Thursday, December 8, 2016

Becoming a machine




Image from Google. Let me know if you want credit/have it taken down.


Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan ran for president this year.

As you might have noticed, things did not turn out the way he might have hoped. Hell, the election didn't turn out how I hoped. Anyhow, what Istvan was able to do was to get ideas out into the marketplace of robust debate and discussion. His August essay "Why I Advocate for Becoming a Machine" in Motherboard is loaded with such ideas.

He speaks to how people tend to balk at transhumanism, equating it with a loss of humanity should we replace parts of ourselves with cybernetics. Well hate to break this to everyone, but we are already doing that to greater and lesser extents. Knee replacements, titanium rods in backs and bones, and artificial hearts are commonplace. Replacements for internal organs other than the heart are on the way. Why should we wait for something to go wrong before uprgrading ourselves to more durable forms?

Transhumanists don't want to stop being human. We want to get more out of being human.

Here are few points I've extracted from Istvan's essay at the link:

"When we propose electively replacing limbs, for example, most people feel something has fundamentally changed in the human being. A line has been crossed that cannot easily be undone. We may still have a mind of flesh, but our eyes tell us we are now partially a machine and something very different than before. And that freaks people out."

"The reality is that many transhumanists want to change themselves dramatically. They want to replace limbs with mechanical endoskeleton parts so they can throw a football further than a mile. They want to bench press over a ton of weight. They want their metal fingertips to know the exact temperature of their coffee. In fact, they even want to warm or cool down their coffee with a finger tip, which will likely have a heating and cooling function embedded in it."

"Biology is simply not the best system out there for our species’ evolution. It’s frail, terminal, and needs to be upgraded. In fact, even machines may be upgraded in the future too, and rendered as junk as our intelligences figure out ways to become beings of pure organized energy. “Onward” is the classic transhumanist mantra."

I just don't see anything wrong with that.

Well, there are few "upgrades" that Istvan doesn't mention that I'm looking forward to, most of them dealing with the brain. I'm enamored with the idea of chip implants that will allow the mind to take in and correleate vast amounts of information. More than that, I want complete and utter control of my emotions, perhaps even shutting them off altogether for stretches of time. I know I've been saying that for a while. 

I have no thoughts on what kind of president Istvan would make, but I sure hope he keeps pushing the ideas.


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