inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #51 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Fri 20 Feb 15 10:34
    
Jeffk

Well, ultimately it doesn't require dollars to live, it requires
real wealth. So the larger question is whether we are developing new
wealth through nanotechnology, genomics, flexible strong materials
like graphene and so forth.

Pensions and social security and, for that matter, jobs and income,
are likely to be an issue for a period. I view that more as an
attachment to legacy systems than as a problem of sufficient wealth.
Water, cleaner energy, the collapse of ecosystems and so forth are
real problems that could make hyperlongevity a pretty dystopian
situation if not resolved.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #52 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Fri 20 Feb 15 21:47
    
Jeffk: The pension problem with longevity is an interesting
extension of the current problem, which is that (AFAIK) all such
systems are, in effect, Ponzi schemes, with current beneficiaries
being paid not from their "investments," but from the contributions
of current workers. As the population ages, you go from having 5-10
workers supporting each retired person, to many fewer. If each
worker has (in effect) their own retiree to support, it's not
sustainable. Japan is already moving toward that situation.

But there's another conundrum. Let's say a longevity treatment is
invented, but not everyone can use it, at least at first. So some
people are living to 150, but others aren't. How do you make
pensions fair? Shouldn't the longer-lived pay more into their
pensions, because they're likely to live longer? Otherwise, aren't
the shorter-lived subsidizing the longer-lived? That's already the
case now to some extent, but because we all have "normal" lifespans,
nobody really objects: it's the same crapshoot for everyone. But if
some people gain decades of longevity through an expensive
treatment, I expect there to be some angry talk about "fairness."
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #53 of 108: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 21 Feb 15 08:26
    
Presumably, if you live much longer at some reasonable quality of
life, you have a longer work history, can succeed and fail more
times, can contribute more to funding for whatever number of years
you're not working, either because you don't want to and don't have
to, or because you physically or mentally can't continue.

But there's already an issue for older workers: there's an
assumption that you'll cycle out of the workforce at 65 or even
earlier, and you can't necessarily choose to keep working.
Especially true in the world of accelerating technology change,
where ageism is rampant; the assumption there is that a sixty-plus
worker won't be clueful and can't keep up.

But, as transhumanism would predict, today's 65 year old can have
the health, cognitive ability, and energy of yesterday's 30-40 year
old. Assumptions are changing about how long one would work before
voluntary retirement, but is the work there? How can we structure
society to support an increasingly older workforce and longer period
of productive work? 
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #54 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Sat 21 Feb 15 09:57
    
That's true, ideally, but say there's a treatment and some people at
65 are as healthy as others at 35 and can live many more decades.
Will they raise the retirement age for *just* the people with the
treatments? Or do that for everyone? All options seem unlikely. 

One of the overall issues is that the future is not going to happen
to everyone, everywhere, all at once, which will create significant
social strains.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #55 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Sat 21 Feb 15 11:50
    
Also the technologies that transhumanist optimists believe will make
the situation insanely great will probably not develop to maturity
at the same pace. If extreme longevity comes on fast, it really is
very problematic, in terms of actual wealth and extant systems for
distributing it. And if our health can be maintained through a few
treatments and some nanobots in the bloodstream, that disrupts
entire host of health related industries. 
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #56 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Sat 21 Feb 15 14:55
    
Yes, as a rule of thumb the faster any change happens, the more
disruptive it is. 
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #57 of 108: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 22 Feb 15 16:27
    
Neurotechnology evolution is an important theme within
transhumanism. You have a longer article on the subject, including a
bit about DIY brain-computer interface hacking (nodding to
https://backyardbrains.com/). Did you stumble onto brain
technologies that actually seem to accelerate neural development?
Can we look forward to a brain boost in the near future?
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #58 of 108: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 22 Feb 15 19:04
    
Relevant to our conversation:
http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/live-forever

"We are capable of making copies of things that our ancestors might
have thought of as ineffable, like Bach’s cantatas or images of the
moment of birth. Perhaps this ability is what has given us the idea
that we can copy other things that seem ethereal—like our minds.
But, of course, achieving immortality will surely be much harder
than backing up your hard drive."
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #59 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Sun 22 Feb 15 19:45
    
There do seem to be some ways to boost brainpower, but as far as I
know, nothing dramatic or easy. Part of the problem is all the laws
and regulations intended to protect us from bad medicine: the
unintended side effect is to make it difficult, expensive, or even
impossible to test and market drugs etc. for this purpose.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #60 of 108: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 23 Feb 15 04:39
    
Interesting point in this brief Tricycle piece about Buddhism and
transhumanism:
http://www.tricycle.com/blog/could-transhumanism-make-buddhism-obsolete

"I think it is quite naive to think that technology, while
undoubtedly having the ability to drastically change many aspects of
our existence, could ever change the fundamental nature of our
existence. Thousands of years ago, when agrarian civilization first
developed, there were probably people who thought farming and
commerce were the answer to humanity's ills, and the same is
probably true of the the discovery of electricity, the industrial
revolution, and the information age. Yet did any of these
advancements actually conquer human suffering?"
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #61 of 108: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Mon 23 Feb 15 08:12
    

Yeah, I think large portions of this conversation (not necessarily right 
in this conference here on the Well, of course) are deeply naive. 

You are not your memories, tweets, or photographs. You are not even your 
brain. Your body is part of you in ways that the transhumanists are simply 
ignoring.

In the 20th century reductionism was popular, but it's been discarded as 
simplistic, and for good reasons. Your gut biome alone should be a clue 
that "you" are not going to survive the death of your body. Something 
might survive, but it won't be you.

Maybe take a nice long walk over a snow-covered field with the sun peeking 
through the clouds and crows squabbling in the trees, with the wind on 
your face and the air in your lungs. You'll see what I mean.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #62 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Mon 23 Feb 15 09:03
    
Jon: Thousands of years ago, people were lucky to make it to 40, so
while those advances didn't conquer human suffering, they certainly
alleviated it.

Rocket: There certainly can be a simplistic reductionism in aspects
of transhumanism, but I don't think our book suffers from that. Our
section on mind uploading is particularly skeptical. However,
transhumanism is a many-faceted subject, and many facets don't have
the issues you mention. A practical exoskeleton or a nanotech cure
could allow the paralyzed to take that nice long walk in the field.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #63 of 108: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Mon 23 Feb 15 09:57
    
If a practical exoskeleton is transhumanism, then great, I am all for that
facet. 

But now we are looking at a needlessly broad canvas -- does that mean one 
who uses a wheelchair is "transhuman?" Crutches? Eyeglasses? A winter 
coat? 

Here's what Google serves up:

"Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and 
intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming 
the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies 
to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological 
capacities."
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #64 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Mon 23 Feb 15 12:07
    
In fact, many people make the argument that motorized vehicles,
airplanes, birth control pills and so on are already extant signs of
a transhuman condition. Even the language of "fundamentally changing
the human condition" is subject to interrogation. We can be said to
have, many times, fundamentally changed the human condition or, as
Jon implied, we could say that we're fundamentally unchanged as a
species since before the advent of agriculture.

Having consciousness outside the body is on the extreme edge of
transhumanist thought, but it attracts a lot of attention and
interest. You can find entire articles in which transhumanism is
critiqued as a speciescidal nightmare with the central assumption
being that it wants to suck everybody up into a non-physical virtual
world...
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #65 of 108: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Mon 23 Feb 15 12:20
    
By that definition I would argue books, radio, television, and eyeglasses 
are major landmarks in transhumanism.

Unfortunately we will now also need to include the axle, the internal 
combustion engine, and the yoke. And now we are just talking about 
technology, which invariably serves people.

Stripped of "surviving the death experience," transhumanism is just 
another word for a very old idea, isn't it?
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #66 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Mon 23 Feb 15 13:20
    
I guess that technologies that don't already exist look like
enhancements and those that have become fully integrated don't. 

The Transhumanist Declaration of 2008 may be a good place to
consider what is transhuman now. It's kind of the calm center of
transhumanism against which people who want an edgier identity
protest and measure themselves...

Point #1 is pretty much Timothy Leary in the 1970s... "Humanity
stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the
future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by
overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and
our confinement to planet Earth."

The whole thing is here:
http://humanityplus.org/philosophy/transhumanist-declaration/

Note that there's no mention of disembodied downloaded minds or
smarter than human AIS...
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #67 of 108: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Mon 23 Feb 15 13:30
    
Thanks for the link, R.U.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #68 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Mon 23 Feb 15 16:41
    
Like all complex and broad-based movements, one can argue endlessly
about definitions. Is Kate Bush rock 'n' roll? Is Louis Jordan? 

At the no-doubt-about-it end of the scale ("10") are things like
mind uploading. I'd say enhancing the body with implants that
provided direct computer access or superior strength could also
count, but there's a range. Full cyborgization would count as a 10,
but I wouldn't want to say Oscar Pistorius or someone with an
artificial heart valve don't count at all ("0"). Those seem like
early or light versions of transhumanism... maybe a 2 or 3?

I wouldn't count a winter coat, though.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #69 of 108: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Mon 23 Feb 15 16:56
    
To follow on (rocket)'s post above about "you" surviving death,
"you" doesn't even always survive during a life.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #70 of 108: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Mon 23 Feb 15 20:37
    
I'm pretty sure Facebook is working on a way for "you" to keep posting after
death. Got to keep those adview numbers up you know.

Another hundred years and 90% of the world's supposed population will be
bots sending each other cat videos.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #71 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Mon 23 Feb 15 23:36
    
Cat Sharing Bots almost ranked an entry in our A-Z listing as did
Bot Sharing Cats. I look forward to being liked on Deathbook.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #72 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Tue 24 Feb 15 00:38
    
"Another hundred years and 90% of the world's supposed population
will be
bots sending each other cat videos." Jef wins the internet for today.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #73 of 108: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 24 Feb 15 20:58
    
Georges Gurdjieff argued that, for each of us, evolution is a
possibility if we want it and commit to a certain path (which had no
clear definition because it's so subjective, no one path fits all).
What he was talking about was a transcendent path and practice
unmediated by technology, or at least external tech (I suppose you
could argue that mind and will are "tools"). I find myself wondering
if transcendence is really abetted by technology, or subverted by
it. Will there be an implant that brings wisdom?  
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #74 of 108: Jay Cornell (jay-cornell) Tue 24 Feb 15 21:14
    
I doubt it. Not directly, at least. However, it seems possible or
even likely that as more is learned about brain states and how to
induce them, an implant (or some other artificial means) could bring
about states related to wisdom, like serenity or centeredness. And
perhaps that might lead some people to greater wisdom.
  
inkwell.vue.481 : R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell, Transcendence
permalink #75 of 108: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Tue 24 Feb 15 23:21
    
I wonder if the Gurdjieff notion of wakefulness or awareness is the
same as Transcendence, which btw was the book companies idea for the
title. 

Hmm, too tired tonight to go much into it, but I DO think
transhumanism and particularly the notion of the singularity does
seek to answer the thirst for transcendence of the painful
conditions of being human that religions and "spirituality" resolves
to the satisfaction of some people. And in ways that are not
entirely implausible.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook