RTD history

RTD history, 2002-2006






2000



Russian Transhumanist Movement (RTD) takes its rise from BESSMERTIE.RU website, created by Dmitri Ryazanov in 2000. It was first immortalist website for the whole Russian segment of internet.


 


 







2002



In 2002 next step to RTD creation became translation of WTA Transhumanism FAQ to Russian by Danila Medvedev and publishing FAQ in internet. Number of Russian websites published this translation. Among them were really.ru (virtual reality dedicated), popular technological news site cooler.ru and others. This put term “transhumanism” into use for modern Russian society. Prior to FAQ being published, popular Russian search engine Yandex.ru have had 3 transhumanism related links, after it was published number of such links increased to 300, and currently there are more than 25 000 links (including social networks) and 1000 websites.







2003



Russian Transhumanism Movement (RTD) was created in the end of 2003 as an Internet community of few members.







2004



Nest step of further RTD development was meeting of Russian Transhumanists (V.Kosarev, I.Artyuhov, I.Sudak, D.Medvedev, I.Kirilluk) in the end of 2004 at 7th International philosophical-culturological Congress in St.Petersburg. Promotion strategy was developed as well as strategy of transhumanism ideas spread in Russia.


 







2005



In Jan 2005 first transhumanism and immortalism multidisciplinary seminar was held by RTD. Since then, seminar was held regularly once a month and transhumanists, immortalists, scientists and philosophers are able to communicate and discuss transhumanistm topics there. First seminars was held with cooperation of Fedorov movement (movement dedicated to Russian philosopher N.F. Fedorov). 16 June 2005 seminar acquired accreditation as primary unit of Russian Philosophical Society of Russian Academy of Sciences. So, our seminar became first transhumanist organization in Russian which acquired official status at Russian Academy of Sciences (and possibly first in the world having this kind of status).







2006



Work on number of projects had started. Among them – support and development of Russian cryonic company “KrioRus” (first cryonists meeting was held), creation of anti-aging center, unifying efforts of Russian gerontologists, gathering and systematization of human aging information, development of number of educational and informational websites – “Eternal mind”, starenie.ru. Local RTD meeting had started to be held, discussing transhumanism topics and planning further actions. RTD members had started to regularly participate in international scientific conferences – e.g. TransVision, also gerontology and philosophy related and others.


 



RTD HISTORY 2007



Great number of seminars, lections and meetings was held. Among them S.Fedorov lections in Bryansk on Supertechnologies (at regional government level). Also summer lections in youth hostel were held.







































































Location where event took place

Event description

Bryansk

S.Fedorov lections in Bryansk on Supertechnologies (at regional government level)

Summer youth hostel

Lections on Supertechnologies

Omsk

First local transhumanism seminar (Roman Zhitelew and others)

RGGU (Mosco)

Lection of Grigoriy Samorodov on transhumanism

Vladivostok

Seminar

Yaroslavl

Three one-day seminars on immortalism for different auditoriums (fascinating lections by philosopher S. Roganov, gerontologist A. Deev and by futurologists and RTD board member D. Medvedev)

Vladivostok

Transhumanism event at large club

St. Petersurg

2nd St. Petersburg seminar on transhumanism. Contributors – Danila (on technologies) and Valeriya (on future of sex)

ComCon 2007

Five RTD members made 3 speeches at roleplaying convent.

Russian State Duma

Speech of RTD board members at Russian State Duma round-table discussion of future, organized by one of the Duma’s fractions

St. Petersburg

Non-public screening of transhumanism film “TechoCalyps”

Tsiolkovsky Readings

3 speeches on continuity of transhumanism and cosmism ideas

Fedorov readings

We lead separate section there

Cheboksary

Danila Medvedev participated at forum on technologies

Edel Star company

Speech on transhumanism at V. Dovgan’s company “Edel Star”

System analyses institute

Valerie’s talk at philosophical coterie (base lection on H+)


In Feb 2007 RFS president, science director of IF RAN, V. S. Stepin agreed to support our proposal on holding transhumanist and immortalist symposium within the frame of International Philosophical Congress. We are seeking support among international philosophical community. Unfortunately, we were not able to form separate section, round-table discussion was held instead.


M.V. Batin announced creation of non-governmental organization "For lifespan increase" and began promoting immortalist ideas (meetings, workshops, newspapers, magazines, etc.) RTD supported this project. Batin released remarkable book "Anti-aging medicines" containing full of detail argumentation for the scientific immortalism. Issue of Facecontrole.ru magazine was released with immortalism as main theme and number of RTD members contributed to it.


Development of RTD commercial projects was continued: opening of "KrioRus" branches, "Active longevity" club, holding GTD and mental improvement trainings. First RTD training on mindmapping, mental improvement and personal performance improvement was held.


On 1st of March protest action "Nark it, Fountain!" was held against death-favoring film "The Fountain". This action gained lots of media coverage. www.zatkni-fontan.ru is website of this action. RTD members took part in cinemas picketing in towns of their living.


Academic council of Africa Institute approved our book "New technologies and continuation of human evolution. Transhuman project of the future". Book was published by "URSS" in 3000 copies. First pilot issue of the first Russian transhumanist magazine "The day after tomorrow" was released. "City club" published 5 our articles on future. Two lection courses (on supertechnologies and on human modification) were released on "SGU TV" television channel. Omsk local H+ group has been organized. Its members publish "Our future" magazine and are interested in possibility of cryonics promotion in their region.


Significant number of TV shootings (and also magazine articles) on cryonics, immortality, life extension and transhumanism were made. On June 29 "Vremechko" TV show on "TV center" channel was recorded covering all main aspects of immortality. Documentary "Mere immortals" was released covering cryonics, transhumanism, digital immortality.


Lifeboat.com website was translated into Russian. At 24th seminar dedicated to existential risks Philippe van Nedervelde from Lifeboat Foundation delivered his speech via Skype. Also Mike Perry, famous immortalist from Alcor, gave speech at seminar.


In Aug 2007 there was meeting of cryonics proponents in Alabushevo. 6th cryonization was made (whole body). Cryo storage building renovation was started. Two cryonics proponents were found in Voronezh. In 2007 Y. Pichugin from Cryonics Institute visited Moscow. In 2008 another famous cryonist Mike Darwin visited us for giving consultancy.


RTD strategy session was held as well as number of work and activists meetings on following topics: registration of RTD as multiregional nonprofit non-governmental organization and project of world transhumanism activation called "GAFAFAT". Decision for RTD registration was made and later all required documents were submitted to registrator.



RTD HISTORY, 2008



Similar to previous years, number of various kinds of events were held with RTD members contributing.



































Location where event took place

Event description

St. Petersburg

AI and nano related seminar at Scientist House

ComCon

I. Kirillyuk talk

Biblio Globus

H+ round-table discussion

IFRAN

Valeria’s H+ talk at philosophical seminar

Korolev

I. Kirillyuk’s lection on H+ and paradise engineering

Forum “Future Russian house”

RTD futurologists participation

 “Knowledge” society

Lections on nanotechnologies


In the beginning of 2008 first Russian dog cryonization was held (at high organizational level). First stage of "KrioRus" building renewal was finished (siding was used). Main sponsors were V. Grebenschikov, owner of "Live with a smile" medical center and one of our cryo client. In June American cryonist visited us which gave significant impulse to "KrioRus" further development and we await for great changes to come. TV show on cryonics was shot for "TVC" with M.Batin and seven other immortalists.


Periodical organizational meetings on RTD, Kriorus and GAFAFAT development have started to take place. In Febuarary RTD board members visited Philip van Nedervalde, famous transhumanist. RTD projects organizational level was increased and we have started to delegate projects to our activists. Council of activists was formed. RTD reorganization is taking place, we develop RTD membership scheme (including regular membership fee), organizational structure improves, and also so do planning and reporting. RTD office was opened within frame of "Science against aging" project, where some RTD members have started their regular work.


In February TV lection course "Supertechnologies and society in the XXI century" were shown on "SGU TV" and in April - "Human modification in the XXI century" lection course. Later all these lections were uploaded to Google Video. Lections on nanotechnologies for Moscow students have started, and transhumanism lections in Korolev were continued. RTD authors’ cooperation with "SYNC" magazine on future topics have started. "FutureVector" - new technology news maillist was created. RTD centralized media collection storage was organized.


Actions on number of H+ projects were made. M.Batin has started project on development of science project on ending aging, having its goal to receive large amount of governmental funding. We will help him to achieve this. Business plan draft for "Activity Longevity" project was made. "VOICE" project has started. We plan to recover I.V. Vishev's (famous immortalist philosopher), vision. Website redesign is going on. Plan of its new structure is ready. We decided to create new section of website dedicated to Digital Immortality and Sensory Outfit. Preliminary name of this section is "Total recall". One of project coordinators is A. Potapov. TV shoots on digital immortality and sensory outfit were made. Development of Immortality Achievement Roadmap has started. Singularity achievement organizational strategy is under development.


 


Link
Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2009/03/12 • (0) Comments

Candidates for the Humanity+ Board of Directors Election

Candidates for the 2009 Humanity+ Board election:

Sonia Arrison
George Dvorsky
Patri Friedman
Ben Goertzel
Stéphane G
Todd Huffman
Jonas Lamis
Mike LaTorra
Sungjoo Ogino
Stefan Pernar
Mike Treder
Arsen Zahray


Sonia Arrison

Science is advancing exponentially and there are many exciting developments on the horizon that will transform not only individuals, but also society.  This makes Humanity+ (formerly WTA) an important organization in helping to guide a discussion about the future.

I have been writing about technology and society for over a decade, so I’m well positioned to help Humanity+ navigate the scientific and the social issues that we will face in the coming years.  My hope is that by joining the Humanity+ board, I can help the organization to engage the public and media in a constructive dialog about how to manage the issues that new technologies will create in our world.

Many people know me as a regular columnist for TechNewsWorld and as a Senior Analyst at the Pacific Research Institute.  What they may not know is that for over twenty years I have been involved with various non-profits, particularly those that help students get more involved in the issues of the day.  This background should help Humanity+ reach out to one of its key segments - the younger generation that is looking for a way to direct its passion in productive ways.

Currently, I am working on a book project investigating the politics of radical longevity.  This subject matter directly complements the focus of Humanity+ on promoting understanding, interest and participation in fields of emerging innovation that can radically benefit the human condition.  You can learn more about me at my website: www.soniaarrison.com.

George Dvorsky

I’m 38 years old and a single-dad to two boys. My personality is very cut-to-the-chase and pragmatic; I have a talent for rational and conciliatory discourse, along with a keen ability to keep everyone focused on the bigger picture. I’m able to get things done because I’m focused, I work hard and I know how to organize myself.

After meticulously studying the past to earn a degree in history, I turned my attention to science, technology and the future. I’m now one of Canada’s leading futurists and a specialist in assessing the impacts of technology on human performance.

To this end I have compiled an extensive portfolio of writing and speaking on these themes. You may have seen or heard me passionately prognosticating about science and technology on CBC’s The Hour, the BBC, Radio Free Europe, in the pages of The Guardian, or on public transit. It’s also likely that you’ve come across my work through my popular and award winning blog, Sentient Developments.

I am certainly no stranger to the transhumanist and futurist communities. Back in 2002 I helped launch Betterhumans, the first explicitly pro human enhancement ezine on the web. It was during this same year that I co-founded the Toronto Transhumanist Association, an active organization that I preside over to this very day.

In addition, I served on the WTA Board of Directors from 2004-06 and chaired the TransVision ‘04 conference in Toronto. I currently serve on the Board for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and I am the Director of Operations for Commune Media Inc., a marketing and communications company that specializes in optimizing web content. Along these lines, I have more than 10 years’ experience in media, arts and communications.

Now is a very exciting time for Humanity+ as it works to redefine itself and take organizational futurism to the next level. As a member of the Humanity+ Board I will leverage my work ethic, skills and experience to help make Humanity+ the premier futurist group in the world.

Patri Friedman

We live in interesting times - facing an upcoming century of radical uncertainty, where any number of new technologies may dramatically alter the world.  Probably for the better, but possibly for the worst.

It will be exciting time for humanity, and one in which we will see transhumanism make the same transition as personal computers and networks have in the past few decades.  Transhumanism will go from a fringe area appealing to a small group of open-minded geeks to an integral part of our society, discussed daily in newspapers and television.  (For as long as we still have newspapers, and television, that is!)

This gives those of us who have been thinking about these topics for a long time an incredible opportunity to set the tone of the building conversation.  I am interested in joining the Humanity+ board to help take advantage of this opportunity to move the organization into the mainstream and grow its membership, publicity, and influence as part of the global trend towards technology being at the center of human life.

Background: I have degrees in Math, CS, and business.  I worked at Google for 3.5 years as a software engineer, and left to become the founder and Executive Director of The Seasteading Institute (seasteading.org), a futurist nonprofit dedicated to building autonomous ocean cities to experiment with new political systems. Our goal is to bring about Politics 2.0 - a world where small groups can experiment with social systems and everyone can see what works and what doesn’t, and then modify and remix for the next attempt.  Among other things, this will ensure that there are places in the world where people can develop new technologies for human health and happiness, even if they threaten existing powers such as governments.

I have only recently become active in the futurist and transhumanist community, but have been interested in these topics since childhood.  I live in Mountain View, CA with my wife and 3-year old son, in a small intentional community called Tortuga.  You can learn more about me at my ancient homepage, patrifriedman.com, or my blog, patrissimo.livejournal.com.

Ben Goertzel

I’ve been on the WTA board for part of 2008, and it’s been a fascinating experience, yet I found that during this period I wasn’t really able to do most of the things I had wanted to do when I joined the board, because the rebranding effort (rebranding WTA as H+, making the new website, launching the H+ magazine, and so forth) wound up taking most of the year.  Most of the initiatives I wanted to undertake as a board member wouldn’t have made sense to undertake in the midst of a rebranding effort.

So, I am very much looking forward to the possibility of continuing on the board in 2009, and finally getting to do the stuff I had hoped to do in 2008!

Should I be re-elected to the board, I anticipate focusing on three areas:

1) Helping with the H+ magazine.  Specifically, I would like to do the following:

A) explore potential partnerships with publishers who may be interested in releasing a paper version of the magazine

B) expand the roster of contributing authors to the magazine by reaching out to the science and engineering communities for new contributors who are working on H+ related technologies but haven’t necessarily thought of themselves as transhumanists, and convincing them to write articles for H+

C) play a role in designing an online, Web 2.0 ish companion to the PDF/print magazine

D) help innovate regarding potential business models for an online and online/print magazine

2) Helping to recruit H+ membership among the scientific and engineering community (with a focus on academia, but also industry).

I note that, a little further in the future, I would like to help H+ launch some sort of social network site aimed at bringing together H+ oriented scientists and engineers.  This could wind up being an outgrowth of the AGI-network site, aimed at AI researchers, which I’m trying to launch this year.  However, I think that trying to build a network like this in 2009 would be a mistake for H+, because the magazine is in itself a big project that needs to be gotten off the ground, and there’s a danger in dispersing energy across too many different areas.

3) Assisting with general fundraising for H+, as much as is possible.  My focus here will be on fundraising targeted toward the H+ mag, as that is something I think I can speak to eloquently and sell effectively.

OK, enough of specific plans.

Now, a general philosophical/strategic statement: although I was in favor of the rebranding of WTA as H+, I did not and do not view it as a dilution of WTA’s vision.  I strongly feel that H+ must remain a transhumanist organization, and continue to advocate active exploration of paths toward a positive transhuman future—where this is taken to include moderately-radical things like body modification and life extension and nutraceutical intelligence enhancement, but also more significantly radical things like cryonics, Singularity, cyborgs, uploading, and so forth.

Which of these aspects we highlight on the front page of our website is a subtle issue; but, those voting in this election should have no doubt that if re-elected to the board I will be ardently advocating for H+ to explicitly include the more radical aspects of transhumanism within its umbrella.

I don’t think H+ should have a “credo” in the sense that there should be some list of ideas or technologies that all members need to embrace.  I think it’s fine if H+ defines itself as a “network of related ideas and visions”, of which some members may embrace some elements, and other members may embrace others.  But I think this network needs to be inclusive of both the more moderate and the more radical aspects of the transhumanist vision.

Finally, the rest of this statement gives some general information about me

First of all: I’ve been an avid transhumanist for as long as I can remember.

Most of my time recently has been spent actively trying to bring about transformative technologies.  Since 1997 I have been leading commercial software R&D projects in the area of Artificial General Intelligence, aimed at producing AI systems with general intelligence at the human level and ultimately beyond.  Since 2001 I have also been working, in parallel, on the application of AI technologies in bioinformatics, with a specific focus on using AI to accelerate the path to life extension.  If you’re interested in exploring my work in these areas, check out the websites of my companies Novamente LLC
(novamente.net) and Biomind LLC (biomind.com).

On the more academic side, I have carried out an active research career, resulting in the publication of nearly 80 papers and ten scientific books.  Before entering the software industry I served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

As well as carrying out future-focused science and technology development, however, I have also been actively involved in the futurist community, via doing writing and organizing aimed at helping us to collectively better understand our future and encourage it to unfold in a positive way.  I have authored two books focused on the future of technology and society: Creating Internet Intelligence (Plenum, 2001) and The Path to Posthumanity (Academica, 2006).  I also co-founded the non-profit AGIRI (Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute), which organized a very successful 2006 workshop in Bethesda; and am involved in organizing the follow-up AGI-08 conference (agi-08.org) conference which will be in Memphis in March 2008.

I am also the Director of Research of the Singularity Institute for AI, and in this role am working with my colleagues there to better understand how the human race may go about creating a positive future for humanity that also includes very advanced AI systems.

I am physically based in Washington DC, but I travel to San Francisco several times per year, so if elected I will have frequent options for F2F communications with any board members located there.

General information about my human life can be found at my website, goertzel.org

Stéphane G

Background: I am a twenty-five old man, living in France. Specialized in Risk Management (not only financial), I also studied political sciences (University Paris X) and law (University Toulouse 1).

I discovered Transhumanism almost three years ago and have been a member for the last two years. In October 2007, after a conference in Paris where I met other transhumanists, I co-founded the French chapter of the WTA. From then, we are growing; we made a blog, a forum, a mailing-list and a website, and have a good lot of motivated and skilled people. I co-lead (with the latter) those web-tools, supplying them with science and political news, update, and h+ events.

Me & Humanity+: Reader of the mailing list, I fed myself with the different argumentations and assisted to the debate and the evolutions of the ML.

I won’t surprise anyone if I say that Humanity+ also changed recently. Since the last board election, many projects have been launched and are in progress, we have many objectives. I want to participate, work and make us succeed, especially for the fund-raising and the spread of Transhumanist ideas, aiming not only transhumanist members but also sympathizer like scientist, student or whatever they are.

But to achieve our goal, we need to obtain the acceptance of a large part of the population. Then we can’t stay in a position where we can’t convince people, where we fright a large part of them. Whatever our own personal objectives are, we have to change this.

To enable a wide acceptance for the ideas, research and technologies we support, I think we need to develop a perspective and an argumentation that are trustworthy, reasonable and sufficiently attractive.

Thanks for your consideration.

Todd Huffman

In my early teens I became conscious of the limits of the human condition and became increasingly interested in how humans could grow past those boundaries.  One of the greatest joys I had was the discovery I wasn’t alone.  Others also saw a future where we would be able to transcend the limitations of our current state of violence, disease and hate through a thoughtful but ambitious application of human effort.  The WTA has been instrumental in providing a framework for making cognitive and moral decisions over the last decade of my life, and I’ve decided I’d like to carry the torch as a member of the WTA Board.

Over the last decade I’ve worked on a variety of projects to extend human capabilities, in both conventional science and in more forward leaning fields.  In the conventional sciences I’ve worked with a number of cutting edge laboratories at UCLA, ASU and Texas A&M with degrees in Neuroscience and Bioinformatics.  More related to the WTA I’m an active adviser to the Methuselah Foundation, worked with the cryonics organizations Alcor Life Extension Foundation and Suspended Animation, as well as a variety of other transhumanist projects.  I am currently commercially developing interfaces for mobile computing as part of my lifelong fascination with wearable computers.  I also spend considerable amounts of time cultivating memetic substrates, most notably with the BIL Conference (next occuring Feb 7-8, ‘09, www.BILconference.com) but in other less-anarchic technology conferences PodCampAz and GeekWeek.

Humanity needs a place where ideas of consequence can be subject to rational (and sometimes irrational) debate and dissemination.  As a board member for the WTA I’ll foster a haven for curious minds by supporting efforts to bring our message to university environments, a place where learned debate is flagging.  I also support efforts to maintain relevancy to the rest of humanity and improve accessibility by being mindful of language and brand identity.  I’ll help evolve the WTA structure to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

Jonas Lamis

The WTA faces an amazing opportunity in the decade ahead: The ability to be the leading voice and community focused on the application of accelerating technologies to better the human condition.  While the WTA has admirably embraced this mission, it is now time to accelerate our focus and reinvigorate our membership.

The work done to re-brand our organization as Humanity + is the first step in creating a current and relevant presence for our organization.  Our next steps must include positive outreach, community building, political awareness, youth influencing and even industry partnering.  As an entrepreneur, analyst, and futurist, I am looking forward to helping build a powerful presence for our organization. 

My work as founder and Executive Director of SciVestor, and Director of Partnerships for the Singularity Institute have prepared me to take an active role as a member of the WTA board.  I look forward to serving the membership and and bringing a focused approach to building credibility and success for our organization.  You can learn more about me at: http://lamisphere.com/

Mike LaTorra

Mike LaTorra writes and teaches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. He is author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao. He serves as Chairman of the Humanity+ Board of Directors, and director of the Membership Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and as President of the Daibutsuji Zen Temple in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Mike has served on the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association (now Humanity+) since 2002.

Sungjoo Ogino

My best greetings to all the Transhumanists over the world, from Japan where the morning Sun is rising earlier than in most other parts around our lovely planet… And my best wishes, too, for a happy and successful year 2009, in which we can surely advance together closer and closer toward a posthuman future.

I am not like most transhumanists who are specialized or honor-titled in science and technology. I majored in English literature and minored in Journalism with a BA at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. After then I studied pedagogy and anthropology at Tuebingen Universitaet in Germany. All of my studying had been, is and will be continuing for the pursuit of a better Humanity and now an even better the Humanity+ I share with you.

After marriage, I came to Japan where I have volunteered for more than 10 years as a coordinator of many international activities between the Japanese and people who come to Japan from other various countries, and I have also worked as a translator in plenty of events. I can speak Japanese, Korean, English and German. Now I’m learning Chinese and Spanish as well, hoping to talk with as many human beings as possible in their own languages.

Since I was introduced to transhumanism and became involved with the WTA in Japan, I have met many transhumanist friends. Each of them has some brilliant specialties in his/her own field and world. I think that they are maybe more eligible to run for the H+ Board than I am.

However, looking back over my career as a coordinator, I can notice that I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of capable and excellent friends and co-workers… With collaborating with them, I could bring most of my activities to the delightful success. Many people who know me well say that I am an efficient coordinator who makes the others do their best with my sincerity.

I understand that most transhumanists gifted with specially amazing talents are too busy devoting themselves to their own responsibilities. (Dear transhumanist friends, I am standing here instead of you and I will do my very best to share yours, too.)

I actually live in Chiba, the cyberspatial city, invented by William Gibson in his early novel “Neuromancer”. But I can mention that this side - not only here in Japan but also in Korea, China, and some other countries in Asia - of our planet is just dawning in the H+ point of view. This is one of the reasons I decided to run for the H+ Board this time.

The other day a H+ friend in Japan said to me: “You are doing a groundbreaking work in trying to connect Transhumanists in Japan!” Yes, I strongly want to contribute for it. And I have been making efforts to succeed.

I created a blog for Japanese Transhumanists with growing potential in Japan (http://starbt0726.hp.infoseek.co.jp/) and I am translating much about the WTA into Japanese there and introducing it to the Japanese society, too. Besides, I have also been coordinating some meetings in the real world and in cyberspace with many diverse H+ friends, not only in Japan but also from other countries. In addition, I hope to bring the TransVision2010/11 to Chiba, Japan, to deepen and widen the H+ notions to the Japanese and Asian audiences.

Chiba will open her doors for you all to continue through Japan to explore and discover H+ in Asia, as William Gibson did with “Neuromancer” in 1984.

Finally, I have also other reasons to want to be one of the H+ Board members. I believe there are already many Asian H+s who are doing personally their groundbreaking works in their own countries, as I am in Japan. I hope to gradually visit many other Asian countries in order to find them and to encourage a lot of current and potential H+ each country, too. I will, first of all, give them our regards and love at heart and then connect us to one another and to the H+ strongly.

My movement will go forward on from East to West first in Asia and eventually to the other Continents that are accelerating their H+’s development, like that of the Sun.

Will you be able to agree and sometimes accompany me?

Stefan Pernar

“This is no place to stop - half way between ape and angel” Benjamin Disraeli

The world of nanotechnology, transhumanism and artificial intelligence has fascinated me ever since I picked up Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near and read it cover to cover. In fact I was so inspired that I wrote a philosophical themed novel in which a transhuman artificial intelligence causes a hard take off singularity and in the ensuing chaos argues with the protagonist about matters of good and evil. After publishing Jame5 - a Tale of Good and Evil in late 2007 it received some encouraging praise by among others Dr. Stephen Omohundro - President of Self-Aware Systems and Advisor to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence as well as Miguel F. Aznar - Director of Education for the Foresight Nanotech Institute.

In the ensuing months I founded the Beijing Futurists Society in early 2008 and quit my job with a large multinational company where I was a director and regional IT auditor for the past 10 years to focus full time on my next book. My next book - which I hope to finish in 2009 - takes the basic premise I arrived at in Jame5 namely ‘That is good what increases fitness’ and expands it into a holistic rational philosophy of morality entwining evolutionary philosophy, rational choice theory and Kantian metaphysics. In doing so I hope to provide valuable guidance applicable today for self modifying transhumanists, AGI developers and non-transhumanists alike that will stand the test of time and ultimately lead to a positive transcension.

About Stefan Pernar: Stefan is a 33 year old German philosophical writer and entrepreneuer living in Singapore were he founded and runs the the Singapore Futurists Society and is organizing the Singapore Darwin Day 2009 among other activities. He spent 25 years working and living in Asia and held various director level positions over his decade long corporate career.

Mike Treder

I’ve been proud to serve on the WTA Board since its formation. I believe the intersection of emerging technologies and human interests will provide some of our greatest ethical challenges-and most exciting humanitarian opportunities-in the years to come. My aim is to support the World Transhumanist Association in taking on the tough questions, encouraging open debate, and standing up for the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities.

Background: After a 20-year career in media and communications, I co- founded the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology in 2002. CRN is a non-profit research and advocacy organization concerned with the major societal and environmental implications of advanced nanotechnology. We promote public awareness and education, and the development of effective recommendations to maximize benefits and reduce dangers.

In addition to my work with CRN, I am a consultant to the Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University, a Research Fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a consultant to the Future Technologies Advisory Group. I also serve on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, and I’m a member of the World Future Society.

I have published more than 40 articles and papers, and have been interviewed numerous times by the media. As a sought-after speaker on the societal implications of emerging technologies, I’ve been privileged to address conferences and groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Arsen Zahray

I’m 23 year old male from Lviv, Ukraine. I read a lot. My favorite authors include Jonathan Stroud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Peter Drucker, Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, Daniel & Bennett Goleman and others. 

We all know the story about the fox and the hedgehog. The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. The story tells, that it is better to be a hedgehog. I am a fox.  Most people study one big thing, and they know it perfectly. I have a lot of different interests, which automatically implies, that in every field I know, there will be people, who are smarter than I am. I believe that those are people, competing here with me for director board sits.

So, why might you like to have a fox on the board?

I am not the smartest person in the group, and I know it. Having a group, where everyone believes being smarter than everyone else sometimes makes it challenging to make right decisions. This problem is especially apparent in groups, where all the members are extremely smart. The group usually is more, than just the sum of capabilities of its members, and having a “fox” in the group sometimes makes a group act more like a team.

I’m a polymorph. If a team lacks something, I can choose to morph into it.

I have traveled a lot (Russia, Egypt, India, Nepal etc), and have lived in several countries (UK, Austria, Poland). This does not make me an expert on all of those countries, but, WTA still might benefit from this experience.

Posted by secretary on 2009/01/10 •

January 2009 Humanity+(WTA) Board Elections

Humanity+(WTA) Board members set policy goals and oversee their implementation, contributing with their experience and expertise to the WTA’s work. We’ve got a very full agenda for the coming year, setting up our new website, revising the Transhumanist Declaration, fundraising, building our network of chapters and student groups, and publishing our new H+ magazine. 

Please think about contribute your talents and energy for our projects. Five Humanity+(WTA) Board members’ terms expire in January and two others are leaving the Board to pursue exciting new projects. Running for a board post, as well as voting in the election, is open to all dues-paid ("supporting" or “sustaining") members of the association.

All voting members in good standing as of Saturday January 10th, 2009 are eligible to run in and vote in the Board election. Board members must be and remain voting members in good standing in order to run and serve.

The Board meets and votes virtually, so no travel is required, although Internet access is essential.

The term of service is two years, Jan 20, 2009 - Jan 20, 2011, for the five open positions, which will be filled by the five candidates with the most votes.

The two candidates with the next most votes will fill the two one year replacement positions (Jan 20, 2009 - Jan 20, 2010).

The period for self-nominations closes Saturday January 10th, 2009 at noon GST.

Candidate statements will be posted on January 11th, 2009.

Voting will be conducted Monday January 12th to Thursday January 15th, 2009.

Please send your candidate statements to H+ Secretary J. Hughes at secretary@transhumanism.org.

Previous examples of candidate statements are here:

http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/more/vote2006/

http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/more/vote2007/

http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/more/vote2008/

You can become a voting member here:

http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/joinnow/

------------------------
James Hughes Ph.D.
Secretary, Humanity+(WTA)
http://transhumanism.org
(office) 860-297-2376
secretary@transhumanism.org
director@ieet.org

Posted by secretary on 2008/12/10 • (0) Comments

WTA-Norway

Posted by mrinesi on 2008/11/06 • (0) Comments

Wartości transhumanistyczne

Autor tekstu: Nick Bostrom

Szwedzki filozof pracujący na Uniwersytecie Oksfordzkim, znany ze swojej pracy nad zasadą antropiczną. Posiada tytuł profesora na London School of Economics. W roku 1988 założył World Transhumanist Association. W roku 2005 został mu przyznany wydział Instytutu Rozwoju Ludzkości (Future of Humanity Institute) na Uniwersytecie Oksfordzkim.

Tłumaczenie: Sławomir Szostak

1. Czym jest transhumanizm?

Transhumanizm jest luźno zdefiniowanym ruchem, który rozwijał się stopniowo poprzez ostatnie dwie dekady. Promuje on interdyscyplinarne podejście do zrozumienia i ewaluacji możliwości usprawnienia ludzkiej kondycji i organizmu otwierającej się przed człowiekiem dzięki postępowi technologicznemu. Bacznie zważa się na obecne technologie jak inżynieria genetyczna i technologie informatyczne jak i na oczekiwane przyszłe technologie, takie jak nanotechnologia molekularna i sztuczna inteligencja.

Opcje usprawnień, o których się dyskutuje, zawierają radykalne przedłużenie trwałości zdrowia, wytrzebienie chorób, eliminację niepotrzebnego cierpienia i wzrost ludzkiej wydajności intelektualnej, fizycznej oraz emocjonalnej. Inne tematy związane z transhumanizmem to kolonizacja przestrzeni kosmicznej i perspektywa stworzenia super inteligentnych maszyn razem z innymi potencjalnymi możliwościami rozwoju, które mogłyby znacząco zmienić ludzką kondycję. Zasięg nie ogranicza się do gadżetów i medycyny, lecz obejmuje także modele ekonomiczne, społeczne i instytucjonalne, rozwój kultury, sztuki i technik psychologicznych.

Lidia Beata BarejTranshumaniści rozpatrują ludzką naturę jako „pracę w toku”, otwarty proces, niedopracowany początek, który możemy nauczyć się modyfikować w pożądany sposób. Człowiek na dzień dzisiejszy nie musi być zwieńczeniem ewolucji. Transhumaniści mają nadzieję, że poprzez odpowiedzialne użycie nauki, technologii i innych racjonalnych środków zostaniemy w końcu postludźmi (posthuman), istotami z wybitnie większymi możliwościami niż ludzie, jakimi jesteśmy obecnie.

Niektórzy transhumaniści podejmują aktywne kroki w celu zwiększenia prawdopodobieństwa własnego indywidualnego przetrwania na tyle długo, by osiągnąć stan postludzki, dla przykładu poprzez wybieranie zdrowego trybu życia lub poprzez zabezpieczenie środków na poddanie się zamrożeniu kriogenicznemu w przypadku de-animacji. W przeciwieństwie do wielu poglądów etycznych, które w praktyce odzwierciedlają reakcyjne postawy w stosunku do nowych technologii, ruchem transhumanistycznym kieruje ewoluująca wizja bardziej proaktywnej postawy w stosunku do polityki technologicznej. Ogólnie rzecz biorąc, wizja ta mówi o wykreowaniu możliwości życia dłuższego i zdrowszego, o usprawnieniu naszej pamięci oraz innych zdolności umysłowych, o uszlachetnieniu doświadczeń emocjonalnych i zwiększeniu naszego subiektywnego samopoczucia, oraz generalnie o osiągnięciu większej dozy kontroli nad własnym życiem. Ta afirmacja ludzkiego potencjału roztacza się przed nami jako alternatywa do zwyczajowo przyjętego zakazu „bawienia się w Boga”, „grzebania się w naturze”, „majstrowania w ludzkim jestestwie” czy „okazywania karalnej wyniosłości”.

Transhumanizm nie jest równoznaczny z technologicznym hurraoptymizmem. Podczas gdy przyszłe technologiczne możliwości niosą za sobą ogromny potencjał dla dobroczynnego postępu, mogą one także być użyte do czynienia wielkiego zła aż po — rozpatrując ekstremalnie — doprowadzenie do wyginięcia inteligentnego życia. Inne potencjalnie negatywne skutki to niebezpieczeństwo pogłębiania społecznych nierówności lub stopniowa erozja trudnych do zmierzenia wartości, o które niby się troszczymy, lecz często zaniedbujemy je w naszej codziennej walce o korzyści materialne, takie jak udane ludzkie związki czy ekologicznie istotna różnorodność. Zagrożenia te należy traktować bardzo poważnie, na co zwracają uwagę rozważni transhumaniści.

Transhumanizm posiada korzenie w świeckim myśleniu humanistycznym, jednakże jest bardziej radykalny promując nie tylko tradycyjne środki ulepszające kondycję ludzką takie jak edukacja i kulturowe doskonalenie się, lecz także bezpośrednie zastosowanie medycyny i technologii w celu przezwyciężenia niektórych z naszych biologicznych ograniczeń.
2. Ograniczenia ludzkie

Rozpiętość myśli, uczuć, doświadczeń i pole działalności dostępne ludzkim organizmom stanowi przypuszczalnie tylko malutką część tego, co jest możliwe. Nie ma powodu, by myśleć, iż ludzka forma istnienia jest w jakikolwiek sposób bardziej wolna od ograniczeń narzuconych przez biologiczną naturę niż ma to miejsce w świecie zwierząt. W podobny sposób, w jaki szympansom brakuje kognitywnych środków, by zrozumieć jak to jest być człowiekiem – do zrozumienia ludzkich ambicji, naszej filozofii, zawiłości ludzkiej społeczności, lub subtelności wzajemnych międzyludzkich związków, tak i ludziom być może brakuje zdolności by sformułować realistyczne i intuicyjne pojęcie tego, jak to byłoby być radykalnie ulepszonym człowiekiem (postczłowiekiem), jakie miałby on posiadać myśli, troski, aspiracje i relacje społeczne.

Dlatego też nasz obecny tryb istnienia rozciąga się na nieznacznej podprzestrzeni tego co tak naprawdę jest możliwe lub dopuszczalne w granicach fizycznych restrykcji naszego (wszech)świata. Nie będzie to przesadnym wnioskiem, jeśli przyjmę, że istnieją części tej większej przestrzeni, które reprezentują ekstremalnie wartościowe sposoby życia, relacji, odczuwania i myślenia.

Image

Limity ludzkiej formy istnienia są tak wszechobecne i znajome, że często nie postrzegamy ich, a kwestionowanie ich wymaga manifestacji prawie że dziecinnej naiwności. Rozważmy te bardziej fundamentalne ograniczenia.

Długość życia. Z powodu niepewnych warunków, w jakich żyli nasi plejstoceńscy przodkowie, długość ludzkiego życia wyewoluowała jako godne pożałowania siedem bądź osiem dekad. Jest to z wielu perspektyw raczej krótki okres czasu. Nawet żółwie prześcigają nas pod tym względem.

Nie musimy używać geologicznych bądź kosmologicznych porównań, by podkreślić szczupłość przydzielonego nam budżetu czasu. By uzmysłowić sobie na co nie możemy załapać się z przyczyn naszej tendencji do wczesnego umierania, musimy zdać sobie sprawę z tego, jakich wartościowych rzeczy moglibyśmy dokonać lub spróbować dokonać, gdybyśmy tylko mieli więcej czasu. Dla ogrodników, wychowawców, uczonych, artystów, projektantów miast i tych, którzy po prostu rozkoszują się obserwowaniem i partycypowaniem w kulturowej i politycznej rozmaitości spektaklów życia, trzy rezultaty czy choćby dziesięć to zwykle niewystarczająco, by ujrzeć choć jeden wielki projekt skompletowany, a co dopiero porwanie się na kilka takich projektów po kolei.

Rozwój ludzkiego charakteru jest także skracany przez starzenie się, proces umierania, śmierć. Wyobraź sobie, jak rozwinęliby się Beethoven lub Goethe, gdyby wciąż z nami byli do dziś. Być może przekształciliby się w skostniałych, starych pierników zainteresowanych wyłącznie konwersacją o osiągnięciach ich młodości. Lecz być może, jeśli nadal cieszyliby się zdrową i młodzieńczą witalnością, wzrastaliby jako ludzie i artyści, by osiągać poziomy dojrzałości, które ledwie możemy sobie wyobrazić. Z pewnością nie możemy wykluczyć tego bazując na naszej obecnej wiedzy. Dlatego też możemy przypuszczać, że istnieje poważna możliwość, iż poza obecną ludzką sferą bytu znajduje się coś bardzo wartościowego. Sankcjonuje to próby dążenia do wypracowania środków, które pozwolą nam dotrzeć tam i odkryć to coś.

Wydajność intelektualna. Wszyscy mieliśmy takie momenty, kiedy życzyliśmy sobie być odrobinę mądrzejsi. Ważąca trzy funty, przypominająca ser maszyna myśląca, którą taszczymy w naszych czaszkach potrafi wykonać parę zgrabnych trików, ale ma także znaczące mankamenty. Niektóre z nich – od zapominania kupienia mleka po porażkę w osiąganiu płynności równej native-speakers w posługiwaniu się językiem, którego uczymy się jako dorośli – są oczywiste i nie wymagają dalszego rozwinięcia. Mankamenty te są niedogodnościami, lecz nie jakimiś fundamentalnymi barierami dla ludzkiego rozwoju.

Na dzień dzisiejszy mamy głębokie poczucie limitów naszego umysłowego przyrządu ograniczającego tryb naszego myślenia. Wspominałem wcześniej analogię do szympansa: tak samo jak w wypadku małp naczelnych, nasza struktura kognitywna może nie dopuszczać całej warstwy zrozumienia i aktywności intelektualnej. Nie chodzi tutaj o żadną logiczną czy metafizyczną niemożliwość: nie będziemy się zapuszczać w rozważania typu, że postludzie nie będą obliczalni według testu Turinga bądź, że będą posiadali koncepty, które nie będą mogły być wyrażone przez żadne skończone zdanie w naszym języku, lub coś w tym rodzaju. Niemożliwość, do której się odnoszę, jest bardziej podobna do niemożności obecnych ludzi do wyobrażenia sobie 200-wymiarowej hiperprzestrzeni lub przeczytania z perfekcyjnym zapamiętaniem i zrozumieniem każdej książki w bibliotece Kongresu (The Library of Congress). Te rzeczy są dla nas niemożliwe z prostego powodu nieposiadania wystarczającej mocy mózgowej. W podobny sposób może nas ograniczać niemożliwość intuicyjnego zrozumienia, jak to jest być postczłowiekiem, lub dogłębnego zrozumienia trosk postludzi.

W dodatku nasze ludzkie mózgi mogą nakładać ograniczenia na nasze zdolności odkrywania filozoficznych i naukowych prawd. Jest wysoce prawdopodobne, iż porażka badań filozoficznych w dojściu do solidnych i ogólnie zgodnych odpowiedzi na wielkie filozoficzne pytania może wynikać z faktu, że nie jesteśmy dość mądrzy, by osiągnąć sukces na tym polu dociekań. Nasze kognitywne limity mogą ograniczać nas do platońskiej jaskini, gdzie najlepszą rzeczą jaką można zrobić, to teoretyzowanie na temat „cieni”, to znaczy, reprezentacji, które są odpowiednio uproszczone i na tyle przystępne, by pasowały do ludzkiego mózgu.

Funkcjonalność cielesna. Poprawiamy nasz naturalny system immunologiczny poprzez szczepienia i możemy wyobrazić sobie dalsze usprawnienia naszych ciał, które mogłyby chronić nas od chorób lub pomóc ukształtować nasze ciała zgodnie z naszymi pragnieniami (np. poprzez kontrolowanie tempa metabolicznego naszych ciał). Takie usprawnienia mogłyby podnieść poziom jakości naszego życia.

Bardziej radykalna forma „upgrade’u” byłaby możliwa jeśli założymy obliczeniową („komputerową") wizję umysłu. Możliwy wtedy byłby „przelew umysłu” [_1_] do komputera poprzez replikację in silico szczegółowych procesów obliczeniowych, które normalnie mają miejsce w poszczególnych ludzkich mózgach. Byt z możliwością „przelewu umysłu” miałby potencjalnie wiele zalet, jak zdolność do tworzenia kopii zapasowych siebie (co miałoby sprzyjający wpływ na czyjąś średnią długość życia) i umiejętność transmitowania siebie jako informacji z prędkością światła. „Przelewy umysłu” mogłyby żyć w rzeczywistości wirtualnej bądź też bezpośrednio w rzeczywistości fizycznej poprzez sterowanie swoim „robotem-pełnomocnikiem”.

Modalności sensoryczne [_2_], zdolności specjalne i wrażliwość. Dzisiejsze ludzkie modalności sensoryczne nie są jedynymi możliwymi i nie są z pewnością tak wysoce rozwinięte jak mogłyby być. Niektóre zwierzęta posiadają sonar, orientację magnetyczną lub sensory wykrywające elektryczność czy wibracje; wiele zwierząt posiada znacznie bardziej wyczulony węch i o wiele ostrzejszy wzrok, itd. Zasięg możliwości modalności sensorycznych nie jest ograniczony do tych, które możemy znaleźć w królestwie zwierząt. Nie ma żadnej fundamentalnej blokady, by dołożyć do tego zdolność widzenia promieniowania podczerwonego lub odbierania sygnałów radiowych aż po dodanie rodzaju telepatycznego zmysłu poprzez nadbudowanie naszych mózgów stosownymi radiotransmiterami z interfejsem.

Ludzie czerpią przyjemność z wielorakich zdolności specyficznych takich jak wyjątkowa wrażliwość na muzykę, wyostrzone poczucie humoru czy subtelna sensualność erotyczna, zdolność do podniecenia seksualnego w odpowiedzi na delikatny bodziec erotyczny. I znowu nie ma powodu by myśleć, że mamy na wyczerpaniu zasięg tego, co możliwe, bo możemy wyobrazić sobie z pewnością wyższe poziomy wrażliwości i reagowania.

Nastrój, energia i samokontrola. Pomimo naszych ogromnych wysiłków często nie udaje się nam być tak szczęśliwymi jakbyśmy tego chcieli. Nasze długoterminowe poziomy subiektywnego dobrego samopoczucia wydają się być w większości genetycznie zdeterminowane. Życiowe zdarzenia mają niewielki wpływ na nasze długofalowe plany; wzloty i upadki losu pchają nas w górę i ściągają w dół, lecz efekt wpływu długofalowego na nasze „samoobserwowalne” dobre samopoczucie jest niewielki. Nieprzerwanie trwająca radość pozostaje ulotna dla większości z nas, z wyjątkiem tych, którzy mieli szczęście urodzić się z „radosnym” temperamentem.

Poza byciem na łasce zdeterminowanego genetycznie poziomu naszego dobrego samopoczucia, jesteśmy ograniczeni co do energii, siły woli i umiejętności w kształtowaniu naszego własnego charakteru zgodnie z naszymi ideałami. Nawet tak „proste” cele jak odchudzanie czy rzucenie palenia okazują się nieosiągalne dla wielu.

Pewien podzespół tych problemów może być raczej niezbędny niż uzależniony od naszej obecnej natury. Dla przykładu, nie możemy posiadać umiejętności łatwego porzucania nawyków i zdolności ich stabilnego, trwałego formowania — (patrząc na to z tej perspektywy, najlepsze czego możemy oczekiwać to zdolność łatwego pozbywania się nawyków, których sami celowo po pierwsze nie wybraliśmy dla nas samych, i być może bardziej wszechstronnego systemu formowania nawyków, który pozwoliłby nam wybierać z większą precyzją, kiedy nabyć jakiś nawyk i jakim kosztem można by się go pozbyć).
3. Rdzeń wartości transhumanistycznych: eksploracja sfery postludzkiej

Domysł, że istnieją wartości większe niż możemy obecnie zgłębić, nie implikuje, że wartości nie są zdefiniowane pod względem naszego obecnego zarządzania. Weźmy dla przykładu „teorię rozmieszczenia wartości” opisaną przez Davida Lewisa. Według teorii Lewisa, coś jest wartością dla ciebie, wtedy, i tylko wtedy, jeśli chciałbyś jej chcieć, jeśli byłbyś całkowicie z nią obeznany i jednocześnie myślał i rozważał tak klarownie jak to tylko możliwe. Według tego poglądu istnieją wartości, których obecnie nie chcemy, i których nawet nie chcielibyśmy chcieć, ponieważ możemy się w nich zupełnie nie orientować, lub dlatego, iż nie jesteśmy idealnymi myślicielami. Niektóre wartości odnoszące się do pewnych form postludzkiej egzystencji mogą być tego rodzaju; mogą być dla nas teraz wartościami i mogą być nimi w świetle naszego obecnego zarządzania, ale jednakże możemy ich w pełni nie doceniać z naszą teraźniejszą, ograniczoną, założoną z góry wydajnością i naszym brakiem zdolności poznawczych, by je zgłębić. Punkt ten jest ważny, ponieważ pokazuje, że według transhumanistów powinniśmy eksplorować wartości postludzkie, a nie, że powinniśmy od razu zrzec się naszych obecnych wartości. Wartości postludzi mogą być naszymi teraźniejszymi wartościami, aczkolwiek takimi, które nie są jeszcze do końca jasno zrozumiałe. Transhumanizm nie wymaga, byśmy stawiali postludzi nad ludzi, ale mówi, że właściwą drogą do podniesienia wartości ludzkiego bytu jest umożliwienie nam lepszego uświadomienia sobie naszych ideałów, i że niektóre z tych ideałów mogą być zlokalizowane poza przestrzenią sposobu bytu, który jest nam dostępny w obecnej biologicznej konstrukcji.

Możemy przezwyciężyć wiele z naszych biologicznych ograniczeń. Jest bardzo prawdopodobne, że istnieją takie granice, które wydają się niemożliwe do przekroczenia, nie tylko z powodu trudności technologicznych ale także na podłożu metafizycznym. W zależności od naszych poglądów na to, co konstytuuje naszą tożsamość osobową, możliwe jest, że pewne rodzaje istnienia, nawet jeśli prawdopodobne, mogą być dla nas niemożliwe, ponieważ każda istota takiego rodzaju byłaby tak odmienna od nas, że nie mogłaby być nami. Troski tego rodzaju są bliskie teologicznym dyskusjom na temat życia pozagrobowego. W teologii chrześcijańskiej niektóre dusze pójdą za zgodą Boga do nieba po upływie ich czasu w cielesnej powłoce. Przed wpuszczeniem do nieba dusze przechodzą proces oczyszczania, puryfikacji, w którym zostają pozbawione wielu z ich cielesnych atrybutów. Sceptycy mogą wątpić, czy będące rezultatem tego umysły będą dostatecznie podobne to naszych obecnych umysłów, by było możliwe dla nich bycie tą samą osobą. Podobnie kłopotliwa sytuacja wyłania się w transhumanizmie: jeśli rodzaj istnienia postludzi jest radykalnie różny od istnienia ludzi, to możemy wątpić, czy istota postludzka może być tą samą osobą co istota ludzka, nawet jeśli postczłowiek wyłonił się z człowieka.

Możemy jednak wyobrazić sobie wiele usprawnień, które nie czyniłyby niemożliwym dla post-przekształconego kogoś bycia tą samą osobą co pre-przekształcony człowiek. Człowiek taki mógłby posiąść całkiem dużą ilość przedłużonej średniej długości życia, inteligencji, zdrowia, pamięci i wrażliwości emocjonalnej bez zaprzestania istnienia w międzyczasie. Życie intelektualne człowieka może ulec zasadniczej zmianie za pomocą odebrania edukacji. Średnia długość życia człowieka może być wydłużona znacząco dzięki pomocy nieoczekiwanego wyleczenia ze śmiertelnej choroby. Jednakże te przekształcenia nie są uznawane za oznaczające koniec istnienia pierwotnej osoby. Wydaje się w szczególności, że modyfikacje, które zwiększają ludzkie zdolności mogą być bardziej znaczące niż modyfikacje które odbierają coś, jak uszkodzenia mózgu. Jeśli większość tego, co stanowi o istocie danego człowieka, włączając w to jego najważniejsze wspomnienia, czynności i uczucia, jest zachowana, to dodanie zdolności ponad to nie powinno tak łatwo wpłynąć na osobowość i zniweczyć jej trwanie.

Utrzymanie tożsamości osobowej, szczególnie jeśli pojęcie to posiada wąską interpretację, nie jest jednak wszystkim. Możemy cenić rzeczy inne niż nas samych, lub możemy uważać za satysfakcjonujące to, że niektóre części lub aspekty nas przetrwają i będą rozkwitać, nawet jeśli pociąga to za sobą oddanie cząstki nas, co będzie oznaczało, że nie będziemy już tą samą osobą. Ale dopiero wtedy jasnym będzie, które części nas samych możemy dobrowolnie poświęcić, gdy zaznajomimy się lepiej z całym znaczeniem wyboru. Ostrożna, przyrostowa eksploracja wymiaru postludzkiego może być nieodzowna dla zdobycia takiego zrozumienia, chociaż możemy być zdolni nauczyć się tego korzystając z doświadczeń innych oraz przy pomocy pracy wyobraźni.

Co więcej, możemy faworyzować ludzi przyszłości jako będących raczej postludźmi niż po prostu ludźmi, jeśli postludzie prowadziliby życie bardziej wartościowe niż zwykli ludzie. Niezależnie od tego, jakie racje wypływają z tych rozważań, my sami możemy stać się bytami postludzkimi.

Transhumanizm promuje poszukiwanie dalszego rozwoju, abyśmy mogli zgłębiać wcześniej niedostępne wymiary wartości. Technologiczna poprawa ludzkiego organizmu jest środkiem, którego powinniśmy użyć, aby osiągnąć nasz cel. Są bowiem pułapy tego, co mogą osiągnąć środki „niskiej” technologii jak edukacja, filozoficzna kontemplacja, moralna samoanaliza i inne podobne metody proponowane przez filozofów klasycznych z idealistycznymi skłonnościami, włączając w to Platona, czy reformatorów społecznych takich jak Marks czy Luter King. Nie piszę o tym, by deprecjonować to, co możemy zrobić ze współczesnymi narzędziami. Jednak jak by na to nie patrzeć transhumaniści mają nadzieję kroczyć dalej.
4. Podstawowe warunku dla realizacji projektu transhumanistycznego

Jeśli to jest ta wspaniała wizja, to jakie są poszczególne cele, na które możemy ją przełożyć traktując ją jako poradę wskazującą kierunek działań.

To, co jest potrzebne do realizacji transhumanistycznego marzenia, to technologiczne środki, konieczne, by ośmielić się wedrzeć w przestrzeń transhumanizmu a zarazem dostępne dla każdego, kto życzy sobie z nich skorzystać, oraz społeczeństwo zorganizowane w taki sposób, by takie działania mogły być podjęte bez czynienia zbędnej szkody w hierarchii społecznej i bez narzucania niedopuszczalnych zagrożeń egzystencjalnych.

Globalne bezpieczeństwo. Podczas gdy katastrofy i regresy są nieuchronne w procesie urzeczywistniania projektu transhumanistycznego (tak samo jak są nieuchronne i bez tego projektu), to jest jeden rodzaj katastrofy, którego musi się uniknąć za wszelką cenę:

Ryzyko egzystencjalne – to takie ryzyko, którego niekorzystny rezultat albo unicestwiłby inteligentne życie pochodzenia ziemskiego albo trwale i drastycznie zredukowałby jego potencjał.

Kilka ostatnich dyskusji zaowocowało opinią, że suma ryzyka daje prawdopodobieństwo powstania ryzyka egzystencjalnego. Doniosłość warunku egzystencjalnego bezpieczeństwa dla transhumanistycznej wizji jest oczywista: jeśli wyginiemy lub na zawsze zniszczymy nasz potencjał do dalszego rozwoju, to wtedy sedno transhumanistycznych wartości nie zostanie zrealizowane. Globalne bezpieczeństwo jest najbardziej fundamentalnym i niepodlegającym negocjacjom warunkiem projektu transhumanistycznego.

Technologiczny postęp. To, że postęp technologiczny jest generalnie czynnikiem pożądanym z punktu widzenia transhumanistów, jest oczywiste. Wiele z naszych dolegliwości (starzenie się, choroby, słaba pamięć i intelekt, ograniczony repertuar emocjonalny i niewystarczająca zdolność do długotrwałego dobrego samopoczucia) jest trudnych do przezwyciężenia i aby zmienić to, potrzebne będą zaawansowane narzędzia. Wynajdowanie tych narzędzi jest gargantuicznym wyzwaniem dla zespołów pracujących nad rozwiązywaniem problemów dotyczących potencjału rozwojowego naszego gatunku. Odkąd technologiczny rozwój jest blisko związany z rozwojem ekonomicznym, wzrost ekonomiczny – lub, mówiąc precyzyjniej, wzrost produktywności – może służyć w niektórych wypadkach jako wspornik technologicznego wzrostu. (Wzrost produktywności jest oczywiście tylko niedoskonałą miarką istotnej formy technologicznego wzrostu, który w z kolei jest niedoskonałą miarką ogólnego rozwoju, ponieważ omija czynniki takie jak sprawiedliwość dystrybucji, zróżnicowanie ekologiczne i jakość ludzkich związków).

Historia wzrostu ekonomicznego i technologicznego oraz zbieżnego z nią rozwoju cywilizacji jest odpowiednio darzona zachwytem jako największe i pełne chwały osiągnięcie ludzkości. Dzięki stopniowej akumulacji ulepszeń przez ostatnie kilka tysięcy lat ogromna część ludzkości została uwolniona od analfabetyzmu, średniej długości życia wynoszącej 20 lat, od alarmującej śmiertelności niemowląt, strasznych chorób znoszonych bez środków uśmierzających ból i od periodycznego głodu oraz braku wody. Technologia w tym kontekście to nie tylko gadżety lecz także wszystkie instrumentalnie pomocne wynalazki i systemy, które zostały docelowo stworzone. Ta szeroka definicja obejmuje zwyczaje i instytucje, takie jak podwójna księgowość [_3_], naukowe recenzje (tzw.  peer-reviews), systemy prawne i nauka stosowana.

Szeroki dostęp. Przestrzeń postludzka nie może być eksploatowana przez wybrańców. Do pełnego uświadomienia sobie sedna wartości transhumanistycznych dochodzi, że, w idealnym przypadku, wszyscy powinni mieć możliwość stania się postludźmi. To byłoby poniżej oczekiwań, gdyby możliwość stania się postludźmi była zarezerwowana tylko dla malutkiej elity.

Istnieje wiele powodów wspierających szeroki dostęp:

* redukcja nierówności
* postępowanie fair-play
* wyraz solidarności i respektu wobec innych ludzi
* pomoc w zdobyciu poparcia dla projektu transhumanistycznego
* zwiększone szanse, że ci, na których tobie bezpośrednio zależy, także będą mogli stać się postludźmi
* zwiększenie zasięgu przestrzeni postludzkiej, którą z kolei można zgłębiać
* uśmierzenie ludzkiego cierpienia tak dalece, jak to tylko możliwe.

Wymóg szerokiego dostępu leży u podłoża moralnej potrzeby w wizji transhumanistycznej. Szeroki dostęp to nie argument, żeby wyhamowywać. Wręcz przeciwnie, postawienie wszystkich na równi, to argument, żeby ruszyć z projektem tak szybko jak to tylko możliwe. Codziennie na naszej planecie gaśnie 150,000 istnień ludzkich bez posiadania jakiegokolwiek dostępu do oczekiwanych ulepszeń technologicznych, które umożliwią przeistoczenie się w postczłowieka. Im szybciej ta technologia rozwinie się, tym mniej ludzi zginie bez tego dostępu.

Wyobraźmy sobie hipotetyczny przypadek, w którym mamy wybór pomiędzy a) pozwoleniem obecnej populacji ludzkiej na kontynuowanie swego istnienia, i b) natychmiastowe i bezbolesne zabicie i zamianę sześciu miliardów nowych ludzi, którzy są podobni ale nie identyczni z ludźmi, którzy istnieją dzisiaj. Taka zamiana winna spotkać się z silnym oporem na gruncie moralnym bo oznaczałaby niedobrowolną śmierć sześciu miliardów ludzi. Fakt, że zostaliby zamienieni na sześć miliardów nowo stworzonych, podobnych ludzi, nie czyni z tego dopuszczalnej możliwości. Ludzie nie są jednorazowego użytku. Z analogicznych powodów ważne jest, by możliwość stania się postczłowiekiem była dostępna raczej dla możliwie największej liczby ludzi, niż li tylko uzupełnienie istniejącej populacji (lub gorzej zastąpienie) poprzez nowy zbiór postludzi. Transhumanistyczny ideał będzie zrozumiany całkowicie tylko wtedy, jeśli zalety technologii będą szeroko dostępne i jeśli będą dostępne tak szybko jak to tylko możliwe, a najlepiej jeszcze za naszego życia.
5. Wartości pochodne

Z tych specyficznych wymogów płynie liczba pochodnych wartości, która przekłada wizję transhumanistyczną na praktykę (niektóre z tych wartości mogą być niezależnymi uzasadnieniami, a transhumanizm nie implikuje, że lista poniższych wartości wyczerpuje temat).

Na początek stwierdzam, że transhumaniści, jak należy się spodziewać, kładą nacisk na wolność jednostki i wolny wybór w obszarze poprawek technologicznych. Ludzie różnią się szeroko w swych koncepcjach z czego składałaby się ich doskonałość i jakich usprawnień użyliby. Niektórzy chcą rozwijać się w jednym kierunku podczas gdy inni w wielu kierunkach, a niektórzy wolą zostać tym kim są. Byłoby moralnie niedopuszczalne by narzucać jeden standard, do którego wszyscy musieliby się dostosować. Ludzie powinni posiadać prawo wyboru, jakich technologii usprawniających, jeśli jakichkolwiek, chcieliby użyć. W przypadku gdzie indywidualne wybory rzutują znacząco na innych ludzi, ta generalna zasada musiałaby mieć restrykcje, lecz zwykły fakt, że ktoś może być zdegustowany lub moralnie urażony, iż ktoś używa tych technologii, by modyfikować siebie, nie powinien grać prawnej roli doprowadzającej do przymusowej interwencji. Co więcej, zła reputacja centralnie planowanych wysiłków, by stworzyć lepszych ludzi (np. ruch eugeniki i totalitaryzm sowiecki) pokazuje, że musimy być świadomi kolektywnych decyzji na polu ludzkich modyfikacji.

Innym priorytetem transhumanistycznym jest, byśmy byli w lepszej pozycji co do podejmowania mądrych wyborów o tym, gdzie dążymy. Będziemy potrzebowali całej mądrości jaką możemy posiąść podczas negocjowania przejścia transhumanistycznego. Transhumaniści kładą wysoką wartość na usprawnienia w indywidualnych i zbiorczych mocach rozumienia i w naszej umiejętności wprowadzania odpowiedzialnych decyzji. Kolektywnie możemy stać się mądrzejsi i lepiej poinformowani poprzez środki takie jak badania naukowe, debaty publiczne i otwarte dyskusje na temat przyszłości, giełdy informacyjne, wspólnotowe filtrowanie informacji. Na poziomie indywidualnym możemy czerpać korzyści z edukacji, myślenia krytycznego, otwartości umysłu, technik uczenia się, technologii informatycznej, i, być może, leków poprawiających pamięć i uwagę lub innych kognitywnych usprawnień technologicznych. Nasza zdolność wprowadzania odpowiedzialnych decyzji może być usprawniona poprzez rozszerzenie zasad prawa i demokracji na międzypaństwowej płaszczyźnie. Dodatkowo, sztuczna inteligencja, jeśli osiągnie poziom ludzki lub większy, może dać niesamowitą zwyżkę w poszukiwaniu wiedzy i mądrości.

Kierując się zastanymi ograniczeniami naszej obecnej wiedzy konieczne jest pewne epistemologiczne wahanie się razem z gotowością do ciągłego oszacowywania naszych założeń w miarę jak informacja staje się lepiej dostępna. Nie możemy uznać za pewne, że nasze stare nawyki i wierzenia będą odpowiednie w nawigowaniu w naszych nowych okolicznościach.

Globalne bezpieczeństwo może być osiągane poprzez promowanie międzynarodowego pokoju i kooperacji i poprzez ostre sprzeciwianie się mnożeniu broni masowego rażenia. Ulepszenia w technologiach szpiegowskich mogą ułatwić wykrywanie nielegalnych programów zbrojeniowych. Inne środki bezpieczeństwa mogą być także stosowane, by przeciwdziałać zagrożeniom egzystencjalnym. Więcej badań nad takimi zagrożeniami pomogłoby nam lepiej zrozumieć długofalowe groźby dla ludzkiego rozwoju i co można zrobić, by je zredukować.

Odkąd rozwój technologiczny jest niezbędny, aby uświadomić sobie wizję transhumanistyczną, przedsiębiorstwa, nauka i duch tworzenia muszą być promowane. Mówiąc bardziej ogólnie, transhumaniści faworyzują pragmatyczne nastawienie i konstruktywną postawę rozwiązywania problemów w wyzwaniach, preferują metody, które, jak mówi doświadczenie, dają najlepsze rezultaty. Uważają oni, że lepiej jest podjąć inicjatywę by „zrobić coś z tym” niż siedzieć tylko i narzekać. W tym sensie transhumanizm jest optymistyczny. (Nie jest optymistyczny w tym sensie, że popiera nadmuchaną wiarę w prawdopodobieństwo sukcesu lub, w duchu Panglossa, wymyślania wymówek dla niedostatków statusu quo.)

Transhumanizm popiera dobre samopoczucie wszystkich czujących, czy to w sztucznej inteligencji, czy w człowieku, czy też zwierzętach i nie-ludziach (włączając w to istoty pozaziemskie, jeśli takowe istnieją). Rasizm, seksizm, gatunkowizm, wojujący nacjonalizm i nietolerancja religijna są niedopuszczalne. W dodatku do zwykłych przesłanek osądzających takie zwyczaje jako niewłaściwe, istnieje także specyficznie transhumanistyczna motywacja dla tego typu spraw. Aby przygotować się na czas kiedy ludzki gatunek zacznie piąć się w różnych kierunkach, musimy już teraz zacząć mocno wspierać rozwój moralnych odczuć, które będą dość szerokie, by objąć sferę moralnych trosk postludzi, którzy będą zbudowani inaczej niż my.

I wreszcie transhumanizm akcentuje moralny obowiązek ratowania życia, lub, bardziej precyzyjnie, działa zapobiegawczo w sytuacji niedobrowolnej śmierci ludzi, którzy mogliby dalej żyć. W rozwiniętym świecie starzenie się jest zabójcą numer jeden. Starzenie się jest także największą przyczyną chorób, niedomagania i demencji. (Nawet jeśli wszystkie choroby serca i raka byłyby wyleczone, średnia długość życia zwiększyłaby się o ledwie sześć do siedmiu lat). Medycyna anti-aging (spowalniająca starzenie się) jest więc kluczowym priorytetem transhumanistów. Cel ten oczywiście to radykalne przedłużenie aktywnej ludzkiej zdrowotności a nie li tylko dodanie kilku dodatkowych lat na karuzeli końca życia.

Fakt, jesteśmy jeszcze daleko od możliwości zatrzymania lub odwrócenia procesu starzenia się, a zatem zawieszenie kriogeniczne powinno być dostępną opcją dla tych, którzy tego pragną. Prawdopodobne jest, że przyszłe technologie będą mogły reanimować ludzi zawieszonych kriogenicznie. Podczas gdy kriogenika może być ryzykownym krokiem, to bezapelacyjnie ma większe prawdopodobieństwo sukcesu niż kremacja czy pochówek.

Wykaz poniżej streszcza wartości transhumanistów, o których dyskutowaliśmy.

Wartość podstawowa

Posiadanie sposobności, by zgłębiać wymiar transhumanistyczny i postludzki.

Warunki podstawowe

* Globalne bezpieczeństwo
* Technologiczny progres
* Szeroki dostęp

Wartości pochodne

* Nie ma nic złego w majstrowaniu przy naturze, idea pychy (technologicznej) odrzucona
* Indywidualny dobór technologicznych ulepszeń; morfologiczna wolność
* Pokój, międzynarodowa kooperacja, sprzeciw wobec rozprzestrzenianiu się broni masowego rażenia.
* Udoskonalanie zrozumienia (wspieranie badań i debat publicznych; myślenia krytycznego; otwartości umysłu, naukowej dociekliwości, otwartych dyskusji na temat przyszłości)
* Zdobywanie mądrości (indywidualnie, kolektywnie; rozwijanie inteligencji maszyn)
* Filozoficzna omylność; chęć ciągłego rozpatrywania założeń w miarę kroczenia naprzód
* Pragmatyzm; duch rozwoju i przedsiębiorczości; nauka
* Różnorodność (gatunków, ras, wyznań religijnych, orientacji seksualnej, stylu życia, itd.)
* Troska o dobre samopoczucie wszystkich istot czujących
* Ratowanie życia (wydłużanie życia; badania anty-aging; kriogenika).

[Współpraca tłumacza: Elżbieta Binswanger-Stefańska]

Przypisy:

[_1_] Z ang. upload, wg nazewnictwa proponowanego w języku polskim przez Tranhumanistyczny FAQ ze strony http://www.transhumanist.org - przyp. tłum.

[_2_] Modalności sensoryczne to różne typy zmysłów jak węch czy wzrok.

[_3_] Księgowość podwójna - system ten powstał w średniowieczu. Jego początki stwierdzono w księgach handlowych prowadzonych w XII w. we Włoszech. Cechą odróżniającą księgowość podwójną od innych rodzajów ewidencji jest stosowanie tylko zapisu podwójnego każdej operacji, którą można wyrazić w pieniądzu w ramach przyjętego zespołu syntetycznych kont - ta sama kwota operacji znajduje się na przeciwstawnych stronach kont: Winien i Ma. Jest to tzw. metoda bilansowa polegająca na grupowaniu wszystkich zjawisk dwustronnie i równoważnie. Księgowość podwójna umożliwia sporządzenie udokumentowanych syntetycznych sprawozdań: ze stanu majątku i źródeł jego pochodzenia (bilansu) oraz z przebiegu procesów gospodarczych (rachunek wyników).

http://www.racjonalista.pl/kk.php/s,6014">Link

Posted by secretary on 2008/08/20 •

The Centenarian

Information on living to an old age.

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2008/07/10 •

Network dei Transumanisti Italiani

Posted by mrinesi on 2008/07/08 • (0) Comments

World Transhumanist Association - Portugal

Posted by mrinesi on 2008/07/03 • (0) Comments

Candidates for the open 2008 WTA Board of Directors seat

Jani Moliis
Ben Goertzel


Ben Goertzel

I’ve been an avid transhumanist for as long as I can remember.

Most of my time recently has been spent actively trying to bring about transformative technologies.  Since 1997 I have been leading commercial software R&D projects in the area of Artificial General Intelligence, aimed at producing AI systems with general intelligence at the human level and ultimately beyond.  Since 2001 I have also been working, in parallel, on the application of AI technologies in bioinformatics, with a specific focus on using AI to accelerate the path to life extension.  If you’re interested in exploring my work in these areas, check out the websites of my companies Novamente LLC (novamente.net) and Biomind LLC (biomind.com).

On the more academic side, I have carried out an active research career, resulting in the publication of nearly 80 papers and ten scientific books.  Before entering the software industry I served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

As well as carrying out future-focused science and technology development, however, I have also been actively involved in the futurist community, via doing writing and organizing aimed at helping us to collectively better understand our future and encourage it to unfold in a positive way.  I have authored two books focused on the future of technology and society: Creating Internet Intelligence (Plenum, 2001) and The Path to Posthumanity (Academica, 2006).  I also co-founded the non-profit AGIRI (Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute), which organized a very successful 2006 workshop in Bethesda; and am involved in organizing the follow-up AGI-08 conference (agi-08.org) conference which will be in Memphis in March 2008.

I am also the Director of Research of the Singularity Institute for AI, and in this role am working with Bruce Klein, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Tyler Emerson and my other colleagues there to better understand how the human race may go about creating a positive future for humanity that also includes very advanced AI systems.

My motivation in running for the WTA board is a desire to become engaged with a broader variety of transhumanists around the world; to assist the WTA via my experience in managing organizations, and doing fundraising and publicity in various contexts; and also, potentially, to contribute my expertise and experience in science and business to help the WTA connect more closely with individuals doing transhumanist-focused R&D in commerce and academia.  Transhumanism is a damn important meme—I would love if the WTA could find ways to help bring a more strongly transhuman and more positive world about more quickly!!

I am physically based in Washington DC, but I travel to San Francisco roughly 10 times per year, so if elected I will have frequent options for F2F communications with James Clement (whom I know fairly well F2F already), and any other WTA members who may be based in the Bay area.

General information about my human life can be found at my website, goertzel.org


Jani Moliis

I’m seeking an extension to what has so far been a two-year position on the WTA Board. When I ran for the WTA Board for the first time two years ago, I wrote in my candidate statement: “On the Board of the WTA, I would like to focus on good management… It is my explicit goal to ensure that all sources of friction are dealt with in a democratic and transparent way, before they get the opportunity to become conflicts detrimental to our common goals. I’m known to be a calm mediator, who attempts to gain the trust of all sides in a dispute.”

I’m extremely glad that during the last two years, there has not been any need for any mediating skills, but that even heated debates have been carried out in a (mostly) civilized manner, or have been halted before turning sour. So that part of my goals for my Board position has remained untested, and hopefully will continue to remain so. As for other aspects of good management and transparency, I have been emphasizing these in my role as the Treasurer for the WTA, a duty I’m
willing to continue if re-elected to the Board. With the tiny cash flows of the WTA (around $8,000 in 2006), it seems almost tragicomic that there have been accusations of misconduct in the past. However, to alleviate the risk of such accusations ever rising again, I have created transparency in WTA finances by reporting them regularly to the Board, as well as submitting the annual financial statements for membership approval. These kinds of transparency-enhancing procedures will become ever-more important as WTA’s funds will increase in the near future. That is why, looking forward, I feel that good management is still highly relevant, and something I believe I can bring to the Board effectively.

Background: I was born in 1980 in Helsinki, Finland and have lived there as well as in Mexico, Sri Lanka and Austria. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Webster University as well as a Master of Social Sciences degree in political science from the University of Helsinki. I am married, have a two-month old daughter, and currently work as a management consultant for Accenture. I am a founding member of the Finnish Transhumanist Association and its Chair since 2006.

Posted by mrinesi on 2008/04/03 • (0) Comments

Nanofactory or AGI — Which technology could cure humanity’s many problems?

by Natasha Vita-More

There are a number of supposed shifts on the horizon. The most publicly talked about shift is the impending Singularity when greater-than-human-intelligence will come to pass. However, in the nanotechnology communities are other ramblings singularities, such as when the personal, desktop nanofactory are will come about. In fact, some transhumanists are arguing not just about which will come first—molecular manufacturing or artificial general intelligence—but about which technology will ultimately prove to be the cure for human suffering worldwide.

“It is necessary to keep one’s compass in one’s eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.” Michelangelo Buonarroti

There are a number of supposed shifts on the horizon. The most publicly talked about shift is the impending Singularity when greater-than-human-intelligence will come to pass. However, in the nanotechnology communities are other ramblings singularities, such as when the personal, desktop nanofactory are will come about. In fact, some transhumanists are arguing not just about which will come first—molecular manufacturing or artificial general intelligence—but about which technology will ultimately prove to be the cure for human suffering worldwide.

In order to discern the arrival of one ahead of the other, or the proposed curative strength of one over the other, we would have to select a few ills, which spread across continents: poor sanitation, starvation, disease, pollution, poverty, insufficient medicine and healthcare, human rights issues, and corrupt governments and war. How could either or both molecular manufacturing or artificial general intelligence begin to address these long-outstanding worldwide problems of immense proportion?

The nanofactory is a conceptual desktop molecular manufacturing system. Its proposed job would be to build a variety of large diamonoid products. According to Robert Freitas, the nanofactury would employ a “controlled molecular assembly that will make possible the creation of fundamentally novel products having the intricate complexity currently found only in biological systems, but operating with grater speed, power, reliability, and, most importantly, entirely under human control” while spitting out a precise assembly of products atom-by-atom. While this sentence could compete with Buckminster Fuller’s lengthy language, its meaning is clear: the nanofactory could change the way people look at materiality.

Materiality would no longer be a measure of status quo because everyone everywhere would be able to build products from their desktop nanofactory. To put it simply, by delivering materials, such as carbon, into the nanofactory, the nanofactory would then take the carbons and rearranged them, atom by atom, and turn them into tangible products. For example, a person could download a furniture diagram from the Internet and assign the plan to the nanofactury to produce a product, such as a designer chair. The nanofactory would then infuse with carbon, turn the carbon around and output something like a Wassily chair (Marcel Breuer 1925). With a little more seriousness and b it less Bauhaus, the nanofactory could significantly address poverty, for example, by producing essential products that people need to build better sanitation in their habitats, provide housing, medical equipment, and so forth.

At the SC07 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis conference, Professor Neil Gershenfeld’s keynote “Programming Bits and Atoms”, Gershenfeld described a worldwide paradigm shift of a proportion equal to the Singularity. Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, foresees the desktop computer moving over to allow space for the desktop nanofactury. According to Gershenfeld, people will actually be able to print 3-D objects as efficiently and amply as computers today print out glossy color images. In his book FAB he and his colleagues describe how their global “fab labs” could provide problem-solving alternatives to, for example, peoples in small villages in India wherein “their lab [could] develop devices for monitoring food safety and agricultural engine efficiency.”

The timeframe for nanofacturing could be anywhere from 20 years to 100 years, depending on who is forecasting. Surely, there will be substantial concerns about potential dangers and hazards of such anyone, anywhere producing objects that could be to the detriment of society. That is not the topic of this short article. I am looking speculatively at AGI and/or nanofacturing and their potential to help alleviate some of the world’s many immediate and wearisome problems that are hurting people and taking human lives by the thousands on a daily basis.

A vastly different technological concept to molecular manufactoring, is AGI which when built will obtain the ability to solve numerous complex problems in a variety of complex environments. According to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, “[w]e expect the ethical and significant enhancement of cognition will help solve contemporary challenges - disease and illness, poverty and hunger - more readily than other charitable pursuits.”

I remember having a conversation with AGI specialist Peter Voss, entrepreneur and founder of Adaptive A.I. Inc., who states that his company’s AGI “is based on a specific theoretical model of high-level intelligence developed over the past decade.” Voss told me that if it were between nanotechnology and AGI, that AGI offered a better solution for addressing and resolving worldwide problems because of the very fact that AGI would provide far better and more efficient, capable intelligence with enormous reserves of knowledge—vastly more than any human mind or groups of brilliant minds could muster. For example, an AGI could contemplate and problem-solve such issues as poor sanitation, starvation, disease, pollution, poverty, insufficient medicine and healthcare, and human rights issues, and corrupt governments and war.

What does this mean for transhumanists? In large part, it means that we have to accept the fact that we are not so intelligent and need the help of greater-than-human-intelligence. It also means that we have to start planning now for a watershed of doomsayers who will claim that the marvels of molecular manufacturing’s nanofacturies and AGI’s supper intelligences will open a very large can of worms. We must arm ourselves with two treaties: first, the ability to admit that we do not know what in fact will happen in the future; and second, the ability to be courageously proactive in addressing the risks of these two pending technologies.

Al Gore has made the phrase “existential risk” a red carpet, Oscar-moment of prestige. Benny Peiser, social anthropologist, has taken the phrase and added paradox to it by noting that “proliferation of democratic liberalism and free market economies around the world has dramatically curtailed the death toll associated with natural disasters and diseases. … Yet the very same technologies that re serving us to analyze, predict and prevent potential disasters have reached such a level of sophistication and potency that their misuse can transform vital survival tools into destructive forces, thus becoming existential risks in their own right.”

This is a big dilemma. We must work diligently to address risk, and a number of organizations and philosophers and theoreticians are doing just that. If we apply the “Minipawf Principle” (minimize the probability of awful outcomes), but no matter how carefully constructed the strategy or collection of scenarios, even if there is spectrum of differing estimates on how much we can minimize risks, there must be a potentially great achievement. The technologies must offer great achievement or not. If the achievement is not forecast to be truly great, then the probability for risk is not worth the effort.

Further, I’m not entirely sure they are addressing probable risks when considering the issue of which comes first—AGI or the desktop nanofactory. This in and of itself could offer a new set of scenarios and deliberation for transhumanists. In addition, while there are two suggested paradigm shifts on the horizon—super intelligence brining about a Singularity and/or nanofacturing bringing about worldwide abundance—transhumanists may not be so concerned with which one comes first. Of greater consequence is which one could potentially be more crucial, especially in the development and ethical pursuit of the other and prove to be a viable cure for poor sanitation, starvation, disease, pollution, and poverty.

“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk."- Dali Lama

Notes:

Freitas, R. “What is a Nanofactory?” http://www.molecularassembler.com/Nanofactory/
SC07 program http://sc07.supercomp.org/?pg=keynote.html
Gershenfeld, N. (2005) FAB, New York: Basic Books.
Id. http://books.google.com/books?id=hd-B3-pC4UgC&printsec=frontcover&vq=%22fab%22+gershenfeld#PPA12,M1
http://www.agiri.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=88&mode=threaded
http://adaptiveai.com
Peiser, B. (2007) “Existential risk and democratic peace”, BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7081804.stm

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2008/01/25 • (0) Comments

Executive Summary of the 2007 WTA Member Survey

Full report available here

Report on the 2007 Interests and Beliefs Survey of the Members of the World Transhumanist Association

Prepared by
James J. Hughes, Ph.D.
Secretary, World Transhumanist Association

January 2008

For more information please contact

James Hughes Ph.D.
Secretary
World Transhumanist Association
http://transhumanism.org
secretary@transhumanism.org
Box 128, Willington CT 06279 USA
(office) 860-297-2376

Copyright © 2008 by WTA
All rights reserved

Executive Summary

This survey was fielded in December 2007 over the course of ten days. The survey was fielded to everyone we considered members (N=4642) whose email addresses still worked (N=3737). Of those 760 people responded, compared to 606 in 2003 and 586 in 2005. This was a lower response rate (20%) than the 2003 and 2005 surveys (26% and 36% respectively). A majority of respondents (52%) had joined in the last two years, and the response rate from more recent joiners was higher than from pre-2002 joiners.  However the stability of the frequencies in this report suggest that there is not a large problem of comparability between the years, although the response biases are of course unknown.  Voting members were much more likely to respond (69%) than basic members (18%).

Respondents represented US and non-US members, basic and full members, and our too-few non-male members, in a reasonably balanced way. The percent of non-US respondents rose in this sample was 57%, reflecting their actual proportion in our membership base. As in 2003, roughly 90% of the sample was male. The median age of the respondents in both 2003 and 2005 is roughly the same, about 30-33. Approximately one in five of our members have disabilities. Curiously there was no relationship between the age of the member and the likelihood of having a disability or chronic illness.

Comfort with “Transhumanist” Identity

The second question on the survey was about how comfortable the respondent felt about identifying as a transhumanist. Although all respondents had signed up as WTA members through the website membership form, some had done so in order to get access to the website and newsletter. For the subsequent analyses the 5% who said “I am not a transhumanist” were excluded. Also, compared to 2003, there was an increase in the percent of respondents who were full members and a decrease in the percent who did not consider themselves transhumanists.

Satisfaction with the WTA and Transhumanism

Satisfaction with the WTA remains very high. Fully 83% of the respondents say they are satisfied with the WTA overall, down slightly from the 90% satisfied in 2003. Satisfaction of US and non-US members is roughly equal.

Satisfaction with the Transvision conferences (for those who attended) was relatively high, while satisfaction with the “WTA Activism” remains the lowest. Of all respondents, 50% thought our activism was fair or poor, compared to only 39% who thought the WTA website was fair or poor.

Three quarters of transhumanists say they are likely to recommend that someone join the WTA.

One question related to satisfaction with whether respondents thought we were too utopian or too pragmatic. The 8% of respondents who felt we were too pragmatic, and the 19% of members who felt we were too utopian, were less satisfied than the three quarters of members who felt we had the right balance of utopianism and pragmatism.

As in 2003, “interest in transhumanism” was the principal reason noted for joining, followed by “intellectual stimulation.” Activism was only cited as a reason by 40% of members, and networking only by 20%.

Two thirds of respondents think our voting member dues are “about right” (71% last time and 68% this time). Members in the developing world were more likely to think full membership dues were too high (31% versus 14%). Only 13% of respondents say they would never pay full voting membership dues.

Conferences

Four in ten respondents were very likely to attend conferences in their own country, but only 6% were very likely to attend a conference in another country. This is generally true for Americans and non-Americans.

Attitudes

A part of this survey was a set of attitudes that respondents were asked to agree or disagree with. We used responses to these questions in 2005 to create a 10 question self-diagnostic for whether someone is a transhumanist:

Ten “Are you a Transhumanist?” Questions

Yeses

95% Do you believe that people have a right to use technology to extend their mental and physical (including reproductive) capacities and to improve their control over their own lives?

95% [Noes] Do you think human genetic engineering is wrong because it is “playing God”?

94% Do you think that by being generally open and embracing of new technology we have a better chance of turning it to our advantage than if we try to ban or prohibit it?

93% Do you expect human progress to result from human accomplishment rather than divine intervention, grace, or redemption?

93% Do you think it would be a good thing if people could become many times more intelligent than they currently are?

87% Do you think it would be a good thing if people could live (in good health) for hundreds of years or longer?*

83% Do you believe women should have the right to terminate their pregnancies?

82% Does your ethical code advocate the well-being of all sentient beings, whether in artificial intellects, humans, posthumans, or non- human animals?

80% Would you consider having your mind uploaded to computers if it was the only way you could continue as a conscious person?

77% Should parents be able to have children through cloning once the technology is safe?

* “In good health” was added in 2007

There was little change on the consensus around these issues.

If we use agreement with more than half of these statements as a self-diagnostic for whether someone is probably a transhumanist, this would include 98% of all the respondents to this survey who were “very comfortable” calling themselves transhumanists.

Since a change in the anti-aging question to add “in good health” appeared to garner an additional 7% of affirmation for life extension it s also interesting that we added a question about what to call our advocacy for anti-aging medicine. A plurality voted for “life extension.”

Politics and Religion

Asking about political self-identity, there is a substantial trend toward increasing left-wing orientation, from 36% of respondents in 2003 to 47% in 2007.  The category “technoprogressive” was offered for the first time this year, and garnered 16% of the respondents. The increase in left-wing orientations was accompanied by slight declines in the libertarian, conservative, apolitical and other categories. 

In regards religious views, the dominant secularism of the WTA membership remains unchanged at almost two thirds of all members (atheist, agnostic, secular humanist or some other secular philosophy).  This year we asked about “other” religious or non-religious views and were able to reclassify many of the formerly other or nones to existing or new religious categories. For instance 1% of respondents listed “pantheist” or “scientific pantheist” as either a religious or secular philosophy.

We also asked about whether transhumanism was compatible with religion. Our members are all over the map on this question, whether secular or religious. The majority of the religious or spiritual believed transhumanism was compatible with religion, although 8% believed it was incompatible with “religion” (although not presumably with their beliefs). The majority of the seculars believed transhumanism could be compatible with or synthesized with at least some form of religion, although a third believed transhumanism was incompatible with religion.

Other Organizational Memberships

There have been notable increases in the proportion of respondents who belong to political parties (one in five) and the Transhumanist Student Network (one in ten).  More than four in ten belong to Facebook.

Posted by secretary on 2008/01/15 • (0) Comments

2008 WTA Board Elections

Five WTA Board members’ terms expire this month, and eight candidates are standing for election to replace them. WTA Board members set policy goals and oversee their implementation, contributing with their experience and expertise to the WTA’s work. The term of service for these seats is two years, which for these five open positions means Jan 20, 2008 - Jan 19, 2010.

Voting in this election is open to all dues-paying, voting ("supporting" or “sustaining") members of the association in good standing as of 7pm EST/midnight GMT of Saturday January 5th, 2008.

Voting will take place from Monday January 7th, 2008 to 7pm EST/midnight GMT of Sunday January 13th, 2008.

If you are a voting member and do not receive a link to the balloting on Monday please contact the Assistant Director.

Posted by secretary on 2008/01/05 • (0) Comments

Candidates for the 2008-2010 WTA Board of Directors seats

Michael Anissimov
Nick Bostrom
Ben Goertzel
James J. Hughes
Bruce Klein
Eugen Leitl
Jani Moliis
Guido Núñez-Mujica


Michael Anissimov

I’m a science writer and transhumanist activist living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I write a blog on futurist issues, Accelerating Future.  I co-founded the Immortality Institute and the SF Bay Area chapter of the WTA, BA-Trans.  I’m a part of the Lifeboat Foundation, where I look into ways to prevent human extinction risks.  I’ve given talks in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and at Yale University.

My involvement with organized transhumanism goes back to 2001.  I know hundreds of transhumanists on a first-name basis, and if I don’t know you yet, I’d be pleased to meet or chat.

Located in the Bay Area, I am ideally positioned to meet face-to-face with the WTA’s new Executive Director, James Clement, attend frequent local H+ oriented events, and communicate with the media, as I already do regularly.  I am free to meet with any WTA members living or visiting the area, a crossroads for many.  I am very well-connected to transhumanists both locally and globally and hope to get even better connected.

The WTA is all about the local chapters.  We need to deemphasize mailing list debate and emphasize getting on the front page in our respective cities.  By making ourselves visible, talking to reporters, scientists, futurists, tech entrepreneurs, and others, we can continue to push transhumanist discussions to the forefront of futurism in general.

Transhumanists deserve an organization that reflects the breathtaking wonder of our vision.  By working together, we can continue to grow the WTA until it becomes firmly established and widely respected.

As far as personal interests, a pressing concern of mine lately is perfecting deep-fried tofu.


Nick Bostrom

My involvement with the transhumanist movement now goes back more than ten years.  We have come a long way in this time, both internally in terms of development of ideas and organization, and externally in terms of the public becoming more aware of transhumanist topics and views.  These developments should accelerate over the coming years.  In its next stage, I would like to see the WTA mature into a well-run global grassroots advocacy organization that is effective in giving responsible forms of transhumanism a public voice.  To accomplish this, we must achieve two objectives.  First, we need to demonstrate that we are capable of mature, well-considered, socially-responsible judgment---by developing and articulating a transhumanist outlook that is relevant, trustworthy, and attractive to much broader constituencies than our current core support groups.  Second, we must build our organizational capacity by fundraising to enable us to hire some staff.  These objectives are mutually supporting.

Some personal background… I’m one of the founders of the WTA (together with David Pearce, in 1998).  I’ve been the Chair of the organization since 2002, and its general-purpose “coordinator” before that.  For a time I served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Evolution and Technology.  I led the collaborative project that produced the original Transhumanist FAQ and the revised version published in 2003, and I coordinated the writing of the Transhumanist Declaration.  I’ve written extensively on wide variety of transhumanist matters, for both academic and lay audiences.  Preprints of many of my papers can be found on my website, http://www.nickbostrom.com .

Some more background… I am the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University.  I previously taught in the Faculty of Philosophy and in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University.  My research covers the foundations of probability theory, philosophy of science, global catastrophic risks, and the ethical, practical, strategic issues related to human transformation and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.  I’ve published some 130 papers and articles, including research papers in Nature, Mind, Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, Bioethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, Astrophysics & Space Science, along with one monograph, Anthropic Bias (Routledge, New York, 2002), and two edited volumes with Oxford University Press (forthcoming, 2008), one on human enhancement ethics, the other on global catastrophic risks.  My writings have been translated into 16 languages.  I’ve done more than 260 interviews with television, radio, and print media, including BBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, CBC, Discovery Channel, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Times, The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Nature, New Scientist, and Forbes.  I have also been invited to advise various governmental agencies in the UK, Europe, and the USA.


Ben Goertzel

I’ve been an avid transhumanist for as long as I can remember.

Most of my time recently has been spent actively trying to bring about transformative technologies.  Since 1997 I have been leading commercial software R&D projects in the area of Artificial General Intelligence, aimed at producing AI systems with general intelligence at the human level and ultimately beyond.  Since 2001 I have also been working, in parallel, on the application of AI technologies in bioinformatics, with a specific focus on using AI to accelerate the path to life extension.  If you’re interested in exploring my work in these areas, check out the websites of my companies Novamente LLC (novamente.net) and Biomind LLC (biomind.com).

On the more academic side, I have carried out an active research career, resulting in the publication of nearly 80 papers and ten scientific books.  Before entering the software industry I served as a university faculty in several departments of mathematics, computer science and cognitive science, in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

As well as carrying out future-focused science and technology development, however, I have also been actively involved in the futurist community, via doing writing and organizing aimed at helping us to collectively better understand our future and encourage it to unfold in a positive way.  I have authored two books focused on the future of technology and society: Creating Internet Intelligence (Plenum, 2001) and The Path to Posthumanity (Academica, 2006).  I also co-founded the non-profit AGIRI (Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute), which organized a very successful 2006 workshop in Bethesda; and am involved in organizing the follow-up AGI-08 conference (agi-08.org) conference which will be in Memphis in March 2008.

I am also the Director of Research of the Singularity Institute for AI, and in this role am working with Bruce Klein, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Tyler Emerson and my other colleagues there to better understand how the human race may go about creating a positive future for humanity that also includes very advanced AI systems.

My motivation in running for the WTA board is a desire to become engaged with a broader variety of transhumanists around the world; to assist the WTA via my experience in managing organizations, and doing fundraising and publicity in various contexts; and also, potentially, to contribute my expertise and experience in science and business to help the WTA connect more closely with individuals doing transhumanist-focused R&D in commerce and academia.  Transhumanism is a damn important meme—I would love if the WTA could find ways to help bring a more strongly transhuman and more positive world about more quickly!!

I am physically based in Washington DC, but I travel to San Francisco roughly 10 times per year, so if elected I will have frequent options for F2F communications with James Clement (whom I know fairly well F2F already), and any other WTA members who may be based in the Bay area.

General information about my human life can be found at my website, goertzel.org



James J. Hughes

Background: I’m a married forty six year-old father of two children. I have a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and my focus has been bioethics, medical sociology, health policy and organizational sociology. I teach in the Public Policy Program at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut USA, where I also work as an administrator.

For the last five years I have served as Secretary of the WTA Board, managing membership, chapter communications and discussion lists. I served as the WTA’s first Executive Director from 2004-2006. In 2004 I founded and serve as Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. I am editor of the Journal of Evolution and Technology. I produce the weekly syndicated public affairs talk show Changesurfer Radio and am author of Citizen Cyborg (2004), an argument for democratic transhumanism, and am working on a second book, Cyborg Buddha, on the use of neurotechnologies to enhance virtues. I’ve published many scholarly articles, and appear often in the press - print, radio and television - promoting transhumanist ideas.

Vision: I believe the WTA will play a pivotal role in the biopolitical conflicts to come, and can draw together a broad, diverse and inclusive transhumanist movement. We can be a forum for vigorous, yet civil, debate of transhumanist ideas and their relationship to practical policy issues of our day, and work for universal access to safe human enhancement technologies.

My WTA agenda for the coming two years includes:

  • work with our new Executive Director James Clement to raise funds, create a cutting-edge, interactive website, and publish our new on-line magazine
  • strengthen our global network of chapters, affiliates and contacts, especially our Transhumanist Student Network, and develop local activist projects that they can undertake
  • build another successful Transvision conference in the summer of 2008 (presumably in San Francisco)
  • increase transhumanist visibility and respectability in the media, bioethics, cultural, and political milieus.



Bruce Klein

I love transhumanists - one of the most rational and caring groups of people living on this fragile blue planet - so relish the opportunity to work more closely with the World Transhumanist Association.  As background, I’ve helped tangibly guide projects, events and and/or outreach efforts within the following futurist related organizations:

* Alcor Life Extension Foundation - a premier cryonics organizations (www.alcor.org)
* AGI Research Institute (co-founder) - fostering the creation of powerful and ethically positive AI (www.agiri.org)
* Immortality Institute (co-founder) - an active online social network for life extensionists (www.imminst.org)
* Lifeboat Foundation - safeguarding humanity from existential threats (www.lifeboat.com)
* Methuselah Foundation - a premier effort to eradicate aging in humans (www.mfoundation.org)
* Singularity Institute - helping to guide the accelerating progression toward powerful AI (www.singinst.org)
* Terasem Movement - helping everyone to extend personal cyberconsciousness (www.terasemfoundation.org)

(Note: the descriptions above are my own and should not be interpreted as an official statement from the organization.  For that, please visit the respective organization’s website, where you’ll find a wealth of valuable, humanity-saving information, along with more precise definitions of missions, etc.)

My goal for WTA during my potential term on the Board is to advance existing efforts to enhance the organization’s public profile, aiming to attract a larger supporting membership base.  I also look forward to helping with events and projects as they arise and as time permits, for I do have a “day-job” working as President of Novamente LLC, which I believe has a great chance to become the primary company to create powerful AI capable of accelerating humanity toward a positive Singularity - but that’s a whole other story!

My blog and biography can be found here (www.novamente.net/bruce), and relevant to WTA’s goals, I had a large part in the creation of the following two educational works (both freely available online):

* Exploring Life Extension - (www.imminst.org/film)
* The Scientific Conquest of Death - (www.imminst.org/SCOD.pdf)

It’s worth mentioning that I live in San Francisco, near James Clement, where together with Tyler Emerson and others, we’ve recently organized a Non-profit Futurist League (NFL for short) which has started to meet periodically.  We’re finding opportunity and synergy, as meeting in physical form has the advantage of higher bandwidth information flow.

It’s also worth noting that in 2005, I served a few months on the WTA board, but then resigned because I felt leadership was broken.  However, now I’m filled with optimism after seeing the addition of James Clement as Executive Director, and new support from Board members such as PJ Manney and Anne Corwin - two brilliant women!

Thanks warmly for your consideration. Forever, Bruce Klein


Eugen Leitl

I’m a naturally born transhumanist, 41, XY-karyotyped, married, one boy. Physical location nowadays around 48.07100, 11.36820 (WGS84), virtual mostly in Extropia Core (Second Life). Online persona at times considered caustic, but in general helpful.

My educational and professional background is in hard sciences and technology like chemistry (synthetic-, computational-, polymer-, bio-), some cryobiology, lately network and IT systems security. Apart from my professional career in cheminformatics, I moonlight as an enterpreneur in my copious free time.

As a typical transhumanist, early and current interests include—in no particular order—cypherpunks and privacy, virtual worlds, nanotechnology, cryonics, computational neuroscience and animal modeling, AI and artificial life in general. Newer activities include participating in the bootstrap of a local cryonics organization, transhumanist community-building and outreach in the current instance of the metaverse, political activism against EU-wide data retention legislation and loss of personal privacy in general.

I see my role in attempting to reverse some of the transhumanist community fragmentation we’ve seen recently. I would like to see the WTA become a unifying force across all political quadrants and all flavours of transhumanism. We are so few we can’t afford not to focus on our common goals instead on our differences.

I promise to be there in the political process, early and often, representing your interests.


Jani Moliis

I’m seeking an extension to what has so far been a two-year position on the WTA Board. When I ran for the WTA Board for the first time two years ago, I wrote in my candidate statement: “On the Board of the WTA, I would like to focus on good management… It is my explicit goal to ensure that all sources of friction are dealt with in a democratic and transparent way, before they get the opportunity to become conflicts detrimental to our common goals. I’m known to be a calm mediator, who attempts to gain the trust of all sides in a dispute.”

I’m extremely glad that during the last two years, there has not been any need for any mediating skills, but that even heated debates have been carried out in a (mostly) civilized manner, or have been halted before turning sour. So that part of my goals for my Board position has remained untested, and hopefully will continue to remain so. As for other aspects of good management and transparency, I have been emphasizing these in my role as the Treasurer for the WTA, a duty I’m
willing to continue if re-elected to the Board. With the tiny cash flows of the WTA (around $8,000 in 2006), it seems almost tragicomic that there have been accusations of misconduct in the past. However, to alleviate the risk of such accusations ever rising again, I have created transparency in WTA finances by reporting them regularly to the Board, as well as submitting the annual financial statements for membership approval. These kinds of transparency-enhancing procedures will become ever-more important as WTA’s funds will increase in the near future. That is why, looking forward, I feel that good management is still highly relevant, and something I believe I can bring to the Board effectively.

Background: I was born in 1980 in Helsinki, Finland and have lived there as well as in Mexico, Sri Lanka and Austria. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Webster University as well as a Master of Social Sciences degree in political science from the University of Helsinki. I am married, have a two-month old daughter, and currently work as a management consultant for Accenture. I am a founding member of the Finnish Transhumanist Association and its Chair since 2006.


Guido Núñez-Mujica

Overcoming human limitations is the very essence of Transhumanism, its most basic premise. It is the quest for liberation from our biological constraints, the breaking of the evolutionary chains that still tie us to the primordial mud, that some contend we ought to return. 

However, that escape from our biological fate is not something we are going to achieve automatically or easily. It is not a path without risks, nor will it be a transition that all of our fellow humans will gladly accept. It won’t be a monolithic program suitable for all tastes; not only due to our genetic individuality or the sheer multitude of choices soon to be available to us but also because our personal tastes, even more individual than our genomes, and much more plastic. 

Morphological freedom is a central conviction of H+, a privilege that arises from our diversity and from the fact that we all do not think alike in many respects. Yes, we may agree on many things, from the variety of aesthetic patterns in which we can find beauty, to the revelation that there is no single and “correct” path to enlightenment and happiness.

We want to embrace and expand this freedom, we want to explore as much of this mindscape as possible, and we want to construct entirely new realms with our augmented minds – perhaps even merging with non-human (but sentient) intelligences and discovering some new truths about ourselves in the synthesis. 

On the other hand, the desire for morphological freedom arises from different viewpoints and from a diversity of upbringings and backgrounds. Despite the fact that we are the World Transhumanist Association, our current ethnic and cultural diversity is not that broad.

Widespread enhancement of the human condition of billions of people could be possible with the technology we have today, but is not practical because of challenging economic and political realities. That said, we should do our best to bring about change for these billions of people by working on increasing diversification and understanding alternative viewpoints to get a broader picture.

This is not a call to cultural relativism; as heirs to Humanism and the Enlightenment, the respect of basic rights, freedom of inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge is not something that we should negotiate. The struggle to achieve equality for all sentient beings has to be one our key goals. In the future, when we will work side-by-side with other advanced intelligences, we will be witness to a partnership that strips the universe of its hidden secrets.

How can new technologies bring welfare to all neglected peoples? How can we leapfrog entire stages of development? Can we make feasible today what was not realistic last year? 

These are not easy questions and we cannot solve them alone. To answer them in a satisfactory way, however, we must get answers from those people who are directly affected by these situations—and not only do what we think they want us to do. 

This approach is both humane, necessary, and just; developed countries, after all, are in the minority. We, the people living in countries where basic needs are still unmet, represent the majority of the world. Any vision of the future which does not acknowledge this is certainly naïve or biased, and as technology accelerates and disseminates the developing world is going to play an increasingly interesting and pivotal role.

I have been a H+ for a long time and my first involvement with organized Transhumanists was with TransVision 2005 in Caracas, an international conference that I helped to organize. I am an undergraduate student of Biology and Computational Physics, and soon to be Guest Professor in Bioinformatics at Los Andes University, Mérida, where I am currently based.

I have been writing about science and technology since 2000 and have been the recipient of several awards, including the WTA’s Haldane Award in 2006 for my paper, “The Ethics of Enhancing Animals.” I have also worked as a consultant for the Millennium Project, implementing their State of the Future Index. Currently I am finishing my thesis on mathematical modelling of the parasite that causes Chagas’ disease, attempting to create a biotechnology startup and a community for OS drug and diagnostic development for Chagas disease here in Venezuela.

What can I offer to the WTA and its members? I am committed to adding more diversity to the association, committed to spreading the meme among the people that surround and engage me, and committed to analyzing the future from non-traditional perspectives. 

Finally, I want to show to our critics that H+ is not an ideology of wealthy Caucasian people as it has oftentimes been argued. Transhumanism is a powerful world-changing idea, and Fukuyama was right, it is the world’s most dangerous idea—but only to those who exploit today’s awful situation. Today, thanks to new technologies, many of us who in previous generations would have been kept silent are now able to express ourselves and perhaps even change things.

I am thankful for this opportunity and determined to make the best of it.

Posted by mrinesi on 2008/01/03 • (0) Comments

H+ New Year Party at Moscow

On December 31, 2007 Russian transhumanists celebrated the New Year 2008 with an H+ party. As far as we know, this was the first official transhumanist New Year party in the world.

17 people attended, including officials of the Russian Transhumanists Movement, a director of cryonics company, a mathematician, a director of medical centers, emergency medical personnel, a TV star, a lift engineer, a founders of abstinence society, several full-time transhumanists, a specialist in drug design, a specialist in mind uploading, web designers, politicians, programmers, some communists and a postmodernist (we needed someone to pick on).


Photos from the H+ New Year party

We took homeopatic doses of TV, including a completely forgettable and content-free speech by Mr. Putin, and small (albeit not homeopatic) doses of alcohol, though nobody got drunk and plenty of people didn’t drink much. Some people took Alertec (modafinil) instead and laughed at a latent biocon who didn’t. Overall, attending transhumanists were intentionally militant towards the bioconservative and religious forces outside the H+ circle, showing that calculated uses of our animal instincts can be productive. grin


H+ propaganda stickers

We launched some fireworks, walked around the block (swords drawn), placed some transhumanist stickers on walls, poles and windows around and returned back. But mostly it was an intellectual event with the emphasis on discussion and thinking. We talked about current enhancement technologies, the future and everything transhumanists discuss when they get together, watched some transhumanist YouTube playlists and previewed an unreleased transhumanist documentary.

It was a great New Year party and we will certainly do it again (bigger and better) next time!

Photos from the event are available at http://picasaweb.google.com/Danila.medvedev/2008.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2008/01/02 • (0) Comments

Lifenaut.com

Lifenaut.com is a web-based storage space for organizing and preserving critical information about one’s unique and essential characteristics. The purpose in creating this ex-vivo consciousness storage is to preserve one’s individual consciousness so that it remains viable for possible uploading with consciousness software into a cellular regenerated or bionanotechnological body by future medicine and technology. 

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/12/29 •

Entrevista a Bostrom y Pearce en Cronopis

Dave y Nick son los cofundadores de la Asociación Transhumanista Mundial, una organización sin fines lucrativos para la mejora de las capacidades humanas con alta tecnología.

ANDRÉS LOMEÑA: El transhumanismo propone el uso de nuevas tecnologías para mejorar las habilidades físicas y mentales de los seres humanos, descartando algunos aspectos como la estupidez o el sufrimiento. Habéis sido descritos como tecnoutópicos por críticos que escriben sobre las exageraciones del futuro. En mi opinión, hay algo bastante peor que el optimismo: el tecnopesimismo radical, encabezado por Paul Virilio, el fallecido Baudrillard y otros pensadores. ¿Por qué hay una fuerte tensión entre los puntos de vista optimista y pesimista?

NICK BOSTROM: En realidad no puedo compartir que ninguna instancia de mi personalidad sea denominada “tecnoutópica”, aunque ciertamente es un término que ha sido aplicado al transhumanismo por algunos críticos. De hecho, hay algo de justicia en su crítica. El transhumanismo es un movimiento muy diverso, y algunos individuos que pueden llamarse a sí mismos transhumanistas pueden ser llamados, con acierto, “tecnoutópicos” en el sentido de “aceptación acrítica de la visión de que las tecnologías inevitablemente resolverán todos los grandes problemas”.

No sé si el tecnopesimismo es peor o mejor que el tecnoutopismo. Me parece que deberíamos intentar superar los sesgos en ambas direcciones (malentendidos que llevan a resultados positivos y malentendidos que llevan a resultados negativos) y asignar posibilidades basadas en la evidencia y el juicio honesto más que en la base de la ideología o el prejuicio temperamental.

DAVID PEARCE: ¿Es nuestra calidad de vida en sociedades avanzadas mejor que los ancestros de cazadores-recolectores de la Sabana africana? La respuesta parece obvia: sí. Los tecnopesimistas podrían replicar esta evidencia sugieriendo que el promedio de los más felices es pequeño. Y luego pasan a extrapolarlo. Bien, tal extrapolación es prematura. Estamos en vísperas de una transformación de la naturaleza humana en sí misma. En teoría, podemos recalibrar la rutina del hedonismo y llegar a ser más felices (relegando el pesimismo a la historia). El tecnopesimismo puede ser útil cuando estimula el pensamiento crítico de consecuencias no anticipadas de las nuevas tecnologías, planificando escenarios mal previstos y analizando mejor la relación entre riesgo/recompensa. Pero si los humanos fueramos todos realistas depresivos, entonces todavía estaríamos viviendo en cuevas. Los transhumanistas creen que podemos superar nuestras limitaciones físicas, intelectuales, emocionales (¿y morales?) como seres humanos mediante el uso resposnable de la tecnología.

Vale la pena decir que yo soy un pesimista por temperamento. Pero creo que (previsiblemente) la tecnología informática y la biotecnología nos traerán miles de millones de años de seres humanos invencibles con más fortuna que ninguna otra cosa realizable hoy.

A.L. : Wikipedia sistematiza todos los miedos y reticencias hacia el movimiento transhumanista: inviabilidad, el argumento de jugar a ser Dios, el argumento de la fuente de la juventud, de un nuevo “mundo feliz”, de Frankestein o de Terminator (basado en el libro “La hora final” de Martin Rees). ¿Cuáles de esos temas son comprensibles y cuáles no? Una crítica común suele ser la visión finalista del transhumanismo (como ocurre con el marxismo o el cristianismo, por ejemplo). En resumen, ¿cómo rebatís esos punto de vista distópicos?

N.B. : Bajo las bases del “caso por caso”, también intentando identificar los sesgos que pudieran afectar a nuestro juicio a través de un amplio rango de casos. El miedo no es algo necesariamente malo siempre que esté dirigido a algo que es realmente peligroso, y que resulta un intento constructivo de hacer algo sensato para reducir el peligro. Por ejemplo, tiene sentido estar preocupado por la enfermedad pandémica, algo que ocurre junto con la posibilidad de grandes errores en bioingeniería. Pero sentir miedo teniendo la opción de retrasar la enfermedad y la
senilidad a través de algunas terapias de rejuvenecimiento efectivas es algo perverso. De todas maneras, no creo que haya muchas personas que en realidad teman eso, aunque algunos puedan expresar oposición por razones ideológicas.

Para ilustrar cómo uno puede intentar localizar y borrar sus prejuicios sobre temas de mejora, echa un vistazo sobre los sesgos del Status Quo: http://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/statusquo.pdf

D.P. : ¿Jugar a ser Dios? ¿Qué podría estar más “endiosado” que crear nueva vida? Históricamente, casi todas las culturas han tenido conexiones entre tener sexo y reproducción; nosotros no tenemos una excusa así. Por un lado, condenamos a los escritores de “malware” informático, quienes liberan código corrupto. Por otro, nosotros propagamos nuestro propio código corrupto a través de generaciones (una enfermedad genética letal, el envejecimiento, y una predisposición a los desórdenes de ansiedad, depresión y otros desagradables estados darwinistas de la mente). Con los avances en medicina reproductiva, ¿qué hay de malo con actuar como padres responsables? ¿Por qué no planear la salud genética a largo plazo y la felicidad de las generaciones futuras?

¿El argumento de la fuente de la juventud (el desprecio por la carne)? ¿Qué podría mostrar más desprecio por la carne que apoyar cuerpos darwinianos que se desmoronan y mueren? Con la madurez de la medicina genética, ¿por qué no diseñar un anteproyecto para los cuerpos eternamente jóvenes? Es más, nosotros tendremos pronto la oportunidad de explorar formas más ricas de sensualidad; magnificar el cortex somato-sensorial; aislar el centro del deseo sexual y amplificar sus sustratos según lo queramos. Trascender la carne puede ser una opción, no una
obligación.

¿Un nuevo “mundo feliz”? Este argumento es más complicado de desmontar con rotundidad. La biotecnología puede reforzar al ciudadano individual más que al Estado. Por ejemplo, mejorando la iniciativa para incrementar la autonomía personal y la participación activa en la sociedad. Por contra, la baja iniciativa está asociada a la subordinación y al retraimiento social. El soma de Huxley estaba equivocadamente recomendado como una “droga de placer ideal”.
Verdaderamente la farmacología utópica superará eso.

¿Argumento de dehumanización (Frankenstein)? Sí, la tecnología puede deshumanizar; la biotecnología puede crear monstruos. Aunque también pueden crearse santos y ángeles. Menos poéticamente, pronto podremos “humanizarnos” a nosotros mismos. Podemos mejorar biológicamente nuestra capacidad para la empatía (ya sea amplificando funcionalmente nuestras neuronas espejo, o por el uso de diseños “empatógenos” prosociales, o por la liberación de oxitocina sostenida por ingeniería genética para promover la confianza social. ¿Haremos todo eso?
No lo sé.

¿El argumento Terminator? El bioterrorismo y el virus “grey goo” son quizás los escenarios más preocupantes. Pero dentro de las próximas décadas, tendremos probablemente bases autosostenibles para la Luna y Marte. Incluso en los escenarios más apocalípticos, cualquier riesgo existencial para la vida inteligente se disminuirá de este modo. Desde una perspectiva ética utilitarista, es esencial que los seres humanos sobrevivan para llegar a ser posthumanos. Somos la única especie capaz de erradicar el sufrimiento en toda la vida sintiente. Nosotros también somos la
única especie lo suficientemente inteligente como para liberar felicidad a lo largo del universo accesible.

A.L. : Probablemente, el problema más importante es la poca información que tenemos sobre vuestro movimiento. En realidad, aquí el transhumanismo es aún un gran desconocido, salvo por algunos artículos de Fukuyama. Me gustaría preguntarles por las relaciones entre transhumanismo y otros aspectos. Por ejemplo:

- El transhumanismo y la religión. ¿Os consideráis religiosos? ¿Hay un transhumanismo ateo o agnóstico?

N.B. : Me considero agnóstico. La mayoría de los transhumanistas no son religiosos, pero hay transhumanistas católicos, mormones, budistas, etc.

D.P. : Pienso que es difícil reconciliar el transhumanismo y la religión revelada. Si queremos vivir en el paraíso, tendremos que ingeniárnosla nosotros mismos. Si queremos la vida eterna, necesitaremos reescribir nuestro código genético erróneamente conducido y llegar a ser como dioses. “Todo lo que tiene vida puede ser librado de sufrimiento”, dijo Gautama Buddha. Es un sentimiento maravilloso. Por desgracia, sólo las soluciones dadas por la alta tecnología pueden erradicar el sufrimiento del mundo. La sola compasión no es suficiente.

- El transhumanismo y la eugenesia. ¿Son todos los transhumanistas eugenistas? ¿Tenéis un programa político en este tema?

N.B. : La asociación transhumanista mundial ha adoptado oficialmente una declaración en la que prohibe todas las formas de eugenesia neonazi de la organización (esto ha sido una respuesta a un incidente de hace algunos años, cuando uno o dos trolls intentaron infiltrarse en la organización). El transhumanismo apoya los derechos reproductivos, entre otros derechos humanos. Tendemos a pensar que es mejor que las decisiones reproductivas están en manos de los padres, en contacto con su doctor, y dentro de las amplias líneas del Estado. Sería éticamente inaceptable, así como muy peligroso, tener una imposición de Estado con una fórmula que determina qué tipo de personas deberían existir en la próxima generación.

Si yo fuera padre, consideraría la obligación moral para tomar todos los pasos razonables hacia la seguridad de que el niño que vamos a traer al mundo empiece su vida con las mejores oportunidades de vida posibles. Si una mujer preñada puede mejorar el coeficiente intelectual del hijo tomando “ácido fólico” o sumplementos de “colina”, y evitando el alcohol, el tabaco y el agua no potable, creo que sería irresponsable para ella no hacerlo. De igual manera, si estuviera usando fertilización in vitro, y hubiera un test genético sencillo que pudiera seleccionar el mejor embrión para la salud y otras capacidades deseables, entonces creo que sería negligente no aprovecharme de ese test. Sería un inconveniente muy pequeño para una importante ganancia.

D.P. : Los tranhumanistas no son eugenistas en nada que recuerde al odioso sentido tradicional de la palabra. No obstante, la humanidad está al borde de una revolución reproductiva. Los padres pronto podrán elegir la clase de hijos que ellos quieren traer al mundo. El diagnóstico pre-implantación se volverá una rutina. El diseño de genomas será lo siguiente. La mayoría de los padres aspiran a tener hijos más felices, más listos y más sanos. En principio, una mayoría de personas probablemente apoyaría el uso de la medicina genética para prevenir enfermedades como la “fibrosis cística”. En contraste, sólo una minoría de personas apoya actualmente las tecnologías para estas mejoras. Las tecnologías de mejora de hoy son las terapias del mañana. Para nuestros sucesores, los humanos mortales pareceremos trágicamente enfermos y disfuncionales. En la actualidad pensamos que es moralmente aceptable pasar la herencia letal del envejecimiento a nuestros hijos y una predisposición a la rica variedad de desórdenes mentales (envidia, falta de iniciativa, ansiedad, resentimiento, soledad) adaptativos en el medio ancestral. Así la vida humana puede ser potencialmente mejor. Con tecnologías maduras, ¿por qué no reemplazar la cruel ruleta genética de la selección natural por la superfelicidad preprogramada genéticamente, la superlongevidad y la superinteligencia? Críticamente, esta transformación no necesita (y no debería) suponer la opresión de otras razas o especies. Trascender nuestras limitaciones biológicas supone trascender los sesgos etnocéntricos y antropocéntricos de nuestros ancestros.

Tenemos por delante un verdadero dilema. En un mundo post-envejecimiento, ¿cómo reconciliamos los derechos reproductivos con la capacidad de explotación finita de nuestro planeta? ¿Presionará la población finalmente para que nos hagamos a la idea de las estrellas? ¿O este escenario es solamente ciencia-ficción?

- El transhumanismo y la inmortalitalidad. ¿Creéis en la “transferencia mental”? Si la respuesta es sí, supongo que os consideráis dualistas.

N.B. : Pienso que la transferencia podría, bajo circunstancias correctas, preservar la consciencia y la identidad personal. Yo no me considero un dualista. Pienso que mi mente actualmente está corriendo en una especie de computadora de proteínas, y si los mismos procesos computacionales fueran implementados en un ordenador de silicio creo que no notaría ninguna diferencia.

D.P. : No hay ninguna razón científica por la que no podamos reescribir nuestro propio código genético y permanecer jóvenes indefinidamente. En cierto sentido, los posthumanos pueden llegar a ser casi inmortales (aunque quizás hablar así refleje nociones insostenibles de la identidad personal. ¿Cuándo? Unos pocos transhumanistas son optimistas. Ellos citan el crecimiento exponencial en el poder de las computadoras y predicen que congelar el envejecimiento puede ser posible en décadas.

Espero que estén en lo cierto. Por desgracia, yo temo que esa reescritura genética y otras intervenciones pueden tardar cientos de años, o incluso más. En cualquier caso, las pruebas bien controladas de terapias antienvejecimiento serán un problema.

¿Transferencia mental? Aquí quizás hay que tomar más precauciones. La tecnología dominante de un periodo ofrece metáforas de la mente. Nuestra tecnología dominante es la computadora digital. Así que es natural preguntarse si los robots orgánicos como nosotros pueden escanearse, digitalizarse y transferirse a un medio menos perecedero. Desgraciadamente, no tenemos ningún conocimiento científico sobre la consciencia, deja sólo una teoría rigurosa de sus múltiples apetitos. Ni la física clásica explica ahora cómo billones de células cerebrales pueden generar un campo de experiencia unitaria. Personalmente, soy escéptico de que la computadora digital con una arquitectura clásica pueda ofrecer alguna vez consciencia unificada (¿Madurarán las computadoras cuánticas artifiaciales para ser sintientes? Puede). Debería añadir que gente muy capaz está en desacuerdo. ¿Si soy un dualista? No, pienso que el mundo está exhaustivamente descrito por ecuaciones matemáticas. Lo que respira fuego dentro de las ecuaciones no es un problema tal como lo entendieron los metafísicos materialistas.

- El transhumanismo y la singularidad tecnológica [progreso tecnológico y cambio social tan brusco que cambiará nuestro ambiente hasta el punto de que un ser humano anterior a la singularidad sería incapaz de comprender o predecir]. ¿Está la singularidad, tal como la explica el escritor de ciencia-ficción Vernor Vinge, realmente cerca?

N.B. : No lo sé. Nadie lo sabe. Para mí, esto significa que alguien puede pensar en términos de una distribución de probabilidad sobre un alto rango de posibilidades, incluyendo algunas probabilidades nada triviales sobre la posibilidad de que eso ocurrirá bastante pronto, dentro de un par de décadas; alguna probabilidad dice que será mucho más tarde; y algunas probabilidades indican que esto nunca ocurrirá. Podríamos tener entonces una interesante discusión acerca de la forma exacta de estas distribuciones de probabilidad. Pero a menos que primero reconozcamos la incertidumbre de estas previsiones, estaremos muy lejos en nuestros análisis.

D.P. : El desarrollo de la superinteligencia transhumana es presumiblemente inevitable en al menos algunas frecuencias de amplitud de la función ondulatoria universal. ¿Cerca? Supongo que depende de tu concepción de proximidad. ¿Deberíamos temerla? No si la inteligencia superhumana trae una capacidad más rica para el entendimiento empático de otros seres sintientes. El instituto de la singularidad [http://www.singinst.org] explora estos temas en profundidad.

Vinge habla de cómo podemos, en un futuro cercano, crear (o convertirnos) criaturas que superen a los humanos en las dimensiones intelectual y creativa. Los hechos que van todavía más allá (llamados singularidad tecnológica) son tan inimaginables como lo es la ópera para un “platelminto” [gusanos sin aparato circulatorio o respiratorio]. Vinge puede estar en lo cierto. Pero vale la pena recalcar que el amor por la ópera de los humanos tiene algo importante en común con los gusanos: la interacción funcional entre nuestros respectivos opioides y sistemas de
dopamina. Es la escala del placer lo que hace que algo merezca la pena. Sin un tono hedonista, no hay ningún significado en la existencia. No, posiblemente no podemos imaginar sobre qué tipo de conceptos sofisticados de mentes posthumanas podemos ser felices (no más que un gusano puede saber sobre la ópera). Pero predigo que los posthumanos no serán solamente superinteligentes sino también supersintientes.

A.L. : El “imperativo hedonista” propone la biología molecular del paraíso. Un mundo sin dolor físico o mental. David refuta objeciones diciendo: “La guerra, el robo, el infanticidio y el abuso de niños han existido desde tiempos inmemoriales. Estos son bastante naturales si lo miramos desde una perspectiva histórica, cultural o sociobiológica”. He entrevistado a Gary Francione, un teórico de los derechos animales, y él opina algo semejante sobre el consumo de productos animales frente al veganismo. Así que supongo que deberíamos tener en cuenta esta perspectiva abolicionista, ¿verdad?

Mi segunda pregunta aquí es: si nosotros logramos un paraíso biológico (olvidando las críticas que dicen que el dolor es algo necesario en la vida), ¿cómo viviríamos? Este nuevo mundo resulta casi inimaginable.

N.B. : Sí, pienso que deberíamos tener en cuenta la perspectiva abolicionista. Y sí, el mundo que resultaría si el proyecto abolicionista fuera eventualmente exitoso es casi imposible de imaginar. Para los iniciadores, nosotros podemos asumir con seguridad (considerando los obstáculos tecnológicos pantagruélicos que tendrían que ser superados para que esa visión llegara a ser real) que la eliminación del dolor no sería la única diferencia entre el nuevo mundo y el mundo actual. Muchas otras cosas cambiarían también.

Desde luego, el abstenerse de la intervención de una superinteligencia o la completa destrucción de la biosfera (otra forma de sufrimiento que podría ser abolida) no va a ocurrir de la noche a la mañana. Así que podemos tener una idea clara de estos asuntos para movernos gradualmente hacia nuestros objetivos.

D.P. : ¡Qué libro al servicio del demonio puede escribir sobre el torpe, vil, poco provechoso y cruel trabajo de la naturaleza! Dijo Darwin. ¿Y si la naturaleza, encarnada en dientes y garras, pudiera ser civilizada? ¿Y si los “parques salvajes” posthumanos pudieran estar libres de la crueldad? Es técnicamente viable. Pienso que cualquier ética compasiva (no sólo el budismo o el utilitarismo) debe reivindicar la extensión del proyecto abolicionista a todo el mundo viviente, no solamente a nuestros grupos étnicos o especies. Un compromiso con todos los seres sintientes está escrito dentro de la declaración transhumanista. ¿Qué significa ese compromiso en la práctica? ¿De veras vamos a parar de matar y comer a otras especies? Idealmente, el poder del argumento moral bastaría. Más plausiblemente, sólo el advenimiento de comida abundante, barata y deliciosa producida con ingeniería genética puede sentar las bases para la fundación de un veganismo global. La producción de “carne no animal” es potencialmente asumible. Sin embargo, si somos moralmente serios, una dieta libre de sufrimiento es solamente el principio. Un mundo sin sufrimiento supondrá el uso de políticas anticonceptivas para muchas especies; reescritura del genoma; rediseño del ecosistema de nuestros parques salvajes terrestres; nanorobots para dirigir el ecosistema marino; y mucho más. Esto representa un reto serio de computación e ingeniería. Visita http://www.abolitionist.com para una visión general.

¿Dolor físico? ¿Por qué nuestros robots responden a estimulos sin sentir agonía si son dañados? (mientras su contrapartida orgánica sufre usualmente tanto). Por el momento sólo podemos conjeturar. Hay al menos dos posibles soluciones a las miserias del dolor físico en la vida orgánica. La primera es librarse de todo lo desagradable mediante prótesis inteligentes… la solución “cyborg”. La otra alternativa es modificar las curvas de información sensible hacia gradientes de sublimidad del ser humano. Por ejemplo, tener analogías funcionales para el dolor sin notar el
vicioso sentimiento de dolor en bruto.

¿Cómo sería la vida en una hipotética era postdarwiniana? Es divertido especular. Por analogía, imagina si un especialista en dolor crónico empezara a pontificar a sus pacientes acerca de cómo deberían vivir sus vidas tras ser curados. ¿Por qué deberíamos hacerle caso? En teoría, los humanos mejorados emocionalmente podrían conservar mucho de nuestras arquitecturas preferidas para la existencia, simplemente recalibrando las rutinas así que nosotros todos llevaríamos vidas más placenteras en torno de un punto de vista hedonista. En la práctica, pienso que nuestro esquema conceptual también se verá revolucionado. Cualquier cosa concreta que digamos ahora sobre la era futura de la ingeniería del paraíso es probablemente una ingenuidad de niños. Para tener una idea de qué está en juego, quizás intenta recolectar las cimas más maravillosas de tu experiencia vital. Sospecho (pero no puedo probarlo) que el día a día de la vida posthumana será mucho mejor.

A.L. : Pienso que el transhumanismo nos es poco familiar porque no podemos leer una genealogía de vuestros pensamientos y vuestros maestros. Creo que para David el “utilitarismo negativo” es un buen punto de partida, pero no sé cuál es el de Nick. No conozco uy bien vuestros orígenes, no sé si porque intentáis despegaros de ciertas presunciones del pensamiento tradicional.

Además, ¿en qué momento arranca la historia reciente del transhumanismo? ¿En Ray Kurzweill, Marvin Minksy, Hans Moravec?

N.B. : No hay un punto de partida donde todo empezó. El pensamiento transhumanista ha tomado forma gradualmente, a través de las contribuciones de muchos pensadores. Mi visión filosófica no está basada en ningún predecesor en particular. Leo a muchos. Esto, por cierto, es muy habitual en la filosofía analítica contemporánea: ha llegado a ser más como una ciencia, con muchas personas haciendo pequeñas contribuciones a muchos problemas específicos.

D.P. : El transhumanismo es un movimiento muy diverso. Para más información visita: http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html. El transhumanismo en el sentido moderno del término realmente empieza en el trabajo de Max More y sus colegas del Instituto Extropiano. La historia del pensamiento transhumanista escrita por Nick es muy ilustrativa. Personalmente citaría muchas influencias como Bertrand Russell, Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins y Alexander Shulgin (no todos aparecen en el canon transhumanista).

A.L. : Por cierto, ¿vais a celebrar algo por el décimo aniversario de la asociación transhumanista? ¿Cómo os conocisteis y llegasteis a fundar esta organización? ¿Cuáles son vuestras actitivades principales en la actualidad?

N.B. : Supongo que deberíamos hacer algo por el décimo aniversario. He estado demasiado ocupado en mis propias investigaciones para plantearme esa idea. Dave y yo nos conocimos mientras yo estaba graduado en economía, en Londres. Tuvimos alguna correspondencia por mail. Dave se ha formado la impresión de que yo era el mandamás y él probablemente se decepcionó cuando vio que era solamente un pobre estudiante graduado. Sin embargo, después de nuestro encuentro él me describió en su diario on line como un “perseguidor de la verdad en busca de engaños epistémicos”. Yo era bastante inquieto en mis primeros años pero me he tranquilizado con los años.

Actualmente estoy centrándome en mi trabajo como director del instituto de la humanidad del futuro de la universidad de Oxford. Es una investigación interdisciplinaria sin ánimo de lucro que busca estudiar las preguntas vitales para la humanidad de una forma rigurosa, lo cual es una absorbente e importante misión. Me gusta intentar ayudar con la organización de las tareas transhumanistas, pero en mi corazón soy un investigador y pensador, no un activista o un ideólogo.

D.P. : Conocí a Nick hace una década. Él me escribió algunas astutas objeciones al manifiesto abolicionista. Con alguna dificultad, Nick me convenció de que yo era un transhumanista (yo predije que él sería el primer profesor del transhumanismo: uno espera ser el primero de muchos). Yo animé a Nick a hacer un website. La Asociación Transhumanista Mundial entró en un periodo de crecimiento explosivo sólo después de que el formidable bioético James Hughes ( http://changesurfer.com/Hughes.html) estuviera de acuerdo en ser secretario. Por el contrario, tengo una gran tendencia no-transhumanista que ocultar detrás de mi computadora. En un mundo darwiniano, los herbívoros tienden a ser tímidos… o son devorados.

Mi campo de investigación está en la psicofarmacología clínica (particularmente en el tratamiento de desórdenes afectivos) porque pienso que padecer sufrimiento es el desafío moral más urgente que debemos afrontar. No todos estarían de acuerdo, pero el dolor más sencillo de llevar es el de los otros. Las drogas psicoterapéuticas son sólo algo provisional: la medicina post-genómica será mejor. Pero la mayoría de las personas no quieren oír cómo sus descendientes pueden disfrutar de una larga vida de felicidad, juventud eterna, abundancia material ilimitada, libertad morfológica, etcétera. Ellos quieren saber cómo mejorar sus vidas (y la de sus seres queridos) en este mismo momento.

A.L. : Si estuviéramos viviendo una simulación, ¿qué supondría esto para nosotros? ¿Deberíamos cambiar algo? ¿Deberíamos creer en la navaja de Occam? A propósito, ¿qué pensáis de la “Física de la inmortalidad” de Tipler?

N.B. Esto se refiere a un texto académico que escribí hace unos años, que ha atraído la atención de muchos (véase http://www.simulation-argument.com). En resumen, no creo que la hipótesis de la simulación debiera cambiar drásticamente la forma en que vivimos, aunque esto es intelectualmente interesante y puede tener algunas ramificaciones prácticas perspicaces. Me gusta tener la oportunidad de enfatizar que el argumento de la simulación no muestra que nosotros estamos viviendo en una simulación de ordenador, sólo que al menos una de las tres proposiciones es verdadera [Proposición 1: la probabilidad de que una especie con nuestro nivel actual de desarrollo pueda sobrevivir antes de alcanzar la madurez tecnológica es muy baja. Proposición 2: .Casi ninguna civilización madura tecnológicamente está interesada en correr simulaciones de ordenadores de
mentes como las nuestras. Proposición 3: Estás con casi toda seguridad viviendo una simulación] . Una de esas proposiciones es la de la simulación.

D.P. : Cómo deberíamos comportarnos en una supuesta simulación depende de su naturaleza. Así, si tú tienes un sueño lúcido, cualquier cosa es permisible. La completa autoindulgencia está moralmente bien desde que las personas en un mundo de ensueño son sólo zombies. Lo mismo es cierto cuando usando software de realidad virtual del mañana en el modo de un jugador. Sin embargo, si la hipótesis de la simulación es verdadera, entonces las personas simuladas tienen experiencias reales. El sufrimiento, por ejemplo, no es menos real dentro del superordenador cómisco en el curso de una simulación de un superser. De hecho, una de las razones por las que creo que estamos viviendo en una realidad de fondo es porque encuentro inconcebible que un superser optara por recrear (y proliferar) los horrores del pasado darwiniano desde el cual éste emergió, aunque esto es más una incredulidad personal que un argumento.

¿La navaja de Occam? El argumento de la simulación es interesante precisamente porque es muy cauto con las afirmaciones. Sus premisas son bastante compartidas en la filosofía académica y la comunidad científica.

Mi propia idea de cómo comportarnos en una simulación tiene más lógica en la teoría de la percepción. Yo he creído durante mucho que cada uno de nosotros vive en una simulación egocéntrica del mundo proyectada por la mente/cerebro. Desde que los zombies de cada simulación tienen contrapartidas en el mundo real, uno debería tratarlos como si fueran reales. Sin embargo, como joven jinete de la angustia, mi aceptación radical de una teoría de la percepción realista me hace sentir como si estuviera condenado al confinamiento solitario toda mi vida. Este sentimiento de soledad era indescriptible. El realismo naïve es mejor para la salud mental de uno.

¿La física de la inmortalidad? Si la teología judeocristiana es verdadera, entonces el libro de Tipler es un intento maravillosamente audaz de mostrar cómo los dogmas religiosos pueden ser reconciliados con la ciencia natural. Pero dudo que cualquier físico que no comparta las premisas cristianas de Tipler esté de acuerdo en sus conclusiones.

A.L. : Admito que no entiendo bien el principio antrópico. ¿Podríais explicarnos con sencillez qué supone esto para nosotros?

N.B. : El principio antrópico se ha construido y deconstruido en muchas ocasiones. Si tú apartas todos los malentendidos, hay en realidad un corazón sensato e importante, el cual es el mandato para tomar en cuenta los efectos de las observaciones cuando las evidencias o hipótesis no contienen información catalogada. Tengo una web.com una introducción: http://www.anthropicprinciple.com.

D.P. : Todas las versiones del principio antrópico fuerte aseguran que el universo fue diseñado, en algún sentido, para la existencia humana. Yo no estoy convencido. Nuestra mejor teoría del mundo, la mecánica cuántica, nos dice que vivimos en un multiverso con un número inconcebiblemente inmenso de ramificaciones. En la gran mayoría de esas ramificaciones, las constantes de la naturaleza están equivocadas. Tales ramificaciones no contienen observadores o vida. Por el contrario, una minoría de las ramificaciones apoyan la replicación de la información que evoluciona vía selección natural hasta llegar a ser observadores. El observador ingenuo en tales ramificaciones pueden preguntarse por qué las constantes físicas básicas (por ejemplo, las constantes que determinan las cuatro fuerzas de la naturaleza) aparecen tan improbablemente afinadas para producir vida, o seres humanos. Ingenuamente, él invoca a Dios que ha puesto providencialmente las leyes de la naturaleza para el beneficio humano (o su castigo). Pero esas coincidencias antrópicas son meramente un efecto de la observación. La clase de vías que podemos observar están restringidas por las condiciones necesitadas para el surgimiento de observadores. Los observadores, por su propia naturaleza, se encontrarán a ellos mismos en una rama atípica del multiverso vista como un todo.

A.L. : Quiero preguntaros algo para finalizar. La mejora humana y el destino posthumano parecen ir hacia la extinción de la propia humanidad. La condición humana está condenándose a sí misma. ¿Qué pensáis de esta paradoja?

N.B. : Pienso que debemos distinguir la humanidad de tener una determinada clase de ADN en nuestras células, solamente como nosotros ya distinguimos los seres entre blancos y negros, mujeres u hombres, jóvenes o mujeres, gays o hetero. Podría haber muchas formas de humanidad, incluyendo nuevas formas que todavía no existan. Y el objetivo no es reemplazar a la gente actual con un conjunto de “personas superiores”. El objetivo es dar a las personas la opción de continuar desarrollándose de muy diversas maneras, incluyendo formas que difierente de los tipos de humanidad que tenemos hoy. Si quires un eslogan, podría decir que el humano es lo que somos, y
el humane es lo que esperamos llegar a ser (y esa necesidad no es exactamente la misma para todo el mundo).

D.P. : ¿Un bebé se mata a sí mismo por crecer hasta ser un adulto maduro? ¿Una crisálida se mata a sí misma por llegar a convertirse en una mariposa?

A.L. : Gracias por su amabilidad. ¿Desean añadir algo?

N.B. : Tengo anotaciones de muchas de mis publicaciones en Internet, así que los lectores interesados que quieran leer más pueden visitar mi web: http://www.nickbostrom.com.

D.P. : Puedes notar ciertas diferencias de énfasis entre Nick y yo. Pero pienso que ambos estamos de acuerdo en que el futuro de la vida en el universo es potencialmente glorioso más allá de la comprensión humana.

N.B. : Coincidimos en eso. Y esto resulta realmente importante.

Muchísimas gracias.
Andrés.

Posted by mrinesi on 2007/12/27 •

Bostrom and Pearce interviewed by Cronopis

Andres Lomena recently conducted an interview for the Spanish magazine Cronopis with Nick Bostrom and David Pearce about their co-founding of the World Transhumanist Association and related topics. They have kindly allowed us to reprint the interview here. (Spanish version here)

ANDRÉS LOMEÑA: Transhumanism, or human enhancement, suggests the use of new technologies to improve mental and physical abilities, discarding some aspects as stupidity, suffering and so forth. You have been described as technoutopian by critics who write on “Future hypes”. In my opinion, there is something pretty much worse than optimism: radical technopessimism, managed by Paul Virilio, deceased Baudrillard and other thinkers. Why is there a strong strain between the optimistic and pessimistic overview?

NICK BOSTROM: I can’t recall any instance of me personally being labeled “technoutopian”, although certainly it’s a term that has been applied to transhumanism by some critics.  In fact, there is some justice in this criticism.  Transhumanism is a very diverse movement, and some individuals who call themselves transhumanists might fairly be called “technoutopian” in the sense of “uncritically accepting of the view that technology will inevitably soon solve all big problems”.

I don’t know whether technopessimism is worse or better than technoutopianism.  It seems to me that we should try to overcome biases in either direction --- biases towards positive as well as biases towards negative outcomes --- and assign probabilities based on evidence and honest judgment rather than on the basis of ideological or temperamental prejudice.

DAVID PEARCE: Is our quality of life in technologically advanced societies better than life for our hunter-gatherer ancestors on the African savannah? The answer might seem obviously ‘yes’.  Techno pessimists might reply that evidence suggesting we’re on average any happier is thin - and then go on to extrapolate accordingly. Such extrapolation is premature. We’re on the eve of a profound transformation of human nature itself. In theory, we can even recalibrate the hedonic treadmill and become happier - relegating pessimism to history.  Technopessimism can sometimes be useful when it encourages deeper thought on unanticipated consequences of new technologies, worst-case scenario planning and better risk-reward analysis. But if humans were all depressive realists, then we’d still be living in caves. Transhumanists believe that we can overcome our physical, intellectual, emotional (and moral?) limitations as human beings via the responsible use of technology.

For what it’s worth, I’m a pessimist by temperament. But I (tentatively) believe that infotech and biotechnology will deliver billions of years of invincible well-being far richer than anything feasible today.

A.L.: There are many fears and more ignorance. Wikipedia systematizes all fears: infeasibility, playing God argument, Fountain of Youth argument, Brave New World argument, Frankenstein argument or Terminator argument (based on “Our final hour” by Martin Rees). What of these issues are sound (understandable) fears and what is not? One common criticism uses to be the eschatological vision of transhumanism (like Marxism and Christianity, for instance). In short, how could we struggle against these dystopian points of view?

N.B.: On a case-by-case basis, as well as by trying to identify biases that could affect our judgments across a broad range of cases.

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, provided it’s directed at something that really is dangerous, and that it results in some constructive striving to reduce the danger.  For example, it makes good sense to be concerned about pandemic disease, naturally occurring as well as the possibility of bioengineered superbugs.  But to fear having the option of delaying disease and senility through some effective rejuvenation therapy is perverse.  In fact, I don’t think there are many people who are actually afraid of that, although some might express opposition for ideological reasons.

For an illustration of how one might attempt to diagnose and remove a bias affecting judgment across a range of enhancement issues, see a paper on status quo bias (http://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/statusquo.pdf), which I wrote together with Toby Ord.

D.P.: Hubris/Playing God? What could be more “godlike” than creating new life? Not all cultures historically have made the connection between having sex and reproduction; but we have no such excuse. On the one hand, we condemn writers of computer malware who release corrupt code.  Yet we freely propagate our own corrupt code across the generations - notably a lethal genetic disease (ageing) and a predisposition to anxiety disorders, depression and other nasty Darwinian states of mind. As reproductive medicine advances, what’s wrong with acting as responsible parents instead? Why not plan the long-term genetic health and happiness of future generations?

Contempt for the flesh/Fountain of Youth argument? What could show more contempt for the flesh than to champion Darwinian bodies which crumble and die?  As genetic medicine matures, why not design blueprints for perpetually youthful bodies? Moreover, we will soon have the opportunity to explore richer forms of sensuality; to magnify the somato-sensory cortex; and to isolate the molecular signature of sexual desire and amplify its substrates on demand. Transcending the flesh might be an option; it’s not an obligation.

Brave New World? This argument is harder to dismiss outright. But biotechnology can potentially empower the individual citizen rather than the state. For example, enhancing mood tends to increase personal autonomy and active participation in society.  Conversely, low mood is associated with subordination and social withdrawal. Huxley’s soma was wrongly touted as an “ideal pleasure drug”. Truly utopian pharmacology will surpass it.

Dehumanization / the Frankenstein argument? Yes, technology can dehumanize; and biotech can create monsters. Yet biotech can also create saints and angels. Put less poetically, we will shortly be able “humanize” ourselves. For we can biologically enhance our capacity for empathy - whether by functionally amplifying our mirror neurons, or by use of pro-social designer empathogens, or by genetically engineering sustained oxytocin-release to promote social trust. Will we do so? I don’t know.

The Terminator argument? Bioterrorism and “grey goo” are perhaps the most worrying scenarios.  But within the next few decades, we will most likely have self-sustaining bases on the Moon and Mars.  Even on the most apocalyptic scenarios, any existential risk to intelligent life will thereby be sharply diminished. From an ethical utilitarian perspective, it’s critical that human beings survive to become post-human.  For we are the only species capable of eradicating suffering in all sentient life. We are also the only species smart enough to spread intelligent bliss throughout the accessible universe.

A.L.: Probably, the most important problem is the shortage of information. Actually, we do not know too much about Transhumanism, excepting some Fukuyama´s articles (initially optimistic and then pessimistic). We would like to ask you the connections between transhumanism and other topics. For instance:
Transhumanism and religion: Do you consider yourself religious? Is there an atheist or agnostic transhumanism?

N.B.: I would call myself agnostic.  Most transhumanists appear to be non-religious, but there are also Catholic transhumanists, Mormon transhumanists, Buddhist transhumanists, etc.

D.P.: I think it’s hard to reconcile transhumanism and revealed religion. If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then we’ll need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like. “May all that have life be delivered from suffering”, said Gautama Buddha. It’s a wonderful sentiment. Sadly, only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the living world. Compassion alone is not enough.

A.L.: Transhumanism and eugenics: Are all transhumanists eugenicist? Do you have a political program in this topic? Do you consider yourself a lobby of future generations?

N.B.: The World Transhumanist Association has officially adopted a statement banning all forms of neo-Nazi eugenicists from the organization.  (This was in response to an incident some years ago when one or two such trolls attempted to infiltrate the WTA.) Transhumanism supports reproductive rights among other human rights.  We tend to think that it is better that reproductive decisions be in the hands of parents, in consultation with their doctor, and within broad guidelines laid down by the state.  It would be ethically unacceptable, as well as potentially very dangerous, to have the state impose a one-size-fits-all formula on what kind of people should exist in the next generation.

If I were a parent, I would consider myself as having a moral duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the child which I was about to bring into the world would start his or her life with the best possible chances for a good life.  If a pregnant woman can improve her child’s IQ by taking folic acid or choline supplements, and by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and lead-contaminated drinking water, I believe would be irresponsible for her to fail to take these easy steps.  Similarly, if I were using in vitro fertilization, and there were a simple genetic test which could select the embryo with the best genes for health and other desirable capacities, then I believe it would be negligent not to make use of the test.  It would be a very small inconvenience for a potentially large gain.

D.P.: Transhumanists aren’t eugenicists in anything resembling the odious traditional sense.  However, humanity is on the brink of a reproductive revolution. Prospective parents will soon be empowered to choose the kinds of children they want to bring into the world. Pre-implantation diagnosis is likely to become routine. Designer genomes will follow. Most parents will aspire to have happier, smarter, healthier children. In principle, a majority of people today would probably support use of genetic medicine to prevent diseases such as cystic fibrosis. By contrast, only a minority of people currently favor “enhancement” technologies. But today’s enhancement technologies are tomorrow’s remedial therapies.

By the standards of our successors, mortal humans will presumably all seem tragically diseased and dysfunctional. At present we think it’s morally acceptable to pass on to our children the lethal hereditary disease of ageing - and a predisposition to various ugly states of mind (e.g. jealousy, low mood, anxiety, resentment, and loneliness) adaptive in the ancestral environment. Yet human life could potentially be so much richer. As technology matures, why not replace the cruel genetic roulette of natural selection with genetically preprogrammed superhappiness, superlongevity and superintelligence? Critically, this transformation needn’t (and shouldn’t) entail oppressing other races or species. Transcending our biological limitations entails transcending the ethnocentric and anthropocentric biases of our ancestors.

One real dilemma lies ahead.  In a post-ageing world, how do we reconcile individual reproductive rights with the finite carrying capacity of our home planet? Will population pressure finally make us “head for the stars”? Or is this scenario just sci-fi?

A.L.: Transhumanism and immortality: Do you all believe in transfer uploading? If the answer is yes… I guess you consider yourself dualist, right? By the way, I think Greg Egan´s novel talk about transfer uploading in a metaphysical and interesting way.

N.B.: I think that uploading could, under the right circumstance, preserve both consciousness and personal identity.  But I would not call myself a dualist.  I think my mind currently is running on a kind of protein computer, and if exactly the same computational processes were implemented on a silicone computer I believe I wouldn’t notice any difference.

D.P.: There is no scientific reason why we can’t rewrite our own genetic code and stay youthful indefinitely. In a sense, posthumans may become quasi-immortal - though perhaps such talk reflects untenable notions of personal identity. When? A few transhumanists are optimistic. They cite the exponential growth in computer power and predict ageless living may be feasible in decades. I hope they are right. Sadly, I fear that genetic rewrites plus other effective interventions may take centuries or more. Either way, well-controlled longitudinal trials of human anti-ageing therapies will be a problem. Uploading? Here perhaps there are stronger grounds for caution. The dominant technology of an age typically supplies its root metaphor of mind. Our dominant technology is the digital computer. So it’s natural to wonder if organic robots like us might scan, digitize and upload ourselves to a less perishable medium.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any scientific understanding of the existence of consciousness, let alone a rigorous theory of its myriad flavors. Nor can classical physics explain how a hundred billion discrete brain cells can generate a unitary experiential field. I’m personally skeptical that a digital computer with a classical architecture will ever support unified consciousness. [Will mature artificial quantum computers be supersentient? Maybe.] I should add that some very smart people disagree. Am I a dualist? No, I think the world is exhaustively described by the equations of mathematical physics. But what “breathes fire into the equations” isn’t matter as understood by materialist metaphysics. Greg Egan? Yes, he’s a brilliant writer.

A.L.: Transhumanism and singularity: Is singularity really near? Is Vernor Vinge right or wrong?

N.B.: I don’t know. Neither does anybody else.  To me, this means that one ought to think in terms of a probability distribution smeared out over a wide range of possibilities, including assigning some non-trivial probability to the possibility that it will happen quite soon, within a couple of decades; some probability that it will take much longer; and some probability that it will never happen.  We can then have an interesting discussion about the exact shape of this probability distribution.  But unless we first recognize the uncertainty in such forecasts, we won’t get far in our analysis.

D.P.: The development of transhuman superintelligence is presumably inevitable in at least some low amplitude branches of the universal wave function.  Near? I guess that depends on your conception of proximity. Should it scare us? Not if superhuman intelligence entails a richer capacity for empathetic understanding of other sentient beings. The Singularity Institute [ http://www.singinst.org/ ] explores such issues in depth.

Vinge himself speaks of how we can, “in the fairly near future, create (or become) creatures who surpass humans in every intellectual and creative dimension. Events beyond this event - call it the Technological Singularity - are as unimaginable to us as opera is to a flatworm”. Vinge may well be right. But it’s worth recalling that opera-loving humans share something important in common with flatworms, namely a functional interaction between our respective opioid and dopamine systems. The pleasure pain-axis is what makes anything matter. Without hedonic tone, there isn’t any meaning or significance to existence. No, we can’t possibly imagine what kinds of sophisticated concepts posthuman minds may be blissfully happy about - any more than a flatworm can know about opera. But I predict that posthumans will not just be superintelligent but also supersentient.

A.L.: The Hedonistic Imperative suggests the molecular biology of Paradise. A world without pain, mental or physical. David refutes objections saying: “Warfare, rape, famine, pestilence, infanticide and child-abuse have existed since time immemorial. They are quite “natural”, whether from a historical, cross-cultural or sociobiological perspective”. I interviewed Gary Francione (about animal rights) by mail and he says something similar about veganism. So I guess we should take account of this abolitionist perspective, shouldn’t we?

My second question here is: if we achieve the biological paradise (forgetting objections like “pain is necessary")… how will we live? I mean, what about jobs, wars, and son on? This new world seems to me almost unimaginable (Pain is totally erased? Because without feeling seem problematic, like in Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis).

N.B.: Yes, I think we should take account of the abolitionist perspective.  And yes, the world that would result if the abolitionist project were eventually successful is almost unimaginable.  For starters, we can safely assume---considering the gargantuan technological obstacles that would have to be overcome for that vision to become a reality---that the elimination of suffering would not be the only difference between that new world and the present world.  Many other things would have changed as well.

Of course, absent the intervention of a superintelligence or the complete destruction of the biosphere (another way in which Earthly suffering could be abolished), it is not going to happen overnight.  So we might get a clearer idea of the issues involved as we move gradually closer to the goal.

D.P.: “What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!” says Darwin. Yet what if “Nature, red in tooth and claw” could be civilized?  What if posthuman “wildlife parks” could be cruelty-free? It’s technically feasible. I think any compassionate ethic - not just Buddhism or utilitarianism - must aim to extend the abolitionist project to the whole living world, not just our own ethnic group or species. A commitment to the well-being of all sentience is written into the Transhumanist Declaration.  What does such a commitment mean in practice?  Are we really ever going to stop killing and eating each other? Ideally, the power of moral argument alone would suffice. More plausibly, only the advent of abundant, cheap and delicious genetically-engineered vatfood can lay the foundations for global veganism.  Critically, “meat-less meat” production is potentially scalable indefinitely.  However, if we’re morally serious, a cruelty-free diet is just the beginning. A living world without suffering will entail the use of species-wide depot contraception; genomic rewrites; ecosystem redesign of our terrestrial wildlife parks; nanorobotics to manage a redesigned marine ecosystem; and much more besides.  This represents a serious computational and engineering challenge. See http://www.abolitionist.com for an overview.

Physical pain? Why do our silicon (etc) robots respond to noxious stimuli without feeling agony if damaged - whereas their injured organic counterparts (usually) suffer so terribly? For now, we can only conjecture. But there are at least two possible solutions to the miseries of physical pain in organic life. One is to offload everything nasty onto smart prostheses - the “cyborg” solution. The alternative is to engineer information-sensitive dips in otherwise sublime gradients of well-being - i.e. the functional analogues of pain without its vicious “raw feels”.

What will life be like in a hypothetical post-Darwinian era?  It’s fun to speculate.  But by analogy, imagine if a chronic pain specialist today were to start pontificating to his patients on how they should live their lives after they were cured.  Why should we take him seriously? In theory, emotionally enhanced humans could conserve much of our existing preference architecture, simply recalibrating the hedonic treadmill so we all lead richer lives around an elevated “hedonic set-point”. In practice, I think our entire conceptual scheme will be revolutionized too. Anything concrete we say now about a future era of paradise engineering is likely to be childlike in its naïveté. To gain a hint of what’s in store, perhaps try instead to recollect your most wonderful peak experience. I suspect (but can’t prove) that everyday posthuman life will be far better.

A.L.: I think transhumanism is unfamiliar because we cannot read a genealogy of your thoughts and thinkers. I suppose “negative utilitarianism” is a good starting point for David, but I don’t know what is Nick’s starting point. I don’t find too many key-figures as Hegel or Aristotle in your approaches; maybe you are trying to break up certain paths of knowledge (I mean, rejecting numerous presumptions), maybe I have to read better your writings.  Moreover, what is the starting point of the recent transhumanism? Ray Kurzweil, Marvin Minksy, Hans Moravec? It seems to me very important. A history of your recent movement.

N.B.: There isn’t a singular starting point at which it all began.  Transhumanist thinking has taken shape gradually, through the contributions of many minds.

My own philosophical views are not based on any one particular predecessor.  I learn from and am inspired by many.  This, by the way, is the common way in contemporary analytic philosophy: it has become more like a science, with many people making piecemeal contributions to specific problems.

D.P.: Transhumanism is an extraordinarily diverse movement. For more background, perhaps see the Transhumanist FAQ. [ http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html ] Transhumanism in the modern sense of the term really dates to the seminal work of Max More and his colleagues at the Extropy Institute. Nick’s history of transhumanist thought ( http://www.nickbostrom.com/papers.pdf ) is illuminating. Personally I’d cite such influences as Bertrand Russell, Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins and Alexander Shulgin - not all of whom feature prominently in the transhumanist canon.

A.L.: By the way, are you going to celebrate anything for the ten anniversary of “World Transhumanist Association”. How did you meet to each other and when did you decide to found that non-profit organization? What are the current activities of your organizations?

N.B.: I guess we should to something to celebrate the tenth anniversary.  (I’ve been too busy just keeping things going and pursuing my own research to have given this any thought.)

We first met while I was a graduate student at the London School of Economics.  We had corresponded a bit by email.  Dave had formed the impression that I was some big shot professor, and he was probably disappointed when it turned out I was just a lowly grad student.  However, after our meeting he glossed me in his online diary as a “truth-hound in search of epistemic truffles”, if remember correctly.  I was quite intense in my early years, but old Scruffy has mellowed with time.

Nowadays, I’m mainly focusing on my research and on running the Future of Humanity Institute.  This is an interdisciplinary research outfit at Oxford University which seeks to study big picture questions for humanity in a rigorous way---an absorbing mission.  I like to try to help with transhumanist organizational and outreach tasks on occasion, but I am at heart a thinker, not an activist.

D.P.: A celebration? Check out the WTA website for details: http://www.transhumanism.org

I first met up with Nick over a decade ago. He’d emailed some astute objections to the abolitionist manifesto I’d uploaded to http://www.hedweb.com. With some difficulty, Nick convinced me that I was a transhumanist (I predicted he would be the world’s first professor of Transhumanism: one hopes the first of many!). In turn, I harangued Nick into getting a website.  The WTA entered its period of explosive growth only after the formidable bioethicist James Hughes ( http://changesurfer.com/Hughes.html ) agreed to become Secretary. By contrast, I have a most un-transhumanist tendency to hide behind my computer. In a Darwinian world, herbivores tend to be timid - or they get eaten!

My own focus of research here at BLTC is in clinical psychopharmacology - particularly the treatment of affective disorders - because I think the relief of suffering is the most morally urgent challenge we face. Not everyone would agree; but “the easiest pain to bear is some else’s”. Psychotherapeutic drugs are only stopgaps: post-genomic medicine will be better.  But most people don’t want to hear how their descendants may enjoy lifelong superhappiness, perpetual youth, unlimited material abundance, superintellects, morphological freedom, and so forth. They want to know how they can improve their lives - and the lives of their loved ones - right now.

A.L.: If we are living a simulation… What does it suppose to us? Do we change something? Must we believe in Occam’s razor? Speaking of this… what do you think about “Physic of immortality” by Tipler?

N.B. : So this refers to an academic paper I wrote a few years ago, which has attracted a great deal of attention (see http://www.simulation-argument.com for further details).  In short, no I don’t think the simulation hypothesis should drastically change the way we live, although it is intellectually interesting and might have some subtle practical ramifications.  I also like to take every opportunity to emphasize that the simulation argument does not show that we are living in a computer simulation, only that at least one of three propositions is true (it doesn’t tell us which one).  One of these propositions is the simulation hypothesis.

D.P.: How one should behave in a simulation presumably depends on its nature. Thus if you have a lucid dream, then anything is permissible. Complete self-indulgence is morally OK since the people in one one’s dreamworld are only zombies. The same holds true when using tomorrow’s virtual reality software - in one-player mode at least.  By contrast, if the Simulation Hypothesis [to be distinguished from Nick’s related Simulation Argument] is true, then “simulated” people have real experiences. Suffering, for example, isn’t any less real if played out within a cosmic supercomputer in the course of a Superbeing’s ancestor simulation. Indeed one of the reasons I believe we’re living in “basement reality” is because I find it inconceivable a Superbeing would opt to recreate - and proliferate - the horrors of the Darwinian past from which it emerged. Unfortunately this is more of a statement of personal incredulity than an argument.

Occam’s Razor? The Simulation Argument is interesting precisely because it is so parsimonious with assumptions. Its premises are quite widely shared in academic philosophy and the scientific community.

My own sense of how to behave in a simulation has more traditional roots in the theory of perception.  I’ve long believed that each of us lives in an egocentric simulation of the world run by the mind/brain. Since the zombies of each (waking) simulation have sentient real world counterparts, one should treat them as though they were real. Nonetheless as an angst-ridden teenager, my dawning acceptance of an inferential realist theory of perception made me feel as if I’d been condemned to solitary confinement for life.  The sense of loneliness was indescribable. Naïve realism is better for one’s mental health.

The Physics of Immortality? If Judeo-Christian theology is true, then Tipler’s book is a marvelously ingenious attempt to show how religious dogma might be reconciled with natural science. But I doubt that any physicist who doesn’t share Tipler’s Christian premises will share his conclusions.

A.L.: I admit I do not understand the strong anthropic principle at all (or any anthropic principle, being humble). Could you explain us it to us in an understandable way? What consequences has this to us?

N.B.: The anthropic principle has been construed and misconstrued in many ways.  If you remove all the misunderstandings, there is actually a sensible and important core, which is the injunction to take observation selection effects into account when either our evidence or our hypotheses contain indexical information.  I have a website which features some introductions: http://www.anthropic-principle.com.

D.P.: All versions of the strong anthropic principle claim that the universe was designed, in some sense, for human existence. I’m unconvinced.  Our best theory of the world, quantum mechanics, tells us we live in a multiverse with an inconceivably immense number of quasi-classical branches. In the vast majority of these branches, the constants of Nature are “wrong”. Such branches contain no observers and no life.

By contrast, a (very) small minority of branches do support information-bearing self-replicators which evolve via natural selection to become observers. The naive observer in any such branch may wonder why the basic physical constants - e.g. the coupling constants that determine the strength of the four known forces of nature - appear so improbably fine-tuned to produce life, or human beings, or even his own existence. Naively, he may invoke God who has providentially tweaked the laws of physics for human benefit - or punishment. But such “anthropic coincidences” are merely an observation selection effect. The kind of branch we can observe is restricted by the conditions needed to give rise to observers. Observers, by their very nature, will find themselves in a branch atypical of the multiverse as a whole.

A.L.: I want to ask you something for finishing. Human enhancement and posthuman destiny seems to go toward extinction of the own humanity. Human condition is murdering itself. What do you think about this weird paradox?

N.B.: I think we must distinguish “humanity” from having a particular kind of sequence of DNA in our cells, just as we already distinguish it from being white or black, male or female, young or old, gay or straight.  There could be many forms of humanity, including new forms that don’t yet exist.  And the goal is not to replace the current people with some new set of “superior” people.  Rather, the goal is to give people the option to continue to develop in many different ways, including ways that differ from the types of humanity that we have today.  If you want a slogan, you could say that human is what we are, humane is what we hope we might become---and it need not be exactly the same thing for everyone.

D.P.: Does a toddler murder herself by growing into a mature adult? Does a chrysalis murder itself by becoming a beautiful butterfly?

A.L.: Something you want to add.

N.B.: I put preprints of many of my publications online, so readers who want to learn more could visit my homepage: http://www.nickbostrom.com.

D.P.: You may notice certain differences of emphasis between Nick and me. But I think we’d both agree that the future of life in the universe is potentially glorious beyond human comprehension.

N.B.: We do agree on that.  And that is really important.

Posted by mrinesi on 2007/12/27 •

Finnish Transhumanist Association now has over 200 members

At the end of the year 2007 Finnish Transhumanist Association has reached a small milestone of over 200 members. Our membership numbers have risen steadily since the founding of FTA in 2003, approximately two new members per month. About 50% of all members live in Greater Helsinki Area (consisting of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen) and by using traditional gender roles we can determine that about 90% of our members are males.

Posted by mrinesi on 2007/12/20 • (0) Comments

Growing international transhumanist connections

An Italian transhumanist from Rome, Gianni, last Summer met some transhumanists in 3 countries during his vacations around Ukraine, India, Nepal, China, Far Eastern Russia, South Korea, Japan and European Russia. He appreciated Andrej, living in Sevastopol, who is a very young enthusiastic transhumanist and who is going to create a base in Sevastopol by himself but who would deserve a special attention from the whole organization for his very passion towards the arguments relied on it. In Vladivostok, Russia, he participated at one meeting at a nice local artists club organized by Viktor a very talented PhD physics who talked about the relation between overpopulation and new technologies followed by a talk among the members.

Then, in Seoul, South Korea he met Jin Choi a new young member, an engineer, who fall in love with the idea of transhumanism after reading something on Internet and three books in particular the last great Ray Kurzweils’ book. The Korean member was worried by the presence of some local ultranationalists who could be interested in taking possession of the democratic opened idea which the whole Humanity could benefit in the future for. Finally he also appreciated the unsuccessful attempt of José Cordeiro who flew from Hong Kong to meet him in Tokyo and he continues to hope to succeed in meeting him one day in the future.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2007/12/07 • (0) Comments

Natasha Vita-More interviewed by the New York Times

Natasha Vita-More was interviewed by Cintra Wilson of the New York Times about the future,

“Natasha Vita-More, the first female Transhumanist philosopher, has been pondering such questions for some time.”

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/11/11 •

Ray Kurzweil wins 2007 H.G. Wells Award for Outstanding Contributions to Transhumanism

Inventor, entrepreneur, author, and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been awarded the 2007 H.G. Wells Award for Outstanding Contributions to Transhumanism, in recognition of his numerous achievements furthering and popularizing transhumanist thought. A best-selling author, his books, from The Age of Intelligent Machines to The Singularity Is Near have been for countless people thorough the world their first, compelling point of contact with transhumanist ideas.

Ray Kurzweil gives his acceptance speech after being awarded the World Transhumanist Association’s H.G. Wells award for transhumanist of the year.

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/08/03 •

FTA opens a Transhumanist Library

The Finnish Transhumanist Association, having realized that transhumanist-themed books are somewhat poorly available in Finland, has opened up a library focusing specifically on transhumanist non-fiction and
fiction. The library works as a network, in that there is no centralized location for it (other than the home of the librarian, Ville Salmensuu) but rather the books are delivered from one borrower to the next directly. Ville merely keeps track of where each book is currently located.

The library currently holds 17 books (2 copies of Citizen Cyborg) but the FTA hopes to keep expanding it gradually, both through purchases and donations, until it is clearly the authoritative source of transhumanist literature in Finland. The library is available to all supporting members of FTA, making it the first membership benefit that FTA offers to its paying members that is not available to basic members. We hope that interest in the library will also increase the number of supporting members of FTA and thus the WTA (as FTA supporting members automatically become also WTA supporting members). The library can be found on FTA’s website (sorry, only in Finnish). If you are interested in knowing more about the library (to perhaps start your own in your local chapter), you can
contact Ville Salmensuu (kirjasto@transhumanismi.org).

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/06/04 •

Transhumanist FAQ (Greek translation)

HTML Version
PDF Version

http://www.transhumanism.gr/faq/faq_toc.htm">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/05/06 •

Gene clue to longevity uncovered - from BBC

The mystery of how eating less boosts longevity is closer to being solved.

Studies have shown that severe calorie restriction markedly extends lifespan in mice and many other species - but the reasons for this remained elusive.

But now US research on nematode worms, published in Nature, has uncovered a gene linked to this unusual effect.

In the future, the find could lead to drugs that mimic the consequences of calorie restriction but negate the need for severe fasting regimes. (click link for more remainder)

Link
Posted by zentinal on 2007/05/03 • (0) Comments

De mythe van de Draak-Tiran

De mythe van de Draak-Tiran

Nick Bostrom
© Journal of Medical Ethics, 2005, Vol. 31, No. 5, p. 273-277

Lang, lang geleden werd de planeet getiranniseerd door een gigantische draak. De draak was groter dan de grootste kerk en was bedekt met dikke, zwarte schubben. Zijn rode ogen gloeiden van haat en uit zijn verschrikkelijke bek stroomde onophoudelijk stinkend, geelgroen slijm. Hij eiste van de mens een ijzingwekkend eerbetoon: om zijn enorme honger te stillen, moesten er iedere avond bij het vallen van het duister tienduizend mannen en vrouwen aan de voet van de berg, waar de draak-tiran woonde, afgeleverd worden. Soms slokte de draak deze arme zielen gelijk op; soms sloot hij ze echter op in de berg waar zij maanden of jaren wegkwijnden totdat zij uiteindelijk opgegeten werden.
De ellende die de draak-tiran teweegbracht, was onvoorspelbaar. Bovendien bleven er van de tienduizend mensen die iedere dag weer wreed afgeslacht werden, moeders, vaders, vrouwen, mannen, kinderen en vrienden achter die om het verlies van hun verdwenen geliefden rouwden.

Sommige mensen probeerden de draak te verslaan, maar of ze nu moedig of dwaas waren, was moeilijk te zeggen. Priesters en tovenaars spraken vloeken uit, maar dat was vruchteloos. Strijders, uitgerust met grote moed en de beste wapens die de smeden konden maken, vielen hem aan maar voordat ze dichtbij genoeg waren om toe te slaan, werden ze verbrand. Apothekers brouwden giftige drankjes en verleidden de draak om ze te drinken, maar het enige effect dat ze leken te hebben, was dat hij nog meer honger kreeg. De klauwen, kaken en het vuur van de draak waren zo indrukwekkend, zijn schild van schubben zo ondoordringbaar en zijn hele aard zo sterk dat hij voor mensen onverslaanbaar leek.

Aangezien de mens de tiran onmogelijk kon verslaan, had hij geen andere keus dan te gehoorzamen en de akelige boete te betalen. De slachtoffers die gekozen werden, waren altijd ouderen. En dit ondanks het feit dat de bejaarden net zo vitaal en gezond waren als de jongeren, en soms wijzer. De gedachte erachter was dat zij tenminste al een paar decennia van het leven hadden kunnen genieten. De rijken konden het iets uitstellen door de ronselaarsbende om te kopen als zij voor hen kwamen, maar volgens het staatsrecht kon niemand, zelfs de koning niet, zijn beurt ontlopen.
Geestelijken probeerden degenen die bang waren om door de draak opgegeten te worden (dus bijna iedereen, hoewel velen het in het openbaar ontkenden), te troosten door hen een ander leven na de dood in het vooruitzicht te stellen. Een leven dat vrij zou zijn van kwellingen van de draak. Andere oratoren zeiden dat de draak zijn plaats had in het natuurlijke systeem en het morele recht had om gevoed te worden. Zij zeiden dat het een deel van het bestaansrecht van de mens was om te eindigen in de buik van de draak. Nog anderen zeiden dat de draak goed was voor de mens omdat hij het bevolkingsaantal beperkt hield. In hoeverre deze argumenten de piekerende mens overtuigden, is niet bekend. De meeste mensen probeerden ermee om te gaan door niet te denken aan het lugubere einde dat hen te wachten stond.

Eeuwenlang hield deze uitzichtloze situatie stand. Niemand hield meer bij hoeveel mensen er gestorven waren en ook niet hoeveel tranen er gelaten waren door de achterblijvers. De verwachtingen hadden zich langzamerhand aangepast en de draak-tiran was een onderdeel van het leven geworden. Aangezien het nutteloos was om in verzet te komen, deed niemand meer een poging de draak te doden. In plaats daarvan deed men er nu alles aan hem tevreden te stellen. De draak plunderde zo nu en dan de steden, maar door te zorgen dat het dagelijkse quotum leven punctueel bij de berg werd afgeleverd, werd de frequentie van deze strooptochten kleiner.

Omdat mensen wisten dat hun beurt om drakenvoedsel te worden, steeds dichterbij kwam, kregen ze eerder en vaker kinderen. Het was niet ongewoon als een meisje op haar zestiende verjaardag al in verwachting was. Stellen kregen vaak wel twaalf kinderen. De menselijke bevolking kromp dus niet en de draak hoefde geen honger te lijden.
In de loop van deze eeuwen werd de draak, omdat hij zo goed gevoed werd, langzaam maar zeker groter. Hij was bijna zo groot geworden als de berg waarop hij leefde. En zijn eetlust was proportioneel toegenomen. Tienduizend lichamen was niet langer genoeg om zijn maag te vullen. Hij had er nu tachtigduizend nodig, die iedere avond tegen het vallen van het duister afgeleverd moesten worden aan de voet van de berg.

Wat de koning meer bezighield dan de doden en de draak zelf, was de logistiek van het iedere dag verzamelen en vervoeren van zoveel mensen naar de berg. Dit was geen eenvoudige taak.

Om het proces te vereenvoudigen, had de koning een spoorweg laten bouwen: twee rechte lijnen van glinsterend staal die naar het verblijf van de draak leidden. Iedere twintig minuten kwam er een trein volgepropt met mensen aan bij het station bij de berg en ging leeg weer terug. Tijdens maanverlichte nachten zouden passagiers van deze trein, als ze zich bij een raam bevonden waar zij hun hoofd uit zouden konden steken, voor hen het dubbele silhouet kunnen zien van de draak en de berg en twee gloeiende rode ogen, als stralen van een paar gigantische vuurtorens, die de weg wezen naar vernietiging.

Er werden door de koning veel dienaars in dienst genomen om het offer te besturen. Administrateurs hielden bij wie er aan de beurt was om te worden gestuurd. Mensenophalers werden er in speciale karretjes op uit gestuurd om de aangewezen mensen op te halen. Zij brachten hen, vaak in razende vaart, naar een station of rechtstreeks naar de berg. Klerken betaalden de pensioenen uit aan uitgedunde families die zichzelf niet langer konden onderhouden. Troosters reisden met de gedoemden mee op weg naar de draak, ze probeerden hun leed te verzachten met drank en drugs.

Er was zelfs een groep drakologen die bestudeerden hoe deze logistieke processen efficiënter zouden kunnen verlopen. Sommige drakologen onderzochten ook de fysiologie en het gedrag van de draak en verzamelden monsters – zijn uitgevallen schubben, het slijm dat uit zijn bek liep, zijn verloren tanden en zijn uitwerpselen met daarin kleine stukjes menselijk bot. Al deze voorwerpen werden ijverig beschreven en gearchiveerd. Hoe meer er bekend was over het beest, des te meer werd zijn onoverwinnelijkheid bevestigd. Zijn zwarte schubben waren harder dan welk materiaal ook dat de mens kent en er leek geen enkele manier te zijn waarop er ook maar een kras op gemaakt kon worden.
De koning legde zijn volk zware belastingen op om deze activiteiten te kunnen betalen. Draakgerelateerde uitgaven, die al een zevende van de economie uitmaakten, groeiden zelfs sneller dan de draak zelf.

De mens is een eigenaardig wezen. Zo nu en dan krijgt iemand een goed idee. Anderen nemen dit idee over en voegen er hun eigen verbeteringen aan toe. In de loop der tijd zijn er veel wonderbaarlijke instrumenten en systemen ontwikkeld. Sommige van deze apparaten – rekenmachines, thermometers, microscopen en de glazen flesjes die scheikundigen gebruiken om vloeistoffen te laten koken en destilleren – dienen om gemakkelijker nieuwe ideeën te genereren en uit te proberen, ook ideeën die het proces van het genereren van ideeën vergemakkelijken.
Dus begon het grote wiel van uitvindingen, die tijdens vroegere tijden op een bijna onwaarneembare snelheid had gedraaid, geleidelijk sneller te draaien.

Wijze mannen hadden voorspeld dat er een dag zou komen dat de mens zou vliegen met behulp van technologie, net als vele andere verbazingwekkende dingen. Een van die wijze mannen, die bij sommige andere wijze mannen in zeer hoog aanzien stond maar wiens zonderlinge gewoontes van hem een verschoppeling en kluizenaar hadden gemaakt, beweerde zelfs dat de technologie het na verloop van tijd mogelijk zou maken een constructie te bouwen die de draak-tiran zou kunnen doden.

De geleerden van de koning verwierpen deze ideeën echter. Zij zeiden dat de mens veel te zwaar was om te vliegen en dat hij in ieder geval al geen veren had. En wat betreft de onnozele gedachte dat de draak-tiran gedood zou kunnen worden, stonden de geschiedenisboeken vol met honderden pogingen die allemaal mislukt waren. ‘Wij weten allemaal dat deze man een paar onverantwoordelijke ideeën had’, schreef een geleerde in letteren later in het overlijdensbericht van de teruggetrokken wijze die op weg was gestuurd om opgegeten te worden door het beest waarvan hij het lot had voorspeld. ‘Maar zijn geschriften waren vermakelijk en misschien moeten we de draak dankbaar zijn dat hij het interessante genre van draakafranselen binnen de literatuur, dat zoveel van de angstcultuur blootgeeft, mogelijk heeft gemaakt!’

In tussentijd bleef het wiel van de uitvindingen draaien. Maar enkele decennia later kon de mens vliegen en had hij vele andere verbazingwekkende dingen bereikt.

Enkele iconoclastische drakologen begonnen een discussie over een nieuwe aanval op de draak-tiran. Het doden van de draak zou niet eenvoudig zijn, zeiden zij, maar als ze een materiaal zouden kunnen ontwikkelen dat harder was dan het schild van de draak en als dit materiaal gevormd kon worden tot een soort projectiel, dan zou het misschien mogelijk kunnen zijn. Eerst werden de ideeën van de iconoclasten verworpen door hun collega’s omdat geen enkel materiaal dat bekend was, harder was dan de schubben van de draak. Maar na jarenlang aan het probleem te hebben gewerkt, slaagde een iconoclast erin aan te tonen dat een schub van de draak doorboord kon worden door een voorwerp gemaakt van een bepaald samengesteld materiaal. Veel drakologen, die eerder sceptisch hadden gereageerd, voegden zich nu bij de iconoclasten. Ingenieurs berekenden dat een enorm projectiel van dit materiaal gemaakt kon worden en met voldoende kracht afgeschoten kon worden om het schild van de draak te kunnen doorboren. Het produceren van de benodigde hoeveelheid materiaal zou echter heel duur zijn.

Een groep van enkele eminente ingenieurs en drakologen stuurde een verzoek naar de koning met de vraag om de constructie van het antidraakprojectiel te financieren. Op het moment dat het verzoek werd gestuurd, was de koning met zijn hoofd bij het aanvoeren van zijn leger in een oorlog tegen een tijger. De tijger had een boer vermoord en was daarna in het oerwoud verdwenen. Overal op het platteland was men bang dat de tijger terug zou komen en weer zou toeslaan. De koning had het oerwoud omsingeld en had zijn troepen bevolen zich er een weg door te banen. Aan het einde van deze campagne maakte de koning bekend dat alle 163 tijgers in het oerwoud, inclusief de moordlustige, opgejaagd en gedood waren. In het tumult van de oorlog was het verzoek kwijtgeraakt of vergeten.
Ze stuurden daarom nog een verzoek. Dit keer kregen ze antwoord van een van de secretarissen van de koning dat hij hun verzoek in overweging zou nemen nadat hij klaar was met het controleren van het jaarbudget van de draakadministratie. Het budget van dit jaar was het grootst tot nu toe en omvatte ook de financiering van een nieuwe spoorweg naar de berg. Een tweede spoorweg werd als noodzakelijk gezien omdat het eerste spoor het toegenomen verkeer niet langer aan kon (Het offer dat door de draak geëist werd, was toegenomen tot honderdduizend mensen die iedere avond tegen het vallen van het duister aan de voet van de berg afgeleverd moesten worden). Toen het budget eindelijk was goedgekeurd, kwamen er berichten uit een afgelegen deel van het land dat een dorp werd geteisterd door ratelslangen. De koning moest snel op weg om zijn leger te mobiliseren en deze nieuwe dreiging te verslaan. Het verzoek van de antidrakovisten verdween in een la van een stoffige kast in de kelder van het paleis.

De antidrakovisten kwamen weer bij elkaar om te beslissen wat er moest gebeuren. De discussie verliep geanimeerd en duurde tot diep in de nacht. Het was bijna ochtend toen ze uiteindelijk tot het besluit kwamen om het geval aan de mensen voor te leggen. In de weken die volgden, reisden ze door het land, gaven ze openbare lezingen en legden ze hun voorstel uit aan iedereen die wilde luisteren. In het begin waren de mensen sceptisch. Op school hadden ze geleerd dat de draak-tiran niet te verslaan was en dat het offer dat hij vroeg als onderdeel van het leven gezien moest worden. Toen ze echter hoorden over het nieuwe samengestelde materiaal en de ontwerpen van de projectielen, werden ze nieuwsgierig. In steeds grotere getale kwamen de inwoners naar de lezingen van de antidrakovisten. Activisten organiseerden openbare bijeenkomsten ter ondersteuning van het voorstel.

Toen de koning over deze bijeenkomsten las in de krant, riep hij zijn adviseurs bijeen en vroeg hen wat zij ervan vonden. Zij vertelden hem over de verzoeken die ingediend waren, maar vertelden ook dat de antidrakovisten oproerkraaiers waren die onrust zaaiden onder de mensen. Het was beter voor de samenleving, zeiden ze, als de mensen het onvermijdelijke offer aan de draak-tiran accepteerden. De draakadministratie leverde veel banen op die verloren zouden gaan als de draak gedood werd. Er zou voor de samenleving niets goeds van komen als de draak werd verslagen. In ieder geval was de schatkist van de koning bijna leeg na de twee militaire campagnes en de financiering van de tweede spoorweg. De koning, die op dat moment een grote populariteit genoot doordat hij de ratelslangen verjaagd had, luisterde naar de argumenten van zijn adviseurs. Hij maakte zich echter wel zorgen dat hij aan populariteit zou inboeten als hij geen aandacht zou schenken aan het verzoek van de antidrakovisten. Hij besloot daarom om een openbare hoorzitting te houden. Belangrijke drakologen, ministers en geïnteresseerden werden uitgenodigd.

De bijeenkomst vond plaats op de donkerste dag van het jaar, net voor de kerstdagen, in de grootste zaal van het koninklijk paleis. De zaal zat helemaal vol en de mensen stonden in de gangpaden. De sfeer was geladen met een serieuze intensiteit die normaal gesproken hing bij cruciale oorlogsbesprekingen.

Nadat de koning iedereen had verwelkomd, gaf hij het woord aan de belangrijkste wetenschapper achter het voorstel van de antidrakovisten, een vrouw met een serieuze, bijna strenge uitdrukking op haar gezicht. Zij legde in heldere taal uit hoe het apparaat zou werken en hoe de benodigde hoeveelheid samengesteld materiaal geproduceerd zou worden. Met de aangegeven financiering zou het mogelijk zijn het werk in vijftien tot twintig jaar te voltooien. Met een nog groter bedrag zou het zelfs binnen twaalf jaar kunnen. Er kon echter niet met zekerheid gezegd worden dat het zou werken. Het publiek volgde ingespannen haar uiteenzetting.

De volgende die aan het woord kwam, was de hoofdadviseur voor moraal van de koning, een man met een bulderende stem die de zaal met gemak vulde:

‘Laten we aannemen dat deze vrouw gelijk heeft wat betreft de kennis en dat het project technologisch mogelijk is, hoewel dit volgens mij niet daadwerkelijk bewezen is. Het is haar wens dat we ons bevrijden van de draak. Vermoedelijk vindt zij dat ze het recht heeft niet opgegeten te worden door de draak. Hoe eigenzinnig en arrogant. De eindigheid van het menselijk leven is een zegen voor ieder mens, of hij het nu weet of niet. Het doden van de draak lijkt misschien goed maar het zou onze menselijke waardigheid ondermijnen. Als we ons alleen bezighouden met het doden van de draak, zal dat ons afleiden van de volledige realisatie van de aspiraties waar ons leven vanzelfsprekend naar wijst, dat is goed te leven in plaats van alleen in leven te blijven. Het is vernederend, ja vernederend, als een mens zo lang mogelijk zijn middelmatige leven wil blijven leven zonder zich bezig te houden met enkele van de hogere vragen over waar het leven voor dient. Maar ik zeg u, het is de aard van de draak om mensen te eten en onze eigen aard wordt oprecht en groots vervuld door door hem opgegeten te worden…’

Het publiek luisterde met respect naar deze hoog onderscheiden spreker. De zinnen waren zo welsprekend dat het moeilijk was het gevoel tegen te houden dat er diepere gedachten achter moesten zitten, hoewel niemand er achter kon komen wat die precies waren. Ongetwijfeld moeten de woorden van zo’n voorname aangestelde van de koning wel ergens op gestoeld zijn.

De volgende spreker was een geestelijke wijze man die alom gerespecteerd werd om zijn vriendelijke en zachte aard en om zijn toewijding. Toen hij naar het podium liep, schreeuwde een jongetje uit het publiek: ‘De draak is slecht!’
De ouders van het jongetje werden vuurrood en probeerden het kind tot stilte te manen. Maar de wijze man zei, ‘Laat
hem praten. Hij is waarschijnlijk wijzer dan een oude gek als ik.’

Eerst was het jongetje te bang en te verward om zich te bewegen. Maar toen zag hij de gemeende vriendelijke glimlach op het gezicht van de wijze man en zijn uitgestrekte hand. Hij legde gehoorzaam zijn hand erin en volgde de wijze man naar het podium. ‘Dit is een heel dapper mannetje’, zei de wijze man. ‘Ben jij bang voor de draak?’

‘Ik wil mijn oma terug’, zei het jongetje.

‘Heeft de draak jouw oma weggenomen?’

‘Ja’, zei het jongetje terwijl er tranen in zijn grote, bange ogen sprongen. ‘Oma had beloofd dat ze me zou leren speculaasjes te bakken voor kerst. Ze zei dat we een klein huisje van speculaas zouden maken en kleine speculaaspoppetjes die er dan konden wonen. Toen kwamen die mensen in witte kleren en die namen oma mee naar de draak… De draak is slecht en eet mensen op… Ik wil mijn oma terug!’

Nu huilde het kind zo hard dat de wijze man hem naar zijn ouders terug moest brengen.

Er waren die avond nog enkele sprekers, maar de eenvoudige getuigenis van het jongetje had de retorische ballon die de ministers van de koning probeerden op te laten, doorgeprikt. De mensen waren het eens met de antidrakovisten en aan het eind van de avond was zelfs de koning overtuigd van de redelijkheid en menselijkheid van hun motief. Aan het eind zei hij eenvoudigweg: ‘Laten we het doen!’

Toen het nieuws zich verspreidde, vierden de mensen feest op straat. Zij die campagne hadden gevoerd voor de antidrakovisten, klonken met elkaar en dronken op de toekomst van de mensheid.

De volgende ochtend werden een miljard mensen wakker en realiseerden zich dat hun beurt zou komen om naar de draak gevoerd te worden voordat het projectiel klaar zou zijn. Er was een keerpunt bereikt. Tot dan werd de zaak van de antidrakovisten eerder actief ondersteund door een kleine groep zieners, nu werd het de belangrijkste prioriteit en zorg van iedereen. De abstracte notie van de ‘algemene wens’ nam nu een bijna tastbare intensiteit en concreetheid aan. Massabijeenkomsten werden gehouden om geld op te halen voor het projectielproject en drongen bij de koning aan op meer ondersteuning. De koning ging in op deze verzoeken. In zijn nieuwjaarsrede kondigde hij aan dat hij een extra wet zou aannemen om het project te steunen met grotere geldbedragen. Daarnaast zou hij zijn zomerpaleis en wat land verkopen en een grote persoonlijke gift doen. ‘Ik vind dat dit land zich moet inzetten om het doel te bereiken voordat dit decennium voorbij is, om de wereld te bevrijden van de aloude kwelling van de draak-tiran.’

Dus begon een grote technologische race tegen de klok. Het concept van een antidraakprojectiel was eenvoudig, maar het werkelijkheid te maken vereiste oplossingen voor zo’n duizend kleinere technische problemen. Hiervoor waren vele tijdrovende stappen en misstappen nodig. Proefraketten werden afgevuurd maar vielen op de grond of gingen de verkeerde kant op. In een tragisch ongeluk kwam een dwalende raket op een ziekenhuis terecht waardoor enkele honderden patiënten en personeelsleden gedood werden. Maar nu werd men gedreven door een serieus doel en gingen de proeven door, zelfs toen de lichamen uit het puin werden gehaald.

Ondanks de bijna ongelimiteerde geldstroom en het feit dat de technici bijna dag en nacht werkten, kon de deadline van de koning niet gehaald worden. De tien jaar waren voorbij en de draak was nog steeds gezond en levend. Maar het einde kwam steeds meer in zicht. Een prototype van het projectiel werd met succes afgevuurd. De productie van de kern, gemaakt van het dure samengestelde materiaal, lag op schema en zou klaar zijn samen met het volledig geteste omhulsel waarin hij gestopt moest worden. De lanceerdatum werd vastgesteld op de avond van Oud en Nieuw van het volgende jaar, precies twaalf jaar na de officiële huldiging van het project. Het meest verkochte kerstcadeau dat jaar was een kalender die de dagen terugtelde tot nul, de opbrengst van de verkoop ging naar het projectielproject.
De koning had een persoonlijke transformatie ondergaan en was niet meer lichtzinnig en onbezonnen. Hij was zo vaak als hij kon te vinden in de laboratoria en de fabrieken waar hij de werkers aanmoedigde en hun inzet prees. Soms nam hij een slaapzak mee en bracht hij de nacht door op de grond in een luidruchtige fabriek. Hij studeerde zelfs en probeerde de technische aspecten van hun werk te begrijpen. Maar hij beperkte zich tot het geven van morele ondersteuning en hield zich niet bezig met de technische en bestuurlijke kwesties.

Zeven dagen voor Nieuwjaar kwam de vrouw, die bijna twaalf jaar eerder voor het project had gepleit en nu de hoogste baas was, naar het koninklijk paleis en verzocht om een dringende audiëntie bij de koning. Toen de koning haar briefje kreeg, verontschuldigde hij zich bij zijn buitenlandse gasten die hij met tegenzin had uitgenodigd voor het jaarlijkse kerstdiner en haastte zich naar het privévertrek waar de wetenschapster op hem wachtte. Zoals altijd de laatste tijd zag zij bleek en uitgeput vanwege haar lange werktijden. Die avond dacht de koning ook een glimp van opluchting en tevredenheid in haar ogen te kunnen ontdekken.

Zij vertelde hem dat het projectiel was opgesteld en dat de kern geladen was. Alles was drie keer gecontroleerd en zij waren klaar voor de lancering. Wilde de koning zijn uiteindelijke goedkeuring geven? De koning zakte in zijn leunstoel en sloot zijn ogen. Door het projectiel vanavond, een week eerder, af te vuren, zouden zevenhonderdduizend mensen gered kunnen worden. Maar als er iets fout zou gaan, als hij zijn doel zou missen en in plaats daarvan de berg zou raken, zou dat een ramp betekenen. Een nieuwe kern zou dan weer helemaal opnieuw gemaakt moeten worden en het project zou dan met zo’n vier jaar uitgesteld worden. Hij zat bijna een uur lang helemaal stil. Net toen de wetenschapster dacht dat hij in slaap was gevallen, opende hij zijn ogen en zei met een vaste stem: ‘Nee. Ik wil dat je terug gaat naar het laboratorium. Ik wil dat je alles controleert en nog eens controleert.’ De wetenschapster kon een zucht niet onderdrukken, maar knikte en vertrok.

Op de laatste dag van het jaar was het koud en bewolkt, maar er was geen wind wat duidde op goede lanceeromstandigheden. De zon ging onder. De technici schuifelden rond en controleerden alles nog eens. De koning en zijn dichtste adviseurs keken toe vanaf een platform dicht bij de lanceerplek. Verder weg stonden, achter een hek, grote menigten die deze grote gebeurtenis wilden meemaken. Een grote klok telde terug: nog vijftig minuten.
Een adviseur tikte de koning op zijn schouder en vestigde zijn aandacht op het hek. Er was enig tumult. Iemand was blijkbaar over het hek gesprongen en rende in de richting van het platform waar de koning zat. De bewakers hadden hem snel te pakken. Hij werd geboeid en weggeleid. De koning vestigde zijn aandacht weer op de lanceerplek en op de berg op de achtergrond. Ervoor kon hij het profiel van de draak onderscheiden. Hij was aan het eten.

Zo’n twintig minuten later was de koning verrast de geboeide man op korte afstand van het platform te zien. Zijn neus bloedde en hij werd begeleid door twee bewakers. De man leek uitzinnig. Toen hij de koning zag, begon hij hard te roepen: ‘De laatste trein! De laatste trein! Stop de laatste trein!’

‘Wie is deze jongeman?’, vroeg de koning. ‘Zijn gezicht komt me bekend voor, maar ik kan hem niet plaatsen. Wat wil hij? Laat hem hier komen.’

De jongeman was een jongere bediende bij het ministerie van vervoer, de reden van zijn onrust was dat hij had ontdekt dat zijn vader aan boord van de laatste trein naar de berg zat. De koning had bevolen de treinen door te laten rijden omdat hij bang was dat de draak van de plek voor de berg, waar hij de meeste tijd doorbracht, zou verdwijnen als er iets anders was dan anders. De jongeman smeekte de koning om de laatste trein, die vijf minuten voor de lancering bij de berg zou aankomen, niet te laten rijden.

‘Dat kan ik niet’, zei de koning, ‘dat risico kan ik niet nemen.’

‘Maar de treinen hebben vaak vijf minuten vertraging. Het zal de draak niet opvallen! Alstublieft!’

De jongeman knielde voor de koning en smeekte hem om het leven van zijn vader en dat van de andere duizend passagiers die aan boord van de laatste trein zaten, te redden.

De koning keek neer op het smekende, bebloede gezicht van de jongeman. Maar hij beet op zijn lip en schudde zijn hoofd. De jongeman bleef, zelfs toen de bewakers hem van het platform droegen, smeken: ‘Alstublieft! Stop de laatste trein! Alstublieft!’

De koning stond stil en bewegingsloos totdat na een tijdje het smeken plotseling ophield. De koning keek op en keek naar de terugtelklok: nog vijf minuten.

Vier minuten. Drie minuten. Twee minuten.

De laatste technicus verliet de lanceerplek.

30 seconden. 20 seconden. Tien, negen, acht…

Toen een vuurbal de lanceerplek bedekte en het projectiel naar voren schoot, gingen de toeschouwers instinctief op hun tenen staan en keken ze naar de voorkant van de witte vlam die uit de nabranders van de raket kwam die naar de berg in de verte vloog. De menigte, de koning, de jonge en de oude mensen, het was alsof zij op dit moment een bewustzijn deelden, een enkele ervaring: die witte vlam, bewegend door het duister, vertegenwoordigde de menselijke geest, zijn angst en zijn hoop… gericht op het hart van het kwaad. Het silhouet aan de horizon helde over en viel om. Duizenden stemmen van puur geluk rezen vanuit de menigte omhoog en werden seconden later gevolgd door een oorverdovende klap van het omgevallen monster. Alsof de aarde een zucht van verlichting sloeg. Na eeuwen van onderdrukking was de mensheid eindelijk bevrijd van de wrede tirannie van de draak.

Het gegil ging over in een blij geroep: ‘Lang leven de koning! Lang leven ons allemaal!’ De adviseurs van de koning waren, net als iedereen die avond, zo blij als kinderen. Ze omarmden elkaar en feliciteerden de koning: ‘Het is gelukt! Het is gelukt!’

Maar de koning antwoordde met een gebroken stem: ‘Ja, het is gelukt, we hebben vandaag de draak gedood. Maar waarom zo verdomd laat? Dit hadden we vijf misschien wel tien jaar eerder kunnen doen! Dan zouden miljoenen
mensen nog leven.’

De koning stapte van het platform af en liep op de geboeide jongeman af die op de grond zat. Daar viel hij op zijn knieën. ‘Vergeef me! O mijn God, vergeef me alsjeblieft!’

Het begon te regenen, met grote, zware druppels. De grond werd modderig. De paarse kleren van de koning raakten doorweekt. Het bloed op het gezicht van de jongeman spoelde weg. ‘Het spijt mij zo van je vader’, zei de koning.

‘Het is niet uw schuld’, antwoordde de jongeman. ‘Weet u nog twaalf jaar geleden in het paleis? Dat huilende kleine jongetje dat wilde dat u zijn oma weer terug zou brengen – dat was ik. Ik wist toen niet dat u niet kon doen wat ik u vroeg. Vandaag wilde ik dat u mijn vader zou redden. Ja, dat was onmogelijk zonder de lancering in gevaar te brengen. Maar u hebt mijn leven gered en dat van mijn moeder en zus. Hoe kan ik u ooit bedanken hiervoor?’

‘Luister naar hen’, zei de koning en gebaarde naar de menigte. ‘Zij bejubelen mij om wat er vanavond gebeurd is. Maar jij bent de held. Jij liet van je horen. Jij hebt ons gered van het kwaad.’ De koning gebaarde naar een bewaker om de handboeien te verwijderen. ‘Ga nu naar je moeder en je zus. Jij en je familie zijn altijd welkom aan het hof en alles wat je maar wenst – binnen mijn macht - zal ik je geven.’

De jongeman ging weg en het koninklijke gevolg, opeengepakt in de regen, verzamelde zich om hun vorst die nog in de modder knielde. Tussen de mooie kleding, die geruïneerd werd door de regen, vertoonde een stel bepoederde gezichten een mengeling van geluk, opluchting en verwarring. In het afgelopen uur was er zoveel veranderd: het recht op een open toekomst was herwonnen, een fundamentele angst was verdwenen en vele, eeuwenoude veronderstellingen waren omvergeworpen. Onzeker van wat er van hen in deze onbekende situatie verwacht werd, stonden ze daar wat onwennig. Alsof ze uitprobeerden of de grond ze nog kon houden. Ze wisselden blikken en wachtten op een soort teken.

Uiteindelijk stond de koning op en wreef zijn handen af aan zijn broek.

‘Uwe majesteit, wat moeten we nu doen?’, vroeg een oude hoveling.

‘Mijn lieve vrienden’, zei de koning, ‘we zijn van ver gekomen… maar onze reis is nog maar net begonnen. Ons soort is nog maar net op deze aarde. Vandaag zijn we net kinderen. De toekomst ligt voor ons. Wij zullen deze toekomst tegemoet gaan en het proberen beter te doen dan in het verleden. Nu hebben we de tijd – tijd om alles goed te doen, tijd om volwassen te worden, tijd om van onze fouten te leren, tijd voor het langzame proces om een betere wereld te maken en tijd om erin te leven. Laat vanavond alle klokken in het koninkrijk luiden tot middernacht, ter nagedachtenis aan onze dode voorvaderen en laat ons dan na middernacht feestvieren tot de zon opkomt. En in de komende dagen… denk ik dat we wat moeten reorganiseren!’

* * *

MORAAL

Verhalen over ouder worden zijn traditioneel gericht op de behoefte om zonder gebreken oud te worden. De aanbevolen oplossing voor de verminderde vitaliteit en de naderende dood was berusting gekoppeld aan de inspanning in het bereiken van een afsluiting in praktische zaken en persoonlijke relaties. Gezien het feit dat er niets gedaan kan worden om het ouder worden te voorkomen of vertragen, was dit reëel. In plaats van te piekeren over het onvermijdelijke, kan men zich beter richten op gemoedsrust.

Vandaag de dag hebben we te maken met een andere situatie. Terwijl we nog steeds geen doeltreffende en acceptabele manier hebben om het ouderwordingsproces te vertragen [1], kunnen we onderzoeksrichtingen vaststellen die kunnen leiden tot het ontwikkelen van dergelijke middelen in de nabije toekomst. ‘Doodse’ verhalen en ideologieën die uitgaan van passieve aanvaarding, zijn niet langer onschuldige bronnen van troost. Het zijn fatale barrières waar snel iets tegen gedaan moet worden.

Veel gerenommeerde technologen en wetenschappers vertellen ons dat het mogelijk zal zijn om beginnende ouderdom bij mensen te vertragen en uiteindelijk stop te zetten en om te keren.[2] Op dit moment is men het niet eens over de tijdspanne of de specifieke middelen. Er is ook geen overeenstemming over het feit of het doel in principe haalbaar is. Met betrekking tot de fabel (waar het ouder worden, natuurlijk, wordt vertegenwoordigd door de draak), zijn wij dus nu ergens tussen de fase waarin de eenzame wijze man voorspelde dat de draak uiteindelijk gedood zou worden en die waarin de iconoclastische drakologen hun collega’s overtuigden door een samengesteld materiaal te laten zien dat harder was dan de schubben van de draak.

Het ethische argument van de fabel is simpel. Er zijn duidelijke en boeiende morele redenen voor de mensen in de fabel om de draak te doden. Onze situatie met betrekking tot de beginnende ouderdom van de mens komt overeen met en is ethisch gelijk aan de situatie van de mensen in de fabel met betrekking tot de draak. We hebben daarom boeiende morele redenen om beginnende ouderdom uit te bannen.

Het argument is niet per se gericht op het verlengen van het leven. Een aantal extra jaren gevuld met ziekte en zwakte aan het einde van het leven zou nutteloos zijn. Het argument is erop gericht om de gezondheid van de mens zo lang mogelijk te rekken. Door het verouderingsproces te vertragen of te stoppen, zou de gezondheid van de mens verlengd worden. Mensen zouden dan gezond, vitaal en productief blijven op leeftijden waarop ze anders dood zouden zijn.

Naast deze algemene moraal zijn er een aantal specifiekere lessen:

(1) Een terugkerende tragedie werd een onontkoombaar feit, een statistiek. In de fabel pasten de verwachtingen van de mensen zich aan het bestaan van de draak aan. Zelfs zo sterk dat ze zijn slechtheid niet konden zien. Het ouder worden is ook een onontkoombaar feit geworden – ondanks dat het de hoofdoorzaak is van een onmetelijke hoeveelheid menselijk leed en dood.

(2) Een statische opinie over technologie. Mensen beredeneerden dat het nooit mogelijk zou zijn om de draak te doden omdat alle pogingen in het verleden gefaald hebben. Zij hebben het versnellende technologische proces over het hoofd gezien. Zal een zelfde soort fout ervoor zorgen dat wij de kans dat ouderdom genezen wordt, ondergewaardeerd blijft?

(3) Besturing werd doel op zich. Een zevende van de economie ging naar de draakadministratie (dat ook overeenkomt met het gedeelte van het BNP dat de V.S. kwijt is aan gezondheidszorg). Beperking van schade werd zo’n groot focuspunt dat mensen de onderliggende oorzaak verwaarloosden. In plaats van een groot, met publieke gelden gefinancierd onderzoeksprogramma om het ouder worden te stoppen, geven we bijna het hele gezondheidsbudget uit aan gezondheidszorg en het onderzoeken van individuele ziekten.

(4) Het sociale goed kwam los te staan van het goed voor de mensen. De adviseurs van de koning waren bang voor mogelijke maatschappelijke problemen die zouden worden veroorzaakt door de antidrakovisten. Ze zeiden dat er geen maatschappelijk goed zou komen uit het doden van de draak. Sociale klassen bestaan echter voor het goed van de mens en over het algemeen is het goed voor de mens als er levens worden gered.

(5) Het gebrek aan een gevoel voor verhoudingen. Een tijger doodde een boer. Een plaag van ratelslangen teisterde een dorp. De koning versloeg de tijger en de ratelslangen en dient dus zijn volk. Maar hij zat fout, omdat hij zijn prioriteiten verkeerd stelde.

(6) Prachtige zinnen met holle retoriek. De adviseur van moraliteit was welbespraakt en had het over de menselijke waardigheid en onze aard, in zinnen die bijna letterlijk overgenomen zijn van zijn eigentijdse gelijken.[3] Maar de retoriek was een rookgordijn dat de morele realiteit eerder verborgen hield dan onthulde. De onsamenhangende maar eerlijke getuigenis van de jongen wijst als contrast in de richting van het centrale feit van het geval: de draak is slecht, hij eet mensen. Dit is ook de basiswaarheid van beginnende ouderdom bij mensen.

(7) De urgentie niet kunnen inzien. Pas heel laat in het verhaal realiseerde men zich wat er te verliezen viel. Pas toen de koning in het bebloede gezicht van de jonge, smekende man keek, werd de omvang van de tragedie duidelijk. Het zoeken naar een behandeling voor het ouder worden is niet wat moois dat we ooit eens moeten doen. Het is een urgente, schreeuwende morele verplichting. Hoe sneller we beginnen met een gericht onderzoeksprogramma, des te sneller zien we resultaten. Het doet er toe als we het pas in 25 jaar kunnen genezen in plaats van 24 jaar: een bevolking groter dan die van Canada zou kunnen sterven als gevolg hiervan. In dit geval is tijd gelijk aan leven, tegen een snelheid van ongeveer 70 levens per minuut. Terwijl de meter zo snel loopt, moeten we niet langer tijd verdoen.

(8) ‘En in de komende tijd…denk ik dat we wat moeten reorganiseren!’ De koning en zijn volk zullen tegenover enkele grote uitdagingen komen te staan als zij klaar zijn met feestvieren. Hun samenleving was zo geconditioneerd en gedeformeerd door de aanwezigheid van de draak, dat er nu een gapend gat is ontstaan. Ze zullen creatief moeten zijn, zowel op individueel als op maatschappelijk niveau, om omstandigheden te ontwikkelen waardoor het leven dynamisch en betekenisvol wordt. Gelukkig kan de mens zich goed aanpassen. Een andere kwestie waar ze mee te maken zullen krijgen, is overbevolking. Misschien moeten mensen leren om later en minder kinderen te krijgen. Misschien vinden zij een manier om een grotere bevolking te onderhouden door effectievere technologie. Misschien ontwikkelen ze ruimteschepen en zullen ze andere planeten gaan koloniseren. We laten de mensen uit de fabel nu alleen om met deze nieuwe uitdagingen aan de slag te gaan, terwijl wij proberen enige vooruitgang in ons eigen avontuur te maken.[4]

Hoe kunt u helpen

1. Geef het door. Als u een website of een blog heeft, kunt u een link naar deze pagina plaatsen. Deel uw gedachten met vrienden en collega’s. Schrijf brieven aan de redacteur met opmerkingen over krantenartikelen over levensverlenging. Ga in op kortzichtige opmerkingen over het ouder worden.

2. Overweeg geld te geven aan de Methuselah Mouse Prize. Dit is een prijs voor het verlengen van de resterende levensduur van oudere muizen. Wetenschappelijke prijzen staan erom bekend dat ze prestaties stimuleren. Successen met muizen kunnen de weg vrij maken voor een groter programma om de methodes toepasbaar te maken op mensen.

3. Als u actief bent binnen een organisatie (bijv. een politieke partij, een religieuze groepering, een bedrijf), kunt u overwegen of er een manier is waarop u ondersteuning kunt krijgen voor het verlengen van een gezond leven en het onderzoek dat nodig is om het te bereiken.

4. Als een groot filantroop heeft u de mogelijkheid iets te veranderen. Voel u vrij om contact op te nemen om ideeën te bespreken. Als u bijv. een journalist, opinieleider, regeringsfunctionaris bent of in het bestuur zit van een grote onderzoeksinstelling, dan bevindt u zich in de unieke positie om invloed uit te oefenen en hebt u dus ook de verantwoordelijkheid initiatief te tonen.

5. Denk na over wat de beste manier zou zijn waarop u iets kunt bijdragen.


[1] Caloriebeperking (een dieet met weinig calorieën maar veel voedingsstoffen) verlengt het leven en vertraagt de ontwikkeling van ziekten die verbonden zijn met ouderdom. Dit is aangetoond in alle onderzoeken. De eerste resultaten van een langdurig onderzoek bij resus- en doodshoofdaapjes laten vergelijkbare invloeden zien. Het lijkt waarschijnlijk dat caloriebeperking ook bij de mens werkt. Er zijn echter maar weinig mensen die bereid zijn zichzelf levenslang op een hongerdieet te zetten. Sommige onderzoekers doen onderzoek naar het nabootsen van caloriebeperking - bestanddelen die de wenselijke gevolgen van verminderde calorie-inname teweegbrengen zonder honger te hoeven leiden (zie bijv. Lane, M. et al. (1999), ‘Nutritional modulation of aging in nonhuman primates’, J. Nutr. Health & Aging, 3(2): 69-76.)

[2] Tijdens een stemming bij het 10de Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology werd duidelijk dat de meerderheid van de deelnemers het waarschijnlijk of ‘niet onwaarschijnlijk’ achten dat zichtbare functionele verjonging bij oudere muizen mogelijk zou zijn binnen 10-20 jaar (de Grey, A. (2004), ’Report of open discussion on the future of life extension research’, (Annals NY Acad. Sci., 1019, in press)). Zie ook bijv. de Grey, A., B. Ames, et al. (2002) ‘Time to talk SENS: critiquing the immutability of human aging’, Increasing Healthy Life Span: Conventional Measures and Slowing the Innate Aging Process: Ninth Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, ed. D. Harman (Annals NY Acad. Sci. 959: 452-462); en Freitas Jr., R. A., Nanomedicine, Vol. 1 (Landes Bioscience: Georgetown, TX, 1999).

[3] Zie bijv. Kass, L. (2003) ‘Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Perfection’, The New Atlantis, 1.

[4] Ik ben de vele mensen dankbaar die eerdere versies van commentaar hebben voorzien, vooral Heather Bradshaw, Roger Crisp, Aubrey de Grey, Katrien Devolder, Joel Garreau, John Harris, Andrea Landfried, Toby Ord, Susan Rogers, Julian Savulescu, Ian Watson en Kip Werking.

http://www.nickbostrom.com/fable/draak-tiran.pdf">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/04/17 •

Report on the 3rd Israeli Transhumanist Seminar

(A report from Ilia Stambler) On March 30, 2007, the 3d seminar on Immortalism/transhumanism took place in Bar Ilan University (the 4th general meeting of the Israeli transhumanist chapter).

Dr. Frida Fuchs Simonstein, bio-ethicist from Emek Izreel college, gave a fantastic presentation on Indefinite Life Prolongation: the scientific ways toward it – telomerase, embryonic and adult stem cells, calorie restriction etc.; and the ethical issues it raises – demography and overpopulation, progress and generations shift, the issue of memory and identity, ennui and the meaning of life, global and local justice. Her work will be soon published in Hebrew (in “Refuah” journal [Medicine]) and it appears in English in her book “Self Evolution. The Ethics of Redesigning Eden”. The presentation instigated a passionate discussion, covering this vast range of relevant topics.

Avi Rosen, a PhD candidate at the Department of Arts, Tel Aviv University, gave a comprehensive and colorful presentation on “The Virtual Cathedral” outlining topics indispensable to current Transhumanist thought, such as the relation or interface of the individual to his/her network, to the space and cyberspace, visualization and the role of artistic representation of the future. This presentation can be found at http://newmediafix.net/

The Israeli transhumanist-immortalist chapter is constantly growing. Presently, it includes over 50 members. About 20 people regularly attend the meetings. These include: Dr. Danny Belkin, a stem cell researcher and the foremost authority on bioscience in our group; Dr. Ana Belkin, a biophysicist; Tal Galili, an MA student of bioinformatics at Tel Aviv University; Heli Katsav, a PhD candidate and coordinator at the Department of Gender Studies at Bar Ilan University, whose thesis concerns Anti-Aging in Israel; Noam, an MA student of physics at Tel Aviv University and an active member of the Israeli Sci Fi association; Yoni Donner, a student at the Interdisciplinary program in Tel Aviv University; David Ish-Shalom, a veteran Transhumanist who is presently involved in a public grass-roots project promoting scientific research and education in Jerusalem; Daniel Stein, a business school graduate now entering the field of bio-engineering, a very active immortalist; Eli, a student of electrical engineering at Tel Aviv U; Olga Plutsker, a linguist and an artist; Ilana Rosen, a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv U; Barak, a high-tech developer and a graduate student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, whose thesis concerns technological optimism; Lior Homen, a computer expert and fitness instructor; Gilad Cohen, a student at the Herzlia Interdisciplinary College; Oded Tshesly, a student at the interdisciplinary program in TAU; Adi Berman, a brilliant high-school student and a very active immortalist; Ilia Stambler, a technical writer at the Biophysical Schottenstein Center for the Research and the Technology of the Cellome, Bar Ilan University, and a PhD candidate at the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Bar llan U. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who have presented, attended or taken interest, and special thanks go to Prof. Noah Efron and Dr. Oren Harman of Science, Technology and Society Department, Bar-Ilan University, who encourage these studies.

Finally we have a live and vibrant community of like-minded active and searching individuals. Still our internet presence needs expanding:

There are now in existence:
The Immortality Institute Israel forum http://www.imminst.org/forum/index.php?s=&act=SF&f=181
And The World Transhumanist Association Israel blog
http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/languages/C126/

In addition to the community blogs at blogli http://longerlife.blogli.co.il/ and Israblog: http://israblog.nana.co.il/blogread.asp?blog=225403 .

Much more materials need to be written (or translated) to create a sizable internet presence.

For more information, please visit the Israeli forum at ImmInst:
http://www.imminst.org/forum/index.php?s=&act=ST&f=181&t=10317&st=40

Many thanks again to all the participants, and a Happy and Peaceful Passover!

Ilia

Posted by mrinesi on 2007/04/03 •

Russian transhumanists present at the Russian parliament

On March 21st, 2007 representatives of Russian Transhumanist Movement gave presentations in Russian State Duma (parliament) at a round table “Influence of science on political situation in Russia. A view into the future” organised by the Liberal-democratic party of Russia.


This was the first time transhumanists spoke at the State Duma! It’s great that Russian politicians finally had a chance to hear transhumanist forecasts. Three years ago Ray Kurzweil testified before a Congressional science committee. Nick Bostrom has presented to EU ethics committees. Wrye Sententia testified before the Presidential Bioethics Committee. Transhumanism has been discussed (negatively) in the House of Lords and the Europarliament issued a report with two pages on transhumanism. But transhumanists haven’t been in those fora nearly often enough.


left to right: Igor Kirilyuk (RTD),
Danila Medvedev (RTD), Valerija Pride (RTD),
Margarita Suhih (LDPR)

During the round table experts of the Russian Transhumanist Movement explained the current view on the scientific and technological progress and showed forecasts based on technology foresight and NBIC-convergence model. They described promising future technologies and their ongoing development in the world, as well as their socioeconomic consequences in the next 20 years, opportunities and strategic goals for Russia. Shocking but real prospects of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and robotics, their radical social and political consequences haven’t been seriously discussed in Russia until now.

Meanwhile, in the past decade many governments in the world have developed a complex vision of technology prospects. The Japanese megaproject to develop intelligent humanoid robots that was started in 1970s is nearing completion. Androids that now regularly appear in TV news will soon take place of retiring industrial and service workers.

South Korean government promises that by 2015-2020 every family in the country will have at least one robot in the house and by 2015 organ transplants from GM animals will become routine. Meanwhile the US Army expects that by 2015 one third of its fighting capacity will be provided by robots.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2007/04/03 • (0) Comments

Time, come back! - 6th immortalist forum, Ukraine

On the March 9th, as a part of the VI International Immortalist Forum in Kiev, a presentation of a new book ‘Our pebbled skin’ by V.A.Kordyum, the outstanding native scientist, AMSU academician, the laureate of the State Prize of Ukraine, took place.


left to right: geneticist V. Kordum,
neurosurgeon V. Neschadimenko,
philosopher K. Zarubitsky

As it is known, nowadays saying ‘medicine’ one means the sum of human’s biotechnologies that has already grown out of man’s former vicarious abilities, i.e. it adds a portion of certain extra reserves from outside to an organism. And just about the practical ways of realization of this new paradigm, a book by the native genetics classic, which has freshly come off the press, tells. Also the author quite bravely deals with such extraordinary term as ‘reverse of biological time’. And this detail, in turn, lets us to look at the notorious problem of age in definitely other way. By the way, we recall that if just recently more than 100 various theories of ageing existed, then nowadays, to a large extent by virtue of the latest rousing strides in the area of molecular biology, the scientists’ points turned out to be, one way or another, split up between two opposite leaguers. That is the main discussions are already progressively about whether such course of events is programmed by nature itself or it isn’t programmed (or, speak plainly, is chance). However, in his book academician Kordyum’s approach to this old conceptual argument is quite unawares: indeed, in his opinion, changing the aging cells (and when it’s necessary, also nucleuses) of an organism to new ones, one could pass by all imagined obstacles. So, not according to the gerontology rules but using other alternative ways, such desired by everybody wish as restrictions of biological age demands has already come forward to the progressive front of science. Which means now that only from ourselves, as well as, from creative (and, it appears, material) efforts to be used here, quickness of the first properly loaded results depends directly!

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2007/04/03 • (0) Comments

1st International Summit of the Planetary Collegium


Disturbing, fascinating, poetical, provocative, the works and researches of the Planetary Collegium’s members reveal and explore the fundamental questions that are opened by the technological explosion on the topics of consciousness, life, humanity, knowledge, being-in-the-world, borders between natural and artificial, access to information. 65 researchers from 15 countries will share during 4 days the result of their research-creation works with their guests, their colleagues from Quebec, and with the general public.

The first International Planetary Collegium Summit will be held in Montreal from April 19 to 22, 2007, on the premises of University of Quebec in Montreal’s Coeur des Sciences.

The Planetary Collegium is an international community of researchers, thinkers and artists dedicated since 1994 to research/creation. It also offers a unique Ph.D. research program through its network of nodes in Europe, South America and Asia.

Although its members meet regularly in various places around the world, the Montreal Summit will be the first large scale meeting of its young history. It will offer the Montreal based artist/creators and the Montreal media arts community the opportunity to get in touch with projects, methods, tools and research projects that are amongst the more advanced in the field.

The Summit will welcome numerous high reputation international artists, thinkers and researchers, such as Roy Ascott, founder of the Planetary Collegium, astrophysicist Roger Malina, culture theoretician Derrick de Kerckhove, biochimist James Gimzewski, media artist and theoretician Bill Seaman, philosopher Pierre Lévy, transhumanist Natasha Vita-More, sound artist Andrea Polli, as well as two researchers from the CIAM-Hexagram community, Barbara Layne and Nicolas Reeves.

Entitled Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence, the Summit will allow 65 presenters from fifteen countries to share the results of their latest works and researches with their guests, and with the Quebec media arts and technologies community. The Summit will be an opportunity to get together for members of the different nodes of the Collegium (Plymouth, Beijing, Milan and Zurich, which will soon be joined by Seoul and Sao Paulo), along with several members pursuing their research on an individual basis as part of this international network. Many of these are amongst the best known artist/researchers of their fields.

Through mostly transdisciplinary research, calling upon artists, scientists, engineers, philosophers, educators and communications specialists, the Collegium is contributing to the production of new knowledge in the field of media arts and to the transfer of this knowledge to other fields. Computer science, communications, research on consciousness, biotechnologies, cognitive sciences, hypermedia, variable environments, robotics are but a few of the disciplines whose development feeds and informs the Collegium research in all artistic disciplines : performance, dance, architecture, new narrative forms, music, installations, design, performing arts, film and video…

Although the Summit is first and foremost and occasion to come in contact with singular artistic approaches, which cannot be classified into traditional fields and are at the cutting edge of contemporary practice, several presentations will discuss the theoretical, cultural, social, educational, museological and environmental stakes of these practices.

The Summit is open to everyone interested. For information about the Collegium and registration to the Summit, please go to: http://summit.planetary-collegium.net.

For more information about the Summit, please go to Hexagram’s site at www.hexagram.org, or to the CIAM’ site at www.ciam-arts.org.

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2007/04/03 •

Homo Perfectus!

The Perfect World Tour: An Imperfect Guide to the Perfect World


By A.R. Teest



“The Perfect World Tour opens the portals of your imagination, presenting a vision of humanity that is in complete harmony with nature and ultimate reality. Through a sequence of stunning artworks, the book reveals what it may one day be like to have total fulfillment of our desires, to live in a state of perpetual bliss, with deep mental connections among individuals minds.”
– Dr. Cliff Pickover, author of A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality



The Perfect World Tour is a mythical story created as an attempt to express, explore and communicate through a series of visual art and writing, the desire and state of perfection.

Book Outline

I. Introduction
II. The Perfect World Tour

1. Tour Guide Welcome
-End of days
-Descendants, evolution, development
-Basic qualities of Homo perfectus

2. The birth of Homo perfectus
-The life orb
-Sexual experiences
-Explanation of S.E.L.F
-Cleansing process
-Programming, communication, connecting

3. Standard Reality
-Meeting mother, meeting child
-Basic qualities of standard reality

4. Controlled Stimulation Reality
-Basic qualities of Controlled Stimulation Reality
-Types of Controlled Stimulation Reality

5. Stimulated simulations

6. Stimulated time

7. Stimulated manipulations

8. Back to SELF
-Energy release
-Organizing the unified field
-Transcendence

Book is FREE for download at: www.homoperfectus.net

Posted by posthumor on 2007/03/23 •

Places for Transhumanists to Pursue Graduate Studies in Bioethics

Occasionally transhumanist students ask us what professors, departments or programs are interested in or conducive to research on transhumanism.

Since transhumanism is quite interdisciplinary, the answer is that many people in academe are interested in or sympathetic to one aspect or another of the transhumanist agenda, if not to “transhumanism.”

For instance, departments of computer science are very tolerant of investigations of artificial intelligence and neuroprosthetics, while many departments of biological sciences would be congenial for research on aging mechanisms or cognitive function. Although scientists are often anxious not to be perceived as “kooky” or as advocating pseudoscience, there is probably much less resistance or hostility to someone having transhumanist views in the natural sciences than in the social sciences and humanities.

Even the transhumanist pursuing a graduate degree in engineering or the information or biological sciences, however, will eventually want to engage with their school’s bioethicists, philosophers and health policy scholars. There, the reception to “transhumanism,” or even discussion of “human enhancement,” can often be dismissive.

Here are some of our initial thoughts about where to find scholars and programs in bioethics and philosophy that are supportive of transhumanist enquiries, even if they aren’t explicitly transhumanist. Of course, transhumanists can also learn a lot in programs that are hostile to transhumanism, so long as the scholars are talking about the issues and willing to support student work in the topic. There is no school or department I know of in which transhumanists are the majority. You might as well find the rare scholar(s) with some sympathies for transhumanism to work with since you will be able to find bioconservative critics without much effort.

- James J. Hughes Ph.D., Secretary, WTA

A note from Paul Root Wolpe (February 12, 2007)

We have posted a downloadable list of 31 universities and programs that offer internships (summer or semester) for undergraduates (and a few graduate internships as well).  Please feel free to download and post on your own website or distribute it as you like, and please notify your students and colleagues of its availability. Please also let me know of inaccuracies or additions.  We will try to update it every year.

The list can be accessed now at:  http://bioethics.upenn.edu/ugrad/?pageId=3

* * * *
Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D.
Departments of Psychiatry, Medical Ethics, and Sociology and Center for Bioethics University of Pennsylvania Penn homepage:
Chief of Bioethics
(Care and Protection of Research Subjects and Patients) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Center for Bioethics:
3401 Market St., Suite 320
Philadelphia PA 19104
(215) 573-9378 or 898-7136
(215) 573-3036 (fax)

Penn’s Center for Bioethics: 
American Journal of Bioethics:  www.bioethics.net



IN THE UNITED STATES

Center for Bioethics & Dept of Medical Ethics
University of Pennsylvania

http://www.bioethics.upenn.edu
Arthur Caplan is probably the leading U.S. bioethicist, and is relatively open to human enhancement for a bioethicist. His large, prominent program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is central to American bioethics.

Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project
Yale University

http://www.yale.edu/bioethics/
Yale University has a very active set of bioethics working groups, many of which are of interest to transhumanists, all of which are tolerant of transhumanists, and one of which is the Ethics and Technology group, led by transhumanist Bonnie Kaplan and with James Hughes, the WTA Director, as a participant.

Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society
University of California Los Angeles

http://research.arc2.ucla.edu/pmts/
The transhumanist Gregory Stock, author of Redesigning Humans, runs this program at UCLA. Write to Dr. Stock to find out what kind of research possibilities you might have under its auspices.

Department of Bioethics
Case Western Reserve University

http://www.cwru.edu/med/bioethics/faculty.htm
This is a large collection of influential bioethicists, among them Maxwell Mehlman, author of a book on human enhancement; Eric T. Juengst, who has written extensively and relatively sympathetically about human enhancement; Stuart Youngner, one of the leading scholars of brain death and personhood; and Dena Davis, a leading scholar of genetic and reproductive technology.

Department of Philosophy
University of Alabama

http://www.uab.edu/philosophy/faculty/pence/
Greg Pence is one of the leading transhumanist-inclined bioethicists. He has written in defense of reproductive cloning and human enhancement.

Department of Philosophy
Brown University

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Philosophy/brock.html
Dan Brock, at Brown, is a very prestigious bioethicist, and co-author of the very important transhumanist-leaning text From Chance to Choice.

Department of Population and Int. Health
Harvard School of Public Health

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/facres/pihindx.html
Daniel Wikler and Norman Daniels are very prestigious bioethicists at Harvard, and co-authors of the very important transhumanist-leaning text From Chance to Choice.

Center for Human Values
Princeton University

http://www.princeton.edu/~uchv/
Peter Singer
http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/
Peter Singer is one of the most influential philosophers among transhumanists, and he is a defender of access to human enhancement (among many other controversial views.) He also teaches half-time in Australia. At Princeton he is part of their Center for Human Values.

UNITED KINGDOM

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Oxford University

http://www.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/
WTA Chair Nick Bostrom and transhumanist-sympathizing bioethicist Julian Savulescu are both in the Uehiro Ethics center at Oxford University. This is the place for transhumanist philosophy, if you can get there.

Centre for Social Ethics and Policy
University of Manchester

http://www.law.manchester.ac.uk/research/csep.htm
John Harris, a transhumanist-inclined bioethicist who wrote the pioneering pro-enhancement Superman and Wonderwoman and the more recent defense of reproductive cloning On Cloning, runs this Centre.

CANADA

Centre for Bioethics
University of Toronto

http://www.utoronto.ca/jcb/
This center has been pursuing great and exciting stuff, from a generally pro-tech point of view, under director Peter Singer (who is not the Australian/Princeton Peter Singer). They have some transhumanists among their students and associates.

Department of Philosophy
Dalhousie University

http://philosophy.dal.ca
Jason Scott Robert and Francoise Baylis are transhumanist-inclined bioethicists who teach in the philosophy program at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
http://bioethics.medicine.dal.ca/

AUSTRALIA

Centre for Bioethics
Monash University

http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/bioethics/
Russell Blackford
http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/phil/postgraduate/blackford/
Russell Blackford is a transhumanist-sympathizing philosopher, and a Fellow of the IEET, who lectures in Monash’s bioethics program while he is finishing a doctorate on human enhancement. Peter Singer is also at Monash half the year.

Send us more suggestions: director (at-sign) transhumanism.org.

DISTANCE LEARNING GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN BIOETHICS

Albany Medical College (USA):
http://www.bioethics.union.edu/

Medical College of Wisconsin (USA):
http://www.mcw.edu/bioethics/depage.html

Cleveland State University (USA):
http://www.csuohio.edu/philosophy/bioethics.htm#study

Loyola U (Chicago, USA):
http://www.meddean.luc.edu/depts/bioethics/index.htm

Monash University (Australia):
http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/bioethics/degree_programs/

Univ of Manchester (UK):
http://www.law.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduate/admissions/mabydl.htm

Link
Posted by jhughes on 2007/02/12 •

A guide to hosting your own transhumanist arts center

A guide to hosting your own transhumanist arts center

You dream of turning a hot spot into the transhumanist arts and culture center of your city for a week or month, a space where digital imagery artists meet i-wear fashion designers, who meet experimental electronic musicians, all high on the postcyberpunk zeitgeist!

Through the concept of a temporary nomadic cultural center, you can set out to build this new art scene and bring people from disparate social circles together under one roof. Here’s a guide to setting up your own temporary transhumanist cultural center in six easy steps.

Solidify your concept. “Promoting the creation, dissemination and preservation of transhumanist arts and culture” sounds great but you have to figure out exactly how you want to go about it. Take your big dreams and fit them into one paragraph - careful planning at this stage will help you get sponsors later on. Be creative and be rebellious. Remember that everything is possible. But plan everything, make a budget and put everything on a timeline. Get a mentor to guide you. Ask questions and seek criticism.

Image is everything. Transhumanists should always strive to be seen as people of style and tech sophistication: the embodiment of the geek AND chic. So it’s time to go shopping!

Find the key players. With your newly solidified concept, hip wardrobe and confident attitude, connect with the artists and musicians that will help make your idea come to life. It’s also time to start spreading the word. Call all your friends and get them involved. Exchange skills with them.

Find a space. Securing a space first will help you snag sponsors. Take a walk or a bike ride in your neighbourhood. Look for places for rent by the landlord since it’s easier to deal directly with the owner. Ask for capacity, look for a fire exit, exit signs, multiple bathrooms, all the things you would find in any commerce. Once you’ve found the space and the landlord agrees to the terms in writing, call the municipality and outline your event. They’ll send over an inspector and he’ll tell you what you need to get it in working order - fire safety is their major concern. Be prepared to spend money on an occupation permit and temporary liquor licence from the municipality if necessary.

Find sponsors. With the space secure it’s time to alleviate some of the costs. Alcohol sponsors are key. They’ll exchange deals on products such as drinks, sound equipment, etc. for exposure through logos on flyers, posters and banners at the space. Don’t forget to approach small businesses that might share your aspirations and inspirations. Hustle. Be prepared to spend your own money.

Promote. Go outside your circles and target people you wouldn’t normally talk to - it’s the greatest opportunity to meet new friends. Use as many media outlets as possible to reach your public effectively, and do it in advance. Personally invite and call as many people as you can to create genuine connections inside and outside the communities and networks you live in.

Have fun. Be fuelled by passion, inspiration and emotion, then you’re sure to throw a great event. Don’t be afraid to try to make money. Don’t be modest, but be honest. Smile and, above all, enjoy!


Justice De Thezier is a social entrepreneur and creative professional. In 2003, he founded the Quebec Transhumanist Association, which he closed down in January 2008. From January 2006 to January 2008, De Thezier served on the board of directors of the World Transhumanist Association. And, from November 2005 to March 2007, he contributed to the Cyborg Democracy web portal and blog.

Posted by justicedt on 2007/01/30 •

Giulio Prisco at the University of Lausanne

WTA Executive Director Giulio Prisco gave a seminar and participated in a public debate on transhumanism at the University of Lausanne on January 24, 2007, with an audience of about 300 people.

Report, some pictures and link to video here

Link
Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/30 •

“Transhuman“‘s author Yury Nikitin awarded an RTM diploma and a neuro cryonics contract

MOSCOW. JANUARY 20, 2007. Yury Nikitin, a bestselling Russian sci-fi author received a diploma from the Russian Transhumanist Movement for his novel “Transhuman” (2006) and his achievements in promotion of transhumanism. KrioRus cryonics company presented him a cryonics contract for neuro suspension.

Valerija Pride awards Yury Nikitin
Valerija Pride from RTM
awards Yury Nikitin

Nikitin is the most popular science fiction author in Russia. About a million copies of his books were sold in 2006. He is in top ten among all fiction writers.

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 4
Transhuman
cover

“Transhuman" is a novel that covers the personal story of Vladimir, a repairman who turns programmer turns industry analyst turns posthuman. From a technical side, the story is solidly based on the current H+ understanding of the future. Particularly interesting is the description of social and cultural changes as well as images of daily life in the future. The novel is written as a timeline, starting from 2006 and ending in a pre-Singularity in 2119 (the timeline was intentionally stretched to prevent severe future shock in readers).

The event took place in the Central House of Writers, the professional organisation of Russian writers.



The audience
The audience (from A. Potapov’s sensor suit)



About 80 people attended the ceremony, including members of the press. The event was filmed by NTV channel for a new 45-minutes documentary on cryonics.

In the acceptance speech Yury Nikitin expressed hope that people would take their transhuman future seriously. He certainly does as he was very grateful and happy that with the help of KrioRus cryonics has finally became a reality for him personally. Cryonics was covered very positively in his novel “Transhuman”.

Nikitin receiving the award
Nikitin receiving the award (from A. Potapov’s sensor suit)


After the ceremony there was a brieft 40-minute presentation by Danila Medvedev on the topic “Transhumanism - from science fiction to reality and back” - a brief intro on predictions, sci-fi, possible futures, the Singularity Wall in the Future and H+ fiction.

Russian Transhumanist Movement was organised in December 2003 with the goal of readying the Russian society for the emergence of transhumanist technologies.

KrioRus is the first cryonics company outside the United States and is providing affordable cryonics services. It was established in 2006.

Some of the photos presented here were recorded on a sensor suit of Alexey “Immorta” Potapov. Like Steve Mann, Immorta constantly records all of his life experiences in audio and video. Several more transhumanist developers are working in Russia with him on the sensor suit project. One of the future applications is the possibility for digital immortality/resurrection.

For further information, photos, etc. please contact rtd-info@mail.ru Please forward it to anyone who might be interested.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2007/01/25 • (0) Comments

Kiev, Ukraine: 5th Forum on Immortalism

LET’S PUT APOCALYPSE ON THE BACKBURNER!

During the last weekend of year 2006 a couple of dozens of our most courageous followers of immortality, without waiting for everybody’s New Year effusions of wine, gathered together in Kyiv, at their traditional, already the 5th Immortology forum. At that, not only for chatting at a friendly tea-meeting or even at a champagne party but also for tracing a variety of pressing premium tasks for the next “piggy” year.

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 5
Immortalist forum participants

At the beginning, young Russian writer and scientist Vladimir Sukhikh told the guests of the forum about the essence of the information and about the newest methods of its transferring to allogenious bearers. In terms of substantial content his exciting one-and-half-hour speech briefly was as follows: “While using an outer computer-imitator, one can try to take out the information from the brain main points, and that, in principle, should automatically lead to widening of own self. Why? Indeed, because the neural network calculating out the integrated image, would also incorporate the additional network of the computer-imitator. And this, in turn, would let one receive the reflection of cerebration widened at the cost of the outer structure. In this case, a signal coming to the outer bearer would also bring “inside if” the data used during the calculation and taken from the memory. So, firstly, we would receive the immediate widening of the own self from the brain to the outer bearer at once, and, secondly, the elements of the memory used in each specific session of reflection would leave at the same place.

Consequently, the more active would the outer bearer be used for the widened reflection, the more data from the memory would transfer to it. As to hereafter, while using this new-created “secondary reflection”, appearingly, it would be already possible to achieve the complete transfer of own self to the outer abiogenous bearer!”

The next idem of the agenda was the speech of Kiev Institute for Scientific Prognoses (KISP) Director Emir Ashshursky who tried to analyse all existing long-distant social predictions comparing them with well known apocalyptic prophesies, which authorship, according to Biblical tradition, is associated with St. John the Evangelist. In particular, the lecturer mentioned clearly, that one should wait for the most mighty manifestations of the Apocalypse (as well as for the manifestations of the Armageddon - the decisive cruel battle between the powers of the Evil and the Good) only from above, and furthermore one should wait for that not earlier than in one and a half or two centuries, as nowadays there are not any objective background for that. However, on the other hand, almost muster at one accord subscribed to an opinion that already till the middle of the present century on our planet “something” should occur that will fall beyond so habitual, one would think, measured rhythm of everyday life. At that, as a result of this global “purgative” shift today Earth population will dwindle at least twice, and more, the cultural-social gradation will also change root and branch. The rule will change over to oligarchic transnational kindreds that will urgently pass a law that will prohibit whatever experiments with genomes of creatures. As to perspective plans in other fundamental branches of knowledge (energetics, robotic science, and also - by the way, not least - in various psi observations), apparently, they will develop only under the vigilant incessant control of the ruling oligarchy. At that, detailed thorough analysis shows that unlikely one could destroy such rough vertebrate totalitarian structure with some particularly “inner” influences. So, it turns out that, willy-nilly, this notorious, pained by popular yearnings, Apocalypse, in fact, should crash from heaven indeed. And even apart who it will be: aliens, that, maybe, aided the appearance of intelligent life on our planet once, or, let us say, futuroids, that, agreeably, will have accrued from the earthlings themselves by means of the newest evolution jump, the overwhelming majority of wretched outlaws will perceive them just as envoys of the Good for certain, that have come into a skirmish with really pestered transnational kindred of Rockfellers-Soroses-Abramovichs. However, the chief information lies in the fact that the victory of futuroids will inaugurate the beginning of a brand new epoch in the history of human (and, as like as not, cosmic) civilisation - the epoch of “joint-breasing Lem’s Geosolaris”.

Then, continuing the previous topic, the lecturer (we recall, he was the academician of MABET E.E.Ashshursky) would like to delineate deeper the main principals of such over-organism systems, but he was literally overwhelmed with numerous counterquestions. In particular, a guest from Russia Valeria Pride, who is an optimist in grain according to her life credo, contested fundamental inconvertibility of brewing planetary conflicts solution by force. In turn, world-famous native philosopher Sergey Borisovich Krymskiy put out a variety of fresh ideas in this connection. As a result, a substantial fierce dispute broke out instantly. Famous Ukrainian geneticist Vitaliy Kordyum and young fantasist Il’ya Novak also took part in it directly. And suddenly almost “for nothing” an ne plus ultra offending incident happened. In answer to unmotivated indiscreet behaviour of one of hazy guests the indignant academician S.B.Krymskiy abandoned the convention hall. Likewise practically at the same time, two extremely offbeat philosophers Sergey Kurbatov from Sumy and Kievan Semen Churyumov left the meeting, say, due to feeling of collegiate solidarity. And it became obvious that the other didn’t take care of lofty matters. So, it was decided go over from strategy to tactics: at the beginning the permanent author of artistic-biographic magazine “Personality” ("Lichnost‘“) (that, opportune, pays a lot of attention on its pages to distinguished inexhaustible topic of immortality) I.N.Sudak appeared with a presentation of this magazine’s several last issues; and then a member of coordination council of the Russian Transhumanist Movement V.V.Pride sincerely shared with the Ukrainian colleagues some of their own organisation secrets of the modern youth enculturation to progressive ideas of transhumanism.

However, the agenda of the forum was not exhausted at that point. On Sunday, all non-resident members of the forum were invited to a very interesting awareness-raising excursion to Kyiv Institute of Gerontology. They also visited closed joint stock company “Intermedprom” that elaborates new alternative ways of human’s organism rejuvenation.

So now, as one should reasonably believe, during the coming New Year’s night many of them will break upon their husbands and wives already unrecognisable young and charged with powerful vital energy for creative making during this fiery-piggy year. And that is what we wish to you, friends!

PRESS SERVICE OF KIEV SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTE FOR FORECASTING

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2007/01/25 • (0) Comments

New WTA Board of Directors

The WTA Board of Directors page has been updated with the name of the two new Board members elected for the period 2007-2009: Anne Corwin and PJ Manney.

Congratulations to Anne and Patricia, and I look forward to working with them.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/21 •

Mercatornet: Ashley X and transhumanism

Mercatornet - For ever young: Ashley has “static encephalopathy of unknown aetiology”, a severe and permanent brain impairment. She will need intensive care for the rest of her life, which doctors say could be 60 years or more. When her parents consulted experts at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle they discovered that it was possible to radically retard her growth with high doses of the female hormone estrogen…

The solution, radical as it was, struck a chord with Americans. As the incredible popularity of cosmetic surgery shows, they regard the body as a kind of appliance to be reshaped at will. Worried about ageing? Get a Botox treatment. Hate your weight? Try liposuction. Boys don’t like you? Ask for breast augmentation. “You deserve to look as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside” is the slogan of cosmetic surgery clinics. It’s the first rung on the ladder of transhumanism, the wacky dream of transforming ordinary humans into X-Men.

It’s significant that Ashley’s parents quoted comments on their daughter by the transhumanist writer George Dvorsky: “she will retain more dignity in a body that is healthier, more of a comfort to her, and more suited to her state of development”. People feel disconcerted by the sight of an adult with the mind of an infant, but Ashley will still be a wizened doll at 60.

The philosophy which underlies The Ashley Treatment is that this little girl’s body is just a tool of the spirit to be reshaped and redesigned at will. The real her is trapped inside a floppy, burdensome carcass. Her parents have remodelled her body to match her mind. But this is wrong. Inseparable from our minds, our bodies are also us, not an attachment to us. We are not less dignified if our minds are impaired; we are not less dignified if our bodies are impaired.

Comments: of course I do not agree with the last paragraph - try forgetting abstract rethorics and *asking* a severely disabled person if (s)he feels dignified or not. But the text raises an interesting point: are our bodies us or an attachment to us? I think my body is an attachment to to the real me, like my watch or my shirt. Sooner or later changing body will be not fundamentally more difficult than changing shirt.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/11 • (0) Comments

The PBS show 22nd Century takes you to the forefront of technology

KurzweilAI: 22nd Century is an innovative new PBS series about technological advances taking place today that within our lifetimes will significantly change the way humans live and interact.

I think it is very important to communicate realistic visions of possible future scenarios based on scientific speculations to television audiences, with a future-friendly or at least not unfriendly attitude. Unfortunately I cannot watch PBS from Europe but the 22nd Century websites has long streaming videoclips. On Youtube there is a 22nd Century group of videoclips contributed by users. The 22nd Century websites has interesting polls - at this moment 50% of participants answer the question “What would you rather see a show about?” with “The potential of living forever”. The KurzweilAI website is one of the futurist resources they list.

In an interview Ramez Naam, the author of More Than Human, discusses the implications of technically enhancing the human body: “We have always, as long as we have existed as humanity, we’ve always looked for ways to make ourselves smarter, make ourselves live longer, give ourselves more physical abilities.  That’s why we invented writing.  That’s why we picked up sticks.  That’s why we invented the use of fire.  We’re always looking for these ways to improve our lives, and improve our control over who we are, and our environment. That’s what it means to be human… The future is about gaining control over our genes, gaining control over our bodies, gaining control over our brains and minds, and being able to alter them so we can look the way we want to, so we can be stronger, and faster, so that we can work for decades, or maybe centuries more, so we can restore youth to people who are aged, and so we can alter our thoughts, change our personalities, become smarter, communicate things back and forth, from brain to brain”.

From the website:

Ever wonder what the world is going to be like in the future? Will people routinely live to see their 250th birthdays? Will personal computers be smarter than us?  (Or more personable?) Will machines shrink so small they can make repairs inside a human cell? Science fantasy or futuristic nightmare? The PBS show 22nd Century takes you to the forefront of technology and hears from people on the cusp of a scientific revolution.

In the first episode we will meet a young man who was rendered unable to communicate with the outside world due to a devastating automobile accident. Surgeons implanted an electrode in his brain and it has allowed him to break out of his isolation and communicate just by thinking about what he wants to say. In another segment a leading neurophysicist tells how he has developed bundles of wires thinner than spider webs that can be inserted into the blood vessels of human brains.

The series is hosted by Robin Robinson, a Chicago-based journalist, who is joined by two virtual co-hosts, each with insightful and often conflicting viewpoints about the merits of this new technology. One is an actor playing Aldous Huxley, the late author of Brave New World, who worried about the dehumanizing consequences of scientific discoveries. The other is Orlanda Bell, a time-traveling visitor from the future, who represents the best-case scenario of these technological advancements. Is this a future that will benefit the human race? Or will we lose all sense of individuality? Find out on the premiere episode of the 22nd Century.

The program is one of three science pilots airing on PBS in January; only one pilot will move forward to become a series. Watch online or on-air and then tell us what you think of the program using the feedback form below. [Perhaps if enough people write they will choose 22nd Century. My comment on the feedback form: I just watched the videoclips and read the intervews. Great show! This is a good example of “using the power of noncommercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight” as in PBS’ mission statement].

In the premiere episode, guests arrive from the future, past and present to guide you through a quirky tour of the “World Wide Mind,” an intriguing theory that proposes that in the future our brains will be wired up so that we can communicate with the world effortlessly and instantly. Science fantasy or futuristic nightmare? Watch the show and decide for yourself!

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/10 • (0) Comments

Joseph Bloch on A Transhumanist View of Humanity

WBAI - Joseph Bloch on A Transhumanist View of Humanity: Transhumanists and Futurists offer an important perspective on the human experience which is fundamentally non-supernatural. They correctly think of human history in relation to cosmic chronology and accordingly see the human experience as barely having yet begun.

Transhumanists understand humankind not as a static species, but as one which will be continually morphing and evolving with ever increasing acceleration.

Transhumanists and futurists are among the only groups of thinkers that recognize that humankind will relatively soon live in a world radically different from the one we presently occupy, and do not automatically assume it will be dystopian.

Transhumanists do not think that human happiness can be derived from supernatural solutions or practices but is completely generated by human culture and technology.  Many of them appreciate the need to abolish all suffering and the value of pleasure and pleasure enhancing substances and technologies. They are generally pro-sexuality. They value playfulness and fun.

Many Transhumanists envision that work does not need to be drudgery, and that it can and should be a joyful experience. They recognize this life as the only chance of conscious existence that we will ever get to experience and regard the achievement of radical life extension and the end of mortality as a very high priority in human affairs.

Joining us in our studio to discuss these and other topics will be Joseph Bloch, a member of the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association. Mr. Bloch will explain why the vision of Transhumanism is consistent with a humanistic, non-religious worldview, and also pointedly addresses many important issues which traditional humanism does not, so…

Listen to the MP3 audio stream.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/09 • (0) Comments

Candidates for the 2007-2009 WTA Board of Directors seats

Jose Cordeiro
Anne Corwin
Michael LaTorra
PJ Manney
Giulio Prisco
Mike Treder

If you are a voting member of the WTA, you can vote here. Polls close midnight GMT January 13, 2006.


Jose Cordeiro (www.cordeiro.org) was born in Caracas (Venezuela) in 1962, to Spanish refugee emigrant parents. He studied engineering at MIT (Massachusetts), economics at Georgetown University (Washington,
DC) and management at INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France). He did his MIT graduate thesis at NASA, where he worked on dynamic simulations for today’s International Space Station, and is a lifetime member of the Sigma Xi (Scientific Research) and Tau Beta Pi (Engineering) Honor Societies in North America . He has been involved in the futurist movement since the early 1980’s, and is member of the World Future Society, World Futures Studies Federation, Club of Rome, Immortality Institute, Extropy Institute and Lifeboat Foundation. He has worked as a petroleum engineer, economist and futurist in several countries with the United Nations (UNIDO), French oil multinational Schlumberger, US consulting company Booz-Allen & Hamilton and the international Millennium Project. He speaks fluently Spanish, English and French, and understands well Portuguese, Italian and some German. He has written extensively (hundreds of articles and a dozen books, some available through Amazon.Com), including ideas on humans, transhumans and posthumans, both in English and Spanish. He has also written or has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Times, Korean Daily (Chosun Ilbo), Japanese Daily News (Mainichi Shimbun), ABC, BBC and CNN, and has been listed in the prestigious Marquis Edition of Who’s Who in the World. Jose has a biweekly column in the largest Venezuelan newspaper (El Universal) that can be read all over Latin America and has interviewed some very famous people, including a dozen Nobel Prize laureates, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Sir Arthur C.
Clarke, Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Dawkins and others who first heard about transhumanism through him. Jose believes that transhumanism has to become mainstream in order to advance, it has to become a major world movement with prominent and respected people.

As a transhumanist, Jose cofounded the Venezuelan chapter of the WTA, one of the most dynamic chapters in the world, and has been very active creating and supporting other transhumanist groups from Finland to Hungary and from Brazil to India . As former WTA Chapter Coordinator, he helped doubling the number of WTA chapters around the world, including all the Latin American chapters, Belgium and Hungary in Europe, and India in Asia, for example. He chaired the TransVision 2005 conference in Caracas with participants from almost 30 countries, including government officials, scientific associations, bussiness people and even -by teleconference from Sri Lanka- the legendary writer and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Jose is now fully supporting the next TransVision conference in Chicago, just like he did last year in Helsinki, and he has also given many formal and informal presentations about transhumanism in front of different audiences, from the USA and Mexico to Japan and Spain, where he has also energetically supported the local transhumanist groups. He is very active as part of the group responsible for the Spanish transhumanist web page www.TransHumanismO.org. He has also supervised the translation of several transhumanist materials in Spanish and Portuguese, coordinated the edition of the first transhumanist book in Korean and is thinking about similar books in Japanese and Chinese.

Jose is moving this Summer to Japan, where he will be at the leading development economics think tank in Asia, and he will be working with other groups from major Asian countries like China, India and Korea.
In Japan, he will also finish his PhD thesis where he deals with science and long-term development.

Jose strongly believes that transhumanism is the new force that will positively transform the world, including the poor and developing nations. He wants to continue serving the WTA communities to help spreading the transhumanist memes throughout the world, in different countries, in different languages, in different cultures. As a broad-minded individual, he fully supports the extropians, singularitarians, immortalists, cryonicists, body modifiers, uploaders, and all other transhumanists regardless of sexual preference, religious affinity, skin color, physical handicap, national origin, and any other pre-posthumanist considerations.

Transhumanism has to be tolerant or it will not succeed. Jose wants to make a better world, in a better multiverse of boundless possibilities.

Summary: mainstream, visibility, news, books, publications, movies, arts, science, Latin America, Spanish, North America, English, Asia, Japan, China, Korea, India, Europe, Africa, development, chapters, public relations, fund raising, tolerance, alliances, transhumanism, extropy, singularity, cryonics, immortality.






Anne Corwin: I am a working electrical engineer living in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  A lifetime of interest in science and technology has shaped both my career path and personal pursuits.  Particular interests include radical life extension, cryonics, bioethics, biotechnology, neurodiversity, disability rights, and cognitive science.  In April 2006, I started the blog podcast.  Both the blog and podcast focus on the topics listed above.

Experience and Vision:

In May 2006, I attended the Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights conference, initiated by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) and held at Stanford University.  Attending this conference was a turning point in my involvement in transhumanism / technoprogressive discussion, because it compelled me to take an active role in speaking up and learning about emerging technologies and their ethical implications.  I stayed in contact with some of the folks I met at this conference, and ended up signing on as an intern with the IEET.  I am also a volunteer with the Methuselah Foundation and plan to continue learning as much as I can about emerging longevity science and what might be necessary to hasten its development. 

In addition to this, I am working on a paper for submission to the Journal of Evolution and Technology on the subject of neurodiversity in an era of emerging transformative technology.  As a person on the autistic spectrum, I am concerned about helping to bring about an inclusive future that both enables all kinds of people to meet their goals and participate in society, and avoids the over-medicalization of variation to the detriment of all citizens.  I also recognize that disability rights, civil rights in general, and transhumanist thought share a common valuation of morphological and cognitive liberty—the right to configure one’s mind and body must necessarily include the right to modify and the right to refuse modification. 

I believe that properly staffed and mobilized, the WTA has the potential to offer a reasonable and rational forum for discussion of emerging technologies and the social, political, and ethical implications thereof—as well as the kinds of tangible activist efforts needed to promote real, positive change.  Primarily, I see transhumanism as a term that provides a means to identify and coordinate with others who share a future-positive vision of reality, and who, rather than fearing technological development by default, look to science and reason for opportunities to improve such things as health care, education, social services, and overall cultural evolution.  Technology and ethics must be developed in congruence with one another, and humans have already demonstrated that we’re capable of rapidly accelerating technological growth—it’s time we also developed appropriate social, political, and ethical paradigms to deal with this growth.






Mike LaTorra writes and teaches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA, He is author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao. He serves on the WTA Membership Committee and the Board of Directors of the IEET.  He also serves as President of the Daibutsuji Zen Temple. Mike has served on the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association since 2002, and is the Director of Publications and Editor of the WTA News.






Patricia Manney Vision:  I’m not your typical WTA person.  I’m not an academic, scientist or technologist, nor do I have graduate degrees, but I’m every bit as committed, aware and excited about the future of humanity, being self educated in this realm and working with H+ ideas artistically. 

My strength lies in understanding the mechanics of spin and the power of storytelling.  If we want to convince the world of our ideas, the story we tell must be compelling, accurate and optimistic, even while presenting a world at risk.  The positive story must be in language society can understand and I can help craft the language and image that transhumanism needs to carry it from the fringes of philosophical thought to the mainstream.  As much as we think about the future, we reside and can only act in the here and now.  Therefore, I seek practical solutions to deal with issues today, on the ground, which affect not only our organization, or the transhuman movement, but the rest of humanity. 

Transhumanity is frightening to many because it represents change in its most profound forms.  This fear comes from a lack of understanding that change has always been with us.  And we haven’t been very successful at selling this idea.  If I may be brutally honest with people I’ve come to respect greatly, until now, we’ve been seen as a bunch of fractious eggheads who present terrifying sci-fi futures the average person can’t comprehend.  I want to globalize, unify and distill our message into an embraceable vision and elevate the standing of this organization as the one-stop-shop for understanding transhumanism.

Zeitgeist is important and I listen to it for a living.  And for the first time in recent history, we have the possibility of not only riding the zeitgeist’s wave, but guiding its direction, instead of struggling against the current.  Because for all the talk of technology aiding individualism, there is nothing more individual than the H+ ideal.  But we have to catch that wave, first. 

I hope to forge relationships between the WTA and media and creatives in many fields, to educate them on H+ issues.  The key is to promote the WTA as the voice of transhumanism, disseminated to those who spread H+ memes to the public.  This has already been underway within the WTA through excellent individual efforts, but the development of a consistent, united WTA front will go a long way in moving us into the zeitgeist’s waters and into the public’s minds.

Background:  I attended Wesleyan University and graduated with a B.A; double majoring in Film and American Studies.  I live with my husband and two children in California.

I have worked for over 20 years in the communications field; first, in public relations for motion pictures at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures, then in movie story development for independent film production companies.  A move to New Zealand prompted my turn to writing on Hercules – The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.  Returning to the United States, I created Uncharted Entertainment with my partners and have written and/or created many pilot scripts for television networks, including CBS, Fox, UPN, Discovery, ABC Family and Comedy Central.

I am presently writing a techno-thriller/H+ novel and contributed an essay on empathy and technology for the WTA’s book, BEING & TRANSHUMANISM: A Modern Primer for Tomorrow’s Humanity.  I hope to continue adding to the H+ oeuvre over as many years as H+ technologies allow me to!  You can see more of my H+ thoughts on my website, www.pj-manney.com






Giulio Prisco I wish to remain on the WTA Board and contribute to the next phase of growth of our Association in the next two pivotal years.

My profile, my interpretation of transhumanism and my thoughts on other “big issues” are outlined in my home page. My thoughts on the current status of the transhumanist movement and the challenges ahead are outlined in my recent “ Considerations on the development of the transhumanist movement”.






Mike Treder I’ve been proud to serve on the WTA Board since its formation. I believe the intersection of emerging technologies and human interests will provide some of our greatest ethical challenges—and most exciting humanitarian opportunities—in the years to come. My aim is to support the World Transhumanist Association in taking on the tough questions, encouraging open debate, and standing up for the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities.

Background: After a 20-year career in media and communications, I co-founded the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology in 2002. CRN is a non-profit research and advocacy organization concerned with the major societal and environmental implications of advanced nanotechnology. We promote public awareness and education, and the development of effective recommendations to maximize benefits and reduce dangers. 

In addition to my work with CRN, I am a consultant to the Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University, a Research Fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a consultant to the Future Technologies Advisory Group. I also serve on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, and I’m a member of the World Future Society.

I have published more than 20 articles and papers, and have been interviewed numerous times by the media. As a sought-after speaker on the societal implications of emerging technologies, I’ve been privileged to address conferences and groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Posted by secretary on 2007/01/08 • (0) Comments

Top Canadian science-fiction writers and futurists on transhumanism

Sun Media reporter Vivian Song speaks with top science-fiction writers, astrologists and futurists to explore what the next 50 years may hold for our newest Capricorns. Yes, Capricorns, and astrology - the article is very interested, but futurism is mixed with astrology. I suppose this is how they manage to sell newspapers these days. However, I think some horoscopes are a price worth paying for informing the public on what the future will bring.

Some interesting excerpts:

Given the rate of change during the past 40 years, ventures into space and computer-dependent immortality shouldn’t come as a shock, said Robert Sawyer, a futurist and frequent commentator for Discovery Channel Canada.

In their lifetime, children of the year 2007 will be forced to confront dilemmas their ancestors were able to evade. How do you reconcile immortality with the natural world, for instance? How will the human species respond to climate change that their predecessors set in motion? According to Sawyer, a prolific award-winning writer—he’s one of seven writers in history to win all three of science-fiction’s top honours for best novel of the year—by the time the child is 50, they will have the option of downloading their brain into an artificial android body and of living forever.

2028 - According to futurist consultant Richard Worzel, people can choose to have a personal computer embedded in their body, most likely under the arm, activated by body heat or drawing power from their blood supply. A microphone will be embedded in their tooth powered by bone conduction. Contact lenses will act as a computer monitor and users will be able to overlay reality with computer images.

2057 - Though their biological bodies may have worn out, the rich will be able to buy more time in an android body, Sawyer said. “Transhumanism. For a person born Jan. 1, 2007, they will have a choice at that point.”

Indeterminate life expectancies will also mean more people will draw more heavily and longer on the country’s health plan. How long will people be allowed to work? “You’re opening up social questions that have never had to be asked before . . . to which there’s been no need. The answers become urgent to which there are no precedents and people will fight for what they think they’re entitled to.” At the same time, Sawyer offered a sunny view of immortality, saying the potential to achieve unrivalled human brilliance and creativity is no longer hindered by the pesky passage of time.

Oh, I had forgotten. The ruling colours of Capricorn babies born in 2007 will be blue and black.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/06 • (0) Comments

My reply to WJ Smith’s “Give Me That New Transhumanist Religion”

I had the honor to be quoted by Wesley J. Smith in a blog post titled ”Give Me That New Transhumanist Religion”, where he comments my ”Considerations on the development of the transhumanist movement”.  This is only fair, as I quoted him. However, he tries using my post in support of his view of transhumanism as “a branch of scientism, that is, a quasi religion that seeks to use science in ways for which the great method is not meant”. So I left the comment below on his blog.

Dear Wesley,

I wish to thank you for quoting me, but also wish to reply to your comments which may give, I fear, a distorted view of what I try to say.

I have the highest respect for religion as search for meaning and wish to live a “good” life.

At the same time, and based not only on my scientific training but also on my common sense, I am just unable to *believe* in any religion.

I think, as you quote, that the succes of religions is due to the fact that they offer an answer to the nightmare of death.

For previous generations, death was just something you cannot escape, so it is not surprising that so many persons have accepted supernatural answers in absence of scientific ones.

But today we are beginning to see how science and technology may be able, someday and perhaps soon, to defeat death. I prefer this practical engineering approach to blind belief in something that cannot be proven.

Of course, for most people, the scientific possibility of engineering immortality for future generation is not enough. I am one of these people. Many of my loved ones are dead and I wish to think that, perhaps, I will see them again.

This is just human. But I cannot blind my eyes to the fact that, according to the scientific worldview to which I subscribe, they are just gone.

Gone forever? Perhaps. And perhaps future science and technology may find a way to bring them back. I do not *believe* this: I do not believe in anything that I cannot prove. But I allow myself to contemplate this possibility because it is not, in my opinion, incompatible with the scientific worldview.

This is what I mean by offering hope to those who, like me, are unable to find hope in religion.

It is, I think, unfair to quote “[The] Raelian message is very similar to the transhumanist one” without the rest of my sentence: “with an extra layer of UFO nonsense”. Indeed, I think the Raelian message has the same weakness of religion: it requires blind faith in things that cannot be proven.

I prefer, on the contrary, to believe in ourselves and in our capability to improve our own condition. On the basis of our current understanding of reality, I am confident that someday we will achieve immortality through engineering. And later, perhaps, we will be able to do things even more amazing.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2007/01/03 • (0) Comments

Online magazine Jim Baen’s Universe teams with award-winning H+ podcast The Future And You

Press Release: Steven Euin Cobb’s Award winning transhumanist-friendly podcast, ”The Future and You” has become a regular feature of Jim Baen’s Universe magazine, and vice versa in an innovative partnering agreement between the unique online magazine and the highly listened-to podcast series.

The Future and You is an award-winning podcast about the future which you may download for free. Each episode contains several interviews with authors, scientists, celebrities and innovators about what they expect in the future. These forward-thinking people describe their widely differing ideas of the future and often go beyond what they expect into what they hope and what they fear. The podcast won the 2006 Parsec Award for “Best Speculative Fiction News”. Recent guests have included Mike Treder. Subjects have included: nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing, computers wired directly into the human brain, cryonics, exoplanets, faster-than-light travel, wormholes and black holes, cloning and stem cell research, global warming and the current interglacial period, genetic engineering of humans and other biotechnology, as well as transhumanism and the technology of living more-or-less forever. Stephen Euin Cobb is a Hard SF author, futurist and the host of the award-winning podcast “The Future And You.” He is also an artist, essayist and transhumanist.

I am now listening to the CC-licensed December 1 episode in streaming MP3. The quality of the MP3 stream is very good. In the December episode Cobb describes his views of the future, with more amazing things coming than he previously thought possible and a possible singularity in a few decades, and interviews, among others, Toni Weisskopf (the new head of Baen Books) on the singularity and technological immortality. I would describe “The Future and You” as a transhumanist-friendly and “moderately transhumanist” show, a less radical version of IEET’s Changesurfer Radio produced by James Hughes, targeted mainly to younger people and science fiction fans. This show is one more example of the penetration of transhumanist ideas into popular culture.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/31 • (0) Comments

Future-friendly YA novel: I Was A Teenage Popsicle

Anne Corwin’s Existence is Wonderful blog signals the novel I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum: ”I am no stranger to the subject of suspended animation - however, it is odd and strangely compelling to see this subject pop up in something so far removed from sci-fi as the bubblegum world of novels written for an audience of eighth-grade girls.  Could it be that the cryonics meme is, in fact, propagating through mainstream culture?”.

The book has received very good reviews and has been featured by a lot of magazines for girls and teens. I think popular “light” literature with a positive approach to human enhancement and, even more, future-friendly TV serials and movies, can really achieve a deep penetration of transhumanist memes in popular culture.

The author Bev Katz Rosenbaum has a very nice, clean and professional website on her ”Fiction for Tweens and Teens”. See also her page on Myspace, where she introduces herself as a a former fiction and magazine editor, now working as a full time YA writer.

I Was A Teenage Popsicle (Floe Ryan was frozen--well, ‘vitrified’--when she was sixteen. She’s just been thawed, and guess what, it’s ten years in the future and she’s still a teenager. And her parents are still, shall we say, chilling out. Floe’s little sister is now her older sister (and guardian!), and payback’s a beyotch. On top of that, Floe has to get used to a new school, new technology, and a zillion other new things that happened while she was napping in the freezer. Luckily, she has Taz Taber--the hottie sk8er boy who used to make her melt before she was frozen--to reintegrate with. But now they’re trying to close the Venice Beach Cryonics Center-with Floe’s parents still in it! Now that’s cold. It’s up to Floe to save the clinic and her parents--so she can finally have a chance at a somewhat normal life…) has received very good reviews (check the Amazon page and the Press section of the author’s website) and was chosen as a Girl’s Life Magazine ‘Big Book Giveaway’ in September ‘06.

The sequel Beyond Cool (Floe Ryan was frozen (well, vitrified) for ten years because of a rare disease. Now she’s been thawed back to her normal self, but absolutely everything else has changed. Just when she starts warming up to this new scene, everything falls apart…. Her boyfriend is giving her the cold shoulder, and there are all these cliques she can’t fit into--high school can be a cold place. Worse yet, Dr. Dixon at the Cryonics Center tells her that those who were frozen are more susceptible to illnesses and the one doctor who can cure this immune system weakness has gone AWOL. Now it’s up to Floe and her brainy friend Sophie to find him. But they’re not the only ones looking for him--and this time, Floe could be iced for good…) will be published in 2007.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/29 • (0) Comments

El Club de los Astronautas: a transhumanist space agency founded by artists and musicians

El Club de los Astronautas, “the worlds first space agency founded by artists and musicians”, is a cultural, musical and artistic collective in Barcelona that was founded to promote and communicate the idea of a manned, interstellar voyage. For it’s implementation the Club suggests the construction of a space ship called Mare Nostrum. Its major task is to find and debate strategies that could lead into this final goal. The Club’s work is a very interesting mix of scientific ideas, artistic and musical experimentation. Following inspirations taken from Transhumanism and Second Life, the Mare Nostrum space ship is crewed by uploaded human personalities inhabiting a virtual reality simulation. Don’t miss Chapters 5 and 6 of the radio play, covering Transhumanism, Second Life, uvvy island, mind uploading, the Omega Point, Nick Bostrom’s simulation arguments, artificial intelligence, neurotechnology, brain-computer interfacing, and the possibility to “move” via uploading to VR simulations running on future supercomputers.

Most of the people of the Club, including its founder David Apfel, come from an artistic background and were not trained as scientists and engineers. However, they have made an effort to understand and digest the complex scientific and technical concepts that may lead to transhumanity, as well as the philosophical and ethical foundations of transhumanism. Their artistic background will make it easier for them, I believe, communicating the transhumanist worldview in such a way as to appeal to artistic sensibilities beyond the geeky image, perhaps too cold and aseptic, that transhumanism still has. I would not go as far as saying that they *are* transhumanists, but certainly they take transhumanism seriously and can help us to communicate better.

I was first in touch with ”El Club of the Astronautas” in April, when they invited me to give a talk on transhumanism at their festival “26 000 años luz” in Barcelona. I could not travel to Barcelona on that day, so I proposed to give the talk from the virtual reality of Second Life. My talk was one the first live “mixed-reality” presentations given from virtual reality to the live audience of a festival in brickspace, and the first presentation on transhumanism given in Second Life.

David Apfel came to see me in Second Life, and I gave a power point -like presentation with audio via Skype. I had a few interesting questions - the most interesting were “haven’t you any curiosity to experience death?”, to which I replied “about as much as to visit the dentist next week”, and about the concept of “living in VR”: uploading to a VR world and living there. The guy in the picture below is asking about the possibility of virtual life after death.

They are planning another, more ambitious festival in 2007, and I look forward to continuing the collaboration with them.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/25 •

The Sigma Scan: a database of future issues and trends

The Sigma Scan is a collection of future issues and trends developed by the Outsights-Ipsos MORI partnership, commissioned by the UK Government's Horizon Scanning Centre at the DTI Office of Science and Innovation. The database containis a number of trends, emerging issues and developments which may influence the course of events over the next 50 years and thereby shape the future of the UK and the world at large. The basic unit of the Sigma Scan is the Issue Paper. Each of these 146 Issue Papers provides a brief description of a particular trend or development and a projection of how, given a range of possible conditions, it may unfold in the future. The topic areas represented in the Scan are diverse, spanning the classic futures PESTE categories: Politics, Economics, Society, Science/Technology and the Environment.

An example that has made the headlines is the Issue Paper on "Robo-rights: Utopian dream or rise of the machines?", covered as "Robots could demand legal rights" by BBC News and flamed by Wesley J. Smith as "Transhumanism on the March". Two Issue Papers that mention transhumanism are "The Extended Self: better than well": "Technological development has tended to focus on altering and improving our external physical environment. However, over the next 50 years, the opportunities to focus innovation inwardly and remake our minds and bodies in fundamental ways look likely to increase. These opportunities will arise from advances in biotechnology, neuroscience, information technology, and robotics - and the synergisms between them. The potential to extend the mental and physical hand that nature has dealt us has developed into a more extreme view of the future: "transhumanism," the idea that our descendants could be quite different from us, even, to an extent, by 2050", and "Technology for the Body and Mind": "The formidable forces of computation, genetics, molecular biology, imaging and nanotechnology look likely to combine to transform our understanding of the body and brain. The increasingly profound understanding of the human genome, for example, could open up multiple new ways of both repairing and enhancing the body". This is especially interesting in view of the mainstream nature of this database commissioned by the UK Government.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/22 • (0) Comments

Robot rights: Transhumanism on the March

In sober and matter-of-factly language, the Financial Times reports that “Far from being extracts from the extreme end of science fiction, the idea that we may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans is raised in a British government-commissioned report which claims to be an extensive look into the future”.

“Robots and machines are now classed as inanimate objects without rights or duties but if artificial intelligence becomes ubiquitous, the report argues, there may be calls for humans’ rights to be extended to them”. What is interesting is the assumption that artificial intelligence will probably become ubiquitous, and produce sentient machines, and the conclusion that once we have created sentient machines the only reasonable course of action will be considering them fully human and giving them humans’ rights. If granted full rights, states will be obligated to provide full social benefits to them including income support, housing and possibly robo-healthcare to fix the machines over time. The report argues that if ‘correctly managed’, this new world of robots’ rights could lead to increased labour output and greater prosperity. Very transhumanist statements, coming from UK government officers. What I always admired of the Brits is that they are very pragmatic people, and do not often let whishful thinking blind their eyes to facts.

This is VERY good news and means that transhumanist ideas are definitely moving from the realm of science fiction to mainstream policy making. Of course it is very bad news for those who wish to keep us un the middle ages, and (of course), Wesley J. Smith has already stated that “we are out of our minds to follow this course” in an article aptly titled ”Transhumanism on the March”: “Third, and most importantly, this is the kind of speculation that the transhumanists want us to pursue. Because if machines can have “human” rights, it means that there is nothing particularly exceptional about being human”.

Smith has found his luddite niche and must be true to his image, but I am sure he understands that similar words have already been said and forgotten, e.g. “if women can have “manly” rights, it means that there is nothing particularly exceptional about being a man”.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/20 • (0) Comments

V International Immortalism Forum (Kiev, Ukraine)

ATTENTION! On December 16, the V International Immortalism Forum, will be held in the capital of Ukraine.

Agenda of the Forum:

1. V.A.Sukhikh “New Approaches to the Transfer of a Person’s Subjective Perception, Associated with the Memory, toward a Computer Base”.
2. E.E.Ashshursky “Apocalypse and Armageddon from a Scientific Point of View and from a Common Ukrainian Everyman’s Point of View”.
3. V.I.Neshchadimenko “System-Integral Paths to Immortality (Creation of Crio-Bio-Virtu-Pantheons)”.
4. Valeriya Pride “Experience of the development of the Transhumanistic Movement in the World and in Russia: Well-Tried Recipes”.

PRESS-RELEASE
Although immortology is still at the beginning of its progress, many films already wholly provide us with guidance on the epochal events that are in store for us. Therefore probably till the end of the century, as the authoritative English weekly “The Times” tells about it, any of the earthlings in-phase of anabiosis will be able to accomplish voyages broad through hundreds of light-years even to the very edge of the Galaxy, and after the arrival they will immediately recur to their normal condition.
In principle, it’s not surprising, as with each new scientific invention we reveal new mysteries of the Nature, jointly moving further and further the duration of an average person’s life-time. More importantly, it seems that understanding of what is death and what is life has changed yet. Indeed, the permanent biochemical metabolism, which suggested being a main criterion of a life turned not to be that. Indeed, life is information, which, as everybody knows, is embodied, in fact, in the possibility of preservation of germ plasma, cells or DNA for arbitrary long time. And that gives us a chance charging everybody with a big portion of healthy optimism among the everyday routine work!

Beginning - 3 p.m.

Address: Press club “Edina Rodina”
Grushevskiy str. 3
Kiev - 1
Phone/fax: +38-044-2410764 / 2059389;
Mobile: +38-067-7685555 ; 067-4411267, 067-4480434;
е-mail: emire@ukr.net, futuroid@mail.ru

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/12/14 • (0) Comments

Transhumanism on the Air (Wesley Smith)

From Wesley Smith’s blog: I was interviewed for an hour by Derek Gilbert yesterday on KSSZ about transhumanism, post humanity, and genetic enhancement of our progeny. We discuss transhumanism as religion, its obsession with control, and its threat to human exceptionalism. If you are interested, check it out. My comments below.

Smith acknowledged that the transhumanist movement is not a fringe movement, that it is growing fast and becoming well known, with “influential thinkers” engaging in “serious scholarship” on posthumanity.

Then of course he criticized the “value system” of transhumanists.

Both Smith and the interviewer kept laughing frequently, like they could not believe the words they were about to say. Quite cheap trick if you ask me, like the style of some Fox News anchors. Needless to say, to me the effect was the opposite, like hearing a postman laughing at the Internet.

Smith said “transhumanists scout the internet, and if you say something about them you will end up on their website, and probably also this radio program will be mentioned on their website at some point”. Here it is Wesley!

When asked how how influential the transhumanist movement is, Smith answered that it is definitely not fringe though not yet mainstream, mentioned the conference at Stanford, and remarked that while transhumanists will not influence the Bush administration, some of them teach in prestigious universities and are in a good position to influence the government leaders of tomorrow.

Concerning “designer babies”, Smith thinks parents should “accept with unconditional love” their children. Even, apparently, when accepting their birth defects means condemning them to a lifetime of unhappiness. His main criticism is that transhumanist think that “being merely human is not enough”. He keeps referring to empty cliches, impossible to defend rationally, like the “joy we get from being merely human”, and that “knowing that we are going to die is a powerful stimulation to live full lives”. Even with frequent quotations from the WTA website, Smith keeps misunderstanding the transhumanist message, e.g. “transhumanists never talk of improving human capacity for love”. We do talk about it of course, and a lot, but it is difficult to expain things to those who do not wish to understand.

The basic premise of transhumanism, according to Smith, is that “being human has no intrinsic value”. He believes, instead, in human exceptionalism: humans are special, and being human has value. I agree, but prefer defining “human” based not on our current biological makeup, but rather on our capacity to think, feel, love, hope and improve ourselves and our world. Smith thinks that then “everything becomes possible” and refers to Nazi eugenics which in this context is, I believe, just smoke in the eyes.

Transhumanism, according to Smith, is a materialist religion that “reflects obsession with control”. But some minutes later he says that he wishes to see human cloning research, even therapeutic, completely outlawed regardless of its potential to save lives and reduce suffering. So I wonder who is really obsessed with control. Even if Smith’s objections seem based on humanitarian and social considerations, I still sense the old “will of god” argument against progress (at the very beginning the interviewer refers to “Transhumanism: the idea that we can be more than our God-given physical limitations"). Of course Smith is too intelligent to mention it explicitely.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/13 • (0) Comments

Neural Internet:Web Surfing with Brain Potentials

The full title of this Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair article is ”Neural Internet: Web Surfing with Brain Potentials for the Completely Paralyzed”, but it is clear this same technology, once fully developed, will be more generally applicable and permit operating the worldwide datasphere by thinking.

Neural Internet is a new technological advancement in brain-computer interface research, which enables locked-in patients to operate a Web browser directly with their brain potentials. Neural Internet was successfully tested with a locked-in patient diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis rendering him the first paralyzed person to surf the Internet solely by regulating his electrical brain activity.

[The performance of the brain-computer communication systems is still very limited - even trained patients still need a very long time to surf the web and write emails. However, research is ongoing and it is evident where this R&D process will lead: operating the worldwide datasphere by thought]. In general, it can be assumed that if a patient can achieve reliable control of any brain signal, which can be used as a binary or even as a multidimensional input signal for a BCI system, Neural Internet can be implemented based on this signal.

If future BCI research can overcome the mentioned constraints of the current brain-computer communication systems, then the following scenario could be reality in the not too distant future: is sitting paralyzed in his wheelchair but can chat with a relative in another city, play chess with a friend in another country, search the World Wide Web for information, and even buy or sell articles. And all that without any voluntary muscle control, solely by the power of his thoughts. Cogito ergo sum.

Source

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/11 •

Course/Blog in Transhumanism at Arizona State

A forward thinking professor at Arizona State University, Dr. Paul Michael Privateer, has just finished teaching the first course on the subject at ASU titled “Transhuman: Genetics, Robotics, Information Technology, Nanosciences, Biopolitics, and the Human Future.”. The focus of teaching was on the critically engaging the topic of ‘what is human’ as a means to then understand what exactly is being ‘trans’ed by transhumanism. The reading list was extensive and included both supports and opposition. The students of the class have begun posting critiques of advancing technologies and transhumanism in a blog as a means to initiate intelligent debate.

Please, visit the blog, and if you wish, request an invitation to write in the blog.

http://studiesinthetranshuman.blogspot.com/

Posted by MLR on 2006/12/09 •

Documentario RAI3: Nascita del super-uomo

Il documentario ”Nascita del super-uomo -Vivranno anche mille anni. La loro intelligenza potrà incarnarsi in qualsiasi corpo o in qualsiasi macchina, il loro pensiero sarà liberato da ogni emozione superflua”, emesso da RAI 3, di tre quarti d’ ora di durata, ha portato il transumanesimo a conoscenza del pubblico televisivo italiano.

Alcune interviste (Bostrom, Campa e Hughes) sono state filmate durente la conferenza TransVision 2006 in agosto a Helsinki.

Nonostante alcuni riferimenti a concetti nebulosi e non definiti quali “dignita’ umana” e “pericolo morale”, il documentario e’ sufficientemente obiettivo, da’ forse piu’ spazio agli argomenti transumanisti che non a quelli contrari, e rappresenta una semplice ed utile introduzione agli elementi principali del pensiero transumanista, come estensione della vita, crionica, miglioramento delle capacita’ fisiche e cognitive, intelligenza artificiale, mind uploading etc. E’ certamente il documentario sul transumanesimo piu’ esteso e meno critico che ho visto su una catena televisiva mainstream a diffusione nazionale, in Italia o all’ estero.

Aprileonline.info ha pubblicato un articolo e intervista su ”L’immortalità che si compra al mercato”: ”Umano e postumano si amalgamano nel documentario “Nascita del Superuomo”, in onda su Rai Tre per C’era una volta. Ne abbiamo parlato con l’autore e regista Francesco Patierno”.

Anche questo articolo e’ sufficientemente obiettivo e cerca di presentare in modo neutro il punto di vista dei transumanisti e quello dei loro “nemici”:

Quello che ci ha spinto a raccontare la loro storia è la curiosità di capire fin dove poteva spingersi il progresso scientifico e la fantasia di studiosi e ricercatori. L’Associazione Transumanisti riassume al meglio la direzione che il mondo sta prendendo e in qualche modo le contraddizioni che andavamo a cercare…

Il punto di vista transumanista è a metà tra la filosofia e la medicina, porta interrogativi etici oltre che medici. E’ una strada molto ambigua, stabilire i limiti è molto difficile, ma la sensazione è che non si possa tornare indietro dopo certe scoperte…

Se anche per adesso non sono alla portata di tutti, è comunque importante scoprire o non scoprire certe cose. Ma è altrettanto fondamentale che poi le scoperte scientifiche siano sempre patrimonio comune. Prendiamola come via della ricerca, una strada nuova che esiste e che quindi va approfondita. Noi ci siamo posti come osservatori senza collocarci politicamente verso il fenomeno”.

Nel testo esteso alcuni commenti in inglese e istruzioni su come vedere e scaricare il documentario.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/12/03 •

Simon Funk’s “After Life”

“After Life” is a very good novel on mind uploading by a new author to watch. It is valiable for free (online and PDF) and from lulu.com on hardcopy printed on request and shipped. As I do when I like a free ebook, I paid the author by buying the printed book - I received a couple of days ago and it is solid and of good quality.

The novel is delicious - Alex Harris lives in an impossibly simple fairy tale world and does not know how he got there. He was in the team that developed mind uploading technology, and the first human to undertake an experimental mind uploading procedure. Is he living in a simulation? He has dreams of what happened, or may have happened, to one or another downloaded version of him after the upload. Did consciousness transfer technology trigger a Singularity?

Excerpt:

I - we, the people I work with, study the brain. Right now we are working on something pretty neat, but also scary. We want to map a brain, functionally, down to the individual neuron. The trouble is, until now there’s been no way to do this without killing the brain’s owner.
But we’ve been able to do it - with a rat, and a cat. We don’t really know if it worked with the cat, but we are currently running a simulation of the rat’s brain and it appears to be exhibiting strikingly rat-like behavior. I.e. fucking amazing. Top secret…
I’ve been having nightmares about this for days. Because...I am going to have it done to me. Or maybe I already have.

Read it.

Simon Funk is a writer, software developer and AI expert.

Neurofuture Review:

Who is Alex Harris, Ph.D? Even he doesn’t know as he awakens day after day in new realities, trying to solve the mystery of his existence.

Creatures, devices and pleasant townsfolk populate a utopia of someone’s creation, he finds. His? Or one of the six copies of him? The book uses lots of tech detail in describing cyborgs, tics, robots, zombies and other transhumans. He spreads to the post-web and sets up quiet businesses, run by other copies evolved past the mind of Alex, a scientist who surely died in his own lab. He remembers volunteering for a risky and complex experiment involving consciousness uploading, zombies, AI, cyborgs. It’s a digital utopia mystery with an unpredictable ending.

Written by Simon Funk, this debut novel of postcyberpunk sci-fi replete with psychological and philosophical suspense is free. Free!

http://neurofuture.blogspot.com/2006/11/after-life.html

Kill the Afterlife review:

About a month ago, a commenter by the name of Simon Funk stopped by this blog to say hello, and to mention that he had just finished writing and publishing a book, “After Life.” I decided to give the book a read, and boy am I glad I did.

Simon Funk is a man of many talents. In addition to being a writer and an all around great thinker, he is also a man who works in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I. And that’s what his book, After Life, is about. You see, Simon Funk’s book isn’t about an immaterial dimension that ghosts go to after their bodies die (a dimension which the title of this blog demands be destroyed), but it is about continuing one’s consciousness outside of one’s biological body here in the real world. And that is an idea that I wholly support.

The book is written in first-person, through the eyes of the main character, Alex Harris, PhD. Alex has just figured out how to transfer one’s consciousness from a biological brain into a man-made computer. He performs the procedure on himself, and as a result, the entire world is changed. Perhaps the most significant change, though, occurs in Alex’s own consciousness.

After transferring his consciousness to a machine, Alex experiences a series of unusual events. Some of these events seem like dreams, and some seem all too real. At first, the experiences are very puzzling to the reader (and to Alex himself), and don’t make sense. But as the story unfolds, the pieces fall into place and produce a very mind-blowing cohesive picture.

Simon Funk is a very skilled writer. His writing is very personal and involving; I felt like I was Alex himself trying to make sense of the strange situations he kept finding himself to be in. But Simon Funk is not afraid to dig deep into the technological, philosophical, and ethical questions that naturally arise when consciousness, identity, and life itself are permanently altered.

Simon Funk also knows his stuff when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. His writing incorporates technological concepts used in today’s A.I. field, yet he presents the ideas in a way that just about any reader can grasp. Simon also provides a familiar, human perspective to these ideas. What the reader ends up getting is an excellent mix of technological, philosophical, ethical, and emotional perspectives on the main character and his story.

http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com/2006/09/review-after-life-by-simon-funk.html

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/30 •

Transhumanists and “Human Dignity”, by Wesley Smith

Smith’s comments to Bostrom’s “In Defense of Post Human Dignity”, in which Bostrom argues that there is no need to fear the post human future if we all agree that all forms of post humanity have equal dignity. 

Smith’s main argument: “My primary problem with transhumanism is the arrogant presumption that parents should be able to design their offspring to order, as if children were a Dell computer or a pedigree dog”. Our ancestors were “fully human despite their far lower levels of technology. Indeed, their achievement of taming fire is just as impressive as our making it to the moon”.

I think our accestors’ taming fire, and our improving our species through genetic engineering, are both expressions of the same humen nature.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/30 • (0) Comments

Towards Immortality: The Economist’s World in 2007 on transhumanism

From The Economist, The World in 2007 print edition, ”Towards immortality”: Science can be a little scary. Its potential to transform life itself has led to predictions that we might re-write our own genetic make-up or merge our minds with machines. But 2007 will show that it is not these sci-fi possibilities that are of immediate concern. Real possibilities of changing our human nature are creeping up from a less obvious direction.

The potential to alter our nature and lifespans elicits strong reactions. The transhumanists—a loose coalition of scientists, technologists and thinkers who seek opportunities to enhance the human condition—see change as desirable. Human nature, says Nick Bostrom, an Oxford University philosopher and advocate of transhumanism, is “a work in progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remould in desirable ways…we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have.” Others argue that we will never have sufficient wisdom to make ourselves more than we are. Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins University describes transhumanism as one of “the world’s most dangerous ideas”. But whatever you may think, the possibilities for changing your nature by direct biochemical intervention are arriving now.

There is no greater goal for transhumanism than the conquest of death. Some of the most controversial advocates of technological improvements to humans, including Ray Kurzweil, an American inventor and author, and Aubrey de Grey, a gerontologist and chairman of the Methuselah Foundation, argue optimistically that immortality may become achievable for people who are alive today. But even without the yet-to-be-invented technologies that they say will make this possible, there are good reasons why we can hope to live a lot longer.

Transhumanists question the conventional wisdom that the human lifespan is coming to a natural limit. History shows that every limit announced by experts is quickly overturned…

That leaves us with the great unresolved debate in transhumanism: whether, if we choose to “enhance” ourselves, we can say we are the same person afterwards, and whether that matters. But one thing is certain: whatever ailment drugs may be developed to treat, if they can also be used to provide someone with a competitive advantage, or prolong life, people will take them.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/30 • (0) Comments

TSN Update

National TSN Officer Positions Available

Openings for TSN National Officers are available in several countries with National Organizers and yahoo groups. It is hoped that the TSN-USA group, which has the most members thus far, will soon assemble a bare-bones officer core with assistance from Transnat'l Organizer Ben Hyink. In anticipation of and to help facilitate future growth worldwide, TSN national groups have been created in English or the national language for regions throughout the world, with the exception of East Asia (primarily because yahoo groups offer Chinese and Japanese programs that require proof of residency). Projects on the horizon include starting a periodic global future-shock survey to improve our ability to introduce people to transhumanism (ideally distinguishing target populations and locations while maintaining at least a statistical minimum of 29 respondents for data collected from analyzed demographics) and, in Canada and the USA, a collaborative project with area chapters to petition for federal funding of stem cell research, a campaign which can help build alliances with Humanists and other North American communities in favor of stem cell research.

National TSN Symbiosis with WTA National Chapters

From now on, the TSN will try to work closely with WTA national chapters to develop and utilize national TSN organizations in ways that benefit both the WTA and TSN at the national and grassroots (i.e. cities, campuses and neighborhood meet-ups) levels. The TSN can assist national efforts of WTA chapters while focusing students and youth on attracting and involving their peers while they develop organizing and leadership skills. In turn, WTA national chapters can help direct students and youth to contact the TSN (or in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, RET) and help construct, recruit officers for and mobilize a national TSN organization supported by the global TSN with regional committee assistance. In some cases, national TSN organizations will eventually generate WTA national chapters (as at least one of our organizers has already done). If you run a WTA national chapter and have not been contacted yet about developing or maintaining close affiliation with a TSN national organization, expect to be contacted about such matters in the next several months. If you are already interested in working with the TSN be sure to contact Ben Hyink directly at: TSNtransnational@transhumanism.org

New Campuses with Potential TSN Chapters

The new list of campuses with organizers working to establish TSN chapters was expanded this fall to include:
Canada:
  • University of British Columbia at Vancouver
United States:
  • Plymouth State University (Plymouth, New Hampshire)
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of South Carolina
Kudos to Aaron Dallin, Andrew Coleman and Laura Howard for creating a Facebook group to jump-start their U. of South Carolina transhumanist organization! Their online group, Carolina Transhumanist Association, which was created just over a month ago, already has 30 members. Having more potential groups than actual ones is a healthy sign for student movements because it shows they are growing. Though it is generally the toughest stage of club involvement, keep working to fully establish your campus group because the rewards are significant, especially considered in the larger context as one part of an aggregate effort on many campuses, and positive results are fairly immediate (e.g. finding more likeminded people on campus to befriend and persuading those who aren't yet aware of transhumanism to support our cause, bringing prominent speakers to campus by offering honorariums, gaining valuable leadership and organizing experience, advancing your own academic or artistic work in a supportive community and finding networks to help you pursue a career, etc.).

IHEYO Grants TSN Consultative Status

The International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization (IHEYO) has granted the TSN the Consultative Status it sought in September. IHEYO is a youth and student focused organization closely associated with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). TSN Co-Chair Peter Adegoke, who serves as a leader within IHEYO, was instrumental in helping to secure approval of the petition for membership at the IHEYO conference in Hyderabad, India, via E-mail correspondence. A thorough application packet including a petition letter and a WTA intro booklet was prepared and mailed by TSN Transnat'l Organizer Ben Hyink. Our organizational name - Transhumanist Student Network - now appears on the IHEYO website as number 19 in the list of consultative organizations. In the near future it should appear on a global map of IHEYO groups. The 25 euro annual fee for IHEYO consultative membership will be covered this year by TSN Transnat'l Organizer Ben Hyink and in future years become an item in the TSN transnational budget.

Free Inquiry article includes reference to Peter Adegoke

TSN Co-Chair Peter Adegoke is included in a picture included in the December 2006-January 2007 issue of "Free Inquiry" magazine as one of the presenters at a Nigerian Humanist Association international conference held in June of the past year. The article, by Norm R. Allen, Jr., is titled "African Americans for Humanism in Africa." Though he was not personally referred to in the article itself, the campus Humanist group Peter led at Ibadan University was mentioned. At the event, Peter gave a speech introducing Transhumanism and he passed out WTA intro booklets to conference attendees. From his accounts many of the attendees found transhumanist ideas fascinating. Eventually we should try to follow up with the Nigerian Humanist groups that attended the conference.
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/28 • (0) Comments

Calling All Potential TV07 Grassroots Organizers!

The TransVision 2007 yahoo group originally used for a local planning committee has been converted into a general list for any and all TV07 grassroots organizers, preferably WTA members, whether they live in the Chicago area or far from it but are interested in assisting in preparation efforts for TV07.

Event planning for TV07 will now be undertaken chiefly by Conference Chair Charlie Kam and representatives Celia Black and Gwen Johnson of AlliKat Productions.  Grassroots organizers are free to offer suggestions and feedback but will be focused on coordinated efforts to implement TV07 plans and staff the event during the conference. Final approval for TV07 plans (including themes, speakers, etc.) will rest with a WTA International Committee composed of WTA Board members and appointees.

Grassroots organizers who pitch in some time prior to and during the event will get *FREE* admission.

Join the TV07 group to get involved: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TV07

Tickets may be more expensive for this conference than previous ones depending on various factors so you might make a trip to the conference more affordable by volunteering to help promote and staff it.

The minimum contribution of time or work necessary for free admission is not specified yet but should be manageable for most people. Especially at the conference, the more volunteers we have the more free time everyone will get and the more choice people will have in choosing when they will reserve their free time, though many of the jobs available will allow volunteers to see and hear any speeches or panel discussions (TV07 will probably be a single-track conference throughout the entire event).

Best,

Ben Hyink
TV07 Lead Grassroots Organizer

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/27 •

2007 WTA Board Elections

Five WTA Board members’ terms expire next January. This is a regular but very important event: Board members set policy goals and oversee their implementation, contributing with their experience and expertise to the WTA’s work.

Running for a board post, as well as voting in the election, is open to all dues-paying members of the association. All voting members in good standing as of Monday January 8th, 2007 are eligible to run in and vote in the Board election. Board members must remain voting members in good standing in order to serve.

The Board meets and votes virtually, so no travel is required, although if you can make it to the Transvision conference in Chicago next July 26-28 that would be great. We usually have a face-to-face meeting at the Transvision.

The term of service is two years, Jan 20, 2007 - Jan 20, 2009.

The period for self-nominations closes January 7th at noon GST. Please send your candidate statements to WTA Secretary J. Hughes Candidate statements will be posted and voting will take place from January 8th to January 13th.

Previous examples of candidate statements are here.

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/27 •

Natasha Vita-More on UK’s AnOtherMan Magazine and Brazil’s FAQ Conference

Extropy Institute’s Natasha Vita-More, Cultural Strategist and Design Media Artist, is publishing an article in the United Kingdom’s AnOtherMan Magazine titled The Perfecting of Man.

From the article text:

You can’t help but pity Superman, a model of masculinity so perfect there was no room for improvement. Surely, we would want our men of the future to be more like Hercules, a paragon of humanity and masculinity, or like Apollo, an envoy of harmony, order and reason. Exemplary traits to be sure, but certainly with room for improvement.

In my opinion -that of a futurist- the most progressive men today apply an Apollo-like foresight when investigating the marketplace for emerging technologies of biotech, nanotech, robotics and AGI.

She will also be appearing in the F.A.q. Forum (Nov 30 - Dec 2), a conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil,studying issues of art, consciousness and technology.

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/22 •

Posting to Transhumanity

Remember that everyone who has an account on this website can post to the Transhumanity blog. Entries posted to Transhumanity are hidden by default, and become visible when an editor with sufficient privileges chenges their status to “open”.
Let’s hear from you!

Posted by giulio on 2006/11/21 •

Virtual Potential: Second Life As A Transhumanist Meetinghouse

Preliminary impressions on Second Life and its potential to further H+ interaction

On Friday, November 17 2006, I attended my first virtual board meeting on Uvvy Island—online world Second Life’s pixel-borne home to the World Tranhumanist Association.

Along with several other members of the WTA-SL, I (or rather, my avatar) sat in a brightly-patterned room that looked like a cross between a fancy office suite and the inside of a video game.  Prior to sitting, I wondered briefly if there would be enough chairs for all in attendance—but when I finally did sit in the one vacant chair, I noticed that another empty chair had materialized around a small central table.  This was slightly disconcerting due to the sudden horizontal shift it imposed on my perspective (as my chair flicked sideways to make space for the new empty seat), however, I adjusted almost immediately once I realized what had happened and settled down to business. 

As far as my own involvement in Second Life goes, I initially signed up out of sheer curiosity—in short, I wanted to see what it was all about.  I initially just played about with avatar customization, but soon found myself wondering about what sort of presence groups pertaining to my particular interests (such as transhumanism) might have in this virtual realm.  Soon, I found myself teleporting to Uvvy Island, where I was initially blocked by what looked like a strip of red-lettered tape indicating the area as restricted.  I can’t recall how long I stood there, occasionally typing inane things like, “Hello?” before someone (an avatar bearing the name “Giulio Perhaps") approached my position.  We exchanged greetings and I identified myself as someone likely on some of the same mailing lists as Uvvy members, and was granted access inside.

To make a long story short, I’ve been occasionally popping in and out of Second Life (and Uvvy Island) ever since.  I definitely see potential in this particular medium, though it is important to acknowledge that Second Life is not the Internet—not Google, not a set of primary sources, and not a scientific journal or database or library.  It is not a place where people go (or where people should go) with the primary purpose of obtaining facts.  Rather, Second Life is an experimental creative space, a primitive holodeck, an art gallery, and a highly flexible meeting space.  In terms of applicability to transhumanism, Second Life can provide a means for people to interact in real-time, discussing strategy and sharing ideas and memes regardless of physical geographical separation. 

But returning to the topic of last Friday’s board meeting—I was impressed with the professionalism and organizational rigor demonstrated by the other board members in attendance.  I got a definite sense of dedication as well as enthusiasm, as well as a clear impression that Second Life need not be an escapist’s playground.  Much of what was discussed at Friday’s meeting had to do with planning for the future—specifically, discussing events and the logistical and practical issues associated with such events.  The idea of using SL as a forum for speakers discussing H+ relevant themes and topics is one I think has considerable potential. 

One aspect of this “keynote speaker” idea that I am personally concerned with is that of accessibility; part of my involvement in transhumanism overlaps with my views on disability rights, and I think that transhumanists need to take an active role in creating a maximally inclusive community.  If possible, presentations given in Second Life should be available in both text and audio format—and interaction in the context of these presentations should allow any participant to use either voice or text chat.  One thing that occasionally concerns me is the fact that many humans seem to prefer voice-based communication, and while the Internet has for years been a haven for those who prefer (and are more facile with) text-based communicatiion, this has in part been due to technological and bandwidth limitations.  I would not want Second Life to turn into an audio-only realm in which some members of the Deaf and autistic communities (not to mention people who simply don’t like to talk!) would be excluded by default.  With modern text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation tools available, the goal should be to enable every person who wants to take part in a Second Life interaction space to be able to transmit and receive information in the manner that they prefer; I can easily imagine, for instance, a person communicating through typing to someone who prefers audio, with software acting as the “middleman” (allowing both the sender and the receiver to share ideas effectively).

So, in short, this Second Life thing has tremendous potential.  However, on the semi-negative side, it is quite hardware-intensive (every time I log in I immediately start daydreaming about buying a new motherboard and an updated graphics card), and frankly somewhat “buggy” (I once spent about 20 minutes stuck in the sky with no hair and a transparent torso before getting fed up and deciding to log off).  And of course, there is always (with these sorts of things) the danger of getting overly enamored with the world-in-there to the point where you forget that in the world-out-there, we still lack such things as reliable life-extension technology.  If you find yourself trying to adjust the length of your real-life shirt sleeves by clicking your mouse, you’ve either passed into the Textile Singularity or you ought to think about switching off the monitor for a while. 

Overall, though, I’m looking forward to using Second Life in mild moderation and seeing where it takes itself, and transhumanism along with it.  The way I see it, spending an hour or two a week meeting with fellow H+ in this new virtual space is nothing short of a win-win situation.

Posted by AnneC on 2006/11/21 •

1-year Supporting Membership (Unemployed, students, retired or living in a less developed country)

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/20 • (0) Comments

What does it mean to be Human?

The John Templeton Foundation will hold a Research Lecture on “Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism”. In the announcement, some transhumanist points of view are presented. On the other hand there is the usual appeal to a vague and nebulous concept of “human nature”, which is of course never defined and sounds like an apology of suffering, stupidity and death, and the usual references to the “the belief that humans are created by God in the image of God”.

In the name of enhancing our humanity, advocates in favor of this biotech future unite around the term “transhumanism”. Visionaries such as Raymond Kurzweil at Carnegie Mellon University, Marvin Minsky at MIT, and Lee Silver of Princeton University promote the agenda. They present Transhumanism as both a desirable goal and a techno-historical necessity.

Oxford University professor Nick Bostrum heads up the World Transhumanism Association —www.transhumanism.org—and has authored its manifesto, which declares in part 1, “…We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth.”

Many people, especially those committed to a religious outlook, intuitively recoil from the transhuman vision and find within that vision an affront to human dignity… It is precisely the belief that humans are created by God in the image of God that leads many people - including religious scientists - to resist the transhuman vision as a new hubris that will destroy humanity by ‘redefining’ it, and further endanger life on our vulnerable planet… The transhumanist vision reflects the interests, life-style, and political preferences of affluent, secular, Caucasian males in Western post-industrial societies… The moral values of transhumanism stand in sharp contrast to the traditional values of western religious faiths.

“Facing the Challenges of Transhumanism” is the focus of the 2006 Templeton Research Lecture project at Arizona State University.

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/18 •

LA FILOSOFIA TRANSUMANISTA ED ESTROPICA TRA PENSIERO RAZIONALE E TECNOLOGIA

LA FILOSOFIA TRANSUMANISTA ED ESTROPICA TRA PENSIERO RAZIONALE E TECNOLOGIA
Un approccio filosofico interdisciplinare per capire e valutare la possibilità di superare le limitazioni biologiche attraverso il progresso tecnologico

di Giuseppe Vatinno

http://www.technologyreview.it/index.php?p=article&a=707

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/18 •

Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism

At its inaugural press conference on November 14, the newly established Washington, D.C. office of the Center for Inquiry released the text of a "Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism." The Declaration is endorsed by over 50 prominent scientists and scholars. This important document serves as a clarion call for improvements in scientific understanding, support of scientific inquiry and the use of secular principles in the formulation of public policy. The text of the Declaration is set forth here. We are concerned with the resurgence of fundamentalist religions across the nation, and their alliance with political-ideological movements to block science...
Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/18 • (0) Comments

New Scientist: What comes after humans? by James Hughes

The New Scientist has published a short article by James Hughes on " What comes after humans?" in its 50th anniversary edition, where they have decided to tackle the truly big questions, with the help of some of the leading lights in science. The article is a concise introduction to transhumanism from its origins in Diderot's D'Alembert's Dream to modern transhumanist thinking on human enhancement and current policy debates. Almost half a century after Julian Huxley, brother of Aldous, coined the term "transhumanism" for the idea that we should use technology to transcend the limitations of our bodies and brains, transhumanism has become a real possibility, pointing the way to an unbelievably transcendent future that would have been unimaginable even to Huxley. The choices we make today are deciding an answer to the question "What comes after human civilisation?". Read more...
Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/17 • (0) Comments

The Mormon Transhumanist Association affiliates with the WTA

In July 2006, the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association voted to affiliate with the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA), an
international nonprofit organization that promotes charitable and working faith in physical salvation, as outlined in the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. Although the MTA is neither a religious organization nor affiliated with any religious organization, it supports its members in their personal affiliations with religious organizations.

Until recently, few have recognized a relationship between Mormonism and Transhumanism. On the one hand, Mormonism is a spiritual ideology of the Judeo-Christian tradition that advocates faith in God leading to salvation. On the other hand, Transhumanism is a secular ideology that advocates ethical use of technology to extend human capabilities. However, Mormonism and Transhumanism are parallel and complementary in their views of the future: rapidly advancing knowledge, imminent fundamental changes in human nature, and ultimate transcendence of our current limitations. The MTA provides more details on parallels and complements here.

The Mormon Transhumanist Association was founded on 3 March 2006 by a group of friends who had long discussed a common interest in active expression of their faith in physical salvation. They adopted a constitution, including the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation, on 13 May 2006; incorporated in Utah of the United States on 4 August 2006; and are now working on 501c3 nonprofit status in the United States. As of October 2006, the Mormon Transhumanist Association had 33 members located throughout the United States and in Taiwan. Most are also members of Mormon religious organizations; however, some are not, yet identify as Mormon or associate with Mormonism for various reasons.

More information about the Mormon Transhumanist Association is available on the Internet and by email (admin@transfigurism.org). 

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/11/15 •

WTA News 3 November 2006

CONTENTS
1. News from the Front
2. News of the WTA
3. Activism
4. Culture
5. Events
6. Affiliate News
7. Spotlight

WTA NEWS 3 November 2006
News of the World Transhumanist Association

===============================================
Editor: Mike LaTorra - mike99(at)lascruces.com
===============================================

WTA News is the newsletter of the World Transhumanist Association, a
non-profit organization dedicated to the ethical use of technology to
overcome the limitations of the human body.

To submit news about your WTA chapter or affiliate or about
transhumanism in general, please send it to Editor Mike LaTorra
or Executive Director James Hughes

====================================

SUBSCRIBE TO THE WTA RSS news feeds:

WTA News, Transhumanism in the News, Program News:
http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/rss_2.0/

News for WTA Members:
http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/memberrss_2.0/

==============================
CONTENTS
1. News from the Front
2. News of the WTA
3. Activism
4. Culture
5. Events
6. Affiliate News
7. Spotlight

==============================
1. NEWS FROM THE FRONT

Dear transhumanist friends

I became Executive Director of the WTA in the Spring of 2004. Since that
time I think we’ve accomplished quite a lot:

- doubled our active membership, which is currently around 3800 people in
more than one hundred countries.

- held three global conferences, leading to our plans for Transvision 2007
in Chicago which looks set to be the largest and most visible Transvision
yet.

- hired our first staff-person, Marcelo Rinesi, who has played an invaluable
and often invisible role in fielding day-to-day administrative issues, and
in building our extremely cost-effective communications and data-management
infrastructure.

- facilitated the growth of dozens of transhumanist organizations around the
world. Especially exciting has been the Trashumanist Student Network, which
has grown dramatically, and which promises to nurture the next generation of
transhumanist public intellectuals and activists.

- built relationships with allied organizations and prominent thinkers and
activists, from the secular and free-thought movement, to bioethicists, to
activists for cognitive liberty, reproductive rights and global security.

- adopted our three new programmatic priorities (see related article in this
newsletter)

- greatly expanded the recognition and understanding of transhumanist memes
among both intellectuals and the public. “Transhumanist” is now routinely
used in magazine and newspaper articles as an adjective that doesn’t need
explication.

However, there is a long list of projects that we have wanted to launch, but
which I have not been able to find the time to launch, and these have
weighed on my mind:

- a thorough, and professional, redesign of the website.

- recruitment and appointment of a Board of Advisors.

- fundraising, through grant-writing, appeals to philanthropists, and direct
mail solicitation.

- recruitment and coordination of volunteers and interns.

- incorporation of the WTA as an NGO with the United Nations.

- writing and production of leaflets, booklets and chapter project
materials.

- identification of activist projects, and coordination of activist
campaigns, to engage our members and chapters.

Part of our difficulty has been the challenge of recruting consistent and
sustained volunteer efforts when we are all so busy, and involved in so many
related important activities. In my case, since 2005 my attention has been
increasely drawn to the opportunities for the Institute for Ethics and
Emerging Technologies, of which I have also been the Executive Director, to
develop a high profile as a technoprogressive thinktank that can complement
WTA activism. Running two nonprofit organizations without salary - while
working a paying job, writing, producing a radio show, and raising a
family - has made it difficult to give the WTA as much energy and attention
as it deserves.

So I have offered the WTA Board my resignation as WTA Executive Director,
effective as of the installation of WTA Vice Chair Giulio Prisco as my
replacement. I intend to remain on the WTA Board, subject to
member-electoral approval of course, and I will continue to serve as Board
Secretary for as long as the Board allows. In that capacity I believe I can
continue to provide advice and information to Marcelo, Giulio and the Board
on the administrative intricacies of our work.

I am delighted that Giulio has agreed to assume the position of Executive
Director, as I have confidence that he has the administrative experience,
technical skills, dynamic imagination, and political acumen that it demands.
Giulio has been a member of the Board leadership since its inception, speaks
Spanish, English, Italian and Hungarian, and has pioneered the WTA’s growth
in new areas such as the virtual world Second Life.

In closing, I would like to say that, despite the tumultuous arguments that
have occasionally roiled the WTA Board, it has been an honor to serve as the
first WTA Executive Director. We’ve accomplished as much as organizations
with a hundred times our resources, and yet, because we are transhumanists,
we will always have a very long list of items that we have yet to
accomplish. After all, we intend to ensure a bright future for intelligent
life until, or beyond, the heat death of the universe. I expect that any
progress we make on that ambitious goal will be appreciated by future
generations.

J. Hughes
WTA Secretary

==================
2. NEWS OF THE WTA

Great news! Refocusing for what will perhaps be one of the most critical
years yet for the debate about transhumanist ideas, the WTA Board has passed
a resolution adopting three new action programs to replace those of 2004.
Nothing has changed in terms of the beliefs and goals of the association,
but new action programs -sharp, bold and practical- will help us coordinate
and give energy to worldwide activism and debate.

Below is the text of the new resolution. Take a look, choose an action and
move! Those who’d rather keep everybody in the 20th century forever are
moving, too.

The WTA will adopt three new action programs to replace the six programs
adopted in 2004:

[1] Campaign for the Rights of the Person
[2] Campaign for Longer Better Lives
[3] Campaign for Future Friendly Culture

----

[1] Campaign for the Rights of the Person

A campaign to modify national laws and international human rights
conventions to establish (a) that bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and
cognitive liberty should be explicitly recognized and protected, (b) that
universal access to enabling technologies is a right in itself, and a
precondition for all other rights, and that (c) personhood, sentience, and
capacity for having morally relevant interests are the bases of
rights-bearing, not humanness or the human genome.

Specific goals:

(a) Expanded access to reproductive health technologies (contraception,
fertility, prenatal testing, abortion, and germinal choice).
(b) Liberalized psychoactive drug laws, and support for research into
cognitive enhancement technologies, vaccines and treatments for substance
dependence, and safer psychoactive substances.
(c) Extension of human-level rights protections to great apes.

Action items:

(a) Support and outreach to drug law reform efforts, reproductive rights
campaigns, transgender rights, access to treatment and assistive devices for
the disabled, and extending rights to great apes.
(b) A conference at the United Nations in New York in April 2007,
co-sponsored with the IEET and the IHEU Bioethics office at the United
Nations.
(c) Advertise and build the wta-disability list.
(d) Publish pamphlets on H+ and disability, transgender, repro rights, drug
law reform and great apes.

----

[2] Campaign for Longer Better Lives

A campaign for a multinational research program to develop therapies to
slow aging.

Specific Goals:

Have the National Institutes of Health in the United States, and parallel
agencies in the rest of the world, endorse and commit to anti-aging research
programs to secure the “Longevity Dividend.”

Action items:

(a) Letter writing, public forums, conferences in support of the Longevity
Dividend initiative, SENS and parallel initiatives, in coalition with
anti-aging and related groups.

----

[3] Campaign for a Future Friendly Culture

A campaign to encourage balanced and constructive portrayals of longevity,
human enhancement and emerging technologies in popular culture.

Specific goals:

(a) Solicit offensive and counterproductive portrayals of longevity, human
enhancement and emerging technologies, and encourage our membership,
chapters and allies to dialogue with the authors, producers and
distributors.

(b) Increase the sensitivity of culture creators and consumers to the
biopolitical messages and bioconservative tropes in popular culture.

(c) Arrange letter-writing, protests, and boycotts of especially offensive
films, television programs and books.

(d) Encoruage and promote transhumanist artists, authors, film-makers, game
designers and culture creators.

Action items:

(a) Advertise and build the wta-arts list and Transhumanist Arts Gallery.

(b) Encourage members and chapters to report positive and negative
portrayals of human enhancement, longevity, emerging technologies and
posthumanity to the wta-arts list.

(c) Post critiques of bioconservative popular culture on the WTA website,
and examples of more complex and constructive visions of the future.

(d) Send representatives to speak at appropriate meetings, such as
conferences on science fiction and popular culture, and organize panels at
SF cons on the need for more complex protrayals of a posthuman future.

(e) Arrange fora and meetings with authors, artists and culture creators to
discuss the biopolitical messages in popular culture, and heighten their
sensitivity to bioconservative tropes and biases.

========================

MEMBERSHIP GROWTH

NOTE: Some members have not named their country of residence,
so the total membership numbers categorized by region is higher
than the total number categorized by country.

1975 N. America
1079 Europe
171 Oceania
148 Africa
145 S. America
125 S. Asia
51 Asia
50 Middle East
10 Caribbean
8 Unknown

3762 Total

1704 USA
267 UK
241 Canada
157 Finland
128 Australia
83 India
69 Unknown
67 Germany
67 Sweden
55 Nigeria
49 Italy
40 Netherlands
40 Spain
38 Kenya
37 Brazil
33 France
31 Belgium
29 Argentina
28 Israel
28 Mexico
27 Venezuela
26 Norway
24 Denmark
23 Poland
21 Pakistan
20 Philippines
18 New Zealand
18 Russia
17 Colombia
17 Hungary
16 Romania
15 Austria
14 China
14 Portugal
14 Singapore
14 South Africa
13 Ireland
12 Iran
12 Japan
12 Switzerland
12 Turkey
11 Ghana
11 Peru
11 Slovenia
10 Malaysia
10 Serbia & Montenegro
9 Chile
9 Uganda
8 Czech Republic
8 Ecuador
7 S. Korea
7 Ukraine
6 Greece
4 Estonia
4 Indonesia
4 Lithuania
4 Nepal
3 Cameroon
3 Egypt
3 Gambia
3 Latvia
3 Luxembourg
2 Bangladesh
2 Bolivia
2 Bosnia & Herzegovina
2 Botswana
2 Bulgaria
2 Costa Rica
2 Croatia
2 Lebanon
2 Malta
2 Oman
2 Sri Lanka
2 Thailand
2 Trinidad & Tobago
2 United Arab Emirates
2 Zimbabwe
1 Afganistan
1 Andorra
1 Antigua
1 Aruba
1 Azerbaijan
1 Bahrain1
1 Belarus
1 Brasil
1 Cote d’Ivoire
1 Cuba
1 Cyprus
1 Dominican Republic
1 El Salvador
1 Georgia
1 Haiti
1 Holland
1 Ivory Coast
1 Jamaica
1 Korea
1 Kosovo
1 Macedonia
1 Moldova
1 Morocco
1 Myanmar
1 New Caledonia
1 Paraguay
1 Pasto
1 Puerto Rico
1 San Marino
1 Saudi Arabia
1 Senegal
1 Serbia
1 Slovak Republic
1 St. Martin
1 Sudan
1 Suriname
1 Taiwan
1 Tanzania
1 Togo
1 UAE
1 Uruguay
1 Uzbekistan
2 Viet Nam

3762 Total

===========
3. ACTIVISM

HELP MAKE THE NEWS

The WTA is looking for web designers, editors and writers. If you know your
way around a website and want to help spread transhumanism, drop us a line
at: secretary@transhumanism.org

CRYONICS IN RUSSIA

Danila Medvedev reports:
“KrioRus has been contacted by a representative of one of the leading
political parties in Russia. Several people there are working on a cryonics
law. If they are successful, the law will be presented to the party
officials and may be proposed in State Duma (Russian parliament). The people
working on the law are pro-immortality, pro-enhancement and generally
transhumanist. We have discussed some of the particulars of the law and
provided references to relevant information during our meeting in Moscow. We
expect work on this to continue in the coming months. If this succeeds, it
will have huge implications for cryonics both in Russian and in the world.

Some of the Russian politicians have expressed positive views on cryonics in
the last year, when KrioRus was publicised in the Russian media. None have
been negative and overall cryonics was rather well received - not unlike
early in the US (and, sadly, the number of actual clients is also low).”

TRANSHUMANIST STUDENT NETWORK (TSN) UPDATE

* Russian Transhumanist Movement on Student and Youth Outreach
* Change of dates for U. of Chicago Conference
* TSN National Organizer for Ghana: David Safro
* Brand-New TSN National Organization Groups

(1) Russian Transhumanist Movement Student and Youth Outreach

The Russian Transhumanist Movement has been busy pursuing outreach targeting
students and youth.

The RTM had a good article on transhumanism published in the Moscow
newspaper ReAction. ReAction is a free youth newspaper distributed in coffee
shops and universities. Non-Russian speakers can use “Babelfish,” a free
online translation service, to access some of the content of the article:
http://reakcia.ru/article/?1267

On August 8th Danila Medvedev, Ph.D., spoke live as a futurologist on the
Moscow radio program “Moscow speaking” � which reaches many youths and
college students � for about 50 minutes on topics including transhumanism,
immortality and cryonics.

On October 12th Danila gave a presentation on biopolitics at a seminar in
Moscow State University (for the Deparment of Biology).

Over the next week the RTM gave three talks at a forum titled, “Projects of
the Future” on NBIC convergence, nanoassemblers and paradise-engineering.

An RTM member in Bryansk has organised a number of lectures in area schools
and universities. Fantastic lecture pictures are available at the following
link:
http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/Bryansk.pdf

RTM members in Omsk, including Master of Science and Ph.D students, as well
as teachers, are trying to promote transhumanism to area students.

Finally, the RTM has been developing new WTA introductory transhumanist
brochures that it hopes to soon make available in other languages with the
assistance of WTA volunteers.

(2) Change of dates for U. of Chicago conference

The dates of the “Emerging Technologies” conference held at the University
of Chicago by the U. of C. Democratic Transhumanists have been moved back
one week by university administrators to Friday, Nov 17 (5pm-8pm) and
Saturday, November 18th (9am-6pm).

Again, it will be held in the Biological Sciences Learning Center (BSLC)
Auditorium.

Keynote Speakers include:

- Ken Gumbs, Director of futurist film, �Building Gods�
- Nicholos Hatsopolous, Co-Inventor of “BrainGate” Computer-Brain
Interface
- Milan Mrksich, Leading Researcher in Microelectronics and Biology
- Bruce Lahn, World-renown Researcher in Neuroscience, Genetics and
the Evolution of Intelligence - Leonid Gavrilov, Life-Extension
Researcher at the Center on Aging
- Natalia Gavrilova, Life-Extension Researcher at the Center on Aging

For additional information contact U. of Chicago DemTrans President Parijata
Mackey at:

parijata �at- gmail.com

(3) TSN National Organizer for Ghana: David Safro

David Safro, President of the TSN-Affiliated campus group “African Youth
Partnership,” at the University of Cape Coast, now serves as the TSN
National Organizer for Ghana.

(4) Brand-New TSN National Organization Groups

Nation-specific groups have been created as a means of jump-starting
organized TSN outreach and support efforts at the national level. These
groups are to be managed by the TSN National Organizer for each respective
country.

The national TSN groups will offer a virtual space for members to congregate
and organize with the assistance of TSN transnational leaders.
National-level groups appear to be crucial in the effort to gain traction in
campus outreach efforts throughout the world and offer
adequate support to local student organizers. The TSN Regional Committees,
in turn, will help the national TSN groups plan and coordinate regional
campaigns and develop region-tailored activist resources (e.g. translations,
modified organizing guides, etc.).

The new organizational infrastructure of the TSN provides an approximate
model for a more organized, efficient and effective network of WTA chapters.
It is hoped that the TSN and WTA infrastructure can function symbiotically
to strengthen the grassroots transhumanist movement throughout the world.

Feel free to join the groups below to offer your support - especially if the
group uses a language other than English.

Brand-New TSN National Organization group links:

North America
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSNNA
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-CAN
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-USA

Europe
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ETSN
http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-FRA
http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-ESP
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-UK
Finnish TSN page:
http://users.utu.fi/jsvalo/TSN/TSN.html

Latin America
http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/RETIA
http://br.groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-BRA

Africa
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ASTNET
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-GHA
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-KEN
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-NGR

Russia and Central Asia
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RCATSN
Russian Transhumanist Movement Special Project:
http://www.transhumanism-russia.ru/content/view/120/123

Australia and Oceania
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AOTSN
(We could use a TSN National Organizer for Australia)
http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/TSN-AUS

==========
4. CULTURE

THE STEM CELL POLITICAL WAR HEATS UP

Watch Michael J. Fox’s passionate and moving plea:
http://tinyurl.com/yztgze

Rush Limbaugh went for the low blow…
http://tinyurl.com/yx6kzj

... Something that didn’t sit well with most people:
http://tinyurl.com/sdcp2

This is transhumanism where it matters most: trying to make people’s
lives better.

=========
5. EVENTS

KURZWEIL ON C-SPAN2 SUNDAY NOV. 5
Ray Kurzweil will be interviewed live for three hours this Sunday on C-SPAN2
�Book TV,� on their monthly show �In Depth.� The show will air live this
Sunday, November 5th from noon to 3 pm ET.

The show will feature a two-part profile of Ray, an interview with him about
his life, career, and ideas, and will include questions from Book TV viewers
via telephone and email.  Ray will be speaking about his inventions and
books, including “The Singularity is Near.”

See the following link for further information:
http://tinyurl.com/yxnfy8

8TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ETHICS ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire
November 16-19, 2006

Call for Papers

Theme: Brave New World: Genetics, Computers, and Nanotechnology

The Society picks conference themes in order to encourage faculty from
the relevant areas to submit papers, papers, or other standard forms of
presentation, but submissions may speak to any issue regarding ethics
across the curriculum. Questions about possible submissions should be
sent to the directors.

Submissions should be formatted for blind review and sent by September
15th to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Society, Donna Werner, at
DWerner@stlcc.edu or by hard copy to Dr. Donna Werner, Department of
Philosophy, St. Louis Community College, Meramec, 11333 Big Bend
Boulevard, St. Louis MO 63122-5799. Phone: 314.984.7934.

The Society publishes Teaching Ethics, and papers for conferences may be
considered for publication.

http://www.rit.edu/~692awww/seac/conferences.html

More events at the WTA Calendar:
http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/events/ )

=============
6. AFFILIATES

INSTITUTE FOR ETHICS AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
and the Journal of Evolution and Technology

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (ieet.org) was
founded in 2004 by Nick Bostrom and James J. Hughes to support and promote
thinkers examining the social implications of scientific and technological
advances, especially human enhancement technologies. The IEET publishes the
Journal of Evolution and Technology (jetpress.org).

IEET-related podcasts:

George Dvorsky: Sentient Development podcasts
http://feeds.feedburner.com/PodcastSentDev

James Hughes: Human Nature and Human-Racism
http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=17403

Nick Bostrom: Transhumanism: The next stage in human evolution?
http://www.thersa.org/audio/lecture220306.mp3

Cory Doctorow: Defending Our Digital Rights
http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=16905

Pablo Stafforini: The Abolition of Suffering
http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=16815

Ken MacLeod: The Early Days of a Better Nation
http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=16776

============
7. SPOTLIGHT

“Wikipedia and the Transhumanist Meaning of Life”
http://tinyurl.com/ydn2er
[The following is excerpted from the “Meaning of Life” topic on Wikipedia, 3
November 2006.]

“Transhumanism is an outgrowth of Posthumanism, which is an extension of
Humanism. Like its ideological ancestors, it proposes that we should seek
the advancement of humanity and of all life to the greatest degree of
differed feasible equation. Although transhumanism makes no distinctions
regarding anything as grandiose as “the meaning of life”, it is different
from humanism and posthumanism in it’s emphasis on the proposition that
science should take the foremost role in the improvement of life. To the
transhumanist, the meaning of life is necessarily indefinite and ambiguous,
and should be left to the philosophical inclinations of the individual.
Nevertheless, whatsoever an individual chooses to believe, transhumanism
insists that there does exist a moral imperative common to all intelligent
agents to improve their lives and, moreover, to advocate for the universal
recognition of certain freedoms regarding an individual’s choice of life
enhancement methods. All living things should be free to choose, to the
extent of their capacities, to improve themselves or not in any way they so
desire, and no living thing should ever be given the opportunity to
interfere in the personal development of any other living thing unless for
it’s own good (such as if the being’s ignorance of some otherwise well
understood principle or fact were driving it to unwitting self-injury).

To transhumanists, these principles extend beyond more conventional
lifestyle choices and freedom of thought, and encompass such experimental
and highly controversial subjects as morphological freedom and procreative
beneficence. These are, respectively, the freedom to choose the shape and
function of one’s body and mind, and the freedom to do the same for one’s
descendants excepting when to do so would in some way injure the descendants
or the descendants’ freedom to make the same choices. Transhumanists
therefore advocate that all life forms have the freedom to access the tools
and knowledge necessary to improve their lives however they see fit (and
that these things must be made universally available), whether this be in
simple manifestations such as the options of meeting basic medical and
dietetic requirements, or more complex examples such as the options of
genetic engineering or cybernetic augmentation. Transhumanists argue that
improved people will necessarily have improved capabilities to seek out and
answer questions regarding “the meaning of life” as they see it, more so
than even humans do currently. The transhumanist programme, then, is
essentially the programme that insists that all living things be granted the
basic option to inquire after any and all “great questions” (including
questions human beings are currently incompetent to comprehend) as much as
it is physically possible to do so, and no less.”

==============
ABOUT THE WTA
==============
The World Transhumanist Association is a nonprofit membership organization,
which works to promote discussion of the possibilities for radical
improvement of human capacities using genetic, cybernetic and
nanotechnologies. The WTA is growing quickly, and we invite you to join us
in this important work. You may also enroll in one of our discussion lists
and join one of our local WTA chapters, which can be found in countries and
languages all over the world. The WTA speakers bureau can provide someone to
answer questions on the transhumanist perspective to the media or to your
group.
Join us in working for a brighter future!
http://transhumanism.org

Posted by Giu1i0 Pri5c0 on 2006/11/11 •

The first meeting-seminar of Israeli transhumanists

Dear all,
I am delighted to invite you to the First Israeli Meeting-Seminar on Transhumanism/Immortalism.

The meeting will take place On Friday, Nov. 17, 10.30 am, in Bar Ilan University, Katz building (also known as Moreshet Israel 604 building, in the “Northern” part of the campus), third floor, “Seminars Room”.

The first “pilot” presentations will be:

Info-Resurrection by David Ish-Shalom
The history of life-extensionism by Ilia Stambler

In this meeting we will have the opportunity to “non-virtually” meet each other and schedule our future presentations/activities.

Looking forward to seeing you.
Ilia Stambler
e: mail
M: 0522-283-578
H: 03-961-42-96

חברים יקרים,

אני שמח ומתכבד להזמינכם לסמינר הישראלי הראשון אודות טרנסהומניזם-אימורטליזם

המפגש יתקיים ביום שישי, 17 בנובמבר, בשעה 10.30
באוניברסיטת בר-אילן,
בניין ק"ץ - מורשת ישראל 604)
בקומה שלישית, חדר סמינריונים

ההרצאות הניסיוניות הראשונות תהיינה

תחיית מידע ע"י דוד איש שלום
היסטוריית רעיונות לגבי הארכת חיים ע"י איליה סטמבלר

במפגש זה תהיה לנו ההזדמנות לפגוש זה את זה באופן “בלתי ווירטואלי” ולתככן את הרצאותינו ופעילויותינו הבאות

בתקווה לראותכם בקרוב
איליה סטמבלר

ד"א:
פל’: 0522-283-578
ב’: 03-961-42-96

Posted by ilia on 2006/11/05 • (0) Comments

The Popularization of Transhumanism in School Education

SUMMARY

Children going to school nowadays are the transhumans of the future. The schools are superb areas for the popularization of transhumanism. This article gives some inspiration on how you can acquaint children at school with ideas of transhumanism. If you are a teacher, you can do a lot for the youth to help them believe in a more beautiful, fearless future.

The Popularization of Transhumanism in School Education

by Cyhope

Arousing students’ interest in futurism, developing “future awareness” in thinking, and acquanting students with transhumanist principles (and it’s important to emphasize: it is all about communicating knowledge and arousing interest not indoctrinating!), should be essential tasks of school education.  In practice, teachers often neglect questions pertaining to the future. The field of environmental protection and certain ethical issues may be exceptions, but even in these cases there might be considerable differences among different schools and teachers.  However, if a transhumanist teacher teaches in a school, he or she can do a lot to change this situation.  A brief overview of possibilities follows:

1. Linking Transhumanism to the Curriculum

Probably it is the simplest possibility but still suitable for arousing interest: the fundamental principles of transhumanism are included in a certain part of the curriculum.
Here are some concrete ideas (the structure of subjects may be different in each country or school so I shall link the ideas to general fields of science):

IT, Computer Science
In these subjects the issue of artificial intelligence can be easily brought up.  There are only a few steps between discussing the consequences and introducing singularitanism.  The means of interaction between humans and machines (from the keyboard and the mouse to the means of virtual reality) provide great opportunity to outline the trends of the future and the concept of the fusion of human body and machines.

Physics
The issue of space research can be easily linked to astronomy.  In connection with space research, the notion of space colonization, terraformation, and long-distance space-travel can also be discussed.  In addition, transhumanism may provide creative solutions to these problems. 

Biology
This subject offers several possibilities.  The basic techniques of transhumanism (stem cells, gene technology, aging processes and their slowing down) could be introduced and possible fears could be relieved.  In connection with environmental protection, the latest environment-friendly technologies and the issue of high-tech supported environmental protection could be considered.  With reference to genetics and the theory of evolution, one could talk about the future of the human body (Transhumanism!).  In the field of healthy lifestyle, the teacher might mention the radical alternatives (Transhumanism!). 

However, the science subjects are not only suitable for spreading the memekomplex of transhumanism, but the humanities as well.

History
Transhumanism could be linked to the history of religion (immortality is an ancient desire of mankind and today even science does not protest against it), the industrial revolution (from the beginnings to our time and further on), and the history of ideas (20th century and present schools of thought).

Literature & Grammar
Transhumanist issues could be integrated into modern literature classes by discussing sci-fi works.  The students may write essays entitled “My Life in 30 Years’ Time” or “The World in 100 Years’ Time”.  Consequently, different scientific visions could be discussed.  One could use a transhumanist text for reading comprehension, or one could use transhumanist definitions for sentence analysis.

Pedagogy, Psychology
The relation between succession and environment is an important subject in the formation of the personality.  Transhumanism could be introduced as a radical solution: a posthuman being leaves biological determination behind.
The technology of the transhuman era could be outlined relating to the treatment of psychological and mental problems.  It would be critical to mention social determinants of education.  Current issues have to be mentioned, as well: globalization, postmodern and of course posthuman issues!

Art, Visual Representation
Modern transhumanist art could be mentioned, as well, accompanied by the interpretation of basic transhumanist principles.  As for practical tasks, the students could design a new body for themselves, one that could thrive on Mars.  Students might also illustrate a short story influenced by transhumanism. 

2. Building Tranhumanism Directly into the System of Subjects

In many democratic countries it is possible to create new (e.g. optional) subjects. In this case, a subject could be introduced when there is a distinct connection to transhumanism.  E.g.: futurology, modern/postmodern philosophy, artificial intelligence, etc.

3. Extracurriculum

Extracurricular activities are also an important factor.  One can give lectures at school or invite lecturers, announce a competition in the school magazine, organize a quiz show, facilitate a debate or panel discussion, set up a study group connected to transhumanism, or organize an exhibition for transhumanist works.
Additionally, distant programs could be used for the aim of spreading the means of transhumanity.  E.g.: a study group developing creativity.

4. Write and Speak!

A teacher could have several opportunities for acquainting students with an issue which he or she finds important.  One can write an article for the school magazine, make a program for the school radio, or write a course book.  Such activities would allow one to communicate with the wider public (including students and other teachers).
Conferences would be excellent opportunities to speak to a larger audience.  The broadness of transhumanism provides many opportunities to integrate the topic into the theme of a conference. 

5. Gifted Development at Schools

The different methods of gifted development at schools provide great opportunities for introducing transhumanist ideas.  Transhumanism can easily be incorporated into the talented students’ curriculum, which often contains tasks demanding more creativity than usual.  The teacher’s task could be to find not only traditional/ordinary competitions but also those connected to future orientation, transhumanist approach: e.g. competitions in literature and arts connected to sci-fi or quizzes connected to modern technologies.
WTA and other transhumanist societies have fantastic opportunities for announcing these kinds of competitions, quizzes, and scholarships!

6. Not to Forget Those Interested

Once the teacher has students interested in matters of transhumanism, one should suggest related websites, books, and films.  One should persuade the librarian to order such materials.  Teachers themselves could offer scientific literature, copyrighted films, or other works to the school library.

In conclusion, if one works in a school, dormitory or other educational institution (including adult education), one has many opportunities to spread transhumanist concepts among students, parents and colleagues.  Let us take the opportunity!

Posted by Cyhope on 2006/10/27 •

Want to live long? Take nature by the beard!

On the 30th of September, the regular 4th International forum, dedicated to the problems of immortalism, was held in the capital of Ukraine. Initially, about 30 participants were registered, but shortly after the official opening a few new “strayed” people came. Some very snazzy persons appeared among the foreign guests: young Iranian businessmen Sayed Mashkhur and Ali Jovkhar along with the executive secretary of the Iran embassy Bakhman Fazelly, who came for company, as well as a biotechnologist from the Kingston University Dr. Dennis Bilk (Great Britain).

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 4
Emir Ashshursky speaking

In his very substantial and information-intensive report “Main, alternative and false pathways toward the thisworldly immortality” Emir Ashshursky analysed in detail main pluses and minuses of contemporary immortology concepts, as well as brought forward a variety of original ideas. Several relatively new techniques deserved an intent attention: the clonal recephalization (rejuvenation of central nervous system by sewing of aged head to a body of a young clone), autoinfastemia (immortalization of an individual by radical bio- and nanomolecular elimination of hindering ontogenic factors) and finally (actually, in the long prospect) so-called enforsogenesis (in English named as “LTMS-evol” ) related to the enforced turn back of the natural evolution vector to create conditions for preservation and transformation of parents’ long-term memory to descendants.

During the sharp debates, Iranians turned to be main antagonists of the first concept. Their moral and religious canons do not allow them to make up their mind even to a simple thought concerning the possibility of beheading of “their beloved cloned offshoot”. Although, if as minimum twenty of such offshoots were granted for a noveau riche billionaire, why then he could not supposed to use, let us say, the most haughty and disobedient ones as a raw material?!..

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 4
Immortalist forum participants

In reverse, the Englishman Dennis Bilk directed his spike of critics against the second mentioned concept, as if he had handled with the Ukrainian luminary V.A.Kordyum. In particular, according to Bilk, stem cells in a human body work already at their limit output, so it is plainly impossible to intensify their action even more. And just when the contributor (reminding that he was the director of the Scientific Institute for Forecasting E.E.Ashshursky) tried to say against it that, in that case, one should change “the programme of enforced decay of an organism”. Then, academician V.Kordyum entered the dispute with an argument that such a programme does not exist at all, and there is only a banal age-related accumulation of genetic mutations… Indeed, as is well known, Vitaliy Arnoldovich also denies insistently that a human has an initially built-in counter-chronometer (not only in an organism but even in genom itself). Just at this point he had a principle discussion at the forum with a young zoologist Valeriy Golub from Cherkassy. But, despite the zoologist’s repeated references to the results of numerous purposeful experiments (held on lab gnawing animals and, according to some reports, on volunteer people as well), which verified Golub’s point of view, all those arguments had not shacked the academician’s enviable dogmatic jaundices in fine.

Unfortunately, after arrival of people’s deputy Alexander Rzhavsky, which came two hours late, the “shape” of “panel discussion” began to bias toward politics and vital social queries of the society. However, a few of attendees (philosopher V.D.Pikhorovich, chairman of the All-Ukrainian Medical Society L.A.Pyryg, and over again a “universal orator” V.A.Kordyum) encouraged this excursus zestfully. But, as soon as Rzhavsky had taken his leave, the promulgated second item of the agenda (which, initially, should be the report “Modern Biotechnologies of a Human") turned to have a sharp lack of time. So, on initiative by V.A.Kordyum, it was decided to limit the lecture part of all next forums to only one report to grant more time for substantial creative discussions.

And a final pleasant “raisin” of this warm summer Saturday evening was a raffle of several exclusive prizes held during an “informal friendly spree”. The lottery was provided by our permanent general sponsor the All-Ukrainian association “Yedyna Rodyna” ("Integral Family"). At that, whereas all questions of the quiz anyway touched on linguistic studies in the area of artificial intelligence, even such an admitted authority in the matter as professor Z.L.Rabinovich could not cope, practically, with any of them, since our “gilded youth” turned out to be much more efficient in this case!..

Source: PRESS SERVICE OF THE SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTE FOR FORECASTING (emire@bigmir.net)

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/10/21 • (0) Comments

Action Agenda Adopted

On October 19, 2006 the WTA Board adopted three new action programs to guide our work:

1. Campaign for the Rights of the Person
2. Campaign for Longer Better Lives
3. Campaign for a Future Friendly Culture

1. Campaign for the Rights of the Person

A campaign to modify national laws and international human rights conventions to establish (a) that bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and cognitive liberty should be explicitly recognized and protected, (b) that universal access to enabling technologies is a right in itself, and a precondition for all other rights, and that (c) personhood, sentience, and capacity for having morally relevant interests are the bases of rights-bearing, not humanness or the human genome..

Specific goals:

(a) Expanded access to reproductive health technologies (contraception, fertility, prenatal testing, abortion, and germinal choice). (b) Liberalized psychoactive drug laws, and support for research into cognitive enhancement technologies, vaccines and treatments for substance dependence, and safer psychoactive substances. (c) Extension of human-level rights protections to great apes.

Action items:

(a) Support and outreach to drug law reform efforts, reproductive rights campaigns, transgender rights, access to treatment and assistive devices for the disabled, and extending rights to great apes; (b) A conference at the United Nations in New York in April 2007, co-sponsored with the IEET and the IHEU Bioethics office at the United Nations (c) Advertise and build the wta-disability list. (d) Publish pamphlets on H+ and disability, transgender, reproductive rights, drug law reform and great apes.

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2. Campaign for Longer Better Lives

A campaign for a multinational research program to develop therapies to slow aging.

Specific Goals:

Have the National Institutes of Health in the United States, and parallel agencies in the rest of the world, endorse and commit to anti-aging research programs to secure the “Longevity Dividend.”

Action items:

(a) Letter writing, public forums, conferences in support of the Longevity Dividend initiative, SENS and parallel initiatives, in coalition with anti-aging and related groups.

----

3. Campaign for a Future Friendly Culture

A campaign to encourage balanced and constructive portrayals of longevity, human enhancement and emerging technologies in popular culture.

Specific goals:

(a) Solicit offensive and counterproductive portrayals of longevity, human enhancement and emerging technologies, and encourage our membership, chapters and allies to dialogue with the authors, producers and distributors.

(b) Increase the sensitivity of culture creators and consumers to the biopolitical messages and bioconservative tropes in popular culture.

(c) Arrange letter-writing, protests, and boycotts of especially offensive films, television programs and books.

(d) Encoruage and promote transhumanist artists, authors, film-makers, game designers and culture creators.

Action items:

(a) Advertise and build the wta-arts list and Transhumanist Arts Gallery.

(b) Encourage members and chapters to report positive and negative portrayals of human enhancement, longevity, emerging technologies and posthumanity to the wta-arts list.

(c) Post critiques of bioconservative popular culture on the WTA website, and examples of more complex and constructive visions of the future.

(c) Send representatives to speak at appropriate meetings, such as conferences on science fiction and popular culture, and organize panels at SF cons on the need for more complex protrayals of a posthuman future.

(d) Arrange fora and meetings with authors, artists and culture creators to discuss the biopolitical messages in popular culture, and heighten their sensitivity to bioconservative tropes and biases.

Posted by secretary on 2006/10/19 •

A transdove of peace lands in Moscow

On September 22nd Gianni Lo Conti, Italian transhumanist from Rome met with some Russian transhumanists on his trip through Eurasia. He relayed some news about the progress of Indian transhumanists and discussed how we can develop transhumanism in Europe and Asia.

When Gianni was present, we were filming an episode for a documentary report on KrioRus for Russian TV (RenTV channel). Later Gianni enjoyed for the first time an opportunity to have a talk with Jan Voracek - a cybernetics researcher from the Institute for Immortality in Ninij Novgorod (a research organisation backed by “transcendental transhumanists”, which funds some real H+ related research). Jan is the foremost expert on uploading in Russia. He got in touch with the Institute for Immortality through Moscow seminar on transhumanism.

We really thank Gianni for coming and encourage all transhumanists worldwide to pay more attention to international contacts. Transhumanists are always welcome in Moscow (bed and breakfast included)!

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/10/17 • (0) Comments

Transhumanism in Argentina’s Clarin (sp. lang.)

¿Vivir 1.000 años? Los científicos transhumanistas creen que es posible

Se llaman “transhumanistas” y argumentan que ya es hora de que los humanos se liberen de las “cadenas biológicas” y aprovechen los desarrollos tecnológicos para optimizar la mente y el cuerpo. Así se podrían “hacer” mejores humanos y vivir más. Voces a favor y en contra inician el debate.

Mariana Nisebe. De la Redacción de Clarín.com
mnisebe@claringlobal.com.ar

Link

En los últimos años surgió un nuevo paradigma sobre el futuro del hombre, que comenzó a tomar forma entre un grupo de científicos vinculados a áreas como neurología, sociología, computación y nanotecnología. Se llaman “ transhumanistas “ y argumentan que ya es hora de que los humanos se liberen de las “cadenas biológicas”; una nueva forma de pensar sobre la premisa de que la condición humana es esencialmente inalterable. La visión de la tecnología por parte del transhumanismo es interpretada como el desarrollo de nuevas herramientas que ayuden a superar las limitaciones biológicas y cambiar la condición humana, haciendo esta realidad posible para aquellos que lo deseen, convirtiéndose así en “post -humanos”.

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/09/21 • (0) Comments

WTA Second Life

Posted by secretary on 2006/09/16 • (0) Comments

Ho fatto l’amore con una robot

Androidi maschili e femminili. Identici agli esseri umani, ma senza difetti. Capaci di muoversi, di parlare e perfino di eccitarsi. è l’ultima frontiera della tecnologia applicata all’eros. Che divide scienziati e psicologi



di Francesca Tarissi



Qualche compunto scienziato un po’ in età si alza indignato ed esce dalla sala, qualcun altro più giovane ridacchia come se si fosse a scuola. All’Euron Roboethics Atélier, la cinque giorni di Genova sugli automi del futuro, si parla di sesso. Anzi, di robotica sessuale. è questa, infatti, l’ultima frontiera che i creatori di androidi intendono varcare: macchine create per dare piacere, da utilizzare in privato - da soli o in compagnia - per sostituire quelli che sono stati definiti come “degli obsoleti giocattoli”, vale a dire i vibratori elettrici e le bambole gonfiabili vendute nei sexy shop.



A lanciare la pruriginosa bomba tra gli studiosi di automi è lo scienziato inglese David Levy: 61 anni, fondatore nel 2001 della Intelligent Toys Ltd e grande esperto di scacchi, Levy illustra le diapositive della sua presentazione: disegni, figure, immagini molto esplicite, che mostrano come macchine e sesso, in fondo, abbiano viaggiato sullo stesso binario fin dall’antichità: “Il futuro della robotica passa anche per le sex machines”, afferma senza scomporsi. E dipinge uno scenario di androidi in grado di soddisfare le esigenze e le fantasie sessuali di uomini e donne: “Sono convinto che presto i robot diventeranno partner sessuali per un vastissimo numero di persone”, dice: “Per averne un’idea, basta vedere come sono diventati popolari i vibratori o le bambole e immaginare quanto più divertente ed eccitante potrebbe essere per una persona possedere un robot che, oltre al resto, è in grado di stringerla tra le braccia, baciarla e magari dirle pure qualche frase romantica o erotica”.



Un’idea strampalata? Pare proprio di no. Secondo lo scienziato Henrik Christensen, docente di Robotica all’Università di Stoccolma, “entro cinque anni al massimo la gente comincerà a far sesso con i robot” e l’esperienza diventerà sempre più appagante “a mano a mano che si svilupperà l’intelligenza artificiale. Quindi, quando queste macchine impareranno dalla loro stessa esperienza”. Concorda Riccardo Campa, docente di Sociologia della Scienza all’Università di Cracovia e direttore della World Transhumanist Association: “Ci sarà un momento in cui i robot saranno quasi indistinguibili dagli esseri umani, ma più belli e privi di difetti”, dice: “A quel punto, il loro utilizzo anche a fini sessuali sarà inevitabile”. E con il perfezionamento dell’interattività, l’effetto verosimiglianza aumenterà proporzionalmente: attraverso dispositivi già esistenti (come la lettura dell’occhio o la gesture recognition) le bambole o ‘i bamboli’ reagiranno ai nostri movimenti e alle nostre emozioni. Uno scienziato di frontiera come Frank Tipler, fisico e matematico, docente alla Tulane University di New Orleans, profetizza addirittura che presto “ogni persona potrà avere non soltanto il più bel partner che abbia mai visto o che sia mai vissuto, ma anche il più bel partner la cui esistenza è logicamente possibile”. Quello che Tipler chiama “il megamate logicamente perfetto”. Anche David Levy non ha dubbi sulle sembianze dei sexy robot in arrivo: “Le persone saranno libere di scegliere le caratteristiche fisiche e l’aspetto del loro partner artificiale, esattamente come ora scegliamo molti prodotti da un catalogo sul Web”. Bruno Siciliano, ingegnere di robotica e presidente dell’Ieee Robotics and Automation Society, spiega che “le applicazioni potrebbero essere destinate a entrambi i sessi, a vantaggio di performance decisamente migliori e adattabili all’utente, rispetto a quelle offerte attualmente dai sex toys. Anche se la mia previsione è che saranno le donne a essere le principali beneficiarie della nuova tecnologia, non fosse altro che per una questione di performance e prestazioni che una macchina potrebbe garantire rispetto a un uomo in carne e ossa”.


Finora, in verità, gli oggetti in circolazione che più si avvicinano a dei giocattoli erotici di tipo evoluto, sono prevalentemente destinati al target maschile. Basta dare un’occhiata ad Amanda, Stephanie, Leah, Tami e Kaor: seni prorompenti, vita sottile e nemmeno un filo di cellulite, costituiscono il piccolo esercito di Real dolls, da più di un lustro in vendita (a circa 7 mila dollari l’una, spedizione compresa) sul sito dell’omonima e ormai celebre ditta americana. Unico rappresentante maschio della scuderia è Charlie: sguardo vacuo, muscoli in evidenza e, al contrario di quanto ci si potrebbe aspettare, un membro di dimensioni decisamente nella norma. Il neo di queste creature è però evidente: sono completamente inanimate e quindi non consentono alcuna interattività.



Molto più evoluta è l’’esperienza animatronica’ che ai cultori del genere viene promessa da Andy, umanoide femmina inventata da Michael Harriman, un meccanico aeronautico di Norimberga: la sexy bambolona tedesca ha infatti al suo interno un cuore artificiale che accelera i battiti durante il rapporto sessuale, un radiatore che alza la temperatura corporea a simulare l’eccitazione, uno speaker collegato al cuore artificiale che produce ansimi in modo direttamente proporzionale al ritmo dell’amplesso, un dispositivo azionabile in remoto per muovere i fianchi, un sistema per l’emissione di finte secrezioni vaginali e un silicone ultra morbido che riproduce la sensazione del contatto con la pelle umana. Dulcis in fundo, l’inventore - che crea artigianalmente a mano uno per uno gli esemplari - l’ha dotata di microchip nelle orecchie: basta pronunciare alcune frasi standard e Andy amorevolmente risponde al suo interlocutore umano. La signorina artificiale, insieme alla cuginetta Loly, si trova in vendita sul sito http://www.andydroid.com: è alta 1,59, pesa 38 chili e costa 5.280 euro. Loly costa un po’ meno (3.860 euro), ma è anche assai più bassina di statura (1,40 metri), mentre la top model Linny (1,85 metri) è ancora in progettazione.



Le bambole semoventi sorridono e i modelli base si possono anche ‘personalizzare’ con diverse misure del seno e con una serie di parrucche o altri optional, che però ne fanno decollare ulteriormente il prezzo. Ultimamente, alla collezione si è aggiunto anche un equivalente maschile, Nax, uno stangone pelato di un metro e 92 che si può portare a casa per la modica cifra di 7.460 euro, forse un po’ troppi per una verosimiglianza ancora approssimativa.



Più attraenti, e dalle potenzialità forse più interessanti, sono alcuni umanoidi femminili giapponesi come Actroid: gambe lunghe, minigonna e volto da top model, capace di muovere le braccia con naturalezza e di alternare 40 diverse espressioni emotive del viso, finora ha svolto solo funzioni di hostess (soprattutto alle fiere elettroniche), ma è senza dubbio graziosa e strizza l’occhio, seppur in modo assai prudente, all’immaginario erotico maschile (in Rete: www. kokoro-dreams.co.jp). Anche Repliee Q1, una brunetta dalla pelle in silicone creata sul modello di una famosa anchorwoman giapponese da Hiroshi Ishiguru dell’Università di Osaka, ha aspetto e misure assai piacevoli, anche se alla sua prima uscita pubblica (l’anno scorso, all’Expo di Aichi) è stata presentata in pantaloni e con un inappuntabile giacca rosa. Da un punto di vista tecnico, trasformare Actroid o Repliee in altrettante sexy dolls non sembra particolarmente complicato.



Le conseguenze sociali dell’ipotizzato boom degli androidi erotici sarebbero diverse e tutte ancora da definire. I profeti della robotica sessuale immaginano che il primo effetto sarebbe una drastica riduzione, se non la fine, del mestiere più antico del mondo: “Gli studi di psicologia e sociologia”, sostiene Levy, “indicano che le persone vanno con le prostitute per molte differenti ragioni, ma quella più comune è il fare del sesso senza nessun tipo di coinvolgimento emotivo. Sicuramente le macchine, più degli esseri umani, saranno in grado di soddisfare questo bisogno”. Concorda Franca Formenti, sviluppatrice insieme al suo team del Bio Doll’s Mouse, un sito che ha come protagonista assoluta una donna virtuale al limite dell’hard: “I sex robot saranno presto dotati di detector e sensori in grado di percepire qualsiasi stimolo fisico ed elettromagnetico, ragione per cui le attuali prostitute e i gigolò sono destinati a diventare una classe di semi disoccupati”.



In Giappone, del resto, l’imprenditore Hajime Kimura, notando il successo di vendite riscosso dalle Real dolls, ha creato i ‘tsurekomi ryokan’, hotel dell’amore (che fanno capo all’agenzia Doll No Mori) all’interno dei quali, per l’equivalente di circa 85 euro, 24 ore su 24, ci si può intrattenere poco più di un’ora con una Venere sintetica, da scegliere secondo i propri gusti tra 17 differenti modelli. Testati in via sperimentale a Tokyo, in meno di due anni gli hotel si sono moltiplicati fino diventare una catena diffusa in tutto il paese del Sol Levante.



Il successo di questa iniziativa, e il prezzo ancora piuttosto alto delle repliche più ‘lifelike’, fa pensare che il mercato dei sex robot vada, almeno in una prima fase, più verso l’affitto che non verso l’acquisto. Anche se le dinamiche psicologiche ed emotive nel rapporto tra uomo e macchina non sempre sono prevedibili: la fotografa Elena Dorfman (autrice delle immagini che compaiono in questo servizio) ha approfondito il tema parlando con i possessori delle dolls negli Stati Uniti, scoprendo che “a volte si instaurano delle relazioni quasi sentimentali: ho incontrato alcuni uomini che a nessun costo vogliono cambiare la propria partner artificiale”. In fondo, se ci si affeziona a un’automobile o a una bicicletta, ci si può benissimo attaccare a un oggetto che ci procura un piacere assai maggiore.



Tuttavia, secondo gli esperti, tra gli effetti collaterali di queste macchine ci potrà essere anche dell’altro. Come, ad esempio, la diffusione di quelle che oggi vengono chiamate perversioni: in altri termini, ci saranno persone che sperimenteranno sui robot quel tipo di esperienze che, per pudore o altri motivi, non vogliono fare direttamente con veri esseri umani. “C’è da aspettarsi un proliferare di robot per tutti i gusti: molti troveranno eccitante la sperimentazione di forme di erotismo estremo con i sex toys, e forse per questo saranno considerati dei deviati”, dice Levy. Concorda Monica Maggi, esperta di cultura sessuale e transgender: “La robotica sessuale è o sarà richiesta anche per varcare nuove frontiere. Penso, per esempio, a un maschio che decide di regalare alla sua compagna un’esperienza lesbica, o magari di provare un ménage à trois con un altro maschio o un’altra femmina, oppure di testare il sesso di gruppo e le ‘gang band’ con diversi androidi. E sempre senza strascichi sentimentali, senza gelosie e senza paura di portarsi in casa dei rivali”.



Tutto questo, naturalmente, finché l’androide resta un dispositivo tecnologicamente ‘basic’, cioè privo di pensiero e di volontà autonoma. Ma “entro il 2020”, come profetizza il futurologo inglese Ian Pearson “l’evoluzione dell’intelligenza artificiale porterà i robot ad avere un inizio di coscienza”. A quel punto si porranno nuove e più delicate questioni, che attraversano campi che vanno dalla psicologia alla roboetica. E un giorno magari il sexy robot, capace di avere gusti propri, potrà perfino darci il due di picche.

http://www.transumanisti.it/new_page_23.htm">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/09/08 •

TRANSUMANESIMO

Articolo apparso sulla rivista
socialista MondOperaio (luglio-ottobre 2006)


TRANSUMANESIMO


di Riccardo Campa

Il termine "transumanesimo" indica
una dottrina filosofica appartenente alla famiglia delle ideologie progressiste.
Gli intellettuali transumanisti elaborano, studiano o promuovono le tecnologie
finalizzate al superamento dei limiti umani. Analizzano i trend, le dimensioni
psicologiche, le implicazioni etiche e l’impatto sociale di tali tecnologie,
ponendo in luce soprattutto gli aspetti positivi dello sviluppo scientifico, ma
senza sottovalutarne i potenziali pericoli. Con lo stesso termine si indica il
movimento intellettuale e culturale che, facendo riferimento a tale filosofia,
ritiene possibile e desiderabile l’alterazione in senso migliorativo della
condizione umana. Per "miglioramento" si intende la limitazione e,
possibilmente, l’eliminazione di processi naturali come l’invecchiamento, la
malattia e la morte, nonché l’aumento delle capacità intellettuali, fisiche
e psicologiche dell’uomo.

Il transumanesimo pone grande enfasi sul ruolo
emancipatore della scienza, della tecnica e delle libertà civili, e parte dal
presupposto che l’essere umano non è il prodotto finale dell’evoluzione, ma
un esemplare di essere senziente destinato ad evolversi ulteriormente. Due sono
le principali organizzazioni transumaniste: la World Transhumanist Association (WTA),
fondata nel 1996 e presente in cento nazioni, e l’Extropy Institute (ExI),
meno diffuso sul territorio, ma in grado di vantare una fondazione antecedente
di qualche anno.


I transumanisti sono generalmente
caratterizzati da un atteggiamento tecno-ottimista, ma insistono anche sulla
necessità di utilizzare le tecnologie in un quadro di norme etiche. I limiti
etici non sono però derivati dalla teologia. Pur non essendo pregiudizialmente
contrari alle religioni, i transumanisti basano la propria morale soprattutto
sui principi laici della Dichiarazione dei diritti dell’uomo e del
cittadino
e, in particolare, sull’articolo 4, secondo il quale: "La
libertà consiste nel poter fare tutto ciò che non nuoce ad altri".


Nel transumanesimo si notano elementi di
continuità e di innovazione. L’uomo è da sempre in lotta con la propria
condizione. Se c’è una costante nella storia è proprio il tentativo dell’uomo
di modificare la natura a proprio vantaggio. Il transumanesimo si pone
coscientemente nel solco di questa tradizione, ma si spinge ancora più avanti.
Già altre ideologie progressiste ─ come l’illuminismo, il positivismo e
il futurismo ─ avevano promosso questo atteggiamento, ma il transumanesimo
va oltre perché riconosce all’uomo il diritto di migliorare tecnologicamente
non solo l’ambiente, ma anche se stesso. Il diritto individuale alla libertà
morfologica, ovvero di modifica del proprio corpo e della propria mente, è una
derivazione logica dell’articolo 4.


Nel "Manifesto di bioetica laica"

firmato da Flamigni, Massarenti, Mori e Petroni (Sole 24 Ore, 9 giugno 1996) si
legge: "L’evoluzione delle conoscenze teoriche e delle possibilità
tecnologiche nel campo biologico e medico ha sollevato opportunità e problemi
che non hanno precedenti nella storia dell’umanità. Se infatti la rivoluzione
scientifica e tecnologica dell’era moderna ha permesso all’uomo di
modificare radicalmente la natura che lo circonda, la rivoluzione biologica e
medica dischiude la possibilità che egli intervenga sulla propria natura. Non
ci si deve meravigliare che la "seconda rivoluzione scientifica" porti
con sé attese e timori altrettanto grandi di quelli che accompagnarono la
nascita della scienza e del mondo moderno… Noi reputiamo essenziale che questa
nuova rivoluzione scientifica non debba essere accompagnata dallo stesso
atteggiamento ideologico che ostacolò la formazione della visione scientifica
nel mondo dell’età moderna". Il transumanesimo si pone in sintonia con
questo principio laico e ambisce ad essere proprio la filosofia della seconda
rivoluzione scientifica
.


La speranza nell’estinzione dell’invecchiamento
e della morte nei prossimi decenni, a prima vista, potrebbe apparire un’ingenuità.
E non si può negare che certe speranze dei transumanisti siano in effetti
utopiche o poco realistiche. Va però anche considerato il fatto che molti sogni
dell’uomo, in passato considerati irrealizzabili, come volare, navigare sotto
i mari, comunicare a distanza, uscire dal pianeta Terra, intervenire sulla
struttura della materia, creare nuove forme di vita, ed altro ancora, oggi sono
realtà. Ora, ad apparire ingenui, sono coloro che si dicevano certi dell’insensatezza
di tali progetti.


Quattro sono i settori della ricerca che,
passo dopo passo, sembrano attuare il programma transumanista: intelligenza
artificiale, robotica, ingegneria genetica e nanotecnologia. Gran parte dell’attenzione
dei media e dei partiti politici è concentrata sulle biotecnologie, per via
dello straordinario sviluppo delle stesse negli ultimi trent’anni.
Fecondazione artificiale, trapianti di organi, clonazione e Ogm sono ormai temi
presenti nelle agende politiche o nelle legislazioni di molti paesi. Altri
scenari e nuovi problemi saranno generati dagli ulteriori sviluppi della
genetica. Se verrà scoperto il meccanismo che provoca la degenerazione dei
tessuti umani e se verranno sconfitte le malattie oggi ritenute incurabili, la
durata della vita potrebbe essere prolungata illimitatamente. Se ciò avvenisse,
tutto l’assetto sociale, politico ed economico delle società umane dovrebbe
essere ridisegnato. Si pensi soltanto all’impatto che tali tecnologie
avrebbero sul sistema pensionistico, sul mercato del lavoro, sulla demografia,
sull’ambiente. E, d’altronde, in un mondo liberale e democratico, non si
può impedire ai cittadini di accedere a cure, farmaci e operazioni chirurgiche.
Chi cercasse di limitare la libertà individuale, otterrebbe soltanto la nascita
di un mercato nero controllato dalle mafie. Uno degli slogan più noti del
transumanesimo è: "Se l’evoluzione sarà dichiarata un crimine, solo i
criminali evolveranno".


Ma a rendere inadeguate e controproducenti le
politiche proibizionistiche nel campo delle biotecnologie è il fatto che esse
rappresentano soltanto una piccola porzione del fronte di progresso della
tecnoscienza. È nei laboratori di elettronica, informatica e robotica che si
stanno ponendo le basi di ciò che i transumanisti chiamano "la
Singolarità", ovvero il momento in cui gli esseri senzienti (macchine o
ibridi uomo-macchina) potranno raggiungere un livello di intelligenza
super-umana.

Lo sviluppo dell’intelligenza artificiale è
descritto piuttosto fedelmente dalla Legge di Moore, secondo la quale la
densità di transistor per circuito integrato cresce seguendo una curva
esponenziale. Negli ultimi trent’anni è raddoppiata ogni 18 mesi/due anni.
Poiché esiste una correlazione tra miglioramento dell’hardware e potenza di
calcolo delle macchine pensanti, la legge può essere considerata indicativa
della crescita di "intelligenza" di tali macchine. In realtà, quella
di Moore non è una legge, ma l’osservazione di una regolarità. Ciò
significa che in qualunque momento il trend potrebbe assumere altre direzioni.
Ray Kurzweil ritiene che il cambiamento di trend, se ci sarà, potrà essere
solo al rialzo. Egli ha infatti mostrato che la legge di Moore è il caso
speciale di un processo di più ampia portata. Se si considerano tutte le
macchine pensanti prodotte dall’uomo, dai calcolatori meccanici agli attuali
computer, si nota che il circuito integrato è soltanto l’ultimo di una serie
di paradigmi. In precedenza, i calcoli sono stati prodotti da dispositivi
meccanici, relè, valvole elettroniche e transistor. La prossima frontiera
potrebbe essere il computer atomico o biologico. Il trend, osservato su un arco
temporale di oltre un secolo, rivela che non cresce soltanto il numero di
dispositivi per unità di calcolo, ma è lo stesso tasso di crescita ad
aumentare, grazie al mutamento di paradigma. Poiché il progresso segue una
curva doppiamente esponenziale, secondo Kurzweil, nel ventunesimo secolo, avremo
ventimila anni di progresso al tasso di crescita dell’anno 2000.


Aldilà della plausibilità di questi calcoli,
resta il fatto che la complessità e la potenza dei computer sta gradualmente
raggiungendo quella del cervello umano. Ragionando in un’ottica puramente
materialistica, dobbiamo dunque aspettarci in tempi non lontani una presa di
coscienza delle macchine. Ma anche se postuliamo un’ontologia dualistica,
attribuendo la coscienza ad un ente immateriale (l’anima) assente nella
macchina, a tale livello di complessità, diventerebbe impossibile distinguere
sul piano comportamentale un uomo da un androide. Se anche la
"creatività" potrà essere simulata, le conseguenze sociali saranno
le medesime.


La miniaturizzazione dei dispositivi, l’implementazione
degli stessi in macchine dotate di capacità di movimento (robot, androidi), e
la diffusione di tali macchine in ambienti lavorativi e domestici disegnano
dunque un nuovo scenario per la specie umana. I film di fantascienza tendono, in
genere, a rappresentare il futuro in termini distopici, con le macchine che
prendono il sopravvento sull’uomo (Terminator, Matrix, ecc.). I transumanisti
si mostrano invece ottimisti. Lungi da rappresentare qualcosa di indesiderabile
o da temere, questo scenario offre infatti l’opportunità di superare alcuni
problemi fondamentali dell’uomo. Per comprenderlo, è però necessario
superare lo schema dicotomico alla base delle distopie: noi (gli umani) e loro
(le macchine). Lo scenario diventa positivo nella prospettiva del divenire
cyborg. La fusione dell’uomo con le macchine, attraverso la sostituzione pezzo
a pezzo dei corpi biologici con dispositivi elettronici più avanzati, potrebbe
permettere di allungare illimitatamente la vita e addirittura potenziare le
attività fisiche e cerebrali.


Naturalmente, direzionare la storia verso uno
scenario utopico piuttosto che distopico si configura come un problema
squisitamente politico. Sul piano politico, i transumanisti presentano punti di
convergenza e di divisione. Sono uniti per quanto riguarda alcune idee
strategiche come: 1) la difesa e l’allargamento delle libertà civili; 2) la
necessità di promuovere l’innovazione tecnologica; 3) la libertà di ricerca
scientifica; 4) la laicità degli Stati. Tuttavia, risultano divisi sul piano
dei programmi economici e di politica internazionale.


Nel transumanesimo esistono tre principali
orientamenti politici: left-wing (socialisti, liberali di sinistra, democratici
USA), right-wing (liberali di destra, anarco-capitalisti, repubblicani USA) e
up-wing (una sintesi). Rari sono i transumanisti che si pongono nell’alveo
dell’estrema destra, del comunismo, o dei partiti confessionali. I
transumanisti di sinistra ritengono che per uno sviluppo equilibrato della
società sia necessario garantire il più ampio accesso possibile alle nuove
tecnologie, senza discriminare le fasce economicamente deboli o i paesi in via
di sviluppo. Non hanno fiducia nel liberismo puro, giacché sono convinti che l’aumento
di intelligenza dei computer e dei robot non potrà che ripercuotersi
negativamente sui livelli occupazionali, senza un intervento regolatore dello
Stato. La maggior parte dei lavori, anche di concetto, sarà presto alla portata
di una macchina, quand’anche priva di coscienza o di emozioni (eventualità
che, comunque, non può nemmeno essere esclusa). Se nessuna azienda troverà
conveniente assumere un essere umano, perché sostituibile da un robot che
lavora intelligentemente senza pause per il solo costo dell’energia, si dovrà
pensare ad un assetto sociale diverso che possa anche implicare l’abolizione
del lavoro
. I cittadini potrebbero ottenere un reddito di esistenza

ed essere pagati per consumare, piuttosto che per produrre. La soluzione sarebbe
giustificata sul piano etico, perché scienza e tecnica sono prodotti
collettivi, dovendo la propria esistenza allo sforzo congiunto di molte menti,
operanti in luoghi e periodi storici diversi. Un computer atomico prodotto, per
esempio, da un’azienda giapponese, non sarebbe concepibile senza le idee di
Democrito, di Galileo, di Leibniz e di altri pensatori. Inoltre la ricerca
scientifica è spesso finanziata da denaro pubblico. Sarebbe ingiusto prelevare
denaro dalle tasche dei lavoratori, per finanziare una ricerca il cui risultato
finale è la loro marginalizzazione sociale. In breve, i transumanisti di
sinistra sostengono che il carattere collettivo della tecnoscienza giustifica
ampiamente una politica solidale. Reputano assurdo che, nonostante i progressi
della tecnica, gli uomini siano ancora costretti a lavorare lo stesso numero di
ore dei loro antenati e magari in condizioni di maggiore precarietà. In questo
individuano un difetto del sistema capitalista, che deve essere corretto.


Diversa la posizione dei transumanisti
anarco-capitalisti, i quali ritengono che un intervento dello Stato non può che
rallentare il progresso. L’accesso alle nuove tecnologie sarà garantito dal
libero mercato. Parallelamente alla legge di Moore opera infatti un’altra
legge economica, per cui al raddoppiare della potenza di calcolo della macchina,
corrisponde anche un decremento notevole del suo prezzo. Oggi telefoni cellulari
e personal computer sono alla portata di tutti, mentre appena usciti erano
status symbol. In futuro, anche gli interventi di modifica genetica o gli
impianti biocibernetici saranno beni accessibili a tutte le fasce di reddito. Il
problema della disoccupazione potrebbe non porsi perché, se è vero che le
macchine evolvono, è anche vero che agli umani si schiude la possibilità di
una analoga evoluzione. I transumani, da un lato, saranno sempre più
competitivi e, dall’altro, inventeranno nuovi lavori e nuove occupazioni,
valorizzando i propri talenti.


Solo il futuro potrà dire quale delle due
visioni è più lungimirante. Gli up-wingers, dal canto loro, ritengono che
conviene liberarsi dalle formule ideologiche preconfezionate e affrontare
pragmaticamente i problemi. Le ideologie elaborate nell’Ottocento per gestire
la rivoluzione industriale (liberalismo e socialismo sono i due casi esemplari)
debbono essere superate e rimpiazzate da un progetto politico radicalmente nuovo
e adeguato alle sfide del Ventunesimo secolo. Si debbono privatizzare o
nazionalizzare le ferrovie, l’elettricità o i servizi di miglioramento
genetico? Per chi cerca di sintetizzare e superare le idee liberali e socialiste
in nome del transumanesimo, non c’è risposta a priori a questa domanda.
Dobbiamo chiederci quale scelta massimizza, qui ed ora, il progresso tecnico. Se
ci sono imprenditori audaci e con mentalità futurista, si privatizza. Se ci
sono parassiti senza slanci che vogliono vivere di rendita, si nazionalizza. Si
lasciano, cioè, agli economisti le formule astratte a priori e si vincolano le
scelte contingenti all’ideale più alto del progresso. La storia insegna che
senza iniziativa pubblica non avremmo avuto i viaggi spaziali e senza iniziativa
privata non avremmo avuto i personal computer. Deve rimanere fermo soltanto il
principio della massima felicità, longevità e intelligenza per il massimo
numero di esseri senzienti. Un principio che tutti i transumanisti
sottoscrivono.

http://www.transumanisti.it/mondoperaio.htm">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/09/08 •

Il brivido dell’eternità

Un nuovo metodo per congelare il sangue senza cristalli riapre le speranze
per l’ibernazione. Contando sull’aiuto dei nano-robot

di Arianna Dagnino

Ibernati e felici. E’ questo il
nostro destino di esseri umani assetati d’eternità? Grazie alle ultime
notizie dal mondo delle tecnologie del freddo, quella che finora è stata una
chimera fantascientifica - la crio-preservazione - perseguita da un ristretto
manipolo di adepti potrebbe essere sdoganata fino a divenire un’idea (prima
ancora che un’applicazione) alla portata di molti. L’idea di congelare un
essere umano fino al giorno in cui si sarà resa disponibile la cura del male
che ne ha minacciato la vita o determinato la morte non è nuova. Ma l’allettante
prospettiva è rimasta tale per un dettaglio nient’affatto secondario e che ha
finora minato profondamente le fondamenta della "sospensione crionica",
popolarmente nota come "ibernazione": il possibile danneggiamento
delle strutture cellulari conseguente alla formazione di cristalli di ghiaccio
sia nella fase di congelamento che in quella di "scioglimento" al
momento di riportare il corpo (o parte di esso, magari solo il cervello) a
temperatura ambiente. Ora però Anatoli Bogdan, ricercatore all’Università di
Helsinki, ha pubblicato sul Journal of Physical Chemistry uno studio dai
risultati sorprendenti. Lo scienziato finlandese ha condotto una serie di
esperimenti con quello che in gergo tecnico è detto LDA (low-density amorphous
ice), ovvero ghiaccio amorfo a bassa densità, generato superraffreddando
lentamente goccioline acquee diluite fino a renderle ghiacciate. Messo a
temperatura ambiente, l’LDA torna a sciogliersi trasformandosi in acqua ad
alta viscosità (highly viscous water, HVW). Ed ecco il punto: "La HVW può
avere importanti risvolti pratici in medicina, criobiologia e criogenesi"

sottolinea Bogdan, "Suona fantastico ma, effettivamente, il fatto che in
una soluzione acquosa la componente acquea possa essere superraffreddata e poi
riscaldata senza che si produca una qualche forma di cristallizzazione implica
che, una volta creata l’adeguata crio-protezione, le cellule di piante e
organismi viventi potrebbero essere criopreservate e sopravvivere".


Una notizia del genere non potrà
quindi che rallegrare non solo i grandi templi americani della crionica (Alcor
in primis, che peraltro ha sempre sostenuto l’inesistenza di problemi legati
alla cristallizzazione) ma anche Alexei Potapov, che nel 2005 ha deciso di
fondare a Mosca KrioRus (http://www.kriorus.ru), la prima azienda crionica al di fuori
degli Usa, con lo scopo di consentire a sé stesso e ai propri familiari di
congelarsi a morte avvenuta fino a quando la medicina non avrà trovato il modo
di riportarli in vita. Nel frattempo, Potapov, che come gli altri soci fondatori
della sua società si dichiara un "transumanista" e crede che la
tecnologia possa essere utilizzata per trasformare la vita umana posticipando
indefinitamente la morte, ha ufficialmente inaugurato il suo business
"immortale": per 9mila dollari chi vorrà potrà affidarsi a KrioRus
per trascorrere l’eternità, o perlomeno una sua porzione, in stasi crionica.
I primi due clienti (o meglio, in questo caso i loro cervelli) sono già
"in ghiacciaia": si tratta della materia cerebrale di Lidia Fedorenko,
un’insegnante di matematica deceduta all’età di 79 anni (il nipote ha
deciso di seguire alla lettera le sue ultime volontà: "fatemi risorgere e
vivere ancora 200-300 anni") e di un ricco uomo d’affari sessantenne
(coperto dall’anonimato) morto nel 2002 per un cancro alla gola.


Quando, 30 anni fa, vennero
congelati i primi corpi, ci fu chi profetizzò che nel giro di tre decenni
sarebbe stato trovato il modo di riportarli in vita. Ad oggi non c’è alcun
segno di resurrezione post-ibernazione, per quanto si facciano parecchi
esperimenti al riguardo, anche con un discreto successo. Un’équipe di esperti
del Massachusetts General Hospital di Boston ha ibernato e riportato in vita 200
maiali (con una percentuale di successo del 90%). E all’università di
Pittsburg è riuscito un esperimento su cani eseguito con un approccio
tipicamente criogenetico, ovvero con la sostituzione del sangue, il congelamento
e l’arresto cardiaco. Risale infine all’aprile dell’anno scorso la
pubblicazione su "Science" (rigorosissima pubblicazione scientifica)
dei risultati di un esperimento compiuto da un team del Fred Hutchinson Cancer
Research Center in cui le funzioni vitali di un gruppo di topi sono state
rallentate. "In questo modo si crea una sorta di coma ipodermico, con un
battito di cuore lentissimo per impedire la degenerazione di tessuti attaccati
da una malattia. La tecnica potrebbe essere una valida alternativa tanto
all’eutanasia quanto all’accanimento terapeutico. Insomma, una terza via nel
quadro della contrapposizione bioetica tra laici e cattolici", spiega
Riccardo Campa, sociologo della scienza, professore all’Università di
Cracovia e direttore della World Transhumanist Association, "Il vero
problema, infatti, è che le persone ora morte non devono soltanto essere
risvegliate ma anche ‘aggiustate’ e non c’è nessuna garanzia che questo
sia possibile". Perlomeno non oggi. Ma la speranza non è svanita,
semplicemente si è riorientata e ora risiede nelle potenzialità offerte dalle
nanotecnologie, grazie alle quali forse un giorno si potranno costruire nanobots
(robot dalle dimensioni infinitesimamente piccole) in grado di riparare le
cellule a livello molecolare e ricreare nel cervello – l’organo più
importante – le connessioni neuronali danneggiate se non addirittura
aggiustare uno ad uno i singoli neuroni. "Grazie alle nanotecnologie
potremo donare alle cellule nuova vita", dice Potapov, che a 29 anni e con
una formazione da programmatore informatico dimostra una disarmante fiducia
nella scienza e nella tecnologia. E anche nel caso in cui il nostro corpo –
una volta ‘redivivo’ - fosse troppo malandato per essere riparato e
ritrovare tutta la sua funzionalità, le tecnologie del futuro fornirebbero un’alternativa:

"Quando mia nonna resusciterà potrà scegliersi un nuovo corpo. Per allora
saranno stati inventati nanobot in grado di trasmettere informazioni dettagliate
dai suoi neuroni a un computer", ha pronosticato in un’intervista al
"St. Petersburg Times" Daniil Fedorenko, il nipote che ha fatto
congelare il cervello della sua patriarca. In pratica, Fedorenko auspica la
possibilità che la mappatura dettagliatissima del nostro cervello operata dai
nanobot del futuro possa servire a creare un nuovo cervello, e da qui un nuovo
corpo, dunque una nuova vita, attraverso quello che tecnicamente viene definito
l’"uploading", il trasferimento della mente da un supporto biologico
a un altro supporto biologico o, addirittura, a un supporto sintetico.
"Potremo mettere i nostri cervelli in corpi più sani e robusti, magari
utilizzando organi creati in laboratorio e arti robotizzati", sostiene
anche Potapov.


"D’altronde", dice
Campa, "se la sospensione crionica è solo un’ipotesi la putrefazione è
una certezza, perciò per alcuni vale comunque la pena di tentare. Se anche la
probabilità di essere resuscitato è bassa è comunque superiore a zero. Essa
non dipende tanto dal momento in cui inizia la sospensione, ma dagli sviluppi
tecnici della società, da ciò che faranno gli scienziati là fuori in futuro.
Ancora non abbiamo le tecniche di rianimazione nanotecnologica, ma per il
sospeso non cambia nulla. Essere resuscitato fra cento o mille anni non fa molta
differenza. Per il sospeso trascorre sempre e comunque soltanto un istante.
Direi che per me sarebbe anche secondario il tipo di supporto della mia nuova
vita: un corpo biologico riparato e ringiovanito o un corpo nuovo sintetico nel
quale entrerei grazie all’uploading. L’importante è esistere". Questo
è quello che da oltre trent’anni va sostenendo il padre della crionica,
Robert Ettinger, che alla veneranda età di 88 anni continua a sfidare i suoi
contemporanei e a sostenere che i dubbi espressi sulla crio-preservazione
derivano da un’inerzia culturale: "L’umanità ha accettato l’inevitabilità
della morte, con le grandi religioni monoteiste che attribuiscono tutte le
speranze a una vita eterna dell’anima, non del corpo".

"Eppure, anche qualora avessero ragione i
dualisti come Pitagora, Platone o Cartesio, secondo i quali potremmo essere un’anima
in un corpo e, dunque, quando il corpo si spegne l’anima se ne va altrove, per
sempre, io credo che la scelta crionica avrebbe comunque un senso",
conclude Campa, "Pensiamo al grande significato scientifico che avranno i
corpi degli Homo sapiens per gli esseri senzienti del futuro. Se oggi gli
antropologi potessero disporre di corpi perfettamente conservati di Homo habilis
o Homo erectus potrebbero ottenere risposte a quesiti scientifici di importanza
decisiva. Sospendersi crionicamente può allora essere visto anche come un gesto
altruistico nei confronti della scienza e dell’umanità futura."

http://www.transumanisti.it/il_brivido_dell'eternit%E0.htm">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/09/07 •

WTA Chapter forms in Virtual World Second Life

Second Life (SL), for those unaware, is a member based, online virtual world. In this world, SL members purchase land, build homes, businesses and communities. Using avatars, members develop relationships through chat, IM and groups. Many observers believe that Second Life and other virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft and Eve Online, will be as important an environment for human interaction and general commerce as the internet is today. Already, there are a number of businesses conducting transactions in SL that produce real world profits. Through accounts, SL members can exchange “Linden Dollars” for real currency. Some real world businesses are experimenting with both shopping and employee training in this environment. A number of classrooms have been created where students and instructors meet. Other organizations are already using SL for conducting meetings.

The WTA has been building a transhumanist presence in SL for a while, following on the founding of a transhumanist group by some German transhumanists. In the last five months the Vice Chair of the WTA, Giulio Prisco (SL avatar Giulio Perhaps), has built a large transhumanist island and conference facility called Uvvy Island [uvvy 226, 229, 22] where we have held a number of transhumanist talks and events.  The recent Transvision conference in Helsinki was webcast into the Uvvy Island conference site, where about 40 people watched the proceedings.  We’re also coordinating transhumanist activities in cirtual spaces through the “metaverse" meailing list.

Now new member Charles Anderson (SL avatar OneUp Thiebaud) has started a chapter of the WTA in SL. Membership in the SL WTA chapter is not dependant on your physical location in the world, enrollment is open to everyone, and membership in Second Life is also free. The chapter is now accumulating members, and will soon elect leadership and begin regular meetings and events. To find and join the chapter in SL search “groups” for “transhumanist.”


Posted by secretary on 2006/09/06 • (0) Comments

Bostrom’s Transhumanist Values

Transhumanistične vrednote

Nick Bostrom

Kaj je transhumanizem?

Transhumanizem je široko definirano gibanje, ki se je postopno razvilo v zadnjih dveh desetletjih. [1] Promovira interdisciplinarni pristop k razumevanju in vrednotenju priložnosti za izboljšanje človeškega stanja in človeškega organizma, ki jih odpira napredek tehnologije. Pozornost se posveča tako sedanjim tehnologijam, kot sta genetski inženiring in informacijska tehnologija, tako kot predvidenim tehnologijam, kamor spadata molekularna nanotehnologija in umetna inteligenca.


Možnosti izboljševanja, o katerih se razpravlja, vključujejo radikalno podaljšanje zdravega človeškega življenjskega razpona, izkoreninjenje bolezni, odstranitev nepotrebnega trpljenja in povečanje človeških intelektualnih, fizičnih in čustvenih zmožnosti. Druge transhumanistične tematike vključujejo kolonizacijo vesolja in možnost stvaritve superinteligentnih strojev, skupaj z drugimi potencialnimi oblikami razvoja, ki bi lahko korenito spremenile človeško stanje. Področje ni omejeno samo na naprave in medicino, ampak obsega tudi ekonomske, družbene, ter institucionalne modele, kulturni razvoj, ter psihološke veščine in tehnike.

Transhumanisti gledajo na naravo kot na nedokončano delo, slabo razdelan začetek, ki se ga lahko naučimo preoblikovati na želene načine. Ni nam potrebno sprejeti, da je sodobno človeštvo končni izdelek evolucije. Transhumanisti upajo, da nam bo z odgovorno uporabo znanosti, tehnologije in drugih racionalnih sredstev sčasoma uspelo, da postanemo postčloveški, bitja z mnogo večjimi sposobnostmi, kot jih imajo sodobni ljudje.


Nekateri transhumanisti aktivno delujejo na povečanju verjetnosti, da bodo oni osebno preživeli dovolj dolgo, da bi postali postčloveški, na primer z izbiro zdravega življenjskega stila, ali tako, da izpeljejo ukrepe za krionično suspenzijo v primeru de-animacije. [2] Za razliko od mnogih drugih etičnih pogledov, ki so v praksi pogosto odražali reakcionarni odnos do novih tehnologij, transhumanistični pogled vodi razvijajoča se vizija zavzeti bolj proaktivni pristop do politik, povezanih s tehnologijo. Ta vizija, v grobih potezah, je ustvariti možnosti, da bi živeli mnogo daljša in mnogo bolj zdrava življenja, izboljšali naš spomin in intelektualne sposobnosti, obogatili naša čustvena doživetja in povečali naš subjektivni občutek ugodja, ter na splošno dosegli večjo stopnjo nadzora nad našimi lastnimi življenji. Ta izjava o človeškem potencialu se ponuja kot alternativa običajnim prepovedim proti temu, da bi se šli Boga, se vtikali v naravo, se vmešavali v bistvo naše človečnosti, ali kazali precenjevanje samih sebe, ki bo na koncu kaznovano.


Transhumanizem ne zbuja tehnološkega optimizma. Čeprav bodoče tehnološke zmožnosti s seboj prinašajo velikanski potencial za koristno uporabo, pa bi se jih lahko zlorabilo tudi za povzročitev velikanske škode, ki bi segala vse do ekstremnih možnosti izumrtja inteligentnega življenja. Drugi potencialni negativni izidi vsebujejo povečanje družbenih neenakosti ali postopni razpad skupnega premoženja, ki ga je težko kvantificirati in nam veliko pomeni, a ga običajno zanemarjamo v svojem dnevnem boju za materialni dobiček. To so na primer smiselni človeški odnosi in ekološka raznolikost. Takšna tveganja je potrebno vzeti zelo resno, čemur kontemplativni transhumanisti v celoti pritrjujejo. [3]


Transhumanizem ima svoje izvore v sekularnem humanističnem razmišljanju, vendar je bolj radikalen v smislu, da ne promovira le tradicionalnih načinov za izboljševanje človeške narave, kot sta izobrazba in kulturno oplemenitenje, temveč tudi neposredno uporabo medicine in tehnologije za preseganje nekaterih izmed naših osnovnih bioloških meja.

Človeške omejitve

Razpon misli, čustev, izkušenj in dejavnosti, ki so dostopni človeškim organizmom domnevno predstavljajo le majhen del vsega, kar je mogoče. Ni razloga za prepričanje, da je človeški način obstoja manj obremenjen z omejitvami, ki jih nalaga naša biološka narava, kakor način obstoja drugih živali. Na precej podoben način, kakor šimpanzom manjkajo potrebna kognitivna sredstva, da bi razumeli, kaj pomeni biti človek—stremljenja, ki jih ljudje imamo, naše filozofije, kompleksnosti človeške družbe, ali prefinjenosti naših medsebojnih odnosov, tako morda nam ljudem manjka zmožnost, da bi oblikovali realistično intuitivno razumevanje tega, kaj pomeni biti radikalno izboljšani človek (postčlovek), ter razumevanje misli, skrbi, aspiracij in družbenih odnosov, ki bi jih takšni ljudje lahko imeli. 


Naš lastni, trenutni način obstoja zatorej obsega samo neznaten podprostor tega, kar je mogoče oziroma dovoljeno v okviru fizikalnih omejitev vesolja (Slika 1). Zelo verjetno lahko domnevamo, da obstajajo predeli tega večjega prostora, ki predstavljajo zelo visoko vrednotene načine življenja, vzpostavljanja odnosov, čutenja in razmišljanja.


Prostor mogočih načinov obstoja

Slika 1: Prostor mogočih načinov obstoja

Do sedaj nismo videli še ničesar (ni narisano v pravem merilu). Strokovni izraz transljudje označuje tranzicijska bitja, ali zmerno modificirane ljudi, katerih sposobnosti bi se nahajale nekje med sposobnostmi neizboljšanih ljudi in polno-razvitih postljudi. (Transhumanist je za razliko od tega le nekdo, ki sprejema transhumanizem.)

Omejitve človeškega načina obstoja so tako temeljite in obenem tako vsakdanje, da jih pogosto sploh ne opazimo. Če jih namreč hočemo postaviti pod vprašaj pa je potrebno manifestiranje skoraj otroške naivnosti. Oglejmo si nekatere izmed bolj osnovnih omejitev.

Življenjski razpon

Zaradi nevarnih okoliščin, v katerih so živeli naši pleistocenski predniki, se je človeški življenjski razpon razvil tako, da obsega pičlih sedem ali osem desetletij. To je, gledano z mnogih perspektiv, precej kratko časovno obdobje. Celo želvam gre na tem področju boljše.


Ni nam potrebno uporabljati geoloških ali kozmoloških primerjav, da bi poudarili bornost nam dodeljenih časovnih proračunov. Za pridobitev občutka o tem, da morda zamujamo nekaj pomembnega zaradi našega nagnjenja k zgodnjemu umiranju, se moramo samo domisliti nekaterih stvari, vrednih truda, ki bi jih lahko storili, ali vsaj poskušali storiti, če bi imeli na voljo več časa. Za vrtnarje, vzgojitelje, učenjake, umetnike, načrtovalce mest in tiste, ki preprosto uživajo v opazovanju in sodelovanju v raznolikih kulturnih in političnih predstavah življenja, so trije križi in desetletje pogosto nezadostni, da bi do zaključka pripeljali en sam velik projekt, kaj šele, da bi se ukvarjali z več takšnimi projekti v zaporedju.


Staranje in smrt prav tako prezgodaj prekineta razvoj človeške osebnosti. Predstavljajte si, kaj bi lahko nastalo iz Beethovna ali Goetheja, če bi bila danes še vedno med nami. Morda bi se razvila v okorela stara godrnjača, ki bi ju zanimali izključno pogovori o dosežkih njune mladosti. Morda pa bi, če bi ohranila zdravje in mladostno vitalnost, še naprej rasla kot moža in kot umetnika, ter dosegla stopnje zrelosti, ki si jih komaj lahko predstavljamo. Takšnega razvoja vsekakor ne moremo izključiti na podlagi tega, kar vemo danes. Zatorej obstaja vsaj možnost o obstoju nečesa zelo dragocenega izven človeške sfere. To je razlog, zakaj naj bi si prizadevali za sredstva, ki nam bodo omogočila, da pridemo tja in izvemo.

Intelektualna sposobnost

Vsi smo doživeli trenutke, ko smo si želeli, da bi bili malo pametnejši. Šest–kilogramski, siru–podobni miselni stroj, ki ga vlačimo s seboj naokrog v naših lobanjah lahko izvede vrsto spretnih trikov, vendar pa ima tudi svoje bistvene pomanjkljivosti. Nekatere—izmed njih kot je na primer pozabiti kupiti mleko, ali neuspeh pridobivanja tekoče izgovorjave tujih jezikov, ki se jih naučite kot odrasli ljudje—so očitne in ne potrebujejo dodatne obdelave. Te pomanjkljivosti so neprijetnosti, nikakor pa ne predstavljajo temeljnih preprek človeškemu razvoju.


Vendar pa obstaja globlji pomen v tem, kako omejenost našega intelektualnega aparata omejuje načine našega duševnega dela. Prej sem omenil analogijo s šimpanzom: ravno tako kot v primeru velikih opic, lahko tudi naš kognitivni ustroj izključuje celotne sloje razumevanja in miselne aktivnosti. Bistvo se tukaj ne nanaša na kakršnokoli logično ali metafizično nezmožnost: ni nam treba domnevati, da postljudje ne bi bili izračunljivi, ali da bi imeli koncepte, ki jih ne bi bilo mogoče izraziti s končnimi stavki v našem jeziku, ali karkoli podobnega. Nezmožnost na katero se sklicujem je bolj podobna nezmožnosti, da bi si mi sodobni ljudje v duhu zamislili 200–dimenzionalno hiperkroglo, ali da bi s popolnim spominom in polnim razumevanjem prebrali vse knjige v Kongresni knjižnici. Te stvari so za nas nemogoče, ker nam, preprosto rečeno, primanjkuje možganske moči. V istem smislu nam morda manjka sposobnost intuitivnega razumevanja, kaj bi pomenilo biti postčlovek ali gročiti igrišče postčloveških zadev.


Nadalje lahko naši možgani postavljajo zgornjo mejo naši sposobnosti odkrivati filozofske in znanstvene resnice. Morda neuspeh filozofskih raziskav, da bi prišle do trdnih, splošno sprejemljivih odgovorov na mnoga od velikih tradicionalnih filozofskih vprašanj izhaja iz dejstva, da nismo dovolj pametni, da bi bili uspešni pri tej vrsti poizvedovanja. Naše kognitivne omejitve nas morda zapirajo v platonsko jamo, kjer je najboljše, kar lahko storimo to, da teoretiziramo o “sencah”, torej reprezentacijah, ki so dovolj poenostavljene in poneumljene za človeške možgane.

Telesna funkcionalnost

Svoje naravne imunske sisteme izboljšujemo s cepljenjem, lahko pa se domislimo nadaljnjih izboljšav naših teles, ki bi nas varovale pred boleznimi, ali nam pomagale oblikovati naša telesa glede na naše želje (npr. s tem, da bi nam omogočale nadzorovati hitrost metabolizma naših teles). Takšne izboljšave bi lahko povečale kvaliteto naših življenj.


Radikalnejša vrsta nadgradnje bi bila lahko mogoča, če predpostavimo računski pogled na razum. Morda je mogoče prenesti (angl. upload) človeški razum na računalnik, z in silico repliciranjem podrobnih računskih procesov, ki bi običajno potekali v posameznih človeških možganih. [4] Obstajati kot upload bi imelo mnogo potencialnih prednosti, kot na primer sposobnost izdelave rezervnih kopij samega sebe (kar bi imelo ugoden vpliv na posameznikovo pričakovano življenjsko dobo) in sposobnost prenosa samega sebe v obliki informacij s svetlobno hitrostjo. Uploadi bi lahko živeli v umetni realnosti ali neposredno v fizični realnosti s pomočjo nadzora robotskih namestnikov.

Senzorična modalnost, posebne zmožnosti in občutljivosti

Sedanje človeške senzorične modalnosti niso edine, ki so mogoče in zagotovo niso tako visoko razvite, kot bi lahko bile. Nekatere živali imajo sonar, magnetno orientacijo, ali senzorje za elektriko in vibracije; mnoge imajo precej bolj izostren čut voha, ostrejši vid, itd. Obseg mogočih senzorskih modalnosti ni omejen na tiste, ki jih najdemo v živalskem kraljestvu. Ne obstaja nobena temeljna ovira, ki bi preprečevala, da bi dodali, na primer, zmožnost videti infrardeče sevanje ali zaznavati radijske signale in da bi morda dodali nekakšno vrsto telepatičnega čuta s povečanjem sposobnosti naših možganov, preko primerno nameščenih radijskih oddajnikov.


Ljudje uživajo tudi v vrsti posebnih zmožnosti, kot so na primer zmožnost ceniti glasbo, zmožnost smisla za humor, ter občutljivostih, kot so sposobnost spolnega vzburjenja in odzivi na erotične dražljaje. Zopet ni nobenega razloga za prepričanje, da smo izčrpali obseg mogočega, in zagotovo si lahko predstavljamo višje nivoje občutljivosti in odzivnosti.

Razpoloženje, energija in samo-nadzor

Kljub našim najboljšim naporom nam pogosto ne uspe, da bi se počutili tako srečne, kot bi si želeli. Videti je, da so kritične stopnje našega subjektivnega stanja v večji meri genetsko determinirane. Življenjski dogodki imajo zelo majhen dolgoročni vpliv; vzponi in padci usode nas dvigajo v višave in potiskajo v brezna, vseeno pa imajo zelo majhen dolgoročen učinek na samo-zaznani občutek ugodja. Trajna sreča ostaja neulovljiva, razen za tiste izmed nas, ki imajo tolikšno srečo, da so se rodili s temperamentom, ki pri tem igra ključno vlogo.


Poleg tega, da smo prepuščeni na milost in nemilost genetsko determinirane stabilizacijske točke našega ugodja, smo omejeni tudi z ozirom na energijo, moč volje in zmožnostjo oblikovanja naše osebnost v skladu z našimi ideali. Tudi enostavni cilji kot so shujšati ali opustiti kajenje se za mnoge izkažejo kot nedosegljivi.


Nekakšna podvrsta takšne vrste problemov je morda nujna, ne naključna, v naši sedanji naravi. Ne moremo, na primer, obenem imeti sposobnost, da enostavno opustimo katero koli navado, kot tudi sposobnost oblikovati stabilne navade, ki jih je težko opustiti. (Z ozirom na to je morda najbolje, na kar lahko upamo, sposobnost, s katero bi se lahko zlahka znebili navad, ki jih sploh nismo hoteli namerno izbrati, in morda bolj prilagodljiv sistem za oblikovanje navad, ki bi nam omogočal bolj natančno izbirati kdaj si želimo pridobiti navado in koliko truda bi bilo potrebno, da bi se je znova znebili.)

Temeljna transhumanistična vrednota: raziskovanje postčloveškega območja

Domneva, da obstajajo višje vrednote, kot jih lahko trenutno dojamemo, ne pomeni, da te vrednote niso definirane v terminih trenutnih dispozicij. Poglejmo si, na primer, dispozicijsko teorijo vrednost, kakršno opisuje David Lewis. [5] Glede na Lewisovo teorijo, nekaj predstavlja vrednoto za vas samo, in samo če bi jo še vedno hoteli hoteti, če bi bili z njo popolnoma seznanjeni, ter če bi o njej mislili in jo presojali kolikor je mogoče jasno. V tem pogledu je mogoče, da obstajajo vrednote, ki jih trenutno nočemo, ki jih trenutno niti nočemo želeti, ker morda nismo v polnosti seznanjeni z njimi, ali ker nismo primerni za njihovo presojanje. Nekatere vrednote, ki se nanašajo na določene oblike postčloveškega obstoja so morda te vrste; morda so za nas sedaj vrednote, in morda so vrednote zaradi naših trenutnih dispozicij, pa jih morda kljub vsemu nismo sposobni ceniti v polnosti z našimi trenutnimi omejenimi preudarnimi kapacitetami in našim pomanjkanjem zmožnosti za dovzetnost, ki so potrebne, da bi se z njimi v polnosti seznanili. Ta točka je pomembna, ker kaže, da transhumanistični pogled o tem, da bi morali raziskovati območje postčloveških vrednot, nima za posledico tega, da bi opustili naše trenutne vrednote. Postčloveške vrednote so lahko naše trenutne vrednote, četudi takšne, ki jih še vedno ne razumemo točno. Transhumanizem od nas ne zahteva, da bi bolj cenili postčloveška bitja kot človeška bitja, temveč, da je pravi način kako ceniti človeška bitja, da si omogočimo boljšo realizacijo naših idealov in da se morda nekateri izmed naših idealov nahajajo izven območja načinov obstoja, ki so nam dostopna z našo trenutno biološko konstitucijo.


Presežemo lahko mnoge izmed naših bioloških omejitev. Mogoče je, da obstajajo nekatere omejitve, ki jih ne moremo preseči, ne samo zaradi tehnoloških težav, temveč zaradi metafizičnih vzrokov. Odvisno od tega, kakšni so naši pogledi na to, kaj je osnova osebni identiteti, je mogoče, da so določeni načini bivanja, čeprav mogoči, nemogoči za nas, ker bi bilo vsako bitje takšne vrste tako različno od nas, da ne bi moglo biti mi. Zadeve te vrste so znane iz teoloških diskusij posmrtnega življenja. V krščanski teologiji bo Bog nekaterim dušam dovolil, da pridejo v nebesa, ko se njihov čas telesnih bitij konča. Preden jim bo dovoljen vstop v nebesa, naj bi bile duše podvržene procesu prečiščevanja, v katerem bi izgubile mnoge izmed svojih nekdanjih telesnih lastnosti. Skeptiki utegnejo dvomiti, da bi bili razumi, ki bi sledili iz tega, dovolj podobni našim trenutnim razumom, da bi bili lahko iste osebe. Podoben predikament izvira iz transhumanizma: če je način obstoja postčloveškega bitja radikalno drugačen od človeškega bitja, potem lahko dvomimo, da bi bilo lahko postčloveško bitje ista oseba kot človeško bitje, čeprav postčloveško bitje izvira iz človeškega bitja.


Lahko pa si zamislimo množico izboljšav, zaradi katerih ne bi bilo nemogoče, da oseba po transformaciji ostane ista oseba kot oseba pred transformacijo. Posameznik bi lahko pridobil precej povečano pričakovano življenjsko dobo, inteligenco, zdravje, spomin, in čustveno občutljivost, ne da bi prenehal obstajati v postopku. Intelektualno življenje posameznika se lahko drastično preoblikuje, če pridobi izobrazbo. Posameznikova pričakovana življenjska doba se lahko znatno poveča, če ga nepričakovano ozdravijo smrtonosne bolezni. Vendar na takšen razvoj ne gledamo kot na konec prvotne osebe. Zlasti se zdi, da so lahko modifikacije, ki povečujejo posameznikove zmožnosti, precej obsežnejše, kot modifikacije, ki jih zmanjšujejo, na primer možganske poškodbe. Če se večino tega, kar posameznik v določenem trenutku je, vključno z njegovimi najpomembnejšimi spomini, aktivnostmi in čustvi, ohrani, ter se na to dodajo dodatne sposobnosti, to ne bi zlahka povzročilo, da posameznik preneha obstajati.


Ohranitev osebne identitete, še posebej če je ta pojem ozko definiran, ni vse. Cenimo lahko tudi druge stvari, ne samo sebe, ali pa se nam lahko zdi zadovoljivo, če preživijo nekateri naši deli ali aspekti, ter uspevajo naprej, čeprav se je za to potrebno odpovedati tolikšnemu delu nas samih, da prenehamo biti ista oseba. Katere dele nas samih bi bili pripravljeni žrtvovati morda ne bo jasno dokler se ne bomo podrobneje spoznali s polnim pomenom opcij. Previdno, inkrementalno raziskovanje postčloveškega območja je morda neobhodno za pridobitev takšnega razumevanja, čeprav se bomo morda prav tako sposobni učiti iz medsebojnih izkušenj in iz duhovnega dela.


Poleg tega pa je mogoče, da bomo dajali prednost temu, da bi bili bodoči ljudje postčloveški namesto človeški, če bi bila življenja, ki bi jih živeli postljudje bolj vredna truda kot življenja alternativnih ljudi. Vsakršen razlog, ki bi izviral iz takšnih razmišljanj ne bi bil odvisen od predpostavke, da bi mi sami lahko postali postčloveška bitja.


Transhumanizem promovira prizadevanje za nadaljnji razvoj, da bi lahko raziskovali do tedaj nedostopna območja vrednot. Tehnološko izboljševanje človeških organizmov je sredstvo, ki bi ga morali uporabiti v ta namen. Ni omejitev koliko je mogoče doseči z nizko–tehnološkimi sredstvi kot so izobraževanje, filozofska kontemplacija, moralno samo–preiskovanje in drugimi podobnimi metodami, ki so jih predlagali klasični filozofi s perfekcionističnimi nagnjenji, vključno s Platonom, Aristotelom in Nietzschejem, ali tako, da bi ustvarili pravičnejšo in boljšo družbo, kakršno so si zamislili socialni reformisti kot sta Marx ali Martin Luter King. S tem ne zmanjšujemo pomena tega, kar lahko storimo z orodji, ki jih imamo danes. Vendar pa konec koncev transhumanisti upajo, da bo mogoče iti dlje.

Osnovni pogoji za uresničitev transhumanističnega projekta

Če je to velika vizija, kaj so bolj natančni cilji v katere se vizija prevede kot vodilo za konkretne politike?


Kar je potrebno za uresničenje transhumanističnih sanj je, da so tehnološka sredstva, ki so potrebna za prehod v postčloveški prostor, na voljo tistim, ki jih želijo uporabiti in da je družba organizirana na takšen način, da je mogoče izvajati takšno raziskovanje brez povzročitve nesprejemljive škode družbenemu tkivu in brez vsiljevanja nesprejemljivih eksistencialnih tveganj obstoju.

Globalna varnost

Čeprav so nesreče in nazadovanja neizogibna v implementaciji transhumanističnega projekta (prav tako kot so neizogibna, če opustimo transhumanistični projekt), obstaja vrsta katastrofe, ki se ji moramo izogniti za vsako ceno: eksistencialno tveganje—kjer bi neugoden izid uničil z Zemlje izhajajoče inteligentno življenje ali trajno in drastično zmanjšal njegov potencial. [6]


Več nedavnih razprav je trdilo, da je združena verjetnost eksistencialnih tveganj zelo stvarna. [7] Pomen stanja eksistencialne varnosti za transhumanistično vizijo je očiten: če izumremo ali trajno uničimo naš potencial za nadaljnji razvoj, temeljne transhumanistične vrednote ne bo mogoče uresničiti. Globalna varnost je najosnovnejši in neprenosljivi pogoj za transhumanistični projekt.

Tehnološki napredek

Da je tehnološki napredek na splošno zaželen s transhumanističnega zornega kota je prav tako očitno. Mnoge izmed naših bioloških pomanjkljivosti (staranje, bolezen, šibek spomin in intelekt, omejen čustveni repertoar in neustrezna zmožnost za trajno ugodje) je težko premagati, za kar bodo potrebna napredna orodja. Razvoj teh orodij je velikanski izziv našim skupnim sposobnostim za reševanje problemov. Ker je tehnološki napredek tesno povezan z gospodarskim razvojem, gospodarsko rastjo—ali bolj natančno, z rastjo produktivnosti—lahko v nekaterih primerih služi kot nadomestek za tehnološki napredek. (Rast produktivnosti je, seveda, samo nepopolno merilo relevantne oblike tehnološkega napredka, ki je, prav tako, nepopolno merilo splošnega izboljšanja, saj zanemarja dejavnike kot so pravičnost razdeljevanja, ekološka raznolikost in kvaliteta človeških odnosov.)


Na zgodovino ekonomskega in tehnološkega razvoja in sočasno rast civilizacije upravičeno gledamo s spoštovanjem kot na najveličastnejši dosežek človeštva. Zahvaljujoč postopni akumulaciji izboljšav v preteklih nekaj tisoč letih, so bile velike množice človeštva osvobojene nepismenosti, življenjske dobe dvajsetih let, alarmantnih stopenj smrtnosti dojenčkov, strahotnih bolezni, ki so jih prenašale brez blažil, ter periodičnega stradanja in pomanjkanja vode. Tehnologija, v tem kontekstu, ne pomeni samo naprav, temveč vključuje vse instrumentalno uporabne objekte in sisteme, ki so bili namerno ustvarjeni. Ta široka definicija obsega vse postopke in institucije, kot so dvojno knjigovodstvo, znanstvena vrstniška recenzija, pravni sistem in uporabne znanosti.

Široki dostop

Ni dovolj, da nekdo razišče postčloveško območje. Popolna uresničitev temeljne transhumanistične vrednote zahteva, da naj bi, idealno, vsak imel možnost postati postčlovek. Bilo bi pod–optimalno, če bi bila priložnost postati postčloveški omejena na maloštevilno elito.


Obstaja več razlogov za podporo širokemu dostopu: da bi zmanjšali neenakost; ker bi bila to pravičnejša ureditev; za izražanje solidarnosti in spoštovanja soljudi; za pridobitev podpore za transhumanistični projekt; za povečanje možnosti, da bi imeli priložnost postati postčloveški; da bi povečali možnosti, da tisti, ki so vam blizu dobijo priložnost postati postčloveški; ker lahko poveča razpon postčloveškega prostora, ki bo raziskan; in za lajšanje človeškega trpljenja v največjem mogočem obsegu.


Zahteva širokega dostopa je osnova moralni nuji transhumanistične vizije. Široki dostop ne zagovarja zadrževanja. Nasprotno, če ostale stvari ostanejo nespremenjene, je to argument, da napredujemo kolikor hitro je mogoče. 150.000 človeških bitij vsak dan umre na našem planetu, ne da bi imela kakršen koli dostop do predvidenih izboljševalnih tehnologij, ki nam bodo omogočile postati postčloveški. Prej ko bo ta tehnologija razvita, manj ljudi bo umrlo brez dostopa.


Zamislite si hipotetični primer, v katerem imate izbiro med (a) dopustiti trenutni človeški populaciji, da obstaja naprej in (b) da je hipoma in brez bolečin ubita in zamenjana s šestimi milijardami novih človeških bitij, ki so zelo podobna, vendar ne enaka ljudem, ki obstajajo danes. Takšni zamenjavi bi se bilo potrebno trdno upirati na moralni osnovi, saj bi vključevala neprostovoljno smrt šestih milijard ljudi. Zaradi dejstva, da bi jih zamenjalo šest milijard na novo ustvarjenih podobnih ljudi zamenjava še ne postane sprejemljiva. Človeška bitja niso odstranljiva. Iz podobnih razlogov je pomembno, da je priložnost postati postčloveški na voljo največjemu mogočemu številu ljudi, namesto, da bi obstoječo populacijo zgolj dopolnili (ali še slabše, nadomestili) z novo serijo postčloveških ljudi. Transhumanistični ideal bo maksimalno uresničen samo, če bodo koristi tehnologij razdeljene v najširšem obsegu in na voljo kolikor hitro je mogoče, po možnosti za časa našega življenja.

Izvedene vrednote

Iz teh specifičnih zahtev izhaja vrsta izvedenih transhumanističnih vrednot, ki pretvarjajo transhumanistično vizijo v prakso. (Nekatere izmed teh vrednot imajo lahko tudi neodvisen razlog za obstoj, prav tako pa transhumanizem ne nakazuje, da je spodaj navedeni seznam vrednot izčrpen.)


Za začetek, transhumanisti običajno poudarjajo svobodo posameznika in posameznikove izbire na področju izboljševalnih tehnologij. Ljudje se močno razlikujejo v pojmovanju tega, kaj naj bi predstavljalo njihovo lastno popolnost ali izboljšanje. Nekateri se hočejo razviti v eno smer, drugi spet v drugačno, nekateri pa raje ostanejo to, kar so. Bilo bi moralno nesprejemljivo, če bi kdorkoli vsilil enoten standard, kateremu bi se morali vsi prilagoditi. Ljudje bi morali imeti pravico izbrati katero izboljševalno tehnologijo, če sploh katero, hočejo uporabiti. V primerih, ko imajo izbire posameznikov znaten vpliv na druge ljudi, bi bilo morda potrebno to splošno načelo omejiti, vendar pa samo dejstvo, da bi bil lahko nekdo zgrožen ali moralno užaljen, če nekdo drug uporablja tehnologijo za lastno modificiranje, običajno ne predstavlja legitimnega vzroka za prisilno vmešavanje. Nadalje, slaba zgodovina centralno planiranih naporov, da bi ustvarili boljše ljudi (npr. evgenično gibanje v sovjetskem totalitarizmu) kaže, da se moramo paziti kolektivnega odločanja na področju človeških modifikacij.


Še ena transhumanistična prioriteta je, da se postavimo v boljši položaj za sprejemanje modrih odločitev o tem, kam smo namenjeni. Potrebovali bomo vso modrost, ki jo bomo lahko dobili, ko bomo razpravljali o postčloveški tranziciji. Transhumanisti visoko cenijo izboljšanje naših posameznih in kolektivnih moči razumevanja in naše sposobnosti za implementacijo odgovornih odločitev. Kolektivno bi lahko postali pametnejši in bolj informirani s pomočjo sredstev kot so znanstvene raziskave, javne razprave in odprte razprave o prihodnosti, informacijski trgi [8], kolaborativno filtriranje informacij title="Seznam referenc">[9]. Na individualnem nivoju imamo lahko koristi od izobrazbe, kritičnega razmišljanja, nepristranosti, študijskih tehnik, informacijske tehnologije in morda zdravil za izboljševanje spomina in pozornosti ter drugih kognitivnih izboljševalnih tehnologij. Našo sposobnost za implementacijo odgovornih odločitev je mogoče izboljšati z razširitvijo vladavine prava in demokracije na mednarodni ravni. Poleg tega bi lahko umetna inteligenca, še posebej če in ko doseže stopnjo, enako človeški, ali višjo, dala ogromen zagon prizadevanju za znanje in modrost.


Glede na omejitve naše trenutne modrosti, je določeno epistemološko oklevanje primerno, skupaj s pripravljenostjo nenehno na novo ocenjevati naše domneve, ko dobimo na voljo več informacij. Ne moremo z gotovostjo domnevati, da se bodo naše stare navade in prepričanja izkazali kot primerni za usmerjanje v naših novih okoliščinah.


Globalno varnost je mogoče izboljšati s promocijo mednarodnega miru in sodelovanja, ter z močnim nasprotovanjem širjenju orožij za množično uničevanje. Izboljšanja v nadzorovalni tehnologiji bodo morda olajšala odkrivanje protizakonitih programov za izdelavo orožja. Tudi drugi varnostni ukrepi bi lahko bili primerni za preprečevanje različnih eksistencialnih groženj. Več raziskav o takšnih tveganjih bi nam omogočilo boljše razumevanje dolgoročnih groženj človeškemu napredovanju, ter kaj lahko storimo, da bi jih zmanjšali.


Ker je tehnološki razvoj nujen za uresničenje transhumanistične vizije, je potrebno promovirati podjetništvo, znanost in inženirski duh. Bolj splošno, transhumanisti cenijo pragmatično držo in konstruktivni pristop za reševanje problemov v zvezi z izzivi, ter pri tem dajejo prednost metodam, o katerih nam izkušnje govorijo, da dajejo dobre rezultate. Menijo, da je bolje prevzeti iniciativo in “nekaj storiti glede tega”, kot pa posedati naokrog in se pritoževati. To je smisel v katerem je transhumanizem optimističen. (Ni optimističen v smislu zagovarjanja prenapihnjenega prepričanja v verjetnost uspeha, ali v pangloškem (slepo optimističnem) smislu izmišljanja izgovorov za pomanjkljivosti statusa quo.)


Transhumanizem zagovarja blagostanje vsega zavedajočega, pa naj se le–to nahaja v umetnih intelektih, ljudeh, ali nečloveških živalih (vključno z zunajzemeljskimi vrstami, če obstajajo). Rasizem, seksizem, vrstizem, bojeviti nacionalizem in verska nestrpnost so nesprejemljivi. Poleg običajnih razlogov za označevanje takšnih navad kot spornih, pa obstaja tudi specifična transhumanistična motivacija za to. Da bi se pripravili za čas, ko se bo morda človeška vrsta pričela razvejati v različne smeri, moramo sedaj pričeti močno spodbujati razvoj moralnih nazorov, ki so dovolj široki, da v sferi moralnih zadev zaobsežejo samozavedajoče entitete, ki so zasnovane drugače od nas samih.


Končno transhumanizem poudarja moralno nujo reševanja življenj, ali natančneje, preprečevanja neprostovoljnih smrti med ljudmi, katerih življenja so vredna tega, da bi jih živeli. V razvitem svetu je trenutno staranje morilec številka ena. Staranje je tudi največji vzrok bolezni, invalidnosti in blaznosti. (Čeprav bi lahko ozdravili vse bolezni srca, ter vse oblike raka, bi se pričakovana življenjska doba povečala le za borih šest do sedem let.) Medicina proti staranju je zatorej ključna transhumanistična prioriteta. Cilj je seveda radikalno podaljšati zdravi aktivni razpon človeškega življenja, ne dodati nekaj bornih let na respiratorju ob koncu življenja.


Ker smo še vedno daleč od tega, da bi bili sposobni ustaviti ali obrniti staranje nazaj, bi morala biti krionična suspenzija mrtvih na voljo kot opcija tistim, ki si je želijo. Možno je, da bodo prihajajoče tehnologije omogočile reanimacijo ljudi, ki so v krionični suspenziji. [10] Medtem ko ima krionika morda res majhne možnosti za uspeh, vseeno nudi večje upanje kot kremiranje ali pokop.

Seznam transhumanističnih vrednot

Temeljne vrednote


Imeti možnost raziskati transčloveška in postčloveška področja



Osnovni pogoji

Globalna varnost

Tehnološki napredek

Široki dostop

Izvedene vrednote


Nič napačnega v vmešavanju v naravo; zavrnitev ideje o precenjevanju človeka

Individualna izbira pri uporabi izboljševalnih tehnologij; morfološka svoboda

Mir, mednarodno sodelovanje, neširjenje orožij za množično uničevanje

Izboljševanje razumevanja (spodbujanje raziskav in javnih razprav; kritično razmišljanje; nepristranost, znanstvene preiskave; odprto razpravljanje o prihodnosti)

Postati pametnejši (individualno; kolektivno; ter razviti strojno inteligenco)

Filozofska zmotnost; pripravljenost ponovno izprašati domneve ko napredujemo

Pragmatizem; inženirski in podjetniški duh; znanost

Raznolikost (vrste, rase, verska prepričanja, spolna orientacija, življenjski stili, itd.)

Skrbeti za blagostanje vsega samozavednega

Reševanje življenj (podaljševanje življenja, raziskave proti staranju in krionika)

Reference


Bostrom, N. (2002)

Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards

Journal of Evolution and Technology, 9


Bostrom, N. (2003)

Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective

Journal of Value Inquiry, Forthcoming


Bostrom, N., et al. (1999)

The Transhumanist FAQ


Chislenko, A. (1997)

Automated Collaborative Filtering and Semantic Transports


Drexler, K. E. (1986)

Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

Anchor Books: New York, 1986


Ettinger, R. (1964)

The Prospect of Immortality

Doubleday: New York, 1964


Hanson, R. (1995)

Could Gambling Save Science? Encouraging an Honest Consensus Social Epistemology

9:1: 3-33.


Hughes, J. (2001)

The Future of Death: Cryonics and the Telos of Liberal Individualism

Journal of Evolution and Technology, 6


Leslie, J. (1996)

The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction

Routledge: London, 1996


Lewis, D. (1989)

Dispositional Theories of Value

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supp., 63: 113-37


Merkle, R. (1994)

The Molecular Repair of the Brain

Cryonics, 15 (1 and 2)


Moravec, H. (1989)

Mind Children

Harvard University Press: Harvard, 198


Rees, M. (2003)

Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning

Basic Books: New York, 2003


Avtor


Nick Bostrom, dr. fil.
Oxford University, Faculty of Philosophy, 10 Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JJ, United Kingdom


http://www.transhumanizem.org/clanki/transhumanizem/vrednote/">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/31 •

Bostrom’s Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Legenda o tiranskem zmaju

Nick Bostrom

Pred davnimi časi je planetu okrutno vladal ogromen zmaj. Bil je višji od največje katedrale in prekrit z debelimi črnimi luskami. V njegovih rdečih očeh je gorelo sovraštvo in iz njegovih strašnih čeljusti je polzel neprekinjen tok rumeno–zelene sluzi zlobnega vonja. Od človeštva je terjal strahoten krvni davek: da bi potešili njegov velikanski tek, so morali vsak večer ob mraku pripeljati k vznožju gore, kjer je živel, deset tisoč moških in žensk. Včasih je požrl te nesrečnike ob prihodu; včasih spet, zaklenil v goro, kjer so slabeli mesece ali leta preden jih je sčasoma 1
pogoltnil.

Bolečina, ki jo je prizadejal tiranski zmaj, je bila nepopisna.
Poleg desetih tisočev, ki so bili vsak dan odurno poklani, so za njimi ostale matere,
očetje, žene, soprogi, otroci in prijatelji, žalujoči ob izgubi svojih dragih.


Nekateri so se poskušali boriti z zmajem, toda težko je bilo
presoditi, ali so bili pogumni ali le nespametni. Svečeniki in čarovniki so klicali
nadenj prekletstva—brez uspeha. Vojščaki, oboroženi z rjovečim pogumom in najboljšim
orožjem, kar so ga bili sposobni narediti kovači, so ga napadali, vendar jih je
njegov ogenj upepelil še preden so prišli dovolj blizu da bi lahko zadali kak udarec.
Kemiki so varili strupene zvarke in varali zmaja, da jih je pogoltnil, vendar edini
učinek teh je bila poživitev njegovega apetita. Zmajevi kremplji, čeljusti in ogenj
so bili tako učinkoviti, njegov luskav oklep tako neprediren in vsa njegova narava
tako robustna, kot bi bil nepremagljiv za vsak človeški napad.


Ko so ljudje uvideli, da je nemogoče premagati tirana, niso imeli
druge izbire, kot ubogati njegove ukaze in plačevati strašen davek. Izbrane žrtve
so bili vedno starešine. Kljub temu, da so bili starejši včasih modrejši in nič
manj čili in zdravi kot mladina, je bilo splošno znano, da so užili vsaj nekaj desetletij
življenja več. Bogati so občasno uspeli pridobiti bežen odlog s podkupovanjem naborniških
tolp, ki so prišle ponje; vendar po ustavnem pravu nihče, niti sam kralj, ni mogel
odlagati svojega odhoda v nedogled.


Duhovniki so poskušali tolažiti tiste, ki jih je bilo strah,
da bodo pokončani (kar je vključevalo skoraj vse, kljub temu, da so nekateri v javnosti
to zanikali), z obljubljanjem ponovnega življenja po smrti; življenja, ki ga ne
bi pestila zmajeva nadloga. Drugi govorci so sklepali, da ima zmaj svoje mesto v
naravnem redu in moralno pravico do tega, da je nahranjen. Trdili so, da je končati
v zmajevem želodcu del samega bistva človeka. Spet drugi so menili, da je zmaj dober
za človeško vrsto, ker omejuje velikost populacije. V kolikšni meri so ti argumenti
potolažili zaskrbljene duše, ni znano, kajti večina se je s tem spopadala tako,
da ni mislila na mračen konec, ki jih je čakal.


To obupno stanje se je nadaljevalo mnogo stoletij. Nihče več
ni prešteval, kolikšen skupni smrtni davek se je sčasoma nakopičil, niti števila
solz, prelitih zaradi osamitve. Pričakovanja so se postopoma ustalila in okrutni
zmaj je postal življenjsko dejstvo. Glede na očitno jalovost upora, so se poskusi
pokončanja zmaja prenehali. Namesto tega so se napori osredotočili na spravo z njim.
Medtem ko je zmaj občasno vpadal v mesta so ugotovili, da točna dostava njegovega
deleža življenja k gori zmanjšuje pogostost teh vdorov.


Vedoč, da priložnost postati zmajeva krma vseskozi lebdi v zraku,
so ljudje začenjali imeti otroke bolj zgodaj in pogosteje. Za dekle ni bilo nič
neobičajnega, če je bila noseča že pri šestnajstih. Pari so pogosto imeli ducat
otrok. Človeška populacija se tako ni zmanjševala in zmaj je bil obvarovan pred
lakoto.


Skozi stoletja je dobro hranjeni zmaj počasi, a vztrajno rasel.
Postal je skoraj tako velik kot gora, na kateri je živel. Sorazmerno s tem pa se
je povečal tudi njegov tek. Deset tisoč človeških teles ni bilo več dovolj za napolnitev
njegovega želodca: zdaj jih je zahteval osemdeset tisoč, ki naj bi jih pripeljali
vsak večer ob mraku k vznožju gore.


Bolj kot s smrtmi in samim zmajem je bil kralj zaposlen z logistiko,
potrebno za vsakodnevno zbiranje in transportiranje tako velikega števila ljudi
k gori. To ni bila lahka naloga.


Da bi pospešili proces, je kralj dal zgraditi železniško progo:
dve ravni črti lesketajočega se železa, ki sta vodili k zmajevemu bivališču. Vsakih
dvajset minut je vlak prispel k gorski železniški postaji, napolnjeni z ljudmi,
in se vračal prazen. Če bi imeli potniki, ki so potovali s tem vlakom, okna, skozi
katera bi lahko pomolili glave, bi v nočeh, obsijanih z mesečino, lahko pred seboj
videli dvojni obris zmaja in gore ter dvoje žarečih oči, ki kot žarka ogromnih svetilnikov
kažeta pot v uničenje.


Kralj je v velikem številu najemal služabnike za vodenje pobiranja
davkov. Obstajali so arhivarji, ki so vodili zapisnik o tem, kdo je na vrsti za
odhod. Zbiralci ljudi so bili odposlani v posebnih vozilih z namenom pripeljati
določene žrtve. Pogosto so, potujoč z vratolomno hitrostjo, pehali svoj tovor k
železniški postaji ali pa naravnost k gori. Bili so duhovniki, ki so vodili nadomestke,
plačane zdesetkanim družinam, ki so bile nezmožne samostojnega preživljanja. Tolažilci,
ki so potovali s pogubljenimi na njihovi poti k zmaju, so poskušali olajšati njihovo
tesnobo z opojnimi pijačami in drogami.


Nadalje je obstajala skupina dragonologov, ki so proučevali
kako bi bilo mogoče izboljšati učinkovitost teh logističnih procesov. Nekateri dragonologi
so tudi opravljali raziskave o zmajevi fiziologiji in vedenju ter zbirali vzorce—odpadle
luske, sluz, ki se je cedila iz njegovih čeljusti, izgubljene zobe in njegove iztrebke,
ki so vsebovali delce človeških kosti. Vsi ti predmeti so bili vestno zabeleženi
in shranjeni. Bolje kot je bila zverina razumljena, bolj je bilo okrepljeno splošno
dojemanje njene nepremagljivosti. Še posebno za njene črne luske, trše od katerekoli
snovi, poznane človeku, se je zdelo, da na njih ni mogoče napraviti niti praske.


Za financiranje teh dejavnosti je kralj svojim ljudem naložil
težke davke. Stroški, povezani z zmajem, ki so že sedaj zajemali sedmino ekonomije,
so se povečevali še hitreje kot sam zmaj.


Človeštvo je radovedna vrsta. Vsake toliko časa nekdo dobi dobro
idejo. Drugi posnemajo idejo ter dodajajo k njej svoje izboljšave in tako so skozi
čas razvita mnoga osupljiva orodja in sistemi. Nekatere teh naprav—kalkulatorji,
termometri, mikroskopi in steklene posodice, ki jih uporabljajo kemiki za kuhanje
in destiliranje tekočin—služijo lažjemu proizvajanju in preizkušanju novih idej,
vključno z idejami, ki pospešujejo proces generiranja idej.


Tako je veliko kolo izumov, ki se je v starih časih premikalo
s skoraj z neopazno hitrostjo, postopoma začelo pospeševati.


Modreci so predvidevali, da bo prišel dan, ko bo tehnologija
omogočila ljudem leteti ter početi še mnogo drugih presenetljivih stvari. Eden izmed
tistih, ki ga je nekaj modrecev visoko cenilo, a je zaradi svojega čudaškega obnašanja
postal družbeni izobčenec in samotar, je šel tako daleč z napovedmi, da je predvidel,
da bo tehnologija sčasoma omogočala izgradnjo naprave, ki bi lahko ubila tiranskega
zmaja.


Kakorkoli že, kraljevi učenjaki so odklonili te ideje. Govorili
so, da so ljudje mnogo pretežki za letenje, v vsakem primeru pa jim manjka perje.
In kar se tiče nemogoče ideje, da bi bilo tiranskega zmaja mogoče ubiti, so zgodovinske
knjige naštevale stotine takih poskusov, izmed katerih ni bil uspešen niti en sam.
Vsi vemo, da je imel ta mož neke neodgovorne ideje, je literarni kritik kasneje
zapisal v osmrtnico samotarskega modreca, ki je bil tedaj že odposlan, da ga požre
zverina, katere smrt je napovedal,vendar so bila njegova dela kar zabavna in
morda smo lahko hvaležni zmaju, da je omogočil ta zanimivi žanr zmajevo–izganjalske
literature, ki odkriva tako veliko o kulturi strahu!


Medtem se je kolo izumov vrtelo naprej in komaj desetletja kasneje
je človek že letel in opravljal mnogo osupljivih stvari.


Nekaj maloštevilnih ikonoklastnih dragonologov je začelo zagovarjati
nov napad na tiranskega zmaja. Ubiti ga ne bi bilo lahko, so rekli, vendar če bi
lahko izumili neko snov, ki je trša od zmajevega oklepa, in če bi bil ta material
oblikovan v neke vrste projektil, potem bi junaško dejanje morda uspelo. Ideje ikonoklastov
so najprej zavrnili njihovi kolegi dragonologi, češ da še ni poznana nobena snov
trša od zmajevih lusk. Vendar je po večletnem delu na problemu nekomu izmed ikonoklastov
uspelo pokazati, da je zmajevo lusko mogoce predreti s predmetom, narejenim iz posebne
zlitine. Mnogi dragonologi, ki so bili še nedavno tega skeptični, so se sedaj pridružili
ikonoklastom. Inženirji so izračunali, da bi bilo mogoče iz te snovi narediti ogromen
projektil in ga izstreliti z ustrezno silo, da bi predrl zmajev oklep. Vendar bi
bila proizvodnja potrebne količine posebne zlitine draga.


Večja skupina eminentnih inženirjev in dragonologov je kralju
poslala peticijo, v kateri je prosila za finančno podporo pri izgradnji proti–zmajevega
projektila. Ob času, ko je bila poslana, je bil kralj prezaposlen z vodstvom svoje
vojske v bitko s tigrom, ki je ubil kmeta in kasneje izginil v goščavo. Na podeželju
je bil široko razširjen strah, da bo tiger prišel na plano in ponovno napadel. Kralj
je dal obkoliti goščavo in ukazal svojim enotam, naj začnejo prodirati vanjo. Ob
koncu bojnega pohoda je kralj razglasil, da je bilo vseh 163 tigrov v džungli, vključno
z domnevno morilskim, ulovljenih in ubitih. Kakorkoli že, za časa vojne vihre je
bila peticija izgubljena ali pozabljena.


Prosilci so zaradi tega poslali še en poziv. Tokrat so prejeli
odgovor od enega kraljevih tajnikov, v katerem je pisalo, da bo kralj preučil njihovo
prošnjo potem, ko bo končal s pregledom letnega proračuna, potrebnega za zmajevo
upravo. Letošnji proračun je bil do sedaj največji, saj je vseboval tudi stroške
za gradnjo nove železniške proge do gore. Gradnja druge proge je bila smatrana za
nujno, kajti prvotna ni več zmogla vzdrževati povečujočega prometa. (Davek, ki ga
je zahteval tiranski zmaj, se je povečal na sto tisoč ljudi, ki so morali biti vsak
večer ob mraku dostavljeni k vznožju gore.) Kakorkoli, ko je bil proračun končno
odobren, so iz oddaljenega predela dežele prispele novice o vasi, ki je trpela zaradi
napada klopotače. Kralj je moral nujno oditi z namenom mobilizirti svojo vojsko
in poraziti novo grožnjo in tako je bila prošnja zmajevih sovražnikov vložena v
arhiv zaprašenega kabineta grajske kleti.


Zmajevi nasprotniki so se ponovno srečali, da bi se odločili,
kaj jim je storiti. Pogovor je bil živahen in je tako trajal pozno v noč. Skoraj
se je že danilo, ko so se odločili, da ponesejo zadevo k ljudstvu. V naslednjih
tednih so potovali po deželi, javno predavali in razlagali njihov predlog vsakemu,
ki je bil pripravljen poslušati. Na začetku so bili ljudje skeptični. V šolah so
bili naučeni, da je tiranski zmaj nepremagljiv ter da je žrtvovanje, ki ga je zahteval,
treba sprejemati kot življenjsko nujo. A vendarle, ko so bili seznanjeni z novo
posebno zlitino in z načrti za projektil, se je v mnogih zbudilo zanimanje, tako
da so se v vedno večjem številu zbirali na predavanjih zmajevih nasprotnikov. Aktivisti
pa so pričeli z organizacijo množičnih srečanj v podporo predlogu.


Ko je kralj bral o teh srečanjih v časopisu, je pozval svoje
svetovalce in jih vprašal kaj si mislijo o vsem tem. Poročali so mu o peticijah,
ki so bile poslane, ter mu povedali, da so zmajevi nasprotniki povzročitelji nereda,
saj s svojim poučevanjem vznemirjajo ljudstvo. Trdili so, da bi bilo za družbeni
red mnogo bolje, da ljudje sprejmejo neizbežnost davka, ki ga zahteva tiranski zmaj.
Zmajeva uprava je nudila mnogo služb, ki bi bile izgubljene, če bi bil zmaj zaklan.
V zmagi nad zmajem ni bilo nobene znane družbene koristi. V vsakem primeru pa so
bile kraljeve zakladnice po dveh bojnih pohodih in finančni podpori drugemu železniškemu
tiru trenutno skoraj prazne. Kralj, ki je ob tem času užival zaradi izgona klopotačje
nadloge veliko priljubljenost, je poslušal argumente svojih svetovalcev, vendar
ga je skrbelo, da mu bo zaradi ignoriranja peticije zmajevih nasprotnikov padla
popularnost. Zaradi tega se je odločil organizirati odprto diskusijo. Vodilni dragonologi,
državni ministri in zainteresirani državljani so bili povabljeni k sodelovanju.


Sestanek je potekal na najtemnejši dan leta, ravno pred božičnimi
prazniki, v najveji dvorani kraljevega gradu. Dvorana je bila napolnjena do zadnjega
sedeža in ljudje so se gnetli po hodnikih. Vzdušje je bilo nabito z resnobo, običajno
rezervirano za osrednja vojna zasedanja.


Po zaželjeni dobrodošlici je kralj prepustil oder vodilnemu
znanstveniku, ki je stal za proti–zmajevim predlogom—ženski z resnim, skoraj odbijajočim
izrazom na obrazu. Z jasnimi besedami je pričela razlagati način delovanja predlagane
naprave in kako bi proizvedli zahtevano količino posebne zlitine. Pri zahtevani
stopnji finančne podpore bi bilo mogoče zaključiti s predstavljenim delom v roku
petnajstih do dvajsetih let. Z izdatnejšim financiranjem pa bi bila izvedba mogoča
prej kot v roku dvanajstih let. Kakorkoli že, absolutnega zagotovila, da bi delovalo,
ni moglo biti. Množica je njeno predstavitev spremljala zelo pozorno.


Naslednji govornik je bil kraljevi svetovalec za moralo, gospod,
ki je z donečim glasom udobno napolnil dvorano:


Dopustimo, da ima ta ženska prav o znanosti in tem, da je
projekt tehnološko možen, čeprav menim, da to v resnici ni bilo dokazano. Želi si
torej, da se znebimo zmaja. Domnevam, da misli, da ima pravico izogniti se zmajevim
zobem. Kako uporniško in domišljavo! Končnost človeškega življenja je blagoslov
za vsakega posameznika, če se tega zaveda ali ne. Odstranitev zmaja, ki se morda
zdi zelo prikladna, bi spodkopala naše človeško dostojanstvo. Pretirana zaposlenost
z ubojem zmaja nas bo odvrnila od polnejšega spoznavanja teženj, h katerim se naravno
gibljejo naša življenja—od živeti dobro, do le ostati živ. Ponižujoče je, da, ponižujoče
za osebo, da si želi nadaljevati s svojim povprečnim življenjem, kolikor dolgo je
mogoče, brez zanimanja za katera izmed višjih vprašanj o tem, kakšen je namen življenja.
Vendar vam povem: za zmaja je naravno, da je ljudi, in naša narava, predpisana z
vrsto, kateri pripadamo, je resnično in plemenito izpolnjena le s tem, da nas požre…


Občinstvo je s spoštovanjem poslušalo tega visoko odlikovanega
govornika. Fraze so bile tako izrazito jasne, da se je bilo težko upirati občutku,
da se morajo za njimi skrivati neke globoke misli, čeprav ni nihče zmogel popolnoma
dojeti, kaj naj bi le–te bile. Zanesljivo morajo imeti besede, prihajajoče od tako
uglednega kraljevega služabnika, globoko vsebino.


Naslednji govorec v vrsti je bil duhovni modrec, ki je bil široko
spoštovan tako zaradi svoje prijaznosti in miline, kakor tudi zaradi svoje predanosti.
Ko je korakal proti odru, je majhen fant iz občinstva zavpil: Zmaj je hudoben!


Fantova starša sta zardela in pričela miriti ter karati otroka.
Toda modrec je rekel: Dovolita otroku govoriti. Verjetno je modrejši od starega
norca, kakršen sem jaz.


Sprva je bil fant preveč prestrašen in zmeden, da bi se premaknil.
Vendar ko je zagledal pristen prijateljski nasmeh na modrečevem obrazu in ponujeno
roko, je ubogljivo segel po njej in sledil modrecu na oder. Imamo torej pogumnega
malega moža,
je rekel modrec. Se bojiš zmaja?


Hočem nazaj svojo babico, je rekel fantek.


Je bil zmaj tisti, ki je vzel tvojo babico?


Da, je rekel fantek v solzah, ki so mu vrele iz njegovih
velikih prestrašenih oči. Babica je obljubila, da me bo naučila peči medenjake
za Božič. Rekla je, da bova zgradila malo hišico iz medenjakov in majhne medenjakaste
može, ki bodo živeli v njej. Nato pa so prišli tisti ljudje v belih oblekah in odpeljali
babico k zmaju… Zmaj je hudoben in je ljudi… Hočem svojo babico nazaj!


Sedaj je otrok jokal tako hudo, da ga je moral modrec vrniti
njegovim staršem.


Tisti večer se je zvrstilo še nekaj drugih govorcev, toda preproste
otroške besede so prebodle retorični balon, ki so ga poskušali napihniti kraljevi
ministri. Ljudje so podpirali nasprotnike zmaja in pred koncem večera je celo kralj
spoznal razlog in humanost njihovega cilja. V svoji zaključni izjavi je preprosto
dejal: Naredimo to!


S širjenjem novice so po ulicah izbruhnile zabave. Tisti, ki
so se borili za nasprotnike zmaja, so nazdravljali eden drugemu in pili na prihodnost
človeštva.


Naslednje jutro se je zbudila miljarda ljudi in se zavedla,
da bi na vrsto za odhod k zmaju prišli preden bi bil projektil dokončan. Točka preobrata
je bila dosežena. Medtem ko je bila prej aktivna podpora nasprotnikom zmaja omejena
na majhno skupino vizionarjev, je ta sedaj postala prioriteta in skrb vsakogar.
Abstrakten pojem splošne volje je dosegel skoraj otipljivo intenzivnost
in konkretnost. Na množičnih shodih se je zbiralo denar za projektilni projekt in
spodbujalo kralja naj poveča nivo državne podpore. Kralj se je odzval na te pobude.
V svojem novoletnem nagovoru je napovedal, da bo namenil posebna sredstva v podporo
projektu za vzdrževanje visokega nivoja financiranja, poleg poletnega dvorca pa
naj bi naknadno prodal še nekaj svoje zemlje ter opravil veliko osebno donacijo.
Verjamem, da si mora ta narod naložiti dolžnost doseči ta cilj in pred koncem
tega desetletja osvoboditi svet antične nadloge tiranskega zmaja.


Tako se je pričela velika tehnološka tekma s časom. Koncept
proti–zmajevega projektila je bil preprost, vendar je bilo za njegovo uresničitev
potrebno rešiti tisoč majhnih tehničnih problemov, od katerih je vsak zahteval ducate
časovno potratnih in tudi napačnih korakov. Testni projektili so bili izstreljeni,
a so zamolklo padli na tla ali pa odleteli v napačno smer. V neki tragični nesreči
je zablodla raketa zadela bolnišnico in ubila nekaj sto pacientov in osebja. Toda
sedaj je bila v namen položena vsa resnost in testi so se nadaljevali celo med odkopavanjem
trupel izpod ruševin.


Kljub skoraj neomejenemu financiranju in celodnevnim delavnikom
strokovnjakov kraljevega roka ni bilo mogoče izpolniti. Desetletje se je izteklo,
zmaj pa je bil še vedno živ in zdrav. Vendar se je približeval uspeh. Prototip projektila
je bil uspešno testno izstreljen. Izdelava jedra, narejenega iz drage zlitine, je
potekala po načrtu, po katerem bi sovpadala z dokončanjem popolnoma testiranega
in brezhibnega ogrodja izstrelka, v katerega bi bilo to vstavljeno. Datum izstrelitve
je bil postavljen na Novoletni večer naslednjega leta, natančno dvanajst let po
slavni otvoritvi projekta. Koledar, ki je odšteval dneve do časa nič, je
bil tistega leta najbolj prodajano božično darilo, dohodek od prodaje pa je bil
namenjen projektilnemu projektu.


Nekdaj lahkomiseln in brezskrben kralj je doživel osebnostno
spremembo. Zdaj je preživljal kolikor časa je le mogel v laboratorijih in proizvodnih
obratih, spodbujal delavce in slavil njihove napore. Občasno je prinesel s seboj
spalno vrečo in preživel noč na hrupnih tovarniških tleh ter celo študiral in poskušal
razumeti tehnične vidike njihovega dela. Kljub zanimanju pa se je omejeval na dajanje
moralne podpore in vzdrževal vmešavanja v tehnične in upravljalne zadeve.


Sedem dni pred Novim letom je ženska, ki je pred skoraj dvanajstimi
leti utemeljila projekt in je bila sedaj njegova glavna izvajalka, prišla na kraljevi
dvor in zahtevala nujni sprejem pri kralju. Ko je kralj dobil njeno sporočilo, se
je opravičil tujim dostojanstvenikom, katere je nejevoljno zabaval na vsakoletni
božični večerji, in odhitel v zasebno sobo, kjer je čakala znanstvenica. Kot vedno
zadnje čase je bilo njeno obličje bledo in izčrpano od dolgih delovnih ur. Kakorkoli
že, ta večer je kralj pomislil, da je bilo v njenih očeh mogoče zaznati tudi žarek
olajšanja in zadoščenja.


Povedala mu je, da je bil izstrelek pripravljen, jedro vstavljeno,
vse skupaj trikrat preverjeno, da so pripravljeni na izstrelitev in če bo kralj
dal svojo končno odobritev. Kralj se je pogreznil v naslonjač in zaprl svoje oči.
Globoko je premišljeval. Z izstrelitvijo projektila nocoj, en teden prezgodaj, bi
bilo rešenih sedemsto tisoč ljudi. Vendar če bi karkoli šlo po zlu in bi zgrešil
tarčo ter zadel namesto nje goro, bi bila to katastrofa. Iz nič bi bilo potrebno
skonstruirati novo jedro in projekt bi bil zadržan za kaka štiri leta. Sedel je
tam v tišini skoraj uro. Ravno ko je znanstvenica postala prepričana, da je zaspal,
je odprl oči in rekel z odločnim glasom: Ne. Želim da greste nazaj v laboratorij.
Želim da preverite in ponovno preverite vse skupaj.
Znanstvenica se ni mogla
vzdržati vzdihljaja, vendar je prikimala in odšla.


Zadnji dan leta je bil mrzel in oblačen, toda brez vetra, kar
je pomenilo dobre izstrelitvene pogoje. Sonce je zahajalo. Strokovnjaki so hiteli
naokoli, opravljali zaključne prilagoditve in vse skupaj še zadnjič pregledali.
Kralj in njegovi najbližji svetovalci so opazovali dogajanje s tribune blizu izstrelitvene
ploščadi. Nekoliko stran, za ograjo, so se zbrale velike množice, da bi bile priča
velikemu dogodku. Velika ura je prikazovala odštevanje: še petdeset minut.


Svetovalec je potrepljal kralja po rami in pritegnil njegovo
pozornost k ogradi. Tam je bilo opaziti nek nemir. Nekdo je očitno preskočil ograjo
in tekel proti tribuni, kjer je sedel kralj. Varnostniki so ga hitro dohiteli, ga
vklenili in odpeljali proč. Kralj je ponovno preusmeril pozornost k izstrelitveni
ploščadi in gori v ozadju. Pred njo je lahko opazil temačno sključeno podobo zmaja.
Jedel je.


Okoli dvajset minut kasneje je kralj z začudenjem opazil vklenjenega
moža, ki se je ponovno pojavil v bližini tribune. Krvavel je iz nosu in bil v družbi
dveh varnostnikov. Očitno je pobesnel. Ko je opazil kralja, je pričel na ves glas
kričati: Zadnji vlak! Zadnji vlak! Ustavite zadnji vlak!


Kdo je ta mladi mož? je dejal kralj. Njegov obraz
se mi zdi znan, vendar ne vem od kod. Kaj želi? Pustite mu bliže.


Mladi mož je bil nižji uradnik na ministrstvu za transport in
razlog za njegov bes je bilo odkritje, da je na zadnjem vlaku k gori njegov oče.
Kralj je v strahu pred tem, da bi kakršnakoli motnja pregnala zmaja z odprtega izpred
gore, kjer je sedaj preživljal večino svojega časa, ukazal, naj se železniški promet
nadaljuje. Mladi mož je prosil kralja naj odpokliče zadnji vlak, ki naj bi prispel
k postaji pri gori pet minut pred časom nič.


Tega ne morem storiti, je rekel kralj, ne morem tvegati.


Toda vlaki pogosto zamujajo pet minut. Zmaj ne bo opazil!
Prosim!


Mladenič je klečal pred kraljem in ga rotil, naj reši življenje
njegovemu očetu in življenja ostalih tisoč potnikov na zadnjem vlaku.


Kralj je gledal navzdol proti prosečemu, okrvavljenemu obrazu
mladeniča. Vendar se je ugriznil v ustnico in zmajal z glavo. Mladenič je nadaljeval
s stokanjem še medtem, ko ga je straža odnašala s tribune: Prosim! Ustavite zadnji
vlak! Prosim!


Kralj je stal tiho in nepremično, dokler ni čez čas stokanje
nenadoma ponehalo. Kralj se je ozrl navzgor in bežno preletel odštevajočo uro: še
pet minut.


Štiri minute. Tri minute. Dve minuti.


Zadnji strokovnjak je zapustil izstrelitveno ploščad.


30 sekund. 20 sekund. Deset, devet, osem…


Ko je ognjena sfera obkrožila izstrelitveno ploščad in je izstrelek
poletel, so se opazovalci nagonsko povzpeli na prste in vse oči so se uprle v bel
plamen, prihajajoč iz projektilovih gorilnih rež, ki se je pomikal proti daljni
gori. Množica, kralj, preprosti in plemeniti, mlado in staro; bilo je, kot da v
tem trenutku delijo eno zavest, eno doživljanje: da bel plamen, leteč v temo, uteleša
človeški duh, njegov strah in njegovo upanje… zabada v srce zla. Senca na obzorju
je zatrepetala in padla. Tisoč glasov, polnih čistega veselja, se je dvignilo iz
zbranih množic in se nekaj sekund kasneje združilo z oglušujočim, zamolklim bobnenjem
padajoče pošasti, kot bi si oddahnila sama Zemlja. Po stoletjih zatiranja je bilo
človeštvo končno osvobojeno krute tiranije zmaja.


Vzklik sreče se je prelil v radostno vzklikanje: Naj živi
kralj! Naj živimo dolgo vsi skupaj!
Tudi kraljevi svetovalci so bili, tako kot
vsi tisto noč, veseli kot otroci. Objemali so eden drugega in čestitali kralju:
Uspelo nam je! Uspelo nam je!


Toda kralj je odvrnil s pretrganim glasom: Da, danes nam
je uspelo ubiti zmaja. A prekleto, zakaj smo začeli tako pozno? Lahko bi opravili
s tem že pred petimi, morda desetimi leti! Milijonom ljudi ne bi bilo treba umreti.


Kralj je stopil s tribune in odšel k vklenjenemu mladeniču,
ki je sedel na tleh. Padel je na kolena: Odpusti mi! O moj Bog, prosim, odpusti
mi!


Začelo je deževati in velike, težke kaplje so spreminjale tla
v blato, prepojile kraljeva škrlatna oblačila ter sprale kri z mladeničevega obraza.
Tako zelo žal mi je zaradi tvojega očeta, je rekel kralj.


Ni bila tvoja krivda, je odvrnil mladenič. Se spominjaš
dogodka izpred dvanajst let v gradu? Tistega malega jokajočega fanta, ki je želel,
da mu vrneš babico—bil sem jaz. Takrat se nisem zavedal, da mi ne bi nikakor mogel
uresničiti prošnje. Danes sem želel, da bi rešil mojega očeta, vendar je bilo to
nemogoče narediti, brez da bi ogrozili izstrelitev. Toda rešil si moje življenje,
mojo mater in sestro. Kako se ti lahko kdajkoli dovolj zahvalimo za to?


Poslušajte jih, je dejal kralj in z gibom pokazal proti
množici. Vzklikajo mi za kar se je zgodilo nocoj. Toda heroj si ti. Bil si tisti,
ki je vzkliknil. Zbral si nas zoper zlo.
Kralj je pomignil stražarju naj odklene
vkove. Pojdi zdaj k svoji materi in sestri. Vedno boste dobrodošli na dvoru in
česarkoli si želiš, boš dobil, če je le v moji moči.


Mladenič je odšel in kraljevo spremstvo se je v zmešnjavi naliva
zbralo okoli svojega monarha, ki je še vedno klečal v blatu. Med razkošnimi oblačili,
ki jih je vedno bolj uničeval dež, je gruča napudranih obrazov izražala superpozicijo
radosti, olajšanja in zmedenosti. Tako veliko se je spremenilo v zadnji uri: pravica
do svobodne prihodnosti je bila ponovno pridobljena, izničen je bil prvobitni strah
in mnogo dolgo sprejetih predpostavk je bilo strmoglavljenih. Negotovi v to, kar
je bilo pričakovati od njih sedaj, v tem nevsakdanjem položaju, so oklevajoče stali,
kot bi preizkušali, če jih bo zemlja še obdržala, si izmenjavali poglede in čakali
na kak znak.


Končno je kralj vstal in si obrisal roke v del svojih hlač.


Vaše veličanstvo, kaj nam je zdaj storiti? si je drznil
vprašati najuglednejši dvorjan.


Dragi prijatelji, je rekel kralj, prehodili smo dolgo
pot… a vendar, naše potovanje se je šele začelo. Naša vrsta je še mlada na tem planetu.
Danes smo ponovno kot otroci in vsa prihodnost leži odprta pred nami. Odšli bomo
vanjo in poskušali živeti bolje kot smo v preteklosti. Sedaj imamo čas—čas, da naredimo
stvari tako kot je prav, čas da odrastemo, čas za učenje iz naših napak, čas za
počasen proces gradnje boljšega sveta in čas za namestitev v njem. Nocoj naj do
polnoči zvonijo vsi zvonovi po kraljestvu, v spomin na naše mrtve prednike, po polnoči
pa naj se prične rajanje, ki naj traja do sončnega vzhoda. In v prihajajočih dneh…
mislim da nas čaka nekaj reorganizacije!


Nauk

Zgodbe o staranju so se običajno osredotočale na potrebo po
lagodni spravi. Priporočena rešitev za pojemajočo čilost in grozečo smrt je bila
vdanost v usodo, združena s prizadevanjem za dosego zaključka pri praktičnih zadevah
in osebnih razmerjih. Ob predpostavki, da ni bilo mogoče narediti ničesar za preprečitev
ali odložitev staranja, se je takšna usmerjenost zdela smiselna. Bolje kot vznemirjati
se zaradi neizogibnega, si je bilo prizadevati za duševni mir.


Danes se soočamo z drugačnim položajem. Čeprav nam še vedno
niso dosegljiva učinkovita in sprejemljiva sredstva za upočasnitev staranja
[1],
lahko prepoznamo smeri raziskav, ki bi morda vodile do razvoja takšnih sredstev
v dogledni prihodnosti. Mortalistične zgodbe in ideologije, ki nam priporočajo
pasivno sprejemanje, niso več vir neškodljive tolažbe, temveč pogubne ovire na poti
k nujno potrebnim dejanjem.


Mnogo uglednih tehnologov in znanstvenikov nam pravi, da bo
postalo mogoče zakasniti in sčasoma ustaviti ter obrniti tok človeškega staranja.
[2] Dandanes soglasje o časovnem obdobju in specifičnih metodah še ni popolno, niti
ne obstaja nek konsenz o tem, da je cilj sploh v principu dosegljiv. Glede na legendo
(kjer staranje seveda predstavlja zmaj) smo sedaj torej v obdobju nekje med časom,
ko je osamljeni modrec predvidel možnost zmajeve smrti, in časom, ko so ikonoklastnih
dragonologi prepričali plemstvo s predstavitvijo posebne zlitine, ki je bila trša
od zmajevih lusk.


Etični argument, ki ga predstavlja legenda, je preprost: obstajajo
očitni in trdni moralni razlogi za ljudi v legendi, da se znebijo zmaja. Naš položaj,
z ozirom na človeško staranje, je skoraj analogen in etično izomorfen situaciji,
v kateri so se znašli ljudje v legendi glede na zmaja. Imamo torej trdne moralne
razloge, da se znebimo staranja.


Argument ni v prid podaljšanju življenja kot takega. Povečevanje
števila dodatnih let bolezni in izčrpanosti na koncu življenja bi bilo nesmiselno.
Argument je v prid povečanja razpona človeškega zdravega življenja, kolikor je to
mogoče. Z upočasnitvijo ali ustavitvijo toka staranja, bi bilo podaljšano obdobje
zdravega življenja. Ljudje bi ostali zdravi, polni energije in produktivni v letih,
v katerih bi bili sicer mrtvi.


Kot dodatek temu splošnemu nauku imamo še nekaj nekoliko bolj
specifičnih lekcij:


(1) Ponavljajoča tragedija je postala del življenja, statistika.

V legendi so se pričakovanja ljudi prilagodila obstoju zmaja
v tolikšni meri, da jih mnogo ni bilo več zmožnih dojeti njegove zlobe. Podobno
je staranje postalo le del življenja—kljub temu, da je glavni razlog za
nedoumljivo količino trpljenja in smrti.


(2) Statičen pogled na tehnologijo.

Ljudje so razmišljali, da ne bo nikoli mogoče ubiti zmaja, ker
so vsi pretekli poskusi bili neuspešni. Niso uspeli upoštevati pospešenega tehnološkega
napredka. Nas podobna napaka vodi v podcenjevanje možnosti zdravila za staranje?


(3) Uprava je postala sama sebi namen.

Sedmina ekonomije se je stekala k zmajevemu upravljanju (kar
je enako deležu BDPja, ki ga ZDA namenjajo zdravstvu). Omejevanje škode je postalo
tako ekskluzivna usmeritev, da so ljudje zapostavljali temeljni razlog, ki je stal
za vsem tem. Namesto masivnega, javno financiranega raziskovalnega programa za ustavitev
staranja, porabimo skoraj celotni zdravstveni proračun za zdravstvene usluge in
raziskovanje posameznih bolezni.


(4) Družbeno dobro je postalo ločeno od dobrega za ljudi.

Kraljeve svetovalce so pestile skrbi zaradi možnih družbenih
problemov, ki bi jih lahko povzročili zmajevi nasprotniki. Trdili so, da ne bo zmajeva
smrt prinesla nikakršne koristi družbi. Kakorkoli, konec koncev družbene ureditve
obstajajo za dobro ljudi in v splošnem je dobro, če so njihova življenja rešena.


(5) Pomanjkanje občutka za razmerja.

Tiger je ubil kmeta in možica klopotač je nadlegovala vas. Kralj
je odstranil tako tigra kot klopotače ter tako naredil svojim ljudem uslugo. Kljub
temu pa si zasluži grajo, ker je pomešal svoje prioritete.


(6) Elegantno izražanje in prazna retorika.

Kraljev svetovalec za moralo je zgovorno, v povzdignjenih frazah
in večinoma dobesedno glede na svoje sodobne ekvivalente, govoril o človeškem dostojanstvu
in naši naravi, določeni z vrsto kateri pripadamo.
[3] A vendar, retorika je bila
le megleni zastor, ki je prej skrival, kot odkrival moralno resničnost. V nasprotju
s tem je fantova nejasna, a odkritosrčna izjava pokazala na osrednje dejstvo primera:
zmaj je zloben, saj uničuje ljudi. To je ravno tako osnovna resnica o staranju.


(7) Neuspelo upoštevanje nujnosti.

Vse do končnega dela zgodbe se ni nihče popolnoma zavedal, kaj
je na kocki. Šele ko je kralj strmel v okrvavljen obraz prosečega mladeniča, se
obseg tragedije vplete v zgodbo. Iskanje zdravila za staranje ni samo neka lepa
stvar, ki naj bi se je morda nekega dne lotili, temveč nujna, kričeča moralna obveza.
Prej ko začnemo z osredotočenim raziskovalnim programom, prej bomo deležni rezultatov.
Ni vseeno, če dobimo zdravilo v 25 letih, namesto v 24 letih: posledica bi bila
smrt populacije večje od živeče v Kanadi. S tega zornega kota je čas enak življenju,
v razmerju približno 70 življenj na minuto. S števcem, ki tiktaka tako hitro, bi
se morali že nehati obotavljati.


(8) "In v prihajajočih dneh… mislim da nas čaka nekaj reorganizacije!"

Kralja in njegovo ljudstvo čaka po praznovanju nekaj večjih
izzivov. Njihova družba je bila tako pogojena in popačena z zmajevim obstojem, da
sedaj obstaja v njej strašna praznina. Za razvoj pogojev, ki bodo ohranila življenja
cvetoče dinamična in pomenljiva preko običajnih let, štetih v borih dvomestnih številkah,
bodo morali uporabiti veliko ustvarjalnosti, tako na posameznikovem kot na družbenem
nivoju, kar pa jim bo olajševala dobra prilagodljivost človeškega duha. Še en problem,
s katerim se bodo morda morali spopasti, je prenaseljenost. Morda se bodo morali
ljudje naučiti imeti otroke kasneje in redkeje. Morda bodo lahko našli načine za
vzdrževanje večje populacije z uporabo učinkovitejše tehnologije. Morda bodo nekega
dne razvili vesoljska plovila in začeli kolonizirati vesolje. Sedaj pa lahko za
nekaj časa zapustimo dolgo živeče ljudi iz legende, naj se spoprimejo s temi novimi
izzivi, medtem ko poskušamo napredovati v naši lastni pustolovščini.[4]


Kako lahko pomagate


  1. Razširjajte besedo. Če imate spletno stran ali blog prosim razmislite o
    dodajanju povezave na to stran. Delite svoje misli s prijatelji in kolegi. Pišite
    pisma uredniku naj objavi v časopisu članek o dolgoživosti. Spodbijajte lažne
    in kratkovidne opazke o staranju, kadar se vam zdi primerno.

  2. Razmislite o donaciji Methuselah
    Mouse Prize
    –u. To je nagrada za podaljšanje preostalega življenja mišim
    srednjih let. Znanstvene nagrade imajo močan vpliv na stimulacijo dosežkov.
    Jasen uspeh pri miših bi tlakoval pot večjemu programu za prevedbo metod, ki
    bi tako postale primerne za ljudi.

  3. Če ste aktivni v kaki organizaciji (npr. politični stranki, religiozni skupnosti,
    profesionalni družbi), razmislite, če morda obstaja kak način, s katerim bi
    zgradili podporo podaljšanemu zdravemu življenju in raziskavam, s katerimi bi
    ga dosegli.

  4. Če ste večji človekoljub, imate možnost, da naredite bistveno razliko. Naj
    vam ne bo odveč navezati stika z mano za diskusijo. Podobno imate veliko priložnosti,
    da uporabite svoj vpliv in posledično posebno odgovornost za prikaz nekaj malega
    pobude, če ste npr. novinar, ustvarjalec mnenj, državni uradnik ali v upravi
    večje raziskovalne fundacije.

  5. Uporabite svoje možgane za razmislek o tem, katera pot bi bila najboljša
    za vas, da pomagate uresničiti te ideje…

Reference


[1]
Omejevanje kalorij (hranljiva, vendar nizkokalorična dieta) je podaljšalo
maksimalno dolžino življenja in odložilo prihod starostnih bolezni pri vseh
vrstah, ki so bile testirane. Uvodni rezultati s še trajajoče raziskave na
resus in veveričjih opicah prikazujejo podobne učinke. Zdi se precej
verjetno, da bi omejevanje kalorij delovalo tudi za našo vrsto. Kakorkoli,
malo ljudi bi se bilo pripravljeno podati ne življensko pot, na kateri bi
vladala lakoti podobna dieta. Nekateri raziskovalci iščejo mimetike (ang.
mimetics) s podobnim učinkom—sestavine, ki imajo željeni učinek zmanjšanega
dotoka kalorij brez občutka lakote. (Poglej npr. Lane, M. et al. (1999)
Nutritional modulation of aging in nonhuman primates,
J. Nutr. Health & Aging, 3(2): 69–76.)


[2]
Nedavno poskusno glasovanje ob 10. kongresu Mednarodnega združenja
biomedicinske gerontologije (ang. International Association of Biomedical
Gerontology) je prikazalo, da je večina udeležencev mnenja, da je
vsestranska funkcionalna pomladitev miši srednjih let v okviru 10–20 let verjetna
ali pa ne neverjetna (de Grey, A. (2004),
Report of open discussion on the future of life extension research,
(Annals NY Acad. Sci., 1019, in press)). Oglej si tudi npr. de Grey, A., B.
Ames, et al. (2002)
Time to talk SENS: critiquing the immutability of human
aging
, Increasing Healthy Life Span: Conventional Measures and Slowing the
Innate Aging Process: Ninth Congress of the International Association of Biomedical
Gerontology, ed. D. Harman (Annals NY Acad. Sci. 959: 452–462); and Freitas
Jr., R. A., Nanomedicine, Vol. 1 (Landes Bioscience: Georgetown, TX, 1999).


[3]
Poglej npr. Kass, L. (2003) "Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls: Biotechnology
and the Pursuit of Perfection
, The New Atlantis, 1.


[4] Hvaležen sem mnogim ljudem za komentarje začetnih osnutkov, vključno
posebno Heather Bradshaw, Roger Crisp, Aubrey de Grey, Katrien Devolder, Joel
Garreau, John Harris, Andrea Landfried, Toby Ord, Susan Rogers, Julian Savulescu,
Ian Watson, and Kip Werking.


http://www.transhumanizem.org/clanki/dolgozivost/legenda-o-tiranskem-zmaju/">Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/31 •

BBC - Live Forever

Live forever

By Brendan O’Neill

A Harley St plastic surgeon plans to sell an anti-ageing drug. But do
you want to live forever, or perhaps to the ripe old age of 1,000? There
was a time when beating biology to become immortal was the stuff of
dreams.

Dr Jeya Prakash claims he has reversed the ageing process by injecting
himself and his wife with a human growth hormone which has improved
their memories and removed wrinkles. He now plans to open a clinic
offering the anti-ageing treatment.

Link

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/31 • (0) Comments

Legacy Systems and Functional Cyborgization of Humans

© 1995 Alexander Chislenko

This is my short essay suggesting parallels between technological enhancements of humans and current work on “legacy” information systems. The essay is aimed at a [relatively] wide audience. When I have more time, I will turn it into a more serious work on general evolution of functional structures, exosomatic personality architectures and other such things. 

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/29 •

Principia Cybernetica: Super- and/or Meta-being(s)

[Node to be completed]

The integration of human beings will proceed in another dimension than that of human culture, a dimension of depth. We conceive of a realization of cybernetic immortality by means of very advanced human-machine systems, where the border between the organic (brain) and the artificially organic or electronic media (computer) becomes irrelevant. Such hybrid organisms would survive not so much through the biological material of their bodies, but through their cybernetic organization, which may be embodied in a combination of organic tissues, electronic networks, or other media. With communication through the direct connection of nervous systems to machines and to each other, the death of any particular biological component of the system would no longer imply the death of the whole system. Such metasystems will be evolutionary selective, in that they will have advantages for survival in an evolving environment. This is a cybernetic way for an individual human person to achieve immortality.

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/29 •

Principia Cybernetica: Cybernetic Immortality

The successes of science make it possible for us to raise the banner of cybernetic immortality. The idea is that the human being is, in the last analysis, a certain form of organization of matter. This is a very sophisticated organization, which includes a high multilevel hierarchy of control. What we call our soul, or our consciousness, is associated with the highest level of this control hierarchy. This organization can survive a partial --- perhaps, even a complete --- change of the material from which it is built.

Link
Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/29 •

H.G. Wells Award for Outstanding Transhumanist Contributions of the Year: Charles Stross

In 2004 World Transhumanist Association began to award the “H. G. Wells
Award for Outstanding Transhumanist Contributions of the Year.”

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) was an English futurist and writer. H.
G. Well’s first bestseller was Anticipations, published in 1901. Perhaps
his most explicitly futuristic work, it bore the subtitle “An Experiment
in Prophecy” when originally serialized in a magazine. The book is
particularly interesting for its prescience - trains and cars result in
the dispersion of population from cities to suburbs, and moral
restrictions declining as men and women seek greater sexual freedom.

His early novels, called “scientific romances”, invented a number of
themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Invisible
Man, and The War of the Worlds

He was a utopian and socialist, and a member of the Fabian Society, an
British group of utopian social democratic thinkers. But he was very
aware of the ways that political authoritarianism and other social
trends could lead to very unpleasant outcomes, and some of his novels
depicted very dystopian futures, like The Time Machine, in which class
divisions led to a division of society into two different species, and
The Sleeper Awakes, about a socialist who wakes up in a socialist future
gone terribly wrong.

From quite early in his career, he sought a better way to organize
society, and wrote a number of Utopian novels, usually starting with the
world rushing to catastrophe, until people realize a better way of
living, whether by mysterious gases from a comet causing people to
behave rationally (In the Days of the Comet), or a world council of
scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come (1933). This
latter work depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with
cities being destroyed by aerial bombs. After the war a new world is
built, scientifically advanced and united. But at the end of this story
the question is left open about whether the Luddite backlash will stop
human progress.

Winner of the 2006 H.G. Wells Award:

Charlie Stross

Watch Charlie’s Acceptance Speech

Charles David George “Charlie” Stross (born Leeds, October 18, 1964) is
a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the first speculative
fiction author to receive the HG Wells award. His works range from
science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.
Stross is one of a new generation of British science fiction writers who
specializes in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries
include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod and Cory Doctorow.
In addition to working as a writer of fiction he has worked as a
technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist at
different times. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science.
His novella “The Concrete Jungle” (available online) won the Hugo award
for its category in 2005. Most recently, Accelerando (also available
online) won the 2006 Locus and Hugo awards for best science fiction
novel.

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/24 •

Transvision & Bostrom covered in Nature

The modern make-over

Scientists and philosophers gathered in Helsinki last week for
TransVision, a conference about ‘enhancing’ humans. Kerri Smith talks to
Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the
University of Oxford, UK, about what’s on the table.

Kerri Smith

Link

What kinds of human enhancement are we capable of now?

There’s the obvious example of performance-enhancing drugs for sport,
such as anabolic steroids and erythropoietin. We have alertness and
wakefulness enhancers - modafinil, caffeine - that can at least
temporarily reduce the need for sleep, although you might be wary of
permanently reducing the amount of sleep you get. If it were such a good
thing, why wouldn’t evolution already have built us to need less sleep?

Memory-enhancing drugs are currently under development. They seem to be
effective not only in people they are designed for - people with
dementia - but also for healthy subjects.

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/24 • (0) Comments

Indian transhumanist movement grows quickly

The Indian Transhumanist movement has seen much growth and improvement. We now stand at 111 members and about 343 occasional participants. Our efforts seeking sponsorship are also starting to appear promising. Out of that money we hope to be able to invite distinguished guests down for presentations at universities and other venues.

On August 19th ‘06, Italian Transhumanist colleague Gianni Lo Conti visited here in Kolkata. We had an extremely interesting discussion about a potential collaboration between the Transhumanists of Italy, Russia and India.

Our next steps are to establish an online presence for our members so that the world knows we’re there. Uniting our members for regular activism has been difficult due to everyone’s regular lives getting in the way, but we’ve got plans to attempt to double membership and set up a membership dues paying scheme so that we can finally start executing some funded activities.

Regards,
Gaurav Gupta

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/22 • (0) Comments

Transvision 2006 Most Successful Yet

The recently completed TransVision 2006 conference - with the theme of “Emerging Technologies of Human Enhancement” - finished up this last weekend in Helsinki Finland. The conference was organized by the multiply talented Finnish Transhumanist Association. Some 160 people attended, from the US, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and Russia. Another forty people participated in a special conference hall set up on the transhumanist Uvvy Island in the virtual reality environment Second Life.  All the conference video is available for viewing here, and a professional video team is producing a ten DVD collection of the speeches and panels to be purchased seprately or as a set in the Fall.

There is a Flicker photo set from the meeting.

Presentation materials from the various speakers are avalable and comments can be left at the conference community blog in LiveJournal. There is also a discussion thread on TV06 at the Immortality Institute site.

More reports soon.

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/21 •

Winner of the 2006 J.B.S. Haldane Award announced

For immediate release:

August 19, 2006
Transvision 2006
Helsinki Finland

Winner of the 2006 J.B.S. Haldane Award

Guido Núñez-Mujica for
The Ethics of Enhancing Animals, Specifically Great Apes” published in the Journal of Personal Cyber-Consciousness.

A student at the Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela, Núñez-Mujica argues that apes display human-level self-awareness and also use language and tools. Therefore, it can be argued that they deserve the same basic rights as humans. He makes a compelling argument for enhancing the Great Apes so that they may reach their full potential and ensure their survival.

We’re delighted to present this year’s award for this visionary extrapolation of the logic of transhumanist ethics.

James J. Hughes Ph.D.
World Transhumanist Association Executive Director

Guido writes:

Hyvää iltaa, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s been a pleasant surprise to be honored with the J.B.S. Haldane award tonight. I would like to give thanks to the WTA Board, specially to James Hughes and Giulio Prisco, also to Dr. Martine Rothblatt, who sponsored the first colloquium of the Law of Transhuman Persons, where I delivered the presentation that led me to this prize, also thanks to Mrs. Loraine Rhodes, from the Terasem Foundation for her help with the writing of the paper. Thanks to Jose Luis Cordeiro, my mentor in Transhumanism, and Future Studies, his criticisms and encouragement have been very important for my development. Finally, I want to give thanks to my mother, Mrs. Mirtha Mujica, for her love, understanding and support.

I want to congratulate the finnish chapter of the WTA for this wonderful conference, and to say hello to my finnish friends Ari Heljakka, Aleksei Riikonen, from the WTA and Elina Hiltunnen, from the Millenium project. I hope to see you again anytime soon and visit your beatiful country, a land of peace, and social justice, of beatiful traditions and high technology, the land of the many lakes, and of course, of Nokia, saunas, Startovarius and Lordi.

I hope that this Award will be only the first of many that will be awarded to people from undeveloped countries. I hope that the WTA keep up the good work that they have been doing, trying to gather voices from everywhere to get a complete picture of the future, from every point of view. Dear friends, my hope is that the new technologies along the good will of the people and their insight will help us to build a better world, one where such distinctions between countries become useless, a world where abundance defeats scarcity and longevity beats aging. I hope this conference will set part of the way to that possible world.

Thank you vey much. Kiitos!

Guido Núñez-Mujica

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/21 •

Mazal Tov on the opening of the Israeli Transhumanist Association Website!

מזל טוב על פתיחת האתר של הקבוצה הישראלית לאימורטליזם וטרנסהומניזם

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/14 •

The Argument for Life Extension

הטיעון למען הארכת חיים

ההזדקנות היא תהליך ביוכימי טבעי לחלוטין והיום עוד ועוד מדענים מסכימים שהארכה משמעותית של תוחלת החיים שלנו היא אפשרית בעתיד הנראה לעין.

השאלה היא, האם התרופה תגיע בזמן? או שדורנו יהיה האחרון למות, רגע לפני תחילתו של עידן שבו חיי אדם יהיו ארוכים ובריאים בהרבה מחיינו היום?

תוחלת חיי האדם הרבה יותר ארוכה היום מאשר בעבר. לפני כאלף שנה היא עמדה על 25 שנים וכיום התוחלת בישראל גבוהה מ-73 שנים. שיפור זה נבע מטיפול ומניעה של גורמי מוות כמו מחלות זיהומיות ושיפור הטיפול בפגיעות שנגרמו בתאונות ומלחמות. בטיפול בתהליך ההזדקנות עצמו, שהוא שורש הבעיה, לא חלה כמעט שום התקדמות.

בדיוק כאשר אנחנו צוברים טיפה של חכמה וניסיון, מגיעה הזקנה. היא מתישה את האנרגיות ומבזה את האינטלקט שלנו ומיד אחריה מסתער המוות כדי למסור את העלבון הסופי. הגיע הזמן לשים קץ למצב הזה.

בשנים האחרונות נשפך מעט אור על התהליכים הביולוגיים המונחים ביסוד ההזדקנות. חוקרים מפתחים כלים אשר יעניקו לנו שליטה חסרת תקדים על תהליכים ביולוגיים בסיסיים ברמות התא והגן ועל כלים אלו מבוססת התקווה לחיי אדם ארוכים ובריאים.

שאלה חשובה שעולה תמיד היא כיצד תוחלות חיים מורחבות ישפיעו על החברה שלנו. פרדיגמת החיים הליניאריים המסורתיים שבהם אנשים עוברים משלב של למידה וחינוך לשלב של עבודה וממנו לשלב של פנסיה ומנוחה תוכל להתחלף בפרדיגמת “חיי-מעגל” שבה חינוך, עבודה ופנאי פזורים באופן מחזורי במהלך החיים. זה יהיה זה נורמאלי לחלוטין עבור בן 50 לחזור לספסל הלימודים ולבני 70 להתחיל קריירות חדשות. תהיה תועלת משמעותית לחברה מהישרדותם של אנשים עם חכמה מצטברת של 150 שנות חיים, ועם החיוניות הדרושה כדי לפעול על פי חכמה זו.

קיומם של בני 150 רבים ללא ספק ישנה את החברה במידה רבה. אך בהתחשב בזה שאפילו אם יכולנו לעצור את ההזדקנות היום, עדיין צריכים לעבור 70 שנה לפני שהיו מספר ניכר של בני 150. בשבעים שנה הרבה דברים אחרים ישתנו. הטכנולוגיה תהיה שונה לחלוטין ומתקדמת מעל ומעבר לכל דמיון יותר מהיום. זה יהיה לא נכון להסתכל על ההשפעות של חיי אדם ארוכים ללא התחשבות בשאר השינויים שהזמן יביא.

פיצוץ אוכלוסין הוא סכנה אפשרית אבל ידוע שבחברות מפותחות טכנולוגית זוגות נוטים להביא פחות ילדים לעולם – למעשה, קצב הילודה נמוך משיעור התמותה. כבר עכשיו אנשים מצליחים ומשכילים בוחרים לרוב להחזיק במשפחות קטנות להביא ילדים בשלב מאוחר יותר בחיים. בכל מקרה, התמודדות עם הבעיות הנובעות מפיצוץ אוכלוסין פוטנציאלי עדיפה ממניעת חיים ארוכים ובריאים מעצמנו.

הארכת תוחלת החיים לא תטיל נטל על טיפול בריאותי, מכיוון שמדובר לא רק בהוספת שנים של חיים במצב של סניליות, חולשה וסבל, אלא בהוספת שנים בריאות לחיינו. כאשר בני השמונים יהיו בריאים וזריזים מנטאלית כמו בני הארבעים, הם יהיו הם בין החברים המועילים ביותר בחברה. בנוסף, בני אדם שחיים יותר יהיו בעלי עניין גדול יותר בעתיד, מה שיוביל לדרישה למדיניות אחראית יותר בתחומים כמו איכות הסביבה.

לפעמים אנשים תוהים אם זה לא יהיה משעמם לחיות לנצח. אבל האם המוות הוא יותר מעניין? חיים ארוכים, בדיוק כמו החיים הקצרים שלנו היום, יהיו מעניינים או משעממים באותה מידה שאנחנו נרצה שהם יהיו.

טרנסהומניסטים מאמינים שלפחות כמה מהתכונות של טבע האדם ניתנות לשינוי. תכונות רבות שלנו שכיום אין מנוס מהן לא ישארו כאלו לעד. בעשורים הבאים נפתח כלים טכנולוגיים אשר יאפשרו לנו לשנות לפחות חלק מהתכונות הבסיסיות של טבע האדם. אנחנו, כטרנסהומנסטים, רוצים לחיות חיים ממושכים יותר ובריאים יותר, ולהעצים את היכולת האינטלקטואלית, הרגשית והפיזית שלנו. האנושות היא התחלה מפוארת אך לא המילה הסופית.

להישאר בחיים זה אינסטינקט אנושי טבעי. זהו תנאי מוקדם לכל פעילות אחרת. הארכת החיים היא בסך הכול התפתחות טבעית של הרפואה - מריפוי מחלות ודחיית השלכות ההזדקנות - עד למניעה מוחלטת שלהם.

אז בואו ונהיה לא הדור האחרון אשר ימות מזקנה, אלא הדור הראשון שיביס אותה.

הפוסט הזה מבוסס במידה רבה על המאמר The Case Against Aging מאת ניק בוסטרום ועל תרגומו לעברית על ידי עדי ברמן ודניאל שטיין

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/14 •

Kirk seeks ‘superman’ technology watchdog to rein in scientists

SCIENTISTS of the future will have to be controlled by an ethics
watchdog to prevent a nightmare vision of nanotechnology becoming
reality, according to a Church of Scotland expert.

Dr Donald Bruce, the director of the Kirk’s society, religion and
technology project, said “it was only a matter of time” before action
had to be taken.

Link

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/08/05 • (0) Comments

Dvorsky reports on the World Future Society conf in Toronto

I was at the annual World Future Society conference this weekend manning a table for the World Transhumanist Association. The theme of this year’s conference was “Creating Global Strategies for Humanity’s Future.” Key speakers included Ray Kurzweil, Joel Garreau and Walter Truett Anderson.

At our table I had a number of WTA brochures, including literature promoting the WTA’s annual TransVision conference which will be held at Helsinki from August 17-19. I also brought along literature promoting the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Betterhumans, and local groups like the Toronto Secular Alliance. I was also fortunate to have the assistance of a couple local volunteers. I was hoping to do some live blogging, but the WiFi connection at the hotel was utterly inadequate and virtually non-existent.

The WFS conference, which boasted upwards of 1,000 attendees, was held at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto. At any given time during the 3-day conference there were 5-10 presentations running simultaneously, with topics touching upon such themes as business and careers, future methodology, resources and the environment, technology and science, and values and spirituality. There were a number of table-top displays in addition to our own, including other futurist groups and new age style religions. There were also a number of students at the conference, including a very friendly and enthusiastic group from Venezuela [thanks for hanging out with us, guys].

Having never been to a WFS event before, I wasn’t sure what to expect—particularly from the perspective of an exhibitor. While the conference theme was largely about “humanity’s future,” my sense going into the conference was that the WFS crowd would be more conservatively minded and more focused on near-term and business related issues.

For the most part this proved to be largely true, but overall I’d have to say I was impressed with the futurists at the conference. Terms that echoed in the conference rooms included the usual suspects: AI, nano, MEMS, virtual reality, and cybernetics. For this particular audience, most of whom were interested in corporate futurism, the idea of ‘enhancing’ human capacities was a given. I got the sense from several attendees that the ‘transhumanism’ moniker wasn’t completely necessary.

This was somewhat revealing for me, mostly because I spend a significant amount of my time addressing criticisms and fears as they pertain to human enhancement. Coming from the perspective of the corporate and futurist world, the enhanced human future is largely assumed. This attitude, while laudable in some respects, is disturbing in another; bioethics is largely absent in the corporate vernacular.

These conference attendees were certainly not a random sampling of society; very few people appeared openly shocked or appalled about human enhancement. That’s not to say that there weren’t detractors or voices of caution – there were certainly many different voices heard at the event. What was revealing, however, was that no one was hysterically opposed to the transhuman future.

Well, perhaps that’s not entirely fair. We did get a couple of real “live ones” at our tabletop.

I shouldn’t give the impression that this was a purely business oriented conference. There were many futurists and forward thinkers present who were genuinely interested in some of the broader existential, philosophical and ethical issues pertaining to humanity’s future. What surprised me, though, was the new age feel of some of the presenters and exhibitors. In my mind, it seems that scientific literacy cannot be assumed among all futurists and WFS members. 

As for the quality of the presentations, they were generally uneven. Some were genuinely mind enhancing (the virtual teams panel was excellent), while others were mind-boggingly idiotic. “Futurism lite’ would be too kind a term to describe some of the more pedestrian and boosteristic presentations.

As for our WTA tabletop, most people who came to our table quickly scanned our literature, avoided eye contact, and moved on. But a good number of them eagerly scooped up our material and initiated conversation. We moved a serious amount of literature—hundreds and hundreds of pamphlets, booklets and pages—the most I’ve ever distributed at a single event. A number of passers-by engaged me in lengthy conversations, sometimes as long as half an hour. I was glad to participate in these discussions and describe and defend transhumanist thought, but it made for a rather exhausting couple of days. And add to that the after-parties at the pubs, sleep was at a premium for me.

One last note: this was my first opportunity to hear Ray Kurzweil speak live in person. He is truly an amazing speaker and an even more amazing individual.

Thanks go out to all the people who helped me with the WTA tabletop, and a special thanks goes out to the WTA who made it possible.

Posted by secretary on 2006/08/01 • (0) Comments

Russia: Lectures on Transhumanism for “NASHI” movement


The organisers of the conference
from left: Danila Medvedev (RTM),
Valerija Pride (RTM), Maxim (Nashi),
Sergey Fedorov (Nashi, RTM)

On July 24-25, 2006 the Russian Transhumanist Movement organised its first open lectures on transhumanism. The lectures were held in the summer camp of “Nashi” youth movement (democratic, anti-fascist, pro-government) the leading youth organisation in Russia. The lectures were arranged by Sergey Fedorov, a transhumanist from Bryansk and a “Nashi” activist. About 100 people attended the lectures.

The lectures were targeted at a Future Shock Level 1 audience with the intention to bring them up 1-1,5 levels. The topic was supertechnologies, convergence and transhumanism. All relevant future technologies were described. Videos of some recent advances (Ossur robotic leg, DARPA challenge success, Cyberkinetics BCI demo, etc.) were shown. Transhumanism was introduced as the ideology that adequately fits the changing technological landscape. The lectures were about 1-1,5 hours.

We want to note the high level of interest of the “young elite” towards new technologies and transhumanism. Some of the people who attended said they will promote transhumanism in their cities. We also got an invitation to organise a similar lecture for schoolchildren in Ivanovo (Moscow region). There are also plans to promote the future supertechnologies within the “Nashi” movment that are being discussed. We hope our cooperation will continue.

Additional materials

A similar lecture was given in the past (at our 10th seminar and at a high-tech conference in February). The format appears quite effective and the contents of the lecture more than adequate for the first introduction (of a FS0-FS0 audience). If someone (e.g. TSN) wants to have it translated and used, contact us.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/07/30 • (0) Comments

Are transhumanists cranks?

Are transhumanists cranks?

July 24, 2006

A “crank” is a person who not only holds some belief which the vast majority of his contemporaries would consider counterfactual, but clings to this belief in the face of all counterarguments or evidence presented to him.

For those interested, Wikipedia does an impressive job of thoroughly defining what a crank is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crank_%28person%29

Every movement, whether it be social, political, philosophical or religious, has a few cranks amongst its leaders and many amongst its rank-and-file. The problem is when the majority of the leaders of a movement are cranks or are *perceived* as cranks by the rest of society.

So the question becomes: Are most transhumanists cranks, that is to say, do they cling to their beliefs in the face of all counterarguments or evidence presented to them?

When I am asked this question, I always answer No because most transhumanists I have talked to or whose works I’ve read are smart people.

However, as Skeptics Society founder Micheal Shermer explains, “smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons. Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not. This phenomenon [is] called the confirmation bias...”

Cryonics is probably the best example of whether or not transhumanists have a confirmation bias.

Although no one should not place value on the view of uninformed journalists, do transhumanists place value on the consensus of views of scientists and engineers working in cryobiology, a field that many of them have invested with transcendental aspirations?

In his book Posthuman Utopias: Counter-culture, Cyberculture and Chaos Culture, Remi Sussan writes the following critique of cryonics:

“When taking all [the extreme technical obstacles] into account, it is clear that we are in the realm of utter science-fiction (which doesn’t mean it’s impossible only very difficult). But is it ethical to ask people large sums of money for such a random result? At Alcor, the body costs 180,000$ and the head only 80,000$. In the libertarian perspective in which cryonicists find themselves, the question is not even asked. In a free market, everyone is responsible for their choices: the person who decides to have himself frozen knows perfectly the random nature of the operation (we cannot in fact accuse cryonicists of lying about the difficulty of their project). But can we so easily neglect the suffering of old or sick people willing to jump at any solution? [In fact, there aren’t that many: about 130 bodies are actually frozen and just a little more than 1000 members subscribing to the two cryonics associations.] Furthermore, some moderately appreciate the way cryonicists have of behaving themselves as evangelists concerned with always convincing the world instead of thinking as researchers interested in solutions by experimentation. This attitude has certainly hastened their exclusion from the circles of traditional research, especially cryobiology. Thus, without access to the best labs and the resources of universities, it is hard to see how cryonics could one day progress.”

So would it be fair or unfair to argue that transhumanists who believe in cryonics are cranks?

I guess only reading the reaction of transhumanists to all these arguments can answer that question…

In the meantime, I strongly encourage everyone to try to transcend bias.

To reduce one’s bias, one can take various measures during the process of critical thinking.

Instead of asking “How does this contradict my beliefs?” ask: “What does this mean?”

In the earlier stages of gathering and evaluating information, one should first of all suspend judgement (as one does when reading a novel or watching a movie). Ways of doing this include adopting a perceptive rather than judgmental orientation; that is, avoiding moving from perception to judgment as one applies critical thinking to an issue.

One should become aware of one’s own fallibility by:

1. accepting that everyone has subconscious biases, and accordingly questioning any reflexive judgments;
2. adopting an egoless and, indeed, humble stance;
3. recalling previous beliefs that one once held strongly but now rejects;
4. realizing one still has numerous blind spots, despite the foregoing.

How does one ever eliminate biases without knowing what the ideal is? A possible answer: by referencing critical thinking against a “concept of man”. Thus we can see that critical thinking and the formation of secure ethical codes form an integral whole, but a whole which remains limited without the backing of a concept of humanity.

Finally, one might use the Socratic method to evaluate an argument, asking open questions, such as the following:

* What do you mean by _______________?
* How did you come to that conclusion?
* Why do you believe that you are right?
* What is the source of your information?
* What assumption has led you to that conclusion?
* What happens if you are wrong?
* Can you give me two sources who disagree with you and explain why?
* Why is this significant?
* What is an alternate explanation for this phenomenon?
* How do I know you are telling me the truth?


Justice De Thezier is a social entrepreneur and creative professional. In 2003, he founded the Quebec Transhumanist Association, which he closed down in January 2008. From January 2006 to January 2008, De Thezier served on the board of directors of the World Transhumanist Association. And, from November 2005 to March 2007, he contributed to the Cyborg Democracy web portal and blog.

Posted by justicedt on 2006/07/24 •

Ukraine: Freeze up just in case?.. Or better try to drag civilization out of the abyss!?

Review of the 3rd Immortology Congress

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 3
The 3rd Immortalist forum in Ukraine

In the capital of Ukraine, the third representative forum, dedicated to the problems of immortalism, namely of efficient practical methods of immortality, was held on June 28, 2006. In the event not only already famous native scientific personalities (for example, such as geneticist Vitaliy Kordyum, philosopher Nykola Popov, gerontologist Hachik Muradyan) took part, but several young but very enthusiastic truth hunters from Russia, Belarus, Australia and the USA, as well. Danyla Medvedev captured perhaps the attention of the majority. He is a founder of the first Eastern European cryopantheon (that is the storage for frozen people, which are waiting for a fortunate day in thousands or even millions years, when they will be returned to this world). Some present journalists, having exchanged opinions with honorable guest on the perspectives of development of this matter and further possibilities of clients "resurrection" by future super-technologies, expressed the entirely natural wish: whether a similar institution could be built up in the country?


The next item of the agenda was the presentation of unique practical elaboration, related to recovery of injured or even wholly dismembered limbs with the procedure by Borys Bolotov, the people academician. In particular, a documentary video film with touching stories told by real participants of those events was shown. And then in front of the honorable scientist audience, the injured himself, Pavel Mihaylovich Orlyuk, a 57-year-old engineer from Kyiv, appeared. Finally most of scientists agreed that the priceless property of the Bolotov’s school should certainly be diligently studied at the state level.

The third part of the forum was almost completely devoted to specific world-view questions of understanding of the "immortality" term in its comparatively-historical aspect by morality, literary studies and philosophy, of course. Summing up the results of the conference (as well as the last achievements of the present immortology movement in general) was entrusted to the director of the Institute of Scientific Prognoses, academician of MABET Emir Ashshurskij. His lively emotional speech, full of sincere care about the destiny of the mankind against the background of today furiously roaring universal cataclysms, hardly could leave anyone indifferent:


Today probably most of us - conscientious representatives of the human civilization - are delighted with voiceless expectations; are standing on a crossways and peering at the horizons with anxiety: which perspective fields should we choose, what parts of ourselves and our being should we develop mostly?..  Although personally I am sure that, maybe, now we should operate in a way like K.E.Tsiolkovsky did, namely develop inner reserves of human brain far and wide. In parallel we should carry on developments of new safe types of energy and types of information delivery; so that people will be able to achieve outer space free and autonomously. As to the nearest "minimum program", for example, in the institute we are going to study deeply the rejuvenation properties of the column cell s and study the ways of improvement of ana- and criobiosis mechanisms. Even - just fancy - we are truly not against founding new more independent and progressive brood of human beings experimentally. And in general the main and really epochal aim of the whole today generation is to lay the undarkened remembrance about a human from the Earth against the future space successors. I think that to be our common credo and the first sacred obligation.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/07/23 • (0) Comments

Ukraine: A nonlinear curve leads up to the light!

Extended report about 2-nd Immortalist Forum in Ukraine

Ukraine Immortalist Forum 2
The 2nd Immortalist forum in Ukraine

Oh, this word “immortality” charming by the sweeping sounding! It sparkles by metaphysical paints, smells like old parchment and alchemy, dazzles minds by the numerous flashes of unspent lives.


Immortality is older than death, because a priori every individual is sure in endlessness of the life. In fact, neither animals nor little children are even unaware of reality of close death. The idea of eternity, that was born in depth of caves as protest against ominous fathomless fair of non-existence, for many centuries became one of the most cherished human dreams. Since that time the sea of blood of innocent babies was spilled, eaten enormous amount of frogs, spiders and diamond dust, far more than one deciliter of magic elixir was drunk. Nevertheless, it seemed somehow that we are too far from certain progress in this industry.

However, approaches of solution this phenomenally difficult, on the face of it, problem began to be slowly grasped somewhere at the beginning of our millennium. Anyway, to be fair, we should mention that they appeared in some other branch, which is connected neither with mystic doctrine, nor even with tiring diets and complex of some secret exercises. Space for realization of numerous everlasting expectations and hopes was given, how appeared, by newest biotechnologies!

That is why no wonder that the Second international forum about problems of immortalism, that was completed these days in Kiev (April 24, 2006), was dedicated to such revolutionary influence of biotechnologies both on a concrete human organism and on the dynamics of forward universal development in general.

Thus, as it, actually, was expected, the most interesting and rich in content turned out to be academician of Ukrainian AMS Vitalij Kordium with his lecture “Attempt of Nonlinear Prognosis for the Nearest Century”. The basic idea of his appearance was that modern humanity, as well as before, still tries to live and develop after the laws of biosphere, although, meantime, it grew up from its usual measurements long ago already. Natural evolution was completed and the evolution of mind came on changing, which is similarly exists according to some regularities, that is not discovered enough yet. So, in other words, a “ world begins to run on the laws of noosphere (this way great scientist formulated his ideas) and the sooner we understand it and come to be aware in modern realities, the more safe and predictable may become our future!”. In conclusion, B.A. Kordium dare even on such an unfavorable prognostication: as, say, the Earth is already overcrowded, in the nearest 10-15 years “will take place a great slump of superfluous weight” approximately to 1 milliard of people. It can take happen either as a result of whole-planetary war-conflicts or - and this even more lucky to happen – as a result of appearance of new unknown yet virus, which will cause a cleaning pandemic. Although, in spite of that such situation is well-grounded, in fact, you’ll agree that hardly any of us desire to get to the number those pitilessly “sifted out”. In fact, if on old concepts population of 10 milliards of people is quite huge amount, in future, when people, for instance, begin a mass colonization of close cosmic space, it may even cause a lack of labor force; in that case we don’t even talk about getting rid of people, as at first need would be quick search for reinforcement. And in general, to make everything clear up to the end, earth civilization is fully capable to avoid unpleasant catastrophic events according to most nowadays prognoses. During the discussions this idea in quite understandable way was persuade to all present by scientist secretary of RTM Ihor Kyrylyuk, who in request of academician O.A.Kryshtal told about primary purposes and priorities of modern trans-humanistic movement. Except him, at a conference such philosophers gave a word as Emir Ashshurskij, Valentine Kulinychenko and Nykolaj Popov, neurophysiologist John Leah, cybernetists Vladymyr Suhyh and Valerij Grebnev, futurologist Alexander Mynakov, politician and economist Alexander Rjavskyj.

The lecture of Kiev fantasy Ihor Sudak, who is mad about immortality and potential resurrection by high modern technologies in his creative work, became the finishing chord of the conference. Thus, as it was planned on the agenda, Ihor Nykolajevych has previously sum up results of a great sociological project, that had been started by the Institute of Scientific Prognoses lately.

The first thematic inquest was made among pretty intellectual public, by the way, – there were real members and guests of prestige international forum for fantasies “Eurokon-2006”, that took place in Kiev just about a month ago. Moreover, among mentioned respondents could be faced rather famous persons – such, say, as writers Andrej Kurkov, Bogdan Goldak, Vitalij Ablitsov, Gregory Panchenko, Sergej Dyachenko, Borys Sydyuk, Oles Uljyanenko, Stanislav Bondarenko, Andjej Sapkovskyj, Henri Lajon Oldy, and also editor-in-chief of weekly magazine “BBC” Myhayl Pavlov, painter Dmytryj Kravtsov and popular television announcer Andrej Dmytruk.

So, in the good-looking colored questionnaire on the question highlighted in bold type “Would you like to live unlimited long?” , in accordance with an author project, three almost ready variants were offered for answer:

“1. Yes, sure, because…”

“2. Yes, but only on condition that…”

“3. No, because…”

Additionally age and sex had to be mentioned.

The results were distributed as follows. To become immortal unconditionally expressed the desire 43 persons; agreed to immortality, although provided the certain circumstances 64 participants; and categorically against eternal life 118 came forward with 225 polled. Of course, such figures made interested all present scientists, moreover their natural desire to know more detailed motivation of members of “Eurokon” gave them no rest, therefore our fantasy writer without any choice had to find out examples of most widespread and most original answers from every group. Particularly, was turned out, that the most common condition for those, who wished to live forever, was getting immortality not only for themselves, but also for their relatives and friends, that for all close encirclement. The second place took health, the third – youth, after is affluent existence, creativeness and endless development. Some three altruists desired immortality in the spirit of Strugatskije – for all and everyone. What is interesting, that such important things as love and happiness was mentioned rarely enough. Apparently, was meant, that they either will be added irrespectively or fight for them will make future endless life full and bright. In fact, exactly the boredom turned out to be that main argument for those, who surely refuse immortality and chose the third variant of answer. “To live forever is boring, one day it would have pestered you to death” – so argued 48 from 118. Next most frequent reason for refusal of immortality became absence of philosophical sense, unnaturality, desire to yield a place to the new generation and laconic “no” without any explanations. Some considered that limitation of life is the main stimulus for work, others were frightened by uncertainty, and one seventeen-years-old girl simply impressed by her frankness, declaring that she is “…already fed-up to death with living”.

By the way, an interesting point is that age almost didn’t influence on individual choice, while the sexual factor influenced quite appreciable. In a result, amount of women who recklessly disregarded eternity appeared almost in two times higher comparatively with men. Of course, this fact immediately caused a stormy discussion among participants of the conference, who offered their versions of such strict division (it is remembered, there were even few attempts to dissolve this rather serious theme with obviously not serious jokes about blondes). However, final conclusion wasn’t made so… Although, perhaps, women’s destiny in Ukraine is really twice harder than their antipodes’ one, so that it is shown in their answers so brightly. Or maybe women are simply less prone to transcendental projects and are more conservative, thinking deep inside “Let, they say, these fellows experiment a little: anyway, whatever would happen no one will feel sorry. Well, even if something turns out fortunate we will grasp and grip the whole everything to ourselves (or even better – they will bring us this cherished immortality on a tray as coffee to a bed!)”.

Besides, in any case the results of first sociological inquest, actually, appeared in a very interesting way. And absolutely possible that if the majority of population will answer on just asked question as a famous scenario writer B.O.Joldak did – he wrote just “WANT!” in big litters on the whole sheet, A4 format – than to the real immortality will be left only few steps. In fact, the social request is able to realize something that seemed impossible at first – such examples have already happened in history more than once!

By the way, concluding the appearance, Ihor Sudak has said that similar projects would last and in future will be still conducted among most various social groups: studying youth, elderly people and even patients of hospices . Hmm…It really seems to be interesting: how will the results be distributed in these cases? Whether age, education or at last social status would play decisive role in making such a vital choice?..

Well, perhaps, answers for all those riddles we will know just on the next, the third immortalistic forum, that is planned to take place in the end of June – in eve of everlasting summer examinations, vacations and holidays.

PRESS-SERVICE of the INSTITUTE for SCIENTIFIC PROGNOSES.

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/07/23 • (0) Comments

Transhumanism: Yearning to transcend biology (The Boston Globe)

With everything else that’s happening in the world today, debates about whether humanity should embrace as yet nonexistent technologies that could enhance our physical and intellectual abilities and someday make us “more than human” may seem frivolous.

Nonetheless, a debate on “transhumanism” has been going on for a few years, with naysayers and doomsayers on one side, optimistic futurists on the other, and too little in between.

Writing in a recent issue of The Weekly Standard, Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute (a conservative think tank best known for championing the cause of “intelligent design"), falls squarely on the naysayers’ side. Smith discusses a symposium, “Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights,” held at Stanford Law School in May, and does not like what he sees.

Link

Posted by mrinesi on 2006/07/10 • (0) Comments

Belarussian Transhumanist Movement launched its web-site and forum

Белорусский орнаментНациональная библиотека
A robot near the Belarus National Library

On June 16, 2006 the Belarussian Transhumanist Movement launched its web-site Transhumanism.by and forum. The site is being improved and soon will be totally upgraded.

Immortalism and transhumanism have a long history in Belarus. In 1960s Vasily Kuprevich, follower of “Russian cosmism” and the President of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus SSR, was one of the pioneers of the idea of practical human immortality.

Since 2004 knowing transhumanist forecasts on AI are part of the official PhD requirements of the Belarus Attestation Committee.

Today under the leadership of President Alexander Lukashenko Belarus is searching for an innovative way of economic growth and strongly emphasizes research activities and software development. There is a chance that the whole country will choose transhumanistic path to development and growth.

We are now looking for new members to join the movement and to participate in its development. In light of the forthcoming Belarussian High-Tech Park our work is of great importance and can influence its evolution.

Contact details

With all questions and ideas please contact Dmitry Glinsky ( Дмитрий Глинский ), Member of the Coordination Council.

Phone: +375293330381 (Minsk)
ICQ: 344-440-190
e-mail: minkymouse@mail.ru
http://www.transhumanism.by

Posted by Danila Medvedev on 2006/06/19 • (0) Comments
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This is the archive site for World Transhumanist Association content circa 1998-2009. Please see our new site at humanityplus.org.

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