In response to this post on KurzweilAI …
The realization (which might be either delusional or epiphanous) that we might extend our unique personal identity well beyond the mortality horizon imposed by our biological natures, will be a cruel thing. I am not saying this cruelty is “bad”.
When a plane crashes (or in a death camp, or during a natural disaster) human beings end up in a state of terror for a while, and then fall in to this placid state of acceptance – shock – when the body exhausts itself struggling what it perceives as “inevitable’. The various transhumanist inclined visionaries (such as Ray) are now rekindling that “original terror state” by making bold promises we might actually perpetuate ourselves in some form of post-natural state of identity awareness.
It could be we simply gradually transition from the current biological-neurological embedding, towards another “synthetic substrate” pattern continuity, essentially remaining ourselves. Or we might endure sharp and punctuated transitions where one moment we were us, then the next moment we give rise to some sort of fundamentally different offspring that only happens to “share a majority of our predispositions and memories”.
Whatever the case, Ray and consorte succeed in raising hope, and in the face of guarantee personal annihilation hope can be a bloody painful thing. Hope carries with it great personal responsibility, as in “now I have to content with life for another indeterminate amount of time”.
What Ray does completely seems to miss is the fact that for the vast majority of human beings life is a mostly unpleasant state of being. Our current world sucks incredibly much and people only endure it “for those few happy moments”, “for the occasional orgasm”, “to get drunk with some friends every week”, “because of the interpunctuation of vacations”, “because family members would be so abandoned without me”.
People hate work, hassle, bodily discomforts, pain, boredom, and life is more about all these negatives (for most people) than about all the alleged positives. Maybe it is a 1% “ivory tower thing, an inability to see that people outside the cushioned comforts of financial privilege loathe “default existence”.
Nevertheless transhuman advances do not hinge on mass acceptance. If these technologies emerge, they will not emerge if enough people don’t want to be burdened with the new responsibilities of “more of the same existential crap” they already had to endure for the last few miserable mortgage-infested, tedious misery called “modern life”.
How can the Transhuman community paint a picture of a grandiose pleasurable (POST WORK) future filled with more excitement, more meaning, less dolor, more personal growth, less coercion? Take a look to the evenings news – the pervasive trends in the world at the very least SEEM to be in the opposite direction. Last time I hear quite a few people are “levelling up” towards antipsychotics and heavy sedatives as they find antidepressants aren’t doing the job any more.
How can “transhumanism” paint an idyllic picture of a desirable future, without coming across as a freaky reallian utopia cult?
Because if it DOESN’T work on its mass acceptance and – acceptability transhumanism is trying to sell a belief system and a technological pathway most people will find themselves instinctively recoiling from.
I mean, most people I talked to HATE even thinking about these visionary ideas. There is considerable anger out there in the trenches. Many people seriously do not want life extension, nanotech bodies, prosthetics, uploading, nootropics, space colonies, virtual paradises, etc. etc. etc. and they insist they not only do not want them for themselves, they also insist (from my limited experience) for everyone else.
The one thing this world teaches people is to be a tired and depressed and overly cautious luddite.
Btw, Ray you want my land address too?