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Response to Julia Mossbridge’s Critique of Transhumanism

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  • #23165

    Neuroscientist Julia Mossbridge has recently posted a critique of transhumanism, presenting her own twist on a number of arguments that have become fairly familiar by now.

    [See the full post at: Response to Julia Mossbridge’s Critique of Transhumanism]

    #23230

    The following are some comments on the post, sent to me via email from Julia Mossbridge…

    ***
    FROM JULIA:
    ***

    As to your three thoughts on re-reading…

    1) The argument that essentially runs, “well, we use technology for purpose X so why not for purpose Y” — which I think is your point here — seems to be a bit silly to me, in that there are reasons we don’t use technology for purpose Y. If purpose Y does more damage than good, for instance. So in general the argument is specious. However, in this specific case, I think you’d argue that purpose Y (extending life/eliminating death) does more good than it does damage. That’s the central argument, I think. And I can see things both ways, as a good scientist…we would need some data to figure it out for sure, of course. But the thing that scares me is that the way the human mind works is that we generally the old generation to die before new ideas can flourish. That’s part of the evolution of human thought. I’m afraid progress would slow considerably if we have all these old ideas sitting around on servers or in extended-life bodies!

    2) You have more expertise than I do on what AI/bots can solve and not solve. But I have more expertise than you do on what human psychology/neuroscience is like. Solving problems in a way that works for human psychology is likely to be very different than solving problems in a way that works for AI, unless that AI becomes as unreasonable as a human, in which case…why not just have more human babies?

    3) GBS quotes — I don’t believe the only way to make progress is to adapt the world to yourself. It’s one way. Another way to make psychological and spiritual progress is to adapt to the world. Both are necessary for our evolution as a species. Love the quote about reason enslaving you if you try to master it…we can both agree there!

    Thanks, as always, for your respectful and thoughtful ways.

    #23262
    Debi
    Participant

    I enjoyed both your response and Julia’s evaluation of transhumanists. I do agree with her on the importance to have top notch psychologists on board, as well as those who are a bit non-traditional in their stands on psychology….Actually I think that, considering the scope of what transhumanism wants to do post-humanly it would be smart to include leaders and intelligence in all of the branches of education that relate to the human race, i.e. sociologists as well as scientists; meta physicists and psychology as well as the pure scientific heads, etc.

    Your answer to the reason for wanting to continue with seeking longevity …ie, curiosity was the first reason that came to my mind also.

    “Then, when you turn 90 years old”, Julia says “decide whether you think you are too important to lose. Decide whether you think your mind, or the “computer minds” you create, can solve problems better than your children, who have molded their minds to this world, can. Decide whether you think you have a better plan than thousands of millions of years of evolution. 6) If you do think you are that important, then clearly you are not being reasonable. So do yourself and all of us a favor, and let your life go in love and peace. Be reasonable and move on.”

    To this my response is that IF everybody who has the knowledge and ability to create these changes wait until they are 90 to see if they want them, it will be too late if they still decide towards the affirmative. This is the same answer I give to those who dispute the climate changes in the world. The idea amongst those who analyze and follow the changes that are occurring, those who say we need to make our changes now if we want humanity to continue into the future is strongly disputed by many of our nay sayers when it comes to preparing for climate change.
    So, ok, for the sake of new argument, let’s say that they are right, there is not now a true climate change going on; It never fails to amaze me that they refuse to look into the past and then ahead to the future with the information that changes are going to occur at some point in our futures And if we wait until they are upon us to prepare for them it will be too late. MOTHER NATURE could be giving us a warning so that humans, who have it in their ability to begin the preparations now, can do so in order to be ready when the bigger changes do come… regardless of how far in the future it may happen. At least begin those preparation with every ounce of present knowledge and resources we now have for the sake of continued existence when they are needed.
    I view present work in the world of transhumanism in the same light as climate control.

    Ok…. chances might be that by the age 90 you and others are going to say…. “naw… i’m done, let me die” but considering how many people of that age now would still jump at the chance of transference to an AI mind, I consider those chances pretty low.

    While the connection between the preparation for climate change and transhumanism is clear, it goes even further to a real connection that includes preparing for climate or any planetary changes, as well as social changes and everything that climate change AND transhumanism could effect.
    Julie and yourself have spoken on the resources available for caring for the continued existence of life… this is important of course because now we have balance of life and death to keep this globe from really becoming overloaded with people. If we reach, or perhaps i should say ‘when’ we reach the point that humans will be able to ‘Carry on’ vrs moving on, then we are going to need more resources to care for them. UNLESS we also prepare our bodies to be able to, for instance, do with out food, at least to the extent that we are not dependent on it as we are now. Even now medical work is done in sewing up or stapling the stomach so that a person does not need as much food…. this is especially useful for those, say, who do not know when they are full. Those people do exist. But the point is simply that we know that it is possible to curb hunger in various ways… what if the new bodies are created to not need food at all… and why not? By the time all of the other advancements are made to ensure longevity, is there much doubt that we will also be able to manipulate the body, either our present bodies or new ones, in such a way that we have other ways of fueling…. i.e….. hybrids?
    Over time we will learn to be able to set our own temperature control individually so that we will not need to worry about the climate. e-human dawn is a great book that references this.

    Basically what i am saying in answer to her whole article is that what can be done now with out extracurricular harm should be done because by the time things get to where we need to have those things it could be too late if we sit back and wait.
    In the past 10 years I have thought a lot about the transhumanist and the AI and the mind of the AI and dangers and so on and all that, and have changed my perception in a number of ways.
    One of those is that, where-as Julia is looking at the implications of what could be if we continue to move ahead toward future evolution, i say that we need to look at the implications and possible implications with what we have now and not at least prepare ourselves with what knowledge we do now have.

    Lastly…. For Julia….
    you have interpreted this quote wrong….

    Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.
    — G.B. Shaw

    You agree with Ben on
    “reason enslaving you if you try to master it” G.B. Shaw is saying that reason will enslave you if you do NOT master her.
    Your interpretation is wrong, but your agreement is not…. you both do agree that reason needs to be mastered and not rule the rest of hour human feelings and thought via emotional response.
    I also love that quote and it is one that requires an understanding of both reason and human emotion. Thus the need for psychologist as well as scientist

    #23264
    Debi
    Participant

    In regards to the question about our upcoming kids being smart enough to figure out all of the things that we may be planning for the AI to figure out;
    Although I agree that the new generations are learning much and advancing in many ways, the AI will contain information from so many sources and be able to out put the information so much quicker; this could be at some point imperative to the continuation of society.
    Also, it seems to me that the desire for figuring out the answer to longevity and faster cognitive thinking includes concern for the children…. not so much ‘the children’ as the future generations.

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