Transtopianism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Cris, Feb 7, 2001.

  1. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Transtopianism. A radical new way of thinking, and which seems to fit many of my own life principles quite nicely.

    Intro.

    We're at a crossroads. For thousands of years mankind has been the dominant species on earth, the pinnacle of evolution. Now, as we enter the 21st century, this is about to change. A new and radically diffferent chapter of evolution is about to begin, for, as Vernor Vinge put it at the 1993 NASA VISION-21 Symposium:

    `Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.'

    This event, the relatively sudden emergence of superintelligence (SI), is often referred to as the Singularity in Transhuman circles. The longer definition is:

    "SINGULARITY: the postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided evolutionary development accelerates enormously (powered by nanotech, neuroscience, AI, and perhaps uploading) so that nothing beyond that time can reliably be conceived". [Vernor Vinge, 1986] (Lextropicon).

    Whether these new, Posthuman beings (aka SIs, Powers or PSEs -- Post-Singularity Entities) will be augmented humans, artificial intelligences (AIs) or some hybrid form, they will no doubt change life as we know it rapidly and profoundly. For better or for worse; what happens to those who are left behind in this burst of self-directed hyperevolution is by definition unknown, "unknowable" even, but extinction is definitely one of the more realistic options.

    Here is the home page –

    http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/kuwait/557/index.html

    Here are their stated principles –

    http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/kuwait/557/principles.html

    And if you don’t want to read all that, there is quite a bit, then here is my summary. I’ve taken essentially the first paragraph from each of the principles; there is a lot more interesting detail on the site.


    Rationalism. Rational thinking is practical; it is the most reliable way to find solutions to problems. Because we are such frail, imperfect creatures, we need science and technology, the fruits of reason, to conquer death, disease and other biological shortcomings, and thus achieve the most rational of goals: a pleasant, eternal existence.

    Memetic Evolution. Transtopianism is a continuously evolving philosophy, a logical consequence of the search for perfection which lies at its core. We need to avoid stale, impractical dogmas while at the same time preserving those values that are clearly reasonable and helpful in improving our condition, or at least aren't detrimental to this goal.

    Intelligent Hedonism. Finding "true happiness" and "fulfillment" may not be as difficult as many seem to think; it's all in the chemicals. Not very surprising really, we are "merely" biological machines, after all.

    Transhumanism. The belief that we can, and should, try to overcome our biological limits by means of reason, science and technology. Transhumanists seek things like intelligence augmentation, increased strength and beauty, extreme life extension, sustainable mood enhancement and the capability to get offplanet and explore the universe.

    Singularitarianism. Vernor Vinge defined the Singularity in 1986 as "the postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided evolutionary development accelerates enormously (powered by nanotech, neuroscience, AI, and perhaps uploading) so that nothing beyond that time can reliably be conceived". More specifically, it is the moment when superhuman intelligence emerges, either as a result of "conscious" AI, advanced computer/human interfaces, genetic engineering or mind uploading.

    Atheism. Transtopianism rejects religious dogma and belief in the supernatural. The rational approach to these things is that they are mere figments of the imagination until proven otherwise. Or, as Occam's Razor puts it: one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.

    Egoism. There are two primary forms of Egoism, namely 1) Psychological Egoism, which is descriptive and claims that everyone acts in their own self-interest, i.e. everyone is an Egoist at heart, and 2) Ethical Egoism, which is normative and claims that everyone ought to act in their own self-interest.

    There are all sorts of excellent arguments both for and against the psychological form, but the best model is probably that of man as an essentially self-serving ("egoistic") creature that is hampered by short-sighted, potentially harmful/lethal hedonistic and altruistic urges, caused by a combination of nature and nurture, i.e. genes and environment. Obviously, there are rather significant variations among individuals; but the basic model is presumably the same for all "normal" human beings, and likely most animals as well.

    Regardless of the accuracy of the above psychological model, there is no room for doubt regarding the validity of Ethical Egoism within the Transtopian philosophy; self-interest is the highest good, because pleasure and happiness are the least arbitrary "meaning of life" (see Intelligent Hedonism). Even if one doesn't believe this to be the case, one must at the very least be alive to seek the "true" meaning of life. Needless to say, this could very well be an open-ended search. In order to survive indefinitely, one must overcome hard-wired or learned (seriously) harmful behavior, especially altruism, idealism and guilt. Let's start with the latter:

    Tough Liberalism (not to be confused with "bleeding-heart" or "leftist" Liberalism). Anything goes as long as it doesn't (seriously) harm the others within one's contract group (= a group which people voluntarily join/form to achieve common goals, like surviving the Singularity for example).

    Mental, Physical & Financial Empowerment. To quote from Five Things You Can Do To Fight Entropy Now by Romana Machado: "To be prepared for a future that may be full of difficult changes, and survive in an entropic world, take personal responsibility for your security. If you are good at self-defense, you need not regard yourself as a powerless victim. Self-defense encourages your sense of autonomy and personal power. Following a course of study in martial arts may help you to develop the proper attitude towards the use of force in self-defense. Learn the proper use of devices and techniques that can protect you from harm". Needless to say, a pacifistic or "meek" attitude is definitely not compatible with the Transtopian spirit.

    No Procreation. Transtopians don't [plan to] have offspring. The (practical) reason is that, assuming that you want to be a good parent, children are a serious drain in terms of time and resources, increase stress, make you more vulnerable, more altruistic, less flexible, and generally more "settled" and conservative (bourgeois, if you will). When people become parents, they implicitly (and duly) accept that their "fun days" are over, and that it's time to "get responsible". Well, screw that! Only a fool would give up his life like that. Better to stay young at heart and unbound forever. The only real value of offspring in modern ("Western") societies is "enjoyment" (hedonistic motive), but due to the significant drawbacks of parenthood it can't be considered intelligent hedonism, and should thus be avoided.

    Dynamic Pessimism, aka Cynical Optimism. Though Transtopians have no doubts about man's enormous potential to overcome his biological and social limits, they are generally less optimistic than "regular" Transhumanists about the future. The chances that our advanced technologies will accidentally or intentionally cause unparalled destruction are, given our historical precedents, much too great to ignore.

    Cryonics, aka applied immortalism. Cryonic suspension is an experimental procedure whereby patients who no longer can be kept alive with today's medical abilities are preserved at low temperature for treatment in the future.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2001
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  3. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Hi Gaston,

    I have thought about this for some time and I had reached the same conclusion that we would still likely form into groups. But now I have changed my mind. Individuals combine into groups for the purpose of survival, even specialized cells depend on other cells for their survival. But augmented or uploaded posthumans will have limitless life spans, and in the case of uploads, backups will be available for recovery after disasters. I think that effective immortality would fundamentally change the way we view ourselves and any need to group together. The drive will no longer be survival of the species but survival of the individual. This is a fundamental paradigm shift, which will require us to review how we react to others. Take the simple case that without the need or desire for procreation (an evolutionary mechanism) the need for ‘family’ will disappear. The shift will be towards total personal self-reliance, i.e. the opposite of forming complex social systems.

    But there are two views that must be considered. (1) The immediate pre-singularity lifestyle, where we will still be dependent on significant cooperation (we would be not be sufficiently resilient to be completely self-reliant), and (2) the post-singularity lifestyle where hopefully, if we continue to exist, we would be capable of complete self-reliance.

    There is great scope here for imaginative speculation.

    Have fun
    Cris

    PS. And yes the extropian institute is yet again another player in this field that has it own unique and not incompatible philosophy.
     
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  5. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Hi Gaston,

    Where did your other message go, I was about to reply?

    Cris
     
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  7. Hermann Registered Senior Member

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    159
    Cris,

    Where does the funny name " transtopianism" come from?

    As you know, I am convinced that real self-awareness is a feature of the individual soul connected to a brain, which can never be achieved by the computer alone. But what about a dualistic transtopianism? If you make proper progress by copying brain functions, such computer may allow to connect a soul. In such case the computers will be able to multiply themselves by their program and with the possibility of attaching souls life on earth could go on even when human life would not longer be possible.

    By the way, I have now changed my homepage (http://home.t-online.de/home/hraith/english.htm) quite a lot considering what I have learned in discussions - especially from Boris.

    Hermann
     
  8. tony1 Jesus is Lord Registered Senior Member

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    This is a very clear, concise and to-the-point post.

    Amazing to me, in that it is quite scriptural, but, as it were, viewed from the other side.

    Are you a follower of Benjamin Creme?
     
  9. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    Hi Tony,

    No I am not familiar with Benjamin Creme, what is his cause?

    Yes unfortunately many of the Transtopian statements do include 'flowery' language at times. I'll have to do a more objective re-write for them. LOL. But in many ways the terminology is equally applicable to the religious and non-religious.

    Cris
     
  10. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    9,188
    Hi Hermann,

    I had a quick search for the name when you posted the other day, but I couldn't find a definitive answer. I can guess based on my understanding of the history, but I'd like something better. I'll try to get back to this soon (busy at work right now), since I would also like to know.

    Be back soon.

    Cris

    PS. Nice to see you still follow these forums. Are you still active in the MSN forum?
     
  11. tony1 Jesus is Lord Registered Senior Member

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    2,279
    Beats me.

    I like to use "flowery" language myself, when talking technology and vice versa.
    It forces both the speaker and the listener to pay attention.
    It avoids the ivory-tower mentality where ideas start to make sense only because a person hasn't heard anything else for a while.

    Pretty much, otherwise there would be zero common ground.

    "transtopia" is a particularly clever way for the SIs, Powers, or PSEs, as you call them, to express themselves.

    It essentially means "from the other place."

    Thus, transtopianism is the belief from the other side.
    Devilishly clever, no?

    Plus, we don't have to wait for the singularity to occur to find these PSEs; they've been around for a long time already.

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).

    See, in the midst of all that "flowery" language, there they are, as described abut 2000 years ago.
     
  12. Javier Registered Senior Member

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    56
    Hi Cris,I m Gaston,I m back...
     

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