38 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2021
    1. Extropians and other early transhumanists also had a longstandinginterest in self-historicisation. Theyseemed to have a feeling that what they were doing at the time was important and that one day people would want to know about it.

      Well, I think anyone reading this book certainly does.

    2. In retrospect, such a meme, then all in fun,now seems to pose a significant PR problem for transhumanists. Despite their youthfully optimistic parties and wordplay, extropianism always had a serious and strongly academic side and, over time, in keeping with its principle of self-transformation, the handshakes and the outfits fell away. This is perhaps part of the reason that some former extropians and early transhumanists, who remain active transhumanists today, rarely mention Machado and her antics when reflecting on the early days of transhumanism.

      Suspect the rationalists will encounter Many Such Cases as time goes on.

    3. These ideals were first promoted by The Church of Venturism, which was founded in 1986. However, the ‘Church,’ which promoted rational thinking and decried mysticism, soon changed itsname tothe Society for Venturism.

      "Society for" is an interesting replacement for "Church of".

    4. Ed Regis also reported that, as a student at Oxford, More “kept a heart-lung resuscitator in hisdorm room, just in case.”513More has also noted that his undergraduate dorm room was a source of fascination to many of his peers as it housed “several shelves of bottles and pills, and people would come to my room and goggle-eye at them.”

      This seems a bit neurotic, but perhaps I'm missing something.

    5. To all this, the extropians said no. There is more to come, and better things lie on the horizon. Evolution mandates change, and “in the long run the positive potentials for intelligent beings are virtually limitless.” Believing that they were theagents of their own destiny, extropians aimed to be catalysts for progressive change, adopting “a positive, dynamic, empowering attitude,” while rejecting, “gloom, defeatism, and the typical focus on the negatives.”

      Interesting to note that this was the plank where Eliezer Yudkowsky couldn't find himself agreeing (and I don't entirely blame him). Seems like a situation where the status quo is so astonishingly broken that just reversing it seems like a useful thing to do, but then that doesn't actually get you something philosophically coherent except in the context that the status quo exists to moderate its influence.

    6. Extropymag was one of the two main mediums in which extropian ideas were circulated—the other was, of course, the Internet. The first issue of Extropyin 1988 had a print run of 50 and interest was scant. Speaking about the first editions, More recalls, “we basically forced them on people.”444By 1992,the editors were churning out 750 copies,445and in the subsequent Winter/Spring edition of 1993, the output more than trebled to 2,500.446In 1992 a separate newsletter, Exponent, was launched and circulated bi-monthly, and in 1993 Extropywas printed in colour for the first time. By 1995, the print run per issue was 4,500.447Althoughthese are ultimately small print numbers, every increase was seen by Extropy’s founding editors as an important milestone in the pursuit of what More referred to as the “inexorable advance”448of extropianism.

      These are interesting numbers to contemplate in terms of how few people have actually heard these ideas and arguments before in a serious way.

    7. While still a student at MIT, a young Eric Drexler met O’Neill, for whom he worked as a research assistantat Princeton in the summer of 1974, funded by the wealthy patron and influential space colonisation spokeswoman, Barbara Marx Hubbard(another devotee of Teilhard’s ideas).408Drexler“went on to develop plans for lunar factories, solar sails, and methods to mine asteroids for mineral resources” and “was one of the L5 Society’s most articulate and vocal advocates for an expanded human presence in space.”409Butby the late 70s,Drexler began to turn his attentionto a new concept, nanotechnology, which fed into the space colonisation dream, but also broadened the emphasis of the L5 space-age, human potential movement, into something that underpinned cryonics and life-extensionist ambitions,and other facets of what later became a distinctly transhumanist vision of the future.

      Clear connection between transition from SL2 to SL3.

    8. Although Haldaneobserved thatthe progress of science had been staggeringly rapid in the last hundred and forty years, he considered it, “quite as likely as not that scientific research may ultimately bestrangled in some such way as this before mankind has learned to control its own evolution.”

      Again considering Hall's Where Is My Flying Car? one could argue that this is exactly what has happened with respect to nuclear power and the original acceleration we were heading for that stalled in the 20th century.

    9. John Burdon Sanderson Haldane was the son of the leading Scottish physiologist, John Scott Haldane, from whom J.B.S. learned “the fundamentals of science,”an education that began very early in his life.Throughout the younger Haldane’s youth, the pair undertook many “legendary and daring physiological experiments,”

      Another father-son pair.

    10. Teilhard consistentlyargued that,“the main movement in the universe has been, and is, a groping towards consciousness.”262Evolution, in hisview, exhibits a tendency towards increasing complexity and “cerebralisation.”263To date, this process has resulted in the emergence of humans, highly complex creatures thathave in turn given rise to a new “‘thinking layer,’” or noosphere—the complex web of collective thought and technologies that have dramatically extended humanity’s reach within the biosphere.264

      The tendency to ascribe a telos to evolution is an interesting trend here. It's essentially anthropomorphizing Darwin's ideas in ways that don't really track the reality. Natural selection is after what is adaptive in a particular context, it does not actually have to trend towards greater complexity and greater minds.

    11. The most impressive, I might say startling, of these changes have been brought about in the course of the last two centuries; while a right comprehension of the process of life and of the means of influencing its manifestations is only just dawning upon us.

      In the 19th century it was often believed that we were on the verge of completely unlocking the secrets of life, such that we would gain the ability to create and modify it to our specifications.

      The late 18th and early 19th century research along these lines was the basic inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

    12. TheIndustrial Revolution isthe first strong historical analog for the modern phenomenonof a quantum leap in human progress, resulting in radically altered ways of life in a short span of time.

      As Hall points out in Where Is My Flying Car? there is a strong argument to be made that the industrial revolution was a social chain reaction that had already set off an exponential improvement process on its way to 'singularity', this was disrupted in the 20th century however. But prior to that it had been ongoing for 300 years at a steady average rate of 7% more usable power annually.

  2. Jan 2021
    1. Godwin wasn’t convinced. Hiscounterargument, neatly summarised by Porter, was that “such a threat would be averted by the simultaneous withering away of sexual desires—a proposal which notoriously reduced Malthus to guffaws.”

      I'd have laughed too, but for the present moment this seems to in fact be the case.

    2. Another thinkerof the period, whose life also extended into the nineteenth century,was the British philosopher and novelist William Godwin (1756-1836). Godwin was the father of Mary Shelley, the author ofthe classic gothic novel,Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus(1823). Hewasalsoan ardent believer in the power of reason and mind to improve the human condition. According to the Stanford Encyclopediaof Philosophy, Godwinwas a prolongevist who:... looked forward to a period in which the dominance of mind over matter would be so complete that mental perfectibility would take a physical form, allowingus to control illness and ageing and become immortal.

      Oddly enough Montillo's account of how Frankenstein was written fails to mention this about Godwin. An even stranger omission when you realize that, at least to my memory, Shelley would hide as a child in the living room and eavesdrop on her fathers conversations.

    3. O that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and the human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity!
    4. Today, Mr. Machine, as La Mettrie mechanically dubbed himself, finally has his audience.

      Or as he might be termed today, Mr. Robot.

    5. He theorised at length about the preservative properties of the cold in his History of Life and Death, enthusiasticallyremarkingthat fruits and nuts have been known to have fallen in the snow, or have sometimes been buried in purpose built ice vaults. When recovered months laterthey have been found to be “as fresh and fine as if they had been picked yesterday.”

      One of the odder aspects of cryonics unpopularity is the simplicity of the logic involved. Suspect most of the problem is just expense, most people don't understand that it's financed through life insurance etc. Cremation was once considered taboo and heartless, but over time gained acceptance (I speculate/infer) because it was cheaper than a funeral.

    6. 14Like all other ideas and movements, transhumanism is a product of its time. Transhumanist ambitions of radical life extension, brain uploading, intelligence augmentation, and space colonisation, could not be taken seriously as realisticprojectsbefore the invention of modern computers and rockets, the discovery of DNA, or the rapid increases in computing power and the declining cost of computation—all of which took place in the twentieth century

      On the one hand there's definitely a lot of truth to this, on the other hand interest in this kind of project has waxed and waned since at least the middle ages. Roger Bacon believed that alchemy would allow humans to prolong life using the same mechanism as the Christian resurrection.


      I explore the prehistory of transhumanism in some detail here:


  3. Aug 2019
    1. Being, as the basic theme of philosophy, is no class or genus of entities; yet it pertains to every entity. Its ‘universality’ is to be sought higher up. Being and the structure of Being lie beyond every entity and every possible character which an entity may possess. Being is the transcendens pure and simple.42 And the transcendence of Dasein’s Being is distinctive in that it implies the possibility and the necessity of the most radical individuation. Every disclosure of Being as the transcendens is transcendental knowledge. Phenomenological truth (the disclosedness of Being) is veritas transcendentalis.

      Heidegger: "Being is the transcendens pure and simple" ||

    2. When an assignment to some particular “towards-this” has been thus circumspectively aroused, we catch sight of the “towards-this” itself, and along with it everything connected with the work—the whole ‘work-shop’—as that wherein concern always dwells. The context of equipment is lit up, not as something never seen before, but as a totality constantly sighted beforehand in circumspection. With this totality, however, the world announces itself.

      Heidegger: lighting of the the "work-shop" ||

    3. A. The Concept of Phenomenon H. 29 The Greek expression φαινόμενον, to which the term ‘phenomenon’ goes back, is derived from the verb φαίνεσθαι, which signifies “to show itself”. Thus φαινόμενον means that which shows itself, the manifest [das, was sich zeigt, das Sichzeigende, das Offenbare]. φαίνεσθαι itself is a middle-voiced form which comes from φαίνω—to bring to the light of day, to put in the light. Φαίνω comes from the stem φα—, like φῶς, the light, that which is bright—in other words, that wherein something can become manifest, visible in itself. Thus we must keep in mind that the expression ‘phenomenon’ signifies that which shows itself in itself, the manifest. Accordingly the φαινόμενα or ‘phenomena’ are the totality of what lies in the light of day or can be brought to the light—what the Greeks sometimes identified simply with τὰ ὄντα (entities). Now an entity can show itself from itself [von ihm selbst her] in many ways, depending in each case on the kind of access we have to it. Indeed it is even possible for an entity to show itself as something which in itself it is not. When it shows itself in this way, it ‘looks like something or other’ [“sieht”… “so aus wie…”]. This kind of showing-itself is what we call “seeming” [Scheinen]. Thus in Greek too the expression φαινόμενον (“phenomenon”) signifies that which looks like something, that which is ‘semblant’, ‘semblance’ [das “Scheinbare”, der “Schein”]. Φαινόμενον ἀγαθόν means something good which looks like, but ‘in actuality’ is not, what it gives itself out to be. If we are to have any further understanding of the concept of phenomenon, everything depends on our seeing how what is designated in the first signification of φαινόμενον (‘phenomenon’ as that which shows itself) and what is designated in the second (‘phenomenon’ as semblance) are structurally interconnected. Only when the meaning of something is such that it makes a pretension of showing itself—that is, of being a phenomenon—can it show itself as something which it is not; only then can it ‘merely look like so-and-so’. When φαινόμενον signifies ‘semblance’, the primordial signification (the phenomenon as the manifest) is already included as that upon which the second signification is founded. We shall allot the term ‘phenomenon’ to this positive and primordial signification of φαινόμενον, and distinguish “phenomenon” from “semblance”, which is the privative modification of “phenomenon” as thus defined. But what both these terms express has proximally nothing at all to do with what is called an ‘appearance’, or still less a ‘mere appearance’.22

      Heidegger: "The Concept of Phenomenon" ||

    4. The work produced refers not only to the “towards-which” of its usability and the “whereof” of which it consists: under simple craft conditions it also has an assignment to the person who is to use it or wear it. The work is cut to his figure; he ‘is’ there along with it as the work emerges. Even when goods are produced by the dozen, this constitutive assignment is by no means lacking; it is merely indefinite, and points to the random, the average.

      Heidegger: craftsman's "work is cut to his figure; he ‘is’ there along with it as the work emerges" ||

  4. Sep 2018
    1. overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies

      The author expresses a broad definition of what transhumanism is. Author does not include what transhumanism focuses on specifically as in "human limitations" This is an intent to show transhumanism can incorporate sciences and professions from across the board, being inclusive to new ideas in the process from interested individuals. Therefore, from the Transhumanist FAQ, we can conclude the broad definition was meant to draw in more ideas focused on the betterment of humanity from a diverse group of readers, available for critique and decisions.

    2. Perpetual progress is a strong statement of the transhumanist commitment to seek “more intelligence, wisdom, and effectiveness, an open-ended lifespan, and the removal of political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to continuing development. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities as individuals, as organizations, and as a species. Growing in healthy directions without bound.”

      The author further identify the true meaning of transhumanism as it is now focusing more of a mesh making all humans quite uniform, taking away culture and amplifying the idea of the collective being a single organism. The authors are more so repeating themselves as it is similar to previous points. The repetition may be there to reinforce the claim of the collective being a single organism. It is rather interesting that it diverse from promoting individualism where people gets to have their own culture and political ideologies, the author is effectively saying that humans should not have a mind of their own but interlinked with others to move within a direction with efficiency.

    3. Transhumanists regard human nature not as an end in itself, not as perfect, and not as having any claim on our allegiance. Rather, it is just one point along an evolutionary pathway and we can learn to reshape our own nature in ways we deem desirable and valuable. By thoughtfully, carefully, and yet boldly applying technology to ourselves, we can become something no longer accurately described as human – we can become posthuman.

      The author describes Transhumanism as something that the name directly defines it as. It is an idea whose followers believe that humans are not obsolete or non-perfect but instead a 'blank slate' that can be improved in specific ways through specific applications of technology to the human form, instead of relying on natural processes such as evolution or natural selection. The Latin prefix trans can be defined as either across, beyond, or through. The author describes Transhumanism simply as a movement to advance the human form, through technology, to meet our needs and ever changing values.

  5. Aug 2018
    1. Mein neuester Roman "Walkaway" ist ein optimistischer Katastrophenroman über bohemehafte Verweigerer, die sich vom Spätkapitalismus abwenden, wo sie nicht mehr gebraucht werden, und die gestohlene Software und Ruinen, die durch Umweltzerstörung hinterlassen wurden, benutzen, um vollautomatische kommunistische Luxusresorts auf Brachflächen zu bauen.
  6. Mar 2018
    1. In this annotation the narrator is talking about how he was himself when he did not have drug and alcohol problems. The narrator is probably hiding his feeling inside and he wants to try to keep his privacy. He knows in his feeling when something is not right. For example, near the middle the middle of the film he argued with carl regarding their job. Edward showed Carl that he has a sense of feeling and that he knows what is going to happen. At First they where surprised to see each other and how they where doing with their jobs.

  7. Sep 2016
    1. Machines are learning to do things that once could only be done by humans, and I see no obvious endpoint to their progress.
    2. Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Loser in the Age of Smart Machines
    3. It is by now close to certain that there are millions of people currently in high school and college who are fine-tuning their skills for steady-looking careers that will, following technological breakthroughs, dissipate by the time they retire.
  8. Aug 2016
  9. Jul 2016
    1. one could argue that the erasure of embodiment is a feature common to both the liberal humanist subject and the cybernetic posthuman.

      Sounds a lot like something from Tufekci, in Whitehead & Wesch. ISBN-13: 9781607321699

    1. what will happen to Tesla and the progress of autonomous driving as more people use Autosteer in situations it’s not good at

      Self-driving cars aren’t merely a technical issue.

  10. Jun 2016
    1. ensure that you’re solving the right problem

      Lots to be said about misdirected problem-solving. Much of it has to do with people who are extremely competent at their job but whose job is narrower than it could be. For instance, engineers are unbelievably adept at finding a solution to almost any problem. But it’s relatively common for them to work on “the wrong problem”, something which may not even need solving in some cases or a solution which may bring completely new problems. Those who think of the human condition as a problem to be solved may apply this type of mindset to an inappropriate extreme. Hence Soylent and VR goggles for prisoners.

    1. It’s a human/machine partnership that works as follows.

      Sounds like there’s been a bit of a move towards partnership, recently. But much discourse on automation is about the complete exclusion of human intervention.

    1. But “digital humanities” in the guise of “humanities computing,” “big data,” “topic modelling,” “object oriented ontology” is not going to save the humanities from the chopping block.

      Can the humanistic bent in DH counteract the `self-hating human” part of technocracy?

  11. Oct 2015
    1. became an inevitability

      There’s a lot in STS (Science & Technology Studies) to challenge linear thinking about inexorable series of outcomes. Given a technocentric tendency to extrapolate from perceived trends, this kind of foretold consequence is at the very core of much #transhumanism.