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#1 Old 07-20-2004, 02:08 PM
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Hi,



Transhumanism is the science of augmenting the human body and brain through the use of science and technology. This field materialized I believe around 1985 and formed the first organization, the Extropy Institute http://www.extropy.org/ around 1989 I believe.



Transhumanists seek to use things like cloning, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cyborg technology, mind uploading, artificial intelligence, and similar radical methods to enhance the body and brain, the ultimate goal being to become immortal and super-intelligent, in effect to become gods, if you will. Mythological gods such as Zues and Ares were immortal and physically strong, but not super-intelligent; transhumanists seek to improve human intelligence as well, so that we are not just physically powerful like Zues, but also intellectually powerful.



Some concepts of Transhumanism:



The Singularity: the creation of a super-intelligence that keeps on rebuilding itself to becoming more and more intelligent, even at an exponential rate if possible. This entity would become so intellectually powerful that we humans could not conceive of the resulting product. Either humans will become the Singularity or we will create one out of artificial intelligence to serve humans.



Mind Uploading: The plan to copy our mind into a super-computer that is immune to decay and built to be upgradable. This is problematic though since uploading your brain may just create a clone of you, a twin, while the original person still remains in the original biological brain.



Cyborg technology: slowly replacing our body and brain parts with materials that not only enhances us, but are immune to decay so we thus live longer, even for ever if possible.



Genetic engineering: used to not only create super-zygotes for birth, but to actually alter our current existing bodies for the better, kind of like the recent movie Spider-Man and the older movie "The Nutty Professor" with Eddy Murphy in which the body completely changed to fit the new DNA inserted into the person's cells.



Cloning: used to clone high quality humans.



Stem cells: used to clone organs and body parts to replace damaged and dying parts on existing people.



Artificial Intelligence: Do you remember the character "Data" from Star Trek? He was superior to humans both physically and intellectually. Transhumanists don't believe life must remain organic, but rather re-built for the better, even if that means creating humans out of the same material and design as "Luetenant Data."



Eugenics: Selective breeding and the use of cloning and genetic engineering to improve the gene pool of a given population group. Eugenics is not supported by all Transhumanist organizations, such as the World Transhumanist Organization, but is supported by other ones, such as Transtopia.



The most non-eccentric Transhumanist organization is the World Transhumanist Association: http://www.transhumanism.org/ while the MOST eccentric organization (and my personal favorite) is Transtopia http://www.transtopia.org/ The rest of the Transhumanist organizations/websites lie in the middle of these two extremes and include the following:



http://www.extropy.org/

http://www.betterhumans.com/

http://www.kurzweilai.net/

http://www.nickbostrom.com/

http://www.aleph.se/Trans/

http://www.imminst.org/

http://www.alcor.org/

http://www.foresight.org/

http://www.cryonics.org/

http://www.minduploading.org/

http://www.singularitywatch.com/

http://www.lef.org/

http://www.humancloning.org/

http://www.plausiblefutures.com/

http://www.prometheism.net/

http://www.euvolution.com/

http://www.eugenics.net/

http://www.neoeugenics.com/

http://www.childrenofmillennium.org/

http://www.cosmotheism.net/

http://www.euvolution.com/euvolution/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/e-l/
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#2 Old 07-20-2004, 02:11 PM
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And who are you? And what is your purpose for coming here? I'm not liking the idea of cloning, GMO's and the like for obvious reasons.
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#3 Old 07-20-2004, 02:17 PM
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Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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#4 Old 07-20-2004, 02:20 PM
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Okey dokey.



Keep us posted, and be sure and let us know how this works out for you.
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#5 Old 07-20-2004, 02:22 PM
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Mind uploading in particular, seems to contradict everything we know about how the mind works.
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#6 Old 07-20-2004, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MsRuthieB View Post

And who are you? And what is your purpose for coming here? I'm not liking the idea of cloning/



I'm me, Mr. Carlos Hernandez, a second generation Mexican American. Nice to meet you!



I'm a vegetarian also, just found this forum, very cool. I'm also a technology buff, esp. futuristic types of technolgies that can radically improve the human condition.



Regards,



Carlos Hernandez
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#7 Old 07-20-2004, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by rincaro View Post

Be afraid. Be very afraid.



Nothing to be afraid of. It's an individual thing: those that like these technologies can apply it to themselves, those that do not don't have to. Just like those that don't like meat don't have to eat it, those that do can.



Regards.
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#8 Old 07-20-2004, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkjobsluder View Post

Mind uploading in particular, seems to contradict everything we know about how the mind works.



I don't know how they actually plan to do it, but they are indeed trying. Since our "self" is actually just a collection of our memories in combination with our personality and IQ level, these aspects would have to replicated on a computer. Hardware can match the IQ level of a person, and the software would immitate the memories and personality, or something like that.
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#9 Old 07-20-2004, 02:55 PM
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Okey dokey.



Keep us posted, and be sure and let us know how this works out for you.



Well, to be honest, I don't think any of these technologies will even materialize in my lifetime.
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#10 Old 07-20-2004, 02:56 PM
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I don't know how they actually plan to do it, but they are indeed trying. Since our "self" is actually just a collection of our memories in combination with our personality and IQ level, these aspects would have to replicated on a computer. Hardware can match the IQ level of a person, and the software would immitate the memories and personality, or something like that.



The problem is that all this "data" is not just floating in the brain, but embedded in the brain and body in ways that can't be replicated in a computer.
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#11 Old 07-20-2004, 03:08 PM
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The problem is that all this "data" is not just floating in the brain, but embedded in the brain and body in ways that can't be replicated in a computer.



well, you probably know me than me, but I read that scientists are already making interfaces between computer chips neurons. In the brain, data is stored as patterns of synapses. One day I am sure we will be able to look at the synaptic patterns and brain structures and from this get a complete picture of a person's memories, personality, and intelligence level. Maybe a brain scan of some sort, like MRI, can create a map of the brain, translate it into a listing of memories, personalities and intelligence abilities, and list this on a computer screen for scientists to read. This would be step one. The next step would be to then replicate these parameters on a computer using hardware and software as the raw materials. Still a long way to go though. But we already can look at certain aspects of the brain, like brain size, speed of nerve conduction, etc. to predict IQ.
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#12 Old 07-20-2004, 05:26 PM
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Hi Carlos.



Im Rebel Girl, and Im thinking that you and I are the only Transhumanists on these boards. I disagree with some of your ideas of transhumanism, but I understand where you are coming from.

I do not like the idea of GMO foods, Frankenfoods.

I only believe in cloning to some extent.

My idea of transhumanism is pushing humans to their full emotional, physical, and intellectual capabilities through technology. NO i dont mean make us all cyborgs and wowzers! a really lame example would be Dr. Osbourne from the first Spiderman, when he drinks the serum to make himself physically better. I know that we have not reached our limits as a race. We have definitly not reached our full intellectual capacity, that is for sure. There is less of a gap between the average human white male and a monkey than between <insert philosopher name here> and the average white male. Here is my idea. By infusing our logical human traits (common sense!), some of our non logical traits,(love?) some select "morals" (truth, justice, loyalty), and some select technological advances, we can create something that will go waaay beyond our ideas of the traditional man. (or woman, to be PC.) The unimportant details, ideas, "morals", and all the terrible human traits (war, hatred) will be left out and become less. Some transhumanists disagree with me, because without lies, deciet, cons, magick tricks, loyalty and honesty mean absolutly nothing. True in a way, but just by de-emphazing something doesnt mean that it is going to completly disappear. Most transhumanists dont like the idea of holding onto loyalty either. Loyalty and truth seem to go hand and hand to me., when you are loyal to someone, you are (generally) honest with them. ok so there is my grasp on transhumanism. now to the technology. i dont want to replace every human body part with a cable, a wire, muscles and limbs are far more agile, atleast at this point in time. I do not want to think that all humans would upload their minds on to super computers, but would rather just keep their extremly intelligent minds in their heads. And extending life, not letting it going on forever. But within the evolution, we have to be extremly careful not to let the technology run rampant and lose the select traits that makes us HUMAN. I also do not support eugenics in anyway. the only way i would support it, transhumanistic or not, would be to remove the genes from the gene pool that creates racists, homophobes, and other such genes. no i dont mean kill off all the people genocide style, i mean remove the gene before the human is born or even concieved, before the mother and father are even concieved.. and The Singularity idea you project. I disagree. Since Humans are the only ones able to create the singularity, we are the singularity, and so we can concieve the resulting product. You just have to push your mind out.

i put "morals" in quotes because not everyone see these ideas as morals.

for those of you that dont want to read that, im sorry. i believe the transhumanistic evolution will happen within my life time, so i have to say, i love you all, and let the meek inherit what is left of the earth, im taking to the stars.



oh and Carlos. Welcome to VB.
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#13 Old 07-20-2004, 06:11 PM
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Hi Carlos. I just like to meet someone first before I get into the thinking stuff with them. You post came way out of left field so I was a little suspicious.



Carry on.
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#14 Old 07-20-2004, 06:32 PM
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Hi Carlos.



Im Rebel Girl, and Im thinking that you and I are the only Transhumanists on these boards.



Yes, transhumanists come in a great diversity with varying ideas. But, I personally don't speak of changing all of humanity, just myself and those that want to come for the ride with me. In other words, I don't wish to force Transhumanism on anyone. Personally, I want to become a complete cyborg, kind of like "data" from star trek where i can replace any body part i want to, or easily upgrade my brain by placing in a more powerful processor. Others will differ and choose to remain "natural."



Since humans are all different and have different desires, I try to stay away from the "I want to save humanity" idealism and rather substitute that for "I want to just save myself and those that think like me as well and choose to follow my path." that way, there is no coersion. Think of the Iraqi war, Iraqi's didn't want the war and were happy with their government, but Americans decided to force their values on them by invading their nation. I am not like that, I don't wish to force my ideals onto any person or any nation, just on myself and those that follow my ways. I hope this clarification removes the concern out of people that there will be some "facist" transhumanist government or what have you.



regards,



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#15 Old 07-20-2004, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MsRuthieB View Post

Hi Carlos. I just like to meet someone first before I get into the thinking stuff with them. You post came way out of left field so I was a little suspicious.



Carry on.



lol. Yup, that's me all right: cut right through all the small talk and go straight to the point. I kind of am a radical pragmatist, kind of annoys some people, but what can I do. . .
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#16 Old 07-20-2004, 06:52 PM
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I'm all for self-improvement, as long as no one (animals included) has to suffer for it. That said, Microsoft doesn't work on most computers and is subject to horrendous security issues and viruses... so I don't see being too terribly comfortable with built-in or built-on enhancements. I'll be curious to see where the field leads, but the jury's out for me.
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#17 Old 07-20-2004, 10:15 PM
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My idea of transhumanism is pushing humans to their full emotional, physical, and intellectual capabilities through technology.



I'm at the other end of the spectrum from this I guess. I believe that we already have the potential inside us. I think computers and technology will only serve to limit our potential.
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#18 Old 07-20-2004, 10:34 PM
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stereotypical answer to this: then why havent we as a race even reached our full brain capacity? why are we still only functioning at 40%??





yeah.
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#19 Old 07-20-2004, 10:41 PM
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Well, hrm. A large part of my skepticism regarding transhumanism is that frequently appears to be based on science fiction and a theory of mind that died 20 years ago. The entire notion of consicouness being stored, downloaded and transfer relies on an old "brain as computer" metaphor that is not only dead, but it is starting smell a bit ripe. "Brain as brain" seems to be the more accurate description with consciousness being embedded, embodied and situated (and I know Sevenseas goes nuts when I propose this, but...) increasingly the assumption of an independent "me" has started to fall apart as cybernetics (the theory, not the practice) and social cognition comes front and center.



Primarily, (and I can say this as a biologist) I find the notion of engineering better life to be a pretty tall order. Biochemestry is the science of how to manage energy and mass in regards to the constraints imposed by basic physics. Evolution is a hot-house of iterative development with harsher testing and constraints, and less lattitude for error than anything engineers deal with today. I'm skeptical that creating systems more optimized than living systems is feasible.
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#20 Old 07-20-2004, 10:42 PM
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stereotypical answer to this: then why havent we as a race even reached our full brain capacity? why are we still only functioning at 40%??





yeah.



Because the 40% figure is largely a myth?
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#21 Old 07-20-2004, 10:45 PM
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Well, hrm. A large part of my skepticism regarding transhumanism is that frequently appears to be based on science fiction and a theory of mind that died 20 years ago. The entire notion of consicouness being stored, downloaded and transfer relies on an old "brain as computer" metaphor that is not only dead, but it is starting smell a bit ripe.



i dont believe in this .
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#22 Old 07-20-2004, 11:12 PM
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i dont believe in this .



You don't belive in the brain as computer metaphor, or that it has largely been rejected?
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#23 Old 07-21-2004, 03:02 AM
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Carlos (or others who might know about this),



what is your conception of the ethical system underlying the so-called Friendly AI, or your conception of what that ethical system should (in broad outline) be? Sometimes it (according to very vague interpretations, though) seems like the Friendly AI would be some sort of a utilitarian (although the ethical problems associated with utilitarianism wouldn't probably be very relevant in that scenario, because fundamental interests of sentient beings wouldn't be traded away, since the benefits of sacrificing those interests could be gained by other means). In other words, when transhumanists are designing the outline of a Friendly AI, what are the basic ethical principles on which the further self-development of the AI is based on?



ETA: And something which may have been missing from Carlos's comments is the notion that in addition to being just a means of humans voluntarily developing themselves, transhumanist projects (at least the Friendly AI) are, according to some, a necessary, crucial and urgent matter in that transhumanists are trying to ensure that no one with malicious intent will get his/her hands on advanced technology. As far as I know, the idea is to have an ethical (as defined by those who are designing it) super-human intelligence in control before an unethical one.

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#24 Old 07-21-2004, 03:25 AM
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stereotypical answer to this: then why havent we as a race even reached our full brain capacity? why are we still only functioning at 40%??



Not stereotypical, but a good question actually. I'll try to explain as best as I can, but it's a tough topic to really talk about in 1 post. You think science can fix the problems with the human mind and body, I think the problem is we rely on science too much. I don't doubt that technology can do everything described here, except the whole uploading of the mind part. Dont believe that's possible, but who knows... The problem I see is that we don't even know a fraction of the knowledge that is out there, and we haven't even begun to discover what our minds are able to do. All over the world there are constantly things happening that science has no explaination for. People doing amazing things that are "impossible". The reason we haven't reached our full capacity is because of ignorance and indifference. Ignorance: the failure of most to realize that our minds are capable of so much more. Things like religion I feel are one of the biggest reasons for this. Indifference: most people just don't give a damn and only care about things like money.



Well, I guess what it comes down to is: I think we need to explore and try to learn everything we possibly can about our minds & bodies and the connection between them before we go tampering with them. Just my opinion and I hope I made some sense, but it's hard to desribe my whole belief system in a small amount of space
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#25 Old 07-21-2004, 03:28 AM
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transhumanists are trying to ensure that no one with malicious intent will get his/her hands on advanced technology.



I doubt that is possible. The people with the most advanced technology is probably our government. Do you think they'd only use it for good purposes? I guess I don't as much faith in the gov't as some lol.
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#26 Old 07-21-2004, 04:00 AM
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Well, I guess what it comes down to is: I think we need to explore and try to learn everything we possibly can about our minds & bodies and the connection between them before we go tampering with them.



I think the idea of many transhumanists is that if a super-human intelligence has a basic set of human-designed principles, we don't have to have complete knowledge about everything - the AI will in any case make better judgments about mind, body, transfer, probabilities, etc., than we can ever imagine.



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I doubt that is possible. The people with the most advanced technology is probably our government. Do you think they'd only use it for good purposes? I guess I don't as much faith in the gov't as some lol.



Transhumanists might argue that due to the nature of things like nano-technology, what the government can do is not the biggest problem, since such technologies can be available to almost anyone.

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#27 Old 07-21-2004, 08:51 AM
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I guess I see a big problem with transhumanism and ethics is two fold. First, it seems to be more based on science fiction rather than science. For example, the science fiction of nanotechnology relies on some naive assumptions about its feasibility. Some forms of nanotechnology will work, but there is too much hyperbole about things like grey goo which ignore the fact that any nano-machine must face some very real, very fundamental constraints on what can be done on that scale. There is no free ride with nanotechnology that will enable us to have Star Trek-style replicators any time soon.



The second, is the grand conceit shared by many technologists (and myself being just as much a victim to a fad as everyone else) that technology cuts through the BS of society and politics to improve human existence. BDever's comment that the technology to make these advances possible might be controled by groups that do not have a benevolent interest is an important one. Transhumanism in that way is a lot like communism:



Step 1: Increasing disparities in wealth leading to intolerable conditions.

Step 2: Revolution of the proletariat.

Step 3: ????

Step 4: Anarcho-communist utopia.



In the case of transhumanism, the missing step is how these technology are going to behave in a way that is fundamentally different from every other new development going back to the neolithic. The science fiction authors who propose that transhumanism will be more of the same, are probably more realistic in their expectations than the utopians.
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#28 Old 07-21-2004, 09:06 AM
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BDever's comment that the technology to make these advances possible might be controled by groups that do not have a benevolent interest is an important one.



But given the risk of powers with malicious intent getting control of the technology (and maybe the ability to prevent others from controlling such a technology) and the possible grave consequences of that, what other relevant alternatives are there than trying to design the ethical guidelines of an AI and trying to get enough control of that AI (even if the probability of success isn't great)?

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#29 Old 07-21-2004, 09:21 AM
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But given the risk of powers with malicious intent getting control of the technology (and maybe the ability to prevent others from controlling such a technology) and the possible grave consequences of that, what other relevant alternatives are there than trying to design the ethical guidelines of an AI and trying to get enough control of that AI (even if the probability of success isn't great)?



There are a large number of assumptions here that I don't fully understand this question. Why would there be only one AI? We have hundreds now? I also think that there is a basic assumption that AI is necessarily human in how it approaches action. It is quite possible that ethics might be more an issue for the people implementing the AI.
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#30 Old 07-21-2004, 09:42 AM
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Why would there be only one AI? We have hundreds now?



You can replace "what other relevant alternatives are there than trying to design the ethical guidelines of an AI and trying to get enough control of that AI" with "what other relevant alternatives are there than trying to design ethical guidelines for super-human intelligences to follow, and trying, by using technology to create powerful super-human intelligences following the aforementioned guidelines, to ensure that no unfriendly and powerful super-human intelligences will ever exist".



Quote:
I also think that there is a basic assumption that AI is necessarily human in how it approaches action. It is quite possible that ethics might be more an issue for the people implementing the AI.



I'm not completely sure what you're getting at. After humans have designed basic ethical principles which the AI can't override, why would the AI function otherwise, or why would it matter what an AI without those principles would do?

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