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Transhumanism, Singularity, and identity politics.


9 replies to this topic

#1
Odine

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So admittedly I'm a layperson in this field of theoretical philosophy...but I've always thought anyone can be philosophical regardless of how well versed in the progenitors of the subject one is. So with that in mind, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject as I will try to present it...

 

Transhumanism and reaching singularity is a staple of science fiction pop culture and has been explored in so many different stories. The thing is.. I genuinely think we are headed in the direction of transcending our humanity, via a marriage of our minds and our corporeal bodies with robotic and digital technologies. Weather that will lead to immortality is another conversation altogether, but the point is people are already getting artificial limbs which function through digital/neurological interfacing, digitized hearing aids and other medical implants today in what is rather common place regularity..in civilian populations no less. I have no idea what crazy **** governments and military contractors have been developing to push these technologies forwards that we don't know anything about. There is a Russian billionaire who at the moment is investing a significant amount of his fortune to develop a method to transfer his consciousness into digital storage device. Maybe online even....I mean.. he is seriously developing the tech right now with a team of scientists. https://en.wikipedia...i/Dmitry_Itskov and  https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/653025/This-Russian-billionaire-hopes-to-achieve-IMMORTALITY-by-2045-and-here-s-how

 

 With all this in mind.. I suspect that within my lifetime (I'm 35 now) we will see people alter their bodies, be able to interface with digital technologies biologically with ease.  The development of synthetic organs will be well underway. Just the physical implications of our relationship with technology brings into mind the Ship of Theseus  thought experiment (How often can you change the parts of an object before it is no longer the same object?) let alone thinking about the implications of being able to digitise the human consciousness. Mind = Blown. 

 

This leads me to thinking (and I mean no offense to anyone who identifies as {insert whatever} here) but I think these developments will lead to the true civil rights problems of the modern age. For all the identity politicking  that is in vogue at the moment, whether or not someone is of minority or of whatever gender or of whatever sexual persuasion will pale in comparison to the Identity politics that will happen when we as a people begin to transcend the very definitions of our species. I mean... weather or not you feel like a man or a woman will seem comparatively trivial when people no longer identify as human.. Or when others no longer identify them as being human since they have a multitude of augmentations and can exist within a digital construct as well as exist biologically. 

 

So where will that leave us? What will the social implications be? Will we redefine the definitions of what it is to be human so as to be inclusive of people who are evolving beyond our biological limitations? Or will we no longer consider such evolved individuals human?  Will regular humans call the technologically evolved "Augs" with scorn as in Deus Ex: Human Evolution? What will all this mean to the theists amongst us? And what are the ethical considerations of having autonomy over our next evolutionary steps? Should anyone have the right to choose how they wish to evolve?

 

I mean the questions just keep coming! Feel free to engage with this as much or as little as you like... but It's been on my mind lately and fancied a discussion with those that might be interested.


Edited by Odine, 27 May 2018 - 08:29 AM.


#2
pavonis

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I had a long response written out but then lost it. I'll write it again later, but in sum it was "the singularity is not going to happen, and there's a long way to go from replacement limbs and senses to immortality and silicon-based consciousness".
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#3
Odine

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I look forward to further explanation 



#4
captainbleh

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Might write more later, but sometimes I think there's a tendency in some singularity-ists to either underestimate or be unaware of the complexity of the problems (especially "wet", biological ones) that they think the singularity will solve, and it's hard to refute the idea because computing power reaching some sort of critical mass based on current trends (or in quantum form) isn't implausible. My lack of optimism is based on how little things have changed (in a fundamental sense) during my lifetime (I'm 43). Progress is glacial, and sometimes the singularity-ists belief that that will cease at some point feels like a belief in an anti-apocalypse which is no less deluded than a belief in an apocalypse. 1000 years or even 100 years from now? Maybe. But I'll be (pleasantly) surprised if the world 20 years from now is significantly different compared to now and 1998.


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#5
Odine

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When I say in my lifetime.. I do mean that we might see the beginning of these things happening with some kind of regularity in my twilight years. And I expect to live a long life (barring any accidents) being nutrition is what it is these days and the amount of exercise I get... 



#6
Tank

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I've thought/written a lot on this topic. Its mind bending.

Alter Carbon, both the books and the Netflix version, go into this a lot. People's minds can be digitally downloaded, and placed into any body they want-- any race, any gender. Space travel is mostly moot-- with forefathers having made long treks and current day people have their existences transmitted to far off planets. Said bodies can by cybernetically modified, machine interfaces ands AI are common place. It's one of the few post singularity series that presents the ideas, but stays grounded in humanity I think.

Gender and orientation are no longer things people care about-- but money, status, politics, and religion still are.
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#7
Poe Dameron

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I never got the interest in downloading a mind into an AI.  Seems to me that you're still dead.  There's just another "being" of some sort running around out there that thinks it's you.



#8
Robin

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I think all these modern terms line right up with ideas about reincarnation and immortality that religious groups have pondered about or firmly defined for themselves from time immemorial.

If I recall correctly religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism (some other Asian religions too of which I forget their names atm) have ideas about reincarnation that can support gender politics (the who am I aspect) as an identity that transferred from a past lifetime. I believe there are some scholarly people that suggest reincarnation was removed from Abrahamic religions to ensure power over the populace (via threat of eternal damnation) remained within the Church. I think Plato also proposed souls reincarnate as all forms of life and that appears to fall right in line with those today that associate more with being an animal other than human... all of which also leads into ideas about transhumanism.

I personally think that if souls exist then downloading, copying, our present minds into a computer might be more of a save file for that specific moment of consciousness rather than that file actually still being us. I dunno much of anything, of course. Maybe it creates another incarnation of us, timey-whimey style and we are existing simultaneously but seperately. Is this what happens if we clone ourselves? Same about twins (or any multiples)? Shared soul, multiple experience, or individual souls. Godhead?

All fun to ponder about, really. Well, unless you face persecution for those thoughts then that probably isnt fun at all.
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#9
pavonis

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The singularity happened about 5000 years ago, when writing was invented. Everything since then has simply been evolution and refinement of symbols, instruments, and media. The preserved writings are closest to immortality that we will ever achieve.

We can continue to increase lifespans and install technology, either as enhancements or replacements, but we won't achieve biological immortality. We might be able to build model minds in computers, but will they become "artificial super intelligences"? I doubt it. Consciousness doesn't immediately provide insight into self-awareness. Being able to think faster won't necessarily provide answers, either. So counting on AI to self-evolve doesn't seem likely. A computer program is just as likely to lobotomize itself as self-improve, or design a better AI.

Futurists are imaginative but don't often see where things are really going. In the 1960s we were going to be living on Mars and the moon by 2018, but few people expected the microcomputer revolution and the subsequent results. I don't think the futurists' views on AI and transhumanism are as likely to unfold in any of the ways predicted so far. It's fun to talk about and take cracks at the issues though.
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#10
RamonAtila

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I believe merging with machines isn't simply reserved for your limbs. I believe one day we'll be able to upload software into our brains. People with lots of money will be able to have better upgrades, more data and memory for their minds, etc.

I believe also with this evolution we will still be considered human because of the nature of our spirit, but that we will no longer be considered homo sapiens.

But downloading your memory into a different body I think wouldn't work, because your personality is made by your body, I think. Your blood flowing, the distinct calibration of your brain, the weathering of your body is what I think makes you who you are. Change body you're changing soul. I don't believe there is an I, I believe that is just your body and the consciousness is just a generic consciousness that is the same consciousness for everybody.
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