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unbeliever536
2014-02-25, 04:02 AM
Are there any more? Do we have anything to talk about?

What's on your list of transhumanist dreams?

I'm mostly into body customization, but personality copying and running multiple bodies at once are also intriguing ideas.

What makes a person? Are we going to talk to something else here first, or somewhere out in space? Are we going to make whatever we're talking to, or are we just going to figure out the language? Have we already talked to nonhuman intelligences?

Eldan
2014-02-25, 06:54 AM
For me, it's all about immortality. It's time we finally ended death.

Then, brain modification. That has a lot of priority over other body parts for me. Personality backups too. Never saw the need to run multiple bodies myself, either.

Tebryn
2014-02-25, 06:57 AM
For me, it's all about immortality. It's time we finally ended death.

Yep, pretty much this.

unbeliever536
2014-02-25, 07:32 AM
Well, yeah, immortality is pretty much a given. If I don't live forever, how will I finish anything?

But I think it might be cool to live a sort of doubled experience. Maybe. Depends on how it works. Having multiple different bodies is also useful; one might be better than another for a particular purpose, or just the one you feel like wearing today.

I think there's a lot of utility in being able to, say swap out hands for a particular task, or carry an emergency oxygen tank in place of an appendix or something.

Telonius
2014-02-25, 08:40 AM
I'm interested in the ideas behind transhumanism. But before I move on to something other than human, I'd like to have the experience of fully functional human eyes and ears. I think that's an example of my biggest problem with the movement generally - it seems to be putting the cart before the horse in a lot of cases.

I work at a science journal, and every day we get dozens of papers about human biology and medical science. Each one is trying to answer one of thousands of unanswered questions about ourselves, as humans. We're still trying to figure out how our own bodies work. Trying to change a complex system before having an understanding of how it really works (or how to fix it if something goes wrong), strikes me as a bit dangerous.

It's definitely a direction we ought to be moving, and it's amazing to think where we'll be in the future. I love having that kind of dream - mine tend more towards bio-engineering, instant tissue repair, genetic therapy, and alternate metabolic systems (integrating photosynthesis or chemosynthesis, maybe), rather than cybernetics. But I think we're still in the infancy of the science required for those things, let alone the more imaginative dreams like functional immortality, personality uploads, or swapping body parts.

Razanir
2014-02-25, 08:45 AM
For me, it's all about immortality. It's time we finally ended death.

Yes, but immortality would get boring after a while. Also, it would almost certainly lead to overpopulation, unless we finally colonize Mars (and probably also a few exoplanets for good measure)

Eldan
2014-02-25, 09:01 AM
Yes, but immortality would get boring after a while. Also, it would almost certainly lead to overpopulation, unless we finally colonize Mars (and probably also a few exoplanets for good measure)

See, I never believed that one. The boring part, I mean. Even now, humanity produces more new ideas in a day than I could digest in a year. And I don't think that will stop soon. And there's always technological innovation, as well.

And, well. I have, in my live, visited 9 countries. Nine! Out of 200! And those were short visits! 3 days in Paris is not knowing France. I don't even know most of Switzerland, and we're tiny. I've seen barely anything of Australia, despite spending half a year there. Even if everything stopped changing today, I could spend a few centuries traveling.

Now think about if you had become immortal 100 years ago. Let's say you had seen, hm, New York in the year 1914. Now you get to see it again in 2014. Might be a slightly different experience, no?

Lord Raziere
2014-02-25, 09:13 AM
I personally hope we will get to build whatever bodies we want in transhumanism.

maybe its kind of vain, but then again who wouldn't want to look however they want? I mean, there might be a chance of having real-life catgirls (from very sophisticated disguised cybernetics, not any genetic stupidity) or something like that.

of course, there is the unspoken hope that you live long enough to see transhuman come true. which may or not happen. I'd make back up plans in case you don't.

Eldan
2014-02-25, 09:55 AM
I don't think you could really define when transhumanism starts. Or rather, it has been around for a long time, the methods just got better. Body modifications? Anything from tattoos to plastic surgery. Cybernetics? Contact lenses. Or if you want electronic ones inside the body, pacemakers and hearing aids implanted in the skull. Artificial limbs? Ranging from wooden legs to those that have to be banned from the Olympics. Computer-nerve interfaces? Got those, too.

Razanir
2014-02-25, 10:00 AM
See, I never believed that one. The boring part, I mean. Even now, humanity produces more new ideas in a day than I could digest in a year. And I don't think that will stop soon. And there's always technological innovation, as well.

What about the other argument? We avoid overpopulation because people die. A brief google search estimates the carrying capacity of Earth at as much as 40 billion. Except another search estimated that over 100 billion people have ever lived. So if we were biologically immortal, we have been overpopulated well before now.

Murska
2014-02-25, 10:01 AM
Augmenting intelligence is the key thing for me, of course after immortality. Death is a bad thing that has no real upsides and should not happen, and society tends to attribute all sorts of supposedly good sides to it simply because we can't avoid it yet.

Cryogenics. Opinions? I feel that having a few percent chance of not dying as opposed to a near-certainty of dying is completely worth it. Once I have the funds, I suppose.

EDIT: @^ If we were immortal, there wouldn't have been 100 billion people. But yes, the point is valid and we'd have to work on technology to prevent overpopulation. It'd take quite a while for population growth to lower, and with immortality our population would still keep growing so we would have to expand. But there's ridiculous amounts of living room in the universe, as long as we have time to figure out how to make use of it.

Devils_Advocate
2014-02-25, 10:49 AM
Well, the aging process is just generally pretty terrible, isn't it? Even if you want everyone to die before they reach a certain age, there are more humane ways of killing them. Curing senescence is obviously still a big priority for quality of life reasons. Hopefully we can agree on that much.


immortality would get boring after a while.
On what do you base this claim? Some would say that the inability to conceive of life remaining interesting indefinitely represents a tragic failure of imagination. Are you aware of any of the work that has been done in this field (http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Fun_theory)?


Also, it would almost certainly lead to overpopulation, unless we finally colonize Mars (and probably also a few exoplanets for good measure)
Why not mind uploading instead? For example. Unless you're specifically talking about indefinite life in a literal, biological sense.


Death is a bad thing that has no real upsides and should not happen, and society tends to attribute all sorts of supposedly good sides to it simply because we can't avoid it yet.
"You know, given human nature, if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing. But if you took someone who wasn't being hit on the head with a baseball bat, and you asked them if they wanted it, they would say no. I think that if you took someone who was immortal, and asked them if they wanted to die for benefit X, they would say no."
-- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky


Cryogenics. Opinions? I feel that having a few percent chance of not dying as opposed to a near-certainty of dying is completely worth it. Once I have the funds, I suppose.
I pretty much assume that everything about me worth preserving will be in plentiful supply in a future when cryogenic patients can be revived, so if I ever do this it'll likely be motivated by fear of survival into a less pleasant future (see: quantum immortality, Dust Theory, Pascal's Wager, etc.) than fear of oblivion. The prospect of literal immortality alarms me far more than that of an end to my existence; I don't particularly like existing as it stands. It'd take a big incentive to get me to give up the chance to stop. Not that I expect to be faced with that particular dilemma.


What makes a person?
Mu. I am of the opinion that sometimes a word's multiple definition overlap each other enough that they can seem like one particular thing if not examined closely, and that "person" is one such word.

Does the concept of personhood in particular have much use other than dividing beings up into "those who are like us, and therefore unacceptable victims" and "those who are unlike us, and therefore acceptable victims"?

Because I would really prefer that we just not do that in general.

Tebryn
2014-02-25, 10:58 AM
Yes, but immortality would get boring after a while. Also, it would almost certainly lead to overpopulation, unless we finally colonize Mars (and probably also a few exoplanets for good measure)

I'll find something to do to pass the time until the heat death of the universe.

Eldan
2014-02-25, 11:04 AM
"You know, given human nature, if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing. But if you took someone who wasn't being hit on the head with a baseball bat, and you asked them if they wanted it, they would say no. I think that if you took someone who was immortal, and asked them if they wanted to die for benefit X, they would say no."
-- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky


Of course, that argument always works both ways. As written, it really only confirms that people often get used to what they have. If you have a population A, living under condition X, and population B, living under condition Y and A prefers living under X instead of Y and B under Y instead of X, you really can't, from that, say whether X or Y is objectively "better".

As for overpopulation: so many technological innovations have increased the world population. Should we have prevented the Industrial revolution? The green revolution? The agricultural revolution?

Or how about medicine? We could stop a lot of overpopulation problems if we stopped treating people with influenza, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer or any other disease.

Tyndmyr
2014-02-25, 11:21 AM
Richer, more advanced countries tend to have lowering birth rates, so...tech advancement essentially solves overpopulation. The problem isn't too much tech, but not enough.

Bring on the immortality. If you live as long as you like, why rush to have kids?

Dienekes
2014-02-25, 11:49 AM
Richer, more advanced countries tend to have lowering birth rates, so...tech advancement essentially solves overpopulation. The problem isn't too much tech, but not enough.

Bring on the immortality. If you live as long as you like, why rush to have kids?

No... even though birth rates do decline we are still looking at population growth in tech advanced areas. If no one dies the population growth would increase unchecked, unless of course birth rates drop down to zero, which is unlikely, people desire children for some reason.

Personally though, death has never bothered me. The whole getting rid of it seems kind of a cowardly way to clog up our ever diminishing resources. Before we should even be thinking about that, we need to find more efficient ways to deal with these resources to be completely renewable, plus methods of increasing land, while still maintain environmental stability.

As to transhumanism itself, I'm sure eventually we'll be able to alter ourselves in weird and insane ways. Hell, we're already doing that now to some extent. But I'm much more interested in quality of life benefits, getting improved spines for those born disabled and all that.

Spiryt
2014-02-25, 12:08 PM
Maybe I had wrong lectures, mainly Lem etc. but I find whole idea rather dystopic and terrifying.

Humans are animals, living organism, with organism inner workings, that are inherent to their beings.

We eat, grow, run away or perish what is dangerous, and we generally, try to spread our genes forward, from unimaginable depths of time, forward, to the future. Then age, whither and die. That's how living organism are made to be.

Our interests, dreams, hopes and all that is all in some way connected directly to it, living and thriving inside blood fed brain, steered by hormones and other stuff carried by said brain.

Being cannot be 'human' or really being anymore without all of that, and without those human, biological drives - it would have to endlessly fed itself with some 'artificial' sense of purpose.

It leads us to immortality - people don't want to be immortal - it's not possible and we know it, from some deep, terrifying instincts, to the knowledge of increasing entropy - that our bodies and minds are prone to.

People just don't want to die - if said people are happy, they want that shiny, warm moment of happiness, laugh, love to last somehow, forever.

It's obviously not possible, because time is running, constantly, and we can only move with it.

Towards the red suns, decaying of galaxies, and whatever, perhaps, if mind could somehow last that long without going 'mad' or just completely changed and effectively dead.

Second part of "Memoirs of Ijon Tichy" about prof. Decantor and his Immortal Soul is where I took parts of my ramble out of, obviously.

So yeah, as soon (if) as I grow old, and most probably, very afraid of dying, I quite probably will change my tune. Due to different set of emotions spawning in my still living brain, from still moving muscles and gland (even if barely).

But right now, I find the whole thing ultimately... vain? Unavailing?

Stating it like that, I'm obviously no transhumanist, so it's not thread for me, but I will just leave it there if someone by a chance cares to read.

Kajhera
2014-02-25, 12:30 PM
Indefinite continuation of consciousness ... there are living organisms already that have no destructive aging. See no (sufficient) reason we shouldn't strive to be among them. I'll change and be a different person, sure, I'm kind of already that every several years; rarely strikes me as a form of death.

On the societal side, a lack of stigma and reduced gatekeeping regarding self-transformation. Acceptance of increasing distances from 'normal' as valid and valuable expressions of consciousness and identity.

On the cybernetic side, the mind-machine interface is really neat; someone loosely connected to my family is apparently working on that kind of thing, and there seems like so much potential both medically and for interesting tools.

Devils_Advocate
2014-02-25, 12:40 PM
Spiryt, an impression I'm getting from some of your post is that not only do you think that the mind exists to serve the body, but that the mind should serve the body rather than vice versa.

Like... kind of disdaining spirituality and rationality and so on in favor of the worship of meat, as it were. To a degree.

Is that at all accurate, or am I just completely misreading you?


people don't want to be immortal
So, a lot of people don't seem to realize this, but you don't have to use the exact words "I know how you really feel" to be amazingly conceited.

PROTIP: As a general rule, other people know how they feel better than you know how they feel! This is because people directly experience their own emotions.


People just don't want to die - if said people are happy, they want that shiny, warm moment of happiness, laugh, love to last somehow, forever.
... OK, wait, what? I'm not even clear on what distinction you're making any more. I can see how wanting not to die isn't exactly the same thing as wanting to live forever... but it sure sounds like you're talking about living forever here. And if immortality isn't not dying and also isn't living forever, then what the heck is it?


Of course, that argument always works both ways. As written, it really only confirms that people often get used to what they have. If you have a population A, living under condition X, and population B, living under condition Y and A prefers living under X instead of Y and B under Y instead of X, you really can't, from that, say whether X or Y is objectively "better".
Well, to extend the metaphor a bit, I rather suspect that most people who had to be hit on the head by a baseball bat every week would opt out of it if given the chance. Even the ones who had nice things to say about the practice.

Of course, you can have nice things to say about something without thinking it's better to have it than not to have it. Few things really are strictly positive or negative, and pointing out that something has important benefits doesn't necessarily mean supporting it. It can simply be a matter of pointing out that removing one problem may lead to new problems that will have to be dealt with in one way or another.

There are potential means of fighting overpopulation if it becomes a concern. Increased use of capital punishment, for example, might be considered preferable to... well, everyone dying.

Personally, I think it's better for people to get to decide for themselves when they die. Even if that does lead to most people killing themselves out of boredom, that still seems like an improvement. I imagine that most people would prefer for their deaths to be in their control to the extent possible, rather than out of their control.

Talya
2014-02-25, 12:42 PM
Natural Selection got us to where we are, but some of our greatest strengths - our social cooperation, our use of tools, our individual specializations - are also great weaknesses, as we lack the physical strength or durability, or self-sufficiency of most species.

I believe that these weaknesses will atrophy further as we advance. It is only through taking control of our own genetic evolution and changing ourselves that we can transcend these problems.

Transhumanism is a great idea. Are we suggesting "Playing God?" Absolutely. Why not? {SCRUBBED} No reason not to aspire to be one - the Apotheosis of Man is the ultimate goal.

Devils_Advocate
2014-02-25, 01:02 PM
Talya, what's your basis for that assessment? I had gotten the impression that "Humans are less physically capable than wild animals" was more of a stereotype than a truism, and that humans are actually considerably more badass than most animals, even without support. (If nothing else, I feel pretty confident I could take a squirrel in a fight if things got ugly. Then again, it's hard to imagine a state of affairs that would lead to that particular scenario.)

Although that in turn is mostly just a vague impression on my own part, and I can't really recall anything specific backing it up. (Although I'm pretty sure we excel at endurance running and at throwing.)

Anyway, reshaping the world to suit our desires is totally a thing humans do, so it's hard to see how playing god is anything new. If anything, the realm of self-modification seems almost quaint at this point.

pendell
2014-02-25, 01:06 PM
I believe that these weaknesses will atrophy further as we advance. It is only through taking control of our own genetic evolution and changing ourselves that we can transcend these problems.



I'm not convinced this is true. It is possible that advances in social technology and other technology will allow us to overcome these problems without genetic enhancement or other radical things, such as being transplanted into a computer.



people don't want to be immortal


I absolutely do. There are a number of crowdsourced projects on Zooniverse (https://www.zooniverse.org/) to keep me busy for a couple centuries, anyway. And the more we learn, the more questions are raised.

So long as my mental facilities are intact and I can interact with the world around me in a meaningful way, "Boredom" is a choice, not a necessity. Oh, there are times when things are boring, but that just makes the non-boring parts of life all the sweeter.

As towards other things .. I think one of the most important things we will learn about transhumanism is all the important things our normal bodies give us that we take for granted, don't think about. Not that there isn't room for improvement, but I suspect our initial thoughts on the matter are quite naive. There's no guarantee that a robotic body, for example, would be lower maintenance or even necessarily live longer than a normal body. It might require constant and maintenance and upkeep which our normal bodies do without our conscious intervention.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Surrealistik
2014-02-25, 01:09 PM
Immortality; the concept of death as a complete cessation of all consciousness and the annihilation of everything that has been experienced before, a gaping expanse of endless nothing, terrifies regardless of the fact that I wouldn't actually be aware of it. I do want to live forever, or at least so long as I feel living is worthwhile.

Beyond that, I, like most others I suspect, certainly wouldn't mind heightened mental and physical capabilities, particularly the former.

Talya
2014-02-25, 01:14 PM
Talya, what's your basis for that assessment? I had gotten the impression that "Humans are less physically capable than wild animals" was more of a stereotype than a truism, and that humans are actually considerably more badass than most animals, even without support. (If nothing else, I feel pretty confident I could take a squirrel in a fight if things got ugly. Then again, it's hard to imagine a state of affairs that would lead to that particular scenario.)


Often animals much smaller than a human tend to have far greater strength and deadliness. A human averages much more massive than a cougar, or a chimpanzee, and yet either of those animals could easily, in a straight-up, unarmed brawl, rip us apart.

The cougar may be an unfair comparison. Her teeth and claws give her the advantage of being armed without needing weapons. The Chimp is a different matter. Primates are the best comparison, here, too, as we are primates. And pound-for-pound, we're the physical sissies of the primate family. Any one of them with a body-mass even close to our own is far stronger than we are.

Adlan
2014-02-25, 01:19 PM
Are there any more? Do we have anything to talk about?

I think I'm a transhumanist of sorts, I was first really exposed to transhumanism in old copies of analog and short story collections like the Barbie Murders, but the first thing I recognised as being transhumanist was a comic called Transmetropolitian, which is just brilliant.

In Transhumanist topics, I like to talk about the short and long term possibilities, the ethics and taboo's of transhumanism (which kinda ties into my philosophical thoughts). The validity of non-human people (I'm amazed how many people don't find it weird that there were other sentient species that we co-existed with that are now extinct), and how this extends to dealing with both alien and animal sapience (for example, little fuzzy and fuzzy sapiens by H. Beam Piper).



What's on your list of transhumanist dreams?


Carrying my own ecosystem with me as I explore the belt of Saturn, rising up sunside to catch some energy, before I return to my life exploring one of the most awesome sights in the Sol system.

I'm mostly into body customization, but personality copying and running multiple bodies at once are also intriguing ideas.
I don't think I'll live long enough to get anything customised. I do kinda like the idea of building myself into a cyborg as I age. My hip goes, I get a new one… a new heart, then some extra memory for my brain, till eventually, nothing organic is left.

Except, maybe I'll be able to replace and upgrade the organic bits too. Bioengineer my spit to bite through iron and my eyes to have infrared receptors ect.



What makes a person? Are we going to talk to something else here first, or somewhere out in space? Are we going to make whatever we're talking to, or are we just going to figure out the language? Have we already talked to nonhuman intelligences?

Depends on how we definie Neanderthal's, Denisovans and other extinct hominids like the "Hobbits" whatever their proper name is.

We might also want to consider the other great apes, they might not be people yet, but their close relation to our selves makes me think they'd be the best candidates for uplifting a species on earth.

Of course, what makes a person is more than that, and I hope that even if a person was made of completely different elements to us, and had an appearance very different (though I do think things like sensory organs, manipulator and locomative limbs are going to be near universal), we'd recognise them as a person.

With programming a person though, that's tricky. Once they replicate a human brain though, will it be considered like a human brain with a body?

Asta Kask
2014-02-25, 01:19 PM
Animals much smaller than a human tend to have far greater strength and deadliness. A human averages much more massive than a cougar, or a chimpanzee, and yet either of those animals could easily, in a straight-up, unarmed brawl, rip us apart.

They have greater strength for short-term tasks, but no animal (except possibly wolves) beats us in cross-country running. Our long-term endurance is second to none.

Talya
2014-02-25, 01:28 PM
Our long-term endurance is second to none.

I question that, too. The Man vs. Horse marathon every year is surprisingly close, yes. The horse doesn't always win. What's unfair there, is the average person has no hope of competing a marathon...we use only the exceptional athlete for those. The average horse won't be that far off the best horse...so I find the entire concept of the Man vs. Horse marathon flawed.

However, sled-dogs, camels, antelope, and ostriches surpass both human athlete and equine.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/physics/animal-kingdom-top-marathon-runners#slide-1

And none of that is factoring in some of the remarkable marathons that take place every year in nature that do NOT utilize feet.

For instance... (http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/natural-sciences/nature-blows-my-mind-6-longest-bird-migrations/#slide-top)

Asta Kask
2014-02-25, 01:35 PM
Ok. I'll adjust my statement to "humans are among the best marathon runners in the animal world."

The birds spend a long time sailing the winds, not flapping their wings. That doesn't task the muscles very much.

Eldan
2014-02-25, 01:52 PM
Often animals much smaller than a human tend to have far greater strength and deadliness. A human averages much more massive than a cougar, or a chimpanzee, and yet either of those animals could easily, in a straight-up, unarmed brawl, rip us apart.

The cougar may be an unfair comparison. Her teeth and claws give her the advantage of being armed without needing weapons. The Chimp is a different matter. Primates are the best comparison, here, too, as we are primates. And pound-for-pound, we're the physical sissies of the primate family. Any one of them with a body-mass even close to our own is far stronger than we are.

That is because humans aren't built for strength. There are always trade-offs.

Yes, we can not beat every animal at running long distances. But you know what? We can beat every animal at running all day, swimming across a lake, climbing a tree and throwing rocks at a target during the same event.
Humans are very, very versatile. We have excellent colour vision, amazing manual dexterity, shoulder and neck joints that are nothing short of amazing... the list goes on.

Asta Kask
2014-02-25, 01:56 PM
And of course there's our brains. Remove that... well, you might as well hamstring a cheetah and say there's nothing special about it.

Talya
2014-02-25, 01:56 PM
Well, there's still the issue that only the pinnacle of human athleticism can pull that off. The average one of us is doubled unable to get enough oxygen over after running a kilometer or less.

The animals on that list? Any horse would be similar to the top ones. The entire breed of sled dogs would be on the list. For Antelopes, Camels and Ostriches, their entire SPECIES outperform us.

This actually doubles back to my reference of human specialization. Yes, humans CAN be impressive athletes in one or two areas in comparison to the animal kingdom. But we have to train for it - those animals just do it without training for it. We specialize at those things at the expense of other things we could do.

Transhumanism would allow every ivory tower egghead to be able to run a marathon in great time without actually spending their lives working at it and staying in shape. We could ALWAYS be in shape.


That is because humans aren't built for strength. There are always trade-offs.

Yes, we can not beat every animal at running long distances. But you know what? We can beat every animal at running all day, swimming across a lake, climbing a tree and throwing rocks at a target during the same event.
Humans are very, very versatile. We have excellent colour vision, amazing manual dexterity, shoulder and neck joints that are nothing short of amazing... the list goes on.

That's my point... with transhumanism, there doesn't need to be tradeoffs. There are individual species better at most of those physical things you mention. We can have the best of everything. Superhuman could just become the norm for human.

Finlam
2014-02-25, 02:04 PM
That's my point... with transhumanism, there doesn't need to be tradeoffs.

There will still be tradeoffs: right now, we can only trade time; in the future we will be able to trade money. Consequently, superhuman will be the norm for those who can afford it.
It will more than likely not happen in our lifetime anyway...

pendell
2014-02-25, 02:15 PM
There will still be tradeoffs: right now, we can only trade time; in the future we will be able to trade money.

Quite. A limited form of transhumanism might be the fact that we use technology , such as computers or laundry machines, to do chores that we would otherwise have to do by hand. Yet this still does not prevent people from having to work, and in fact I suspect people get less sleep than they did before these labor-saving devices, since the advent of artificial lighting means a person can choose to remain active well into the night, and many do.

Or another example might be personal computers. Back in the 1980s the original IBM PC could only address up to 1 MB of memory, of which 360 was reserved by the OS, so the practical upper limit was 640K. The idea of a computer with billions of bytes *in main memory* -- even Hard drives at the time only stored in the tens of megabytes -- was inconceivable. Yet Moore's law has not absolved the IT world from tradeoffs. As we have become more capable, we have made greater demands on our hardware, with the result tha however much capability we have, it's never as much as we want.

There will always be tradeoffs, I think, though the exact tradeoffs in question may change.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mr.Silver
2014-02-25, 02:28 PM
On the one hand, I have a lot of sympathy to the concept of trying to overcome various flaws and limitations of the human brain and body through technological means. That's largely what our species has been doing since we first started using tools, after all. Moreover, I don't see why this couldn't at eventually result in humans being very different from how. The keyword there is eventually, as it's unlikely to be very soon. I would not be at all surprised if in around 50 years the people predicting the 'immanent singularity' today will be viewed in much the same light as we view the people of the 1950s who predicted functioning colonies on the moon/mars by the early 21st century.

I would not call myself a transhumanist though. To be honest, the 'movement' (if it can even be classed as that) seems primarily concerned in indulging reincarnation/elixir of life fantasies.

The entire debate on whether humans want to be immortal is something of a red herring, because nothing proposed by the current 'singularity model' really grants you personal immortality to begin with, any more so than having children or writing a will grants you immortality now. The philosophical problems with personality back-ups are so numerous and severe as to make the famous 'Star Trek Teleporter Problem' look subtle. For example, consider that unless an individual consciousness can actually be moved around (and that's a very questionable assumption to begin with) you're just stuck making copies. Meaning at best you'll just have someone else running around after you're dead who looks and acts like you do/would.
Even if it did work as a lot of people like to think it would, it's an incredibly inefficient way of combatting the negative health effects of ageing, since it would require building a new, functioning adult body every time the original starts to fall apart.

On the topic of more practical ways of combatting ageing effects, you're better off looking into medicine applications nano-sciences or possibly genetic alteration. Neither are as flashy as making yourself an immortal being of pure thought, but both have rather more chances of occurring without being shot full of existential holes by the HMS Philosophy of Mind.
Regardless, I would still advise that nobody plan on being able to personally benefit from any anti-ageing breakthroughs, even if you live long enough to see them.



Well, yeah, immortality is pretty much a given. If I don't live forever, how will I finish anything?
Given that every single thing humans have accomplished up to this point has been achieved without immortality, I'm reasonably confidant you'll be able to manage :smalltongue:

unbeliever536
2014-02-25, 02:33 PM
So, this thread is turning out vastly more awesome than my wildest hopes when I started it. There's a ton of stuff in here that I want to talk about, but I'm on a phone and can only do so much. (Ask me about fingertips later. No, really). Anyway, this is something I wanted to respond to:



Does the concept of personhood in particular have much use other than dividing beings up into "those who are like us, and therefore unacceptable victims" and "those who are unlike us, and therefore acceptable victims"?

Because I would really prefer that we just not do that in general.

Personhood is pretty important to my personal ethical system, do i think about it a lot. For me, it's people (conscious minds) that give the universe meaning. It's pretty important, then, that I know what is a person, and for other reasons it quickly becomes important that I know what is not a person. I use the Turing test myself; I think it's about the best way to check. More later if people are interested; I should be paying attention to class.

druid91
2014-02-25, 02:40 PM
No... even though birth rates do decline we are still looking at population growth in tech advanced areas. If no one dies the population growth would increase unchecked, unless of course birth rates drop down to zero, which is unlikely, people desire children for some reason.

Personally though, death has never bothered me. The whole getting rid of it seems kind of a cowardly way to clog up our ever diminishing resources. Before we should even be thinking about that, we need to find more efficient ways to deal with these resources to be completely renewable, plus methods of increasing land, while still maintain environmental stability.

As to transhumanism itself, I'm sure eventually we'll be able to alter ourselves in weird and insane ways. Hell, we're already doing that now to some extent. But I'm much more interested in quality of life benefits, getting improved spines for those born disabled and all that.

Interestingly enough, Japan has that problem. Next to nobody wants children.

In any case, I like transhumanism more for the idea of organ replacement. Rendering me immune to disease is a big one, though I don't have much hope for immortality, it'd be nice to never have to worry about having a cold again. The little things, like less sleep needed, extra senses, PAN's, Augmented Reality Etc.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 02:50 PM
I don't mind changing the tools we use, which is what we have really done since Ook picked up a rock, but 'fixing' humans? Lots of scary attempts have been made, and they tend to end badly, one way or the other.
The trouble with humans trying to fix humans is it is how do we know we are making the best judgments about what our flaws truly are?
Humans have done some amazing things without having to become something Other. Respect that.

Asta Kask
2014-02-25, 03:15 PM
Isn't it ironical that people dream of immortality and yet do not know what to do on a rainy day?

Coidzor
2014-02-25, 03:22 PM
I'd like to be a transhumanist, but several aspects of the greater "movement" and body of enthusiasts turns me off and reminds me that I'm just part of a dying breed of people who are more futurist.

I believe technology will give us many of the things transhumanists dream of, but the slavish devotion to the ideal of a machine god? That is the ultimate perversion of technology to me, to erase what little vestiges of free will humans actually possess in their current form, whereas to many transhumanists that seems to be the ultimate goal of technology.

More than anything, most of the technologies would require us to become more ethical than we currently are, but those who dream of them seem too often to dream of them as a way to escape from being ethical, moral actors.


I personally hope we will get to build whatever bodies we want in transhumanism.

maybe its kind of vain, but then again who wouldn't want to look however they want? I mean, there might be a chance of having real-life catgirls (from very sophisticated disguised cybernetics, not any genetic stupidity) or something like that.

Are you trying to convince me to disapprove of transhumanism because of the people who'll become catgirls or something? :smalltongue:


What about the other argument? We avoid overpopulation because people die. A brief google search estimates the carrying capacity of Earth at as much as 40 billion. Except another search estimated that over 100 billion people have ever lived. So if we were biologically immortal, we have been overpopulated well before now.

Generally our tech also increases and either obviates the need for food or greatly increases where we can produce food and how we do so or we just end up culling people, which is just fun for the whole family. Though I hear war never changes.


Well, the aging process is just generally pretty terrible, isn't it? Even if you want everyone to die before they reach a certain age, there are more humane ways of killing them. Curing senescence is obviously still a big priority for quality of life reasons. Hopefully we can agree on that much.

I wouldn't be so optimistic. I've seen many people who want immortality so that they don't have to worry about dealing with fixing alzheimer's disease and would just advocate culling those people after immortality was developed.


Why not mind uploading instead? For example. Unless you're specifically talking about indefinite life in a literal, biological sense.

Ah, yes, the spectre of forced uploading and then altering people against their will into either sheep or slaves. That's an ethical cluster**** even with the best of intentions and interpretations.


Does the concept of personhood in particular have much use other than dividing beings up into "those who are like us, and therefore unacceptable victims" and "those who are unlike us, and therefore acceptable victims"?

Because I would really prefer that we just not do that in general.

It certainly helps with census records and resource allocation. And for determining whether one is running a salvage op on an abandoned mining drone or rescuing someone who has been marooned on an asteroid.


Spiryt, an impression I'm getting from some of your post is that not only do you think that the mind exists to serve the body, but that the mind should serve the body rather than vice versa.

Like... kind of disdaining spirituality and rationality and so on in favor of the worship of meat, as it were. To a degree.

Is that at all accurate, or am I just completely misreading you?

That *does* seem to be the standard line for how certain transhumanists intentionally misconstrue any criticisms they run into, regardless of the validity of said criticisms.


On the societal side, a lack of stigma and reduced gatekeeping regarding self-transformation. Acceptance of increasing distances from 'normal' as valid and valuable expressions of consciousness and identity.

I don't see that as a benefit, necessarily, since that would also cover such "alternate" expressions as are dangerous to themselves and others. It's one thing to let people choose their own destinies, it's another to ignore the warning signs of someone seeking to make us all the slaves of a Machine God out of a suicidal desire to snuff out their free will and that of every other conscious entity.


Natural Selection got us to where we are, but some of our greatest strengths - our social cooperation, our use of tools, our individual specializations - are also great weaknesses, as we lack the physical strength or durability, or self-sufficiency of most species.

I believe that these weaknesses will atrophy further as we advance. It is only through taking control of our own genetic evolution and changing ourselves that we can transcend these problems.

Transhumanism is a great idea. Are we suggesting "Playing God?" Absolutely. Why not? We invented gods, too. No reason not to aspire to be one - the Apotheosis of Man is the ultimate goal.

That's one of the two main things that keep me from whole-heartedly supporting transhumanism. I don't believe that it will be to our benefit to eliminate our social aspect or social cooperation in favor of being isolated islands of deus ex machina or thinking of ourselves as incarnate gods who have no need for equals or peers.


Often animals much smaller than a human tend to have far greater strength and deadliness. A human averages much more massive than a cougar, or a chimpanzee, and yet either of those animals could easily, in a straight-up, unarmed brawl, rip us apart.

The cougar may be an unfair comparison. Her teeth and claws give her the advantage of being armed without needing weapons. The Chimp is a different matter. Primates are the best comparison, here, too, as we are primates. And pound-for-pound, we're the physical sissies of the primate family. Any one of them with a body-mass even close to our own is far stronger than we are.

Is that really relevant though? We're already reaching the point where the idea of sending a conscious entity into combat is increasingly being questioned in its utility.


Well, there's still the issue that only the pinnacle of human athleticism can pull that off. The average one of us is doubled unable to get enough oxygen over after running a kilometer or less.

Then the flaw is your basis of comparison. Are you comparing humans who are actually physically active as an example of "average" humanity or are you taking atrophied, sedentary cubicle jockeys? :smalltongue:

And quite the glaring flaw it seems, too. :smallconfused:


Isn't it ironical that people dream of immortality and yet do not know what to do on a rainy day?

It's very... human. :smalltongue:

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 03:25 PM
Isn't it ironical that people dream of immortality and yet do not know what to do on a rainy day?
When you are immortal, you can simply wait for the sunny ones.

warty goblin
2014-02-25, 03:32 PM
Think of it this way: immortality means having to put up with the current crop of jerks for all time. As they accrue endless compound interest. Boy does that sound like fun.

Personally, I am rather fond of the fact that I get to die. It's the one truly inalienable natural right in the universe. I'm in no immediate rush to exercise it because I think there are things I can yet contribute to the world. I'm in no immediate rush to get married either, that's hardly an argument against the institution.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 03:35 PM
I admit, I wouldn't mind it, even with my depression and anxiety.
I want to see more of the Story.

Talya
2014-02-25, 03:40 PM
There will still be tradeoffs: right now, we can only trade time; in the future we will be able to trade money. Consequently, superhuman will be the norm for those who can afford it.
It will more than likely not happen in our lifetime anyway...



That depends whether we change it by changes to the human genetic code that propogate to the entire population. If we redirect the evolution of the species, then we're not making ad-hoc a la carte customized people.


Think of it this way: immortality means having to put up with the current crop of jerks for all time. As they accrue endless compound interest. Boy does that sound like fun.


Only you wouldn't. You'd be on the first ship off this rock, and you'd be able to live long enough to explore what you find when you reach the destination.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-25, 03:45 PM
Huzzah, a thread to talk about this stuff in!

I just recently went over my list of 'things that need to happen before I can get my robot arm', and found out that I'm only two check marks short.
1: Mental control of limb, rather than relearned muscle movements. Check.
2: Real-time touch feedback from limb. Check.
3: Portable, lightweight, long-lasting power supply. Check.
4: Simplified implantation/adaptation procedure. No check
5: Legal elective cybernetic procedures. No check.
Optional bonus: Customizable casing design/decoration. Currently debating between a really futuristic glossy black kinda deal and a customized casing that looks like a gauntlet.

Number five would be ideal, but I do have a standing offer from one of my friends to chop off my arm if the doctors won't. :smalltongue:

the plan is to start with the left forearm. If that works out well enough, then the legs below the knee so I can get those blade things. If those are still awesome, then we go full arm, then full legs, then maybe right arm too. I may decide to keep one biological limb in the interest of having something that won't shut down if something happens to my robo-parts.

pendell
2014-02-25, 03:55 PM
I admit, I wouldn't mind it, even with my depression and anxiety.
I want to see more of the Story.

My feelings exactly.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mr.Silver
2014-02-25, 03:56 PM
I believe technology will give us many of the things transhumanists dream of, but the slavish devotion to the ideal of a machine god? That is the ultimate perversion of technology to me, to erase what little vestiges of free will humans actually possess in their current form, whereas to many transhumanists that seems to be the ultimate goal of technology.
{SCRUBBED} Even assuming the singularity does occur in the way they think it might (and again, it's entirely possible it won't) there's really no guarantee the super AI isn't going to take one look at us, then promptly shoot itself into space and never contact us again.

What I'd be rather more concerned about on the ethics standpoint is the obsession over achieving (incredibly dubious) immortality for the few people able to afford it, instead than considering avenues that might assist the larger numbers of people who can't really afford robots they can install copies of themselves into.


Think of it this way: immortality means having to put up with the current crop of jerks for all time.
And this is immortality we're talking about, so you can guarantee the most obnoxious egomaniacs will be the people pushing to the front of the queue.

warty goblin
2014-02-25, 04:04 PM
Only you wouldn't. You'd be on the first ship off this rock, and you'd be able to live long enough to explore what you find when you reach the destination.

Leaving aside the bit where I think that's a pipedream only slightly less implausible than winged pigs*, it still sucks. In fact it may suck even more. Now I get to while away a few hundred years in a submarine breathing the same small group of people's reprocessed bean farts. Artificial day in, artificial day out. For centuries. The same faces. The same conversations. The same irritating habits. The same BO. The same everything. At least the folks back on Earth get to paddle about a larger stagnant pool.


*If I'm being fair, probably more implausible. Flight has evolved multiple times, including in mammals. There's no evidence that any member of any species anywhere has ever gotten farther than the moon.

Zrak
2014-02-25, 04:14 PM
They should redo that Twilight Zone episode about the guy who finally gets to be alone with his books about a guy who brings centuries' worth of world literature in ebooks for his interstellar journey and forgets his nook/kindle/whatever charger.

TSGames
2014-02-25, 04:22 PM
Not much to contribute to the discussion, I just dropped in to say that I approve of enumerating from 0.

Trekkin
2014-02-25, 04:43 PM
I used to be a transhumanist, but I got tired of everything else surrounding the idea. People using gene therapy as a springboard into how eugenics is wrong, full stop, other people digging up Malthus and using him as a puppet to talk about overpopulation and the consequent need to cull people they don't like... yeah. Not going to call myself a transhumanist anymore, nor really an Extropian.

It's not that people can't handle these things; I'm more than optimistic enough to think that, given time, something like people will figure out how to handle everything we can do. It's just that, absent some critical data about how we can do amazing things, the discussion too frequently devolves into uninformed moralizing about whether we "should" let other people have access to them. Somehow no one ever thinks they shouldn't have the option, but rather that we need some kind of braking mechanism to let all the jerks die and produce Utopia. These are usually also the people chucking biology, chemistry, and physics roundly out the window, but everyone does that. Nanobots-as-tiny-industrial-robots, anyone?

I guess I just miss the days when this stuff struck people as cool rather than worrisome...not that those days ever existed.

So it's good to know the Playground, at least, still has people who like the future.

Talya
2014-02-25, 04:47 PM
Leaving aside the bit where I think that's a pipedream only slightly less implausible than winged pigs*, it still sucks. *If I'm being fair, probably more implausible. Flight has evolved multiple times, including in mammals. There's no evidence that any member of any species anywhere has ever gotten farther than the moon.

We already have the technology to do it. What we don't have is the technology to survive the length of the trip.

Dienekes
2014-02-25, 04:53 PM
Only you wouldn't. You'd be on the first ship off this rock, and you'd be able to live long enough to explore what you find when you reach the destination.

Ehh, the first ship off would be the trained military or professional explorers. Then as soon as it becomes comfortable it will be the eccentric rich. We're looking at a long time before I get on my space trip. And this assumes we've found FTL travel. Can you imagine how long this would be without? Sure, we'd make it, eventually, but thousands of years (I have no idea how far away a habitable planet would be, just threw a number out there) in a metal tube with the same people. I can't even stand being with my best friend for more than a week at a time.

Murska
2014-02-25, 05:50 PM
Having to put up with jerks? Hang around the same place for ages? Go over the same topics of conversation? In my book, still beats being dead.

As for the people who say they're not transhumanists because that is associated with people who have [negative traits/ideas]. It's just a label, okay? Not believing in those ideas doesn't mean you can't believe in the ones you think are nice and cool.

I personally don't find the argument 'it's possible people might misuse it' to be a good reason not to research and develop new technology. Those are problems and issues we'll need to tackle, but the correct way (IMO) to go about that is not to give up the hope of making things better for the fear of making things worse.

SaintRidley
2014-02-25, 06:00 PM
Immortality; the concept of death as a complete cessation of all consciousness and the annihilation of everything that has been experienced before, a gaping expanse of endless nothing, terrifies regardless of the fact that I wouldn't actually be aware of it. I do want to live forever, or at least so long as I feel living is worthwhile.

See, immortality is what terrifies me. Eternity? That's horrifying on a level I can't put into words. I'd like a good, long, productive life, but three centuries would be the absolute limit I think before I'd have had my fill of life and would welcome oblivion gladly.




Beyond that, I, like most others I suspect, certainly wouldn't mind heightened mental and physical capabilities, particularly the former.

Augmentation? Yeah, totally on board with that. Immortality? I hope we never get that.

Telonius
2014-02-25, 06:03 PM
One issue with functional immortality that I've wondered about ... crime and punishment. What's 20 years in jail, to an immortal?

Murska
2014-02-25, 06:05 PM
One issue with functional immortality that I've wondered about ... crime and punishment. What's 20 years in jail, to an immortal?

Well, in my view justice should be preventative (stop criminals from committing more crimes) and not punishing (harm criminals because they committed a crime). But, again, the point is valid and some sort of a solution is necessary.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-25, 06:13 PM
This seems to be devolving into a discussion of immortality more than basic transhumanism ideas.

Personally, immortality would be awesome. I mean, when I was really young cell phones were barely a thing, and we were still using VHS tapes. Now we have smart phones that can do everything but wipe your nose. You can have access to the whole of human creativity from pretty much anywhere. That's ten, fifteen years of change. At this point in human history advancements are coming from everywhere every day. I haven't got the foggiest idea of what the world will look like in 25 years. Nobody does! And I wanna be able to see that. I suspect I will be able to, in fact. 25 years from that point will be even more amazing, and 25 years from there will be even more amazing. I look forward to the day when I'll be able to teleport to wherever I want. I look forward to seeing humans make first contact with alien intelligences.

warty goblin
2014-02-25, 06:14 PM
Multiquoting is fun!



And this is immortality we're talking about, so you can guarantee the most obnoxious egomaniacs will be the people pushing to the front of the queue.
Mind, if you could stipulate that immortality came with a strict and complete no-reproduction clause, one could actually breed obnoxious egomaniac out of the gene pool. They'd still be around, but at least they wouldn't be genetically relevant anymore.


Not much to contribute to the discussion, I just dropped in to say that I approve of enumerating from 0.
One day I will convince mathematicians of this. They insist on enumerating from one.



I guess I just miss the days when this stuff struck people as cool rather than worrisome...not that those days ever existed.

So it's good to know the Playground, at least, still has people who like the future.
I'm reasonably optimistic about the future. I don't find the technology concerned with keeping very rich people alive forever particularly interesting however.


We already have the technology to do it. What we don't have is the technology to survive the length of the trip.
We already have the technology to make a self-sustaining habitat capable of interstellar flight? Unless I really missed something, we really don't. We have ideas that might work, but are either completely undeveloped, or never tested on anything near the scale such a spaceship would require.


Having to put up with jerks? Hang around the same place for ages? Go over the same topics of conversation? In my book, still beats being dead.
Being dead is fine. It's not like there's anything left to dislike it.



See, immortality is what terrifies me. Eternity? That's horrifying on a level I can't put into words. I'd like a good, long, productive life, but three centuries would be the absolute limit I think before I'd have had my fill of life and would welcome oblivion gladly.

Frankly I can't even imagine three centuries.

Adlan
2014-02-25, 06:15 PM
Well, there's still the issue that only the pinnacle of human athleticism can pull that off. The average one of us is doubled unable to get enough oxygen over after running a kilometer or less.


If animals in the wild had the average western human's fitness level, they'd die the same way a pampered fat pet would die if dumped in the wild. Look the the fitness level of modern hunter gatherer groups for a realistic comparison of human fitness, you can't judge caged animals against wild one's for physical feats.

And almost anyone, given a year to train, can run a Marathon*. Human's peak of physical endurance are the ultra-marathons and they are pretty incredible.


@Telonius
In one old book I read (possibly sport of the emperors, but I can't recall exactly) the protagonists were bred for long life, and eventually gained enough technology to become effectivly immortal. They punished a murderer by condeming her to solitary confinement with an environment around her that required constant physical labour to maintain. If she didn't plant, she didn't eat, if she didn't fix her roof, she got wet. Thus, her life was wasted in drugery, a life for a life, without the messiness of killing.
Not sure I'm actually an advocate of that position though.


*provided you actually, y'know train for that year.

Murska
2014-02-25, 06:18 PM
The disutility of death would consist of all the good stuff that I would experience if I were immortal that I don't because I'm dead, minus all the negative stuff I'd experience if I were immortal that I don't because I'm dead.

Call me an optimist, but so far in my experience there are vastly more positive things that I experience than negative ones. Multiplied with, say, five thousand years, that comes out to death having a massive disutility.

Coidzor
2014-02-25, 07:08 PM
See, immortality is what terrifies me. Eternity? That's horrifying on a level I can't put into words. I'd like a good, long, productive life, but three centuries would be the absolute limit I think before I'd have had my fill of life and would welcome oblivion gladly.

Even greatly enhanced longevity would provide you with the opportunity to know, since it does seem like one of those things where until one has experienced it, the best one can offer is an educated guess.


One issue with functional immortality that I've wondered about ... crime and punishment. What's 20 years in jail, to an immortal?

Depends on the other technologies we have, I suppose. I mean, at that point we might have figured out how to actually rehabilitate criminals. Or we might have some ability to modify their brain meats/personalities to preclude recidivism.


Having to put up with jerks? Hang around the same place for ages? Go over the same topics of conversation? In my book, still beats being dead.

As for the people who say they're not transhumanists because that is associated with people who have [negative traits/ideas]. It's just a label, okay? Not believing in those ideas doesn't mean you can't believe in the ones you think are nice and cool.

Considering the amount of people driven to suicide by humanity's jerkishness, I would say that it is prudent to never doubt the abilities of jerks, especially in concentration and concert.

It's more like liking a show but not being able to stand its fandom, or at least such aspects of said fandom as like to go out of their way to call attention to themselves, I would say.

Murska
2014-02-25, 07:23 PM
Considering the amount of people driven to suicide by humanity's jerkishness, I would say that it is prudent to never doubt the abilities of jerks, especially in concentration and concert.

It's more like liking a show but not being able to stand its fandom, or at least such aspects of said fandom as like to go out of their way to call attention to themselves, I would say.

That's why I specifically only mentioned myself.

If you like a show, but dislike the fandom, then you're still a fan of the show. If the issue is that you don't want yourself grouped with the fandom, then you should clarify by stating that 'I like the show' instead of 'I'm a fan of the show' and maybe even add 'but I don't like the way many fans of the show act' for further clarification. It's not a very good response in my opinion to stop liking the show, or to say that you don't like the show even if you do.

Coidzor
2014-02-25, 07:49 PM
If you like a show, but dislike the fandom, then you're still a fan of the show. If the issue is that you don't want yourself grouped with the fandom, then you should clarify by stating that 'I like the show' instead of 'I'm a fan of the show' and maybe even add 'but I don't like the way many fans of the show act' for further clarification. It's not a very good response in my opinion to stop liking the show, or to say that you don't like the show even if you do.

Liking the tech is the subject. Transhumanist is a specific fandom. Liking the technology and possibilities but not identifying as a transhumanist scans fine to me.

Just like I like Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, but I am not part of the Sherlock fandom, in no small part because I differ from the (apparent) requirements of being part of the fandom in that I do not want to schtup Benedict Cumberbatch. Or how one can like the My Little Pony show just fine without being a participant in Brony culture or self-identifying as a part of that culture.

Murska
2014-02-25, 07:54 PM
Liking the tech is the subject. Transhumanist is a specific fandom. Liking the technology and possibilities but not identifying as a transhumanist scans fine to me.

Just like I like Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, but I am not part of the Sherlock fandom, in no small part because I differ from the (apparent) requirements of being part of the fandom in that I do not want to schtup Benedict Cumberbatch. Or how one can like the My Little Pony show just fine without being a participant in Brony culture or self-identifying as a part of that culture.

So, yes. Exactly as I said.

banthesun
2014-02-25, 08:16 PM
They should redo that Twilight Zone episode about the guy who finally gets to be alone with his books about a guy who brings centuries' worth of world literature in ebooks for his interstellar journey and forgets his nook/kindle/whatever charger.

I've been wanting to link this for multiple people in this thread, but especially for this post.
http://gunshowcomic.com/740

I've only really gotten interested in transhuman ideas recently, due to seeing some of Eldan's posts, reading Eclipse Phase, and a few issues in my life. There's a lot of interesting stuff here though.

For me, I'm not really interested in immortality, my transhuman dream would be raising a family of AIs. Experimental phases of easy bodymodding would be pretty interesting too, I'd definitely be interested in seeing a post-gender/post-race society.

ForzaFiori
2014-02-25, 08:52 PM
I wouldn't consider myself fully transhumanist, though I'm amazing interested in their ideas. I'm just a little... wary on the safety of some of the more cybernetic componants aspects. I think I actually wrote a paper about that for a 200 lv. philosophy class in college. That being said, I cannot deny that I REALLY REALLY want most of the advances I've heard talked about by transhumanist, even if I am wary about whether they're entirely safe.


Isn't it ironical that people dream of immortality and yet do not know what to do on a rainy day?

I know what I would like to NOT do on a rainy day though - die. Even on the rainiest days, I'm still pretty sure being bored is better than being dead. Further, even on a rainy day you look forward to what your going to do once it stops raining. You don't stop wanting to travel the world because it rained one day. You just put off doing it for a day, or do it in the rain. There's a difference with being momentarily bored (the type of bored that comes between activities that interest you, like rainy days, or that crappy part of your hour lunch break where your done with lunch, but you still have 30 minutes before class starts) and absolute boredom (being so completely bored, by every conceivable activity, even those that used to give you joy, that it makes you no longer feel life is worth living.)


They have greater strength for short-term tasks, but no animal (except possibly wolves) beats us in cross-country running. Our long-term endurance is second to none.

I think, in terms of natural human ability, (and ruling out our intelligence, which I think we fairly obviously win) what we're gonna have the best chance defending is our ability to heal - humans can take a hell of a pounding, and come back... while not 100%, better than most animals. IE - there is evidence of neanderthals and early humans who survived broken legs, or fairly serious head injuries, cuts down to the bone, etc. Similar injuries in most animals I"m familiar with - broken legs in horses or dogs, for instance - tend to be much more likely to be fatal, or later cause death (through making the animal unable to hunt/escape predators, for instance).


There will still be tradeoffs: right now, we can only trade time; in the future we will be able to trade money. Consequently, superhuman will be the norm for those who can afford it.
It will more than likely not happen in our lifetime anyway...

Firstly, we can trade money now. that's why rich people tend to live longer, as well as tend to have a better education. They can PAY for it. The argument that something is gonna cause a divide between rich and poor is laughable, since there already is one. And while yes, the technology would likely start by widening the gap, but so would... basically EVERY technological innovation. EVERYTHING starts out as something only the rich can have, and then turns into something everyone can have in time.

It's that point, right there, that I'm waiting for. At that point, sure, rich people will not only be immortal, but beautiful, athletic, and intelligent. But since I'm immortal too, I have all the time in the world (and then some) to earn to money to get the other things.


I don't mind changing the tools we use, which is what we have really done since Ook picked up a rock, but 'fixing' humans? Lots of scary attempts have been made, and they tend to end badly, one way or the other.
The trouble with humans trying to fix humans is it is how do we know we are making the best judgments about what our flaws truly are?
Humans have done some amazing things without having to become something Other. Respect that.

Other doesn't always have to be bad, especially when the "other" is simply an improved version of yourself. A child can do amazing things, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't eventually graduate and become an adult. As for if we're the best judge of our flaws, who would possibly be better at judging our flaws than US? No offense, but I feel that I know myself better than anyone else, and you probably feel the same about yourself. So why should I not decide what I would like for my body, or how long I want to live, etc? Presumable, aside from whatever gives conditional immortality (discussed below), and anything needed to keep your alive (like today, how infants get their immunizations, etc), you would not get any non-vital modifications until you're are above the age of consent. At which point, society has decided that you're a fully developed person, and so you have the right to decided what kind of person you want to be, within reason (defined by our laws). so unless it is against the law, why shouldn't we be able to fix what we think of as flaws? It'd be similar to the fact that we are allowed to get liposuction, boob jobs, botox, etc. You may not agree with it, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be free to do it if they want.


See, immortality is what terrifies me. Eternity? That's horrifying on a level I can't put into words. I'd like a good, long, productive life, but three centuries would be the absolute limit I think before I'd have had my fill of life and would welcome oblivion gladly.

Absolute immortality, I agree, would probably get scary. but I think most people want conditional immortality - that is, i'll never die from old age, and medicine/science is good enough to save me from anything that could happen, but if I decide I don't want to live anymore, its still possible for me to die. Just only if I want to. At that point, you don't have to stare at eternity if you don't want to. But you CAN insure you'll be there to see your kid's wedding, and your grandchildren born, and any other milestone you want to see, and that you can leave the world when and how you want to.

Coidzor
2014-02-25, 08:57 PM
Firstly, we can trade money now. that's why rich people tend to live longer, as well as tend to have a better education. They can PAY for it. The argument that something is gonna cause a divide between rich and poor is laughable, since there already is one.

I believe it's less that in and of itself and more [politics] from most of what I've seen on the subject.

Murska
2014-02-25, 09:14 PM
On human ability - we're already by far the most intelligent species on the planet. There's thousands of species - what are the odds we'd be the absolute best at something else, too?

But we can throw stuff very well. We have good eyesight. We've got good endurance. We heal well. We're very skilled at using our hands to do all sorts of useful stuff. There are animals out there that we would not defeat in a straight up fistfight, but I think that's a rather biased criteria to judge on. We'd still be in the top bracket, defeating most species by far, and we've got other advantages as well.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 09:33 PM
Other doesn't always have to be bad, especially when the "other" is simply an improved version of yourself. A child can do amazing things, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't eventually graduate and become an adult. As for if we're the best judge of our flaws, who would possibly be better at judging our flaws than US? No offense, but I feel that I know myself better than anyone else, and you probably feel the same about yourself. So why should I not decide what I would like for my body, or how long I want to live, etc? Presumable, aside from whatever gives conditional immortality (discussed below), and anything needed to keep your alive (like today, how infants get their immunizations, etc), you would not get any non-vital modifications until you're are above the age of consent. At which point, society has decided that you're a fully developed person, and so you have the right to decided what kind of person you want to be, within reason (defined by our laws). so unless it is against the law, why shouldn't we be able to fix what we think of as flaws? It'd be similar to the fact that we are allowed to get liposuction, boob jobs, botox, etc. You may not agree with it, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be free to do it if they want.

What is improved? How easy it would be to go from improved, to better, to superior. Dangerous road that.
If we had the technology to change ourselves in a fundamental ways 50 years ago, or less even, there would have been a a call for homosexuality to be 'fixed' no doubt. An entire community, a way of thinking, loving and existing, wiped out. To most people today that would be a terrible crime, but it shows how positions and feelings about what is 'broken' change.
I am not saying the Other is bad, I'd love to meet a true Other from another world, but humanity has had enough troubles with claimed differences between classes and groups, like the idea that Medieval nobility's digestive system literally required more refined food, I can only imagine the state of divide there would be when there is literal, fundamental differences between the haves and the have-nots.

Murska
2014-02-25, 09:54 PM
What is improved? How easy it would be to go from improved, to better, to superior. Dangerous road that.
If we had the technology to change ourselves in a fundamental ways 50 years ago, or less even, there would have been a a call for homosexuality to be 'fixed' no doubt. An entire community, a way of thinking, loving and existing, wiped out. To most people today that would be a terrible crime, but it shows how positions and feelings about what is 'broken' change.
I am not saying the Other is bad, I'd love to meet a true Other from another world, but humanity has had enough troubles with claimed differences between classes and groups, like the idea that Medieval nobility's digestive system literally required more refined food, I can only imagine the state of divide there would be when there is literal, fundamental differences between the haves and the have-nots.

However, isn't the entire point here giving people the ability to choose? Choose what they want to look like, what they want to be capable of, how and when they want to die and so on?

Perhaps other people fifty years ago would want homosexuality to be fixed, but would the homosexuals have wanted that?

Talya
2014-02-25, 10:08 PM
I've been throwing around the idea of immortality in my head, because people have mentioned. I certainly like the idea for myself, but ultimately, I have issues with it. I believe the irony is that if we gained clinical immortality for ourselves, we would be dooming our species to extinction.

That which does not evolve, dies. Evolution is not something that happens to someone already born, through their life. It's a series of small mutations passed down to our children and our children's children, with nature selecting the beneficial mutations for survival. Evolution depends on the constant cycle of death and birth. The day we stop dying, is the day we stop evolving. The day we stop evolving, is, ultimately, the day our species begins its inevitable decline into oblivion.

TaiLiu
2014-02-25, 10:13 PM
Perhaps other people fifty years ago would want homosexuality to be fixed, but would the homosexuals have wanted that?
That would depend on the individual in particular. Besides, social pressure can be incredible potent.

I've been throwing around the idea of immortality in my head, because people have mentioned. I certainly like the idea for myself, but ultimately, I have issues with it. I believe the irony is that if we gained clinical immortality for ourselves, we would be dooming our species to extinction.

That which does not evolve, dies. Evolution is not something that happens to someone already born, through their life. It's a series of small mutations passed down to our children and our children's children, with nature selecting the beneficial mutations for survival. Evolution depends on the constant cycle of death and birth. The day we stop dying, is the day we stop evolving. The day we stop evolving, is, ultimately, the day our species begins its inevitable decline into oblivion.
To be fair, oblivion is inevitable anyway.

Murska
2014-02-25, 10:22 PM
I've been throwing around the idea of immortality in my head, because people have mentioned. I certainly like the idea for myself, but ultimately, I have issues with it. I believe the irony is that if we gained clinical immortality for ourselves, we would be dooming our species to extinction.

That which does not evolve, dies. Evolution is not something that happens to someone already born, through their life. It's a series of small mutations passed down to our children and our children's children, with nature selecting the beneficial mutations for survival. Evolution depends on the constant cycle of death and birth. The day we stop dying, is the day we stop evolving. The day we stop evolving, is, ultimately, the day our species begins its inevitable decline into oblivion.

But why does that which does not evolve, die?

The only reason I can think of would be that a stagnant population would not adapt to a changing environment. But on the contrary, a self-modifying, technological civilization adapts much faster to environmental changes than evolution would. We can do better than evolution, because we're intelligent, and evolution is not. Evolution is a blind, dumb force that does not have goals, a purpose or a direction. It's just statistics. We are much faster, more efficient and better at directing our change and adaptation than evolution is.

@^ If an individual is homosexual, but does not want to be, I think it's right for him to be able to not be homosexual. And I feel that if such ability was commonplace, attitudes about the whole thing would be very different. I imagine many people would try it, and settle with whatever their personal preference ends up being, and there would not be social stigma about such choices any more than there is about things we can affect right now such as what clothes you wear or what colour your hair is. (That is to say, there'd probably be some among different groups, but it wouldn't be any kind of a big issue)

EDIT: Also, we definitely don't know enough about how reality works to say that oblivion is inevitable.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 10:28 PM
However, isn't the entire point here giving people the ability to choose? Choose what they want to look like, what they want to be capable of, how and when they want to die and so on?

This is getting way too close to political for comfort, but when a choice has what I feel to be such a strong potential for damaging society, it deserves very, very close scrutiny.


Perhaps other people fifty years ago would want homosexuality to be fixed, but would the homosexuals have wanted that?
Under the school of thought that homosexuality is a mental illness, even if they didn't want to be fixed, they might get fixed anyway, and, as pointed out, not a few would do it anyway, thanks to social pressure, not to mention a desire to be 'normal.'

TaiLiu
2014-02-25, 10:32 PM
Also, we definitely don't know enough about how reality works to say that oblivion is inevitable.
Within the realms of known science - which, yes, could be completely wrong - oblivion is inevitable.

Murska
2014-02-25, 10:32 PM
I suppose the illness question depends on the society and how they evaluate such things, how much weight they put on the individual's preferences. But as for peer pressure - why would there be peer pressure for something that is not an issue anymore, not something that people care about? Of course, that's only how I think things might go in that case. I could be wrong on that.

But an ethics question. If a person feels that their life is worse because they were born homosexual (due to social stigma and peer pressure and all that) and if it even objectively is, would it be right to give that person the opportunity to change that if they so chose? Obviously it'd be great if we could snap our fingers and remove the social stigma and the peer pressure and all that, but assume for this hypothetical thought experiment that we can not do that?

@^ Well, oblivion might not be inevitable (various possibilities exist to circumvent that) and if it is, it's still quite likely there are various methods that can lengthen our time, and there's a vast difference between oblivion being inevitable in billions and billions of years or oblivion going to happen in a couple decades.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 10:40 PM
Given that genetically modified kids already exist, it's becoming less and less hypothetical and more and more simply asking the question before it becomes too present an issue to really look at objectively.
Speaking of choices, in a lot of cases it wouldn't even be their choice as such but their parents. If an unborn child has the markers of developing homosexuality, do the parents have the right to make the change?

Murska
2014-02-25, 10:50 PM
In our society? Definitely not. Homosexuality does not cause enough of an adverse impact on a person's quality of life to warrant such transgression against the individual. However, this is assuming that switching one's sexuality is a big thing, instead of just something you can flip on or off whenever - in the latter case, it would not really be such a big deal. The kid can choose for him- or herself once they're an adult.

Irreversible or very difficult to reverse decisions that parents could make for an unborn child, or at least cases I could see being accepted:

1: Lethal issues. Obviously.
2: Something that would permanently and drastically damage the health of the child.

And then we start getting into more murky territory.

3: Something that causes mental retardation or other large-scale mental changes that are problematic or dangerous. If we change these, even if reversibly, then how can we say that that person is the one making the choice to change or not change back later?
4: Minor health risks or other smaller defects?

These are important issues and very difficult problems. But while I don't have all the answers to them, my answer is very unlikely to ever come up as 'don't develop the technology at all'. If for nothing else, then because the thousands of people that could be saved by treating their genetic diseases before they kill them is a larger positive than the ethical issues in making the decision to 'correct' smaller flaws would be a negative.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-25, 11:07 PM
And that all seems very reasonable. It probably is reasonable, by my own, flawed judgment.
I just worry about what we would lose in our imperfect efforts to become something more, fearing we would become something not.
That's even ignoring the extreme social divide and stratification that could very easily ensue.

The Giant
2014-02-26, 12:23 AM
Let's make sure we avoid any discussion of real-world religion and/or politics in this conversation. Some scrubbing may ensue.

GoblinArchmage
2014-02-26, 12:28 AM
Let's make sure we avoid any discussion of real-world religion and/or politics in this conversation. Some scrubbing may ensue.

Quoting, just so I can say that I was in a conversation with the guy who writes Order of the Stick.

Talya
2014-02-26, 08:35 AM
Within the realms of known science - which, yes, could be completely wrong - oblivion is inevitable.

There are at least two different and unrelated scientific hypotheses that would need to be false for oblivion not to be inevitable. The most important of these is Proton Decay. Consciousness is not possible if matter no longer exists due to a lack of subatomic cohesion.

The Heat Death of the Universe is another. When there is no free hydrothermic energy left, life and consciousness would not be possible.

The first, however, is entirely hypothetical, and the second is likely to be averted at some point even by existing scientific knowledge. (However, some of the ways it could be averted would not necessarily be friendly to any existing life in the universe.)

Finlam
2014-02-26, 08:45 AM
However, some of the ways it could be averted would not necessarily be friendly to any existing life in the universe.

Then it's a very good thing that no existing life in the universe is capable of averting it yet! (As far as we know).

Asta Kask
2014-02-26, 08:51 AM
The Heat Death of the Universe is another. When there is no free hydrothermic energy left, life and consciousness would not be possible.

Or we could build a gigantic computer in hyperspace... (https://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm)

Eldan
2014-02-26, 09:03 AM
Or we could build a gigantic computer in hyperspace... (https://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm)

I love that story. Even if some descriptions of computers are hilariously outdated.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 09:10 AM
Myself, I consider immortality a pipe dream. Extending our functional lifespan to two centuries or so I can see, but after that jsut probability starts making living longer difficult.

Midn you, I don't buy to any crap about immortality being boring or us stagnating if we achieve it. Mostly, I just see immortality as massively redundant since we can already have kids. Children are a form of biological immortality, full stop.

Talya
2014-02-26, 09:52 AM
Myself, I consider immortality a pipe dream. Extending our functional lifespan to two centuries or so I can see, but after that jsut probability starts making living longer difficult.

I think we're referring to Biological Immortality. I saw a claim once that said that if we achieved biological immortality, the average human lifespan would approach 500 years, as people would still die due to misadventure or more nefarious reasons.

Of course, as medical technology increases, the ability to treat various injuries (and even resuscitate from death) would also increase, which would decrease deaths from accident or violence.



Midn you, I don't buy to any crap about immortality being boring or us stagnating if we achieve it.

It certainly wouldn't bore me. I would be concerned about evolutionary stagnation.

Talya
2014-02-26, 09:55 AM
Then it's a very good thing that no existing life in the universe is capable of averting it yet! (As far as we know).

The specific example I had in mind is a new "big bang." Matter, energy, and even singularities do spontaneously pop into existence from nothing, we know that. If the singularity is massive enough, and lack stability, you have the beginning of a new universe. It's very possible that nearly 14 billion years ago the process which begot everything that we know began by displacing an already existing universe.

thorgrim29
2014-02-26, 10:03 AM
I like the way Ian Banks handled it in the Culture novels, they have immortality up to and including mind state saving at the moment of death, but it's considered tacky to live past 400 or so.

Anyway yeah, not dying of incredible painful diseases would be cool, pretty much the only concerns I have is scientific stagnation and what the maximum lifespan of a brain is. In a few decades it will probably be trivial to replace worn out or cancer ridden organs with fresh new cloned ones (it is already a thing for bladders and I think livers), but having functional organs doesn't help you much if you're senile.

I've had a few conversations about this with a friend who studies geronto-psychology and what happens to the brain of a lot of people after a certain age isn't pretty

Eldan
2014-02-26, 10:04 AM
How does one even define the size of a singularity? If I understand correctly, they have infinite density.

Talya
2014-02-26, 10:19 AM
How does one even define the size of a singularity? If I understand correctly, they have infinite density.

I don't know if this is replying to me or someone else.

If me, note that I said "massive enough" not "big enough."

By definition, all singularities have the same infinitesimally small "size." They definitely have a measurable and finite mass, however.

The event horizon ("black hole") that surrounds a singularity does have a variable size, based on the mass of the singularity inside it, but the singularity is an infinitesimally small point, which means, regardless of its mass, it has infinite density.

druid91
2014-02-26, 10:34 AM
I've been throwing around the idea of immortality in my head, because people have mentioned. I certainly like the idea for myself, but ultimately, I have issues with it. I believe the irony is that if we gained clinical immortality for ourselves, we would be dooming our species to extinction.

That which does not evolve, dies. Evolution is not something that happens to someone already born, through their life. It's a series of small mutations passed down to our children and our children's children, with nature selecting the beneficial mutations for survival. Evolution depends on the constant cycle of death and birth. The day we stop dying, is the day we stop evolving. The day we stop evolving, is, ultimately, the day our species begins its inevitable decline into oblivion.

Why is that? Evolution is merely an inefficient way of adapting to the surrounding environment. It isn't a magical force. What it is is a certain individual surviving in the environment for whatever reason, breeding, and then their children having a similar genetic makeup that also allows them to survive and so on.

An immortal self-modifying society would replace evolution with Revolution.

Instead of a slow blind process of elimination, they would identify the problem and proactively, somewhat intelligently seek to repair the problem. Quickly, as opposed to over however many generations of breeding it takes to win the lottery.

Talya
2014-02-26, 10:56 AM
Why is that? Evolution is merely an inefficient way of adapting to the surrounding environment. It isn't a magical force. What it is is a certain individual surviving in the environment for whatever reason, breeding, and then their children having a similar genetic makeup that also allows them to survive and so on.

An immortal self-modifying society would replace evolution with Revolution.

Instead of a slow blind process of elimination, they would identify the problem and proactively, somewhat intelligently seek to repair the problem. Quickly, as opposed to over however many generations of breeding it takes to win the lottery.

I suppose I question whether we can afford to remove nature's own method of adaptation. We can, in theory, take control of our own evolution, but we don't know what wondrous adaptations nature may have given us, because we can't think outside the box of our own experience. While we're giving ourselves enhanced intelligence and reflexes and strength, nature may have been going to blindly hand us the ability to warp time and space with our toes.

Halna LeGavilk
2014-02-26, 10:59 AM
I don't see why people are opposed to immortality as a concept. You don't want to live forever? Sure, great. It's nice being with you while you're here, but once you wanna leave, see you later!

But I wanna live forever. I guess that's what transhumanism means to me: the choice to do what I want to do. If I wanna look like a dinosaur, I should have the right to do that. It just seems to me that there is a lot of people in this thread, as well as elsewhere, that are saying "I don't want this, therefore no one should have it!"

And while they (not aimed at anyone specific) may not be saying that, the implication sure is there..

Talya
2014-02-26, 11:05 AM
I don't see why people are opposed to immortality as a concept. You don't want to live forever? Sure, great. It's nice being with you while you're here, but once you wanna leave, see you later!

But I wanna live forever. I guess that's what transhumanism means to me: the choice to do what I want to do. If I wanna look like a dinosaur, I should have the right to do that. It just seems to me that there is a lot of people in this thread, as well as elsewhere, that are saying "I don't want this, therefore no one should have it!"

And while they (not aimed at anyone specific) may not be saying that, the implication sure is there..

I tend to agree. My post about denying our species the benefits of continued evolution is mostly me playing "devil's advocate." I mean, it is a legitimate concern, but as biological immortality would not actually prevent anyone from dying - just delay it a potentially very long time - you are, at worst, slowing evolution, not preventing it.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-26, 12:07 PM
Biological immortality is a chump's game. Even if you live forever, there's tons of problems that go with it. A biological body needs food, water, air, medicine, sleep, energy, and it's vulnerable to diseases, accidents, violence...
If we could create a perfectly faithful computer model of an individual's brain on a neuron-by-neuron level, governed by a digital simulation of the usual brain-rules for generating new neurons and communicating between the neurons, then the human mind will be made free of flimsy flesh. No more need for food, or medicine, no more age limit. You can live through a remote-controlled robotic body, or even hopscotch from empty bodyu to empty body. Or even just live in simulation worlds. Imagine the video games that will come to be...
Of course, I think some people will insist upon having bodies. Cloned bodies, with their brains replaced by digital storage. Re-cloned every few dozen years to be used as 'avatars' by those who can afford them. Customized genetically to suit the tastes of the customer.

Talya
2014-02-26, 12:10 PM
Biological immortality is a chump's game. Even if you live forever, there's tons of problems that go with it. A biological body needs food, water, air, medicine, sleep, energy, and it's vulnerable to diseases, accidents, violence...
If we could create a perfectly faithful computer model of an individual's brain on a neuron-by-neuron level, governed by a digital simulation of the usual brain-rules for generating new neurons and communicating between the neurons, then the human mind will be made free of flimsy flesh. No more need for food, or medicine, no more age limit. You can live through a remote-controlled robotic body, or even hopscotch from empty bodyu to empty body. Or even just live in simulation worlds. Imagine the video games that will come to be...
Of course, I think some people will insist upon having bodies. Cloned bodies, with their brains replaced by digital storage. Re-cloned every few dozen years to be used as 'avatars' by those who can afford them. Customized genetically to suit the tastes of the customer.

I believe you'd be running into issues with the Heisenberg principle, here. Besides, an exact duplicate doesn't necessarily transfer something we can't define - "continuity of consciousness."

Admiral Squish
2014-02-26, 12:53 PM
I believe you'd be running into issues with the Heisenberg principle, here. Besides, an exact duplicate doesn't necessarily transfer something we can't define - "continuity of consciousness."

I've never heard of the Heisenberg principle being a problem on a cellular scale. Any errors that occur in the simulation would be certainly not be ideal, but it would be the same scale of a problem if it occurred in a biological brain as well, and it's much harder to repair a biological brain. There's no backup version that you could use, no model of what it's supposed to look like.
As for continuity of consciousness, everything you are in personality, emotion, memory, and thought, is contained in your brain. Scientifically, everything seems to agree on that point. If there's something beyond that, science should be able to identify something.

Coidzor
2014-02-26, 01:17 PM
It certainly wouldn't bore me. I would be concerned about evolutionary stagnation.

I believe that's why self-directed evolution is a component of most assumptions about biological immortality and some similar analogue is included for uploaded consciousnesses. :smalltongue:


I suppose I question whether we can afford to remove nature's own method of adaptation. We can, in theory, take control of our own evolution, but we don't know what wondrous adaptations nature may have given us, because we can't think outside the box of our own experience. While we're giving ourselves enhanced intelligence and reflexes and strength, nature may have been going to blindly hand us the ability to warp time and space with our toes.

While we're still unlocking the mysteries of our nature and bodies and all, and would have to continue to do so in order to actually want to tinker with that stuff to give ourselves biological immortality and to mold our flesh like clay, pretty sure I can safely say that Nature does not work that way, because that's just straight up magical thinking.


Of course, I think some people will insist upon having bodies.

Well, yeah. You'd have to go full robo-Hitler and force people to upload themselves otherwise. Or things would have to get so bad that no one would prefer to not upload. :smalltongue:

Which you should know anyway... :smallconfused:


I don't see why people are opposed to immortality as a concept. You don't want to live forever? Sure, great. It's nice being with you while you're here, but once you wanna leave, see you later!

But I wanna live forever. I guess that's what transhumanism means to me: the choice to do what I want to do. If I wanna look like a dinosaur, I should have the right to do that. It just seems to me that there is a lot of people in this thread, as well as elsewhere, that are saying "I don't want this, therefore no one should have it!"

And while they (not aimed at anyone specific) may not be saying that, the implication sure is there..

Not quite, it's more like I don't want to deal with this hypothetical outcome. My mortal, meatspace consciousness believes that an immortal continuation of consciousness descended from it doesn't want to have to deal with a bunch of immortal jerks joyriding around irresponsibly in dinosaur or dragon bodies who think of themselves as incarnate gods. Or cat girls for that matter. :smalltongue:

Talya
2014-02-26, 01:20 PM
As for continuity of consciousness, everything you are in personality, emotion, memory, and thought, is contained in your brain. Scientifically, everything seems to agree on that point. If there's something beyond that, science should be able to identify something.

I believe this. However, I think it's also deeper than that. Not more, but deeper. I believe consciousness extends down to the quantum level. If you made an exact duplicate of yourself, right down to the synaptic level, it would not share your consciousness. it would act like you, talk like you, think like you, and share your memories, but it would not be you. You couldn't read each other's minds (though you could have a pretty good idea what the other-you was thinking), you would not have continuity of consciousness. You'd be like two identical cars rolling off the same assembly line.


While we're still unlocking the mysteries of our nature and bodies and all, and would have to continue to do so in order to actually want to tinker with that stuff to give ourselves biological immortality and to mold our flesh like clay, pretty sure I can safely say that Nature does not work that way, because that's just straight up magical thinking.



I was picking an extreme example, because we know of no natural way a biological organism could control warping time and space with their body. That's kinda the point. Such an organism could exist in nature. It likely doesn't, but we still encounter, every year, new species that live in places or exist in ways that we didn't think possible. We don't have a complete understanding of any science, and we never will. We will constantly improve our knowledge, but the sum of available knowledge will forever elude us. So my point was, evolution by natural selection has the capability of producing results that we would not envision as even possible, let alone something we would engineer.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-26, 01:26 PM
Well, even if we could make a copy of you, it wouldn't be you but, rather, a copy of you. Sure, that me would be all fine and happy, but meat me would still be getting ready to do the mortal coil shuffle. A fine, popular dance but it ends fast compared to some things.

Talya
2014-02-26, 01:29 PM
Well, even if we could make a copy of you, it wouldn't be you but, rather, a copy of you. Sure, that me would be all fine and happy, but meat me would still be getting ready to do the mortal coil shuffle. A fine, popular dance but it ends fast compared to some things.



That's what I just said! :smallsmile:

Mr.Silver
2014-02-26, 01:43 PM
Biological immortality is a chump's game. Even if you live forever, there's tons of problems that go with it. A biological body needs food, water, air, medicine, sleep, energy, and it's vulnerable to diseases, accidents, violence...
If we could create a perfectly faithful computer model of an individual's brain on a neuron-by-neuron level, governed by a digital simulation of the usual brain-rules for generating new neurons and communicating between the neurons, then the human mind will be made free of flimsy flesh. No more need for food, or medicine, no more age limit. You can live through a remote-controlled robotic body, or even hopscotch from empty bodyu to empty body. Or even just live in simulation worlds. Imagine the video games that will come to be...

As has been noted, this would be great for that simulated mind. That simulated mind, however, is not you. You are the original brain, that will still age and die; only with the knowledge that there will be a mind that is very similar to yours still kicking around.

You said so yourself:

everything you are in personality, emotion, memory, and thought, is contained in your brain.
By your own logic: unless you preserve the brain, you are not preserved.


This is the problem I was alluding to earlier: the back-up model relies on conflating type identity with token identity, an extremely questionable step when discussing personal identity since each token is an independently sentient person.
It's a bit like the Teleporter Problem, if you're more familiar with that.

Coidzor
2014-02-26, 01:51 PM
This is the problem I was alluding to earlier: the back-up model relies on conflating type identity with token identity, an extremely questionable step when discussing personal identity since each token is an independently sentient person.
It's a bit like the Teleporter Problem, if you're more familiar with that.

We prefer "Engineers," SIR. (http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=1677)

Ravens_cry
2014-02-26, 01:58 PM
We prefer "Engineers," SIR. (http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=1677)
With the transporters now being experimented on right now, that's not a problem as you can't copy the information.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-26, 02:09 PM
On the subject of robo-hitler (how often do you get to start a sentence with that?) I'm not gonna argue that everyone should be uploaded. I think it's the logical decision, but not everyone's gonna see it that way.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that some of the uploaded individuals will still want the familiarity of a body.

Ahh, that's what you meant. Yes, the digital brain will be a separate individual. It would be like creating a clone. You'd be preserving everything you are at that particular moment and carrying it forward into eternity. It may be an ethical concern at first but eventually, I suspect the idea would be come more and more acceptable.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 02:28 PM
I would be concerned about evolutionary stagnation.

I see this has already been discussed in my absence, but still: I feel all arguments for stagnation from immortality are somewhat arbitrary. Somehow, we are presuming a scientific culture that can make the transition from base human to a biologically immortal transhuman, yet can't keep transitioning to new forms from there.

Immortality really doesn't work like that. It's not a passive benchmark you achieve once and stay there. Staying alive takes active effort. We have biologically immortal creatures on Earth, and they do keep adapting, genetically, chemically and otherwise.

It's far more likely for our new immortals to blow each other all to hell with nuclear weapons. :smalltongue:


You don't want to live forever?

There is no me that will live forever. There is no fundamental ball of self-ness buried under our atoms, no constant that would stay the same from form to form. We are a function of our parts; change those parts, and we will change as well.

You can't get from base human to a biologically immortal transhuman without changing some parts.

Or, to put it in a different way: how much common do you think your current self would have with a genetically, mechanically or electronically altered "you" three centuries from now? And would that end result meaningfully differ from your grand-grand-grand-kids living in the same time period?

I am a radically different person from what I was five, ten, or twenty years ago. Another five, ten or twenty years from now, and I will be different from what I am now. Ultimately, causality from one chain reaction to another is the sole thing linking these identities into one "person", but through the same causal link they could be associated with any number of other things. "Me" is just an illusion, a convenient shorthand for discussing a small fraction of the overall continuity of the world at large.

Grinner
2014-02-26, 02:28 PM
On the subject of robo-hitler (how often do you get to start a sentence with that?) I'm not gonna argue that everyone should be uploaded. I think it's the logical decision, but not everyone's gonna see it that way.

Consider the implications of mind-theft.

There stands a good chance that someone could learn everything about you. Your hopes, your fears, that embarrassing and/or compromising thing you want buried in the mists of time. Everything.


Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that some of the uploaded individuals will still want the familiarity of a body.

I'm not sure how you led into that, but I will point out that such things can be digitally simulated, and rather simply at that. I mean, if the mind is being emulated, the body should be no problem. All you need to do is match the inputs and outputs to the emulated mind.

Edit:


I am a radically different person from what I was five, ten, or twenty years ago. Another five, ten or twenty years from now, and I will be different from what I am now. Ultimately, causality from one chain reaction to another is the sole thing linking these identities into one "person", but through the same causal link they could be associated with any number of other things. "Me" is just an illusion, a convenient shorthand for discussing a small fraction of the overall continuity of the world at large.

Change is a necessity, but does everything change? Fundamentally, I think I'm still the same person I was twenty years ago. Sure, my taste in music has expanded, I think about sex more often, and I've lost a couple people along the way. Yes, I've had to adapt, but I still enjoy learning how things work (when I have the time) and attempting to apply that knowledge.

Mr.Silver
2014-02-26, 02:49 PM
Re: stagnation: leaving aside the question of biological evolution, I think it is worth considering what sort of effects that sort of longevity might have on social or cultural change/evolution. Consider what some attitudes towards, say, LGBT groups might look like if the bulk of the modern population, particularly within the establishment, were the same people as in the 1930s.


It may be an ethical concern at first but eventually, I suspect the idea would be come more and more acceptable.

That something becomes more acceptable over time does not actually make it any less of a concern. People can get used to a lot of things, even things that aren't particularly pleasant.

Murska
2014-02-26, 03:04 PM
I am a radically different person from what I was five, ten, or twenty years ago. Another five, ten or twenty years from now, and I will be different from what I am now. Ultimately, causality from one chain reaction to another is the sole thing linking these identities into one "person", but through the same causal link they could be associated with any number of other things. "Me" is just an illusion, a convenient shorthand for discussing a small fraction of the overall continuity of the world at large.

So, basically, you believe that there is no 'you'. Does this not mean that every second, an entirely new 'person' (state) is there? And that there is no valid reason to value that new person above any other person anywhere else? Assuming ordinary ethics, whence comes self-preservation? Why not sacrifice everything you are and have for the good of others, if the harm is being done to one completely separate from 'you' person and the good is done to multiple such people?

I believe 'me' is a meaningful distinction, even if it is not a constant. My self is a function that changes over time, and I do value it not dying.

Talya
2014-02-26, 03:09 PM
So, basically, you believe that there is no 'you'. Does this not mean that every second, an entirely new 'person' (state) is there? And that there is no valid reason to value that new person above any other person anywhere else? Assuming ordinary ethics, whence comes self-preservation? Why not sacrifice everything you are and have for the good of others, if the harm is being done to one completely separate from 'you' person and the good is done to multiple such people?

I believe 'me' is a meaningful distinction, even if it is not a constant. My self is a function that changes over time, and I do value it not dying.

This is a question I have wrestled with for decades. (or, at lest, previous versions of me have wrestled with, depending on the answer to the question.)

How do we know that there is any continuity of consciousness? Such a thing may be an illusion caused by our memory. Every instant, the person you were in the previous instant might be gone, replaced with a very similar but slightly older person.

Murska
2014-02-26, 03:16 PM
This is a question I have wrestled with for decades. (or, at lest, previous versions of me have wrestled with, depending on the answer to the question.)

How do we know that there is any continuity of consciousness? Such a thing may be an illusion caused by our memory. Every instant, the person you were in the previous instant might be gone, replaced with a very similar but slightly older person.

You should try and clarify your question. Remove the useless labels. What do you mean by continuity of consciousness? Is that not exactly what you describe by an 'illusion caused by our memory'? There is no now, even the signals in our brain take time to move around.

Who I am right at this instant is slightly different from who I was a minute ago, but who I am right now is definitely very strongly affected by who I was a minute ago, through causal relationships. I don't change into an entirely different completely unrelated state constantly. And that is what 'continuity of consciousness' is.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-26, 03:28 PM
Ah, the Ship problem. I know for a fact that me 15 years ago would have disagreed with me today on many issues, and that every atom in all my cells, even the ones that have not died and been replaced themselves, has been replaced about twice in that time. Yet, I still feel like I. I still feel that I can call that person 'me'.
Personally, I do not think consciousness is some 'quantum' effect, to me that's just clouding the issue in term that a lot of technobabble.
Yes, quantum physics is weird, outside the realm our brain's are designed to comprehend, but simply laying at its feet the unexplained mysteries is not exactly sound, according to my own lights.

Talya
2014-02-26, 03:37 PM
You should try and clarify your question. Remove the useless labels. What do you mean by continuity of consciousness? Is that not exactly what you describe by an 'illusion caused by our memory'? There is no now, even the signals in our brain take time to move around.

Who I am right at this instant is slightly different from who I was a minute ago, but who I am right now is definitely very strongly affected by who I was a minute ago, through causal relationships. I don't change into an entirely different completely unrelated state constantly. And that is what 'continuity of consciousness' is.

It's a concept that I didn't invent, but philosophers didn't have an easier time explaining it than I do.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_identity#Continuity_of_consciousness

You have a perception of who you are. But are you really an unbroken line of consciousness from birth until now? Am i really the same person as the young girl I remember going to kindergarten for the same time? Am I the same person I remember getting married eighteen years ago? Oh, I have her memories, but does she still exist? Am I her? Or are those people gone in the instant, giving way to the person who came next?

Is our perception of our own lives an illusion caused by our memory? Or are we really the same person when we wake up every morning as the person who went to bed the night before?

Murska
2014-02-26, 03:52 PM
It's a concept that I didn't invent, but philosophers didn't have an easier time explaining it than I do.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_identity#Continuity_of_consciousness

You have a perception of who you are. But are you really an unbroken line of consciousness from birth until now? Am i really the same person as the young girl I remember going to kindergarten for the same time? Am I the same person I remember getting married eighteen years ago? Oh, I have her memories, but does she still exist? Am I her? Or are those people gone in the instant, giving way to the person who came next?

Is our perception of our own lives an illusion caused by our memory? Or are we really the same person when we wake up every morning as the person who went to bed the night before?

I'm not an unbroken line of consciousness. I've been unconscious for several hours during my life, for instance.

But 'me' is not a state, it is a process. The process and the rules governing it are the same when I wake up as when I went to bed, even though the state in time of that process is different.

Talya
2014-02-26, 04:28 PM
I'm not an unbroken line of consciousness. I've been unconscious for several hours during my life, for instance.

But 'me' is not a state, it is a process. The process and the rules governing it are the same when I wake up as when I went to bed, even though the state in time of that process is different.

Let's put it another way.

Say I clone you. This clone is an exact duplicate, every neuron, every synapse, every cell, every memory. The clone is absolutely no different than you, in any way.

Now, upon gaining consciousness beside you, your experiences begin go diverge. You are not the same person. He is a copy of you. He is not you.

But...he has your memories. And in fact, he has no less of the same physical matter in his body from 15 year old+ memories than you do...you're both completely different physical people than the earlier versions of yourselves.

Which one of you is really you? Is the clone's connection to your younger self any less valid than your own? Why? What is the difference?

I posit that it is a possibility that both you and the copy are equally you, and that neither of you is the same person as your 5 year old self was, you are just derived from that person.

The reason I bring this up, is the idea of uploading consciousness. The concern is (and I share it), "uploading" yourself to a computer, or another brain, or whatever, doesn't really transfer the person that is you. It just makes a duplicate. However, if the person you were yesterday is not actually the person you are today, this distinction does not matter, because there is no continuity even within the same physical body, if it is all an illusion caused by our memory, if we only exist in the instant.

It's really a pointless philosophical thought experiment, much like wondering if we actually live a soliptic existence as a brain in a jar -- and if all our experiences are merely a simulation. There's no way to know. But people still wonder, and have wondered this for ages.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 04:43 PM
Change is a necessity, but does everything change?

If we take thermodynamics as granted, then across long-enough timespans the answer is undoubtedly yes. No chain-reaction can go on indefinitely with the same particles - eventually, a system reaches maximum entropy and ceases to be useful for sustaining anything we could call a consciousness. All parts break eventually, and broken parts need to be replaced with new ones. An entity will gradually transition from one state to another, and states separated by enough steps will have virtually nothing in common with each other.


Does this not mean that every second, an entirely new 'person' (state) is there?

Short aswer: yes.

Long answer: the timespan involved is not a second; technically, it's the shortest time unit possible to measure within the resolution of the universe. "Entirely new" is likewise a misnomer; adjacent time-slices can be very similar to each other and definitely share traits. Nevertheless, each time-slice is its own state and is never repeated in linear time. "Person" is just a short-hand for (one of) the causal link(s) connecting these states to one another.


And that there is no valid reason to value that new person above any other person anywhere else?

This is, to me, a non-sequitur: the value of a state (whether moral or pragmatic), or any collection of states, can't be determined from the facts that states are non-repeatable and different. To answer these kind of questions requires considerations of causality. Trying to treat invidual states as separate inviduals is also not practical (even if it would be accurate), because of causality and the fact that the chain-reactions forming consciousness can't react fast enough to perceive them as such.


Assuming ordinary ethics, whence comes self-preservation? Why not sacrifice everything you are and have for the good of others, if the harm is being done to one completely separate from 'you' person and the good is done to multiple such people?

The existence of self-preservation does not derive from ethics; it is caused by memories your current conscious process has of its past states. These memories allow the illusion of a fundamental "self" to arise, a trick that your consciousness uses to maintain its self-awareness. Based on known past and this illusion, your consciousness then tries to predict its future. It then either wishes to maintain the chain-reactions creating it or seeks to self-terminate depending on whether futures perceived as probable are meaningful in the context given by the past.

tl;dr: "ethics" is ex post facto rationalization for irrational behaviour.


I believe 'me' is a meaningful distinction, even if it is not a constant. My self is a function that changes over time, and I do value it not dying.

Oh, it is useful, but like many useful concepts, it's not necessarily accurate or true. Just like pinning down the exact line where a beach turns into the sea, the closer you look at yourself the clearer it becomes it shades into and out of multiple "yous" that, when observed invidually, have little in common. The only thing that even allows for us to identify it as a function is the perceived causality, which may be less perfect than what we actually realize or remember.


But 'me' is not a state, it is a process. The process and the rules governing it are the same when I wake up as when I went to bed, even though the state in time of that process is different.

But that is where the punchline is: in order to get you from baseline human to biologically immortal transhuman, that process will have to be changed.

Shadowy
2014-02-26, 04:45 PM
Let's put it another way.

Say I clone you. This clone is an exact duplicate, every neuron, every synapse, every cell, every memory. The clone is absolutely no different than you, in any way.

Now, upon gaining consciousness beside you, your experiences begin go diverge. You are not the same person. He is a copy of you. He is not you.

But...he has your memories. And in fact, he has no less of the same physical matter in his body from 15 year old+ memories than you do...you're both completely different physical people than the earlier versions of yourselves.

Which one of you is really you? Is the clone's connection to your younger self any less valid than your own? Why? What is the difference?

I posit that it is a possibility that both you and the copy are equally you, and that neither of you is the same person as your 5 year old self was, you are just derived from that person.

The reason I bring this up, is the idea of uploading consciousness. The concern is (and I share it), "uploading" yourself to a computer, or another brain, or whatever, doesn't really transfer the person that is you. It just makes a duplicate. However, if the person you were yesterday is not actually the person you are today, this distinction does not matter, because there is no continuity even within the same physical body, if it is all an illusion caused by our memory, if we only exist in the instant.

It's really a pointless philosophical thought experiment, much like wondering if we actually live a soliptic existence as a brain in a jar -- and if all our experiences are merely a simulation. There's no way to know. But people still wonder, and have wondered this for ages.

http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20100512.gif

Murska
2014-02-26, 04:46 PM
Let's put it another way.

Say I clone you. This clone is an exact duplicate, every neuron, every synapse, every cell, every memory. The clone is absolutely no different than you, in any way.

Now, upon gaining consciousness beside you, your experiences begin go diverge. You are not the same person. He is a copy of you. He is not you.

But...he has your memories. And in fact, he has no less of the same physical matter in his body from 15 year old+ memories than you do...you're both completely different physical people than the earlier versions of yourselves.

Which one of you is really you? Is the clone's connection to your younger self any less valid than your own? Why? What is the difference?

I posit that it is a possibility that both you and the copy are equally you, and that neither of you is the same person as your 5 year old self was, you are just derived from that person.


Bolded for emphasis. Exactly the logical conclusion of what I've been talking about here.



The reason I bring this up, is the idea of uploading consciousness. The concern is (and I share it), "uploading" yourself to a computer, or another brain, or whatever, doesn't really transfer the person that is you. It just makes a duplicate. However, if the person you were yesterday is not actually the person you are today, this distinction does not matter, because there is no continuity even within the same physical body, if it is all an illusion caused by our memory, if we only exist in the instant.

It's really a pointless philosophical thought experiment, much like wondering if we actually live a soliptic existence as a brain in a jar -- and if all our experiences are merely a simulation. There's no way to know. But people still wonder, and have wondered this for ages.

However, again. We're not a state, we're a process. We don't exist in an instant, we exist in a length of time, but we change on the time axis. Even though my state right now is not the same as my state was a second ago, my state right now is strongly causally entangled with what my state was a second ago. The states are not independent, they're bound together.

As for the brain-in-a-jar thing, it's again a question about labels. We experience the same things whether or not such a hypothetical is true, and once we study reality and get farther, we often learn that the underpinnings of our experiences are different than we imagined. That does not actually change anything. We thought Newtonian physics were how things are, and then we learned about relativity and quantum physics and now we've got a different theory of how things really are, closer to the truth, but reality itself has not changed in any way. If it turns out that the universe is that jar, then that's just a new step in our understanding, closer to the truth. And perhaps we can then learn about what exists beyond that hypothetical jar, and take another step. Reality just is, our understanding of it can change.

Grinner
2014-02-26, 04:51 PM
If we take thermodynamics as granted, then across long-enough timespans the answer is undoubtedly yes. No chain-reaction can go on indefinitely with the same particles - eventually, a system reaches maximum entropy and ceases to be useful for sustaining anything we could call a consciousness. All parts break eventually, and broken parts need to be replaced with new ones. An entity will gradually transition from one state to another, and states separated by enough steps will have virtually nothing in common with each other.

You're placing a lot of focus on the individual parts of a system, not the system itself.

Let's take a car as an example. In essence, a car is a reaction chamber. It converts fuel and oxygen into an explosion, and that explosion is channeled to create movement. Eventually, yes, time takes its toll, and parts have to be replaced. However, so long as replacement parts can be found, that car will continue to serve the same function. Individual parts change, but the system does not.

In short, perhaps the mind is greater than the sum of its parts?

Talya
2014-02-26, 04:53 PM
http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20100512.gif

The engineer in that comic is an idiot.

Neither of them came first. Both of them came first. There's no way to know or differentiate.

Shadowy
2014-02-26, 04:54 PM
The engineer in that comic is an idiot.

Neither of them came first. Both of them came first. There's no way to know or differentiate.

Nah. Guy who got cloned came first.

Dienekes
2014-02-26, 04:55 PM
I don't see why people are opposed to immortality as a concept. You don't want to live forever? Sure, great. It's nice being with you while you're here, but once you wanna leave, see you later!

But I wanna live forever. I guess that's what transhumanism means to me: the choice to do what I want to do. If I wanna look like a dinosaur, I should have the right to do that. It just seems to me that there is a lot of people in this thread, as well as elsewhere, that are saying "I don't want this, therefore no one should have it!"

And while they (not aimed at anyone specific) may not be saying that, the implication sure is there..

I'm not so much opposed to the concept of individuals being immortal as I am opposed to the negative effects of a large immortal population would have on the environment and society.

The fact that I find the dream of immortality rather cowardly and selfish is more just my biases. If you solve the problems of having an undying population, I'd have no problem with other people doing it.

But as to turning people into dinosaurs, yeah, I guess they should be allowed to. But if that's the major goal, that's like looking at nuclear power and realizing that you can now get longer lasting batteries for your remote control. The technology to get rid of birth defects, or completely fix damaged organs is far more important.

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:03 PM
Nah. Guy who got cloned came first.

Only they're both that guy. They're also both the clone. One guy walks into a machine, two of the same guy come out. Which is which?

Grinner
2014-02-26, 05:03 PM
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/lego.png

Shadowy
2014-02-26, 05:04 PM
Only they're both that guy. They're also both the clone. One guy walks into a machine, two of the same guy come out. Which is which?

Guy who walked into the machine is the first guy.

Next!

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:05 PM
The fact that I find the dream of immortality rather cowardly and selfish is more just my biases.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Self-preservation is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology.

Murska
2014-02-26, 05:05 PM
Short aswer: yes.

Long answer: the timespan involved is not a second; technically, it's the shortest time unit possible to measure within the resolution of the universe. "Entirely new" is likewise a misnomer; adjacent time-slices can be very similar to each other and definitely share traits. Nevertheless, each time-slice is its own state and is never repeated in linear time. "Person" is just a short-hand for (one of) the causal link(s) connecting these states to one another.

Yeah, well, aside from semantics and irrelevancies (Planck time, whatever). Why are folks insisting that 'person' means just one of these states?



This is, to me, a non-sequitur: the value of a state (whether moral or pragmatic), or any collection of states, can't be determined from the facts that states are non-repeatable and different. To answer these kind of questions requires considerations of causality. Trying to treat invidual states as separate inviduals is also not practical (even if it would be accurate), because of causality and the fact that the chain-reactions forming consciousness can't react fast enough to perceive them as such.

So, if trying to treat states as separate individuals is not practical, why would it be accurate? 'Individual' is just a label, after all.



The existence of self-preservation does not derive from ethics; it is caused by memories your current conscious process has of its past states. These memories allow the illusion of a fundamental "self" to arise, a trick that your consciousness uses to maintain its self-awareness. Based on known past and this illusion, your consciousness then tries to predict its future. It then either wishes to maintain the chain-reactions creating it or seeks to self-terminate depending on whether futures perceived as probable are meaningful in the context given by the past.

tl;dr: "ethics" is ex post facto rationalization for irrational behaviour.

Irrational behaviour is behaviour that does not work - does not advance your utility function. As mentioned, trying to treat separate states of the self-function as independent, when they definitely are not independent, is very problematic and does not work very well, so it's perfectly rational to treat the states as entangled by causal relationships, which is also accurate.

More importantly, why call the 'self' an illusion? That seems like a counterproducive label, because the implications of that word can cause confusion. This 'illusion of self' (consciousness) definitely exists, while the word 'illusion' implies that it doesn't, and the word 'trick' implies that something underhanded is at work. But what you describe is exactly what the consciousness is, and the past states of that process are definitely bound to the so-called 'current' state (which you already pointed out is a misnomer anyway). There's no lies, tricks or illusions, that's just how things are.



Oh, it is useful, but like many useful concepts, it's not necessarily accurate or true. Just like pinning down the exact line where a beach turns into the sea, the closer you look at yourself the clearer it becomes it shades into and out of multiple "yous" that, when observed invidually, have little in common. The only thing that even allows for us to identify it as a function is the perceived causality, which may be less perfect than what we actually realize or remember.

Now this I just feel is wrong. If I observe single states of my self, the closer they are together in time the more they resemble each other. There's a clear correlation. If I mixed in a single state of another entity, even if I cheat and pick a human which is something very close to what I am like, I'd immediately notice that that state does not belong with the others, it is massively different. Obviously if I pick two states far removed in time, there's a large difference, just like if I take a function F(x) = X^5 and took two values of X that are very different I get two numbers that are very different. However, they're still states of the same function.



But that is where the punchline is: in order to get you from baseline human to biologically immortal transhuman, that process will have to be changed.

And... why would this follow? If you exactly duplicate a state and then 'restart' it somewhere else in time, it will still be very strongly causally related to the state it was duplicated from, which is in turn related to all the previous states accordingly. If there is no such causal entanglement, then it is not a copy of me. That's what copying my information means. You store information in some medium, meaning you causally entangle the state of that medium with the state of wherever you took the information from.

Grinner
2014-02-26, 05:06 PM
Only they're both that guy. They're also both the clone. One guy walks into a machine, two of the same guy come out. Which is which?

Chronologically, the guy who came first.

Technically, as was already pointed out, they ceased to be the same person the moment the original was cloned.

Practically, that's a good question.

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:09 PM
Chronologically, the guy who came first.

Technically, as was already pointed out, they ceased to be the same person the moment the original was cloned.

Practically, that's a good question.

Let's remove your chronologically answer from the equation.

This process of cloning happens in nature, with humans. It's called "Identical Twins." One zygote splits into identical parts when it divides, rather than growing together, and both parts continue growing into two people who are natural clones of each other. Despite not having any brain at the time to remember the event, both twins share a common experience of conception and cell division, and then they become separate people.

Which one is the real one and which one is the clone?

Maryring
2014-02-26, 05:11 PM
Personally, what I'm *really* looking forward to is mind/machine interfacing. The ability for my mind to be directly stimulated, and that I in return can speak to the machine with just a thought. It is fascinating. Scary but fascinating. Just imagine all the virtual adventures one could have with such an interface. You would no longer have to go further than your own bedroom in order to experience every sensation that you would have on the beach. The feeling of sand underneath your feet, without there being any sand. Or feeling the warm sun ripple across your skin. And even more, you can go on all sorts of fantastical adventures without any of the risks involved. How can you be bored when you can design your own adventure from everything in this fantastically huge world with just a few pushes of a button?

Dienekes
2014-02-26, 05:12 PM
You say that like it's a bad thing.

Self-preservation is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology.

And I am very glad that our society has allowed us to develop past the simple virtue of self-preservation to ones of self sacrifices, courage, and discipline.

Murska
2014-02-26, 05:21 PM
Chronologically, the guy who came first.

Technically, as was already pointed out, they ceased to be the same person the moment the original was cloned.

Practically, that's a good question.

Practically, it's not a very good question because the answer does not, in practice, matter. The question is already solved in all meaningful ways by saying that the guy who went in the machine was the original. Plus, we're not taking the process of duplication itself into account. Presumably, there's some sort of a scanner that takes in information from the 'original', and then from that information the 'duplicate' is constructed, then the one who was constructed is the duplicate, and the original has no 'memories' (whatever that means here) of being constructed, because he never was.


You say that like it's a bad thing.

Self-preservation is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology.

This is incorrect, actually. First of all, evolution has no virtues, it does not value any outcome higher than any other outcome because it does not value anything at all. It's just a process. Second, evolution increases the relative frequency of genes that... well, increase the relative frequency of themselves. There's no evolution outside what the genes do themselves. But survival is just one method of doing this - a creature that survives less often but reproduces way more will increase the frequency of its genes. A creature that sacrifices itself but ensures the survival (and subsequent reproduction of) many of its brothers and sisters, who share half its genes, is increasing the frequency.


Let's remove your chronologically answer from the equation.

This process of cloning happens in nature, with humans. It's called "Identical Twins." One zygote splits into identical parts when it divides, rather than growing together, and both parts continue growing into two people who are natural clones of each other. Despite not having any brain at the time to remember the event, both twins share a common experience of conception and cell division, and then they become separate people.

Which one is the real one and which one is the clone?

Now this here is a real question. What does it mean to call one of them real, and another a clone? If the split happens at the same time for both of them, then the zygote that splits is the 'original' and neither of the resulting two identical parts (technically not identical, but that's beside the point) can be accurately labelled to be more 'real'. They're clones of each other. There, answered.

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:22 PM
And I am very glad that our society has allowed us to develop past the simple virtue of self-preservation to ones of self sacrifices, courage, and discipline.

"Self Sacrifice" tends to be for the preservation of others of the species. This actually is also an evolutionary biology virtue, especially as it relates to ones own offspring, but is even appropriate in other medium. Ironically, it is still a self-preservation instinct, it just has an expanded sense of "self.".

"Courage" is an interesting word that is steeped in personal views and morality and has different definitions for everybody. Personally, I define courage as the ability to make decisions and act rationally in the face of potential danger (of various types) to one's self - the ability to suppress the emotional "fight, freeze or flight" instinct in order to make the best decision you can rationally come up with. (That decision may still be "fight, freeze, or flight" -- the distinction is that you've rationally decided that rather than been forced into it by instinctual reaction to emotional stress caused by danger.)

Discipline is not entirely related here.



This is incorrect, actually. First of all, evolution has no virtues, it does not value any outcome higher than any other outcome because it does not value anything at all. It's just a process.

We need a :rolleyes: icon here. This statement is like arguing against someone who says "Mother nature is a bitch" that "nature has no personality to speak of..."


Second, evolution increases the relative frequency of genes that... well, increase the relative frequency of themselves. There's no evolution outside what the genes do themselves. But survival is just one method of doing this - a creature that survives less often but reproduces way more will increase the frequency of its genes. A creature that sacrifices itself but ensures the survival (and subsequent reproduction of) many of its brothers and sisters, who share half its genes, is increasing the frequency.

This I agree with. However, see my comment above.

warty goblin
2014-02-26, 05:25 PM
You say that like it's a bad thing.

Self-preservation is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology.

No, passing genetic information forwards in time is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology. Self preservation only matters so far as it accomplishes that goal, and beyond it is entirely irrelevant.

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:26 PM
No, passing genetic information forwards in time is the ultimate virtue in evolutionary biology. Self preservation only matters so far as it accomplishes that goal, and beyond it is entirely irrelevant.

By definition, self-preservation always accomplishes this goal. Depending on how effectively self-preservation is managed, procreation tends to accomplish it better, but self preservation always accomplishes this goal.

Murska
2014-02-26, 05:31 PM
By definition, self-preservation always accomplishes this goal. Depending on how effectively self-preservation is managed, procreation tends to accomplish it better, but self preservation always accomplishes this goal.

Again, there is no goal, there's just a process. Using the kinds of labels like 'goal' or 'virtue' are promoting confusion about the matter by ascribing some sort of purposefulness to a process that has none.

And the process, over time, increases the relative frequency of genes in the population. Something that is very good at staying alive but not very good at reproducing will, over time, be less frequent than something that reproduces a lot but is less good at staying alive, assuming that the reproduction overcomes the increased death toll. That's all there is to it. There's no purpose for this, there is no goal that's being achieved or not achieved, what happens is just that there are more of the latter than the former once enough time passes.

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:33 PM
Again, there is no goal, there's just a process. Using the kinds of labels like 'goal' or 'virtue' are promoting confusion about the matter by ascribing some sort of purposefulness to a process that has none.


And once again, we need a :rolleyes: icon for the same reason.


This statement is like arguing against someone who says "Mother nature is a bitch" that "nature has no personality to speak of..."

Stop being so literal. Human communication is steeped in metaphor. Deal with it.


And the process, over time, increases the relative frequency of genes in the population. Something that is very good at staying alive but not very good at reproducing will, over time, be less frequent than something that reproduces a lot but is less good at staying alive, assuming that the reproduction overcomes the increased death toll. That's all there is to it.

It's really not all there is to it, though.

One species is not 100% efficient at staying alive, while 0% efficient at procreation, while the other is 100% efficient at procreation, while 0% efficient at staying alive. (The former, by the way, would live forever, while the latter would die instantly upon achieving "life.") It's rather a balance between them. If the one species that is much better at staying alive is still good enough at reproducing to manage to produce 3 or 4 offspring during its long life, it will flourish. Likewise, if the species that is better at reproducing manages to reproduce 3 or 4 times in its very short life, it will flourish equally...because these things are in balance. It's when they fall out of balance and one is far more efficient than the other at one of these things that one does better than the other.

Murska
2014-02-26, 05:36 PM
And once again, we need a :rolleyes: icon for the same reason.

Stop being so literal. Human communication is steeped in metaphor. Deal with it.

Stop using words that promote confusion by implying qualities to evolution that it does not have.

As a related matter to the discussion, humans, with our intelligence, are able to value all sorts of things. Perhaps if we give it some billions of years, evolution could result in a situation where we don't value anything except increasing the relative frequency of our genes. But evolution is a blind, dumb process that is very slow, and we can simply circumvent it and begin directing the change, adaptation and modification of our own selves utilizing technology. Which is good, in my opinion.


EDIT: To try and explain my point about words like 'goal' or 'virtue', let me hijack your example.

If someone says 'Mother Nature is a bitch' in a conversation about what should be done to predators attacking our tribe, the reply 'Nature has no personality' is a correct one, to avoid others from going off on tangents like 'Well, perhaps we could appease Mother Nature with a sacrifice?' instead of actually useful discussion such as 'Well, how exactly does nature work? What can we do to prevent ourselves from being attacked? Perhaps we should find the nests of the predators and destroy them? Or build a palisade around our village?'

warty goblin
2014-02-26, 05:39 PM
By definition, self-preservation always accomplishes this goal. Depending on how effectively self-preservation is managed, procreation tends to accomplish it better, but self preservation always accomplishes this goal.

No. Genetically any given organism only is as successful as the copies of itself it generates that go on to produce further copies. Even assuming a high degree of biological immortality, I'm still a dead end from a genetic point of view unless I have children. Eventually I'll get hit by a bus, at which point it doesn't matter if I lived six weeks or six hundred years if I failed to procreate. If I did manage to procreate three seconds before getting hit by a bus* however, I at least have the potential to be a success. Even if I ate the asphalt at fourteen, I'm still a much greater genetic success than the six hundred year old schmuck without any children.


*Really, the tricky part is getting the partner who's carrying the child out from under the bus in that limited timeframe.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 05:41 PM
You're placing a lot of focus on the individual parts of a system, not the system itself.

Let's take a car as an example. In essence, a car is a reaction chamber. It converts fuel and oxygen into an explosion, and that explosion is channeled to create movement. Eventually, yes, time takes its toll, and parts have to be replaced. However, so long as replacement parts can be found, that car will continue to serve the same function. Individual parts change, but the system does not.

In short, perhaps the mind is greater than the sum of its parts?

I'm betting on that as the environment of the car increases in entropy, the car can no longer function within its original parameters; there is not the right type of fuel, or maybe there is no oxygen left for the explosions. Eventually, the very way the car operates in has to be rethought or it is simply not viable anymore.



So, if trying to treat states as separate individuals is not practical, why would it be accurate?

Quantum theory and general relativity are both more accurate models than classical physics, yet we continue to use the latter for day to day operations. The reason is simply because that level of accuracy satisfies usual needs on a human scale.


Irrational behaviour is behaviour that does not work - does not advance your utility function.

Consciousness is formed by multiple processes that do not always share operational logic or premises with each other; as such, there is no unified, underlying rationale for thought. Hence, most behaviour is heuristic, intuitive and, yes, irrational in nature. Consciousness does not usually have analytically or rationally sound understanding of the world's basic principles, and thus it is prone to bias and faulty conclusions.

tl:dr; yes, humans often behave in ways that do not work and do not advance their utility functions. Shock. Awe.


As mentioned, trying to treat separate states of the self-function as independent, when they definitely are not independent, is very problematic and does not work very well, so it's perfectly rational to treat the states as entangled by causal relationships, which is also accurate.

This is not in conflict with what I've said, if we presume causality is true.


More importantly, why call the 'self' an illusion?

Because it is. A string of proper length and vibrating at a proper frequency will appear as a perfect circle to the human eye. The perception of the circle does not mean there ever was a circle in the outside world.[/QUOTE]



And... why would this follow? If you exactly duplicate a state and then 'restart' it somewhere else in time, it will still be very strongly causally related to the state it was duplicated from, which is in turn related to all the previous states accordingly. If there is no such causal entanglement, then it is not a copy of me. That's what copying my information means. You store information in some medium, meaning you causally entangle the state of that medium with the state of wherever you took the information from.

You can not exactly duplicate states. In linear time, each state only exists once. What might appear in human scale to be an "exact duplication" is not, because its co-ordinates in space-time are still different, and it has other causal links to things that the "original state" had no connections to.

Even if we assume duplication of a process instead of invidual states, there is no way in the real world to duplicate a process with such accuracy. Particles for the reinstated process will differ, and will cause variance. "Exact duplicates" are not a thing that can exists outside philosophical exercises.

As you should've noticed, I don't disagree with you on the concept of copies being causally linked. But just as well I'm causally linked to tiny bugs that eat my skin. Just because a state gave rise to another state, or a process gave rise to another process, doesn't mean they are the same.

Murska
2014-02-26, 05:43 PM
No. Genetically any given organism only is as successful as the copies of itself it generates that go on to produce further copies. Even assuming a high degree of biological immortality, I'm still a dead end from a genetic point of view unless I have children. Eventually I'll get hit by a bus, at which point it doesn't matter if I lived six weeks or six hundred years if I failed to procreate. If I did manage to procreate three seconds before getting hit by a bus* however, I at least have the potential to be a success. Even if I ate the asphalt at fourteen, I'm still a much greater genetic success than the six hundred year old schmuck without any children.


*Really, the tricky part is getting the partner who's carrying the child out from under the bus in that limited timeframe.

But if you procreate 3 seconds before getting hit by a bus, and then you get hit by a bus and your partner also does and both of you die, while the guy who's lived for 600 years is still alive, then the genes of that guy are more relatively frequent in the population than yours.

Also, in a related sidenote that I hope nobody tries to answer to by saying something like 'However I meant genetically a success', because I know that and I'm not trying to argue against that, just to bring up the point about values and the fact that what evolution causes is not necessarily what we value, (genes don't value anything, by the way) perhaps the guy values his own continued existance more than the relative frequency of his genes in the gene pool.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-26, 05:43 PM
Why do we gotta talk about the nature of immortality and the sameness of the you from one millisecond ago to the you of now? Can't we just talk about sweet robot arms and genetic modification?

Talya
2014-02-26, 05:44 PM
No. Genetically any given organism only is as successful as the copies of itself it generates that go on to produce further copies.

This is not true. A hypothetical organism that formed shortly after the birth of the universe and lives until the hypothetical heat death of the universe will have been more genetically successful at "passing genetic information forwards in time" than any other species, even if it never reproduces once. By not dying, you are continuing to pass your genetic information forward in time, keeping it and guarding it in a coherent way that death and decay would end.

With less hyperbole, if a species lives 1,000,000 years despite never having more than a few dozen of its kind ever existing at the same time, and a different species breeds like proverbial rabbits, having millions of individuals before it dies out and goes extinct after a mere 50,000 years, the first species was far more effective at "passing genetic information forwards in time" than the latter.


Also, in a related sidenote that I hope nobody tries to answer to by saying something like 'However I meant genetically a success', because I know that and I'm not trying to argue against that, just to bring up the point about values and the fact that what evolution causes is not necessarily what we value, (genes don't value anything, by the way) perhaps the guy values his own continued existance more than the relative frequency of his genes in the gene pool.

All value is what we (humans) value. We invented value. It's a human concept. Evolution "values" what we describe it as "valuing," because we define it. We define virtue, we define good, we define bad, we define all these things as human beings. We alone are the personality of our universe, and will continue to be until we discover other species capable of forming the same concepts and they join our universe.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-26, 05:47 PM
And I am very glad that our society has allowed us to develop past the simple virtue of self-preservation to ones of self sacrifices, courage, and discipline.

which there will be no need for when you can do all that a man with all that can, and live through it. or make clones that do all that stuff for you.

warty goblin
2014-02-26, 05:57 PM
But if you procreate 3 seconds before getting hit by a bus, and then you get hit by a bus and your partner also does and both of you die, while the guy who's lived for 600 years is still alive, then the genes of that guy are more relatively frequent in the population than yours.

I'm not saying self-preservation is not important in many cases to genetic success. I'm saying it's not the determining factor therein.


This is not true. A hypothetical organism that formed shortly after the birth of the universe and lives until the hypothetical heat death of the universe will have been more genetically successful at "passing genetic information forwards in time" than any other species, even if it never reproduces once. By not dying, you are continuing to pass your genetic information forward in time, keeping it and guarding it in a coherent way that death and decay would end.

With less hyperbole, if the lone member of a species lives 100,000 years, and a different species spreads for 50,000 years having hundreds of thousands of individual members over that time, before it dies out and goes extinct, the first species was more effective at "passing genetic information forwards in time" than the latter.

That depends entirely on whether any other species evolved from the latter. Which, because it is spreading and possibly adapting to new environments, it has the chance to do. The first is still irrelevant.


All value is what we (humans) value. We invented value. It's a human concept. Evolution "values" what we describe it as "valuing," because we define it. We define virtue, we define good, we define bad, we define all these things as human beings. We alone are the personality of our universe, and will continue to be until we discover other species capable of forming the same concepts and they join our universe.
Value is a human construct. Passing on genetic information however is very much not.

Murska
2014-02-26, 06:03 PM
Quantum theory and general relativity are both more accurate models than classical physics, yet we continue to use the latter for day to day operations. The reason is simply because that level of accuracy satisfies usual needs on a human scale.

But we're not talking about any sort of an outside reality here, we're simply talking about concepts and how we should define them. In the outside reality, (still using concepts here because we cannot step outside concepts, being inside this outside reality ourselves) energy states transform into other energy states along the time axis, following the laws of physics. We're simply trying to describe this outside reality in various ways. A more accurate description is one that allows for better predictions of the future, but if both of us can predict the future states of consciousness just as well, then your model is not more 'accurate' than mine. I'm asking why your model is a better one to describe reality? Does it allow you to predict the future better?



Consciousness is formed by multiple processes that do not always share operational logic or premises with each other; as such, there is no unified, underlying rationale for thought. Hence, most behaviour is heuristic, intuitive and, yes, irrational in nature. Consciousness does not usually have analytically or rationally sound understanding of the world's basic principles, and thus it is prone to bias and faulty conclusions.

tl:dr; yes, humans often behave in ways that do not work and do not advance their utility functions. Shock. Awe.

Yes, true. My point was that ethics are not necessarily irrational.



This is not in conflict with what I've said, if we presume causality is true.

Good. We've come to a mutual understanding then.



Because it is. A string of proper length and vibrating at a proper frequency will appear as a perfect circle to the human eye. The perception of the circle does not mean there ever was a circle in the outside world.

No. This is assuming that we have a definition for 'self' and then in the outside reality 'self' does not fill that definition of 'self'. But there is no circle in the outside world, circle is simply a concept for a list of things that share attributes. That string of proper length that vibrates at a proper frequency has plenty of attributes of a circle, including 'appearing as a perfect circle to human eyes' (or 'looks like a circle' or 'causes the same sensory experience that other circles cause'). It also has some attributes that we ascribe to the 'circle' concept that it does not fill. Is it a circle? Well, it's definitely closer to a circle than, say, a car is. But the question itself is moot once we know its attributes. The concept of a circle is only meant to let us infer attributes that we don't know from attributes that we do know, with high probability. And all along, there is no 'circle' in the 'outside world', there is energy states and time. (Again, these are concepts, we can't go beyond them, don't nitpick on that please.)



You can not exactly duplicate states. In linear time, each state only exists once. What might appear in human scale to be an "exact duplication" is not, because its co-ordinates in space-time are still different, and it has other causal links to things that the "original state" had no connections to.

Even if we assume duplication of a process instead of invidual states, there is no way in the real world to duplicate a process with such accuracy. Particles for the reinstated process will differ, and will cause variance. "Exact duplicates" are not a thing that can exists outside philosophical exercises.

As you should've noticed, I don't disagree with you on the concept of copies being causally linked. But just as well I'm causally linked to tiny bugs that eat my skin. Just because a state gave rise to another state, or a process gave rise to another process, doesn't mean they are the same.

Well, the point of the hypothetical thought experiment was a perfect duplication, however paradoxical that may be. The real world and practical considerations are way outside the point that others were trying to make with the idea. But that's not important, so let's drop that.

We seem to be basically agreeing on what we're actually discussing about, but using words like 'same' here for different purposes. I'm pretty sure that you don't mean to say that the tiny bugs eating your skin are exactly as causally related to you as the state you were in a Planck's Time ago is? I'm trying to say that my definition for the self is that process that my energy states undergo in time. The function, so to speak, F(t) where F is my state. And to me it seems like you are saying that the value of F(t) in the point t=1 is not identical to the value of F(t) in the point t=2, which I agree with, because the function F(t) is hideously complex and basically depends on everything that I interact with causally. I'm simply defining 'self' as the function itself while you define it as the value of the function in a specific point. If we have different words for these, say 'function' and 'value', then we basically agree. Am I correct here?


Why do we gotta talk about the nature of immortality and the sameness of the you from one millisecond ago to the you of now? Can't we just talk about sweet robot arms and genetic modification?

Mainly because there's only so much to say about sweet robot arms and genetic modification beyond 'It's pretty awesome, I hope it happens' and there's a lot to say about immortality and consciousness, so the relative frequency of the former decreases in the conversation. :smallsmile:

To warty goblin and Talya. Take a moment to stop and think about the following question:

"What are you actually disagreeing about?"

Insofar as I can see, neither of you has any predictions that would differ depending on which one of you is 'right'. One of you seems to be saying that surviving means your genes continue existing, and the other seems to be saying that reproducing and then dying means there are more of your genes around than there were, and you seem to agree that both of these are correct. What do you disagree about?

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 06:17 PM
We are basically in agreement, yes; you consider "self" to be the process that creates results, while I consider it to be narrative based on prior results that does not necessarily describe the process itself in any meaningful manner. Our real point of contention lies in the realm of practicality. When I say we can't move from a human base to biologically immortal transhuman in way that'd leave the process intact, it's precisely because I consider such practiacally impossible.

If you're familiar with the comic Schlock Mercenary, the only mean that'd come close would be something akin to Gate Clones. I'm really not seeing that particular invention leaving the realm of science fiction. More realistic forms immortality would involve either genetic manipulation or electronic uploading, with the former representing clear tampering with the process and the latter constituting a full paradigm shift (conversion of mental structure from genetic language to machine language). To extend the prior car metaphor, these are like replacing a the combustion engine with a nuclear reactor or remodeling the car as an aeroplane, respectively.


Yes, true. My point was that ethics are not necessarily irrational.

Ethics are often rational. But they are just as often after-the-fact explanations for things that are not. A desire for self-preservation does't derive from ethics; ethics are invented as a justification for the desire. So on and so forth.

Talya
2014-02-26, 06:25 PM
That depends entirely on whether any other species evolved from the latter. Which, because it is spreading and possibly adapting to new environments, it has the chance to do. The first is still irrelevant.

The first is still the most successful at your stated goal: passing biological information forward in time.

If your goal is to pass (which in this case, is synonymous with preserve) information, what's better, one well protected message capsule that lasts forever? or a million that get destroyed soon after being released?

Procreation is only relevant to the "passing genetic information forward in time" to the extent that it causes that genetic information to last longer. There are other ways to make it last longer. In our experience, procreation is simply the best. However, living longer by definition passes that information forward in time. All methods are ultimately a dead end that result in oblivion, but it's about how long that information lasts.


Value is a human construct. Passing on genetic information however is very much not.

This is in agreement with everything I've said.


To warty goblin and Talya. Take a moment to stop and think about the following question:

"What are you actually disagreeing about?"

Insofar as I can see, neither of you has any predictions that would differ depending on which one of you is 'right'. One of you seems to be saying that surviving means your genes continue existing, and the other seems to be saying that reproducing and then dying means there are more of your genes around than there were, and you seem to agree that both of these are correct. What do you disagree about?

That's my point!

I'm saying both survival and procreation are means of passing your genetic information forward in time. Warty is disagreeing with me and saying survival only matters to the extent it helps you procreate. However, survival is, all by itself, a means of passing genetic information forward in time. It is successful at doing so as long as you can continue to survive. The moment you die, it has failed. Likewise, procreation can fail if the species still dies out without evolving into something new...however it tends to be more successful than merely surviving as an individual.

Vknight
2014-02-26, 06:48 PM
For me, it's all about immortality. It's time we finally ended death.

Then, brain modification. That has a lot of priority over other body parts for me. Personality backups too. Never saw the need to run multiple bodies myself, either.

I just needed to quote that too sum it up. Also maybe doing something insane but potentially possible because.

Murska
2014-02-26, 07:01 PM
We are basically in agreement, yes; you consider "self" to be the process that creates results, while I consider it to be narrative based on prior results that does not necessarily describe the process itself in any meaningful manner. Our real point of contention lies in the realm of practicality. When I say we can't move from a human base to biologically immortal transhuman in way that'd leave the process intact, it's precisely because I consider such practiacally impossible.

If you're familiar with the comic Schlock Mercenary, the only mean that'd come close would be something akin to Gate Clones. I'm really not seeing that particular invention leaving the realm of science fiction. More realistic forms immortality would involve either genetic manipulation or electronic uploading, with the former representing clear tampering with the process and the latter constituting a full paradigm shift (conversion of mental structure from genetic language to machine language). To extend the prior car metaphor, these are like replacing a the combustion engine with a nuclear reactor or remodeling the car as an aeroplane, respectively.

Okay, so here we come to something that we might actually have a disagreement about. See, a lot of things affect the 'function'. I don't see a meaningful difference in continuing to exist without going through some process that uploads my mind to a computer and continuing to exist as I am. (Obviously there's a huge difference in my experiences and such, but bear with me here) In both cases, my state is different from what it was before. So I'm just as much me if I am uploaded into a computer or if I am not uploaded into a computer, which is either fully or not at all depending on the definition. And because I value my continued existance (as defined by the continuation of the process) and in the case I don't get uploaded I'll die, getting uploaded is a good thing to me.



Ethics are often rational. But they are just as often after-the-fact explanations for things that are not. A desire for self-preservation does't derive from ethics; ethics are invented as a justification for the desire. So on and so forth.

Yes, but if you value your self-preservation, then even if you do not have a biological desire for self-preservation anymore (for example because of some sort of an injury to the brain) you'll still work towards outcomes that preserve your self. And it's perfectly possible to invent ethics that do not have a base in a desire. Regardless, if doing things that you value is what being rational means, then you cannot say a method of choosing your values is rational or irrational.

Mr.Silver
2014-02-26, 07:36 PM
Why do we gotta talk about the nature of immortality and the sameness of the you from one millisecond ago to the you of now? Can't we just talk about sweet robot arms and genetic modification?
You may recall earlier in the thread my comment that singularity model transhumanism has a lot of philosophical problems to it. As such, discussion on the more problematic aspects of it (such as uploading) will inevitably branch into philosophical topics.

Besides, metaphysics is fun too :smalltongue:

(also we can't really go back to the more political stuff)

Tangent on evolution and words/metaphors etc:


Stop being so literal. Human communication is steeped in metaphor. Deal with it.

Maybe you've been luckier than I, but I've had to 'deal with' a wide range of people espousing a wide range of beliefs and arguments all based on the misconception that evolution actually have 'goals' and can be used to provide normative value judgements. And they aren't being metaphorical.

For instance, I'm pretty sure a lot of people have encountered some variation on at least one of the following:
"Homosexuality is wrong because same-sex couples can't produce children and that's against evolution".
Or
"People shouldn't be vegetarian because they evolved to eat meat!"
Or
"[something to the effect that evolution says this piece of blatant mysogyny is fine and so it can't be sexist]"
Or more (and sometimes worse) besides.

Point being, speaking metaphorically about evolution having 'goals' is often going to catch you some flak - because a lot of people who use that language aren't speaking metaphorically, so it may not be clear that you are being metaphorical. Some may also want to play it safe and counter it anyway, trying to challenge the misconception in general on the off-chance that, even if you don't mean it literally, someone else reading the thread may take your comments as literal and come away with wrong idea about it.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-26, 07:46 PM
Yes, but if you value your self-preservation, then even if you do not have a biological desire for self-preservation anymore (for example because of some sort of an injury to the brain) you'll still work towards outcomes that preserve your self.

Experience shows that any biological creature losing such desire tends to self-terminate. We do not have meaningful experience of non-biological lifeforms to determine how they would act.

Murska
2014-02-26, 08:03 PM
Experience shows that any biological creature losing such desire tends to self-terminate. We do not have meaningful experience of non-biological lifeforms to determine how they would act.

Really? I want sources on this, because it sounds very interesting. Basically, if someone loses the biological part of self-preservation (the instinct to stay away from danger, fight or flight response, avoidance of pain and so on) that makes them intellectually decide that they would rather die than continue living? I can't really see how this could be impartially tested.

The Giant
2014-02-26, 08:28 PM
Why is that? Evolution is merely an inefficient way of adapting to the surrounding environment. It isn't a magical force. What it is is a certain individual surviving in the environment for whatever reason, breeding, and then their children having a similar genetic makeup that also allows them to survive and so on.

An immortal self-modifying society would replace evolution with Revolution.

Instead of a slow blind process of elimination, they would identify the problem and proactively, somewhat intelligently seek to repair the problem. Quickly, as opposed to over however many generations of breeding it takes to win the lottery.

Right, because everyone always agrees on exactly the best way to solve major world problems is, and they will be even more likely to agree when they each have several centuries of emotional baggage to take into consideration and wildly different physical needs. There's no way the rich transhumans with SmartLungs® will shrug their shoulders if the atmosphere changes to the level that unmodified humans can't breathe.

The problem isn't the loss of Evolution; we pretty much threw that out in the short term when we invented modern medicine. The problem is we already have a system of Revolution; it's called, "Kids grow up, decide their parents were full of ****, and change things."

Imagine a world where the five hundred richest people worldwide from the year 1783 were still around and still controlled the biggest fortunes and most political power. How much social progress could such a world ever make? How could a younger generation ever achieve anything or make any impact on the world if the older generation never relinquishes what they have? Biological immortality would hard-code all the existing biases and prejudices and social status of the current so-called 1% until the end of time. Heck, it's already happening—how much influence do a relatively small number of people over the age of 70 have on world events today, compared to how much people in the same age bracket had at the end of the 19th century?

In other words, I'll be happy to talk about immortality the day after we solve worldwide social and economic inquality and all women and men live in a peaceful egalitarian utopia. So, you know: science fiction.

Murska
2014-02-26, 08:38 PM
Right, because everyone always agrees on exactly the best way to solve major world problems is, and they will be even more likely to agree when they each have several centuries of emotional baggage to take into consideration and wildly different physical needs. There's no way the rich transhumans with SmartLungs® will shrug their shoulders if the atmosphere changes to the level that unmodified humans can't breathe.

The problem isn't the loss of Evolution; we pretty much threw that out in the short term when we invented modern medicine. The problem is we already have a system of Revolution; it's called, "Kids grow up, decide their parents were full of ****, and change things."

Imagine a world where the five hundred richest people worldwide from the year 1783 were still around and still controlled the biggest fortunes and most political power. How much social progress could such a world ever make? How could a younger generation ever achieve anything or make any impact on the world if the older generation never relinquishes what they have? Biological immortality would hard-code all the existing biases and prejudices and social status of the current so-called 1% until the end of time. Heck, it's already happening—how much influence do a relatively small number of people over the age of 70 have on world events today, compared to how much people in the same age bracket had at the end of the 19th century?

In other words, I'll be happy to talk about immortality the day after we solve worldwide social and economic inquality and all women and men live in a peaceful egalitarian utopia. So, you know: science fiction.

But if they're the 1%, they're still vulnerable to a revolution. Of the kind where the 99% pick up guns and shoot them.

I feel that if we don't take the intermediary step of having immortality available for the rich, we'll never get to the point where immortality is available to everyone. And the problems associated with the intermediary step are acceptable losses compared to the problems with the current state, where people die, which I consider a very bad thing.

Talya
2014-02-26, 08:46 PM
Right, because everyone always agrees on exactly the best way to solve major world problems is, and they will be even more likely to agree when they each have several centuries of emotional baggage to take into consideration and wildly different physical needs. There's no way the rich transhumans with SmartLungs® will shrug their shoulders if the atmosphere changes to the level that unmodified humans can't breathe.

The problem isn't the loss of Evolution; we pretty much threw that out in the short term when we invented modern medicine. The problem is we already have a system of Revolution; it's called, "Kids grow up, decide their parents were full of ****, and change things."

Imagine a world where the five hundred richest people worldwide from the year 1783 were still around and still controlled the biggest fortunes and most political power. How much social progress could such a world ever make? How could a younger generation ever achieve anything or make any impact on the world if the older generation never relinquishes what they have? Biological immortality would hard-code all the existing biases and prejudices and social status of the current so-called 1% until the end of time. Heck, it's already happening—how much influence do a relatively small number of people over the age of 70 have on world events today, compared to how much people in the same age bracket had at the end of the 19th century?

In other words, I'll be happy to talk about immortality the day after we solve worldwide social and economic inquality and all women and men live in a peaceful egalitarian utopia. So, you know: science fiction.


Ha. Wow.

Hi Rich. :)

I agree with you, and disagree. As is typical of my posts here. I share your concerns. However, given a chance to gain biological immortality, I'd accept it in an instant. The thing with biological immortality, is it doesn't stop us from dying. It just delays the inevitable. It does, however, give us far more time to accomplish great things. Think what the world would gain if Einstein could work together with Hawking? Or if we didn't lose artistic greats so young! I think death exists because it did (and perhaps still does) provide an evolutionary advantage for the species, but I think at this point, individual people can benefit us more by living longer.

There might be no point to eternity, but there's certainly a point to living longer. It's why we invented medicine, after all. Biological immortality removes aging, not death.


"Homosexuality is wrong because same-sex couples can't produce children and that's against evolution".
Or
"People shouldn't be vegetarian because they evolved to eat meat!"
Or
"[something to the effect that evolution says this piece of blatant mysogyny is fine and so it can't be sexist]"
Or more (and sometimes worse) besides.


The problem there is that people are trying to treat morality/ethics/value judgements as somehow scientific...as if they exist in some objective manner.

They do not.

There ultimately is no real "should"... no "right" or "wrong"... These are human ideas, not nature's. Nature has no ideas.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-26, 08:56 PM
I agree with you, and disagree. As is typical of my posts here. I share your concerns. However, given a chance to gain biological immortality, I'd accept it in an instant. The thing with biological immortality, is it doesn't stop us from dying. It just delays the inevitable. It does, however, give us far more time to accomplish great things. Think what the world would gain if Einstein could work together with Hawking? Or if we didn't lose artistic greats so young! I think death exists because it did (and perhaps still does) provide an evolutionary advantage for the species, but I think at this point, individual people can benefit us more by living longer.

Sorry if I'm late to the conversation, but many artists we lost young would have lived a longer life anyway had they not made some self-destructive life-choices down the way. I'm not sure how much even an improved organism can stand up to, so to say, willful tampering.

As a general idea, I'm all for it, but like the Giant, I feel that the risks, right now, outweigh the rewards.


But if they're the 1%, they're still vulnerable to a revolution. Of the kind where the 99% pick up guns and shoot them.

So what you're saying is that we begin our new immortal life by killing folks? Nice.

Murska
2014-02-26, 09:03 PM
So what you're saying is that we begin our new immortal life by killing folks? Nice.

That's a bit of a strawman. All I'm saying is that it would not be impossible to change society even if immortality existed. I'm not saying that we should do it.

But from the viewpoint of my own, personal ethics, I simply don't see what sort of evil the elite living longer would get up to that would outweigh the absolutely horrific truth that millions and again millions of people are dying all the time.

Dienekes
2014-02-26, 09:09 PM
"Self Sacrifice" tends to be for the preservation of others of the species. This actually is also an evolutionary biology virtue, especially as it relates to ones own offspring, but is even appropriate in other medium. Ironically, it is still a self-preservation instinct, it just has an expanded sense of "self.".

Yes, I'm sure if we change the definition of self we can get self-preservation to mean all sorts of things.


"Courage" is an interesting word that is steeped in personal views and morality and has different definitions for everybody. Personally, I define courage as the ability to make decisions and act rationally in the face of potential danger (of various types) to one's self - the ability to suppress the emotional "fight, freeze or flight" instinct in order to make the best decision you can rationally come up with. (That decision may still be "fight, freeze, or flight" -- the distinction is that you've rationally decided that rather than been forced into it by instinctual reaction to emotional stress caused by danger.)

I have never heard this definition of courage, and I'm not 100% sure I don't agree with it.


That's a bit of a strawman. All I'm saying is that it would not be impossible to change society even if immortality existed. I'm not saying that we should do it.

But from the viewpoint of my own, personal ethics, I simply don't see what sort of evil the elite living longer would get up to that would outweigh the absolutely horrific truth that millions and again millions of people are dying all the time.

I guess, it's because I don't find it horrific. Things die, it's sad, but we mourn and we move on. Accepting that and learning to live your life with both loss and gain, happiness and sadness is to me rather beautiful. The old does their part, makes the gains they can, then get out of the way for the next generation to try their hand, with new ideas, and minds that are able to push away the thoughts of the old generation and form their new ones.

GolemsVoice
2014-02-26, 09:11 PM
Sorry for misrepresenting you, then! :smallredface:

The problem the Giant (if I may speak for him) and me see is that, should immortality ever be established, it will be VERY expensive. That's of course a prediction, but if we base it on current medical procedures, not that unlikely. So the first that would get it are the super-rich, and the last that would get it would be ordinary citizens.

But in general, biological immortality for all would, of course, be awesome!

Murska
2014-02-26, 09:14 PM
Sorry for misrepresenting you, then! :smallredface:

The problem the Giant (if I may speak for him) and me see is that, should immortality ever be established, it will be VERY expensive. That's of course a prediction, but if we base it on current medical procedures, not that unlikely. So the first that would get it are the super-rich, and the last that would get it would be ordinary citizens.

But in general, biological immortality for all would, of course, be awesome!

And what I'm saying is that yes, I see that as a problem as well. But not developing the technology means that neither the super-rich nor the common folk ever get it, and I personally don't believe that what we have now is better than what we would have if the technology was invented.

warty goblin
2014-02-26, 09:16 PM
But from the viewpoint of my own, personal ethics, I simply don't see what sort of evil the elite living longer would get up to that would outweigh the absolutely horrific truth that millions and again millions of people are dying all the time.
People dying is how we have room for new people with new ideas. Unless for some reason we think the current crop of humanity is the "best" - whatever that means - possible set of people to have, people dying is a good thing.

I for one am not nearly self-important enough to think I'm of unlimited worth to the world, and should therefore have claim to the vast resources it takes to sustain me into perpetuity. Nor am I cowardly enough to shrink from the concept that I will die one day, the world will go on without me, and really most everybody will be just dandy with that. I'm afraid of death certainly, but I tend to be of the opinion that's an entirely animal instinct, not the result of a reasoned, conscious consideration of the issue. Letting lizard-brain terror dictate my life does not seem to me a wise choice.

Dienekes
2014-02-26, 09:19 PM
As normal, Warty says what I'm thinking far more eloquently and intelligently than I ever could.

Kajhera
2014-02-26, 09:20 PM
If the problem is wealth and power being concentrated in the hands of an old and wealthy few, doesn't it make more sense to solve the problem by forcing them to relinquish their relative wealth and political power ... rather than kill them? :smallconfused:

Can see a lot of problems arising from immortality, whether that comes from limited supply and being to the highest bidder, or not having the social mechanisms in place to deal with. Progress isn't always pretty ... imagining it would go smoothly is utopian.

But when it gets down to it? If there's a situation where I'd say 'X people should die for the good of the advancement of mankind' ... is there a significant moral distinction between removing access to medical treatment they would possess without my interference (immortality) and actively killing them? (There might be a significant financial difference, but that's social.)

Would say, not particularly. Letting Death make those kinds of hard choices is lazy, and as mentioned, already significantly biased along lines of social and economic inequality.

If immortality were universally available, which is my personal dream, it would increase the ranks of those Death would otherwise take its harvest from, which is disproportionately the less advantaged.

Murska
2014-02-26, 09:28 PM
People dying is how we have room for new people with new ideas. Unless for some reason we think the current crop of humanity is the "best" - whatever that means - possible set of people to have, people dying is a good thing.

I for one am not nearly self-important enough to think I'm of unlimited worth to the world, and should therefore have claim to the vast resources it takes to sustain me into perpetuity. Nor am I cowardly enough to shrink from the concept that I will die one day, the world will go on without me, and really most everybody will be just dandy with that. I'm afraid of death certainly, but I tend to be of the opinion that's an entirely animal instinct, not the result of a reasoned, conscious consideration of the issue. Letting lizard-brain terror dictate my life does not seem to me a wise choice.

I value survival rather high, though not absolutely high - I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice my life in a number of hypothetical situations. But as I consciously, rationally consider things based on the values that I do have, I come to the conclusion that no, I do not want to die, and I don't want anyone to die, if it can reasonably be avoided without interfering with other important values. Death is, in my ethics, a bad thing. So is suffering, and aging does cause that. Plus I don't see how current people living as long as they want to necessarily stops new people from being born, at least for the amount of time it takes for us to fill the entire universe. There's a lot of space out there that we could get to with sufficient technology.

Also, as an aside, I don't really have any evidence for the assumption that my value, whatever that is, to the world (world does not care about me, or anything else, one bit - it does not have values. Society, as defined to mean 'all people', maybe?) would be less than the value of whatever would happen if I died. Even if we posit that we can only support X amount of people, while I can't say that including me in that X is better than including a random other potential person Y, I don't see how it could be said that including me is definitely worse.

Of course, I can only really care for my own values - that's how values work, they're things you care about. One of my values could be the ability of other people to fulfill their values. (It actually is!) But if 'society' decides otherwise, then from my point of view that's a bad thing.

GoblinArchmage
2014-02-26, 09:30 PM
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be immortal. Then, I realized that life is horrible, and I got over that desire.

Murska
2014-02-26, 09:32 PM
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be immortal. Then, I realized that life is horrible, and I got over that desire.

For a short amount of time, when I was a teenager (or possibly just a bit before that), I believed that life is horrible. Then I looked at it, and came to the conclusion that I had been drastically wrong, and that life is preferrable to the alternative.

Talya
2014-02-26, 09:40 PM
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be immortal. Then, I realized that life is horrible, and I got over that desire.

That depends what you value, I guess. I think life is pretty damned amazing.

The Giant
2014-02-26, 10:01 PM
But if they're the 1%, they're still vulnerable to a revolution. Of the kind where the 99% pick up guns and shoot them.

That is one highly optimistic possibility, yes. The other is that with nearly unlimited resources, the very rich immortal superhumans become undying puppetmasters behind the scenes while parceling out lesser bounties to the masses to keep them dumb and happy and prevent anyone else from achieving the same result as them. Sort of like the Antediluvians in Vampire: The Masquerade, really.


I feel that if we don't take the intermediary step of having immortality available for the rich, we'll never get to the point where immortality is available to everyone.

And I feel that the first people who take that step will do everything in their power to keep the rest from taking it, up to and including criminalizing it.


And the problems associated with the intermediary step are acceptable losses compared to the problems with the current state, where people die, which I consider a very bad thing.

You may consider it a very bad thing, but not everyone else does. You're saying that you're willing to roll the dice and let the chips fall where they may on the chance that we'll solve all of our social inequalities magically by the time the technology is available. I'd prefer to fix the social problems now, then worry about enhancement later.


I agree with you, and disagree. As is typical of my posts here. I share your concerns. However, given a chance to gain biological immortality, I'd accept it in an instant. The thing with biological immortality, is it doesn't stop us from dying. It just delays the inevitable.

To be clear, I'm not really against a degree of life extension. But some of the people here were talking about truly undying immortality, such as that achieved by uploading consciousness into an artificial body. That kind of immortality is really what I'm arguing against.


It does, however, give us far more time to accomplish great things. Think what the world would gain if Einstein could work together with Hawking? Or if we didn't lose artistic greats so young!

I'm more concerned about neither one ever rising to prominence because Isaac Newton is still the Lucasian Chair after 350+ years, and their "crazy" ideas are dismissed as too far outside the status quo.

Even in the arts, every artistic movement is a reaction to (and often rejection of) what came before. The Impressionists rejected the Académie, and were rejected by the Post-Impressionists in turn, who were themselves overthrown by Cubists, and/or the Surrealists, and so on. Would Picasso have done what he did if the Academic painters were still around in 1912? Or could he only have taken it as far as he did because they were all dead and buried, and even the Impressionists were dying off?

And that's not even taking into account all the tyrants that could reign indefinitely.


I think death exists because it did (and perhaps still does) provide an evolutionary advantage for the species, but I think at this point, individual people can benefit us more by living longer.

There might be no point to eternity, but there's certainly a point to living longer. It's why we invented medicine, after all. Biological immortality removes aging, not death.

Like I said above, it's not entirely clear that's what everyone here is saying. I think it is definitely possible to strike a balance between the good of the individual and the good of society through some degree of extension—particularly in the arena of increasing the quality of the lifespan we already have. I do think that true immortality is a terrible idea unless we've already fixed all of our other social problems first, because otherwise it will entrench them indefinitely.

The Giant
2014-02-26, 10:15 PM
If the problem is wealth and power being concentrated in the hands of an old and wealthy few, doesn't it make more sense to solve the problem by forcing them to relinquish their relative wealth and political power ... rather than kill them? :smallconfused:

This would fall under the category of "fixing inequality," which is exactly what I'm saying should be a prerequisite for developing immortality. Mind you, I do not think that will happen at all. I just think it should happen.

---------------

Ultimately, though, there's no stopping the freight train of progress, and this will shake out one way or the other depending not on what I want, but on what is actually physically possible and how fast scientists figure it out. But I think it's worth thinking and talking about because it may inspire people who are interested in things like transhumanism to also consider social progress and how it intersects, and that's an area where we can all take steps in our daily lives.

If one wants a transhuman future to go smoothly, work toward a better world now. Don't sit around waiting for transhumanism to wave its magic wand and fix everything.

Talya
2014-02-26, 10:26 PM
If one wants a transhuman future to go smoothly, work toward a better world now. Don't sit around waiting for transhumanism to wave its magic wand and fix everything.

Transhumanism only happens if we do make this a better world. It's not going to happen to the extent I want to see as long as we're still going the way we're going.

Murska
2014-02-26, 10:44 PM
Yeah, of course. I work for a better future now. But I wouldn't delay the invention of immortality, if given the choice. I might be wrong in choosing that, it might be that the future that results is worse than the future that would result if I hid the data. But given what I know right now, I would take the choice that seems more probable to result in a net gain.

If I were given one immortality pill and the choice to either take it myself or give it to a random person, I would take it myself. I admit that. If I were then given another immortality pill and the choice to give it to a friend or to give it to a random person, I'd give it to my friend. But there is no point at which I personally would, when given an immortality pill and the choice to give it to a random person or to give it to nobody at all, choose the latter. I would like to believe that the majority of people would choose the same way. So then it just becomes a question of manufacturing enough immortality pills for everyone.



I'm more concerned about neither one ever rising to prominence because Isaac Newton is still the Lucasian Chair after 350+ years, and their "crazy" ideas are dismissed as too far outside the status quo.

Even in the arts, every artistic movement is a reaction to (and often rejection of) what came before. The Impressionists rejected the Académie, and were rejected by the Post-Impressionists in turn, who were themselves overthrown by Cubists, and/or the Surrealists, and so on. Would Picasso have done what he did if the Academic painters were still around in 1912? Or could he only have taken it as far as he did because they were all dead and buried, and even the Impressionists were dying off?

And that's not even taking into account all the tyrants that could reign indefinitely.

Regarding science - Einstein's theory would be experimentally proven to work better than Newton's, so it'd still be accepted as the more accurate theory.

I don't have as much knowledge to say about the arts, but I expect art would still change. People would get bored of the current mainstream movement and begin a counterculture, even if the ones who like the current mainstream did not die. And I personally don't hold the development of a new art movement to balance the deaths of millions of people.

As for tyrants... well, they would reign until deposed. It is not that common in history for tyrants to actually reign until a natural death due to old age, though I admit it does happen. But I do expect that their reigns would eventually end by some other means than death to old age.

druid91
2014-02-27, 12:35 AM
Right, because everyone always agrees on exactly the best way to solve major world problems is, and they will be even more likely to agree when they each have several centuries of emotional baggage to take into consideration and wildly different physical needs. There's no way the rich transhumans with SmartLungs® will shrug their shoulders if the atmosphere changes to the level that unmodified humans can't breathe.

The problem isn't the loss of Evolution; we pretty much threw that out in the short term when we invented modern medicine. The problem is we already have a system of Revolution; it's called, "Kids grow up, decide their parents were full of ****, and change things."

Imagine a world where the five hundred richest people worldwide from the year 1783 were still around and still controlled the biggest fortunes and most political power. How much social progress could such a world ever make? How could a younger generation ever achieve anything or make any impact on the world if the older generation never relinquishes what they have? Biological immortality would hard-code all the existing biases and prejudices and social status of the current so-called 1% until the end of time. Heck, it's already happening—how much influence do a relatively small number of people over the age of 70 have on world events today, compared to how much people in the same age bracket had at the end of the 19th century?

In other words, I'll be happy to talk about immortality the day after we solve worldwide social and economic inequality and all women and men live in a peaceful egalitarian utopia. So, you know: science fiction.

First of all, I'm going all fan-boyish that you quoted me.

But, on to your words.

No they don't agree, I don't see how people being less healthy, happy, or unable to interact with their environment in new ways enhances that chance of agreeing.

And that already happens now. I don't particularly want to go into specifics but in several cases the fumes from large port cities make the air nigh-on unbreathable.

Indeed. I don't disagree. There does need to be a cycle.

The main issue here is that, while I used it, Immortality was not the focus but rather the oft toted idea that evolution is necessary. Which is a sort of soft appeal to nature. Even removing the immortal aspect, say replacing it with a race of genetically identical clones, and my point would remain the same. Do I think immortality, or rather extreme longevity would be nice? Yes. It would. I also doubt it's feasibility.

Though, and this is entirely fiction but I think is a neat idea, what would be cool would be simply freezing a generation, and then cycling them back in at some point as the newcomers, they still have their memories, their grudges, but any hold on power they once had is gone. Unless of course later generations left something for them for when they return? I dunno. Neat sci-fi idea. Might do something with that, probably not.

In general, I dislike the argument that we should wait for mankind to outgrow their various vices before doing X,Y, or Z. Whether it's transhumanism, space colonization, or whatever scifi technology of the week that's apparently feasible to a greater or lesser extent. I'm not quite confidant enough to call it a red herring, but it seems like one to me. It's a distracting other issue that leads away from the issue being discussed. No offense intended.

Devils_Advocate
2014-02-27, 01:58 AM
There are many potential negative consequences of possible future technologies. There are also many potential positive consequences of possible future technologies. A single possible technology may have both strongly negative and strongly positive potential consequences. Heck, an actual technology may have both strongly negative and strongly positive actual consequences.

I hope no one disputes any of the above statements.

So, what should we do about the potential negative consequences, both in general and in specific?

Preventing a technology from being developed not only prevents its positive consequences but is usually infeasible. And to avoid the invention of any technology that could conceivably be used to oppress people would pretty much require a worldwide tyrannical regime... so assuming that that's exactly what you want to prevent, that's out.

Similarly, preventing anyone from ever creating Strong AI seems like the sort of thing that would require Strong AI. And I can't seem to imagine a non-nanotechnological defense against Grey Goo. It's difficult to see how we can effectively defend against negative consequences of technology without positive consequences of technology.

The alternative to the reckless development of new technology is the cautious development of new technology.


That is one highly optimistic possibility, yes. The other is that with nearly unlimited resources, the very rich immortal superhumans become undying puppetmasters behind the scenes while parceling out lesser bounties to the masses to keep them dumb and happy and prevent anyone else from achieving the same result as them. Sort of like the Antediluvians in Vampire: The Masquerade, really.


And I feel that the first people who take that step will do everything in their power to keep the rest from taking it, up to and including criminalizing it.
Rich, with all due respect, humans suck at determining which conspiracies are presently in place (http://xkcd.com/258/). What are the odds that you've successfully predicted a future conspiracy?

You seem to regard the wealthy as consisting mostly of cackling supervillians. I really don't think they're much more evil than average in character. Sure, they may do more evil, but that's because they're more powerful.

Furthermore, pro-death is the reactionary position that favors the status quo. It strikes me as just the sort of thing likely to be less popular with younger generations... even with death being a more immediate threat to the older.

I mean... does the idea that a change will ruin society (http://xkcd.com/603/) by making society too conservative strike you as ironic at all? Because if it doesn't, I could attempt to explain why it strikes me as pretty damn ironic.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-27, 02:41 AM
That is one highly optimistic possibility, yes. The other is that with nearly unlimited resources, the very rich immortal superhumans become undying puppetmasters behind the scenes while parceling out lesser bounties to the masses to keep them dumb and happy and prevent anyone else from achieving the same result as them. Sort of like the Antediluvians in Vampire: The Masquerade, really.

And I feel that the first people who take that step will do everything in their power to keep the rest from taking it, up to and including criminalizing it.



Rich, this cynical prediction of a future dystopia honestly brings a smile to my face. :smallsmile: Because as far as such predictions go, its fairly optimistic. You still have hope! Good on you.

it assumes that we won't be up to our ears in surveillance and souveillance, that privacy won't be dead, that humans will still be in control, that we won't be ruled by a godly AI whose thought processes we couldn't hope to begin to understand, that we won't have the problem of everyone having nanofabricating technology that anyone could potentially make a nuke with and blow up whatever they want, that society won't descend into chaos over the vast changes that we can only begin to speculate upon, that things will remain somewhat familiar as it has been throughout all of history and that the spread of new technology will be a controlled, calm thing that will happen gradually and not wreck everything we ever knew and valued, that humanity will still survive in a form we can recognize as human. that we might not face out of control apocalypse nanorobotics brightens my day!

I'm being honest here, immortal humans ruling over mortal humans in such a way is not the worst that could happen. and even then there are still ways of change, that might not even involve violence- get the tech to start your own colony off world. make your own little self-sufficient space station, move to Mars and terraform it, be a pioneer, why would the puppet-masters care? you get out of their hair, they still get to rule. and why would you need to worry about war? going to war against people on another planet is very impractical and more trouble than its worth, why bother? it makes sending ships to fight a colony on another continent seem easy.

I'd say your prediction is probably one of the standard cyberpunk predictions- humanity still the same, just with more tools to oppress ourselves, tame really. If it comes true, then its time to break out the pink mohawk and choose a false name. I think I'll call myself Silvertongue or Golden Brain, y'know something to do with metal.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-27, 02:57 AM
I'd say your prediction is probably one of the standard cyberpunk predictions- humanity still the same, just with more tools to oppress ourselves, tame really. If it comes true, then its time to break out the pink mohawk and choose a false name. I think I'll call myself Silvertongue or Golden Brain, y'know something to do with metal.

Does it have to be pink? I mean, I look better with blue hair, but if pink is the official color of the anti-necrocrat movement, I'm cool with it.
Maybe I should start picking out my post-apocalyptic pseudonym. Hopefully I have some, if not all, of my planned robot limbs by then, so I'm thinking something with 'steel' in it.

Murska
2014-02-27, 03:00 AM
I'll aim to be one of the overlords.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-27, 03:21 AM
I'll aim to be one of the overlords.

I considered that, but I'm not Machiavellian enough to puppet the nations of mankind to my benefit. I am, however, quite good at smashing things, and that seems just the sort of thing this dystopian future calls for.



That reminds me, here's something that bugs me as a transhumanist/futurist. It feels like there's no optimistic scifi being made anymore. Every movie set in the future is a dystopian nightmare, often characterized by extreme social inequality/segregation and extremely increased structure that enforces the segregation/inequality. I mean, the last majorly influential piece of optimistic scifi that comes to mind is star trek. And whenever there's a scientist portrayed in a movie, they're always either the bad guy, okay guys who are taken advantage of by the bad guy, or good guys who are completely ineffective and only serve to be the butt of jokes.

Similarly, the media depicts forays into transhumanism as foolish endeavors that lead to disaster. Genetic modification? Mutates them into a monster. cybernetics? They lose their humanity and turn into a monster. Even minor modifications open doorways to disaster when some bad guy takes control of the world by hacking everyone's brain, or some super-computer-virus kills everyone attached to the network, or a plague of mutants rampages through the world.

Murska
2014-02-27, 03:26 AM
Stories where everything goes well tend to not be very interesting, I guess.

I'm definitely Machiavellian enough to be an overlord. But I prefer a challenge, so I'd probably be working behind the scenes to uplift the common folk and topple the order anyway. Besides, seriously, I would not stop giving out those immortality pills.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-27, 03:35 AM
We could call it the Mohawk Movement and just allow everyone to have whatever color mohawk they wanted.

as for the movie thing- eh. stories are all about conflict, and most movies still have trouble wrapping around the notion that not all scientists are Dr. Frankenstein.

heck, movies have trouble accurately portraying REAL inventors and innovators of technology. there was once a movie about the guy who made facebook, y'know? and the guy who made facebook said it was inaccurate because he didn't do it get chicks or anything like that, he just made facebook because he liked making things.

which is kind of the perception difference: real scientists and nerds don't do what they do because they believe it will lead to world domination or anything like that, they do it because "Look at this! isn't this NEAT!? I MADE IT! I like making things! Its so beautiful!" whereas movies don't seem to grasp that, or they brush that aside because they need some ulterior motive for making something, when the making itself is often the point. or in the case of more altruistic people, trying to say, come up with cures for, which y'know....is about helping people, but you don't ever see heroic scientists trying to face the challenges of making those much do you?

Eldan
2014-02-27, 05:36 AM
as for the movie thing- eh. stories are all about conflict, and most movies still have trouble wrapping around the notion that not all scientists are Dr. Frankenstein.


Hey now. Victor von Frankenstein was a hero. And Swiss, after a fashion. Difficult to say, at that time, really.

Also, judging by the last few TW games, if Murska becomes one of our Machiavellian Overlords, I think we can just quit the rebellion.

Kajhera
2014-02-27, 07:33 AM
This would fall under the category of "fixing inequality," which is exactly what I'm saying should be a prerequisite for developing immortality. Mind you, I do not think that will happen at all. I just think it should happen.

'Solving death' is usually subsequent to 'fixing inequality' on my priorities list, as well; however, there is merit to working towards both at the same time. For one, working towards improved distribution of existing solutions for death is a low-hanging fruit benefiting both equality and general longevity.

We've been working towards both immortality and equality for a long time. Would be quite amazed if we could look at either and call it 'solved' anytime soon. :smallsmile: But we've discovered fascinating things in one pursuit, and made some impressive accomplishments in the other, despite setbacks. Both are worthy pursuits.

Grinner
2014-02-27, 08:24 AM
which is kind of the perception difference: real scientists and nerds don't do what they do because they believe it will lead to world domination or anything like that, they do it because "Look at this! isn't this NEAT!? I MADE IT! I like making things! Its so beautiful!" whereas movies don't seem to grasp that, or they brush that aside because they need some ulterior motive for making something, when the making itself is often the point. or in the case of more altruistic people, trying to say, come up with cures for, which y'know....is about helping people, but you don't ever see heroic scientists trying to face the challenges of making those much do you?

I imagine it's rather difficult to build a riveting plot around some guy's weekend project. If it's successful, the fallout makes for good entertainment, but the actual process of invention holds very limited appeal.

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-27, 10:07 AM
Brain backup, Telepolypresence both sound good to me.

Something I have pondered that keeps me up at night. At some point, people are gonna want to "elevate" their beloved pets when they die. Which means actual catgirls(and boys), mind and all. All kinds of ramifications there. Would they be considered children? What if their "parent" wanted their companionship as life partners? Alternatively, would they be allowed to marry outside of their "class"? Would they be considered human, with all the rights and obligations thereof?

Eldan
2014-02-27, 10:10 AM
Brain backup, Telepolypresence both sound good to me.

Something I have pondered that keeps me up at night. At some point, people are gonna want to "elevate" their beloved pets when they die. Which means actual catgirls(and boys), mind and all. All kinds of ramifications there. Would they be considered children? What if their "parent" wanted their companionship as life partners? Alternatively, would they be allowed to marry outside of their "class"? Would they be considered human, with all the rights and obligations thereof?

I'm certainly for equal-ish rights for all sapients, yes.

Finlam
2014-02-27, 10:40 AM
I imagine it's rather difficult to build a riveting plot around some guy's weekend project. If it's successful, the fallout makes for good entertainment, but the actual process of invention holds very limited appeal.

Mandatory reference (http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2526).

See also the best science ever (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRqQ4mOmXVk).

Talya
2014-02-27, 10:50 AM
I imagine it's rather difficult to build a riveting plot around some guy's weekend project. If it's successful, the fallout makes for good entertainment, but the actual process of invention holds very limited appeal.

See: "Honey I Shrunk the Kids"

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-27, 11:06 AM
I kind of rushed the previous post since I was tackling something that should hopefully be history via transhumanism(spoilered for good taste):A really bad gut knot.

I would not be adverse to removing certain "mental issues" I have(those who have known me through the years know what I mean), although perhaps not others. Perhaps it is the arrogance speaking, but I do believe that some of my crazy allows me to see outside of what normal people see, thereby short-cutting towards progress, though some of the other parts of my crazy are holding me back, thereby preventing me from putting thought into action. Not that I approve of prosaicism via mental limiters, mind, but perhaps something that could limit the social ills of random violence, schizophrenia with violent impulses, possibly even things that can mitigate/minimise/eliminate epileptic seizures. Those are all good things, no?:smallconfused:

Dienekes
2014-02-27, 11:13 AM
Stories where everything goes well tend to not be very interesting, I guess.

I'm definitely Machiavellian enough to be an overlord. But I prefer a challenge, so I'd probably be working behind the scenes to uplift the common folk and topple the order anyway. Besides, seriously, I would not stop giving out those immortality pills.

Boyo, if you would just give out immortality pills you are not nearly Machiavellian enough to be an overlord. People would crawl over the bodies of children for a chance at such a thing, if you can't turn that to your advantage you're not trying.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-27, 12:09 PM
There is very few people who could wield that kind of power without being corrupted utterly by it.

Murska
2014-02-27, 01:13 PM
Boyo, if you would just give out immortality pills you are not nearly Machiavellian enough to be an overlord. People would crawl over the bodies of children for a chance at such a thing, if you can't turn that to your advantage you're not trying.

It would be easy to turn it to my advantage, if I valued things like power, money or luxuries as anything more than instrumental, if that.

Machiavellian does not mean evil or selfish. I'd know, I've both read the book and internalized many lessons therein. It's just guidelines on how to rule effectively. But in such a situation, my values call for me to use what power and opportunities I have towards goals such as eliminating death, poverty, illness and suffering. I mean, I'd already personally have a great life, and there's no reason I'd lose that if I shared it, so my selfishness is already sated. It's time to, cynically speaking, make me able to feel good about myself.

Coidzor
2014-02-27, 03:08 PM
Something I have pondered that keeps me up at night. At some point, people are gonna want to "elevate" their beloved pets when they die. Which means actual catgirls(and boys), mind and all. All kinds of ramifications there.

Would they be considered children?

What if their "parent" wanted their companionship as life partners?

Alternatively, would they be allowed to marry outside of their "class"?

Would they be considered human, with all the rights and obligations thereof?

Pretty sure the commonly used term is "uplift." :smalltongue: Uplifting is its own kettle of fish though, yeah. Especially since there'd likely be things between merely making a smarter dog and making a dog that was a full sophont with personhood.

Depends on the process and end result, I imagine. If they go through a child-phase of development into full sophonts, then they would by necessity class as dependents, I suppose. If they have person-rights then they can be designated as heirs if such things as heirs even have meaning in such a future. Too many different ways it could go to just casually list them all off the cuff, though I suppose you could have broad categories such as "optimistic," "pessimistic," and "somehow we muddle through."

I assume that if someone had the resources they could obfuscate keeping a slave, even in the best of futures, if you're referring to keeping them as pets even after making them sophonts. If you're talking about raising a child to be one's lover, assuming our ethics hadn't become completely alien at that point, it would still be viewed with distaste.

Would marriage even be a thing? Would anyone even care by that point?

Why on earth would they be considered human? It makes much more sense to extend personhood beyond humanity in such a case than to extend humanity to non-humans. :smallconfused:

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-27, 05:17 PM
Pretty sure the commonly used term is "uplift." :smalltongue: Uplifting is its own kettle of fish though, yeah. Especially since there'd likely be things between merely making a smarter dog and making a dog that was a full sophont with personhood.

Yeah, was trying to remember the term. Been too long since I played Star Control 2, which I think is where I first learned the term.


Depends on the process and end result, I imagine. If they go through a child-phase of development into full sophonts, then they would by necessity class as dependents, I suppose. If they have person-rights then they can be designated as heirs if such things as heirs even have meaning in such a future. Too many different ways it could go to just casually list them all off the cuff, though I suppose you could have broad categories such as "optimistic," "pessimistic," and "somehow we muddle through."

I was thinking more likely they would spend a short-ish period, say 2-5 years, in some kind of "morality school", where they are given lessons and tests on basic to intermediate situations that would confront a human.


I assume that if someone had the resources they could obfuscate keeping a slave, even in the best of futures, if you're referring to keeping them as pets even after making them sophonts. If you're talking about raising a child to be one's lover, assuming our ethics hadn't become completely alien at that point, it would still be viewed with distaste.

Viewed with distaste, but probably not outlawed. At least, with regards to uplifted pets. I would say maybe about the same level as we currently do with regards to un-uplifted pets in the same situation.


Would marriage even be a thing? Would anyone even care by that point?

Why on earth would they be considered human? It makes much more sense to extend personhood beyond humanity in such a case than to extend humanity to non-humans. :smallconfused:

I only use "human" for convenience. I guess "sapient" might be more acceptable?

Mauve Shirt
2014-02-27, 06:19 PM
Can we just cure the common cold? Like seriously, **** you body and your susceptibility to this most stupid of illnesses.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-27, 06:24 PM
Can we just cure the common cold? Like seriously, **** you body and your susceptibility to this most stupid of illnesses.
Well, there is hundreds of rhinoviruses. I'd like to see some truly effective antiviral agents that are more than keeping the body alive while it fights things off.

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-27, 06:27 PM
Can we just cure the common cold? Like seriously, **** you body and your susceptibility to this most stupid of illnesses.

Some tricky issues involved there, not the least of which is that they somehow need to change just a small bit for the body to consider them "new". Think of the guy who goes back for supermarket free samples with ridiculously paper-thin disguises(a pair of shades, a pencil-thin moustache, a pair of shades AND a pencil-thin moustache, etc.)

Ravens_cry
2014-02-27, 06:32 PM
Some tricky issues involved there, not the least of which is that they somehow need to change just a small bit for the body to consider them "new". Think of the guy who goes back for supermarket free samples with ridiculously paper-thin disguises(a pair of shades, a pencil-thin moustache, a pair of shades AND a pencil-thin moustache, etc.)
Ah, evolution in action, :smallbiggrin:

Mauve Shirt
2014-02-27, 06:33 PM
Mind control then. Mind control that causes people to wash their damn hands.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-02-27, 06:36 PM
Would marriage even be a thing? Would anyone even care by that point?

Considering that marriage is just a product of superstitious old men and a patriarch society? Yeah, probably. Because it's tradition.

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-27, 07:09 PM
Considering that marriage is just a product of superstitious old men and a patriarch society? Yeah, probably. Because it's tradition.

Sorry, I fixed that. Was supposed to be quoting Coidzor with that line.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-27, 07:16 PM
I'd say it's more than just some kind of cultural tradition. Certainly wrapped up in a lot of trappings and, yes, traditions, entrapped within a lot of bafflegub, but nonetheless part of the human existence in its many, but not unlimited, forms. Of course, that could change if humans change what they are, but that's a whole other question.

warty goblin
2014-02-27, 08:07 PM
I'd say it's more than just some kind of cultural tradition. Certainly wrapped up in a lot of trappings and, yes, traditions, entrapped within a lot of bafflegub, but nonetheless part of the human existence in its many, but not unlimited, forms. Of course, that could change if humans change what they are, but that's a whole other question.

Honest question asked without intent to offend: what does this mean? Because I'm sorry to say I have no idea, and I've read this post eight times.

Grinner
2014-02-27, 08:27 PM
Honest question asked without intent to offend: what does this mean? Because I'm sorry to say I have no idea, and I've read this post eight times.

I think she's saying that marriage is an innate part of human psychology.

Edit: Ravens_cry, correct me if I'm wrong.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-27, 10:18 PM
I think she's saying that marriage is an innate part of human psychology.

Edit: Ravens_cry, correct me if I'm wrong.
More or less yes. Many animals have some kind of bonding to help facilitate the raising of helpless young. Birds are famous for it. Not to say that they are always faithful, there is evolutionary pressures that would encourage cheating on both sides, both in humans AND birds. Nor are the bonds necessarily permanent, lifelong monogamy (or any kind for that matter) is absolutely a cultural trait in humans, hardly universal, and a pretty recent one at that.

Lord Raziere
2014-02-27, 10:22 PM
yea, with immortality marriage might become a long-term but temporary sort of deal. stay with one person for a lifetime, stay with another person for a lifetime...hard to stick it out for eternity when you really do have eternity...

Murska
2014-02-27, 10:26 PM
I expect some people to want to form a long-term bond and others to not want it. That's basically how it goes already.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-28, 03:49 AM
Really? I want sources on this, because it sounds very interesting. Basically, if someone loses the biological part of self-preservation (the instinct to stay away from danger, fight or flight response, avoidance of pain and so on) that makes them intellectually decide that they would rather die than continue living?

Your question gets ahead of itself. Why do you presume a biological entity without the biological components of self-preservation would live long enough to conclude its survival has any value?

For example, the things you list - lack of fear, inability to feel pain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_insensitivity_to_pain)- are known medical conditions. Children suffering from them have died (and still often die) because of infections and accumulated self-inflicted injuries, because they don't realize when to stop the injurous behaviour. Someone with such condition can literally chew off their own tongue and die of bloodloss, unaware of the danger.

So it's not a case of them rationally deciding to off themselves. Rather, because of lacking sensory feedback, they are unable to consistently make the decisions that would keep them alive.

For a case where analytical thinking is more directly connected with self-impeding or self-destructive behaviour, read up on depression and altruistic punishment. (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/abs/415137a.html)

In the case of depression, it has been proven depressed people think more analytically (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/110/2/353/) as pertains to themselves - their self-images are more realistic than those of healthy people. Apparently, this happens because the intuitive bias people have for explaining away their own mistakes as faults of someone or something else has ceased to function. In general, it can be said depressed people think more analytically or more clearly. (http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-07962-001) Yet, depressive people have significantly heightened risk of suicide. Why? The answer in the light of the above evidence is simple: they logically conclude life is no longer worth living.

In case of altruistic punishment, things get even more interesting. The reason why altruistic punishment has been such a mystery to evolutionary psychology is because altruistic punishments hinder both the punisher and the punished. Previously, you asked why not sacrifice one for benefit of many. The question is backwards - you should be asking why to sacrifice yourself. Apparently, the answer is because there are things more important than an invidual. A rational actor can decide their life is not worth living, because something else is worth more. It's simple as that.


I can't really see how this could be impartially tested.

Nature does the testing. If you want to, you can spend a few days digging through statistics on suicide and accidental deaths.

Murska
2014-02-28, 06:06 AM
Your question gets ahead of itself. Why do you presume a biological entity without the biological components of self-preservation would live long enough to conclude its survival has any value?

Well, because accidental deaths don't really matter regarding the question itself. I'm unsure of whether the statement "An unbiased, rational actor will decide to commit suicide." is true. Practical considerations do not really apply, because an unbiased actor is impossible in practice.



For example, the things you list - lack of fear, inability to feel pain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_insensitivity_to_pain)- are known medical conditions. Children suffering from them have died (and still often die) because of infections and accumulated self-inflicted injuries, because they don't realize when to stop the injurous behaviour. Someone with such condition can literally chew off their own tongue and die of bloodloss, unaware of the danger.

So it's not a case of them rationally deciding to off themselves. Rather, because of lacking sensory feedback, they are unable to consistently make the decisions that would keep them alive.

Yeah, I know.


For a case where analytical thinking is more directly connected with self-impeding or self-destructive behaviour, read up on depression and altruistic punishment. (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6868/abs/415137a.html)

In the case of depression, it has been proven depressed people think more analytically (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/110/2/353/) as pertains to themselves - their self-images are more realistic than those of healthy people. Apparently, this happens because the intuitive bias people have for explaining away their own mistakes as faults of someone or something else has ceased to function. In general, it can be said depressed people think more analytically or more clearly. (http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-07962-001) Yet, depressive people have significantly heightened risk of suicide. Why? The answer in the light of the above evidence is simple: they logically conclude life is no longer worth living.


Seems to me like your answer is not supported strongly enough by the data. Depressed people have a less biased self image, and think more analytically or clearly (but not necessarily more rationally). The vast majority of depressed people do not commit suicide. Depression also correlates with a lot of other factors that may in turn be the more direct causes of the increased suicide risk in depressed people. In fact, depressed people often have a significantly more biased views in other situations, such as their perception of how other people view them, or confirmation bias for negative circumstances. And, in turn, there are plenty of people who think rationally, analytically and clearly, but are not depressed, and these people do not have an increased risk of suicide (in fact I'd bet the opposite but I've no studies to back that), which to me points towards other effects of depression contributing to increased risk of suicide.



In case of altruistic punishment, things get even more interesting. The reason why altruistic punishment has been such a mystery to evolutionary psychology is because altruistic punishments hinder both the punisher and the punished. Previously, you asked why not sacrifice one for benefit of many. The question is backwards - you should be asking why to sacrifice yourself. Apparently, the answer is because there are things more important than an invidual. A rational actor can decide their life is not worth living, because something else is worth more. It's simple as that.

Yes... I don't see how this is in any way against what I've said. I'm saying that I doubt the claim that human utility functions are built to, on average, value self-termination if calculated without bias.



Nature does the testing. If you want to, you can spend a few days digging through statistics on suicide and accidental deaths.

There is no case in history, ever, where an unbiased (no biological imperative to survive) actor has considered their situation and decided that committing suicide is the best option. I can say this, because insofar as I am aware, all intelligent actors we've met are biological in nature, and therefore have such bias arising from the very structure of their being.


tl;dr: To clarify, I am not convinced that it is the logical, rational thing to do to kill yourself if you consider every angle impartially and have the values of an average human being.

EDIT: As a warning, I tend to do my best to ensure that I am willing to change my mind in any debate and accept the opposing viewpoint if sufficient evidence is provided, trying to avoid bias insofar as I am able. But I can't say I will be doing that very effectively on this particular point, because if I ever truly become convinced that the rational thing to do is to kill myself, I will kill myself. There's a pretty strong bias in me against that, and I'm not even certain I want to try and fight it.

Mauve Shirt
2014-02-28, 06:38 AM
Considering that marriage is just a product of superstitious old men and a patriarch society? Yeah, probably. Because it's tradition.

Some of us do enjoy tradition and want to stay with the one we love. Divorce rates may rise with immortality, I mean after 100 years of being together you might want to try something new. But that doesn't make marriage and tradition automatically bad for the race.
Sorry, it bugs me when people suggest that if you want to participate in tradition you're a bad person who should feel bad. :smallannoyed:

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-28, 08:05 AM
Practical considerations do not really apply, because an unbiased actor is impossible in practice.

Then you have already missed the spirit of what I said, because I said "experience shows..."

All experience we have on the matter that is worth of any note is practical, and in practice beings capable of analytical thought off themselves all the time.


I'm saying that I doubt the claim that human utility functions are built to, on average, value self-termination if calculated without bias.

The reason for that is because human utility functions are naturally biased towards self-preservation, like you yourself admit here:


There is no case in history, ever, where an unbiased (no biological imperative to survive) actor has considered their situation and decided that committing suicide is the best option. I can say this, because insofar as I am aware, all intelligent actors we've met are biological in nature, and therefore have such bias arising from the very structure of their being.

It would be just as true to say there's no case in history where an unbiased rational actor has considered their situation and decided that their continued existence is the best option.



tl;dr: To clarify, I am not convinced that it is the logical, rational thing to do to kill yourself if you consider every angle impartially and have the values of an average human being.

"Considering every angle impartially" and having "values of an average human being" are mutually exclusive.

Also, "values of average human being" tend to contain statements like "I would rather be killed than X", where X varies from murder, to rape, to being raped etc. So even on that ground, I disagree.

In fact, there are multiple systems of human ethics and morality where self-termination is the logical, rational thing to do, provided you accept the premises of those systems as true.

That's my problem with your argument. You are, essentially, conflating premise with bias. You are assuming a biological being with no biological imperative to do so will accept the premise "life is worth it" as true, but why would it do that in the first place? Given the amount of human systems that begin with the tenet "life is/has suffering" despite the biological bias for "life is good" would suggest to me that such being would be just as likely to begin with the premise "life is bad", or arrive at such conclusion after being subjected to enough misfortune or injury.


And, in turn, there are plenty of people who think rationally, analytically and clearly, but are not depressed, and these people do not have an increased risk of suicide (in fact I'd bet the opposite but I've no studies to back that), which to me points towards other effects of depression contributing to increased risk of suicide.

But plenty of those people still have the irrational bias for self-preservation active. (Alternatively, they simply have not been subjected to conditions where they would logically conclude they'd be better off dead.)

There are studies showing that high IQ at adolescence or young adulthood is strong predictor for lessened risk of depression (and diseases and disorders in general). As most IQ tests primarily focus on analytical thinking, IQ is a good predictor for the ability to do so.

But just as well multiple modern studies show that analytical thinking is not how people process their everyday life. Even most high IQ people rely primarily on intuition and other irrational, fast modes of thinking. (See: "Thinking fast and slow", the book.)

On the other hand, people who rely on analytical thinking to a heightened degree tend to be intuitively impaired in some way. Analytical thinking is slow and effort-consuming, and is usually used as a crutch for when intuitive thinking does not lead to useful results, or leads to contradiction. I already mentioned depressed people, other examples would include anti-socials, autists and many other neurologically atypical or disorderous people. (This also includes some philosophical groups, such as strong atheists, and there's a statistically significant amount of overlap. Lack of religiosity and hence atheism strongly correlates with increased analytical thinking, and people on the autism spectrum are overpresented among atheists.)

And when you focus on these subgroups of people, you will almost as a rule see shorter life expectancy, heightened risk of suicide, and lesser amount of offspring when compared to neurologically typical people. Basically, based on your replies, I'd say you subscribe to a belief that modern psychology has shown to be something of a fallacy: the idea that the life-affirming, positive outlook possessed by neurologically typical "average" people is the more analytically sound, rational mindset.

In practice, it isn't so.

Murska
2014-02-28, 08:30 AM
Then you have already missed the spirit of what I said, because I said "experience shows..."

All experience we have on the matter that is worth of any note is practical, and in practice beings capable of analytical thought off themselves all the time.

But way less often than beings capable of analytical thought decide not to off themselves.



The reason for that is because human utility functions are naturally biased towards self-preservation, like you yourself admit here:

It would be just as true to say there's no case in history where an unbiased rational actor has considered their situation and decided that their continued existence is the best option.

Exactly. My point is, there is no unbiased rational actor.



"Considering every angle impartially" and having "values of an average human being" are mutually exclusive.

No, they're not, if you take impartial consideration here to mean what I meant by it (which should be clear by the structure of the argument) that there is no cognitive bias in the actor and he only acts perfectly rationally according to his utility function.



Also, "values of average human being" tend to contain statements like "I would rather be killed than X", where X varies from murder, to rape, to being raped etc. So even on that ground, I disagree.

Yet, they still value not being killed above the vast majority of things. I've never argued that there are not higher values than staying alive, in fact I've repeatedly argued for that conclusion, but staying alive is definitely a value.



In fact, there are multiple systems of human ethics and morality where self-termination is the logical, rational thing to do, provided you accept the premises of those systems as true.

It's interesting how those systems still exist.


That's my problem with your argument. You are, essentially, conflating premise with bias. You are assuming a biological being with no biological imperative to do so will accept the premise "life is worth it" as true, but why would it do that in the first place? Given the amount of human systems that begin with the tenet "life is/has suffering" despite the biological bias for "life is good" would suggest to me that such being would be just as

I could ask you why, if you are truly convinced that your argument is correct, and that the best possible thing you could do given the situation you're in is to self-terminate, you still exist.

"Life is worth it" is not the premise, it's the conclusion that I imagine a biological being with no biological imperative would come to, after considering the upsides and downsides of it. However, as we both agree, having a biological being with no biological imperative is impossible, or at the very least has never happened. And the vast majority of biased datapoints we have point towards my conclusion being correct, seeing as the vast majority of biological beings do not self-terminate.



But plenty of those people still have the irrational bias for self-preservation active. (Alternatively, they simply have not been subjected to conditions where they would logically conclude they'd be better off dead.)

There are studies showing that high IQ at adolescence or young adulthood is strong predictor for lessened risk of depression (and diseases and disorders in general). As most IQ tests primarily focus on analytical thinking, IQ is a good predictor for the ability to do so.

But just as well multiple modern studies show that analytical thinking is not how people process their everyday life. Even most high IQ people rely primarily on intuition and other irrational, fast modes of thinking. (See: "Thinking fast and slow", the book.)

So, people who think analytically generally don't commit suicide. Also, why is self-preservation irrational again? Perhaps those people are not in a situation where committing suicide is logical.

Intuition is not irrational. Sometimes, actually very often in life, you need a fast answer over a more accurate answer, or you need a working answer over the exact answer, and intuition usually provides very well. If intuition did not work, it would not exist. And if something works, it's the rational thing to do.



On the other hand, people who rely on analytical thinking to a heightened degree tend to be intuitively impaired in some way. Analytical thinking is slow and effort-consuming, and is usually used as a crutch for when intuitive thinking does not lead to useful results, or leads to contradiction. I already mentioned depressed people, other examples would include anti-socials, autists and many other neurologically atypical or disorderous people. (This also includes some philosophical groups, such as strong atheists, and there's a statistically significant amount of overlap. Lack of religiosity and hence atheism strongly correlates with increased analytical thinking, and people on the autism spectrum are overpresented among atheists.)

Sometimes, analytical thinking works better than intuitive thinking. Some people use analytical thinking even when intuitive thinking would work better, be it because they're bad at intuitive thinking or because they don't like using it. (In the latter case, being analytical is irrational) Also, analytical thinking can very easily lead to mistakes. If thinking about things analytically really made your thinking much more accurate, science would be so much easier. The same cognitive errors that can (but don't always) result in faulty intuition are active when you think analytically, unless you consciously work to compensate for them. Which is very rare.



And when you focus on these subgroups of people, you will almost as a rule see shorter life expectancy, heightened risk of suicide, and lesser amount of offspring when compared to neurologically typical people. Basically, based on your replies, I'd say you subscribe to a belief that modern psychology has shown to be something of a fallacy: the idea that the life-affirming, positive outlook possessed by neurologically typical "average" people is the more analytically sound, rational mindset.

In practice, it isn't so.

This is a rather faulty argument. You claim that if you focus on specific subgroups of people with atypical neurologies, those correlate with [various negative things] when compared to typical neurologies. You also draw a link between said specific subgroups and analytical thinking, and claim that correlation proves causation - that analytical thinking causes suicides. Even though you yourself admit that other subgroups of people who use analytical thinking have a negative correlation with the same [various negative things]. I think it's a pretty big leap to make from the correlation to the causation there, considering there are a variety of other things that correlate with said specific atypical neurologies, and the presence of evidence against the hypothesis.

Plus, the fact that, say, depressed people are less biased about their own qualities does not mean they would be less biased about evaluating the value of life. We don't have an impartial judge who can give the 'correct' value of life, to compare the average approximations of depressed people and non-depressed people with.


EDIT: I'd also note that you haven't actually provided any reasoning as to why life would not be worth living aside from the very debatable claim that some people are better at evaluating life than others and statistically those people are more likely (but still in absolute terms very unlikely) to decide that life is not worth living. It's like second-hand arguing.

pendell
2014-02-28, 09:19 AM
Imagine a world where the five hundred richest people worldwide from the year 1783 were still around and still controlled the biggest fortunes and most political power. How much social progress could such a world ever make? How could a younger generation ever achieve anything or make any impact on the world if the older generation never relinquishes what they have?


I can think of a couple of ways .

1) Elbow room. If you're immortal even light-years is just a couple of additional rounds of canasta or d&d or solitaire of your choice. If the older generation has something sewn up you simply move out somewhere where their writ does not run.

2) I think the ability of the wealthiest one percent to continue to hold their wealth in the face of change is over-stated. In the modern world, rather than one person holding the wealth forever you have families trying to keep the wealth forever. And in a socially mobile society, humans have difficulty doing that. Where are the heirs of Carnegie? By contrast, some of the greatest fortunes in the modern era have been created by people (Zuckerberg, Jobs, etc.) who were unheard of even fifty years ago.

So it doesn't much matter whether the people trying to hold the wealth are the useless sons of privilege or an old man who's still locked into the mindset of the 1700s -- if a wealthy man were alive today , if he wasn't able to adapt to modern technology and modern economics, he'd be left behind just as surely as his children would be.

Ya see -- what was the population of the world in 1780? *Googles* Less than one billion people. Today, there are seven billion people.

I contend that wealth is not necessarily finite, dependent on natural resources. Instead, wealth can be created by human beings. Consider your own work: With your drawing tools you create a product of value to others which you are reimbursed for.

Thus, there is a minimum of seven times as much absolute wealth in the world today as there was in the year 1783, and that assumes wealth linearly correlates with population. It might not. Given that our current economy is in the trillions, it is more likely to be exponential.

A small group of humans can no more sit on that amount of wealth potential and control it than a man can sit on a raging bull for more than a few seconds -- a person was considered incredibly wealthy in 1783 if they had a personal fortune of a million pounds. Today, that might just buy you an apartment in Manhattan.

So I think it unlikely that immortal humans would be able to retard human advancement for very long, especially given that their descendants are likewise immortal. I do, however, think it might give rise to a class of crotchety people who are unwilling to keep up with modern changes, and spend their days grumbling about how things used to be. It might also fuel human expansion off-planet, in order for young people to acquire wealth and resources that the older generation as yet has no claim to, as well as inventing additional forms of wealth (smartphones, software, apps) that the older generation has no control over.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Eldan
2014-02-28, 09:38 AM
A small group of humans can no more sit on that amount of wealth potential and control it than a man can sit on a raging bull for more than a few seconds -- a person was considered incredibly wealthy in 1783 if they had a personal fortune of a million pounds. Today, that might just buy you an apartment in Manhattan.

You can't think like that. A pound today is not a pound in 1783. They mean completely different things. If you convert the money, things look very different. I've seen some calculations by which 16th century bankers like the Fuggers were richer than anyone living today by far.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-28, 09:46 AM
It's interesting how those systems still exist.

Most of them don't. Life-denying ideologies of any sort tend to end up with mass suicide or mass murder in rather short periods of time.

Those that still do either had discontinous existence, or propagate non-biologically. In the former cases, the ideology is something that was independently invented or re-invented periodically. In the latter cases, the invidual believer might live to the end of their normal lifespan, but they die with no offspring; from genetic and biological perspectives, this is just a slow form of suicide. Such ideologies propagates culturally, through conversion of non-biological relatives. They exists and are succesful for the same reasons altruistic punishment (as discussed above) exists: the demise of inviduals and family lines is acceptable, because it helps survival of others.

And then, of course, some people are just hypocrites, saying one thing but doing another. But that's an example of people being irrational.


No, they're not, if you take impartial consideration here to mean what I meant by it (which should be clear by the structure of the argument) that there is no cognitive bias in the actor and he only acts perfectly rationally according to his utility function.

This process is not compatible with values of an average human, because the values themselves are contradictory and irrational.


The same cognitive errors that can (but don't always) result in faulty intuition are active when you think analytically, unless you consciously work to compensate for them. Which is very rare.

Nooooope. Analytical thinking is precisely the conscious process through which living beings try to compensate for faulty intuitions. These are demonstrably two modes of thinking and have their distinct strenghts and weaknesses. Again, read "Thinking fast and slow".


Also, why is self-preservation irrational again?

This loops back to my original statement of how self-preservation is not based on ethics. Self-preservation may or may not be logical based on premises chosen; but in living beings, those premises were not selected as a part of analytical or conscious thought process. The drive was there from the start; any attempts to rationalize it came after the fact.


"Life is worth it" is not the premise, it's the conclusion that I imagine a biological being with no biological imperative would come to, after considering the upsides and downsides of it.

So what premises do you suppose this hypothetical being would use to arrive at that conclusion, and why would it have chosen those premises over all others?

In nature, the answer is "because organisms without inherent desire to live died off, silly". We are all offspring of creatures that had the drive to survive, because those that did not also did not propagate.


Intuition is not irrational.

Considering human intuition is formed of myriad sub-processes that do not share operational logic with each other? Yes, it is. There are very good reasons why analytical thinking is often called "rational", and intuitive thinking "irrational". Intuition constantly leads to contradictory and erroneous conclusions, and most of the time a person won't even notice them. This is the precise reason for analytical thinking existing in the first place: as noted, it is the mechanism through which the brain tries to smooth over glaring inconsistencies.


I'd also note that you haven't actually provided any reasoning as to why life would not be worth living aside from the very debatable claim that some people are better at evaluating life than others and statistically those people are more likely (but still in absolute terms very unlikely) to decide that life is not worth living. It's like second-hand arguing.

Unlikely? Depression is considered a lethal disease for a reason, you know. Untreated, it has a very high mortality rating. The reason why its mortality rating is not 100% is because a) a lot of people receive treatment in time and b) a lot of people are hilariously inept in actually killing themselves, and it's not for the lack of trying.

But as for why life's not worth living? Pal, you're getting ahead of yourself. Show me any reasoning why to live that hasn't been contested throughout known human existence.

Biologically, the reason why you desire to keep going on is because the reward mechanism in your brains gets you high on endorphins when you do stuff. In depressed people, that mechanism is dysfunctional. So their reason to not live is basically just that their brain is not supplying them with their daily dose of their drug-of-choice.

Or maybe not. Recent research (http://www.tiede.fi/artikkeli/jutut/artikkelit/laake_antaa_masentuneelle_mahdollisuuden) shows drugs and therapy only have a good chance of working together. Just the endorphins or just the counseling don't serve to cure depression. But this hurts both our points equally. On one hand, I can't claim suicide due to depression is entirely rational, because they can't be convinced out of it through mere rational arguments, but for the exact same reason, you can't claim the will to live is entirely rational because if it was, why would they need the drugs to cope?

Kajhera
2014-02-28, 10:16 AM
Erm, Frozen_Feet? I kind of am suffering from a dose of chronic depression, and I tend to find treatments more disquieting than the condition, and it's actually pretty prevalent among my family and friends, and I happen to not want to die, and generally they do not either, so uh ... :smalleek: Stop with the 100% mortality rates. Seriously.

I mean, my endorphins aren't completely broke, but even when I feel like there's no point to doing anything and I'm a worthless parasite, I'd still rather be existing than not existing. (Incidentally, self-disparaging thoughts are certainly not rational for me. They don't come from cold-eyed clarity, they come from a mind irrationally attacking itself. The 'clarity' element tends to come in when despairing of what is wrong with the world.) I want to be immortal. That's ... the opposite. :smallconfused:

For pretty much anything with a value system or any sort of goal beyond not existing, continuing to exist will tend to be the more rational choice in accomplishing such goals or values. Not always, but often. Agency is a powerful tool.

Eldan
2014-02-28, 10:31 AM
Erm, Frozen_Feet? I kind of am suffering from a dose of chronic depression, and I tend to find treatments more disquieting than the condition, and it's actually pretty prevalent among my family and friends, and I happen to not want to die, and generally they do not either, so uh ... :smalleek: Stop with the 100% mortality rates. Seriously.

I mean, my endorphins aren't completely broke, but even when I feel like there's no point to doing anything and I'm a worthless parasite, I'd still rather be existing than not existing. (Incidentally, self-disparaging thoughts are certainly not rational for me. They don't come from cold-eyed clarity, they come from a mind irrationally attacking itself. The 'clarity' element tends to come in when despairing of what is wrong with the world.) I want to be immortal. That's ... the opposite. :smallconfused:

For pretty much anything with a value system or any sort of goal beyond not existing, continuing to exist will tend to be the more rational choice in accomplishing such goals or values. Not always, but often. Agency is a powerful tool.

*looks at drawer full of antidepressants at work*
*thinks of larger drawer full of different antidepressants at home*

Yeah, this.

pendell
2014-02-28, 11:05 AM
You can't think like that. A pound today is not a pound in 1783. They mean completely different things. If you convert the money, things look very different. I've seen some calculations by which 16th century bankers like the Fuggers were richer than anyone living today by far.


I stand by my original thesis, however: Humans create wealth, sometimes ex nihilo (as in the case of web strips). The process by which wealth is generated is called 'work' , and is how most of us spend our daylight hours. The fact that the human population is seven billion now when it wasn't even a billion in 1783 implies the potential wealth of the world is far greater now than it was in 1783, and controlling even a great percentage of 1783 wealth does little when the total wealth of the human race is growing so quickly. The slice of the pie you hold does nothing but shrink, if all you do is play conservatively and try to maintain the status quo.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-28, 11:08 AM
I thought about this a long time ago, and if there's one good reason to enable the immortality "switch", it is that the people so callously polluting the planet today, might think differently when it's no longer "The grandkids' problem.". Granted, they might go "Hell, I'm immortal, I'll just bugger off to Alpha Centauri, leave this ****hole behind.". Then again, they might not. It would probably be significantly more expensive for them to set up a trip to AC than just clean up their act down here. I know for myself, when I started thinking "Hey, I want to be around in 3000CE, see what new stuff comes about!", I consciously started sorting out my recyclables, tried to cut back on waste, and directed my crazy towards still-funky, but environmentally friendlier thoughts and ideas(cf. clockwork car I was asking about a couple years back).

Murska
2014-02-28, 11:15 AM
This process is not compatible with values of an average human, because the values themselves are contradictory and irrational.

Values are often contradictory, which just means you need to rank them when a decision comes along, but they can't be irrational. What would an irrational value be, when rationality is making decisions that direct the future towards your values?



Nooooope. Analytical thinking is precisely the conscious process through which living beings try to compensate for faulty intuitions. These are demonstrably two modes of thinking and have their distinct strenghts and weaknesses. Again, read "Thinking fast and slow".

Whenever you notice that your argument seems to be 'this word we're both using does not mean what you're using it for', realize that words are simply labels. It may be that we are using the same word to mean a different thing, in which case we should probably elaborate and pick two different words for our two different concepts. Insofar as I can see, nothing you say contradicts what I said in any way. Analytical thinking is distinct from intuitive thinking, and has strengths and weaknesses in comparison, and also suffers from many of the same biases and does not always lead to a correct conclusion.



This loops back to my original statement of how self-preservation is not based on ethics. Self-preservation may or may not be logical based on premises chosen; but in living beings, those premises were not selected as a part of analytical or conscious thought process. The drive was there from the start; any attempts to rationalize it came after the fact.

So are you saying that if our values are not selected by an analytical and conscious thought process, they are irrational? But we cannot select /values/ 'rationally'. How would you possibly decide what sort of a state is better than another sort of state if you do not have values? Values are a priori, though not immutable, and rational actions arise from the existance of values. A rock cannot be rational, as it does not prefer any possibility over any other possibility.



So what premises do you suppose this hypothetical being would use to arrive at that conclusion, and why would it have chosen those premises over all others?

In nature, the answer is "because organisms without inherent desire to live died off, silly". We are all offspring of creatures that had the drive to survive, because those that did not also did not propagate.

Assuming that the hypothetical being has values, then as Kajhera very well put it, the vast majority of possible values that a being might have are better served by being alive. So in the case that being has any of those values, they'll rationally conclude that the best thing to do is remain alive. If it does not have values, then there cannot be a 'best thing' for it to do, and if it happens to have values that mean not existing is the better course of action then it will self-terminate. Given that values picked randomly will almost always favour staying alive over suiciding, combined with the fact that any being who favours suiciding over staying alive tends to die out very quickly, we can posit that in practice for a supermajority of existing beings staying alive is the rational choice.



Considering human intuition is formed of myriad sub-processes that do not share operational logic with each other? Yes, it is. There are very good reasons why analytical thinking is often called "rational", and intuitive thinking "irrational". Intuition constantly leads to contradictory and erroneous conclusions, and most of the time a person won't even notice them. This is the precise reason for analytical thinking existing in the first place: as noted, it is the mechanism through which the brain tries to smooth over glaring inconsistencies.

No, it's not. Someone who does not use intuitive thinking does not succeed. They do worse than someone who uses intuitive thinking when it is useful and analytical thinking when that is more useful. Therefore not using intuitive thinking at all is an irrational choice. Analytical thinking is useful when intuitive thinking does lead to erroneous conclusions, such as when trying to do science. But intuitive thinking is better in most everyday situations. If I had to stop and form a long logic chain of cause and effect when I see a car speeding towards me, instead of intuitively deciding that jumping out of the way right now is a good idea, I'd be way worse off. Let alone having to analyze every single movement I make, instead of relying on instinct and intuition, or carefully pondering whether to drink orange juice or apple juice in the morning for hours, trying to ensure that I come to the most optimal possible conclusion.



Unlikely? Depression is considered a lethal disease for a reason, you know. Untreated, it has a very high mortality rating. The reason why its mortality rating is not 100% is because a) a lot of people receive treatment in time and b) a lot of people are hilariously inept in actually killing themselves, and it's not for the lack of trying.




But as for why life's not worth living? Pal, you're getting ahead of yourself. Show me any reasoning why to live that hasn't been contested throughout known human existence.

Well, for me, I find it rational to continue living for a variety of reasons including the fact that I enjoy living, living allows me to achieve many of my goals such as learning things and reducing suffering and so on. These reasons are only applicable to people who share my values, but within my values they're perfectly rational.



Biologically, the reason why you desire to keep going on is because the reward mechanism in your brains gets you high on endorphins when you do stuff. In depressed people, that mechanism is dysfunctional. So their reason to not live is basically just that their brain is not supplying them with their daily dose of their drug-of-choice.

Or maybe not. Recent research (http://www.tiede.fi/artikkeli/jutut/artikkelit/laake_antaa_masentuneelle_mahdollisuuden) shows drugs and therapy only have a good chance of working together. Just the endorphins or just the counseling don't serve to cure depression. But this hurts both our points equally. On one hand, I can't claim suicide due to depression is entirely rational, because they can't be convinced out of it through mere rational arguments, but for the exact same reason, you can't claim the will to live is entirely rational because if it was, why would they need the drugs to cope?

Well, the following is going to be gross oversimplification, and I apologize to all depressed people for it, but if it were so that being depressed actually altered your values so that you would favour suicide over living (which is very much not the whole story), then it would be the rational thing for them to do to commit suicide. As for why we give depressed people drugs and therapy to re-alter their values is because we find that to be within our own values. We don't want depressed people to die, and we want them to recover from depression and be happy, because we value the happiness of other people. (Or we need them as a workforce or whatever.)

Depression definitely does not have anywhere near 100% mortality rating. Most people who are lightly depressed get over it on their own. Those who have a very strong chronic depression are more at risk, but they're the outlier cases and most of the time even they don't actually want to die. It's just that if someone badly depressed tips over the edge to being willing to commit suicide even for a short moment, then they do try and if they succeed then that's it.

Regardless, I do not understand the leap in logic from a small subset of a small subset of people who value not existing highly enough to commit suicide to saying that suicide is universally the rational thing to do for everyone and that, despite it being against pretty much every value I hold, it would somehow be rational for me, in pursuit of my personal values, to kill myself.

Surrealistik
2014-02-28, 11:51 AM
I stand by my original thesis, however: Humans create wealth, sometimes ex nihilo (as in the case of web strips). The process by which wealth is generated is called 'work' , and is how most of us spend our daylight hours. The fact that the human population is seven billion now when it wasn't even a billion in 1783 implies the potential wealth of the world is far greater now than it was in 1783, and controlling even a great percentage of 1783 wealth does little when the total wealth of the human race is growing so quickly. The slice of the pie you hold does nothing but shrink, if all you do is play conservatively and try to maintain the status quo.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

And if by 'maintaining the status quo' one actually means to use their very considerable existing advantages to retain or expand their economic hegemony? Maintaining the status quo in this case is not about simply holding onto your 'piece', it's about keeping it and making sure it's indexed to average global economic growth at a minimum (averaging ~4-5% GWP growth annually over the past 62 years or so, and about the same in the past 10; a rate that's presently trivial to achieve or even surpass with diversified, passive investing), whether or not that comes at the expense of others.


That said, I disagree with the Giant, as others have, that immortality necessarily or even likely will result in the calcification of economic and/or political tyranny; historically, as others have likewise pointed out, they largely haven't been stopped by the natural death of key leaders/people so much as unexpected/willful death and paradigm changes whether via revolution or incremental transition. That said, immortality can certainly help stabilize such tyrannies in that it will prevent natural death from ever being a factor in their dissolution.

Coidzor
2014-02-28, 12:16 PM
That said, I disagree with the Giant, as others have, that immortality necessarily or even likely will result in the calcification of economic and/or political tyranny; historically, as others have likewise pointed out, they largely haven't been stopped by the natural death of key leaders so much as unexpected/willful death and paradigm changes whether via revolution or incremental transition. That said, immortality can certainly help stabilize such tyrannies in that it will prevent natural death from ever being a factor in their dissolution.

A combination of Immortality and non-sophont but still really ****ing good AI, or even just AI sophonts that aren't able to free themselves from hard-coded loyalty or some other method of ensuring control, on the other hand, and it departs from the traditional model of having to keep a favored class as one's power base happy. Granted, the principal differences between that dystopia and the standard rise of the machines dystopia is more apathy and/or enslavement towards the general populace rather than species-wide genocide and the central figure at the heart of it.

Though, my reading was more that his point was that immortality won't automatically lead to good things by itself, and that how we develop and use it is the defining factor there, since it *can* lead to bad things, especially if our social development and evolution continues as it does (at least according to certain interpretations of the current trajectory) rather than improving, and then more generally that a thing people who believe in technology forget is that you have to have the right social policies in place to not only get the right funding for the technology to develop in certain ways but also to cut down on deleterious potential uses. Rather important that, after thermonuclear weapons were developed, they never actually got used in a thermonuclear war, after all.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 12:22 PM
It's not just the big tyrants we'd have to worry about, but also the pettier ones. New and better scientific theories tend to only truly come to fore when the older scientists, and scientists are men and women who have had probably the most training in accepting new information when the evidence presents itself, begin to die off. What'd happen to society if this flow didn't happen, if the people who grew up, say, with phlogiston as the theory of combustion as the main thing still held tenure to this day?
And it gets worse from there. Imagine if someone who had a grudge against your great, great, great grandfather was still around today, and still holding the reins of some bureaucratic little nest of vipers, able and willing to be petty in order to enact some revenge.

Murska
2014-02-28, 12:40 PM
It's not just the big tyrants we'd have to worry about, but also the pettier ones. New and better scientific theories tend to only truly come to fore when the older scientists, and scientists are men and women who have had probably the most training in accepting new information when the evidence presents itself, begin to die off. What'd happen to society if this flow didn't happen, if the people who grew up, say, with phlogiston as the theory of combustion as the main thing still held tenure to this day?
And it gets worse from there. Imagine if someone who had a grudge against your great, great, great grandfather was still around today, and still holding the reins of some bureaucratic little nest of vipers, able and willing to be petty in order to enact some revenge.

I kind of imagine that we'd get rid of things like tenure that are meant to last for a lifetime and not forever.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 12:47 PM
I kind of imagine that we'd get rid of things like tenure that are meant to last for a lifetime and not forever.
Those with the power to remove it would be the most resistant to its removal, due to their own interests in keeping their tenure. Ain't social inertia lovely?:smalltongue:

Coidzor
2014-02-28, 12:51 PM
I kind of imagine that we'd get rid of things like tenure that are meant to last for a lifetime and not forever.

We're sorta already doing that anyway, IIRC.

Frozen_Feet
2014-02-28, 01:32 PM
Stop with the 100% mortality rates. Seriously.

The only thing with so far 100% mortality rate is life. :smalltongue: I'm citing current consensus on chronic depression, and as such am probably far from the first person telling you you're likely to off yourself in the near future.

I'm also sorry to say this, but you are pretty damn unlikely to stop me talking on the subject. It's your anecdotal experiences of depression, versus my anecdotal experiences of depression plus everything I've read on the subject. I've munched on extra endorphins myself, and found it rather hilarious how one possible side-effect of those anti-depressants was getting depressed.


So are you saying that if our values are not selected by an analytical and conscious thought process, they are irrational? But we cannot select /values/ 'rationally'. How would you possibly decide what sort of a state is better than another sort of state if you do not have values? Values are a priori, though not immutable, and rational actions arise from the existance of values. A rock cannot be rational, as it does not prefer any possibility over any other possibility.

You answer your own questions here, basically.

The values of an average human are selected by the blind watchmaker of natural selection plus a randomly selected cultural package. These values are often contradictory and rarely examined in depth by an invidual. Their priorities are murky and unclearly defined. If you try derive conclusions from them using logic, you will run into paradoxes on a very basic level.

You say we can solve those paradoxes by sorting out the priority, but that is the crux of the problem. The mind of the average human is not a lawbook. It does not have a proper priority list. This is one of the prime reasons for perceived stupidity, irrationality and inconsistency among people. Conflicting priorities is a thing; decision paralysis is a thing. Anytime you posit one, you take a step away from the average.

Now, this is a thread about transhumanism, so feel free to posit a human with impartial intuition and a hierarchic mind to support it. But please, drop the average.


No, it's not. Someone who does not use intuitive thinking does not succeed. They do worse than someone who uses intuitive thinking when it is useful and analytical thinking when that is more useful. Therefore not using intuitive thinking at all is an irrational choice. Analytical thinking is useful when intuitive thinking does lead to erroneous conclusions, such as when trying to do science. But intuitive thinking is better in most everyday situations.

"Irrational" is not the same as "useless". We are not in disagreement on how intuition works or why it persists. Your fallacy from my point-of-view is that you ascribe a choice where there is none, and I believe that's the core of our apparent disagreement.

The average human does not choose to follow his intuition as part of some risk-benefit calculation - they follow it unquestioningly most of the time. Even when intuition produces contradictory or faulty conclusions, these are not identified and corrected unless they lead to obvious conflict (which is when analytical thinking kicks in). And even they are corrected, the intuitive mind is still prone to committing the same error again, because it might be hard-coded into one its functions.

You say it's "better for everyday life", but why is it so? Millions of years of trial and error. It's work of a blind watchmaker. The reason it "works" is merely because those it did not work for died and failed to propagate. Calling intuitive thinking "rational" is like rolling a die N+1 times and then saying the die has learned when it rolls a long series of 6s in succession.

But what you're seeing is really the product of chance. Irrationality is not the quality of choosing to use intuition; it is a quality of how intuition comes to being and how it works as a process. As I've noted several times, human intuition is not a coherent whole. It is a collection of various sub-processes that do not share operational logic with each other. One example would be our ability to recognize human faces. It is a specific subsystem of our visual imagining system, and it's entirely possible for other pattern identification systems to be functional while it is not. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia)

For someone with prosopagnosia, it is impossible to differentiate human faces in the same way as it is for someone neurologically typical. This can lead to strange situation, like a shepherd who can tell apart all his 200 sheep based on patterns of their fur, but is unable to tell apart his wife and daughter if they are wearing the same sort of clothes.

But on the flipside, the neurotypical person is prone to seeing human faces where there are no humans. This is how you can interprete emotion in a painting, but also what leads to people seeing faces everywhere from slices of toast to clouds and bloodstains. This in turn activates subsystems normally intended for interaction with people, causing people to intuitively act in ways that are not rational for the situation and may be completely unsupported by what all the other visual processing systems are telling them.

These kinds of contradictions persist either because they are indifferent to long-term survival, or because the net-benefit of the combination leading into the contradiction is still superior to not having one of the contradicting subsystems. But just because they work (for a given purpose) or are faster than analytical thinking does not make the inconsistent whole they form "rational".

(I suppose if evolution was either really fast, or if conditions were consistent, then there would be grounds for truly rational intuition to form. But evolution is slow, and conditions vary wildly. What is a good idea today might not be so hot tomorrow, but when tomorrow becomes today, your intuition is still working on solutions of the yesterday. And then there are things that were a good ideas once, but are now largely meaningless, yet you keep doing them anyway out of habit.)


Regardless, I do not understand the leap in logic from a small subset of a small subset of people who value not existing highly enough to commit suicide to saying that suicide is universally the rational thing to do for everyone and that, despite it being against pretty much every value I hold, it would somehow be rational for me, in pursuit of my personal values, to kill myself.

You are ascribing a leap of logic to me that I did not make. I myself wrote "self-preservation may or may not be logical, depending on premises chosen" and, regarding highly analytical thinkers who have not committed suicide, "Alternatively, they simply have not been subjected to conditions where they would logically conclude they'd be better off dead".

As should be plainly apparent, I do not consider suicide to be an universally rational choice. It may or may not be rational, depending on the premises chosen.

But just because you can rationalize self-preservation (or suicide, for that matter) doesn't mean the trait itself is rational. Again: most people invent the rationalization after the fact (okay, the suicides are usually unable to). They desire to live, because random chance planted that a priori assumption in their brain; it is something hard-coded, and not even necessarily consciously recognized.

In any case, you have basically agreed with my original statement at this point. Debating whys and why nots for living is ultimately a sidetrack. I can accept your claim that the pool of rational whys is larger, or at least equal, to the pool of rational why nots; those who can figure out a why end up outnumbering those who don't regardless, because those who end up with more why nots don't stick around to be observed.

Coidzor
2014-02-28, 02:09 PM
I'm also sorry to say this, but you are pretty damn unlikely to stop me talking on the subject. It's your anecdotal experiences of depression, versus my anecdotal experiences of depression plus everything I've read on the subject. I've munched on extra endorphins myself, and found it rather hilarious how one possible side-effect of those anti-depressants was getting depressed.

That would be one good reason to tread a bit more carefully around the subject than has been in this thread so far, yes.

Murska
2014-02-28, 03:27 PM
The values of an average human are selected by the blind watchmaker of natural selection plus a randomly selected cultural package. These values are often contradictory and rarely examined in depth by an invidual. Their priorities are murky and unclearly defined. If you try derive conclusions from them using logic, you will run into paradoxes on a very basic level.

You say we can solve those paradoxes by sorting out the priority, but that is the crux of the problem. The mind of the average human is not a lawbook. It does not have a proper priority list. This is one of the prime reasons for perceived stupidity, irrationality and inconsistency among people. Conflicting priorities is a thing; decision paralysis is a thing. Anytime you posit one, you take a step away from the average.

Now, this is a thread about transhumanism, so feel free to posit a human with impartial intuition and a hierarchic mind to support it. But please, drop the average.

So, the average human is often irrational. Yes, we agree on that. Still, choosing your values (or having them chosen for you, whatever, I'm pretty heavily a determinist anyway) cannot be irrational or rational, because before you have values your choices cannot be rational or irrational.



"Irrational" is not the same as "useless". We are not in disagreement on how intuition works or why it persists. Your fallacy from my point-of-view is that you ascribe a choice where there is none, and I believe that's the core of our apparent disagreement.

The average human does not choose to follow his intuition as part of some risk-benefit calculation - they follow it unquestioningly most of the time. Even when intuition produces contradictory or faulty conclusions, these are not identified and corrected unless they lead to obvious conflict (which is when analytical thinking kicks in). And even they are corrected, the intuitive mind is still prone to committing the same error again, because it might be hard-coded into one its functions.

You say it's "better for everyday life", but why is it so? Millions of years of trial and error. It's work of a blind watchmaker. The reason it "works" is merely because those it did not work for died and failed to propagate. Calling intuitive thinking "rational" is like rolling a die N+1 times and then saying the die has learned when it rolls a long series of 6s in succession.

But what you're seeing is really the product of chance. Irrationality is not the quality of choosing to use intuition; it is a quality of how intuition comes to being and how it works as a process. As I've noted several times, human intuition is not a coherent whole. It is a collection of various sub-processes that do not share operational logic with each other. One example would be our ability to recognize human faces. It is a specific subsystem of our visual imagining system, and it's entirely possible for other pattern identification systems to be functional while it is not. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia)

But why would there need to be a choice for something to be rational or not? If you randomly choose the optimal course of action, it's still the rational course of action even if you arrived at it completely randomly or even through utterly fallacious reasoning. Even if intuition usually works because it's a product of evolution - well, so is analytical reasoning. And if they both sometimes work and sometimes don't, complement each other, have differing strengths and weaknesses and are both crucial for our functioning, why label one inherently 'irrational' and another 'rational'?

I think we've gone through a whole lot of words to clarify that we're mostly of one mind. The remainder of the conversation would probably be best served if you explained in detail and without using 'rational' or any of its synonyms, what you mean by the word 'rational'.

Domino Quartz
2014-02-28, 04:40 PM
I want to be a sci-fi-style cyborg, with super-strong limbs, something in my skull that makes me resistant to brain damage, super-high-tech eyeballs, and forearms/wrists that don't get RSI. Or at least I hope that such things become available to future generations.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-02-28, 04:45 PM
I want to be a sci-fi-style cyborg, with super-strong limbs, something in my skull that makes me resistant to brain damage, and forearms/wrists that don't get RSI. Or at least I hope that such things become available to future generations.

Meh, for simple physical enhancements, I prefer wetwork. The end effect would be rapid and precise evolution. Now if you want a pistol in your arm, that's something that requires hardware.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-28, 05:18 PM
Oh, here's an idea for a modificiation: A robotic third eye in the forehead-ish area. The robo-eye would be hooked up in such a way that the same impulses that move my regular eyes would move the robot eye. I'm thinking, make it so the eye can flip through a couple vision modes, with infrared and ultraviolet modes, maybe a built-in laser pointer, and a record feature.

Grinner
2014-02-28, 05:25 PM
Oh, here's an idea for a modificiation: A robotic third eye in the forehead-ish area. The robo-eye would be hooked up in such a way that the same impulses that move my regular eyes would move the robot eye. I'm thinking, make it so the eye can flip through a couple vision modes, with infrared and ultraviolet modes, maybe a built-in laser pointer, and a record feature.

That's pretty cool.

But...what happens when you look in opposite directions? Also, it might creep the general populace out...It's hard to market something like that.


Meh, for simple physical enhancements, I prefer wetwork. The end effect would be rapid and precise evolution. Now if you want a pistol in your arm, that's something that requires hardware.

It's also hard to engineer that in post-expression of the relevant genes.

In fact, I suspect the delicate ecosystem of proteins that is gene expression makes it hard to engineer in the first place (except for super-strength).

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 05:35 PM
I'd love to record dreams. Yeah, they are weird and nonsensical, but I've had some good ones I'd like in more accessible storage*.
*Not that kind of dream!¹





¹Well, not just that kind.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-28, 05:40 PM
That's pretty cool.

But...what happens when you look in opposite directions? Also, it might creep the general populace out...It's hard to market something like that.

True... But then, I think most people would be creeped out by a robot eye no matter where you put it in your head.

As for looking in opposite directions, maybe it just operates on a sum of motions? for example, when you look right, your eyes don't both rotate the same amount, so it would have to calibrate to an average point between the two angles.


Oooh, yes, I have the best dreams, if I could record them, that would be awesome. One time I dreamed an entire sequel to the aliens franchise. I also dreamed an episode of doctor who once...

Grinner
2014-02-28, 05:41 PM
I'd love to record dreams. Yeah, they are weird and nonsensical, but I've had some good ones I'd like in more accessible storage*.

Hell, I'd like to just be able to remember my dreams. This is why I can't keep a dream journal going.

Wait. A video dream journal. That would advance psychology so much...Of course, if such a thing were ever invented, neurology would already be so advanced as to deprecate psychology, perhaps...

Coidzor
2014-02-28, 05:42 PM
I'd love to record dreams. Yeah, they are weird and nonsensical, but I've had some good ones I'd like in more accessible storage*.
*Not that kind of dream!¹





¹Well, not just that kind.

It'd certainly lead to a lot more people getting their stories down.

AtomicKitKat
2014-02-28, 07:33 PM
Regarding vision: From experience with security cameras, as well as just having to maintain order in a crowded store, I can tell you that even without the ability to independently control their direction of motion(a la chameleon), it's possible to "see" with both eyes, even when you're primarily relying on one eye's input. Now, if you wanted to zoom in with one eye, while zooming out with another(say, you're a sniper who wants to aim with your primary eye, while your secondary looks out for anyone potentially returning fire), that's a bit harder with biological eyes, but I'm sure your brain can adapt to the additional input of a mechanical eye.

Regarding pistol arms: Bear in mind that any limb replacement involving lethal/dangerous weaponry means that prison-time would probably involve spending it as a/an double/triple/quadruple/amputee(at best, they might give you the most primitive "peg" prostheses, thus resembling Seamus from Family Guy). Sort of like the Eberron grafts, really. Now, if you wanted to engineer the finger to squirt ink like a squid, that's probably doable, and less likely to be removed(probably the authorities will force you to wear a finger-condom locked to your wrist). If we're doing arm mods though, I'd like octopoid flexibility and ductility. Being able to reach further, and around hard-to-reach corners. Well, harder to reach corners, since I still have more flexibility in my arm joints than most. :smalltongue: Additional arms would probably be spent playing 2-3 player video games against myself. Which I also can do somewhat, providing the game controls are more forgiving. I can't really play Street Fighter against myself at the moment(at least, not with much proficiency), for example, even when I have the 2 players' controls set up on opposite sides of the keyboard.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 07:37 PM
I think at that point we could really dispense with controllers except for ritualistic purposes and just control things the same way we control our own physical motions.

Coidzor
2014-02-28, 07:55 PM
(at best, they might give you the most primitive "peg" prostheses, thus resembling Seamus from Family Guy).

Depends a lot on how well prisoners are treated in a given jurisdiction, I'd say. :smalltongue:

Grinner
2014-02-28, 08:17 PM
I think at that point we could really dispense with controllers except for ritualistic purposes and just control things the same way we control our own physical motions.

Done. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotiv_Systems) It'll cost you a paycheck, but it's been done.

Edit: Heeeeeeeeey....Best idea ever: combine that with the Oculus Rift (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oculus_Rift).

pendell
2014-02-28, 09:03 PM
And if by 'maintaining the status quo' one actually means to use their very considerable existing advantages to retain or expand their economic hegemony? Maintaining the status quo in this case is not about simply holding onto your 'piece', it's about keeping it and making sure it's indexed to average global economic growth at a minimum (averaging ~4-5% GWP growth annually over the past 62 years or so, and about the same in the past 10; a rate that's presently trivial to achieve or even surpass with diversified, passive investing), whether or not that comes at the expense of others.


That said, I disagree with the Giant, as others have, that immortality necessarily or even likely will result in the calcification of economic and/or political tyranny; historically, as others have likewise pointed out, they largely haven't been stopped by the natural death of key leaders/people so much as unexpected/willful death and paradigm changes whether via revolution or incremental transition. That said, immortality can certainly help stabilize such tyrannies in that it will prevent natural death from ever being a factor in their dissolution.

Maybe I can illustrate my point with something from the world of comics, which I am not an expert on but others here are. I hope they can help me with any flaws in my argument.

Everyone is agreed that OOTS is one of the best webcomics out there, yes? If there's a better one, I've not aware of it.

And yet, if this were the year 1985, we'd never see it?

Why? Because back in those days, if you wanted to do a daily or weekly strip it would have to appear in print in a newspaper.

Let's trot over to the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/comics/) and see what comics they show, shall we?

-- Andy Capp. First Published: 1957. The author died in 1998, so they've been running reruns ever since.

-- Doonesbury. First Published: 1970.

-- Garfield. First Published: 1978.

-- Peanuts. First Published: 1950. The author died in 2000.

There are newer strips, but this is a fair sample, I think. Thing of what it means to aspiring young artists with dreams who have to compete for the limited pages of a newspaper, especially when some strips are locked in despite the fact they haven't done anything original in more than ten years, because their authors are dead!

That's pretty close to the kind of immortality we're talking about.

So in 1985, we'd never have heard of Rich or his strip. Make no mistake: OOTS is an excellent webcomic, but I can't imagine how a story about D&D characters that originally started as rules jokes would ever survive in a mainstream newspaper.

As of 1985, Rich and all his fellow creators were pretty much locked out of the marketplace.

Then the web happened.

Rich and company did not so much replace or overthrow the existing strips, which as I said are still enthroned. Rather, they branched out into new territory in which the writ of Peanuts did not run.

Travelling to a new world to get away from monopolies and oligarchies in the hopes of making your own fortune is one reason people came to the Americas. But a "new world" doesn't have to be a physical new world inhabited by indigenous peoples, and it doesn't require massacre and smallpox. New worlds and new vistas can be opened up by technology as well as by conquest.

What's the largest company in America? Let's look (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/). The biggest is Wal-mart, followed by a bunch of other companies -- Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance), Exxon, General Motors --

What's the one thing most of these companies have in common? They are almost all selling products that didn't exist two hundred years ago. Oil was a waste product, before combustion engines. Automobiles didn't exist. Computers didn't exist. And the one company on there that would not have been out of place a hundred years ago -- Wal-mart -- is not there because they found a new niche, it's because they found a way to run an old niche far more profitably than K-mart, Sears, and the other old department stores.

This despite the presence of immortality. For that is what a corporation is -- an immortal entity that never dies. Individual employees and stockholders, like the cells in a body, may die and be replaced but the corporation itself can endure for generations, even centuries.

This is why I don't think immortality will permanently enshrine inequality. Because we already have immortality, in the form of corporations and of dead comic strip artists. These are usually impossible to challenge in their chosen niches, which results in a drive for new niches. In fact, the very existence of old fossilized institutions pushes the young and ambitious to go outside them and build their own, in new territory.

And if the old institutions do not adapt and adjust to new territory, it may be that the supply lines of culture will eventually completely bypass them, resulting in less and less profitability until they disappear. Cue the Larry the Liquidator (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62kxPyNZF3Q) speech.

This is important to me because it's something I deal with when trying to market ideas. I'm finding that it's really hard to convince established companies to latch on to a new idea, even if their existing line of business is disappearing. They are so concerned with maintaining what they have that they don't dare to try anything else. And if they do, they'll give it less than 10% of the resources they could, the rest being devoted to their legacy stuff.

That's why IBM , the world leaders in computing at one time, rapidly lost out in the PC market to Microsoft and Apple. And that's why Microsoft has failed to make any real headway in the tablet and phone world. They're so busy protecting what they already have that they won't step up to do much in the way of new things.

If you really want a new idea to take off, it needs to be done by someone young who has nothing to lose. Most of them will fail. But a few will succeed, overturn the marketplace, and be the next generation of old men to be swept aside. And this has nothing to do with the mortality of the original leaders, because the corporation itself is, for all purposes, immortal.

At any rate -- my thesis is you cannot lock in a particular way of doing things by abolishing death unless you also abolish birth. Only when the human population is static and stable, never-changing, will both humans and their civilization enter a state of human status.

But as long as you've got millions upon millions of young, hungry, ambitious people entering the world every day, you will ALWAYS have a desperate need to throw off the shackles. Which will manifest itself in new technologies , new ideas, and direct challenges to the status quo.

So I do not fear lack of death from a societal point of view. I do greatly fear lack of birth. Given current population projections for the world as a whole, I do not see that as a serious problem anytime soon.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 10:17 PM
Done. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotiv_Systems) It'll cost you a paycheck, but it's been done.

Edit: Heeeeeeeeey....Best idea ever: combine that with the Oculus Rift (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oculus_Rift).
It's being done yes, though it's pretty much Atari 2600 controller compared to full on mental control. Still, I find technology like this very fascinating for its potential to help the severely paralysed, up to and including locked in patients, as well as amputees to use artificial limbs more naturally.

Admiral Squish
2014-02-28, 10:26 PM
It's being done yes, though it's pretty much Atari 2600 controller compared to full on mental control. Still, I find technology like this very fascinating for its potential to help the severely paralysed, up to and including locked in patients, as well as amputees to use artificial limbs more naturally.

On the subject of mind-controls helping paralyzed people, I came across this when checking out robo-arms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB5vYz1-T_Y

Ravens_cry
2014-02-28, 10:27 PM
On the subject of mind-controls helping paralyzed people, I came across this when checking out robo-arms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB5vYz1-T_Y
I follow this kind of thing pretty extensively, but, still, woo-hoo for her!:smallbiggrin:

Surrealistik
2014-02-28, 11:40 PM
@ Pendell:

In so far as you argue that biological immortality would not be a meaningful cause or proponent of economic consolidation/hegemony I agree for reasons you, I and others have mentioned.

However, if you would also argue that economic consolidation/hegemony isn't itself a threat due to market upheavals, innovation and new technology, the macroeconomics and facts simply don't bear that out when you look at wealth and income consolidation trends stretching back since the Industrial Revolution, and in particular, the period between the 80s and late 90s. Only recently has global income inequality slightly declined with the economic empowerment of Asia (global wealth inequality continues to worsen), while it remains on the rise in the 1st world (on average) due to globalization, political monetization, and consequent races to the bottom in terms of taxation, labour and environmental standards.

AtomicKitKat
2014-03-01, 09:59 AM
Mentally controlling stuff is fun and all, but imagine how much more you could do with additional limbs. I read somewhere(Lords of Madness?) that the Squidface "language"(such as it is) is comprised of both the squelchy sounds their mouths make, as well as the shapes their tentacles form. Likewise, their "writing" in the form of sculptures, requires one to be able to trace the outlines of all 4 stones, simultaneously, in order to capture the nuances of that particular statement.

Now, imagine if you will, having a secondary/set of eye(s), able to move and concentrate independently of your own(or alternatively, if you've lost your own, having more than 1 set of replacements), and at least an additional pair of limbs. You might argue that it's possible to rewire the brain, as it is in the present time, to be able to control these things in the game. My counterargument is that it would behoove you to actually possess the necessary additions, in order for your brain to create the necessary pathways, with much greater ease than if you went straight from 2014 human normalcy to "I can control all 4 arms in my game avatar".

pendell
2014-03-17, 11:03 AM
Not 45 days so this thread isn't dead yet...

Saw this article on the need to create an artificial hell for transhumans (http://aeon.co/magazine/living-together/should-biotech-make-life-hellish-for-criminals/)



If these therapies were truly universal, it’s more likely that people would come to think of them as life-saving technologies. And if you withheld them from prisoners in that scenario, you would effectively be denying them medical treatment, and today we consider that inhumane. My personal suspicion is that once life extension becomes more or less universal, people will begin to see it as a positive right, like health care in most industrialised nations today.


...



As biotech companies pour billions into life extension technologies, some have suggested that our cruelest criminals could be kept alive indefinitely, to serve sentences spanning millennia or longer. Even without life extension, private prison firms could one day develop drugs that make time pass more slowly, so that an inmate's 10-year sentence feels like an eternity. One way or another, humans could soon be in a position to create an artificial hell.


If I'm understanding the thinking correctly, "life imprisonment" has some interesting connotations when the subject is going to live for thousands of years . The author proposes actually giving life extension treatments to particularly heinous criminals so that a serial killer, say, could serve a life term for every life he took. Or another possibility would be to use time dilation techniques so that a ten year prison sentence could turn into a subjective thousand year sentence.

...

What a species we are. Regardless of the existence of a religious Hell or not (an off-limits discussion here) , it seems that even if there is no Hell we humans are intent on creating one for members of our own species.

...

What do you think? I couldn't go along with it, as I would not want to punish someone else in a way I would not want to be punished myself, were the situation reversed. Possibly an immortal could be put on a one-way spaceship to another galaxy. That's what I would do with someone we wanted to never see again.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Murska
2014-03-17, 11:28 AM
I feel that is ridiculous. What possible gain would we get for having prisoners live longer just to be in prison?

Asta Kask
2014-03-17, 11:43 AM
I wonder what kind of sick person would torture someone forever, and how that can possibly be justice. But that's just me.