38 – Transhumanism (pt 1)

Going beyond our meat-suits

Transhumanism as Simplified Humanism text. Also available in audio here, starting at 6:52

Eneasz with PZ Meyers, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and David Brin: The Immortality Debate

The Fun Theory Sequence (also – here’s a quick summary, but the summaries really never do the sequences full justice)

Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos

China accused of engineering its most famous sporting export (Yao Ming)

The Singleton

Louis C.K.’s Incurable Shitty Ankle

Fiction Mentioned:
Eneasz’s short story “Host” (plus others) is now available in a collection, both print and ebook!
The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi
The Golden Age, by John C. Wright
Friendship Is Optimal, by Iceman

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10 Responses to 38 – Transhumanism (pt 1)

  1. Felipe Fernández Morell says:

    Eneasz, I heard you say a computer can write a better song. I´m sure from an armonics/theoric point of view, that stands true. Yet for a really perfect song from the human point of view, wouldn´t the computer need a human perception and way of experimenting music? Wouldn´t the perfect work of art have to be executed from within the sensory set it´s intended to? And if they incorporate all our sensory quirks, would they still be able to compose theoretically perfect music?
    I guess the resume would be, can the brown note be found without intestines?

    • BayesianAdmin says:

      I don’t know… I don’t think it’s impossible. AlphaGo doesn’t need a human way of understanding what Go is in order to dominate it. I could see a strong enough deep-learning network find a way to make very good music without any ability to experience it.

      • Felipe Fernández Morell says:

        I think there might be the key to my point. Is it really possible for a computer to fabricate a valid, meaningfull experience? I don´t think the day computers can make music is very far, in fact it will probably improve it… But will this ever give us a Bohemian Rapsody? I think your Alpha Go comparison is not to point, since go is a mathematical/probabilities problem with a clear aim. Musics aim (in it´s higher forms) would be entertaining and evoking sensations while expressing something. Actually, I´d love to hear you guys podcast about a rationalist take on beauty and art.

        Anyways, thanks for answering, and for the podcasts, I really enjoy them!

  2. Tepid Gruel says:

    I do not think it is so easy to wave away the problem of overpopulation. Yes, I hope we colonize other planets etc. but there is no telling if we will get to immortality first. If there are too many of us who can live indefinitely, we may just kill each other off in continuous war or genocide. To be clear, this is not only pushback against you guys. So much of the rationality community at large seems to flippantly downplay the gray areas and practical implementation concerns.

    • Tepid Gruel says:

      I should say that Eneasz’s brilliant idea of universal compulsory reversible birth control should be much easier to implement and could slow down the time bomb.

      • Senjiu says:

        I’m not even sure if that’s necessary. It would probably help but a lot of children (>50%) nowadays are born because they’re wanted. Often the reason is a bit stupid, though. If they’re born because the parents need someone to take care of them when they’re old we could just pay a global basic income that people could live off. If they’re born because of an ideology wanting to increase its influence by increasing the percentage of the population that support it and the leaders urging the supporters to have children for that reason is also a stupid reason.

        In a lot of industrial nations the population would decline if there were no immigrants (with people having less than one child per person on average.. or less than two if you count each child as a child of two people) because people don’t necessarily need children. Those that want some still have children and those that don’t.. don’t. I think that would be the solution for this problem I’m most in favor of. Just remove the need for people to have children and watch the world’s population stabilize or even decline a bit.

        • Tepid Gruel says:

          For the current state of the world, that sounds reasonable. Are you saying we could reach a stable global population this way even if old age (and maybe car accidents and the many diseases) were mostly eliminated? Would there still be enough accidental deaths to create space for everyone who wanted to have a kid?

          • Senjiu says:

            No. I think it works for the current system in which everyone that’s born vanishes off the planet within at most 120 years or so. It.. I don’t think it matters that much how old people become so long as they (or at least the women) are only fertile for some 40 years or so. Yes, if people were to live twice as long as they do today (and we had an average of one child per person) we’d have twice the population that we would have today (also assuming an average of 1 child per person). I think the change in population is more important (at least in the long term) than the total population inhabiting the planet at a given point in time.

            I think the planet could support a lot more population if we changed the way we live. We could move habitation underground to use the surface for farming or energy generation, 70% of the planet are oceans with a really low population density… I could imagine a lot of food being based on microorganisms that grow a lot faster and with a lot less waste.. there’s fusion technology on the horizon (it’s been 20 years in the future since the 70s or so, I know, but there’s progress being made and then suddenly it’s gonna be 10 years and then five and then we have it).
            And with more or less an unlimited supply of energy, reuseable spacecraft, asteroid mining and the construction of giant space stations I think it’s possible to get a huge part of the population off the planet (by then it’s only a question of how many rockets you have).
            At that point it doesn’t matter so much any more to limit population growth, at least for a while. 🙂

  3. Mark Plus says:

    Transhumanism now, in 2017, tries to anticipate what people in more advanced civilizations in the 22nd and beyond would probably call “health care.”

    For some reason transhumanists themselves seem to have trouble communicating this idea to normies.

  4. James says:

    I don’t like your characterization of living in the real world as meanijgfulmeaningful. I can appreciate your emotional preference for living in the world as you know it.

    However how many people really lead meaningful lives? How much of that meaning is derived from interactions with the real world?

    I would argue little. Look at tobacco executives. They are rich powerful and have huge roles to play in the world. By all we know about psychology they should be leading fufiling and meaningful lives. However they are just making the world generally worse. Same is true for people that work in fast food, or junk food, or any other industry. Then consider the people at the bottom that have the same moral lack of worth and also lack material safety and comfort.

    I’d wager the average level of utilons and happy units the average person gets from reality is negative. When the talk is about wire heading I really feel like the emotional preference for reality is based on an ideal life not a real one.

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