Transhumanist

TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: ELECTRONIC INTERFACES AND AMPLIFIED ...

Here's another one for the transhumanist scrapbook. Recently I blogged about the growing perception of some scientists that some animals seem to have rudimentary linguistic skills, or, to put it in the Chomskian manner, a rudimentary innate grammatical competence. These raise the questions of consciousness, intelligence, and "self" in a rather direct manner. Likewise, my co-author Dr Scott deHart and I raised similar issues in Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, and here on this website I have blogged numerous times about the growing debate on what human-computer/internet interfaces might mean: will it mean a greatly enhanced individual consciousness and intelligence, or will it lead to the creation of a borg-like "hive mind"?  I suspect that the former is true unless one factors in the already existing capabilities - for you mind-control technology followers - for the direct manipulation of emotions via neural implants. The dangers that such technologies spell for the creation of a "hive mind" of complacent  quasi-robots. Indeed, such technological prospects in the transhumanist "singularity" scenarios come quite close to approximating, if not being actual technological versions of, possession.

Then, recently, I have also been speculating in some blogs that the creation of greater and greater networked computational power might indeed lead to the Robert Heinlein scenario, where some computer, or better, the network itself, "wakes up". The network scenario intrigues me, for it would be a kind of group consciousness version of the scenario that Heinlein first presented in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

But there's another possibility that is now gaining the attention of transhumanist thinkers and scenario-gamers:

Humans With Amplified Intelligence Could Be More Powerful Than AI

I was particularly struck by the fact that Michael Anissimov at least appears to "get" the inherent dangers of all the transhumanist speculative euphoria:

"What potential psychological side-effects may emerge from a radically enhanced human? Would they even be considered a human at this point?

"One of the most salient side effects would be insanity. The human brain is an extremely fine-tuned and calibrated machine. Most perturbations to this tuning qualify as what we would consider "crazy." There are many different types of insanity, far more than there are types of sanity. From the inside, insanity seems perfectly sane, so we'd probably have a lot of trouble convincing these people they are insane.

"Even in the case of perfect sanity, side effects might include seizures, information overload, and possibly feelings of egomania or extreme alienation. Smart people tend to feel comparatively more alienated in the world, and for a being smarter than everyone, the effect would be greatly amplified.

"Most very smart people are not jovial and sociable like Richard Feynman. Hemingway said, "An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." What if drunkenness were not enough to instill camaraderie and mutual affection? There could be a clean "empathy break" that leads to psychopathy."

This possibility was something that Dr. de Hart and I discussed numerous times while writing Transhumanism, and indeed, the scenario that concerned us at the time was not only the effect of such technologies on producing individual insanity and psychopathy, but also what would happen if these technologies, in "waking up" a kind of networked or "hive" or "Group persona or consciousness", also made it quite insane or sociopathic?

Anissimov gets this, or at least a part of this danger:

"The problem with IA is that you are dealing with human beings, and human beings are flawed. People with enhanced intelligence could still have a merely human-level morality, leveraging their vast intellects for hedonistic or even genocidal purposes."

We can look to these new technologies as signs of hope, certainly, or as "lights at the end of the tunnel." But as one alternative researcher, Jordan Maxwell, recently put it, the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train...

See you on the flip side.

9 thoughts on “ TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: ELECTRONIC INTERFACES AND AMPLIFIED ...”

  1. Here’s a nice review from Reason magazine:

    Transhumanism’s Timeless Temptation

    In Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas (Feral House), crypto-historians Joseph P. Farrell and Scott D. de Hart explore links between modern science and ancient texts. They see connections between ultra-modern transgenic techniques to transform the biological world and hidden goals of ancient alchemists, gnomic sacred texts, and possible prehistorical high-tech civilizations. The Rockefellers and genetically modified food also merit mentions. 

    If you think texts like the Rig Veda and Popol Vuh are reliable guides to the goals and techniques of advanced lost civilizations, then Transhumanism offers a compelling slate of spooky coincidences. If you think those texts just fanciful concoctions of the long dead, then the book serves as documentation of the ancient roots of man’s desire for complete techno-control of the stuff of life. There’s nothing surprising or spooky about that; the technological manipulation of nature–human and otherwise–is quintessentially human.
    –Brian Doherty from the March 2013 issue

    http://reason.com/archives/2013/03/11/transhumanisms-timeless-temptation

  2. Dr Farrell–suggest you read (or re-read) Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos, especially his Semiotic Intermezzo section. His comments on consciousness, language, and (most of all, here) “the sign of the self” are profound, and will help to clarify your ruminations, I believe.

  3. The Jordan Maxwell comment at the end may be true, but god help me that guy meanders into semantics and fear porn. About as easy to listen to as that Kerry Cassidy.
    No doubt you’ve heard, but not had time to comment on, the NSA Prism leak (not that such levels of spying are beyond imagination), but check this out:
    Snowden’s NSA information came out on 6/6/6(=2+0+1+3)
    Exactly on the day,64 years ago,”1984″ was published.
    On the first day of the Bilderberg meeting.

    Who’s really put this Snowden play out? Webster Tarpley had a different take than the usual papers. Check out his weekly talk for 6/8.

    1. Hi MQ,

      I agree with you totaly- Jordan Maxwell’s etymology only works in the English language (there are other languages out there 🙂 ) although I think he still has some valuable info and he just shouldn’t be unceremoniously swept under the carpet if some of his theories (etymology) don’t pan out on a universally orthographic level- am not sure if he’s exclusively a fear-porn artist; I just think he tells it like it is even if he’s not 100% correct about everything (who is?)-

      “Snowden’s NSA information came out on 6/6/6(=2+0+1+3)”- yep, you’re right-

      “Who’s really put this Snowden play out?”- I ask myself the same question and I don’t have the answer- same with “Anonymous” and Julian Assange (rhymes with spunge)-

      I have a lot of respect for Tarpley but I don’t think he get’s everything right either- no-one does in this incredible world of deception in which we are living- the rabbit hole is just so incredibly deep, dark and murky and all of us need to continue to use unemotional, logical discernment to try to separate the wheat from the chaff-

      stay well MQ- regards-

      Larry in Germany

  4. As we speculate into the question; “What potential psychological side-effects may emerge from a radically enhanced human? Would they even be considered a human at this point?

    it would be I believe appropriate to look to religious cosmology’s of religion and ask ourselves;

    “Does the totality of our universe have an preexistence intelligence that created it – a natural intelligence rather than an artificial intelligence, giving all that the universe is including us an intelligent design?”

    “Is there a divine programmer of the known universe – a God if you would behind the universe?”

    Using advance string theory mathematical formula physicist such as James Gates (Toll Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland). also serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, states that in his research the conclusions drawn are that we live in matrix. Using advance string theory mathematical formula at the lowest level of our existence there is “computer code.

    Here is a recording of Dr. James Gates discussing his findings.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp4NkItgf0E

    I would say that on the original question poised – Would they (singularity bot-heads) even be considered a human at this point? that we look to a famous writing of Mary Shelley http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein for a possible answer.

    As for myself I would say no transhumanist bot-heads would not be human but have become “The Adam of their own labors”, and elsewhere as someone who “would have” been “Adam”, but is instead “are fallen angels.”
    – paraphrasing Mary Shelly of course.

  5. It does sound like the Borg Hive Mind ours elites wet dream of total control. And as Sagnacity said it probably been around for a long time already. What gets me is why our masters get out of this why are they so addicted to this stuff anyway don’t they have anything better to do with themselves? Wealth, Power Junkies all of them.

  6. Robert Barricklow

    The irony is that insanity is breeding insanity as the corporate manifesto of profit over humanity, is writing the script. It is a closed system versus an open system. The open system breaths the fresh air of humanity; while the closed system breeds the pathologies of destruction.
    As I’ve written before, there is a new form of virulent corporatism, authoritarian in character with an isatiable quest for power & profits. This form of capitalism poses formidable obstacles in a struggle for humanity itself, let alone a democratic form of self-governance. The far-reaching pathologies it is introducing are likely to be with us for a long time. They may effect every corner of society and nature, leaving no institution, social relation, or life-form untouched. The 21st Century may thus bear witness to some of the deeper transformations of humanity, as technology * science are bounded ever more closely to the power of this new virulent form of corporate capitalism.
    We must therefore recognize that society is crucial to the meaning and nature of technology, and that technology is profoundly social and subject to social accountability. Their entwined existence, their struggles and contradictions end up defining a way of life. What way of life will this new virulent form of corporatism represent? Unless we can insert it into the fabric of society in a socially responible way, this virulence of contradictions & pathlogies will likely endanger the meaning of life, nature, justice, human dignity, and our sustenance as social beings.
    Open vs Closed.
    Humanity vs Corporatism.

    1. Robert, This troubles me as well. … Here’s a not-very-encouraging report published in late 2011 by the ETC Group: ‘Who Will Control the Green Economy?’ It asks: “Will a ‘great green technological transformation’ bring about a ‘green economy’ to help us save ourselves and our planet? Or will it serve those already controlling today’s ‘greed economy?’ ” … It contends that “in the absence of effective and socially responsive governance, the green economy will spur even greater convergence of corporate power and unleash the most massive resource grab in more than 500 years” … which we are seeing now in all the major economies. As you say so well, society is crucial to countering this rapacious, destructive, and pathological form of corporate capitalism. Social responsibility and accountability are needed to redefine the primary vision or mission to uplifting humanity and to provide direction. Eventually the power- and greed-addicted ‘too-big-to-fails’ will fail. In the meantime society can be developing new, open, life supporting institutions and technologies whose purpose will be to serve and nurture individuals, humanity, and the planet. It doesn’t take many positively thinking individuals to cause a shift in social consciousness and I think this is already happening at a subtle level around the world. Personal and social transformations work together. Existing institutions are merely frameworks that can be co-opted and turned around. We capture the game and use our own rules. This is my vision anyway … So much for deep thinking late at night … The cicadas are in fine voice this evening; I think I’ll go out and enjoy the concert. …

      http://www.etcgroup.org/content/who-will-control-green-economy-0

  7. I think that super hive mind already exists and has for more than 1000 years. It’s similar to the mentality used by the Catholic Church and various European “nobles” to launch the crusades. Arabs of Islamic bent used the same forces to excuse and encourage the wholesale invasion and long occupation of North Africa. Then of course there’s that whole USA’s manifest destiny crap. And so on.

    And yes, it’s been made worse by something (possibly human developed tech) in the last dozen years or so.

    But it’s not new, just the ways it’s accessed appear to have been tweaked. No, the point is it won’t look like the Borg from Star Trek gen 2–the capture of the hive mind will be camouflaged.

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