Talk:Transhumanism/Archive 12

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Archive 11 Archive 12 Archive 13

Clarification requested on personhood theory

Metamagician has addressed this to some extent, but perhaps these comments can be expanded upon relative to the following passage in the article:

"...all these creations would still be unique persons deserving of respect, dignity, rights and citizenship."

I understand personhood theory to include animals, or at least "uplifted" animals. Who decides when they have been uplifted enough to gain the right to vote, drink alcoholic beverages, or apply for credit? This is important for the Frankenstein issue. If not every "citizen" is equal, then the degree of chimerism of a chimera, for example, or genetic concordance with some agreed on standard in a genetically engineered ape, or genetically mis-engineered human, may lead to "demotion" as well as uplifing with respect to civil rights and liberties. The way the article is written suggests that transhumanists have answered these questions in a way that leaves no additional problems. Earlier text that suggested that there were additional problems, rather than being edited, was simply deleted. Moreover, the unopposed response, as it stands, provides a way of introducing the term "human racism", which makes people who find problems with this seem like racists. It doesn't seem to me that this is appropriate by the standards of Wikipedia--StN 16:28, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

I think that passage comes from Nick Bostrom's essay Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective. Linda MacDonald Glenn's essay Biotechnology at the Margins of Personhood: An Evolving Legal Paradigm might be a good source. However, surprise, James Hughes discusses all these issues in Types of Persons and What We Owe Them section (chapter 12, pages 221 to 227) of his book Citizen Cyborg. As for the term "human racism", which is a word often used by Hughes and other transhumanists to refer to a specific form of negative human exceptionalism, the sentence only implies that people who would, for example, treat self-aware clones as sub-humans by denying them civil rights and liberties are "human racists". I think there is no difference between introducing this term in the same way you introduce the term "bio-luddites" in another section of the article. --Loremaster 18:53, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
See archived discussion entitled Disingenouesness alert for the debate about the specific issue of using the term "human racism". --Loremaster 17:22, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

All involved: please refrain from archiving this section until there is consensus that the questions have been discussed adequately.--StN 16:36, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

I only archive sections when I assume that there is consensus that the questions have been discussed adequately. --Loremaster 18:54, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Clarification provided

StN asked: "I understand personhood theory to include animals, or at least "uplifted" animals. Who decides when they have been uplifted enough to gain the right to vote, drink alcoholic beverages, or apply for credit? [...] If not every "citizen" is equal, then the degree of chimerism of a chimera, for example, or genetic concordance with some agreed on standard in a genetically engineered ape, or genetically mis-engineered human, may lead to "demotion" as well as uplifing with respect to civil rights and liberties."

George Dvorsky, who published the 2006 essay All Together Now: Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting non human animals, wrote the following reply:

"The first thing to ask is how human society goes about this. Your first question is "who decides?" Well, who decides in human society that humans can vote, drink booze, and apply for credit?

The state declares that if you're a citizen and you've reached the age of consent, you can vote. That's a pretty liberal and sweeping allowance. There's a general assumption of personhood; other factors, like level of education, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., are irrelevant. So, when it comes to uplifted animals, citizenship and the right to vote can't be tied into their "species," or other superfluous characteristics that we ourselves don't invoke as reasons for not allowing a person to vote.

Regarding the booze question, again that's the state deciding in conjunction with democratically achieved consensus and a dash of social contract thrown in. And as for applying for credit, that's quite obviously up to the individual companies who are offering it. Based on what I've seen to date in terms of how credit cards are given out like candy, I'm surprised that credit card companies haven't already offered credit to bonobos and platypuses.

Your next question is about the equality of citizens. Actually, once the age of consent is achieved (and you haven't violated the social contract with anti-social behaviour), you are equal under the law regardless of your physical and psychological proclivities. We don't have tiers of citizenship in liberal democracies -- to do so would be a form of apartheid. I think it would be an extremely bad idea to start "demoting" uplifted nonhumans or psychological delayed humans based on some personhood metric. It's a binary concept - you're either an equal citizen under the law or you're not a citizen.

Ultimately, I think your question is this: at what point does an uplifted nonhuman enter the social contract? I would argue that once personhood is determined in an animal, the social contract comes into play. We cannot discriminate between animal and human societies. Nonhumans today already deserve state protection and laws to defend their interests (ergo the pending progressive citizenship legislation in Spain that would recognize the great apes) -- even though they cannot articulate their needs themselves. It's obvious when abuse happens, and it's our responsibility to look out for nonhuman interests. They are part of the social contract, but we acknowledge that their limited psychologies don't allow for other citizenship type behaviour like voting. The same policy is applied to small children and the severely disabled. There is nothing new here.

As for voting and other citizenship perks, we'll know that uplifted animals want to participate in the social and political arena when they start asking for it -- and we'll have to listen. To ignore their pleas for political inclusion, the right to vote and organize, would be discrimination and unconstitutional."

Thanks for providing this clarification, but I do not find it persuasive. I think one of the problems here is the compression and conflation of categories. One can recognize the "right" (a human-granted right) of sentient beings not to be killed, tortured and eaten, and the immorality (based, again, on human-generated moral standards) of keeping in captivity primates, cetaceans, cephalopods, etc., without imagining that they would want to participate in "our" democratic processes, religious practices, etc. It seems this latter sentiment is just a form of imperialistic paternalism. And just because some irresponsible humans can get credit cards or are given access to distilled spirits doesn't mean we should make these available to bonobos who indicate they like to get drunk or play with consumer goods. If these practices arise from their own societies, that's a different story. Concerning demotion from personhood, human societies are still at the beginning of dealing with who's in and who's out with respect to civil rights. A great ape has more claim on rights than a brain-dead human, or than an organism whose brain is half-human half-rat. But the right of the ape is primarily the right to be left alone by humans. The rights of chimeras or genetically-deranged clones would be the right not to have further cruelties visited upon them consequent on iatrogenic physical and social dislocations -- that is, the right to be life-long wards of their creators or owners.--StN 19:32, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps the idea of substrate-independent moral obligation needs to be better explained: Our moral obligations to a being, and the consequent political rights we should thereby attempt to ensure for types of beings, are not relevantly determined by whether they are instantiated in human meat, chimp meat or silicon. The relevant facts are the nature of their consciousness: (a) how sentient they are (pleasure/pain), (b) how self-aware they are, and (c) whether they are aware enough of the consequences of their action and morally accountable enough to be given the fuller responsibilities of adult citizenship (contracts, sexual consent, liquor, military services, etc.) StN, please correct me if I am wrong but your position seems to reflect a speciesist Prime Directive, that we should leave other "species" alone, as if both the species barrier was relevant and the Prime Directive was a self-evident moral principle. Its not. Why do you feel inclusion into human society is a form of paternalism? Why do feel there is justification in creating a delineation between species?
How do you know species barriers are not relevant to moral considerations, 67.68.89.159? We have many examples of species, and none of them, even dogs, "man's best friend," seems interested in government or literature. My view that they should be left alone, unless they enter into voluntary relationships with us, comes from what I have learned about evolutionary and behavioral biology, not from Star Trek. No amount of genetic engineering has ever transformed one species into another, so they must have acquired discrete, bounded identities over the course of evolution. You perhaps believe that genetic manipulation can "uplift" animals to make them more compatible with social and cultural practices that are the product of a very specific trajectory of human evolution. (The language certainly smacks of imperialism and the missionary imperative.) Most likely, such efforts will just produce damaged animals, since the relationship between genes and traits is complex and context dependent (i.e., the same gene, or group of genes, will function very differently in the context of the human and pig genomes). Sentient computers -- a science fiction fantasy if there ever was one! Is there even a glimmer of this in the most powerful supercomputers? Your position, 67.68.89.159, seems to be a category error: since humans have for too long placed other humans in lower or nonequivalent rights categories for pernicous reasons such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, why not just extend the same rights to nonhumans? But rights are a human product. We can generalize humane behavior to other groups, we can serve our cats vegetarian meals, we can even program robots to help rather than harm each other, but that doesn't make them members of the primary moral community.--StN 02:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
As your reference to imperialism underlines, on the same logic there is no self-evident reason why the moral codes and expectations developed in the Western European trajectory - human rights, liberal democracy and so on - should be generalized to other humans with different historical trajectories. So we have no moral grounds for intervening to stop genocide or prevent human rights abuses.
I disagree both with that kind of cultural relativism and with species relativism. I think we can be conscious of our cultural and species blinkers and self-interests, and still try to create a world that allows all persons to have as little suffering as possible, and achieve their fullest potentials. If that means being liberal democratic cultural imperialist and sending blue helmets to separate Hutus and Tutsis, then guilty as charged.
As to the production of damaged animals that is a serious concern, but all therapies have risks and we already have a well-worked out process for evaluating the risks and benefits of therapies for humans who can't give consent, i.e. children, the mentally disabled and so on. Even if you are already opposed to the use of apes in medical research, you wouldn't seem to have much reason to complain about experimental cognitive enhancement research on apes, which, unlike most research on apes, could be validated by the actual benefits to the apes.
As to your hand-waving about machine minds the plausibility of machine minds is really irrelevant to argument about the relationship of rights/moral-standing to this elusive "humanness."

---

Fascinating discussion, but let's all remember we're not here to discover the truth, merely to find and present the ascertainable facts about transhumanism. I suggest we don't get bogged down too much in arguments about uplifting because as far as I know it's not something that all transhumanists advocate. If arguments have been made for it (e.g. by James Hughes and George Dvorsky) or against it (e.g. by Maxwell Mehlman), they probably should be incorporated in a specific article on the subject. I seem to recall that there is such an article somewhere here and that we discussed it in past. For what it's worth, I'm basically against the idea, but what I think doesn't matter unless I've said it somewhere worth referencing. Actually, I probably have, but that's another story. :) Metamagician3000 09:30, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

John Spencer

  1. How significant was and is John Spencer (the advocate of space tourism) to the history of transhumanism?
  2. Did and does he consider himself a transhuman/transhumanist?
  3. What citable sources confirm his role in the history of transhumanism? Does Edward Regis mention him in his book?

--Loremaster 02:52, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

There's no entry for him in the index of the Regis book - just checked. Metamagician3000 01:08, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. Does anyone know of any source that confirms Spencer's role in transhumanist history? --Loremaster 23:16, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll email someone who might know someone who might know someone... --Loremaster 00:28, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Natasha Vita-More wrote:

"This depends on how one is accurately addressing transhumanism's development and growth. John is an architect, and more specifically a space architect. He, along with several of us, lectured at FM’s classes at UCLA on our transhuman future. John was very involved in projects that reflected specific interests or aims of transhumanism; but he was not an activist or a promoter of transhumanism, per se. He worked on his own projects which tied into other transhumanist projects. His is a space tourism activist and his businesses are in this domain. This domain, however, is (or was until the past 7 or so years) integral to transhumanism growth and development because early transhumanists were space enthusiasts and many of us were involved in promoting space exploration. I even went to space camp! Unfortunately many current transhumanists are more interested in politics or social issues rather than interested in both space and social issues! Thus, much attention has been taken away from this space exploration. Frankly, it is my strong belief that space development (including tourism, commerce, mining, habitats, etc.) will once again be paramount to transhumanism. This could occur in the next decade, as trends are leaning quite strongly in that direction. It could very well be an application of nanotechnology, AGI or other innovative technologies in space exploration that can help to bring about our desired or preferred transhumanist futures.

Regardless, John did not actively promote transhumanism and he did not write about it. But does this matter? He was around in the 1980s when many of us were meeting in cafe's and a the university (he was always at the university) when we were planning out the transhuman future. John connected many people. He was a true connector of ideas and people. I think this is important to recognize.

Because John was not a techie, or a social activist, or a science fiction writer, should not bear any weight against his being involved in the early beginnings of the movement, which he was and he has remained true to his work and his commitments which is to help humanity move forward and to bring space to the masses.

--Loremaster 21:17, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

On the basis of this, it doesn't seem to me that John Spencer is a transhumanist any more than Richard Branson is. Just a friend of transhumanists.--StN 23:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I tend to agree with this. Natasha's info is useful and interesting, but I can't immediately see how it leads to anything that we need to say in this particular article. There may be an article about space advocacy or something where Wikipedia could make better use of it. Metamagician3000 23:26, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
The question is whether or not we should delete the mention of John Spencer from the History section of the article? --Loremaster 11:03, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm not uncomfortable with what's there at the moment, which just mentions him as part of a general "buzz", at a place and time, from which transhumanism as we know it developed. Metamagician3000 12:36, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I've removed any mention of John Spencer from the Transhumanism article. --Loremaster 13:54, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Okay, no objection from me. Metamagician3000 14:22, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Books

StN, have you read Hughes' book? --Loremaster 21:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I have; I think you asked me this before. It took a little time since my patience runs out when someone has to resort to name-calling so as not to engage the positions of people he disagrees with. To my mind, it's standard liberal meliorism, not very astute politically, and without much of a sense of history. I agree with the parts about making technology more widely available, though I would focus more on clean water and healthful food. I would also want to reverse some of the marvels of technology, like high fructose soft drinks (India is now experiencing the benefits of this) and cattle pastures supplanting South American rain forests. I wouldn't place cloning and germline-engineering humans high on the "to do" list.--StN 04:02, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
As a self-described provocateur, Hughes makes no apologies for resorting to name-calling since he does it while engaging the positions of the people he disagrees with quite consicely or extensively. As for the issue of focusing on the problem of high fructose soft drinks rather than human genetic engineering, he ties them together. From p.19-20: "Critser recommends restricting advertising that targets kids, removing fast food and soda from schools, expanding physical education requirements in schools, and insituting a fat tax on unhealthy foods. All good ideas, and corporations are certainly eager to make profits by first helping us kill ourselves and then by fixing us back up. But the basic cause of obesity is that we have bodies designed to spend hours walking around the savanna every day, and brains that find easy access to fats, sugars and carbohydrates irresistible. Only safe and cheap genetic and pharmaceutical therapies can successfully stop the deadly world-wide rise of obesity." As for the problem of cattle pastures, meat grow in vats that even a vegetarian could endorse! --Loremaster 23:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
So, genetically engineer human embryos and medicate children to prevent obesity, which the human species began to suffer in 1970 (beginning with the U.S.A.), once it realized, after a 50,000 year delay, that it was no longer running around in the savannah. Pretty smart. I must have missed this part.--StN 00:11, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Hughes wasn't talking about genetically engineering human embryos or medicating children. He was refering to fact that for adults "more than sixty pharmaceutical treatments to alter metabolism or reduce appetite are being developed, based on more than 130 genes that been discovered to regulate weight in humans. The gene or drug tweaks that keep us slim will likely be much simpler, modifying just one of those chemical pathways". As for the savannah comment, I neglected to quote the part where Hughes pointed out that beyond new food technologies, industrial society is also to blame for the obesity epidemic because it allowed us to become less active and encouraged more sedentary entertainment. --Loremaster 00:26, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
What are "gene tweaks"? Are they somatic gene insertions or germline modifications? If the former, what is the target tissue, fat, which would be genetically programmed to melt away? I'm not ridiculing this, just asking, because if so, the genetic engineering would have to be very efficient to affect significant amounts of fat in the adult body. Also, fat, being lipid-rich, with little cytoplasm, would be very hard to engineer. Is there another somatic tissue that would be more suitable for engineering to reverse obesity? (Maybe the brain? Again, just asking.) Or maybe it *is* germline intervention that he is referring to. This would be a lot easier technically. Embryo transgenesis is more efficient, and the modification is much more likely to have a pervasive effect. Also, it would persist across generations. Embryo modification has its own risks of course -- developmental defects, shortened lifespan, etc. And you really wouldn't know ahead of time whether the particular embryo you are experimenting on would actually have turned out to be obese as a child or adult. I forget whether Hughes discusses these questions beyond saying that the gene tweaks woud be "simpler", but I don't think so. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) This is unfortunately the case with a lot of bioethicists who discuss genetic technologies. They don't really understand them that well, but nonetheless think they are really cool.--StN 01:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

The full quote is "More than sixty pharmaceutical treatments to alter metabolism or reduce appetite are being developed, based on more than 130 genes that been discovered to regulate weight in humans. The gene or drug tweaks that keep us slim will likely be much simpler, modifying just one of those chemical pathways. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made mice that can stay slim on high-fat, high-calorie diets by snipping out just one gene, SCD-1, which codes for just one enzyme, SCD, which regulates insulin sensitivity. Research on a database of all Icelanders' genes has turned up one gene that determines whether an Icelanders is slim or fat."

Whenever Hughes talks of "gene tweaks", he is refering to somatic and/or germline. He also adds that somatic will quickly become germline in any case if people change their spermatogenic genes or eggs.

As for other issues you raised, Hughes wrote the following:

"People should have a right control their own genomes and have children without permission from the government. So I don't think we should prevent germinal choice that results from someone intentionally changing their reproductive cells with a legal gene therapy. But we can and should pass laws about what kinds of medical products, services and technologies can be sold. All genetic therapies on embryos, fetuses, children and adults, like all drugs and medical devices, should first pass through animal and the human trials, and be shown to be safe and effective before they are made available to the public. Human cloning and germline modifications should have to show in clinical trials that they do not cause genetic abnormalities in mammals. The first human trials of cloning or genetic modification could be restricted to parents who need to use the technique to have a child because a parent has a serious genetic disease. Then, after observing these first experimental clones and gene-tweaked kids, we could open the technique to all prospective parents who want to use it.

The length of time we need to wait to be certain of the safety of the genetic modifications will quickly shrink as we build computer models of the human genome and the proteins and tissue engineering that it codes for. One of the larger in silico biology efforts is the international E. Coli Alliance, which has created a computer model of the single-celled organism and how its genes work together to create the organism. Now they can begin tweaking it in computer simulations.

With the exponential progress in gene scanning and computing power, a virtual model of genetic expression in the human body will not be far behind. Humans are only one order of magnitude more complex that E. coli (35, 000 genes to E. coli's 4403 genes), which is about five years in Moore's Law time. We are already testing virtual drugs against virtual tissues. The firm Entelos in California has built a virtual asthma patient using equations that model 7500 biological parameters relevant to asthma such as the effect of bronchial inflammation and the thickness of vast database of clinical trial data, so that pharmaceuticals companies can use computer-assisted trial design to estimate best dosages and likely outcomes of trials. The firm Gene Network Sciences has built a virtual colon cancer cell, which stimulates the expression of 5000 genes and proteins, includes all the scientific knowledge about how cell works in a series of algorithms, and models every one of the cell's known drug targets. So we will soon be able to speed up approval of gene tweaks by simulating their effects on virtual humans. Artificial chromosomes may also turn out to be a safe alternative to existing genetic engineering techniques.

Some opponents of genetic engineering, however, argue that even if germline genetic modification appeared safe for its first generation, it should still be forbidden since we can never be certain that some future generation won't regret the choices we made. Francis Fukuyama told Salon.com, "It could be that you will try to enhance the child's intelligence and it will turn out that you'll increase the susceptibility to certain kinds of cancers - but this won't show up until the child is 60 years old." That kind of concern is not a real risk of a real harm, and not legitimate grounds for interfering in the very real reproductive freedoms and obligations of parents. Any appeal to the dangers of germline modification beyond adolescence, not to mention hypothetical anxieties about effects on the next generation, are absurd since future generations will be upgrading whatever genome they get from their parents. We won't be selecting genomes for all time, but starter genomes for a child's first twenty years." --Loremaster 13:23, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

This is even worse than I thought. Just the characterization of the role of SCD-1 is so full of scientific oversimplications, as you can determine by consulting PubMed, that one doesn't know where to begin. And if you have trouble understanding the science, I can assure you that Hughes doesn't understand it either. Indeed, from the most recent papers you can see just from internal evidence in the summaries that even the scientists acknowledge that the SCD protein has multiple effects, some health enhancing and some health impairing. I don't think you would like to have your own SCD-1 gene snipped out. Though it seems that you, Loremaster (I know, your opinion is not at issue here, but you seem to be a big Hughes fan), and Hughes and other transhumanists, would like to see people exercise their "right" to genetically engineer their offspring so as to "tweak" SCD-1 after being empowered by reading Hughes's book, including his "provocational" dismissal of "bio-luddites", some of whom actually understand the complexities of the science. And by the way, what does Moore's Law have to do with the functioning of the human genome? Please forgive me, but what a load of crap!--StN 18:22, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Although I am aware that I may seem like one, I am actually not a "big Hughes fan". Since Hughes is one of the select few transhumanists who have taken the time to provide serious answers to most ethical and social issues related to human enhancement technologies, he deserves to be heard. However, I strongly disagree with him on many issues such as uplifting animals. By the way, you should know that I am only pitting you against him to learn from you both in order to possibly improve the article. ;) --Loremaster 01:02, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Do you at least acknowledge now, Loremaster, that Hughes *was* talking about genetically engineering human embryos and medicating children (vis-a-vis obesity)?--StN 18:24, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
No, since te next paragraph in the book makes it clear he was refering to somatic for adults. --Loremaster 01:02, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
This won't work for obesity-related genes, for reasons given above. It also seems from what you have provided that Hughes is advocating moving to experimental human germline manipulation for offspring of people who have certain genetic conditions. In any case, I appreciate your collegial remarks.--StN 01:31, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Hughes is not advocating moving to experimental human germline manipulation any time soon. In a chapter unrelated to the obesity question, he was talking about what he thinks might be appropriate in a few decades. That being said, whether or not you are right about obesity-related genes, Hughes argues that obesity is far older than 1970 and that we are getting fatter because people everywhere use far fewer calories in movement than our ancestors, and have access to far more food. No program of diet and exercise has stemmed the tide of obesity. The UN just acknowledged that there are now more obese people in the world than malnourished ones. Since the tendency towards obesity is on a bell curve and genetically inheritable, then it makes sense for some part of the population to change their metabolism genes. For others it would probably make more sense to use drugs or nano-neural machinery to modulate metabolism or appetite. That would allow more finetuning. Some people don't need finetuning, however, just better genes. --Loremaster 13:40, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
"Some people don't need finetuning, however, just better genes." Too bad this isn't published. It would be a great quote to use in Eugenics Wars argument (specter of old eugenics)!--StN 19:39, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
That would be extremely unfair and inaccurate since we are not discussing coercive eugenics, selective human breeding or forced sterilization. --Loremaster 23:03, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, but I have to laugh when I see claims that Hughes is provocative. Any provocation pales into insignificance compared with the rhetoric used by the other side. Compared to Leon Kass, Hughes is a model of cool analytical reason. Likewise when you compare him with the self-congratulatory rhetoric that emerges from the Center for Genetics and Social Responsibility, or whatever it's called. When I saw Annas and his team in action at the World Bioethics Congress a couple of years back I was genuinely shocked at the self-importance and arrogance that they displayed in the way they treated any whisper of dissent. Really, it'd be nice if someone would just analyse the issues in a calm, philosophical way, but James Hughes is far from being the worst - in fact, having also seen him in action,and having read much of his work, I think he's about the best. Metamagician3000 23:30, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Though I don't know what any of this has to do with writing a Wikipedia article. Metamagician3000 23:33, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
"Provocateur" was a term Loremaster used to describe Hughes, which he asserted was the way that Hughes sees himself. None of what Metamagician has said in this last post bears on the question of whether Hughes understands the science. Annas, in fact, writes a long-standing column for the New England Journal of Medicine, whose editors and readers are not averse to medical science and its applications. I don't agree that this has nothing to do with transhumanism, the subject of this Wikipedia article, and therefore how the subject is presented, but I will be happy not to continue hashing it out ad nauseam in this forum.--StN 01:13, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

The last reference leads to a porn site!!

I just clicked on the last refrnece, and was shocked to find that it lead to a porn site. Someone please fix this before I vomit at the intergrity of this. Tobyk777 05:17, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Breaking Away

"Natasha Vita-More presented the 1980 experimental film Breaking Away at the EZTV Media venue frequented by transhumanists and other futurists." A phrase should be inserted about the theme of this film, lest readers think it's the one about bicycling Indiana teenagers.--StN 00:57, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Good point. From the Transhumanist Arts FAQ:
The first Transhumanist Arts piece was made into a high 8 mm film. Performance Art " Breaking Away" which storyline themes human evolution in breaking away from our biological restraints and breaking away from earth's gravity as we head into space. The performance art piece was written and performed by Natasha Vita-More at Red Rocks Amphitheater and sponsored by the University of Colorado Film Department. Don Yannacito, Director of Film Studies Program for independent filmmakers, filmed the performance.
--Loremaster 01:30, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Come to think of it, someone should make a new Breaking Away about cyclists on steroids and EPO. Bring the two themes together.--StN 01:36, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Transhumanism in The Matrix

The Matrix is mentioned as a transhumanist film. I'm looking to gain a fuller understanding of transhumanism ideals - what aspects of it are transhumanist (ie what characters, and how)? I guess every human is transhumanist, because of the way they've been altered? Or would it be more specific things, like the ability to upload fighting skills to their brains that represent transhumanist ideals? Thanks, --219.88.174.179 03:06, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

This talk page is for discussing improvements to the Transhumanism article. --Loremaster 17:07, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Captain Obvious! I've removed that reference from the article, as it doesn't seem to be substantiated (I guess the movie isn't really transhumanist) - something you'll note by its absence from the "transhumanism in fiction" article. If I'm wrong, feel free to replace it and indicate why here. --219.88.174.179 20:44, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Drexler and Alcor

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology,[1] which discussed the prospects for nanotechnology and molecular assemblers, and founded the Foresight Institute. As the first nonprofit company to research, advocate for, and perform cryonics, the Southern California offices of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation became a nexus for futurists. Not all these activities were explicitly concerned with "transhumanism", but some of the involved individuals eventually had a pioneering role in the movement.[2]
  1. Has Drexler ever identified himself or his work as transhumanist?
  2. Although Alcor became a nexus for futurists, was it a nexus for transhumanists?
  3. What are activities explicitly concerned with transhumanism?
  4. Who are these individuals who eventually had a pioneering role in the movement?

--Loremaster 14:20, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I have never come across a connection between Drexler and transhumanism, though transhumanists have taken up nanotechnology. The rest is vague, and can all go as far as I'm concerned, unless documentation emerges in the next two weeks.--StN 20:48, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
My impression is that Drexler does sometimes hang around at transhumanist conferences and so on, so he has associated himself to an extent with the transhumanist movement (which of course is not the same as saying he identifies himself as a transhumanist). All that is just a vague impression that I have, and which may be wrong. I didn't write that material (though I may have worked on it for style, etc., from time to time), so I don't know what the author had in mind. It may have come from George Dvorsky way back when the article was first written. It still seems to me as if it's probably about right, and it's never been queried by people like Natasha who we know have looked at the article - but I can't provide you with sources. Metamagician3000 00:23, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Bostrom mentions Drexler and his work in his essay on the history of transhumanist thought while Hughes also mentions him in Citizen Cyborg. However, I still question whether or not Drexler and his work should be identified as transhumanistic even if it technically is. Any thoughts? --Loremaster 00:44, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps we simply need to explain how the work Drexler and Alcor contributed to the the transhumanist movement and/or theory. --Loremaster 22:45, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I've removed the text in question from the article until we form an opinion as whether or not a version of it should included in the article. --Loremaster 15:08, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I think we should include it. Drexler's work on nanotech, even just the theory of it, is integral to transhumanism, since it offers a plausible mechanism for many of the technological advances that a lot depends on (ie. like how computers can increase in power sufficiently to support uploads). --maru (talk) contribs 19:50, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
A new version of this text much explained how Drexlerian nanotechnology and Alcor cryonics directly contributed to the formation of transhumanist thought and/or movement. --Loremaster 01:07, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, "must explain", right?--StN 19:16, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes. --Loremaster 14:26, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

How is it ANY different from Eugenics?

I just thought it a little odd that there are mainly positive comments about Transhumanism while Eugenics is being demonized so much. Especially if we consider that they both stand up for the same exact idea of improving mankind... Is it simply because of the fact that the term "eugenics" is tainted because of its abuse by Nazism? JaneDOA

1. I disagree that there are mainly positive comments about transhumanism in light of the extensive criticisms section.
2. I think the Eugenics Wars counter-argument answers your question quite well. However, I think a major difference is that if it were shown that the use of genetic engineering to improve humans was too dangerous or impossible, transhumanists would simply focus on technologies which do not have eugenic implications such as cybernetics and nanotechnology.
--Loremaster 18:24, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
Reductio ad Hitlerum does play a fairly big part in how eugenics are recieved these days, but the concept of liberal eugenics is on the rise, or is at least being discussed more widely. This isn't really the venue for a discussion of those concerns, however, except as they relate to the article. I think the article gives a remarkable amount of pro & con info on the subject, especially considering how well annotated it is. --mordicai. 23:05, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
There are more criticisms in the Transhumanism article than in the Eugenics article.DrDisco
Eugenics is a specific type of Transhumanism - actual "upgrading" human DNA, either through selective breeding or genetic engineering ... breeding is abhorrent to most modern western cultures since it tramples basic freedoms (and is too reminiscent of our breeding animals for similar purposes), while genetic engineering is frightening to most people since it involves tampering with our most basic substance (which we still don't understand nearly well enough). Generally Transhumanism brings out similar fears, but they aren't so deep and visceral...--Invisifan 14:06, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
I think the trampling on basic freedoms bit is the key to it. If you give the state a mandate to use its vast coercive powers to attempt to improve the human species, next thing you know it'll be sterilising people, killing people of the "wrong" kind, etc. It'll ride roughshod over other greatly important values in pursuit of its mandate. Or, at the very least, it is all too likely to do those sorts of things. If the officials of the state are operating with a bad scientific theory, or with sheer pseudoscience, the results will be even crazier. Almost all parents have eugenic goals - they literally want to have good births that produce healthy babies, and public policy favours helping them out (hence we ban thalidomide, for example), but there is a point at which state-sponsored eugenics is likely to turn into a nightmare and we are right to be suspicious of it. Transhumanists, however, don't usually seek to hand the state any mandate to pursue a eugenic agenda. On the contrary, they favour strong protections to keep any decisions to improve the health and abilities of children in the hands of parents. Metamagician3000 15:38, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
Metamagician, the position that you describe above is thoroughly libertarian, which may have a different flavor in Australia than it does here in the U.S. Although libertarianism is theoretically neutral between the politically left and right, in the U.S. the evils of state coercion have historically been targeted by slaveholders, by people who haven't wanted to extend civil rights to disenfranchised groups, who don't want their incomes confiscated by taxation, and who want the absolute right to own and use any sort of guns (and to be fair, who want to smoke pot). Libertarians tend to ignore the hegemonic and coercive elements of corporations and the capitalist economy in general, imagining that people's perceived desires and consumer choices are a matter of free choice. So, in this model, people will demand genetic engineering for their offspring just as they demand sports utility vehicles on their highways, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and hormones in their foods, and breast implants for themselves and their daughters.--StN 17:20, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
In other words, although liberal eugenics is intended to be under the control of the parents, the substantial governmental and corporate infrastructure required for genetic engineering may limit or steer their actual "choices". --Loremaster 17:33, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

For the record, I am not a libertarian; if I'm anything at all, I'm probably a Millian liberal with a good dash of democratic socialism thrown. Because libertarians may be (in my view) correct about X (e.g. the need for limits on state encroachment on individuals' reproductive decisions) does not mean that they are also correct about Y (e.g the pre-legal existence of property rights). StN's views sound very paternalistic to me, but that's just me. I am merely explaining what was so bad about eugenics and why it doesn't apply to transhumanism. If StN thinks transhumanism will be bad on some other ground to do with protecting people from their own decisions (under the influence of corporate propaganda etc) he can do so, but the point of this discussion is to explain that it's a different ground and a much less obviously attractive one. Before I'm going to want to be protected from my own decisions, I'm going to have to be pretty convinced that I can't trust my own capacity to make wise decisions. However persuasive corporate advertising amd the sway of fashion may be, I'm not ready to make that judgment. I'd rather take my chances with making my own decisions, however much they may be influenced by pervasive advertising and fashion, than to hand them over to the state as if it is somehow wiser than I am. Even if the state were controlled by someone as intelligent as StN, I would rather trust my own judgment, influence of advertising and all, on these personal matters. Metamagician3000 00:02, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

While I take your point about personal autonomy, Metamagician, I don't think I was being paternalistic. In asserting that libertarians and many transhumanists decry governmental coercion while ignoring the coercion of the market I was not thereby saying that the government should be permitted to regulate what one does to one's body. (Except in certain cases -- I like automobile seat-belt and motorcycle helmet laws. I also approve of the medical profession being licensed, but I wouldn't abridge your right to see a faith healer.) But germline genetic engineering is doing something to someone else, not oneself. We don't own our actual or prospective offspring, and I believe society has a legitimate interest in regulating physical manipulations of its members, even by their parents. Another point: I wasn't so much referring to advertising and propaganda by specific businesses, but the more insidious and pervasive effects of the hegemonic ideology of the market.--StN 05:04, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Well if there is an objection to dysgenic outcomes (such as those produced by thalidomide) and to child abuse, then I certainly share it. But so do all transhumanists, as far as I know. No one is arguing that the state should not take steps to ban thalidomide or even to ban or otherwise discourage reproductive cloning - provided it is on the same grounds, i.e. safety. By all means let's discourage products and practices that are unsafe. But this is not what the debate about transhumanism is about. The fear is not that transhunanists will end up having deformed children; it is that they will end up having, for example, super-intelligent, super-disease-resistant children. If the state is going to prevent that it seems like it is either claiming to know better than the parents or claiming that there will be some cumulative intangible harm to society if such kids are allowed to be born (arguable, but a dangerous argument when we consider the vast range of things that just might cause some cumulative intangible harm if they are allowed). In those circumstances, the transhumanist parents have every right to fear the state, just as potential parents would have every right to fear a state that proposed to sterilise them as "unfit". These considerations show why transhumanism is not the same as the state eugenics we have seen in the past and why it does not raise the same fears. It may well raise certain legitimate fears, which seems to be StN's point, but they are different ones, which was what the questioner was asking about. Metamagician3000 12:04, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Personally I am little lost to what the original user, JaneDOA, was trying to get it. Was she: debating that Transhumanism had merits, debating that Eugenics was harmful, merely making a side comment of double standards, or suggesting improvements towards the article? I think we should assume the latter, considering what is what these discussion pages are for, and I think we are all agreed that criticisms of transhumanism are satisfactorily (or in my opinion, extravagantly) dealt with in the artcle. Disco
Sorry, should've made myself more clear. What I was trying to say is that it is ridiculous to demonize one term used for the same principle while glamorizing the other, and simply because the former was used for more, say, destructive purposes. I personally see nothing wrong with eugenics, but its not the matter, everyone has their opinion after all. I just wanted to point to the fact that these are both the same thing (except transhumanism is a broader term) and should be treated the same. If even the mention of the word "Eugenics" alone can create a debate as big as the one above, I can't say I was wrong. JaneDOA
It's not quite the same thing. As noted, eugenics is a branch of transhumanism, but yeah, the word is a bit tainted because of its strong association with a fairly narrow-minded and negative (not to mention covertly racist) interpretation of the concept. I don't know what to tell you. Words and concepts sometimes obtain connotations slightly deviant from or at odds with their original meaning. "Jihad", "televangelist" and "National Socialism" come to mind. There's not much you can do; no point in crying over spilt definitions. Ford MF 17:48, 25 November 2006 (UTC)


Featured article?

A featured article has the following attributes: It is well written, comprehensive, factually accurate, neutral and stable. "Comprehensive" means that the article does not neglect major facts and details. "Neutral" means that the article presents views fairly and without bias (see neutral point of view); however, articles need not give minority views equal coverage (see undue weight).

This article is neither comprehensive nor neutral. Just a few examples:

The first, final and most often quoted source is Nick Bostrom who is evidently biased, because he was not only one of the founders of WTA, but is still a key player in the transhumanist movement. While it is mentioned that he founded the WTA, he is presented as an authority in the field of history of ideas which he is not. None of the relevant more or less neutral works in this field on proto-transhumanist thinkers and ideas appear in the article, let alone critical ones. Besides Bostrom's tour de force, the history part is only about the usual suspects and organisations. Here and in the rest of the article, several of the most contentious mentors of transhumanism are either not mentioned at all (Minsky) or the relevance of their ideas in this context is not explained (Moravec). The critics which are mentioned are mainly the "easy targets" (Fukuyama, McKibben). The description of Habermas' positions is flawed, his critique of posthumanist visions is not mentioned at all, and he is derisively labelled as a "bioconservative". Important critics of core ideas of transhumanism and of its mentors are ignored (e.g. Weizenbaum).

I'm not familiar with the Wikipedia procedures, but I would recommend either to revise the article (e.g. by referring to the relevant research on this subject and give a fiar account of the public debate) or deprive it of its status as a featured article. Bureb

In response to "Bureb", Wikipedia procedures are: register (it's free) and then make edits that can be supported from the well-substantiated factual literature or credible opinion (listing them as such). They are not to complain about articles so as to send fallible contributors back to the books to make the changes you would like to see. Some of the authors of the existing article would probably welcome contributions directed to the points you raise.--StN 00:31, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
Criticizing Nick Bostrom as a biased source for an article on transhumanism is as ridiculous as criticizing Sigmund Freud as a biased source for an article on psychoanalysis. That being said, I do think Marvin Minsky and Hans Moravec deserve to be mentioned if they are proto-transhumanist thinkers and Joseph Weizenbaum (and/or others we are unaware of) if he is an explicit critic of transhumanism. However, I disagree that the critics mentioned are "easy targets" since we have tried as much as possible to mention the most well-known critics who have explicitly criticized transhumanism in light of the fact that very few do. Futhermore, if you take the time to read the definition of the word "bioconservative", you would understand that it isn't a derisive label. "Bio-luddite", on the other hand, would be unless it is a self-descriptor. Finally, no one is more zealous and meticulous than Natasha Vita-More about the history of transhumanism being reported fairly and accurately here and elsewhere. From what I've recently been told, she is quite pleased with the article as it is. --Loremaster 18:25, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
Has Weizenbaum actually said anything about transhumanism? As far as I can see, the position he takes on artificial intelligence is one that a transhumanist could take, though perhaps not a popular one among transhumanists, who tend to be positive about the prospect of AI. If he has actually said something about transhumanism, that would of course be relevant, and perhaps it should also be mentioned in the Joseph Weizenbaum article. There's nothing there at the moment. But just a word of caution. We must be careful not to construct a case against transhumanism that amounts to original research by cherry-picking what thinker A said on subject X here (with no mention of transhumanism), what thinker B said on subject Y there (with no mention of transhumanism), and so on. We need to make sure we are identifying actual critics of transhumanism, such as Fukuyama, not engaging in original research to see what kind of composite argument could be cobbled together against it. If some kind of case can made against transhumanism by cherry-picking A's view about AI, B's view about biological enhancement, etc., we need to find a reliable source, C, who has already identified how the cherry-picking and cobbling can be done. Metamagician3000 22:51, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, I think an objective consideration of psychoanalysis would indicate that Freud would indeed be a biased source for a history of that field. This is neither to say that he wasn't the founder of psychoanalysis, nor that he should not be used as an important source in understanding its history. But to rely predominantly on advocates and founders of transhumanism like Nick Bostrom and Natasha Vita-More for the history of the subject and imprimaturs on that history invites charges of nonobjectivity which neutral observers could consider justified.--StN 03:40, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
I understand but the problem is that almost no one besides transhumanists have written an history of transhumanism. Those that have tend to either rely on the writings of advocates or lazily make stuff up. --Loremaster 04:23, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to "Loremaster" and "StN": I think the history of transhumanist organisations is fine, but the article should either refrain from speculations on the prehistory of transhumanism or should have other resources than an article by Nick Bostrom. It may be correct to locate "transhumanism's roots in Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment" as the WTA does, but there are other possible views. And Bostrom would be definitely wrong if he said that Condorcet was "the first thinker" who speculated "about the use of medical science to extend the human life span." There are other errors in the article, and (in response to "StN":) I would delete them, but I do not feel competent to revise the article myself, because it would be quite a lot of work and I would not like to ruin the elegant English of the article (however, I could send some links and references). For example, the whole Criticisms section is biased and its structure would need to be changed radically. The titles of the criticisms are funny, but in fact reduce the ideas of the critics to cliché, and in some cases the clichés are even wrongly attributed (e.g. in the case of Habermas and Midgley). The article unfortunately reproduces the rhetorical strategy of many transhumanists (building straw men, using red herring arguments, ignoring the critiques that are difficult to counter). An obvious example for the bias of the article is the fact that no Christian critic of transhumanism is mentioned (although most of them are mentioned in James Hughes' book - and the 2002 Vatican statement is only one element of Christian critique of transhumanism). Bureb PS: Weizenbaum has strongly criticised Minsky and Moravec, and they are at least, as "Loremaster" wrote, "proto-transhumanists".
Bureb, Please at least clarify your objections to the Habermas and Midgley material. I think their views are correctly described, and in the appropriate context. If you can show that this is not the case I will be happy to make changes. I agree with you about the pioneering contributions of Weizenbaum to this discourse.--StN 16:43, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
Although I am open to improving the article regarding the prehistory of transhumanism, I strongly disagree with "Bureb"'s critique of the criticisms section which we, the main contributors to the Transhumanism article, have worked on (and fought over) for months. Frankly, I am also getting quite annoyed by this constant accusation of bias. For example, no Christian critic of transhumanism was mentioned simply because we didnt know or think of one. However, a Vatican statement is an extremely notable critique. Comprehensiveness doesn't mean that an article must present every single fact and detail about transhumanism and its critique. Lastly, I tend to take more seriously the comments of people who have created Wikipedia user account since it contributes to a culture of accountability. --Loremaster 18:31, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
PS. IF Minsky and Moravec are in fact proto-transhumanists, they deserve to be mentioned. However, the article doesn't have to focus on their views and those of their critics to be comprehensive. That being said, can you cite the paper or book and quote here the passage where Weizenbaum strongly criticizes Minsky and Moravec? --Loremaster 18:35, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to "Loremaster" and "StN": I guess it was a hard fight (although I haven't read the archives yet), and I appreciate the work that has been done, because it's in some respects a good article, but it's also mainly the "official" WTA history (Bostrom and Hughes). Maybe it's the lack of neutral observers. It's probably not necessary to talk about Renaissance humanism and the like in an article on transhumanism, but if such topics are discussed, the relevant research on these topics would need to be taken into account. If the article is only about the organisations it would also be ok (but still strange) to leave out Minsky, Moravec, Drexler etc., but then one should really restrict the article to the organisations. If it's about an "intellectual and cultural movement", however, their ideas have to be discussed, because Bostrom and other transhumanists most "original" ideas were obviously earlier expressed by these authors. Otherwise the article is not comprehensive.
In response to the specific points: To call Habermas a "bioconservative" without explaining the differences between his position and Fukuyama's is wilfully ignorant, and it is, to say it again, the typical transhumanist rhetorical strategy. (There is, by the way, a passage on mind uploading and other transhumanist stuff in the book of Habermas that is referred to in the article. Why is it not mentioned in the article?) Midgley's objections to the proto-transhumanists are not about Peter Pan; the person who mentioned her in the article would just need to read the book, the final chapter would suffice. (And Habermas is not about "Brave New World".) Weizenbaum has often criticised Moravec and Minsky for (in my words:) being misanthropic and using a language reminiscent of totalitarianism when talking about human beings. You may read: J. Weizenbaum (1995): The Myth of the Last Metaphor. In: P. Baumgartner, S. Payr (eds.): Speaking Minds. Interviews with Twenty Eminent Cognitive Scientists. Princeton/NJ. Most of the Christian articles on transhumanism are referred to, as said before, in the book by Hughes that is mentioned in the article. Recently other essays of Christians theologians, scholars or lay activists have been published. One example is: http://www.cmf.org.uk/literature/content.asp?context=article&id=1717.# (Vatican is in fact a very notable source, but this critique is not about "transhumanism" in particular, so it would be fair to have at least one of the Christian critics in the article.) Bureb
1. There used to be a mention of Drexler in the article until we decided to temporarily remove him until it was better contextualize. [1] Let's not forgot that even if transhumanists claim to be influenced by the work of Drexler, Minsky and Moravec; these thinkers could argue that they themselves and their work are not transhumanist and should not associated with transhumanism.
2. I was never comfortable with the mention of Habermas in the Brave New World (erosion of morality) argument. However, if one takes the time to read the definition of bioconservative which explains what Fukuyama and Habermas have in common, there is no need to explain in detail the differences between the position of the two thinkers.
3. As for the article not mentioning a passage in Habermas on mind uploading, as I said before, the article cannot and doesn't have to mention every single fact and detail to be comprehensive.
4. Although StN was the contributor who read Midgley and created the Peter Pan argument, I find it offensive that you assume that the person who did had not read the book. Please avoid these type of insinuations if you want us to have a smooth working relationship.
--Loremaster 02:36, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to "Loremaster" only: If you feel annoyed, just ignore my postings. As someone who likes Wikipedia I'm concerned that an article about a highly contentious movement is mainly reproducing this movement's propaganda. I do not want to blame this on you, because I think it's really difficult to handle such a topic, but the results are unfortunately not helping Wikipedia. Bureb
As the main (and most watchful) contributor to the Transhumanism article, you have no choice but to work with me to improve this article. If you knew the amount of work (and fighting) that was involved in editing this article in order for it to be neutral and gain featured article status, you would know that we are not simply reproducing this movement's "propaganda". That being said, if you are someone who likes Wikipedia, you should create a Wikipedia user account since it's extremely useful and contributes to a culture of accountability. --Loremaster 02:36, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to "Loremaster": I'm sorry for using the word "propaganda", but I would still say that the article is a kind of transhumanist catechism: the critics are not mentioned with the intent to have a critical reflection, but just as straw men. Given that you told me that there was a lot of discussions (or fights), I guess it would neither be helpful to try to revise the whole criticism section nor to delete anything that is not about the transhumanist organisations only. I think the main problem is that the article, unfortunately mirroring the transhumanist rhetorical strategy, blurs the lines between transhumanism and other, more mainstream ideas in science and technology. So, one can, on the one hand, ignore most of the critics who direct their critique explicitly towards the transhumanists - for being not as relevant as the Vatican -, but, on the other hand, selective references can be made to highly respectable traditions of thought and authors (something transhumanists do, probably to appear less "fringe"). The latter would be ok, but then one would need to seriously discuss these older traditions and authors. This would be a huge task, however, because Bostrom etc. apparently perceive their movement as the continuation of Renaissance humanism, Enlightenment etc. I agree with Metamagician that we "must be careful not to construct a case against transhumanism that amounts to original research by cherry-picking what thinker A said on subject X here (with no mention of transhumanism), what thinker B said on subject Y there (with no mention of transhumanism), and so on" and that we "need to make sure we are identifying actual critics of transhumanism, such as Fukuyama, not engaging in original research to see what kind of composite argument could be cobbled together against it." But then it would be better to restrict the WHOLE article to the transhumanist organizations. If this is not possible, several other critics need to be mentioned and the whole debate on transhumanism, which is not restricted to Fukuyama, McKibben and the other authors mentioned in the article, has to be described.
I would recommend to proceed in the following way: Explaining at the beginning of the "Criticisms" and parts of the history section that structure and contents of the sections are mirroring, for pragmatic reasons, the way transhumanists (and some of their critics) perceive the discussion, and then add - at the end of section or in the single criticisms - alternative views. I really think that there is a rather long list of mistakes and biased, uncomprehensive parts in the article, so this would be a lot of work. If the text of the article can NOT be substiantially revised, it would lose at least some of its "catechism" character if a longer list of links or references to publications of Christian and other critics are added. I could send them in the next couple of days.
Regarding Midgley: I didn't want to offend anyone. The flaws of the "Peter Pan" section are apparently caused by the structure of the "Criticisms" section. The section, although mentioning "corporeality", mixes up two very different critiques, probably because both are feminist or refer to some feminist critiques of science and technology. If you read the book by Midgley, you may see that her critique is not even mainly about "Peter Pan", but about unscientific speculations disguised as science, about the irrationality of the fear-driven fantasies of the proto-transhumanists, about their disregard for non-scientists and "bioconservative" human beings (to use this phrase, although it is polemical, also in the passage you referred to, which is not giving a fair account of the differences between the positions of Habermas and Fukuyama) and the otherworldliness of the cosmic visions of the proto-transhumanists. Again: The problem is the "catechism"-like, straw man structure of the "Criticisms" section. It would be ideal to have a neutral title for a "Criticism" section which is not reproducing the transhumanist structuring of the debate.
Regarding Habermas: If a book is quoted that is not about transhumanism (in a narrow sense), but a much discussed piece of philosophical work on genetic engineering, eugenics etc., it would make sense to refer to the one and single passage that is about specific transhumanist ambitions. Without mentioning Moravec etc. and without using the words "transhumanism" or posthumanism", Habermas wrote: “(...) (W)e are of late confronted, by a strange lot of non-fiction authors, with the vision of humans being improved by chip implants, or ousted by intelligent robots. (…) Bodies stuffed with prostheses to boost performance, or the intelligence of angels available on hard drives, are fantastic images. They dissolve boundaries and break connections that in our everyday actions have up to now seemed to be of an almost transcendental necessity. There is fusion of the organically grown with the technologically made, on the one hand, and separation of the productivity of the human mind from live subjectivity, on the other hand. Whether these speculations are manifestations of a feverish imagination or serious predictions, an expression of displaced eschatological needs or a new variety of science-fiction science, I refer to them only as examples of the instrumentalization of human nature initiating a change in the ethical self-understanding of the species - a self-understanding of persons who live in the mode of self-determination and responsible action.” (Habermas p.41f.)
Regarding Weizenbaum: „What I am trying to say is that with these world-encompassing projects that strive for superhuman intelligence and for the ultimate elimination of the human race and so on emerges a subtly induced world picture (…) (t)hat enters our language and the public consciousness, and that makes possible a treatment of human beings vastly below the respect and dignity that they ought to have.” (Weizenbaum in: J. Weizenbaum (1995): The Myth of the Last Metaphor. In: P. Baumgartner, S. Payr (eds.): Speaking Minds. Interviews with Twenty Eminent Cognitive Scientists. Princeton/NJ.) Weizenbaum here and elsewhere compared language and ideas of Moravec, Minsky and others to Nazi and jingoist jargons or memes.
Regarding Moravec, Minsky, Drexler: If they would really object to be referred to in the context of an article on transhumanism (I doubt that), than the article better would have to be solely about the WTA and the other transhumanist organizations. But the article is about transhumanism as an "intellectual and cultural movement", and then to leave out these authors is misleading any reader who is not familiar with the topic. (And it, again, reproduces the way Bostrom etc. handle this, who often tactically try to downplay the intellectual significance of Moravec etc. for their ideas.) I would agree with "Loremaster" that "we simply need to explain how the work Drexler and Alcor contributed to the the transhumanist movement and/or theory (--Loremaster 22:45, 29 August 2006 (UTC))", if it would be that simple. We may refer to a non-transhumanist history of transhumanism for this purpose, if there is one in English language? --Bureb62 10:30, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
Regarding former discussions about the article: After having had a look at archives 11 and 12, I realized that some of the problems connected with flaws and biases (e.g. with regard to "Peter Pan", "Brave New World", and Bostrom/Hughes as sources) have been already discussed here. Given that some of the most active editors see these problems, it may really be the best way to proceed, instead of starting the discussion again, to delete the parts on Habermas and Midgley, make clear that the "Criticisms" section is mainly presenting the competing narratives of transhumanists and Kass/Fukuyama etc., and write a short passage about the debate on trans/posthumanism as a whole, distinguishing critics of transhumanism itself (Christian critics, Weizenbaum, maybe Habermas) and critics of eugenics etc. (both with links/references)--Bureb62 13:24, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for these thoughtful comments, Bureb. The article would undoubtedly read quite differently had you come across it earlier this year. But on the subject of Midgley -- apart from placing the mention of her under the rubric of "Peter Pan", do you not think that the two quotations accurately represent her views in "Science and Salvation", and do you not agree that the views encapsulated in those quotations are relevant to the critique of proto- and contemporary transhumanism?--StN 16:56, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to StN: No, the quotations are perfect, it's just that "Peter Pan" is, at best, one aspect of the "flight from corporeality" criticism, and Midgley's indeed relevant critique encompasses a lot more than "flight from corporeality" - also some aspects that are still missing in the article or are difficult to understand with the given structure. And Christian and several other critics tend to stress exactly this "flight from corporeality" aspect. I would like to know if any larger revision of the article is realistic, or whether the resources (your and Loremaster's time basically?) are too scarce for this. If the latter is the case, one should really include some statement that the description of intellectual history and the Criticisms section both focus on transhumanist positions and selected polemics against transhumanism. (I think that such a focus would be okay, and the article already includes the publicly most visible contributors to the debate, except the Christian ones, and not every Wikipedia article needs to refer to relevant research done in such a wide and vague field as "proto-transhumanism"). With some more links and references to other contributors/positions added, the article would then be not catechism-like anymore. (By the way: "Catechism" is not intended to be polemical, but it is really the structure "first: question/doubt, than: refutation" that is typical for dogmatic literature. And in one of the archived discussions, one of the editors, as far as I remember it was Loremaster, wrote that it would be nice to have someone else than Bostrom again as a source.) A last comment: Maybe it would make sense to discuss wider aspects of transhumanism in the "posthumanism" article which seemed to me, when I last checked it, very much improvable.)--Bureb62 17:44, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with this persistant and insulting insinuation that the critics are not mentioned with the intent to have a critical reflection, but just as straw men. The transhumanist counter-arguments were added after the criticisms section was created in order to give the article more balance. Although I have no problem with mentioning proto-transhumanists in the History section, mentioning their critics in a new argument, and making some of the specific minor improvements Bureb suggested (such as adding more Christian critics in the Playing God argument, fixing the Peter Pan argument, etc), I would be opposed to any radical revision of the Criticisms section or the entire article itself. --Loremaster 17:53, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
While I fully agree with Loremaster that the critics and criticisms presented were by no means meant to be straw men or easy targets, I disagree with him that Bureb's comments on the catechistic quality of the Criticisms section are insulting. I had mentioned this same thing several times during the course of putting the section together and others noticed it during and subsequent to the Today's Featured Article posting in June. (I seconded anyone who drew attention to it, much to Loremaster's consternation.) It does have that defense-of-the-faith structure, with the WTA position generally getting the last word. That being said, I agree with Loremaster that this can probably be remedied by modifications within the existing structure of the Criticisms section, without a major overhaul.--StN 19:03, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
What I found insulting is the insinuation that the contributors to the article intentionally gave it a so-called catechistic quality. There are thousands of article on Wikipedia structured exactly the same way. However, it seems to me that only the transhumanism article gets criticized for it. Oh well. --Loremaster 16:49, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to Loremaster and StN: I should have be more precise. I don't think that the editors intentionally build straw men, but the end results of the discussions are unfortunately very similar to the usual transhumanist catechisms. (It is, for example, quite easy to analyse the position of Kass critically, but the ideas of Habermas are in my view more complex, and a professional philosopher would probably not appreciate the way his position is presented in the article.) Anyway, I'm not interested in arguing about that, I didn't want be insulting, and I am sorry if you, Loremaster, had this impression. If you and StN don't mind, I would propose some additions and modifications within the existing structure of the article, in the next week. I first have to think about where to mention the Christian critics, Weizenbaum and some others within the given structure. I would concentrate on authors who have criticised "transhumanism" itself or at least focused on typical transhumanist ideas (and not on more widely discussed issues such as eugenics). Would this be ok for you, as main editors?
Yes. --Loremaster 15:37, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

[Un-indent for interpolation] And yes, by me as well, since I'm still watching over this. However, I continue to think that there is a tendency in the article to bring up every possible argument with which to attack transhumanism, regardless of whether it was specifically a criticism of transhumanism or not. In other words, I see exactly the opposite tendency to the one StN sees. I think there is a tendency to cherry-pick from various thinkers in order to formulate an original critique of transhumanism, rather than report in a simple, factual way what has been said against transhumanism by its very small number of notable critics and what transhumanists have said in response. This practice has caused a lot of confusion, and it has resulted in the criticisms section becoming way, way disproportional to the rest of the article. I'd hate to see this problem made even worse. In my opinion, it is nonetheless a very good article overall (I take some pride in the result, despite my constant complaints about the above aspect), and it should now be left in as stable a condition as possible. Since it received its FA status back in May, I have been loath to introduce new material of my own even when I raise points for consideration. All that said, I welcome any genuine improvements you can make. Metamagician3000 01:50, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Bureb's suggestion is fine with me as well. I think that what Metamagician sees as original critique is inevitable given that transhumanism is a contemporary movement rather than a coherent philosophy. Critics have taken on elements of the movement's precepts (many of which are not held in common by most transhumanists) usually without mentioning transhumanism by name. But those criticisms are nonetheless pertinent to tendencies that distinguish transhumanism from other movements and ideologies, and the only way to discern these tendencies is by doing some intellectual work. I don't think this has led to our presenting a novel theory of the subject, which I agree would be contraWiki.--StN 03:29, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Despite the fact that I am partly responsible for the issue he is raising, I agree with Metamagician. --Loremaster 18:06, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
In response to Metamagician3000: Part of the problem is the tendency of transhumanists to list scientists and philosophers who never wrote about "transhumanism" as critics or "opposition" to transhumanism. Your point is well made, and it's also the main reason why I think that the comments on Habermas and Midgley in the article are either wrongly placed or too short.--Bureb62 15:23, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Bureb, if I understand you correctly, you consider that Habermas and Midgley are lumped together with other thinkers that are perhaps less subtle. But there is nothing, I believe, that is inaccurate in the way their ideas are characterized, and the particular ideas mentioned are indeed critiques of the technological imperative vis-a-vis remaking the human species, i.e., transhumanism. Although original thinkers (again, if I am understanding you correctly regarding Habermas and Midgley), by their nature, resist being lumped together with others, an article of this sort is not a philosophical treatise.--StN 17:00, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with StN. --Loremaster 17:13, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I think, both have other points of critique that are relevant with regard to transhumanism. And I think, the titles of the sections are misleading and, in the case of Habermas, the ideas that are mentioned have nothing to do with the "erosion of morality" argument (the Kass and Fukuyama "Brave New World" argument). There is a difference between perceiving genetic engineering and posthumanism as threats to democracy and perceiving it as a threat to conservative morals. The way the paragraph is written, one can have the impression that Habermas has the same positions on morals as Kass. The article should not be a philosophical treatise, but if it takes the subleties of Bostrom and the likes serious, it should do the same with the subleties of the critics.--Bureb62 18:29, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Regarding the "History" section: Besides mentioning Moravec, Minsky and Drexler in this section, the first paragraph would need some modification. In the first sentence, one may call Bostrom a "transhumanist philosopher" (not just a philosopher), to make clear from the start that the paragraph is about the transhumanist view of their movement's roots. (Any further discussion of medical utopias, Renaissance etc. would then not be needed.) And one should change the sentence about Condorcet, because he neither was the first one who speculated about the use of medical science to extend the human life span nor does Bostrom says so in his essay. As far as I can see, Condorcet is just his first quotation and he doesn't claim that Condorcet was the first one in history.--Bureb62 12:13, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm made the corrections you suggested. --Loremaster 15:37, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

I would like to thank Bureb, Loremaster and Metamagician for what I consider to be marked improvements in the article over the past week.--StN 03:36, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Proposals

In response to Loremaster, StN, and Metamagician3000: Please find below my proposed additions and modifications. I have marked them with ">>>>>>", being ignorant of any other ways to do this in Wikipedia - sorry for any inconveniences. I have not added the references yet, because I would first like to know whether the modifications and additions are okay for you (including the English). I would strongly recommend that in the "Criticisms" section the formal arguments are mentioned before the references to fictional arguments, because often the critics discussed in these paragraphs have never used references to fictional scenarios. I'm afraid, the "amount" of criticism is even larger now, but the reason for this is in my view to be found in the structure of the "Criticism" section: When taking a close look at the various "fictional arguments", one realizes that they strongly overlap. I have tried to indicate this to the reader with a couple of cross-references and would, although it makes the article probably a little bit clumsy, propose to add some other cross references in the paragraphs I haven't modified ("Eugenics", "Trivialization", and maybe "Dehumanization"). If you really want to make the "Criticism" less "bulky", I would still think that the existing structure, with the references to fictional scenarios, is not helpful (besides that it obfuscates the arguments of the critics). I think it would be possible to regroup and shorten the section, because the various critics have many common points of critique and focus. Five paragraphs would in my view be enough: threat to democracy and equality; hubris/playing God; contempt for the flesh; Terminator and infeasibility - genetic engineering and eugenics are not specifically transhumanist and could be integrated in other paragraphs) .--Bureb62 18:14, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Theory and practice

While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science and technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability and malnutrition around the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual level. Many transhumanists actively assess the potential for future technologies and innovative social systems to improve the quality of all life, while seeking to make the material reality of the human condition fulfill the promise of legal and political equality by eliminating congenital mental and physical barriers.

Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists an ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a post-Darwinian phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change. To this end, transhumanists engage in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and evaluating possibilities for overcoming biological limitations. They draw on futures studies and various fields or subfields of science, philosophy, economics, history, and sociology. Unlike philosophers, social critics and activists who place a moral value on preservation of natural systems, transhumanists see the very concept of the "natural" as an obstacle to progress. In keeping with this, many prominent transhumanist advocates refer to transhumanism's critics on the political right and left jointly as "bioconservatives" or "bioluddites", the latter term alluding to the nineteenth century anti-industrialisation social movement that opposed the replacement of manual labor by machines.[3]

Converging Technologies, a 2002 report exploring the potential for synergy among nano-, bio-, informational and cognitive technologies (NBIC) for enhancing human performance.

While some transhumanists take a relatively abstract and theoretical approach to the perceived benefits of emerging technologies, others have offered specific proposals for modifications to the human body, including inheritable ones.[4] Transhumanists are often concerned with methods of enhancing the human nervous system. Though some propose modification of the peripheral nervous system, the brain is considered the common denominator of personhood and is thus a primary focus of transhumanist ambitions.[5] More generally, transhumanists support the convergence of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC), and hypothetical future technologies such as simulated reality, artificial intelligence, mind uploading, and cryonics. Transhumanists believe that humans can and should use these technologies to become more than human.[6] Transhumanists therefore support the recognition or protection of cognitive liberty, morphological freedom and procreative liberty as civil liberties, so as to guarantee individuals the choice of enhancing themselves and progressively become posthuman, which they see as the next significant evolutionary steps for the human species. Some speculate that human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies may facilitate such a transformation by the midpoint of the twenty first century.[7][8]

A 2002 report, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, commissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Commerce,

>>>>>>but not an official document of the US government,

Unnecessary comment. --Loremaster 18:59, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Why?--Bureb62 19:10, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
No one is arguing that it is an official document of the US government. --Loremaster 19:52, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

contains descriptions and commentaries on the state of NBIC science and technology by major contributors to these fields. The report discusses potential uses of these technologies in implementing transhumanist goals of enhanced performance and health, and ongoing work on planned applications of human enhancement technologies in the military and in the rationalization of the human-machine interface in industry.

>>>>>>There is an international discussion about the concept and prospects of Converging Technologies, including critiques of the transhumanist orientation of some of the NBIC visions. The British Royal Society & The Royal Academy of Engineering wrote about the report that "(o)ne would be forgiven (...) for dismissing many of the papers as being less about sound science and technology than they are about science fiction (for example, the volume talks extensively about the ‘human cognome project’ but contains little by way of mainstream neuroscience)."

The critique doesnt need to be mentioned in this section. However, we can provide a link to the paper the BRS & RAE wrote. --Loremaster 18:59, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
If "major contributors to these fields" are mentioned, a reader may be interested that large parts of this report are often seen as unscientific. There is also a wide range of other critics of this report, including some NGOs and Kass and his colleagues, and if it is quoted so visibly (with the picture) as a source for "theory and practice" of transhumanism, this context is quite important.--Bureb62 19:10, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Again, I think the sentence "including critiques of the transhumanist orientation of some of the NBIC visions" provides enough context. If readers want more, they can simply read the sources of these critiques. --Loremaster 19:52, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Some theorists, such as Raymond Kurzweil, believe that the pace of technological evolution is accelerating and that the next fifty years may yield not only radical technological advances but possibly a technological singularity, which may fundamentally change the nature of human beings.[8] Transhumanists who foresee this massive technological change generally maintain that it is desirable. However, they also explore the possible dangers of extremely rapid technological change, and frequently propose options for ensuring that advanced technology is used responsibly. For example, Bostrom has written extensively on existential risks to humanity's future welfare, including risks that could be created by emerging technologies.[9]

On a more practical level, as proponents of personal development and body modification, transhumanists tend to use existing technologies and techniques that supposedly improve cognitive and physical performance, while engaging in routines and lifestyles designed to improve health and longevity.[10] Depending on their age, some transhumanists express concern that they will not live to reap the benefits of future technologies. However, many have a great interest in life extension practices, and funding research in cryonics in order to make the latter a viable option of last resort rather than remaining an unproven method.[11] Regional and global transhumanist networks and communities with a range of objectives exist to provide support and forums for discussion and collaborative projects.

Spirituality

Although some transhumanists report a strong sense of spirituality, they are for the most part secular. In fact, many transhumanists are either agnostics or atheists. A minority, however, follow liberal forms of Eastern philosophical traditions or, as with Mormon transhumanists, have merged their beliefs with established religions.[12]

Despite the prevailing secular attitude, some transhumanists pursue hopes traditionally espoused by religions, such as immortality albeit a physical one. Several belief systems, termed new religious movements, originating in the late twentieth century, share with transhumanism the goals of transcending the human condition by applying technology to the alteration of the body (Raëlism) and mind (Scientology). While most thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement focus on the practical goals of using technology to help achieve longer and healthier lives, some speculate that future understanding of neurotheology will enable humans to achieve control of altered states of consciousness and thus "spiritual" experiences.[13] A continuing dialogue between transhumanism and faith was the focus of an academic seminar held at the University of Toronto in 2004.[14]

The majority of transhumanists are materialists who do not believe in a transcendent human soul. Transhumanist personhood theory also argues against the unique identification of moral actors and subjects with biological humans, judging as speciesist the exclusion of nonhuman and part-human animals, and sophisticated machines, from ethical consideration.[15] Many believe in the compatibility of human minds with computer hardware, with the theoretical implication that human consciousness may someday be transferred to alternative media.[16]

>>>>>>This idea and the underlying assumptions are criticised by a wide range of scholars, scientists and activists, sometimes with regard to transhumanism itself, sometimes with regard to thinkers such as Marvin Minsky or Hans Moravec who are often seen as its mentors. From Christian perspectives this idea appears to indicate a disregard for the human body that they see as characteristic for Gnostic belief, and antithetical to Christianity. The interpretation of transhumanism or its supposed mentors as neo-Gnostic was also brought forward by several non-Christian and secular intellectuals. Relating the idea, for example, to the legacy of cybernetics, some have argued that this materialist dream results in a new spiritualism.

We need to cite sources before inserting a paragraph like this. --Loremaster 18:55, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I could give sources for all the modifications and additions, but I wanted to ask you, as the main editors, first, whether my proposed modifications/additions are okay in your view.--Bureb62 19:01, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Most are. I've already edited the article to include the majority. --Loremaster 19:54, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

One extreme formulation of this idea is Frank Tipler's proposal of the Omega Point. Drawing upon ideas in physics, computer science and physical cosmology, Tipler advanced the notion that the collapse of the Universe billions of years hence could create the conditions for the perpetuation of humanity as a simulation within a megacomputer.[17] Cosmologist George Ellis has called Tipler's book "a masterpiece of pseudoscience",[18] and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating perceived flaws in Tipler's thesis.[19]

Criticisms

Criticisms of transhumanism take two main forms: those objecting to the likelihood of transhumanist goals being achieved (practical criticisms); and those objecting to the moral principles

>>>>>>or worldview

of transhumanism (ethical criticisms). However, these two strains sometimes converge and overlap, particularly when the ethics of changing human biology in the face of incomplete knowledge is considered.

Critics or opponents of transhumanism often see transhumanists' goals as posing threats to human values. Some also argue that strong advocacy of a transhumanist approach to improving the human condition might divert attention and resources from social solutions. As most transhumanists support non-technological changes to society, such as the spread of civil rights and civil liberties, and most critics of transhumanism support technological advances in areas such as communications and health care, the difference is often a matter of emphasis. Sometimes, however, there are strong disagreements about the very principles involved, with divergent views on humanity, human nature, and the morality of transhumanist aspirations. At least one self-described socially progressive organization, the Center for Genetics and Society, has come into existence with the specific goal of opposing transhumanist agendas that involve transgenerational modification of human biology, such as full-term human cloning and germline genetic engineering.

Some of the most widely known critiques of the transhumanist program refer to novels and fictional films. These works of art, despite presenting imagined worlds rather than philosophical analyses, are used as touchstones for some of the more formal arguments.

>>>>>>====Infeasibility (Futurehype argument)==== In his 1992 book Futurehype: The Tyranny of Prophecy, sociologist Max Dublin points out many past failed predictions of technological progress and argues that modern futurist predictions will prove similarly inaccurate. He also objects to what he sees as scientism, fanaticism, and nihilism by some in advancing transhumanist causes, and writes that historical parallels exist to millenarian religions and Marxist doctrines.[20]

File:PPTParadigmShiftsFrr15Events.jpg

The file File:PPTParadigmShiftsFrr15Events.jpg has an uncertain copyright status and may be deleted. You can comment on its removal.

In his 2002 book Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future, biophysicist Gregory Stock, despite his sympathies for transhumanism

>>>>>>and in line with several other natural scientists

, is skeptical of the technical feasibility and mass appeal of the cyborgization of humanity predicted by Raymond Kurzweil, Hans Moravec and Kevin Warwick. He believes that throughout the twenty first century, many humans will find themselves deeply integrated into systems of machines, but will remain biological. Primary changes to their own form and character will arise not from cyberware but from the direct manipulation of their genetics, metabolism, and biochemistry.[21]

Those thinkers who defend the likelihood of massive technological change within a relatively short timeframe emphasize what they describe as a past pattern of exponential increases in humanity's technological capacities. This emphasis is clear in the work of Damien Broderick, notably The Spike (1997), which contains his speculations about a radically changed future. Kurzweil develops this position in much detail in his 2005 book, The Singularity Is Near. Broderick points out that many of the seemingly implausible predictions of early science fiction writers have, indeed, come to pass, among them nuclear power and space travel to the moon. He also claims that there is a core rationalism to current predictions of very rapid change, asserting that such observers as Kurzweil have a good track record in predicting the pace of innovation.[22]

>>>>>>====Hubris (Playing God argument)==== There are two distinct categories of criticism, theological and secular, that have been referred to as "Playing God" arguments:

The first category is based on the alleged inappropriateness of humans substituting themselves for an actual God. This approach is exemplified by the 2002 Vatican statement Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God,[23] in which it is stated that, "Changing the genetic identity of man as a human person through the production of an infrahuman being is radically immoral," implying, as it would, that "man has full right of disposal over his own biological nature." At the same time, this statement argues that creation of a superhuman or spiritually superior being is "unthinkable", since true improvement can come only through religious experience and "realizing more fully the image of God".

>>>>>>Christian theologians and lay activists of several churches and denominations have expressed similar objections to transhumanism and stressed that Christians already enjoy, however post mortem, what transhumanism promises (eternal life and joy, relief from suffering).

We are going to need to cite some sources. --Loremaster 20:01, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
The Biocomplexity Spiral is a depiction of the multileveled complexity of organisms in their environments.

The second category is aimed mainly at attempts to pursue transhumanist goals by way of genetically modifying human embryos in order to create "designer babies". It emphasizes the issue of biocomplexity and the unpredictability of attempts to guide the development of products of biological evolution. This argument, elaborated in particular by the biologist Stuart Newman, is based on the recognition that the cloning and germline genetic engineering of animals are error-prone and inherently disruptive of embryonic development. Accordingly, it would create unacceptable risks to apply such processes to human embryos. Performing experiments, particularly ones with permanent biological consequences, on developing humans, would thus be in violation of accepted principles governing research on human subjects (see Declaration of Helsinki). Moreover, because improvements in experimental outcomes in one species are not automatically transferable to a new species without further experimentation, there is claimed to be no ethical route to genetic manipulation of humans at early developmental stages.[24]

As a practical matter, however, international protocols on human subject research may not present a legal obstacle to attempts by transhumanists and others to improve their offspring by germline genetic engineering. According to legal scholar Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, existing laws would protect parents who choose to enhance their child's genome from future liablility arising from adverse outcomes of the procedure.[25]

The first argument does not trouble secular transhumanists, who reject it as irrelevant to public policy in a society that embraces freedom of religion. To the extent that it relies on a supposed sin of defying God's will, secular thinkers argue that it is not morally binding on non-believers and is inappropriate as a political argument. Religious thinkers allied with transhumanist goals, such as the theologians Ronald Cole-Turner and Ted Peters, also reject the first argument, holding that the doctrine of "co-creation" provides an obligation to use genetic engineering to improve human biology.[26][27]

Transhumanists and other supporters of human genetic engineering do not dismiss the second argument out of hand, insofar as there is a high degree of uncertainty about the likely outcomes of genetic modification experiments in humans. However, transhumanists say that a greater risk lies in not using genetic engineering and other emerging technologies, because present technologies threaten the environment[28] and large numbers of humans die from potentially solvable problems. The implication is that the potential benefits of enhancement technologies outweigh the potential harms, with the moral imperative, if any, being to use the technologies as quickly as possible.[29] Further, transhumanists add that "tampering with nature" is something that humans have done for millennia with every technology, with tangible benefits.[30] Some transhumanists argue that parents have a moral responsibility called procreative beneficence to make use of genetic engineering methods, assuming they are safe and effective, to have healthy children with maximum potential. They add that this responsibility is a moral judgment best left to individual conscience rather than imposed by law, in all but extreme cases. In this context, the emphasis on freedom of choice is called procreative liberty.[31]

>>>>>>====Contempt for the flesh (Peter Pan and Gnosis arguments)====

Philosopher Mary Midgley, in her 1992 book Science as Salvation, traces the notion of achieving immortality by transcendence of the material human body (echoed in the transhumanist tenet of mind uploading), to a group of male scientific thinkers of the early twentieth century, including J.B.S. Haldane and members of his circle. She characterizes these ideas as "quasi-scientific dreams and prophesies" involving visions of escape from the body coupled with "self-indulgent, uncontrolled power-fantasies."[32]

>>>>>>Her critique focuses on what she perceives as unscientific speculations disguised as science, irrationality of the fear-driven fantasies of these thinkers, their disregard for non-scientists and "bioconservative" human beings and the remoteness of their cosmic visions.

>>>>>>What is perceived as contempt for the flesh expressed by Marvin Minsky, Hans Moravec, and some transhumanists is also at the heart of other criticisms of transhumanism and some of its visions: The Gnosis argument relates transhumanism to the Gnostic contempt for the flesh (see the "Spirituality" section). Others have criticised what they see as an instrumental relationship towards the human body, or even as a reminiscent of fascist and racist perceptions of human beings (see: "Danger of a new totalitarianism" criticism). Some critics also question the social implications of the movement's focus on body modification. Political scientist Klaus-Gerd Giesen, for example, has asserted that transhumanism's concentration on altering the human body represents the ultimate form of consumerism and is thus a manifestation of consumer capitalism.[33].

Feminist philosopher Susan Bordo refers to what she terms "contemporary obsessions with slenderness, youth, and physical perfection", which she sees,

>>>>>similar to many other feminist critics,

as affecting both men and women, but in distinct ways, as "the logical (if extreme) manifestations of anxieties and fantasies fostered by our culture”.[34]

Nick Bostrom asserts that the desire to transcend the material body is pan-cultural and pan-historical and is therefore not uniquely tied to the culture of the twentieth century. He argues that the transhumanist program is rather an attempt to channel that desire into a scientific pursuit and achieve humanity's oldest dream, rather than some ephemeral and childish fantasies.[2] Transhumanists assert that the impulse to remain healthy and vigorous, and not die, is a fundamental drive of our biological existence and not equivalent to seeking Peter Pan-like perpetual immaturity.[citation needed]

>>>>>>====Trivialization of human identity (Enough argument)====

>>>>>>====Genetic engineering (Gattaca argument==== Some critics of libertarian transhumanism have focused on its likely socioeconomic consequences in societies in which divisions between rich and poor are on the rise. Bill McKibben, for example, suggests that emerging human enhancement technologies would be disproportionately available to those with greater financial resources, thereby exacerbating the gap between rich and poor and creating a "genetic divide".[35] Lee Silver, a biologist and writer on the genetic future who coined the term "reprogenetics" and supports its applications, has nonetheless expressed concern that these methods could create a two-tiered society of genetically-engineered "haves" and "have nots" if social democratic reforms lag behind implementation of enhancement technologies.[36] Critics who make these arguments do not thereby necessarily accept the transhumanist assumption that human enhancement is a positive value; in their view, however, because it could confer additional power to the already powerful it should be discouraged or even banned. The 1997 film Gattaca's depiction of a dystopian society in which one's social class depends entirely on genetic modifications is often cited by critics in support of a combination of these views.

>>>>>>Social philosopher Jürgen Habermas makes a similar argument,

>>>>>>however mainly with regard to relations between individuals, and in particular parents and children,

>>>>>>in his 2003 book The Future of Human Nature, in which he asserts that moral autonomy depends on not being subject to another's unilaterally imposed specifications. Habermas also suggests that the human "species ethic" would be undermined by embryo-stage genetic alteration.[37]

Most of these criticisms are taken seriously by many transhumanist advocates, especially self-described democratic transhumanists, who believe that the majority of current and future social problems (such as unemployment or resource depletion) need to be addressed by a combination of political and technological solutions (such as a guaranteed minimum income or alternative technology). Therefore, on the specific issue of an emerging genetic divide due to body modification, bioethicist James Hughes, in his 2004 book Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, argues that techno-progressives must articulate and implement public policies (such as a universal health care voucher system that covers human enhancement technologies) in order to attenuate and even eliminate this problem, rather than trying to ban human enhancement technologies. The latter, he argues, might actually worsen the problem by making these technologies available only to the wealthy on the local black market or overseas in countries where such a ban is not enforced.[38]

>>>>>>====Erosion of morality and danger of a new totalitarianism (Brave New World argument)==== Various arguments have been made to the effect that a society that adopts human enhancement technologies may come to resemble the dystopia depicted in the 1932 novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Sometimes, as in the writings of Leon Kass,[39] the fear is that various institutions and practices, judged as fundamental to civilized society, would be destroyed or greatly altered. In his book Our Posthuman Future and in a Foreign Policy magazine article,[40] political economist and philosopher Francis Fukuyama designates transhumanism as one of the world's most dangerous ideas because it may undermine the egalitarian ideals of liberal democracy, through a fundamental alteration of "human nature". Critics such as Kass, Fukuyama,

>>>>>>and a variety of Christian authors and secular intellectuals hold that attempts to significantly alter the natural human state (specifically through human cloning and human genetic engineering) are not only inherently immoral but also threats to the social order,

>>>>>>or, the in the view of some of the secular intellectuals, bound to "naturalize" social hierarchies. While Kass and Fukuyama do not warn of a new totalitarianism, but of a kind of liberal Brave New World, the other critics also raise the specter of Brave New World, but in a way similar to the "Genetic engineering" and "Eugenics" criticisms, stressing potential abuses of new technologies by totalitarian regimes. The AI pioneer Joseph S. Weizenbaum criticised the language and ideas of some of his colleagues, and in particular of Marvin Minsky and Hans Moravec, several times as similar to fascist and racist jargons and ideas. He argued, for example, that "with these world-encompassing projects that strive for superhuman intelligence and for the ultimate elimination of the human race and so on emerges a subtly induced world picture (…) (t)hat enters our language and the public consciousness, and that makes possible a treatment of human beings vastly below the respect and dignity that they ought to have."

In an article in Reason Online, science journalist Ronald Bailey has contested

>>>>>>,the claim, brought forward by Fukuyama and Habermas, that posthumanist and similar ideas may undermine the egalitarian ideals of liberal democracy,

by arguing that political equality has never rested on the facts of human biology. He asserts that liberalism was founded not on the proposition of effective equality of human beings, or de facto equality, but on the assertion of an equality in political rights and before the law, or de jure equality. Bailey asserts that the products of genetic engineering may well ameliorate rather than exacerbate human inequality, giving to the many what were once the privileges of the few. Moreover, he argues, "the crowning achievement of the Enlightenment is the principle of tolerance": in fact, he argues, political liberalism is already the solution to the issue of human and posthuman rights since, in liberal societies, the law is meant to apply equally to all, no matter how rich or poor, powerful or powerless, educated or ignorant, enhanced or unenhanced.[41] Other thinkers who are sympathetic to transhumanist ideas, such as Russell Blackford, have also objected to the appeal to tradition, and what they see as alarmism, involved in Brave New World-type arguments.[42]

>>>>>>====Dehumanization (Frankenstein argument)====

>>>>>>====Eugenics (Eugenics Wars argumen)====

>>>>>>====Existential risks (Terminator argument)====

I think Bureb is on solid ground with very many of the proposed changes. I would like to suggest that Bureb do the relevant editing the main page; items for which there is no consensus can, and I'm sure will, be reverted. The technique for editing the main page is virtually the same as contributing to the Talk page. The contributions don't have to be signed if you are logged in; it is done automatically. Inserting references is a little trickier. It can readily be done by cutting and pasting an analogous book, journal or URL citation and changing the variables. Clicking Preview will show you if your changes are as intended. If not, you can always cancel and try again. I am willing to help with the referencing if the bibliographic information is placed on this Talk page.--StN 19:30, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I've done most of the editing. I've left out the things I think were unnecessary or unsourced. --Loremaster 19:56, 1 December 2006 (UTC)


I'm only halfway through looking at the re-edited article, but have made some small changes - mainly stylistic but sometimes more substantial - plus one large one. The large one is to delete the following: Cosmologist George Ellis has called Tipler's book "a masterpiece of pseudoscience",[18] and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating perceived flaws in Tipler's thesis.[19]

I don't know whether this is new material or whether it was already there, but it's the sort of thing - or one of the sorts of things - I've been complaining about. First, I am not aware that Tipler considers himself a transhumanist. If he does, we should say so and provide a source. It is one thing to suggest, as a matter of interest to our readers, that he advocates an extreme version of an idea that some transhumanists advocate. That is getting close to original research, but it is fair enough I guess. But it is already a peripheral point unless we can establish that Tipler is a transhumanist. Let it stand, but then to report criticisms of Tipler is building on the peripheral point in a way that strays one more remove beyond transhumanism. Besides, if we are going to report criticism of Tipler, why not also report whatever support Tipler has ... if we are going to be neutral? At the moment, prior to my edit, we seemed to be doing a gratuitous hatchet job on Tipler in an article that is not about him. But if we then belance out that problem, we will be adding more and more material that is actually peripheral to transhumanism. I have no problem with the criticism of Tipler being somewhere in Wikipedia (and I actually think Tipler is a bit nutty, but that's not the point). Accordingly, I intend to include it in the Tipler article. However, I do not believe it belongs here in the Transhumanism article. If we are going to mention thinkers who put similar views to some transhumanists or who attack views favoured by some transhumanists, I think it should be clear that that is all we are doing, and we should be careful not to let it get out of hand. I.e., don't build peripheral points on peripheral points. Metamagician3000 02:24, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I strongly support this deletion since I've beens thinking of doing the same thing for the same reasons for a while now. --Loremaster 21:48, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I've now completed my re-edit. I'll await reactions. Metamagician3000 13:16, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I approve. --Loremaster 21:48, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
From the FAQ (with regard to antecedents of Transhumanism): "In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.(...) Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravec’s seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweil’s bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravec’s. Frank Tipler’s Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tipler’s attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas."

Citations needed

Bureb, can you cite your sources as soon as possible so that we finish improving the article according to your proposals (which I've moved to Archive 12)? --Loremaster 20:05, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

I have added some sources and made some modifications, most of them rather minor. The proposed new title ("threats to morality and democracy") for the Brave New World paragraph appears to be better suited to summarize the diverse views of the critics mentioned in this paragraph (including for example the differences between Kass and Habermas). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bureb62 (talkcontribs) 12:19, 5 December 2006 (UTC).
Thank you. --Loremaster 15:41, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for correcting my referencing mistakes. Two remarks: First, you use with regard to Weizenbaum's critique the word "supremacist" with which I'm not very familiar. As far as I can see, Weizenbaum's point is that some notions of Minsky ("meat machine" for the human brain) and of Moravec are reminiscent of Nazi and racist jargon in which Jews and other people were compared to animals or in other ways "dehumanized". In this context he (very polemically) talks about a "final solution of the human question" and compares Mind Children to Mein Kampf. Is "supremacist" the appropriate term then? (I don't think Weizenbaum would say that Minsky, Moravec etc. really are "supremacist" or fascist thinkers, but only that their misanthropic remarks are as dangerous as racist and other utterances, because they are "dehumanizing" human beings.) Second, the Royal Society & RAE report is, as far as I remember, not mentioning transhumanism, but only criticised the "science fiction" character of some NBIC visions. For a critique of the transhumanist orientation of the NBIC visions, one would need another reference.
1. "Supremacist" is more appropriate than "Nazi", "fascist" and "racist" since it incorporates all these concepts.
2. The claim comparing Mind Children to Mein Kampf is unnecessary and histrionical POV.
3. Please provide a reference for a critique of the transhumanist orientation of the NBIC vision if you find one. I think D. Benoit Browaeys's Transhumans Seize Nanotech might be a good source although it's in French.
--Loremaster 17:52, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
(1.): ok, but maybe it's better either to exactly explain what he objects to or use his words (instead of paraphrasing)
(2.): if "histrionical" is meant to mean "emotionally dramatic and exaggerated, attention seeking and always wanting to be the center of attention" I would say this is also the case with Moravec and many transhumanists (and Weizenbaum has probably more knowledge of history than most of these thinkers); anyway I just mentioned it because it's his most outspoken critique of these visions in English language. (It may be a general problem for the reader that some of the most "histrionical" claims of the transhumanists are not mentioned in the article and so their most outspoken critics may appear as alarmists.)
(3.): I think D.B.B.'s text is a very good source, because in the European debate her critique came quite early and is still influential (and, as far as I know, the other more detailed critiques of the transhumanist orientation of the NBIC visions are also in French). There is a new document of the European Parliament in English that describes some of these critiques (and, by the way, also the positions of the transhumanists): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/publications/studies/stoa183_en.pdf.--Bureb62 23:09, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
1. and 2. Since we striving for conciseness, I think its better to paraphrase.
3. Good.
--Loremaster 23:21, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
(1.): Moravec and Minsky could only have "supremacist" ideas if they would see themselves as posthumans, right? --Bureb62 23:41, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I think you are getting too hung up on this. "Supremacist" is simply a synonym for fascist/racist. The idea isn't that Moravec and Minsky are human supremacist/fascist/racist but that they have a supremacist/fascist/racist view of the superiority of artificially intelligent beings which entitles them to dominate, control, rule or exterminate human beings. Isn't this obvious? --Loremaster 14:27, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Understood. It's only kind of weird to have supremacist views as member of the (future) inferior group. And Weizenbaum's critique is not only about future posthumans dominating, controlling, abusing, exterminating human beings, but also about actual humans with such a worldview possibly treating other humans as non-humans, animals, vermin and so on. To mention only "misanthropic", as it is done now in the article, is in my view, the best solution. --Bureb62 15:54, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Weizenbaum

I think Weizenbaum's critique speaks much more to dehumanization than misanthropy. Given the choice between the two, I would opt for "dehumanization." But both themes are there, and I don't see why Loremaster won't let it stand.--StN 21:40, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I prefer not to let it stand because of consciness but also because the critique would be in the wrong section if it speaks more to dehumanization rather than anti-democratism. This is the reason why I prefered the word 'supremacist' in light of the context. --Loremaster 21:54, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
(1.): I think I know now why "supremacist" might be misleading: Weizenbaum certainly wants to be polemical - the criticised call people like him "human racists" -; but he certainly doesn't want to say that Moravec etc. believe that they themselves are "racially", physically etc. superior to other humans. He doesn't criticise them for some kind of racist feeling of superiority, but because their expressions of misanthropy and denigration of the human body remind him of fascist rhetoric against jews or of war-time animals-enemies comparisons. So, while it is in fact about dehumanization, it's mainly about how dangerous such language can be politically. (I don't want to be impertinent, but I think the sections are really far from being clear-cut and about four would be enough.)--Bureb62 23:37, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
"inhuman"? "against human dignity"? "Contempt for mankind"?--Bureb62 23:49, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
"Misanthropic" is fine. --Loremaster 23:53, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

[un-indent] Hmmm, I need to look at this. What was there before seemed clear enough. I note, for what it is worth, that James Hughes is critical of Moravec on the same grounds (see pages 246-47 of Citizen Cyborg), which leads me to issue my usual caution that the position being criticised does not amount to "transhumanism" but to a position on a specific issue, and one which at least some transhumanists might reject. Metamagician3000 00:01, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Hmmmm, hmmm. Okay, what is there seems fine for the moment. If that's all that matters, don't bother readng on.
I do agree with Bureb that the sections are far from clear-cut. They reflect the situation when we had far fewer criticisms under discussion. Just as transhumanists are not a monolithic group, but actually have many different philosophies, their opponents have many different backgrounds and object to different things (often not even seeing themselves as objecting to something called "transhumanism"). As we've gone on and looked at all the many debates, we've tried to fit them into categories not originally designed for such a purpose. I'm not suggesting we abandon the current categories, but we might just bear this in mind in our ongoing discussions.
For example, a case could even have been made for putting Weizenbaum's comments under "existential risks" because the views he is objecting to are all about humans being replaced by something else that we haven't evolved into but have simply created ... and which then supersedes us. When it's put that way, of course, it's obvious why transhumanists like Hughes reject it. They want the morphological freedom to use technologies that might help them increase their cognitive and other abilities, and to live longer - they are not looking to be replaced by robots. Metamagician3000 00:16, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the Weizenbaum comment should be moved to the Existential risks section unless there are some objections. --Loremaster 00:58, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't do that, because the critique is also (and like the other critiques in this section) about dangerous changes in worldviews and threats to human dignity. The ideology itself is dangerous in Weizenbaum's view, even if the ideas could never be realized.--Bureb62 01:05, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
And one could still find quite a few other candidates to be moved to another section. Habermas, for example, could be in at least two other sections (and one better suited than the actual one). One should either have less sections or more cross-references, but without such modifications, I would recommend not to invest to much time in moving critics from one section to another.--Bureb62 01:13, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Bureb's take on Weizenbaum and, in general, with the last statement on not moving things around at this point.--StN 02:44, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Just to be clearer, I wasn't actually suggesting that we shift it. I was just giving another example of how these various statements, criticisms, whatever, don't fit neatly into boxes, which means we need to be flexible about where things go. I'd leave it as it currently is. Metamagician3000 04:19, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
So we all agree that the article is fine as it currently is. Good! The only thing left is to cite a source for the Kalle Lasn statement. --Loremaster 14:17, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Citations needed

From Existential risks (Terminator argument):

Related notions are also voiced by self-described neo-luddite Kalle Lasn, a culture jammer who co-authored a spoof of the Cyborg Manifesto as a critique of techno-utopianism, who claims that humanity has an inherent lack of competence to direct its own evolution and should therefore completely relinquish technology development.

Can we cite this Changesurfer radio interview of Kalle Lasn by James Hughes for this passage? http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=11260 If so, how do we? --Loremaster 21:00, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

After re-listening to the interview, I've rewritten the passage:

Related notions are also voiced by self-described neo-luddite Kalle Lasn, a culture jammer who co-authored a 2001 spoof of Donna Haraway's 1985 Cyborg Manifesto as a critique of techno-utopianism, who argues that technology development should be completely relinquished since it inevitably serves corporate interests with devastating consequences on society and the environment.

--Loremaster 16:27, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

I've provided a news citation for the passage above. --Loremaster 21:47, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Fiction and Art

Great link to update the Fiction and Art section: http://genetics-and-society.org/analysis/popular.html --Loremaster 14:56, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Do some of you feel that the Fiction and Art section needs to be improved/trimmed/expanded? For example, some readers have commented in that past that they were surprised that the works of Robert A. Heinlein (Lazarus Long series, 1941-1987), A. E. van Vogt ( Slan, 1946), Isaac Asimov ( I, Robot, 1950), and Arthur C. Clarke ( Childhood's End , 1953), and Stanislaw Lem ( Cyberiad, 1967) are not mentioned in the article when they have hade far more influence on proto-transhumanist thought than the works by other authors currently mentioned. --Loremaster 21:59, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I feel so (Heinlein and Clarke in specific).--Bureb62 08:57, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Done. However, since I am in a hurry, someone else can rephrase the context. --Loremaster 16:35, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
One can always count on StN for this stuff. Thank you. --Loremaster 17:57, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

- I think Shadowrun should be added as an example to 'Role Playing Games' part.
- I think you should date Warhammer 40,000's first edition (1987).
- The link to Imperium in that section needs to be redone to direct to Imperium (Warhammer 40,000)
- Michael Jackson claims he suffers from Vitiligo and has used to use black make up to cover the white patches, and now it has spread so much he used white make up to cover the black patches. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, but wonder if the matter-of-fact way it is stated he uses 'skin lightening drugs' is a problem for the article.
- One thing I must insist on is to add the Metal Gear series as as example in the videogame section. Disco 12:04, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

The effect of Michael Jackson's skin lightening on his aritstic persona, which is widely acknowledged, rather than the initial medical motivation, which is discussed in the article about him, is what is at issue in this passage.--StN 17:45, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree. --Loremaster 17:58, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Done. However, I've removed Warhammer to give more space for Shadow Run which I think is a more significant work. --Loremaster 16:35, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Consolidation?

What do people think about eliminating one section by transferring the two paragraphs of the Eugenics Wars argument to the end of the Gattaca argument?--StN 02:20, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I've been weighing the pros and cons of doing that for a while now. Let's wait till Metamagician comes back on December 15 to have his input. --Loremaster 02:30, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm currently leaning against consolidation. I think we should simply make clear that the Gattaca argument is about the consequences of elective eugenics while the Eugenics Wars argument is about the consequences of a return of coercive eugenics; as I am currently doing. --Loremaster 18:43, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm done. StN, what do you think? --Loremaster 20:02, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
I think this is better now and we can leave it in two sections. --StN 19:02, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Citation needed?

On another issue, do you really think a citation is needed for the statement on Minsky, Moravec and Kurzweil? It is a noncontroversial statement of fact based on their own writings.--StN 19:02, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

To me the issue isn't one of controversy as much as it is about helping people know which writings of Minsky, Moravec and Kurzweil were are refering to. --Loremaster 19:23, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Can you take care of it? --Loremaster 20:07, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
I've begun and will do the rest soon.--StN 20:40, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. --Loremaster 20:41, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Paving the way

I removed what I consider a really misleading reference to Carl Sagan, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and Douglas Hofstadter "paving the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas." This seemed to be a surreptitious way of suggesting that these scientists and writers endorse transhumanism. In fact no documentation is provided that they even wrote about transhumanist ideas.--StN 00:49, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Although I could debate this, I won't restore the reference unless someone else can convincingly argue for it. --Loremaster 02:39, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
It strikes me as original research. Metamagician3000 10:32, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Currents

--Loremaster 17:36, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

To which we might add "psychedelic transhumanism" as espoused by Paul Hughes (link to interview). Anville 15:24, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
I've added a mention of "psychedelic transhumanism" in the Currents section. --Loremaster 17:15, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Need to add "Transhumanitarianism" - Advocate: Natasha Vita-More.
I've removed the following text from the Currents section:
*Transhumanitarianism, a means of addressing current global issues through a conscientious transhumanist outreach.
There is no online evidence that Natasha Vita-More has explicitly advocated "Transhumanitarianism". Regardless, new currents within transhumanism are only worthy of mention in an encyclopedic article if they have been advocated by a prominent transhumanist thinker or activist (like Natasha Vita-More) for a significant length of time and gained some currency within the transhumanist culture. This article should not be used to legitimize or promote neologisms and new ideas that popped into the head of some transhumanist that morning. --Loremaster 17:43, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
For the record, I am told that "transhumane" and "transhumanitarianism" are part of Vita-More's PhD thesis. She eventually wants to promote transhumanitarianism (for a more transhumane future) as a current within transhumanism. It therefore does not yet reach the standard of notability needed to be listed in the Currents section. --Loremaster 12:20, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I must offer a note of caution. Having met Bruce Sterling, and having appeared on a panel about transhumanism with him, not very long ago, I can say that I'd be amazed if he was prepared to accept the title "transhumanist" or to concede that his views are a current of transhumanism. The same may apply to others on the above list. Metamagician3000 12:25, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree about Sterling but I don't see the same problem with the others. --Loremaster 14:21, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, several of the others are known to me (i.e. I've met them and/or studied their work) and you're right: they are definitely self-identified transhumanists. Others, however, I've never heard of and wonder about, though you are probably right about them, too (e.g. Green). But then there's Hayles - from the little I know of her I'd be a bit surprised if she identified as a transhumanist, or thought her work was a current of transhumanism, even if she is a "posthumanist" thinker in some sense. Of course, I've been surprised before. Do you know how she positions herself vis a vis transhumanism? Anyway, it's just a general note of caution about how we identify people unless we're confident of how they identify themselves. Metamagician3000 14:39, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
As far as I know, N. Katherine Hayles does not identify herself as a transhumanist. However, I think she does consider herself a posthumanist. Can someone be a posthumanist without being a transhumanist? I say Yes. Can someone be a transhumanist without being a posthumanist? I say Yes. --Loremaster 20:47, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
As far as I can tell (from one book), N. Katherine Hayles is a theorist of embodiment, and therefore rides against the general current of transhumanism and posthumanism. I would associate her with thinkers like Susan Bordo. At the very least, she is way more subtle than Hughes, et al. If transhumanists are moving towards this style of thinking, there may be hope yet.--StN 21:44, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I guess I or someone else will have to ask her. --Loremaster 21:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Since transhumanism and posthumanism are not the same thing, how is embodiment theory not part of posthumanist thought? --Loremaster 22:48, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I think I understand what you mean, but isn't one mainstream notion of transhumanism a transition to the posthuman state? I think Hayles's concept of the posthuman recognizes the constraints and limits of the human organism. It's been a while since I read her book, but I don't recall her being positively disposed to genetic engineering. I doubt she would encourage (or even accept the possibility of) mind uploading. I agree that she can be a posthumanist without being a transhumanist.--StN 01:50, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Although these terms are often confused, Posthuman and posthumanism are not the same thing. --Loremaster 17:47, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

[De-indent] I have taken the liberty of removing the following material, while keeping it here in case it is of any value for another context or for reworking:

  • Posthumanism, an emergent philosophy that seeks to transcend the principles of Renaissance humanism and bring them into closer correspondence with the 21st century's ideas of scientific knowledge.

We all seem to agree that posthumanism as described in this quote and the relevant article is not the same thing as posthuman or a sub-set of transhumanism. Metamagician3000 02:48, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

OK. We should perhaps mentiom im the article that posthumanism is a synonym for transhumanism, especially in the United States. --Loremaster 03:02, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to see a source for that. I'm not disputing it; it just seems to me to be the sort of thing that should get some kind of attribution and referencing as we strive to keep the article at FA standard. Metamagician3000 10:24, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

Currents section

What evidence is there that anybody actually believes in the "currents" of transhumanism listed in this section? The article Anarcho-transhumanism cites only one website (which contains only a list of suggested books on transhumanism and anarchism and has no information on the site's authorship) and makes no definite claim that anybody believes in anarcho-transhumanism other than it's founder, Pablo Stafforini. If I were to call my particular beliefs Schaeferian transhumanism, register a web domain, and design a pretty website that gives an outline of what I believe, can I add my philosophy to this list? -- Schaefer (Talk) 21:19, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Likewise, Christian transhumanism cites a private website and an article in Betterhumans, which only describes the views of one person, Mark Walker. Psychedelic transhumanism provides no evidence of any followers other than Paul Hughes. Technogaianism also lacks any definite claim of notability. Transhumanist socialism is supported by a single article on Kuro5hin and a content-free website made by the article's author that hasn't been updated in half a decade. I'm inclined to remove all of these. -- Schaefer (Talk) 21:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Schaefer, you bring up a good point. However, please refrain from deleting anything until the main contributors of the article have had a chance to discuss this issue. --Loremaster 23:55, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Though a main contributor to the article, I didn't contribute to the Currents section and am not committed to keeping it. I suggest that the important tendencies be described in a narrative paragraph, and that a citation be made to an article, if one can be found (e.g., a WTA survey or history) that mentions them.--StN 02:24, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm more in favor of keeping the Currents section but removing some of the marginal ones listed in it and expanding those that are left. --Loremaster 18:25, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I've never been especially comfortable with this section, but have tended not to edit it because I don't know enough about these various alleged "currents". Some of them do seem obscure; also, as we discussed above, a couple of them are seemingly not really currents of transhumanism at all, but something tangentially related to it, or perhaps even opposed to it. I'd support anyone who wants to cut the section ruthlessly. I'd also support any work, such as Loremaster suggests, that expands (with good sources) anything there that is actually of significance to the transhumanist movement. Metamagician3000 23:02, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Is anyone opposed to removing Anarcho-transhumanism, Christian transhumanism, Psychedelic transhumanism, Technogaianism, or Transhumanist socialism? There seems to be a consensus that at least some of the currents should go, and these are the ones I'd like to remove if no one objects. -- Schaefer (Talk) 17:47, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Are you suggesting only removing them from the Transhumanism article or also putting them to a vote for deletion? I say we leave them here and see whether or not they survive a vote. --Loremaster 13:42, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
No particular objection, as such ... but I'd like to see some more input. I wonder who originally produced this material. It was there before I began to work on the article, and I've just kind of worked around it. Ideally I'd like to see it pared down to whatever is verifiable and clearly notable, but I'm not sure what that would actually be.
Loremaster, I don't think I understand your proposal in your last sentence. Could you clarify it, please? Metamagician3000 15:32, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I was simply suggesting that, rather than removing the mention of these currents from the Transhumanism article, we could tag Anarcho-transhumanism, Christian transhumanism, Psychedelic transhumanism, and Transhumanist socialism as articles for deletion to see if they survive. --Loremaster 19:02, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty to remove the mention of these currents from the article and I've started a deletion debate on all their respectives articles. --Loremaster 19:30, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Good. It reads much better now.--StN 20:19, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, good. I agree with StN; I'm glad to see some surgery here. Per the discussion above, I also don't see posthumanism as a current within transhumanism. It should be mentioned in some (concise) way, but putting it in a list with these other "currents" seems wrong to me. Any disagreement about that? Any suggestions as to how we handle it? Metamagician3000 00:14, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Although I was the one who added Posthumanism to the Currents section, I've always had doubts. Even if we remove it, we would still have to acknowledge somewhere in the article that posthumanism is, rightly or wrongly, a synonym for transhumanism in the United States. Futhermore, some anonymous user posted the following comment on the Talk:Posthumanism page which provides additional context: "in Europe the philosophical (postmodernist) posthumanism paved the way for the engineer's posthumanism of the Moravecs, Minskys etc.: Posthumanist philosophers and authors belonged to the first people in Europe who made references to Moravec etc. and included texts by the posthumanist engineers in their publications. One central common feature of both posthumanisms is the idea that machines (including machine intelligences) will become ever more important "actors", and that for this reason the centrality of the human being (as in classical humanism) is an old-fashioned idea." --Loremaster 11:57, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
According to the section above, I brought the term "psychedelic transhumanism" to the attention of those reading this Talk page (10 July 2006), and Loremaster added it to the Currents section some time later. I have no real opinion about keeping it or deleting the stub article on it (I largely forgot mentioning it here, even). Anville 19:53, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Anville, you may want to participate in the debate on the Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Psychedelic_transhumanism page. --Loremaster 13:12, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Update: The articles on Anarcho-transhumanism, Christian transhumanism, and Psychedelic transhumanism have been deleted. --Loremaster 17:43, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Update: The article on Transhumanist socialism was deleted. --Loremaster 14:20, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

The Amish transportation example is a bit tendentious, Loremaster, though I know McKibben used the Amish as an example. Perhaps we can find a picture of a teen-ager driving a Prius, alongside one driving a Hummer while talking on her cell phone. --StN 19:52, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. Since McKibben held up the Amish as an example to follow when it comes to technological relinquisment, I think the image is more than appropriate. If he hadn't, I would agree with you. However, I am open to replacing it with a better image. As for your Prius vs Hummer picture, I am not interested in going through the copyrights hurdles needed to justify uploading it for an article about transhumanism. --Loremaster 21:40, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

StN, I added your Biocomplexity Spiral image to the Playing God argument section. Hope you're happy. --Loremaster 23:41, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

It was suggested to me that Micheal Gibb's Genetic Destiny: Future DNA testing capabilities may lead to difficult personal and societal decisions (http://www.michaelgibbs.com/medical_art/images/graphics/gibbs_11.jpg) would be perfect for the Gattaca argument section. However, we would need to find the appropriate rationale to justify its use in an article on transhumanism. As for Peter Pan, using an ad that epitomizes our culture's obsession with youth would be quite appropriate (http://www.ahavaus.com/site/images/anti-aging_main_img.jpg). --Loremaster 23:55, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

It's nice to see the Biocomplexity Spiral back. The Prius vs. Hummer idea was not entirely in earnest. The Genetic Destiny image is nice, but as an artistic metaphor is less likely to qualify for fair use than book covers or even the Gibbs magazine cover we were all sorry to drop earlier. The Ahava ad is great, but I doubt whether an ad would qualify for fair use.--StN 00:30, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
The Foreign Policy magazine cover for the issue on the world's most dangerous ideas which nominated transhumanism (http://www.bonusmags.com/mags/250_foreign_policy.jpg) would be ideal for the Brave New World section. --Loremaster 22:06, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Since this Wikipedia article is not about Foreign Policy magazine, nor about the WMDI feature in that magazine, but just refers to what one contributor placed in that category, I think this doesn't come under fair use.--StN 23:00, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
*sigh* I know... --Loremaster 00:13, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I've got no problem with any of the images that have been added. The Amish one does illustrate the point made by McKibben, and not in a way that subtly comments on it or anything as far as I can see. I don't see it as all that high a priority to have a lot of images, as long as there are some to break up all the text of this long article. I don't, for example, see any need to find an image for each section. But good work all the same. Metamagician3000 00:35, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Beyond some tweaking here and there, the article is pretty much complete so adding images is the only thing left to do to enhance it. --Loremaster 16:11, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Sometimes less is more. I might be alone in this opinion, but I really don't see what all the face pictures add to the article. The article is about their ideas, and their physical appearance only serves to distract. The human tendency to better judge ideas based on the physical attractiveness of their supporters is very well documented. Good-looking people are always perceived as being much smarter (moreso than they really are—there is a positive correlation between phsyical attractiveness and IQ, but not nearly strong enough to account for this bias), friendlier, etc. They also serve to reinforce the gender of transhumanism's proponents more than is necessary. Numerous studies show that people, even well-educated people on the review boards of scientific journals, review ideas put forth by women with more skepticism. The APA style guidelines specifically forbid the inclusion of first names in references, despite the resulting lack of specificity that makes many-a-researcher's life miserable, to avoid this sexist bias. Pictures of the supporters of transhumanism are not only uninformative noise, they're anti-informative noise. -- Schaefer (Talk) 17:17, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
uh, I am not sure what this rant is all about. Wikipedia encourages contributors to add images to articles. Since we have had no choice but to remove art work that illustrated some concepts related to transhumanism, we've added most of these images because it is informative or, at the very least, interesting to attach a face to the names of notable people mentioned in the article. Futhermore, 8 out of the 13 of these images are not of supporters of transhumanism. --Loremaster 17:31, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I apologize if it sounded like I was accusing transhumanists in particular of including pointless images, as that was not my intent. I am aware that many of the pictures are of transhumanist opponents, but this does nothing to augment the worth of their inclusion. I'm not claiming that the images bias the article in any particular direction. It's not as though someone went out of their way to find the best-looking or worst-looking of one side and deliberately included those pictures. There's no malice at work here, as far as I can tell. But the images are still noise, and whatever extent to which they bias the readers is only icing on the cake of all the other reasons why uninformative pictures shouldn't bee included in articles: they take up space, they take up bandwidth, and, in this case, they increase the reliance of Wikipedia on copyrighted material. I don't see how the portraits are informative at all. They contribute nothing to the reader's understanding of transhumanism or its criticisms, which are the subject of the article.
I wouldn't be so vocal about this if the article restricted itself to including only one or two portraits, but thirteen? The article on evolution, which undeniably has more names associated with its development, uses only two portraits (Darwin and Gregor Mendel). The article on calculus only shows Newton and Leibniz, despite over 300 years of subsequent contributors to the field. Psychology has three portraits. Economics has one. Autism has three. Why does transhumanism, which is much newer and has had so many fewer people study it, need thirteen portraits? It's just plain excessive. -- Schaefer (Talk) 18:52, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
That being said, I think it would be more informative to replace Ray Kurzweil's image with the Paradigm Shifts Events chart, Aldous Huxley's image with one of an artificial womb or clones, Mary Shelley's image with one of a chimera, Francis Galton's image with the Eugenics Congress Logo, and Bill Joy's image with an outbreak risk map of the United States. --Loremaster 17:50, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
That would certainly be an improvement. -- Schaefer (Talk) 18:55, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Schafer's comments, and would be in favor of making many of the substitutions Loremaster suggests (although charts and maps don't work very well in the typical sizes used here), and removing portraits of the movement's stalwarts, except perhaps for FM-2030, and critics, as well as that of Natasha Vita-More, whose contributions, in the form of her artwork, are amply recognized in the top image.--StN 03:01, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, the number of pics of individuals may be overdone, though I don't think there can be any criticism of actually depicting thinkers who were foundational, or who are now leading, in developing transhumanist thought. The main thing is that decorating the article with images is not all that important. Maybe there are simply too many images, now. It's good to break up the text a bit, and it's nice put faces to the names of some of the main thinkers. But the article really stands or falls on the quality of the text. Metamagician3000 11:00, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't think there are too many images. However, I do think we could and should add images that are more informative. --Loremaster 16:55, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

The Paradigm Shift graph is unreadable at the scale used. Even when blown up it is obscurantist in the absence of additional information, and in its original context is only of marginal scientific value. The Bostrom portrait, if it is to be retained, would look much better cropped about 15% on the left and a few percent on the right.--StN 22:50, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree about the Paradigm Shifts Events chart. Perhaps an image of the flying car (or some other gadget) people expected to already have by now might be better for this section. As for Nick Bostrom's image, feel free to improve its location and size without my permission. --Loremaster 03:16, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I have inserted a cropped version of the Bostrom picture, but it will be deleted unless the copyright holder adds a fair use statement to the image page.--StN 03:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, if you hold the copyright on this picture, or know who does, please respond; its fair use has been contested. --StN 02:24, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't personally hold the copyright on any of the pictures I have or want to upload to Wikipedia and add to some articles. However, I am contacting people who know people who know people... --Loremaster 02:29, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
After thinking more about Schaefer's comments, I've removed all pictures of transhumanist advocates from the article. All these pictures can be found on the respective biographical articles of these individuals. --Loremaster 17:19, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

The Young Family

In the Frankenstein argument section, I've replaced Mary Shelley's picture with one of a human-dog hybrid family. --Loremaster 23:27, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

The "Young Family" illustration is ideal for this section, but since the article is not about this work, or even about the artist who produced it, the image fails the fair use test in my opinion.--StN 02:53, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Oh I know. I am working on finding the appropriate license and adding a good fair use rationale. --Loremaster 08:51, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Isn't the image used for the Frankenstein section a bit disturbing? Can we change it please? Keshidragon 14:18, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
LOL No, that's the point. --Loremaster 19:55, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Based on a read-through of her website, it appears that Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering are among her primary themes, so I believe that the picture passes the fair-use test. Here's a quote from her earlier work: "The work presented comes from my on-going 'The Mutant Genome Project' (TMGP), a series of computer-generated photographs and new media installations that explore issues relating to genetic engineering and 'consumer medicine'. Recurring throughout the TMGP work is LUMP (Lifeform with Unevolved Mutant Properties) which is presented as the world's first commercially available 'designer baby'. LUMP is the human form completely redesigned by an engineer and an ad agency; physiognomically efficient and marketably cute." --Dunkelza 04:54, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm just thinking about some people who may wish to read this article whom may be quite sensitive, is there not any way we can add a warning that the article contains disturbing images or do we not do that on Wikipedia? Keshidragon 21:52, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the image is disturbing enough to warrant such a disclaimer and I don't think Wikipedia makes use of such disclaimers. --Loremaster 18:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Primo Posthuman

The Primo Posthuman image was deleted despite the fact that Natasha Vita-More has released all rights for this image to be used. What gives? --Loremaster 22:56, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

I've reinsterted Micheal Gibbs's much-liked Posthuman Future image to fill the void. --Loremaster 18:23, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Mormon Transhumanist Association external link

Loremaster, you have repeatedly removed the external link reference to the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA). Will you please explain your reasoning? The MTA is a unique spiritually-oriented affiliate of the World Transhumanist Association and the reference to it broadens the objective description of Transhumanism. Arosophos 03:47, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

The Mormon transhumanists are already mentioned in the article and one can find a link to the Mormon Transhumanist Association on the World Transhumanist Association page. --Loremaster 14:51, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Many of the other external links are also referenced on the WTA site, yet the MTA arguably illustrates the breadth of Transhumanism better than most of the others. In addition, the mention of Mormon Transhumanists in the article is insufficient for providing information on the syncretization of Mormonism and Transhumanism. Arosophos 05:13, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't refering to the WTA site but the Wikipedia article on the World Transhumanist Association. Regardless, I won't rmeove the link anymore. As for providing more information on the syncretization of Mormonism and Transhumanism, I would be opposed to this since 1) this article is about secular Transhumanism not Mormon Transhumanism; and 2) Mormon transhumanism has not gained enough currency to deserve more attention or even an article of its own. As you may know from having read the Currents section below, the Christian transhumanism article was deleted. --Loremaster 18:56, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Although I plan to make no additions for now, I disgree with your assertion that this article is about secular Transhumanism. The article is about Transhumanism generally, otherwise it will not adhere to Wikipedia standards for objectivity. Arosophos 04:53, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
You are correct that this article is about transhumanism in general. However, it doesn't change the fact that Mormon transhumanism is at this stage an insignificant current that doesnt deserve a greater mention than it currently does. --Loremaster 17:15, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Frankenstein argument

Is this the intended logic of the rebuttal to the "Frankenstein argument"?: "Humans are wholely artificial; there is little natural about them that is of any significance. Therefore, human-animal chimeras, and animals, if substantially altered, should be considered persons." Frankly, the connection is not obvious, regardless of whether the premise is true or false. Indeed, the structure of this argument suggests that the further a human is modified away from its biological species identity, the more human it is.--StN 03:40, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

The addition of the homo technologicus argument was only meant as a contextualization of Keekok Lee's argument. There is no direct connection between it and the transhumanist rebuttal to the Frankenstein argument. --Loremaster 13:37, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I find the argument confusing, too. But then again, I find the so-called "Frankenstein argument" confusing. I would understand it if the argument were something like this:
P1. If we create non-human beings with personhood, under current social conditions, they will probably be mistreated (as Frankenstein's monster was).
P2. The mistreatment of any being with personhood is a moral catastrophe.
C. Under current social conditions, we should not create non-human beings with personhood.
I think that this is going to turn out to be deductively valid, given some additional uncontroversial (yes?) assumptions such as that we should not do anything that will probably lead to a moral catastrophe. The only question is whether the first premise is true. It probably is on some interpretations of what a "non-human person" is. Accordingly, depending on which senses of P1. are actually true, the argument is a sound one to avoid doing something under current social conditions. It could then also be deduced without too much trouble that:
C'. If we plan to create non-human beings with personhood, we should first alter current social conditions.
Of course there could then be a lot of debate about whether this is practicable, and in any event whether utilitarian harm might be done by trying to alter current social conditions and whether any counterbalancing benefit could be obtained by creating these "non-human persons", etc.
But none of this is the argument we actually report, as far as I can work out. The argument we report is some confusing gobbledeegook about "dehumanising projects", or whatever. I find it hard to understand what this amounts to, or why "dehumanising" in the sense relied on here is even supposed to be a bad thing (I mean, I can think of lots of other senses in which dehumanising people clearly is a bad thing, e.g. it is dehumanising human beings in a morally reprehensible sense if we deprive them of goods that they need for their flourishing, such as leisure, opportunities for friendship, and respect for their rationality - but those senses are not relevant here, and any reliance on them for their moral connotations will commit the fallacy of equivocation). Accordingly, I have no idea what the Frankenstein argument that we report is really all about or how anyone could sensibly respond to it. Metamagician3000 02:13, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
All of which suggests to me that some further thought needs to be given to what the Frankenstein argument really is. That might then help us identify whether it is has been answered by anyone (either wholly or in part). Thought might also be given to whether the argument is an argument against transhumanism per se, as opposed to an argument against some things that some transhumanists want to do. It's not clear that transhumanists, as such, want to become "non-human" in the sense required, though they may well want to become posthuman in some sense (basically to do with having vastly greater cognitive and physical capacities, life expectancies, etc., than they have now). Nor is it clear that transhumanists, as such, want to see non-human persons in the requisite sense created - though some individual transhumanists seem to have ambitions that would indeed, as far as I can see, fall afoul of my version of the argument. Metamagician3000 02:24, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I've decided to remove the homo technologicus argument. We should expand the Frankenstein argument's counter section using Bailey's critique of many versions of it in Reason magazine. --Loremaster 14:21, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I am really struggling to make sense of the section as it is currently written, and I'm going to try to revise it when I get a chance. I have quite a lot of questions in my mind, and I'll use this page to try to sort them out. I'll try to be as precise as I can about pinning down what worries me about this particular section as currently written. Metamagician3000 01:16, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
If you read Ronald Bailey's articles, you can see that many people oppose chimerism and genetic engineering because of the fears expressed in the Frankenstein argument. So the problem is not the argument but the counter-argument which doesn't clearly explain why some of these fears are nothing more than alarmism. --Loremaster 12:19, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, are you saying that the counterargument should "explain" why some of these fears are nothing more than alarmism, or do you mean rather that it should present the arguments of Bailey and some others that the "Frankenstein" fears are alarmist. Only the latter would be appropriate in this article.--StN 22:24, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I meant. --Loremaster 23:15, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

[Back to margin] Yes to both of you, but I'm now finding the actual argument very unclear. Lots of rather different things seem to be being run together confusingly. I'll explain at length when I get a chance. Before I'm through, I guess I'll need to read the specific texts referred to; it might then make more sense to me who is supposed to be saying what, but that should be transparent to the reader.

As a side note, I increasingly have a general problem with original research in the long "Criticisms" section. This worries me more and more as the section grows, and as I stand back and consider the article as a whole. We often seem to be synthesising what could be said for or against transhumanism by various people who are not actually discussing transhumanism at all, but merely discussing certain possibilities that some transhumanists want to pursue or certain tendencies that they might favour. Still, it's probably too late for me to make a fuss about that. Metamagician3000 01:35, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Beyond expanding the Frankenstein counter-argument, I'm opposed to the Criticisms section growing. --Loremaster 15:10, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Ronald Bailey resource

Metamagician (or anyone else interested), could you please synthetize and summarize Bailey's arguments in the three articles linked to above? Once this is done, we could had this text to the Dehumanization section as a counter-argument that would come before the one that is already there. Once this is done, I think the Transhumanism article will finally be stable except for minor updates from time to time. --Loremaster 22:48, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Let try this: In a series of articles in Reason magazine, Ronald Bailey accused opponents of genetic research involving the modification of animals as indulging in alarmism when they speculate about the creation of sub-human creatures with humanlike intelligence and brains resembling those of Homo sapiens. Bailey insists that the aim of conducting research on animals is simply to produce human health-care benefits. This wording could come before the current sentences about Hughes, etc., as it is a less radical approach. Some massaging in might be needed for it to run smoothly. All three references would be relevant. Metamagician3000 08:45, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. --Loremaster 10:17, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Frankenstein argument - trying to get this clear

In italics below, and indented, is what we currently have. I am interpolating questions in plain type with bold where I need to emphasise something in order to draw a distinction, etc:

Acknowledging the power of biotechnology to make profound changes in organismal identity, bioconservative activist Jeremy Rifkin and biologist Stuart Newman argue against the genetic engineering of human beings because they fear the blurring of the boundary between human and artifact.

Why do we say "acknowledging"? Isn't this POV? In any event it is not at all clear what the bit up to the word "identity" has to do with the bit after the comma. I can't see for the life of me see what argument is being attributed to Rifkin and Newman with this subordinate clause/principal clause combination, beyond the empty fact that they fear the blurring of a supposed boundary between human and artifact. That is hardly an argument, and I'm not even sure what it really is that they fear. "Artifact" and "human" are not things that are separated by any boundary. It's like saying "blurring the boundary between green and square" or "blurring the boundary between liquid and warm". Eh? Something can be human (in the sense of being a living thing with DNA readily recognisable as that of the species Homo sapiens sapiens), while also being an artifact under various definitions (e.g. something brought into being by technological intervention). There's just no logical contrast here, anymore than there is between things of a certain shape and things of a certain colour. This whole first sentence just seems to make no sense at all. Perhaps someone can explain to me what it is trying to say.

Philosopher Keekok Lee sees such developments as part of an accelerating trend in modernization in which technology has been used to transform the "natural" into the "artifactual".

This makes slightly more sense, though it still seems like a crazy distinction to make at this stage of the history of philosophy. John Stuart Mill demolished such distinctions a long time ago, as did David Hume even further back. I find it hard to believe that an argument based on the need to retain a distinction between the "natural" and the "artifactual" could be considered an important one. On its face, it has no credibility with secular philosophers. However, if I am wrong about that, let's at least be clear how the words "natural" and "artifactual" are being used. As Mill and Hume showed, such words can be used in various senses (and it is unlikely that any of them are morally salient).

Metamagician, I totally agree. This is the reason why I added the homo technologicus argument. --Loremaster 15:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
In the extreme, this could lead to the manufacturing and enslavement of "monsters" such as human clones, human-animal chimeras, or even replicants, but even lesser dislocations of humans and nonhumans from social and ecological systems are seen as problematic.

Who is saying this? Is it Lee's argument? Is it something that Lee, Newman, and Rifkin all say? Is it something we are saying? Or what? Some clarity would be very useful here.

Except for the mention of replicants, both Newman and Rifkin have expressed these fears in various interviews. --Loremaster 15:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
The novel The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) and the film Blade Runner (1982) depict elements of such scenarios,

Who is saying this? Neither of these has much to do with transhumanism, though it's true, I suppose that some transhumanists favour uplifting non-human animals to humanlike intelligence (but not to enslave them or whatever - I don't see how the idea fits in here). If some critic of transhumanism invokes these works, we should say so, but if it is just a comparison we are making in passing I think it should be deleted.

Journalists critical of chimerism often cite the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.
but Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein is most often alluded to by critics who suggest that biotechnologies (which currently include cloning, chimerism and genetic engineering) could create objectified and socially-unmoored people and subhumans.

I suppose this is correct, but who are these individuals who make these suggestions? Is it Newman? Rifkin? Lee? Other people? All the above? I wouldn't mind this sentence if it stood in isolation but in the context of the para, which has mentioned some specific people, it has become confusing just who is saying what. I think we need to spell it out.

Such critics propose that strict measures be implemented to prevent these potentially dehumanizing possibilities

In what sense are they "dehumanizing"? Who is being dehumanised? Who is saying that something is dehumanising - Rifkin? Lee? Us? I don't see any basis at all for saying that someone is being dehumanised - at least not in the full range of possible cases. It may be that some being we create will be mistreated, which would doubtless be a moral wrong, but that is something else. Perhaps someone human will end up being treated in a way that could be described accurately as "dehumanising", as if they are forced to work in conditions that are damaging to their cognitive and creative capacities or to their "finer" feelings, but it's not at all clear that the word would be applicable in the range of cases being hinted at. Again, the argument just is not at all clear. Can't we say what argument is really being put, and by whom? If the argument is that we will inevitably be unsympathetic to certain human-like, or human, beings if we create them, and so we will inevitably mistreat them, let's say that clearly, and attribute the claim to whoever is making it.

Every critic of human genetic engineering mentions it's potential dehumanizing possibilities. Intentionally creating "subhumans" that would serve as slaves or organ donors is their greatest fear. --Loremaster 23:53, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
from ever happening, usually in the form of an international ban on human genetic engineering.[56]

If it's "usually", then presumably not everyone mentioned says this, yes? So just who is asking for a ban on human genetic engineering on this particular basis? I'd also like some more clarity about how the argument we are reporting actually works. Is the argument this: "Unless we ban human genetic engineering it will (inevitably) be used to create beings whom we will mistreat"? That seems like a bizarre thing to argue. Leaving aside, its superficial implausibility as an empirical claim ... why not ban creating certain specific kinds of beings (such as large, ugly humanoid monsters) who are especially likely to be mistreated, rather than banning human genetic engineering? Or why not ban mistreating such beings (including any large, ugly humanoid monsters someone might be foolish enough to create)? We don't ban cars because they can be used as getaway vehicles - not even if it is inevitable, given current social conditions and human nature, that some people will use them that way! We criminalise certain uses of cars and, in the interests of safety, heavily regulate their normal use and their design. But that's a different issue; this discussion is not about user safety. So are Rifkin etc really arguing in a way as confused as all this sounds? I'd just like to make sure we express clearly what they are saying. If it is really something this dumb, we should be clear that it is (without editorialising about its dumbness, of course). If it is something more intelligent, we owe it to them and to our readers to convey the arguments more accurately. We should, of course, report their actual arguments, not some kind of caricature and not some kind of improved version of our own. Just the facts of "Rifkin makes this claim ..." "Newman argues the following ...".

Although I agree with your position on this issue, I think almost every bioconservative critic mentioned in the Transhumanism article is calling for ban on human genetic engineering on this particular basis and others. Regarldess of how bizarre you think this argument is, it doesn't change the fact that important people are arguing it. --Loremaster 15:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't think the para needs to be longer. Perhaps some of it can even be cut. I do think we need to know the answers to the above questions, and then to write the para more straightforwardly. As it stands, I'd be hardpressed to explain to anyone what the Frankenstein argument reported here really is and whether any one person has actually argued the totality of it. It looks a bit like something cobbled together by us from various sources - hence original research - but that may simply be because of the way it is currently expressed.

I'll do some reading to see if I can answer some of the questions myself, but presumably others might already know some answers. Metamagician3000 11:42, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Although the Frankenstein can be improved, I don't really understand why you have such problems with it. --Loremaster 15:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Loremaster here. It's all in the book "Frankenstein": a well-motivated technological attempt to produce an improved human. The experiment gone awry, leading to an organism subjectively unmoored from any social connections with like beings and objectively seen as alien and lesser by the community. No intention to enslave. Consequences arising not from premeditated ill-will on anyone's part, but nonetheless entirely negative, and plausibly so. The only things that have changed are the existence of technologies by which such experiments may be attempted, and a philosophical movement, transhumanism, that advocates undertaking this program. Metamagician may not see it this way, but many informed writers do, not all of whom are "bioconservative" on other major issues.--StN 23:48, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
By the way, Metamagician, do you accept that there are any properties of the universe (e.g., the chemical elements) to which the term "natural" can be appropriately applied? If so, is there a (somewhat, not entirely unambiguously) distinct category of things for which "artifact" is an appropriate description? If "no" to both, please refer me to passages in Hume and J.S. Mill which "demolish" this distinction.--StN 23:57, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Frankenstein tells the story of a the creation of a being who is seen as frightening and ugly and is subsequently (and inevitably) mistreated by human beings. He responds revengefully and demands the creation of a mate - which Victor Frankenstein has qualms about and ultimately refuses to do. I certainly do not argue that it would be wise to create beings like that - which one reason why I am consistently opposed to the "uplifting" project that some of my transhumanist friends like James Hughes and George Dvorsky support. They are probably sick of this by now. :) One of the conclusions of my own research (pretty much unpublished so far re this particular point, so it can't be cited) is that we should be wary of using technology in ways that threaten affective (as opposed to effective) communication, which even the internet does to a considerable extent (note all the flaming that goes on when people can't hear tone of voice or read facial expression). That doesn't mean I want to ban the internet, just that it is a downside that we need to be aware of and careful about. The same applies even more to the creation of beings who will not have our evolved repertoire of means of affective communication. Frankenstein's monster is an excellent example of such a being. In my opinion, creating something like that would be a mistake - and I'm sure I have plenty of company here, though not necessarily for the same reason.
Meanwhile, I'm not denying that the rhetoric of Frankenstein, and Victor Frankenstein's own narratorial observations, present all projects of "playing God" with life as hubristic. Nor am I denying that the reference to Shelley's novel is salient. I'm just trying to get clarity here on a whole lot of stuff that is unclear to me, as per my questions. I'm afraid I can't ask the questions any more precisely than I already have; I tried hard to explain what I find confusing.
Various distinctions can be made between "the natural" and "the artificial", or whatever, but that is a completely different distinction from the distinction between "the human" and "the artifactual". The latter distinction strikes me as incoherent (though it might be true that the distinction has actually been made by human cultures which falsely believe that it is coherent). The former distinction merely lacks moral salience. However, if some of these people - Rifkin, etc. - are making these distinctions I just want what they are saying to be clear in the article - because the distinctions are very puzzling ones, at least to me. Hume and Mill don't deny that some distinctions can be made; their point is that those distinctions lack moral salience. I'd also like to be clear on who is saying what. From experience, I think most philosophers would agree with Hume and Mill - that's why I'm surprised that the view of a philosopher who evidently disagrees is considered to be so important. I'll track down some page citations and post them later. The relevant books are Mill's On Nature (really a long essay and often collected with other works) and Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature. Metamagician3000 02:17, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I think the main issue for proponents of the Frankenstein argument is that humans are biological species and therefore, like all such species, are products of biological (and in the human case, social) evolution. None of this evolution to date has involved altering the organism's material nature or biological development by genetic engineering or chimerism. The outcome of such manipulations are not guaranteed to have the same species identity as the prototype. So technology can indeed bring about changes that are morally salient (unless you don't agree that an organism containing 35% human cells and 65% pig cells might have a different moral status in many people's view than a human.) So maybe the philosophical subtleties are less important than the practical effects of technologies not anticipated by Hume et al.--StN 03:53, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Okay, but this seems like a different argument. For what it's worth, I think it might be unwise to create an organism that is 35 per cent human cells and 65 per cent pig cells, and actually bring it to birth. The same would apply if the DNA of each cell was 35 per cent human and 65 per cent pig. There might be some good scientific reason to create such beings and let them develop as embryos to a certain point. However, if we actually let some a creature develop to the point of sentience or to the beginnings of personhood there is a great likelihood that it would end up being mistreated or at least having a rotten life even if we tried to treat it well. I don't think the issue is whether it would have the same "moral status" as a human being. That's a very slippery concept. What I'd say is that if it was sentient it would be a fitting object for certain sympathies (as cows, pigs, parrots, etc. are). If it was also rational, self-conscious, intelligent, etc., it would be a fitting object for additional sympathies. However, we could find our imaginative sympathies, based on our recognition of these intrinsic properties, in conflict with our moment-by-moment lack of sympathetic connection to it - or perhaps even by revulsion. That would be an undesirable outcome. So I would put the argument against creating such a thing in different terms again.

Of course, how I would frame the argument isn't important. I'm just trying to get a handle on what Rifkin, etc., really say. I'm not saying that no good argument can be put against any kind of transgenic or chimeric organism - I agree that there can be good arguments against such proposals and also that they are arguments about practicalities. But what is ascribed to Rifkin and so on at the moment is not an argument about practicalities. It's actually an argument about large philosophical claims about the wrongness, or the rational fearfulness, of breaching certain abstract boundaries. Perhaps the arguments they have published to date are (with all respect to them) in philosophically naive terms, and maybe they'll sharpen it up philosophically if they read this very debate. :) But we can only report what they have actually said so far, and simply saying that they are afraid of blurring certain allegedly important boundaries seems rather weak. Can't we represent their published positions, and distinguish any variations among their positions, more precisely?

All that said, I don't want to change anything except in the interests of clarity. I can criticise their arguments elsewhere. Here, my concern is merely to report them accurately and intelligibly, and with all respect to you and Loremaster I recently found that the harder I tried to understand what was written under the "Frankenstein argument" heading the more confused I became. I've only given criticisms on the talk page to the extent I've found necessary to try to make clear why I find some of it confusing.

The other thing that worries me in all this is: How is it a criticism of transhumanism? Isn't it just a criticism of certain proposals that not all transhumanists need accept? I wish we could be clearer about this distinction throughout. You, for example, once said, IIRC, that you are not opposed to the transhumanist doctrine of morphological freedom. Perhaps others feel the same way. I think that's a more core transhumanist doctrine than the idea of bringing to birth new kinds of animals that may have humanlike cognitive capacities but not the human psychophysiological structure of affective response and communication. Metamagician3000 05:38, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree with some of what you say. But Rifkin, Newman, Lee, Annas, et al., have actually written about blurring boundaries between the human and nonhuman, and human and artifact, and making species altering changes. This has all been in response to the same scientific developments that many transhumanists welcome and seem impatient to see implemented. As far as I know none of those writers has explicity mentioned transhumanism. But it doesn't seem fair to not report these negative responses to transhumanist-type proposals of germline genetic engineering, etc. made by so-called technoprogressives. One of the elements of the Frankenstein criticism is the inherent fallibility of the technology. Even if germline genetic engineers intend to make improvements, they are likely to inadvertantly make impaired individuals as well.--StN 06:16, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
For the record, James Hughes is the only self-described techno-progressive who has made transhumanist-type proposals of germline genetic engineering. There are probably as many techno-progressives who are opposed to such proposals as there are who are in favor of them. --Loremaster 13:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I still owe you (and Loremaster if he wants them) some more precise citations to Hume and Mill; I haven't forgotten. I don't propose to make any changes to the article for now. It's a useful exchange and maybe it can just be a resource for all of us for awhile - for developing our own thinking and deciding over time whether there's anything in the article that any of us can clarify. Metamagician3000 07:16, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I intend to improve the Frankenstein argument regardlesss of whether or not you can provide us with these citations. However, if you can, they would be very much appreciated. --Loremaster 13:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure what editions people have access to, but for the interest of both of you, here's what I was referring to: David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739-1749; rpt. London: Penguin, 1985: esp. pp. 525-27; John Stuart Mill, "Nature" in Three Essays on Religion, 1874; rpt. Amherst: Prometheus, 1998: esp. pp. 4-8. I'm not suggesting that any of this should be cited in the article (it would take us far afield), but this is in partial explanation of where I am coming from. Metamagician3000 14:31, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
Understood. --Loremaster 14:54, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I look forward to seeing clarifying edits from Loremaster and Metamagician. I just want to note that the Keekok Lee book referred to is diffcult to obtain, but really rewards reading. I don't suggest that her arguments be amplified here, but will only note, in case other editors can't get it, that her conclusions are not made without due consideration of the history of classical and modern Western philosophy.--StN 16:06, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

See Ronald Bailey resource section for further discussion. --Loremaster 17:44, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Fiction and Art

I don't think Command & Conquer should be listed as an example of transhuman art. I have not played all games, and those I did were a long time ago, but I have three problems: First of all transhumanism only occurs in a minority of games in the series. Secondly in none of the games that I've played there is an actual focus on Transhumanism. Thirdly, because of the naming confusion (the first game (which has no transhuman themes) is called Command & Conquer, the series is also called Command & Conquer) I believe the example can possible confuse readers. Anyway I think the other three examples are better and C&C should be removed.

Also, can we add Appleseed as an example in the Manga and Anime section? First published in 1985 it may not be a personal favourite but it the narrative is heavily based on transhuman themes and it was influential. Disco 11:50, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Done and done. Since I am not familiar with all these works, I'm always concerned that some people are trying to sneak in stuff that only slightly focused on a transhumanist theme. --Loremaster 16:43, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Parenthetical argument names

I am starting to wonder whether all these parenthetical names, such as "(Terminator argument)", are necessary anymore. They were introduced at a time when the article was in a rather different form, and it looks to me as if whatever usefulness they may have had no longer applies. Often we have had to come up with new names just to fit the article structure. It is not as if we develop the article by making cross references here and there to "the Terminator argument" or "the Brave New World argument". The downside is that, without actually being used in any such way, these parenthetical names seem a bit gimmicky and even a bit original-researchy. My feeling is that, overall, they now detract from the article or at best don't really contribute.

As an experiment I'm going to delete them. If Loremaster or someone else wants to put them back, that's fine. My idea is to see whether the article looks weaker or stronger without them. If there is a consensus, or even a strong reaction from Loremaster, that it looks weaker, then I'll accept it. The counter-argument, I suppose, relates to memorability. But I don't think we'll really be able to test it without having a total article without the names to look at, to see what effect the change really has. Metamagician3000 03:01, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm fine with these changes. I prefer it the new way.--StN 04:07, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
I've put them back. I am strongly in favor of keeping them for the following reasons:
1. As the artilce states, some of the most widely known critiques of the transhumanist program refer to novels and fictional films. These works of art, despite presenting imagined worlds rather than philosophical analyses, are used as touchstones for some of the more formal arguments.
2. Each argument contains a specific mention of the work of art in question.
3. Memorability is in fact a major quality of having this "gimmick".
4. There are over a dozen articles that linked back directly to these arguments using the parenthetical argument names. See the Our Posthuman Future article for an example. (Although I am not complaining, I've had the burden of having to go correct these articles whenever we've changed the names of the arguments in the Criticisms section...).
5. However, I concede that Peter Pan and Eugenics Wars may be original research.
That being said, once we will have finished expanding the Frankenstein counter-argument, the Transhumanism article will be stable enough for all us to move on to something else.
--Loremaster 06:03, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, point 4 is enough reason for me not to press the issue. I'm not that impressed by the other points even though I mentioned point 3: I think that this is scaffolding that the article has now outgrown. That said, but I don't want to create more work from needed consequential changes. Metamagician3000 04:30, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

It should also be mentioned that one can find the explicit mention of the expressions "Palying God argument", "Brave New World argument" and "Frankenstein argument" in several mainstream news articles and academic essays. --Loremaster 04:41, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

"Polemicist"

There's no point in two of the main editors of the article getting into a revert war over this wording at this late stage. I do think this "polemicist" is an odd word to choose. I have introduced language that I believe to be accurate as a description of Fukuyama and which he would surely agree with ... and which reflects the description of Bailey as a "proponent". Metamagician3000 10:15, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Fine. --Loremaster 10:39, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

New caption for Amish image

What does it have to do with transhumanism?--StN 07:06, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Good point. I've improved the caption. Do you approve? --Loremaster 09:36, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
The caption is now relevant to transhumanism, but refers to an analysis, and contains a neologism, with no sources cited. The caption now appears to contain original research. The older, shorter one, with "U.S." included, may be more appropriate.--StN 17:00, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
One of the sources is a Wired interview by Brian Alexander of Max More and Natasha Vita-More: Don't Die, Stay Pretty: Introducing the ultrahuman makeover --Loremaster 20:30, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
Can you add it as a citation (since you are so good at these things)? --Loremaster 03:09, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
It's done, although the link you provided does not seem to be active, and the article, though relevant, is not exactly an interview with the Mores.--StN 17:12, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Strange... The link works when I click on it but the one you found is better since it links to the article on Wired.com rather than the mirror article on Natasha's website. The interview of Max More where he uses the word "Humanish" is in French so that's why I posted a link to the Brian Alexander article instead. --Loremaster 03:31, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Playing God counter-argument

I've now removed the following words, which were originally written by me, following StN's quite justified query about a source: The first argument does not trouble secular transhumanists, who reject it as irrelevant to public policy in a society that embraces freedom of religion. To the extent that it relies on a supposed sin of defying God's will, secular thinkers argue that it is not morally binding on non-believers and is inappropriate as a political argument. I still think that what I wrote here is true, based on conversations with secular transhumanists and sympathisers, but I doubt that we'll find a good source for exactly this position because it is something that more or less goes without saying among such people. Nor do I think that the article necessarily needs to spell out what secular transhumanists would say to an anti-transhumanist argument from a strictly religious viewpoint. It's possibly obvious. More interesting is what the religious transhumanists/sympathisers say, which we do report and source. However, I'm putting the words here if anyone can make use of them - by putting them back with attribution or by modifying them in some way that can be sourced. There may be something else that could go in their place, but we'll need to be careful. I note that John Harris, who has never called himself a transhumanist as far as I know but clearly advocates some similar positions, replies to religious criticisms with a very robust counter-attack, on the whole idea of a creator God: "I hope that this notion goes the way of all other superstitions; notions that are totally without foundation and are moreover manifestly implausible." That may well be what secular transhumanists actually think about religious criticisms of their position, but the avowed transhumanists are usually not so forthright. Metamagician3000 02:35, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

In response to Metamagician 3000: It's maybe not precisely about the point you have made, but the following quotations of Transhumanism's FAQ might be useful: "Transhumanism is a naturalistic outlook. At the moment, there is no hard evidence for supernatural forces or irreducible spiritual phenomena, and transhumanists prefer to derive their understanding of the world from rational modes of inquiry, especially the scientific method. (...) Religious fanaticism, superstition, and intolerance are not acceptable among transhumanists. In many cases, these weaknesses can be overcome through a scientific and humanistic education, training in critical thinking, and interaction with people from different cultures. Certain other forms of religiosity, however, may well be compatible with transhumanism." http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html --Bureb62
At the moment, I can't see any obvious way to use this - but I may be too close to the issue by now. Thanks for pointing out this statement in the FAQ, though. Metamagician3000 13:04, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm sure a transhumanist philosopher like Nick Bostrom must have written something that can interpreted as a reply to the theological Playing God argument. --Loremaster 19:19, 1 January 2007 (UTC)