into their bodies or upward-facing eyes into their feet for looking up skirts, that wouldn't make you anti-transhuman.
Right. But being able to live as your authentic self is a good thing, unlike your examples. Opposing good modifications is anti-transhumanist.
Idk, first the focus on body modifications in the context of what a transhumanist is is a bummer, I always thought imoroved thinking made more sense as the initial goal. And second, how do you determine what is someones authentic self, if theyre pursuing that or if theyre taking advantage of body mods to be pervy or manipulative or do xyz bad thing. Its entirely subjective. Not to say there arent solutions to separate safe mods from unsafe, just that the authentic self feels like too fuzzy a thing to use sincerely, at least I see it as some bundling of your personal values that could be cancerous as far as I know :)
I'm a furry. Does "being a (cuddly) werewolf" count as a weapon?
Fun example. Or does getting a giant ass, big fake breasts, filled lips, etc. get counted in the same lot? It's definitely funky, in terms of the ethics surrounding it. You could see it as buying into negative (in the sense that they're not equal) biological biases and taking advantage of them. Such a fun lens to consider funky cultural stuff.
I think if transhumans with augmentations wanted to compete with humans in sports, or if parents wanted to give their children irreversible experimental augmentations, you would find very similar concerns.
Parents aren't giving their children any irreversible modifications though, that's not even legal.
All that's done is pausing puberty until the children are old enough to legally consent to changes, if they do want them. If they do not, puberty can be resumed at any time without any harm (puberty blockers are used significantly more often on cis kids whose puberty started too early than on trans kids).
No child is taking any hormone medication or getting any surgery to transition. Actually, hormones and surgery are frequently given to cis kids who are close to the line to inter, to better align them with their AGAB. But in trans healthcare,this is not a thing.
Usually at 14 or 16 trans teenagers can choose to take hormones, but still, no surgeries below the age of 18 for trans children.
The only surgeries parents can do to children legally are circumcision in cis children and heavy genital modification in inter children to pretend they're not inter.
It is in fact legal, and does in fact happen. Three examples found with three minutes googling, plus an article identifying 51 mastectomy approvals for under-18s in Scotland alone.
Are these just isolated cases performed by overzealous doctors? No, WPATH's current guidelines allow for mastectomies at age 16, and the latest Standards of Care draft calls for reducing this to 15.
What about the safety and reversibility of puberty blockers? We don't know. See this letter arising from the Cass Review outlining the evidence gap. The current approach to treating gender dysphoria is a slow-motion trainwreck medical scandal. I strongly recommend reading the Cass Review interim report which outlines the numerous ways in which gender-dysphoric children are being failed by current treatment models.
Cyberpunk as a genre generally depicts as a technologically advanced dystopia. One can find the setting interesting but not desirable, just as people find post-apocalyptic zombie plagues fascinating but wouldn’t actually want to experience it.
That's arguing with bad faith and framing the argument incorrectly IMO. Nobody is " against trans " people, whatever that means. Many are against children joining that lifestyle, which may result in irreparable harm to the child.
As an adult, I am on androgen replacement therapy but I am also very careful with it, regularly checking my labs to make sure I don't torch my liver in the process. I can make informed decisions about it because I've read the research and understand the risks. A child or even a teenager doesn't understand the risks of taking hormones. Not fully anyway, as the brain doesn't fully develop until 25 or so.
> Nobody is " against trans " people, whatever that means.
Have you ever been on twitter? It will take you a couple of minutes to find people who think that's unnatural, sinful, should be forbidden, they're mentally ill, they're sexual predators by default. I know there are some more moderate ideas, but people completely against do exist.
You're putting in the same bag many complaints, some of which irrational and unproven (sexual predators) and some valid arguments, rooted in philosophical or religious beliefs (unnatural, mental illness).
Moreover, everyone knows twitter is not exactly the place with the healthiest representative sample of mankind...
> . Nobody is " against trans " people, whatever that means
What it means is “actively seeking to eliminate trans people, including by the simple expedient of killing them by means such as prohibiting care that is proven to greatly reduce suicidality in, especially, young trans people.”
And lots of people—indeed, entire state governments in the US—are “against trans people”.
> “actively seeking to eliminate trans people,
Put it such extreme and dishonest way, reducing sugar in food it an attempt to eliminate obese people... No , the attribute is not the object.
> indeed, entire state governments in the US—are “against trans people”.
So you deny the rights of a community of people to decide what they deem legal or illegal ? All this for the personal benefit of a (literal) couple of people ?
Should they also be carried in Ferraris to their treatment place?
> That's arguing with bad faith and framing the argument incorrectly IMO. Nobody is " against trans " people
I don't know how you can say that unironically when places like my current state (Texas) have been doing everything in their power to be against trans people. These lifestyle arguments remind me a lot of the exact same stuff people said about anyone gay, that they thought it caused irreparable harm and spread disease.
Some aspects of subcultures within people who identify as gay end up spreading disease, in certain contexts. Why is monkeypox so prevalent now? Did the virus decide to hop continents?
Going through natal puberty causes irreparable harm to children.
I fail to how gender is not part of who you are as a human, if you have read ghost in the shell you should know it does explore sexuality/gender.
And you're mixing up action with identity, a straight person can identify as straight while not act on that identity, the whole "its not a choice" is the counter argument to society at the time demanding that LGBT people "straighten up".
It's not some LGBTs foundational argument.
> I always wondered how the LGBTQI++ community will react when transhumanism allows all their sexual identities to become a choice. Will they still insist that they have no control over it?
If there was a simple pill that cured gender dysphoria, a pretty reasonable number of people would take it.
I read current gender rhetoric as a necessary counter culture that got adopted too readily - only in the sense that it seems like we should have detached from any sense of discrete categories, and now we have to overcome the current doctrine to get to a more flexible and sometimes healthier place, where the culture can become about this kind of self discovery you mention. At least thats the arc I would write if this was fiction, maybe this kind of speculation is unhealthy in this forum...
This seems like the most appropriate description of transhumanism.
I think for a long time in human history, technology simply wasn't there to alter the physical nature of humanity. But in recent decades, we understand much more about human physiology enough to alter human body in a drastic and permanent way.
This is generating lots of contention between groups about what's acceptable to change and what's not acceptable to change. Also I think about how people think they are rational about their positions on these matters but they are more like strong cultural presumptions about what's right and wrong.
Let's consider situation we already have.
Consider sex change operation. There's one camp that's complete fine with people getting sex change operation, while there's another camp that condones and some, want to outlaw such operation. The liberal camp likes to say that a person should be able to do what they want to do with their body.
However, at the same time, the both of the camp tends to dislike male steroid usage to change one's physique (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/108-2004/h226). For some reason, same reason to let people decide what they want to do with their body, doesn't apply when it comes to male physique.
It's interesting to see how technology is challenging our preconceived notion of right and wrong and sheds lights to inconsistency in our rationale.
>However, at the same time, the both of the camp tends to dislike male steroid usage to change one's physique
I mean, yea with how often 'roid rage' happens, and some of the extreme negative side effects of steroid usage I don't want people blindingly going into modifying their bodies without understanding they massively increasing their risks of stroke and heart enlargement.
I think there is clear philosophical division between 'humanist' medical position, which tries to fix what is broken, but considers healthy human body and mind as ideal, and 'transhumanist' medical position, which considers improvements important regardless whether they just fix what is broken, or improve beyond natural abilities.
See that's the thing! You're looking for the furry (and especially trans) / queer communities, especially the Freedom of Form Foundation or the "digital self-identity" simulacra folks. All of these communities are grounded in imagining existing the ideal versions of ourselves, and making that work actually happen