The Transhumanist Reader
More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha)
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
Text Colour-ConventionsBooks / Papers Citing this BookNotes Citing this Book

BOOK ABSTRACT:

"Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future"

Back Cover Blurb
  1. The rapid pace of emerging technologies is playing an increasingly important role in overcoming fundamental human limitations. The Transhumanist Reader presents the first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the origins and current state of transhumanist1 thinking regarding technology's impact on the future of humanity.
  2. Featuring core writings by seminal thinkers in the speculative possibilities of the posthuman condition, essays address key philosophical arguments for and against human enhancement, explore the inevitability of life extension, and consider possible solutions to the social and ethical implications and concerns.
  3. A multidisciplinary approach to themes of transhumanism2 reveals the full breadth of the philosophical study of issues relating to human enhancement, human futures, and the advancement and transformation of the human condition.
  4. Edited by the internationally acclaimed founders of the philosophy and social movement of transhumanism3, The Transhumanist Reader is an indispensable guide to our current state of knowledge on the quest to expand the frontiers of human nature.

Amazon Customer Review
  1. With this volume transhumanism4 stakes its claim to be an intellectual and social movement of note. That those who embrace the transformation of humanity through emerging technologies have a sense that their beliefs embody a significant movement that is giving form to both the present and the future is not surprising. What is truly remarkable is the breadth of interests, the array of perspectives, and the depth of thought touched upon by the contributors to these essays.
  2. A significant portion of the leaders of transhumanism5 are represented in The Transhumanist Reader. That alone makes the book worth reading. There is the sense that many of the writers feel they need to defend themselves against their critics. In this they provide some deeply reflective and creative, although not always convincing, arguments.
  3. Whether history looks back on transhumanism6 as an important philosophical movement, however, will only be partially determined by the ideas of its leading proponents. Ultimately these thinkers will be judged by whether their vision of a radical transformation of humanities due to emerging technological possibilities truly occurs.

BOOK COMMENT:

John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (23 April 2013)



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part I


Full Text1
  1. Transhumanism2 developed as a philosophy that became a cultural movement, and now is regarded as a growing field of study. It is often confused with, compared to, and even equated with posthumanism3.
  2. Transhumanism4 arrived during what is often referred to as the postmodernist era, although it has only a modest overlap with postmodernism. Ironically, transhumanism5 shares some postmodernist values, such as a need for change, re-evaluating knowledge, recognition of multiple identities, and opposition to sharp classifications of what humans and humanity ought to be.
  3. Nevertheless, transhumanism6 does not throw out the entirety of the past because of a few mistaken ideas. Humanism and scientific knowledge have proven their quality and value. In this way, transhumanism7 seeks a transmodernity or hypermodernism rather than arguing explicitly against modernism.
  4. One aspect of transhumanism8 that we hope to explore and elucidate throughout this book is the need for inclusivity, plurality, and continuous questioning of our knowledge, as we are a species and a society that is forever changing. The roots and core themes of transhumanism9 address some of the underlying themes that have formed its philosophical outlook.
  5. The first section of the book presents a definitive overview of transhumanism10. Transhumanism11 is a class of philosophies that seeks the continued evolution of human life beyond its current human form as a result of science and technology guided by life-promoting principles and values. Transhumanism12 promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"More (Max) - The Philosophy of Transhumanism"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part I - Chapter 1


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Philosopher Max More sets forth the core values, goals, and principles shared by transhumanists2 and outlines commonly shared epistemological and metaphysical views, while noting the various distinct schools of transhumanist3 thought.
  2. More provides a briefing on the historical roots of the philosophy from the ancients through to the twentieth-century precursors, explains transhumanism4's relationship to humanism and to other concepts including extropy and the technological singularity, and then outlines contemporary variations.
  3. He concludes by identifying several misconceptions about transhumanism5.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) - The Philosophy of Transhumanism")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction".



"Vita-More (Natasha) - Aesthetics: Bringing the Arts & Design into the Discussion of Transhumanism"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part I - Chapter 2


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Although the philosophical, scientific, technological, and even political aspects of transhumanism2 have received much attention over the past decades, the aesthetic aspects have often been treated as secondary, especially to technology.
  2. Natasha Vita-More fills that gap. Vita-More explores the artistic, design-based approaches to the classical human form stemming from the Renaissance and on to the cyborg3 and the transhuman and asks: "What might be concerns of artistic works and design-based practices that approach human enhancement and life extension?"




In-Page Footnotes ("Vita-More (Natasha) - Aesthetics: Bringing the Arts & Design into the Discussion of Transhumanism")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction".



"Bostrom (Nick) - Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part I - Chapter 3


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Philosopher Nick Bostrom notes that extreme human enhancement could result in "posthuman" modes of being. Being posthuman would mean possessing a general central capacity (healthspan, cognition, or emotion) greatly exceeding the maximum attainable by any current human being.
  2. Bostrom argues that some possible posthuman modes of being would be very good, and that it could be very good for us to become posthuman.




In-Page Footnotes ("Bostrom (Nick) - Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction".



"Various - Transhumanist Declaration (2012)"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part I - Chapter 4


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. The Transhumanist2 Declaration sets forth values and practical goals for transhumanism3 and the many organizations and scholarly research associated with transhumanism4 that largely evolved out of the seminal work of Extropy Institute, an educational non-profit organization and, more recently, Humanity+.
  2. The Declaration was co-authored by a collection of transhumanists5 with diverse backgrounds.




In-Page Footnotes ("Various - Transhumanist Declaration (2012)")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction".



"Sandberg (Anders) - Morphological Freedom - Why We Not Just Want It, but Need It"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part I - Chapter 5


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Anders Sandberg argues that we have sound reasons to affirm a right to morphological freedom. A right to freedom and the right to one's own body implies that one has a right to modify one's body.
  2. Morphological freedom is a negative right - it is the right to be able to do certain things without interference but it does not create any claim on others to support one's exercise of that right. Sandberg argues that we want morphological freedom because of an ancient drive for self-creation through self-definition. We need morphological freedom because not accepting it as a basic right would have negative effects.
  3. Sandberg concludes by briefly considering some implications for the future of healthcare.




In-Page Footnotes ("Sandberg (Anders) - Morphological Freedom - Why We Not Just Want It, but Need It")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Roots and Core Themes - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part II


Full Text1
  1. Enhancement can be corrective - as in the case of eyeglasses, contact lenses, robotic limbs, and dental implants. The history of corrective enhancement reaches back to the invention of crescent lenses dating back to the fifth century BC, the prosthetic foot of an Egyptian mummy, and even to the prehistoric ingenuity of dental drillings, carbon-dated to 9,000 years ago.
  2. Enhancement can also augment capabilities beyond the limits of purely biological, non-technologically altered humanity.
  3. The second section of the book turns from philosophy and aesthetics toward the more practical side of human enhancement by addressing the nature of the human body, alternative biologies, and technological transformations of the human, including hybrids and virtual bodies.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Freitas (Robert A.) - Welcome to the Future of Medicine"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part II - Chapter 6


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Robert Freitas explores a technology highly relevant to this field which he calls "nanomedicine" - a well-developed approach that includes precise assemblies of nanorobot structures for repairing human physiology.
  2. He emphasizes the disastrous outcomes for life and wellbeing due to the current limited level of medical technology development and commercialization. An immediate large-scale investment in medical nanorobots could save up to 52 million lives a year.
  3. Freitas explains the essence of nanotechnology and how it could lead to a 1,000-fold improvement over our current human biological abilities. Nanomedicine would not only save and extend lives but enable us to transform our biology in radical and desirable ways.
  4. Whether or not Freitas's specific vision is realized exactly, the direction of technology suggests that level of fine control over biological processes is almost inevitable.




In-Page Footnotes ("Freitas (Robert A.) - Welcome to the Future of Medicine")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction".



"Vita-More (Natasha) - Life Expansion Media"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part II - Chapter 7


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Natasha Vita-More’s design theory introduces the idea of life expansion as "increasing the length of time a person is alive and diversifying the matter in which a person exists," but it is the act of being alive that is the core theme throughout the essay.
  2. Vita-More asks: "what core elements of life are to be expanded and what type of matter might we live within?" She draws upon several views on what is life, including that of cybernetics.
  3. Stemming from Aristotle's psyche and Lynn Margulis' symbiogenesis, Vita-More echoes Dylan Thomas' rage against the "dying of the light" by suggesting a transmutation of matter.




In-Page Footnotes ("Vita-More (Natasha) - Life Expansion Media")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction".



"Beloff (Laura) - The Hybronaut Affair: A Menage of Art, Technology, and Science"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part II - Chapter 8


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In the field of wearable technology, artist Laura Beloff proposes human agency as a virtual "Hybronaut," which forms a continuous existence while being connected to real-time and virtual space.
  2. Beloff writes: "An individual can be seen as a mesh of links crisscrossing with the body and between the body and technological devices, and further, to other bodies and surrounding environment."
  3. Beloff suggests that the relationship between user and wearable becomes a hybronautic application of technology, uniquely engaging society, and foresees the human as a system that forgoes thinking of humans as framed by clearly defined bodies.




In-Page Footnotes ("Beloff (Laura) - The Hybronaut Affair: A Menage of Art, Technology, and Science")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction".



"Bainbridge (William Sims) - Transavatars"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part II - Chapter 9


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. William Bainbridge points out that enhancement of human abilities can be accomplished in several ways, and need not require modification of the person’s biological body.
  2. We can already make use of avatars in virtual worlds and, in future, we are likely to have the option of teleoperation of personal robots.
  3. Enhancement means increasing the effectiveness of a person in taking action, but avatars show that it can also mean "an altered form of consciousness that expands opportunities for experiences, and escape from the conventional system of moral constraints."
  4. Part of the human condition (except in rare pathological cases) has been the equation: one body = one person. Now we can already see that one individual may have many different avatars, which is a step along the way to possibly becoming a multiplex or protean personality.
  5. Bainbridge also considers how users can build posthumous avatars in virtual worlds and develop unique relationships with their human users.




In-Page Footnotes ("Bainbridge (William Sims) - Transavatars")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction".



"Armstrong (Rachel) - Alternative Biologies"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part II - Chapter 10


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Medical doctor and artist Rachel Armstrong explores cutting-edge "metabolic materials" such as the protocell as one way to extend biological systems to create novel architectural structures and alternative biologies.
  2. Armstrong suggests that new living technologies, such as protocells, offer novel ways to imagine the relationships between humans and the environment.
  3. According to Armstrong, living technology may help us create architecture that could form regenerative systems for humans and the ecosphere.




In-Page Footnotes ("Armstrong (Rachel) - Alternative Biologies")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Somatic Sphere - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part III


Full Text1
  1. Enhancing the human brain’s cognitive capacities is another crucial goal of transhumanism2.
  2. Transhumanism3 takes very seriously the goal of extending our lives not just for a few years or even decades, but indefinitely. Even if aging is conquered, our biological bodies are too fragile to ensure our survival against accident and mayhem over very long periods of time.
  3. Truly long-term survival will probably require the transfer of our minds and personalities from biological brains and bodies to a different substrate. The last two essays in this section explore the feasibility of doing this.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Clark (Andy) - Re-Inventing Ourselves: The Plasticity of Embodiment, Sensing, and Mind"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part III - Chapter 11


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In a new essay Andy Clark, author of Natural-Born Cyborgs2: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence, considers how the merging of humans and machines will enable us to redesign ourselves for the better.
  2. The options may include not only better bodies and improved senses but also reorganized mental architectures. This will be made possible not only by scientific and technological advancement but also by our native biological plasticity.
  3. Clark argues that fear of enhancement results from a fundamentally misconceived vision of our own humanity. A more accurate vision recognizes that human minds and bodies are open to deep and transformative restructuring, in which new physical and cognitive equipment can become literally incorporated into the thinking and acting systems that we identify as minds and persons.
  4. Clark calls this aspect of ourselves "profoundly embodied agency." Understanding profound embodiment helps us to address questions and fears concerning converging technologies for improving human performance.




In-Page Footnotes ("Clark (Andy) - Re-Inventing Ourselves: The Plasticity of Embodiment, Sensing, and Mind")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction".



"Goertzel (Ben) - Artificial General Intelligence and the Future of Humanity"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part III - Chapter 12


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. AI researcher Ben Goertzel’s new essay explores the implications of artificial general intelligence (AGI). Whereas much AI research has developed computerized cognition for narrow tasks, AGI researchers aim for the original goal of a general machine intelligence of human-level intellect or better.
  2. Goertzel sees the next huge leap in humanity's progress as involving the radical extension of technology into the domain of thought. He argues that "our top priority should be the creation of beneficent artificial minds with greater than human general intelligence, which can then work together with us to solve the other hard problems and explore various positive avenues."
  3. Given the enormous potential benefits of advanced AGI technology, why is so little work being done on it (as distinct from narrow AI)? After answering that question, Goertzel concludes by laying out the risks and rewards of advanced AGI.




In-Page Footnotes ("Goertzel (Ben) - Artificial General Intelligence and the Future of Humanity")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction".



"Chislenko (Alexander) - Intelligent Information Filters and Enhanced Reality"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part III - Chapter 13


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Writing just a couple of years after the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1990, former MIT researcher Sasha Chislenko projected technological trends to see how we might use intelligent information filters and enhanced reality (now called "augmented reality") to expand our perceptual and cognitive abilities and to personalize our view of reality.
  2. He makes some observations and predictions of the transformations in people's perception of the world and themselves in the course of this technological change.
  3. Since Chislenko wrote this essay, we have begun to see the idea being introduced in reality, with early versions of the technology being built into smartphones and heads-up displays on some car windshields.
  4. How long will it be before we experience the more intimate and comprehensive versions considered by Chislenko? His essay helps us think through the possibilities and implications.




In-Page Footnotes ("Chislenko (Alexander) - Intelligent Information Filters and Enhanced Reality")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction".



"Koene (Randal A.) - Uploading to Substrate-Independent Minds"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part III - Chapter 14


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Randal Koene explores "Uploading2 to Substrate-Independent Minds" and explains that the goal of substrate-independence is to continue personality, individual characteristics, a manner of experiencing and a personal way of processing those experiences.
  2. Of six technology paths through which we may gain substrate-independence for our minds, the most conservative and well-supported by research is Whole Brain Emulation (WBE).
  3. Koene notes that, back in 2000, WBE was considered science fiction, since it was beyond what was then considered feasible science and engineering. That is no longer true, as leading scientists and principal investigators tackle projects supporting WBE such as high-resolution connectomics.




In-Page Footnotes ("Koene (Randal A.) - Uploading to Substrate-Independent Minds")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction".



"Merkle (Ralph C.) - Uploading"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part III - Chapter 15


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In a much-cited 1993 essay, AI and nanotechnology researcher Ralph Merkle delves into the concept of "uploading2" - the term most commonly used before "substrate-independent minds."
  2. Much discussed in transhumanism3, the uploading4 idea is that we might eventually be able to transfer our minds and personalities from the fleshy neuronal processor of the biological brain to a more durable and extendable synthetic thinking substrate.
  3. Merkle analyzes how much computing power would be required to model5 your brain on a computer, based on his estimate of human memory capacity.




In-Page Footnotes ("Merkle (Ralph C.) - Uploading")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Human Enhancement: The Cognitive Sphere - Introduction".

Footnote 5:
  • Whatever the answer to this question, it has nothing to do with “uploading”. As it says, we are talking about “modelling” – not only of your brain – obviously so as the model isn’t wetware like the brain itself – but of the mind.
  • It might well be possible to run a full simulation of a brain, and – for the sake of the argument – maybe this simulation (or the physical machine it runs on) might be as intelligent as you (quite possible) and even conscious (less likely) – but it wouldn’t be you, nor would you experience life when running on that computer.
  • The computer itself might experience things, and maybe think it was you, but you yourself wouldn’t be “uploaded”.



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part IV


Full Text1
  1. To a greater degree than other philosophies of life, transhumanism2's realization depends on continuing technological advancement. Current levels of technology are not sufficient to achieve the goals of extending the maximum human lifespan, enhancing our cognition, refining our emotions at a neurobiological level, expanding our civilization reliably beyond this planet, and so on.
  2. Part IV includes essays from renowned technological thinkers on some of the core technologies for converting radical transhumanist3 ideas into practical applications.
  3. Crucial advances can come from unexpected directions, but some of the technologies that have especially attracted interest in transhumanism4 are artificial intelligence (as already seen in "Goertzel (Ben) - Artificial General Intelligence and the Future of Humanity" in Part III), nanotechnology, biotechnology, computing, robotics, and brain-machine interfaces.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Minsky (Marvin) - Why Freud Was the First Good AI Theorist"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IV - Chapter 16


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. The "father of AI" and long-time transhumanist2 Marvin Minsky has written numerous essays and books on artificial intelligence, consciousness, and other topics of great relevance to the achievement of transhumanist3 goals.
  2. Since one intent of this book is to convey a historical sense of the development of transhumanism4, we have chosen to publish not a formal essay but a typically opinionated talk by Minsky that conveys some of the flavor of transhumanist5 conference discussions in the mid-1990s. These conferences generated and developed ideas well outside the mainstream of the time - ideas that have increasingly become seriously discussed in todays mainstream.
  3. Here Minsky emphasizes differences in thinking between transhumanists6 and others; says why you want to live longer in order to be able to solve the hard problems; explains how Freud was one of the first to understand that the mind is not a unitary entity; the silliness of those who believe machines cannot be conscious; and why various approaches to machine intelligence are a bad idea.




In-Page Footnotes ("Minsky (Marvin) - Why Freud Was the First Good AI Theorist")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction".



"Moravec (Hans) - Pigs in Cyberspace"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IV - Chapter 17


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Roboticist Hans Moravec forms a picture of the cybernetic human mind in his 1992 essay "Pigs in Cyberspace."
  2. As machines become smarter, organizations of robots with increased intelligence could expand, occupy, and manipulate matter. Either humanity will have produced a worthy successor, or transcended inherited limitations and transformed itself into something quite new.
  3. Moravec suggests a virtual out-of-body experience as replacing the human biological body with a "brain in a vat2" scenario, which has often been used to mean disembodiment. However, a person cannot exist without some form of physical system.
  4. Moravec's supposition actually proposes a cybermind, rather than a disembodiment, where cyberspace becomes what we might consider to be a new type of body.
  5. While Moravec’s forecasts and future timeline are stimulating and always grand in scope, they might not necessarily reflect those of other transhumanists3.




In-Page Footnotes ("Moravec (Hans) - Pigs in Cyberspace")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction".



"Hall (J. Storrs) - Nanocomputers"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IV - Chapter 18


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. J. Storrs Hall, originator of the Utility Fog concept, examines the potential of nanoscale computing devices in this 1992 essay.
  2. Nanoscale devices are crucial for nanomedicine, for reengineering the body and brain, and for cleaning up the environment, among many other applications.
  3. Nanotechnological designs up to the present may or may not accurately describe the precise devices we will use in the future, but analyses like Hall's take us out of the limited perspective of today and usefully illuminate the true potential and limits of computing.




In-Page Footnotes ("Hall (J. Storrs) - Nanocomputers")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction".



"Rose (Michael R.) - Immortalist Fictions and Strategies"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IV - Chapter 19


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Evolutionary biologist and gerontologist Michael Rose argues in this new essay that biological aging is not inevitable. Rose outlines a new immortality strategy, based on his work in gerontology and evolutionary biology.
  2. Many transhumanists2 avoid the term "immortality," but Rose has a specific, grounded meaning in mind.
  3. First, he surveys how people now usually envision how biological immortality will be achieved. As revealed in fiction, the common view is that a simple technological fix will stop aging completely. This view is shared, says Rose, by molecular and cell biologists who imagine one or a few fundamental aging processes.
  4. He contrasts this view with his own "penicillin-like idea" about biological immortality, based on an evolutionary genetic view of aging.
  5. Rose concludes with some practical advice to stop aging earlier (including a paleolithic-based diet for people over 30 or 40), cautious supplementation and avoidance of most prescription drugs and, when available, taking advantage of methods for repair at the level of cultured tissues and other macroscopic structures.
  6. Rose's perspective is one of several competing views of aging tracked by transhumanists3.




In-Page Footnotes ("Rose (Michael R.) - Immortalist Fictions and Strategies")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction".



"Kurzweil (Ray) & Drexler (K. Eric) - Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IV - Chapter 20


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. The final piece in Part IV consists of a dialogue between Ray Kurzweil and nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler.
  2. They discuss what it would take to achieve successful repair and revival of a fully functioning human brain from cryonics, with memories intact.
  3. They agree that despite the challenges, the brain's functions and memories can be represented surprisingly compactly, suggesting that successful repair and revival of the brain may be achievable.




In-Page Footnotes ("Kurzweil (Ray) & Drexler (K. Eric) - Dialogue between Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Core Technologies - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part V


Full Text1
  1. One point on which all transhumanists2 agree - and one that distinguishes transhumanism3 from humanism and other philosophies of life - is the view that it is both possible and desirable to scientifically overcome biological aging and death. In an important sense, the quest to bring the aging process under control and to push back death ever farther is central to transhumanism4.
  2. The possibilities opened up by greater intelligence, wisdom, wellbeing, and physical capabilities will be severely limited if aging continues to cause us to wither and perish within a handful of decades. The desirability of indefinitely extending our lifespan - essentially making death a matter of choice - seems obvious to transhumanists5.
  3. o almost everyone else, its far from obvious and typically seen as a frightening, unnatural, or at least an impossible idea. Interestingly, even the many millions who believe in an indefinite life after death6 through religious and spiritual processes rail against the quest to achieve superlongevity here in the world we experience and know exists.
  4. Critics of life extension invariably exhume a few of the same arguments over and over again. Among these are the overpopulation, resources, boredom, and meaninglessness arguments. The essays in Part V address varied aspects and implications of radically extended lifespans.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"de Grey (Aubrey) - The Curate's Egg of Anti-Anti-Aging Bioethics"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part V - Chapter 21


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Aubrey de Grey critically analyses pro-mortality arguments by leading critics Leon Kass and William Hurlbut.
  2. Despite disagreeing with Kass's conclusion, de Grey has a degree of sympathy for basing moral judgments on feelings. However, thinking about those feelings critically should lead to the view that life is good and death is bad and the more life the better, so long as we and those we care about remain healthy.
  3. De Grey is less sympathetic to Hurlbut’s insistence that one's life has a natural length and that if lengthened, like a symphony, would be ruined.




In-Page Footnotes ("de Grey (Aubrey) - The Curate's Egg of Anti-Anti-Aging Bioethics")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction".



"Wowk (Brian) - Medical Time Travel"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part V - Chapter 22


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. While the transhumanist2 goal of defeating the inevitability of death is clear, the time it might take to achieve it is not. Even if the radical extension of human life spans is achievable, it may come too late for many or all of us now living. Is there a plausible solution - a way to bridge the gap?
  2. Today, when a person collapses with a life-threatening condition, we transport them in an emergency vehicle across space to a location where more advanced medical technology is available. The future will be a place of far more advanced medical technology than today. Just as today’s medicine can save and even revive those who would once have been considered dead, future medical capabilities might revive and repair todays fatal conditions. If only we could have an ambulance ride through time to those advanced capabilities.
  3. Medical physicist and cryobiologist Brian Wowk argues in his "Medical Time Travel" that this may indeed be possible. Today’s practice of cryopreservation (or "cryonics") involves preserving people immediately after declaration of legal death then maintaining them in an unchanging state for as long as it will take to deliver them into a future able to repair biological damage and revive them.
  4. Although legally and clinically dead, the people undergoing this "medical time travel" are (under good conditions) in essentially the same condition as patients undergoing open heart surgery. They are not dead in any final sense.




In-Page Footnotes ("Wowk (Brian) - Medical Time Travel")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction".



"Hughes (James) - Transhumanism and Personal Identity"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part V - Chapter 23


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. The more closely one looks at the concept of death, the more evident it becomes that historical criteria are flawed. Although cryopreservation cannot yet be reversed, death has not occurred unless biochemistry becomes irreversibly damaged.
  2. A crucial insight is that irreversibility depends on the level of technology. This realization is one reason transhumanist2 discussions so frequently turn to philosophical issues of personal identity - the conditions under which an individual can be said to continue in existence, to survive. Another reason is that longer lives coupled with physiological, cognitive, and emotional enhancements mean that we will undergo unprecedented degrees of change over time.
  3. How should we rethink our notions of personal identity and survival under these scenarios? Sociologist and bioethicist James Hughes surveys the most favored transhumanist3 views on this topic, including the "patternist" or "information-theoretic" theories, in "Transhumanism4 and Personal Identity."




In-Page Footnotes ("Hughes (James) - Transhumanism and Personal Identity")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction".



"Prisco (Giulio) - Transcendent Engineering"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part V - Chapter 24


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Preventing biological aging and reversing and reviving us biologically is not the only possible path to radically extended lives. In Part III, Merkle and Koene argued that personal survival might be secured by transferring ones personality onto a non-biological platform.
  2. In Giulio Priscos "Transcendent Engineering", this idea is taken to greater lengths and given a spiritual or religious spin that many transhumanists2 will dislike.
  3. Prisco uses "religion" here in a way that captures some of the transcendental goals of major religions while entirely rejecting the supernatural and anti-rational aspects that many of us consider essential to true religions.
  4. Contrary to "mainstream transhumanism3" Prisco embraces parallels between transhumanism4 and spirituality or religion. He considers the future technological possibilities for resurrection of the dead by means of uploading5, and of synthetic, non-physical realities in which we and the resurrected dead may live.




In-Page Footnotes ("Prisco (Giulio) - Transcendent Engineering")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Engines of Life: Identity and Beyond Death - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Enhanced Decision-Making - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part VI


Full Text1
  1. The kinds of changes to the human condition envisioned and recommended by transhumanists2 clearly have massive implications. Transhumanists3 recognize the potential downsides as well as the upsides of these technologically mediated changes. The emerging new choices only add to the range, complexity, and difficulty of choices revolving around technology.
  2. Our human brains did not evolve to process such decisions effectively. That is why, in addition to pursuing the neurological and computational aspects of cognitive enhancement (discussed in Part III on the Cognitive Sphere), transhumanists4 have a strong interest in alternative means for improving our decision-making processes.
  3. This interest includes paying close attention to the decision sciences, cognitive and behavioral psychology, and diverse frameworks for structured decision-making and forecasting. Will we achieve posthuman wisdom and arrive at optimal decisions simply by becoming more intelligent and accessing more facts?
  4. Unfortunately not. If intelligence and knowledge acquired through education and fact-finding were sufficient, we would expect doubts about well-established scientific theories to fade away when more information is provided. This "deficit model" of science communication has been found wanting in several studies. Additional information can actually polarize views further and lead to a hardening of beliefs as we filter information through our existing perspectives.
  5. These discouraging results are not the whole picture. The essays in this section show how better tools and perspectives can improve our decision-making - a crucial task in a world where technology becomes ever more potent, for better or worse.
  6. This section includes three domains of thought that explore thinking processes and issues through the lenses of economics, applied philosophy, and electronic hyperlink theory.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Enhanced Decision-Making - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Hanson (Robin) - Idea Futures: Encouraging an Honest Consensus"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VI - Chapter 25


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Robin Hanson's "Idea Futures" was an early explication of a mechanism that has since come to be known as "decision markets." These markets harness the "wisdom of crowds" to improve decision-making and forecasting accuracy.
  2. Subsequent work has shown how decision markets typically yield results more accurate than those from the best experts in areas as diverse as predicting sales of printer supplies and box-office take for movies in their first days of release.




In-Page Footnotes ("Hanson (Robin) - Idea Futures: Encouraging an Honest Consensus")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Enhanced Decision-Making - Introduction".



"More (Max) - The Proactionary Principle: Optimizing Technological Outcomes"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VI - Chapter 26


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Max More’s Proactionary Principle was designed as a replacement for the precautionary principle - an overly simple and biased rule for making decisions in the presence of significant risk, especially in the context of technological and environment issues.
  2. More diagnoses severe shortcomings in the "precautionary principle" and offers in its place a more comprehensive, structured, and balanced decision-making and risk-assessment tool.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) - The Proactionary Principle: Optimizing Technological Outcomes")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Enhanced Decision-Making - Introduction".



"Miller (Mark S.), Tribble (E. Dean), Pandya (Ravi) & Stiegler (Marc) - The Open Society and Its Media"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VI - Chapter 27


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In their 1994 essay, Mark Miller and co-authors explain how electronic media, as exemplified by the Xanadu project, could enable societies to make better decisions.
  2. Written during the very early days of the Web, this essay forms a historical observation of the use of hyperlinks, emergent properties, "transclusion," historical trails, detectors, permissions, and reputation-based filtering.




In-Page Footnotes ("Miller (Mark S.), Tribble (E. Dean), Pandya (Ravi) & Stiegler (Marc) - The Open Society and Its Media")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Enhanced Decision-Making - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part VII


Full Text1
  1. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the emphasis of transhumanism2 was primarily on exploring technological possibilities and supporting the feasibility and desirability of technological transformation.
  2. As far more people have come to accept the plausibility of the core technologies that interest transhumanists3 - often referred to as NBIC (nano-bio-info-cogno technologies) - the original emphasis has shifted. Currently, much more thought is devoted to exploring the potential downsides to the core technologies of today and tomorrow, and how best to avoid negative impacts through strategy and sometimes by regulating them.
  3. At the same time, a new but more sophisticated advocacy has developed to engage in discussions and debates with bioconservatives and other participants in biopolitical debates.
  4. Seven essays in Part VII delve into crucial aspects of biopolitical discussions.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Shapiro (Michael), More (Max) - Performance Enhancement and Legal Theory: An Interview with Professor Michael H. Shapiro"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 28


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In "Performance Enhancement and Legal Theory", law professor Michael Shapiro clarifies some of the major ethical and policy issues concerning performance enhancement in sports, games, and contests.
  2. Shapiro explains "moral category" arguments such as arguments from nature, arguments from identity, from merit, and from external influence, and argues that there are serious problems in distinguishing disorder from augmentation models.
  3. This matters because some people have argued in favor of allowing treatments for disorders while prohibiting them for augmentations that are otherwise similar in nature.




In-Page Footnotes ("Shapiro (Michael), More (Max) - Performance Enhancement and Legal Theory: An Interview with Professor Michael H. Shapiro")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Miah (Andy) - Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 29


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Philosopher Andy Miah casts a critical eye on Donna Haraway’s concept of the "cyborg2" and Francis Fukuyama's views on "posthumanism3."
  2. Miah argues that the technoprogressive pursuit of biological transgressions can enrich individual and collective human life, while also permitting societies to attend to any social injustices that might arise through such behavior.
  3. Miah concludes with a full articulation of the concept of "biocultural capital," which conveys a general, transhumanist4 justification for human enhancement.




In-Page Footnotes ("Miah (Andy) - Justifying Human Enhancement: The Accumulation of Biocultural Capital")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Stock (Gregory) - The Battle for the Future"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 30


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Biophysicist Gregory Stock, author of several books on biotechnology and our future, and a participant in Extropy Institute’s Biotech Futures conference in 1999, has examined in depth genetic engineering as a crucial technology for the biological path to transhumanist2 goals. (Others emphasize pathways based on information technology or nanotechnology.)
  2. In an excerpt from his 2002 book. Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future, Stock asks whether there must be a battle over the use of technologies such as germline manipulation and in-depth embryo3 diagnosis.
  3. Stock contends that the discussion about human enhancement is not about medical safety, the wellbeing of children, or protecting the human gene pool; it's really about "about what it means to be human, about our vision of the human future."
  4. That is why critics like Leon Kass, formerly on the President's Council for Bioethics, urges "the wisdom of repugnance" more than he relies on specific, fact-based arguments.




In-Page Footnotes ("Stock (Gregory) - The Battle for the Future")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Rothblatt (Martine) - Mind is Deeper Than Matter: Transgenderism, Transhumanism, and the Freedom of Form"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 31


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Transgendered entrepreneur and inventor Martine Rothblatt looks at morphological freedom from a transgender perspective.
  2. Rothblatt looks ahead to a time when we may be able to separate our minds from our biological bodies by merging a "mindfile" of our neural connections with "mindware," allowing us to exist as software that could run on hardware of our choice.
  3. Rothblatt discusses the sex of an avatar, the option of operating multiple bodies, and why claims for transhuman civil rights may be based in part on increasing legal recognition of claims for transgender civil rights.
  4. In both cases, we seek to transcend an unchosen biological form in favor of recognizing the status of all conscious life.




In-Page Footnotes ("Rothblatt (Martine) - Mind is Deeper Than Matter: Transgenderism, Transhumanism, and the Freedom of Form")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Bailey (Ronald) - For Enhancing People"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 32


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Critics of transhumanist2 goals have sometimes claimed that the technologies that enable human physical and intellectual enhancement undermine virtue.
  2. Prolific author Ronald Bailey argues that enhancements will better enable people to flourish, that enhancements will not dissolve whatever existential crisis people feel, and that enhancements will enable people to become more virtuous.
  3. People should be free to refuse enhancements for themselves but should accord others the liberty to adopt them.
  4. While there will inevitably be resulting issues to deal with. Bailey argues that social concerns over an "enhancement divide" are largely illusory, and that we already have at hand the social "technology" that will enable the enhanced and the unenhanced to dwell together peacefully.




In-Page Footnotes ("Bailey (Ronald) - For Enhancing People")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Hopkins (Patrick D.) - Is Enhancement Worthy of Being a Right?"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 33


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In a piece that effectively complements "Sandberg (Anders) - Morphological Freedom - Why We Not Just Want It, but Need It", Patrick D. Hopkins considers the problems that may arise if we put the question of enhancement in terms of rights.
  2. Although rights language does have theoretical problems, such language plays a powerful role in the moral and legal landscape.
  3. But if transhumanists2 are to engage in talks of rights, they should understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of basing rights on appeals to autonomy, interests, and natural law.
  4. He finds the appeal to autonomy to be the weakest strategy.
  5. Appeals to interests - those things widely recognized as valuable, worthwhile, and even necessary for a life worth having had - and to the values of natural law - life, health, knowledge, and sociability - help show that enhancements can be noble and worthy and not unnatural or alien to human nature.




In-Page Footnotes ("Hopkins (Patrick D.) - Is Enhancement Worthy of Being a Right?")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"Sententia (Wrye) - Freedom by Design: Transhumanist Values and Cognitive Liberty"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VII - Chapter 34


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Professor Wrye Sententia considers the role of brain privacy, autonomy, and choice in relation to technological advances concerning the brain. She examines the legal implications of restricting cognitive liberty and ethical grounds for individual autonomy over the use and scope of technology.
  2. Cognitive liberty asserts the right to cognitive self-design: to cognitive enhancement, brain privacy, autonomy, and choice in relation to existing pharmacology, as well as anticipated technologies expected to be capable of modifying the brain.




In-Page Footnotes ("Sententia (Wrye) - Freedom by Design: Transhumanist Values and Cognitive Liberty")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Biopolitics and Policy - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Future Trajectories: Singularity - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part VIII


Full Text1
  1. How does the concept of the singularity relate to that of transhumanism2? In science, the singularity may refer to a discontinuity or a mathematical point where an object is not defined, or to a cosmological event where measure of the gravitational field becomes infinite.
  2. In theory, the technological singularity is a conjecture about the emergence of super-intelligent minds. Transhumanism3 is a worldview that seeks to understand the unknown, anticipate risks, and create an advantageous future for humanity, including the nonbiological superintelligences we may become or create.
  3. However, too often, observers conflate the two concepts, assuming that all transhumanists4 anticipate a technological singularity. The considerable overlap of interests and expectations represented by both views feeds that confusion. After all, both transhumanists5 and proponents of the technological singularity (i.e., singularitarians, as they sometimes call themselves) expect drastic changes in the future.
  4. Because the term has had wide appeal, it is now referred to simply as "the singularity." Some transhumanists6 expect a singularity and most of those who expect a singularity are broadly transhumanist7. But, while transhumanism8 is a broad worldview that anticipates using technology to overcome human limits, the singularity is a specific model (or set of models) of technological change and its trajectory into the future.
  5. To clearly separate specific singularitarian expectations from the philosophy of transhumanism9 requires first defining the former. The original meaning of "technological singularity", as coined by Vernor Vinge in his 1993 essay ("Vinge (Vernor) - Technological Singularity", the first in this section) is the Event Horizon view. This view links to Alan Turing's seminal writing about intelligent machinery outstripping human intelligence, and more directly to I.J. Good's term "intelligence explosion," which suggests not only a growth of machine intelligence but its acceleration. Accordingly, technological advance will lead to the advent of superhuman intelligence.
  6. Superhuman intelligence will not only accelerate technological progress, it will create even more intelligent entities ever faster (e.g. Good's concept). As Vinge puts it, "This change will be a throwing-away of all the human rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye." One result of this sudden shift will be the unfolding of a future that is incomprehensible to us. Sometimes this view includes the claim that to know what a superhuman intelligence would do at this point, you would have to be superintelligent too. The distinctive consequence of the Event Horizon version of the singularity is that the future beyond that point will be completely unpredictable, as Vinge states:
      My use of the word "Singularity" is not meant to imply that some variable blows up to infinity. My use of the term comes from the notion that if physical progress with computation gets good enough, then we will have creatures that are smarter than human. At that point the human race will no longer be at center stage. The world will be driven by those other intelligences. This is a fundamentally different form of technical progress. The change would be essentially unknowable, unknowable in a different way than technology change has been in the past. ("Arterati On Ideas: Vinge's View of the Singularity," interview by Natasha Vita-More in Extropy Online [1998])
  7. Ironically, the concept of the "singularity" is not itself singular. In "Sandberg (Anders) - An Overview of Models of Technological Singularity", Anders Sandberg delves in great detail into a range of differing models of technological singularity. A less complex map of this territory captures the three primary models on which most people seem to agree. These are the Event Horizon, Accelerating Change, and Intelligence Explosion.
  8. The Accelerating Change conception of the technological singularity has become strongly associated with inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil. According to this view, technological change is a positive feedback loop and so is exponential rather than linear. Because change in the past was slower than change in the present, and future change will be faster still, our typically linear expectations of change will be drastically conservative, especially as we look out further ahead. If, as Kurzweil argues, technological advance follows smooth exponential curves then - contrary to the Event Horizon view - we can make accurate forecasts of some new technologies, including the development of artificial intelligence.
  9. Finally, the Intelligence Explosion throws out smooth exponential change in favor of positive feedback cycle of cognitive improvement. Once technology leads to minds of superhuman intelligence, a powerful positive feedback cycle comes into play. Recursive cognitive self-improvement extremely rapidly causes vast change before running into upper limits imposed by the laws of physics or computational possibilities.
  10. Casual observers frequently mix these models of the singularity of singularity into a single, cloudy suspension. The more sharply defined you make these three views, the more they contradict one another. Most obviously, the inherent predictability10 of the Event Horizon and Intelligence Explosion views conflicts with the predictability of the Accelerating Change view.
  11. Those who anticipate a singularity often display considerable confidence in their forecasts of when the singularity will happen, whether or not they expect the post-singularity future to be predictable. Writing in 1993 and reaffirming his view in 2003, Vinge said that he would be "surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030." On the basis of sets of exponential curves, Kurzweil forecasts a singularity close to 2045, while others think it might take several hundred years to achieve superintelligent AI. Other transhumanists11 are much more skeptical about the ability to make remotely precise forecasts of this nature. Some individuals who would like to experience a singularity nevertheless worry that technological and economic progress is actually slowing, not accelerating. In addition, there is no shortage of those who are much less favorable to the singularity and see more stagnation than acceleration.
  12. It is entirely possible to expect a technological singularity of one of these types and yet not to be a transhumanist12. The advent of superhuman intelligence might involve augmenting human intelligence to superhuman levels or it might mean that synthetic intelligences leave us far behind while we remain mired in the human condition. Some writers, such as Hans Moravec, at least sometimes seem to expect this outcome and are unconcerned about it. This might better be described as a type of posthumanism13, except that there is already a vaguely defined academic view using that term. It is also entirely possible to affirm the core values and goals of transhumanism14 while doubting that we will experience anything resembling a singularity. Technological advance may come in fits and starts, eventually leading to a posthuman condition, but without any singular event.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Future Trajectories: Singularity - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves; though, in this case, very little of the Introduction was left!.

Footnote 10: I think this should read “unpredictability”.



"Vinge (Vernor) - Technological Singularity"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VIII - Chapter 35



"Sandberg (Anders) - An Overview of Models of Technological Singularity"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VIII - Chapter 36


Editors’ Abstract1
    Anders Sandberg analyzes models of technological singularity in detail, looking for their commonalities and differences.




In-Page Footnotes ("Sandberg (Anders) - An Overview of Models of Technological Singularity")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Future Trajectories: Singularity - Introduction".



"Brin (David), Broderick (Damien), Bostrom (Nick), Chislenko (Alexander), Hanson (Robin), More (Max), Nielsen (Michael) & Sandberg (Anders) - A Critical Discussion of Vinge's Singularity Concept"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part VIII - Chapter 37


Editors’ Abstract1
    The final essay in Part VIII collects the 1998 deliberations of a number of transhumanist2 thinkers to critically discuss the singularity, as initially defined by Vinge, in its technological and economic aspects.




In-Page Footnotes ("Brin (David), Broderick (Damien), Bostrom (Nick), Chislenko (Alexander), Hanson (Robin), More (Max), Nielsen (Michael) & Sandberg (Anders) - A Critical Discussion of Vinge's Singularity Concept")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: Future Trajectories: Singularity - Introduction".



"More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Introduction to Part IX


Full Text1
  1. In a widely cited 2004 article in Foreign Policy, political scientist and neoconservative Francis Fukuyama described transhumanism2 as "the most dangerous idea in the world." He expanded on this claim in Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution.
  2. Fukuyama is one of the most prominent of a growing number of critics who take the technological possibilities of transhumanism3 very seriously and who claim these possibilities to be undesirable. Fukuyama refers to transhumanism4 as a "strange liberation movement" and acknowledges that, given the deficiencies of the human race, the transhumanist5 project of wresting our "biological destiny from evolution’s blind process of random variation and adaptation ... begins to look downright reasonable."
  3. Fukuyama quickly decides, however, that the offerings of self-applied technology "come at a frightful moral cost." The final section of this book addresses this and related fears and engages the growing (and often ill-informed) critical discussion.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction")

Footnote 1: Chapter summaries have been removed and used as the Abstracts of the Chapters themselves.



"Blackford (Russell) - The Great Transition: Ideas and Anxieties"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IX - Chapter 38


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Taking the discussion into issues of evolution, in his essay "The Great Transition: Ideas and Anxieties," writer, philosopher, and critic Russell Blackford critiques Don Ihde's and Ted Peters' warnings about evolution and human nature.
  2. It seems possible and desirable to use new technologies to alter ourselves beneficially, leading to beings with greater-than-human capacities. Blackford asks why not simply go ahead?
  3. He considers anxieties relating to practical issues, timeframes, and possible abuses along with deeper worries about a "Great Transition" such as Martha Nussbaum's fear that we can have too much of a good thing.




In-Page Footnotes ("Blackford (Russell) - The Great Transition: Ideas and Anxieties")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction".



"Broderick (Damien) - Trans and Post"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IX - Chapter 39


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Critical theorist and science fiction author Damien Broderick tackles Fukuyama’s worries about the biotechnological revolution in his essay, "Trans and Post."
  2. In identifying a core goal of transhumanism2 as the defeat of aging and death, Broderick asks whether such a transhumanist3 victory over decay would be wicked (as many people assume) or a boon.




In-Page Footnotes ("Broderick (Damien) - Trans and Post")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction".



"Ascott (Roy) - Back to Nature II: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IX - Chapter 40


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. Aesthetic theorist Roy Ascott explores the breakdown of our metaphors for nature and argues that, in any seeming paradox, it is technological and computerized systems which are providing us with a threshold, an open doorway into the natural world.
  2. The most advanced technologies, electronic and molecular, the very epitome of the artificial, could bring us back to nature.




In-Page Footnotes ("Ascott (Roy) - Back to Nature II: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction".



"More (Max) - A Letter to Mother Nature"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IX - Chapter 41


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In "A Letter to Mother Nature" (first presented as part of a talk at the 1999 Extropy Institute Biotech Futures conference) Max More expresses appreciation for what Mother Nature has made of humanity, while also noting that human biology is deeply flawed.
  2. With all due respect to our evolutionary origins, More suggests that it is time to amend the human constitution. A powerful method for making these changes will be nanotechnology.




In-Page Footnotes ("More (Max) - A Letter to Mother Nature")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction".



"Kurzweil (Ray) - Progress and Relinquishment"

Source: More & Vita-More - The Transhumanist Reader, Part IX - Chapter 42


Editors’ Abstract1
  1. In his statement for Extropy Institute’s Vital Progress Summit in 2004, Ray Kurzweil points out that technology empowers both our creative and destructive natures. Awareness of these dangers has led to calls for broad relinquishment of technologies. These calls present an exaggerated picture of the perils by imagining future dangers as if they were released on todays unprepared world.
  2. In reality, the sophistication and power of our defensive technologies and knowledge will grow along with the dangers. Kurzweil believes the real lesson is that we will need to place society's highest priority during the twenty-first century on continuing to advance the defensive technologies and to keep them one or more steps ahead of destructive misuse.




In-Page Footnotes ("Kurzweil (Ray) - Progress and Relinquishment")

Footnote 1: Taken from "More (Max) & Vita-More (Natasha) - Transhumanism: The World's Most Dangerous Idea - Introduction".



Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



© Theo Todman, June 2007 - July 2018. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page