Monday, October 26, 2015

Transhumanism is Old Hat

Transhumanism, in a nutshell, is the belief we can use technology to transfer our consciousness into robotic bodies and therefore free ourselves from all the ills flesh to heir to.

"Let's create a techno-utopia, a Singularity in which human nature is transformed via immortal and invulnerable robotic bodies!" I understand the desire, but it's still just babble.

I can't remember all the science-fiction stories and novels I've read about Transhumanism (although there was no name for it then), starting when I was 11 or 12, which was the age when science fiction first enthralled me. One story I do remember in particular is a Keith Laumer one called "The Body Builders," in which people's bodies are in storage flat on their backs while their consciousness is transmitted to robot bodies, said robobodies being used as gladiators. He wrote it as a comedy, back in '67.

Kinda sound familiar?

The movie Chappie, which disappointed me (I've always been impressed by Neill Blomkamp, except for this film), is the latest installment in the Transhumanism narrative - people are transferred to robot bodies, along with robots who attain consciousness (think Short Circuit from the '80s - which is a comedy). I've read many articles about Chappie on the Internet, ranging from Yeah! to Boo!

Unfortunately, Chappie is not a comedy (although there are comedic elements to it) but mostly it's dead serious. That's what pretty much killed it for me, although I'm sure some people thought it was great, especially since Blomkamp makes the main villain a violent, brutal Christian who actually crosses himself when he realizes that Chappie is alive and self-conscious. Then he tries to kill him, apparently thinking he's the incarnation of Satan.

To me, Transhumanism is old hat. For that matter, the Matrix movies are old hat, too. Such stories have been around so long in science fiction they've become tiresome cliches. Try to publish a story in which we're trapped in a machine's dream, or your consciousness is transferred into a robot or computer. It'll never be published and if you keep doing it you'll get enough rejection slips to paper a room.

In college I knew a student who wrote a story in which a man fell in love with a female computer (huh?) so she transferred his consciousness into the computer to be with her. I couldn't bear to tell him it had no chance of ever being published.

Transhumanists, at least some of the believers, see this transfer as a way to not only transcend our human bodies, but also our sexes.

Of course, such people are overwhelmingly leftist, who believe they are smarter and more moral than the rest of us (Thomas Sowell mocked these people as "the Anointed"). The rest of us are just benighted dimwits trapped in meat (there is a famous science fiction story - again a comedy - titled, "They're Made Out of Meat," which was about every alien race in the galaxy not wanting to do anything with humans because we have meat-brains).

To transcend the sexes! The end of patriarchy! Classes! Oppression! Racism! Ageism! Whateverism! "And no religion, too!" to quote the goofy John Lennon. Except for Transhumanism - which is a science fiction comedy.

It's the belief we can be as gods. Marxist gods, most probably. Marxist or not, it's been a dream of mankind since who knows when.

These people are clearly materialists, who believe life and consciousness are just epiphenomena which, somehow, popped up from matter. So they'd better find some way to preserve said life and consciousness before it goes poof. That's why Transhumanism is a religion.

There is also the belief that someday we can transcend our bodies, robotic or not, and become nonmaterial consciousness, with near god-like powers. Arthur C. Clarke was big on that one, with 2001: a Space Odyssey and its sequels. And Childhood's End, for that matter, which was written in the early '50s. (Clarke was so sober and serious he made it seem possible. And significantly, in 3001 to use the word "God," in whatever context, was a faux pas which made people visibly wince.)

A lot of science fiction has been about making us god-like. I remember reading Poul Anderson's Brain Wave, again when I was about 12, and being suitably impressed by it. It was about how the earth came out a a dead zone, in which it had been for probably millions of year, and everyone's IQ shot up to about 400, which it was normally supposed to be. Of course these godlings left the earth, to keep watch over the retards left behind.

Apparently Tranhumanists have no idea how cliched, and how old, their ideas are. You think they'd have some knowledge of science fiction, what with their beliefs, but I guess not.

There are people today, Daddy Warbucks wealthy, who are spending a lot of money trying to achieve Transhumanist objectives. Hundreds of millions of dollars.

I can't help but remember that scene from the Bible where God asks Satan what he was been doing, and he answers, "Oh, going to and fro and up and down the earth." Causing trouble. A lot of trouble.

Richard K. Morgan has written some very good novels, such as Altered Carbon, in which people can transfer their consciousness into robot bodies. More than one body at a time, actually. And into human bodies, too, since in his world our consciousness in stored in little devices implanted in the back of the neck.

Morgan was just playing around and having a lot of fun, but the True Believers think these things are the next step in our evolution to being god-like.

People are always trying to transcend their consciousness. That's the purpose of drugs (the Moody Blues once had a song, "Timothy Leary is Dead" when that zany guy was still alive). And religion, too, whether East or West.

Transhumanism is the attempt, which has been going on for hundreds of years, to turn science and technology into a religion, and use them to turn us into gods. It never worked before, and it's not going to work now, or in the future. But it's a free country and they can spend their money on whatever they want. I just hope this stuff is never taught in public schools. There is enough goofiness in them already.

I've read criticisms of Transhumanism from the "It's a Mason/Illuminati/Satanic conspiracy!" conspironuts, and enthusiastic support from mutilated transgenders (no surprise there - from transgender to transhuman!). Either way, it's how they get meaning, importance and community in their lives.

But all of them are wasting their time, money and lives. Personally I consider it amusing. Perhaps a tragicomedy is more accurate.

Transhumanism is a pipe dream. We're never going to transfer our consciousness into robot bodies. It's a silly dream, one which will always remain in the realm of bad science fiction.

Will anything good come out of all this money being spent? Sure. Somewhere, somehow, there will be some good.

But overall, it will be a waste of money. They'd be better off spending their money trying to fix the bodies we are already in. Not that it's going to happen. To Transhumanists it's not grandiose enough.


Anonymous said...

"But overall, it will be a waste of money. They'd be better off spending their money trying to fix the bodies we are already in. Not that it's going to happen."

There is a google project dedicate to genetics and aging, they're focusing on extending life or at least body maintenance which in turn would end up extending life.

Personally I prefer being a vampire than a robot.

Anonymous said...

Forgot the google project.

Seems a lot less Utopiac like the 2045 transhumanism project

Mindstorm said...

Well, but teleoperating robotic bodies as a 'brain in a vat' is less far-fetched, if rather unsavory. :)

Mindstorm said... - this technology is moving forward, you know....

kurt9 said...

There are two flavors of transhumanism. The first, as described here, is the AI/uploading scenario, which I regard as a cargo cult. However, there is another flavor of transhumanism that is rooted firmly in bio-engineering. This version is real and, I can assure you, that most of us who identify with the transhumanist label are of this latter variety. We simply don't get the media attention that the AI people get.

In one sense, there really is no such thing as transhumanism. Of all of the alternations we want to do to ourselves, there are only two that are meaningful. The first is the curing (elimination) of the aging process leading to an indefinitely long youthful life span. I don't use the term "immortality" to describe this because, even with whole body regeneration, you can still die of any event that causes total destruction of your brain. The second is increase in cognitive ability. Both of these are simply extensions of bio-medical technology (e.g. bio-engineering) and are, therefor, therapeutic in nature.

So, transhumanism is nothing more than the application of therapeutic medicine.