Thursday, August 9, 2018

Folly and privilege of the Transhumanist movement

"The Misguided Idiot’s Quest for Immortality: A diatribe on the folly and privilege of the Transhumanist movement" is a recent article by Alex Perlman in the magazine Future Human. She states "nothing has raised my hackles as much as this movement’s quest for immortality and the ignorance of the inherent inequality of the discussion around that idea... It is irresponsible, if not actively harmful, to pursue radical life extension as a serious goal, while so many Americans fear that they won’t be able to make [it] through the next few years."

This criticism was dismissed as "journalistic idiocy," and "bio-luddism." However, the author states,
"I very much agree with ... self-experimentation and morphological freedom, and I enjoy investigating the ethical challenges associated with using scientific knowledge to enhance the limits of the human body." I commented on G+, "The author is an ethics researcher and a transhumanist. It isn't from someone who is "not able to visualize the bounty of future possibilities and progress." It is a warning that transhumanism/cryonics in the USA is on a path of self-destruction. One key failure is the lack of insight into the long-term political dynamics that will bring transhumanism/cryonics in the USA into direct confrontation with the mainstream culture.

A recent book To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell offers a similar critique. The reviewer comments, "O’Connell is a highly sceptical observer, sometimes horrified and often amused, but offers reminders that this is not a simple tale of eccentrics and the freaky fringe. Some very rich and influential people dabble in aspects of transhumanism, and his series of reports, taken together, provide a commentary on the (at times) sinister and (always) hubristic faith in technology radiating outwards from Silicon Valley."

The censorship and other attempts at "controlling the message" about cryonics is now backfiring. The pioneers of the transhumanist/cryonics movement have shown they are incapable of adjusting to the challenge of exponential growth and the need to become a mass movement. Unfortunately, the undemocratic structures in the movement make it extremely difficult to dislodge the fanatics, who at this point are promoting their own death by ignoring social and organizational dynamics. I discuss some of these issues in The Growth and Decline of Cryonics.

Transhumanism/cryonics is mostly dominated by those supporting neo-liberalism and libertarianism (as defined in the USA). As I point out in my above publication, the effect of neo-liberalism has been a stagnation in wages for the majority. An important predictor of enrollment in a cryonics suspension program is wealth: “Individuals making more than $100,000 were generally more favorably disposed toward cryonics (Badger, 1998).” We can conclude from this that the macro-economic preferences of many of those in the movement are suppressing the growth of cryonics. Many of these people see the Scottish economist Adam Smith as their intellectual father. However, this is a flawed understanding of his actual teachingsLibertarianism is even more philosophically at odds with its own roots with its worship of the "free market." 

In his video Transhumanism and Immortality, Isaac Arthur comments on how difficult it is to distinguish between science and hype when investigating this topic. He is a competent commentator on future-oriented science and technology, and considers himself to be a transhumanist. So, this should be considered to be a positive view of the state of transhumanism. Expecting the public to take transhumanism seriously is unrealistic under these circumstances.

A solution could be a comprehensive critique of the underlying philosophical positions within transhumanism. As Jones has demonstrated, unrealistic views of technology make it impossible to take transhumanism seriously. A firm grounding in accepted science combined with a peer-reviewed publication of a high scientific standard appears to be essential to escape the perception of transhumanism as a "freaky fringe" science or new-age religion. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Guidelines for breaking the law with protection from federal authorities

Then there’s Unicorn Riot’s Icebreaker series which released ICE’s handbook containing the agency’s “rules for informants, infiltration of organizations, and guidelines for breaking the law with protection from federal authorities.”  WikiLeaks posted a tweet stating that ICE undercover agents “duplicitously” marry their targets, citing part of the handbook,
“…activity involving a purported legal marriage between an undercover operative and a target or third party; or a marriage sting operation whereby an undercover operative proffers marriage to a target or third party…”
And just today, @JulianAssange tweeted,

“DHS/ICE is part of the ‘deep state.’  TV shows you border guards, but in reality, ICE is a huge intelligence operation, that sucks out information on mass from computers, phones & passes it to CIA, runs drones & expands the power of the state through increasing ‘rightless’ zones.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Gaianism versus Cosmism


Man is part of a super organism (Gaia)

Death is part of the life cycle 

Save the Planet

Rationality (Enlightenment ideal) 

Science as a threat to Nature

Man is the most evolved organism 


Life is a formative element of the cosmos

Immorality through technology

Spread joy through the Universe

Self-determination (Enlightenment ideal)

Science assisting in the realization of the brotherhood of all humankind.

Man shares the Galaxy with more advanced civilizations


Russia and Western Civilization: Cutural and Historical Encounters

By Russell Bova

Monday, November 27, 2017

When science entered the policy greenhouse

The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.
These words in the second assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can now be seen as pivotal in the history of global warming science.
However tentative the wording, this was the first time that an official assessment had made a positive ‘detection’ claim.
The breakthrough was widely celebrated and then used to justify a change of US policy, towards support for binding greenhouse gas emissions targets.

But this came only after protests over what had been done to the IPCC report to make way for this statement. Just days before the US policy change was announced, an op-ed by leading US scientist, Frederick Seitz, described the late removal of sceptical passages as ‘a major deception’, and a ‘disturbing corruption of the peer-review process’, where policymakers and the public had been misled into believing ‘that the scientific evidence shows human activities are causing global warming’.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gore’s Oil Money

"Occidental’s investment in Gore has paid rich dividends. In late 1997 the Vice President championed the Administration’s $3.65 billion sale to the company of the government’s interest in the Elk Hills oilfield in Bakersfield, California, the largest privatization of federal property in US history. On the very day the deal was sealed Gore gave a speech lamenting the growing threat of global warming. Gore also maintains a close friendship with Occidental CEO Ray Irani. In 1996 the latter spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Two days later his company donated $100,000 to the DNC. In 1994 Irani traveled with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown on a trade junket to Russia. Four years later, Irani was invited to a state dinner at the White House for Colombian President Pastrana."
"Occidental and the Administration are also cooperating in promoting President Clinton’s controversial $1.6 billion package in military aid for Bogotá. (Occidental already pays the Colombian military to keep an army base next to a refinery it runs in the country.) The aid request came in the wake of three reports–from the US State Department, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch–that slammed Pastrana’s government for human rights abuses and for failing to cut ties between the army and paramilitary death squads. According to the Human Rights Watch report, at least seven senior military officials in Colombia who have links to paramilitary units are graduates of the US Army’s School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

On February 15 an Occidental vice president, Lawrence Meriage, testified before a House subcommittee in favor of the package, saying that Colombia’s military “lack mobility, equipment and, perhaps most serious, they lack the intelligence-gathering capabilities afforded to their better-funded adversaries.” Meriage took the opportunity to denounce opposition to his company’s Samore project, which he said is limited to “extremists” in Colombia and “several fringe nongovernmental organizations in the US.” The latter–which Meriage didn’t name but which include the Rainforest Action Network and Project Underground–are “de facto allies of the subversive forces that are attacking oil installations, electric power stations and other legitimate business enterprises,” the Occidental executive said.
Gore has also rebuffed members of his own party who have asked him to support the tribe. On February 22 Representative Cynthia McKinney wrote to Gore and urged him to meet with U’wa leader Perez and to support an immediate suspension of the Samore project. “I am concerned that the operations of oil companies, and in particular Occidental Petroleum, are exacerbating an already explosive situation, with disastrous consequences for the local indigenous people,” she said. “I am contacting you because you have remained silent on this issue despite your strong financial interests and family ties with Occidental.” "