Talk:Transhumanism/Archive 10

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Archive 9 Archive 10 Archive 11

Movement?

The article, I think, needs to flesh out a bit more what it means for transhumanism to be a movement. Perhaps I'm missing it if it's there, or just not getting what movement means to other people. The thought, philosophy, shared point of view of transhumanism is described; organizations, meetings, and published works are mentioned; but the movement part isn't quite coming through for me. Regards, Cam 01:41, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

My self-published small book Create/Recreate: The 3rd Millennial Culture covers the cultural/social movement of transhumanism. I noticed it is not mention in this entry. Here is a link http://www.transhumanist.biz/createrecreate.htm I do not know the protocol for these types of things, so forgive me if I should have taken on a pseudonym for my editorial comments, but I prefer to appear as myself. :-) (Email me privately if I need to use a pseudonym, natasha@natasha.cc) Best wishes, Natasha Vita-More
Mrs Vita-More, I agree that CREATE/RECREATE should be mentioned in the article. As for your question about protocol, you don't need to take a pseudonym for your editorial comments. However, although you don't have to, I encourage you to create a user account. --Loremaster 21:14, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Gattaca argument

Expanding the captions under the Gattaca movie poster made its lenght is problematic since it now "infringes" on the space of the argument below. However, this made me realize that we should consider expanding the Gattaca argument section using the information in the Gattaca article's criticism section. --Loremaster 20:28, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Libertarian response

I've removed the following text from the article:

Libertarian transhumanists acknowledge that inequities in the distribution of new technologies may be a problem in the short term, but suggest that market forces and resulting efficiencies would lower prices and increase availability in the long term. They point to the many products for which this has occurred in human history and assert that the same will be the case for body-modification technologies. Plastic surgery, for example, is now far more affordable than it was even five years ago.

Simon Young, the anonymous user who added this text, should cite a source before including it in the article. --Loremaster 00:34, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Simon Young himself says: Sorry, but I didn't write the above text! Who, one wonders, put in in my name??? (info@designerevolution.net)

I've seen similar claims made quite frequently. Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near may be a good source (with the claim expressed in such a way that it is attributed to Kurzweil, rather than endorsed by us). I'd guess that Simon Young's own book might be another (with the same caveat), but I haven't yet read it. Metamagician3000 14:13, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Simon Young says: Well, I hope you get round to it soon! Cheers! (info@designerevolution.net)

I would support the latter suggestion if Simon Young can desmonstrate that his book contains such claims. --Loremaster 14:41, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Simon Young says: I shall certainly aim to 'desmonstate' all my claims regarding Transhumanism. (info@designerevolution.net)

Mr. Young, my apologies. I wrongly assumed that you were the anonymous user 83.71.74.102 who added a "libertarian response to gattica criticism". This text was then edited and improved by User:StN. I deleted this text because it didn't cite a source. However, the question remains whether or not your book contains such an argument. If it does, the text will put back in the article and your book will be cited a source. That being said, Mr. Young, do you realize how much your hysterical and obnoxious behavior has severely damaged your credibility as a serious transhumanist advocate? Despite all its flaws, Wikipedia has policies and guidelines which you have constantly violated. I suggest you learn them quickly otherwise you risk getting banned. --Loremaster 14:15, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Repeated argument

Isnt the eugenics wars argument essentially the same as the gattaca argument... just a thought

These definitely overlap, but there are some differences. The emphasis in the Gattaca argument is unequal access to resources, assuming that the resources (enhancement technologies) are really of value. In the eugenics wars argument the emphasis is on biological divisions that can ensue from use of such technologies, and the conflict it would lead to, regardless of whether the modification technologies actually prove to be a positive benefit.--StN 00:35, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Text removed

I nixed the following paragraph from the Gattaca section:

Another argument presented in Gattaca, is the idea that artificial genetic superiority is a fleeting supplement for true drive and ambition. In the film, many of the transhumans, or 'valids' have a lack of motivation because they have accepted that their average efforts are beyond human excellence. However, their efforts are matched and surpassed by an ordinary human. An analogy to this could be seen as losing weight via surgery versus healthy diet and exercise. While they both achieve a desired result of weight reduction, one is an artificial solution and ultimately hollow, while the other is brought about through effort and determination, and therefore more meaningful.

First, it requires a copy-edit. Second, it needs more footnotes; and third, even if fully attributed to external sources, it might more properly belong in the Gattaca article. Anville 00:15, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

The argument here is really a version of the "Enough" argument, if I understand it. Moreover, this seems to be going beyond the hazy limit to which a movie can be used as a source for its obvious content into subtle matters of critical interpretation. That is original research. I suggest that if the material cam be attributed to a reputable movie critic it be moved to the Gattaca article and sourced. Metamagician3000 03:23, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Userbox

Is there currently a Transhumanist userbox? There was one previously, that I was using, but it was deleted in one of those random userbox deletion sprees. Thanks.

MSTCrow 00:54, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

There is no template - which I think is appropriate as I think that all such userboxes expressing adherence to a religious, political , philosophical, etc., belief should gradually be removed from template space. However, if you want I can help you userfy the old box, or you can feel free to copy the code for the box that merely expresses interest in transhumanism from my userpage. Metamagician3000 02:06, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

How is expressing interest different from expressing support? Oh, and if you look at the tail end of my userboxes, you'll that I'm strong supporter of userspace expression.
MSTCrow 02:47, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

There's obviously a huge difference between expressing interest in something and supporting it. I am interested in many belief systems that I actually disagree with (not so much transhumanism, as it happens, since I have a lot of sympathy for it, blah, blah). Anyway, this is not the place to debate userbox policy. I told you my view and offered in good faith to help you. Do you want my help or not? Metamagician3000 07:04, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Robert A. Heinlein

No mention is made of Robert A. Heinlein's novels "Time Enough for Love" (1973), "Stranger in a Strange Land" (1961), and especially "Beyond This Horizon" (1942), the latter of which is described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_This_Horizon as follows: "The novel depicts a world where genetic selection for increased health, longevity and intelligence has become so widespread that the unmodified 'control normals' are a carefully managed minority. The world has become an economic utopia; the "economic dividend" is so high that work has become optional. ... Hamilton Felix is the genetically optimum, but philosophically disenchanted, man who ends up being convinced that his society is worth saving after all." --zeeblebot 00:07, 02 June 2006 (PST)

Neither book seems more than tangentially related to Transhumanism (I don't see how Time Enough for Love is even tangentially related actually). And the only connection between transhumanism and Beyond This Horizon is transhumanism dubious connection to eugenics (a tangential relation to a tangential relation). Brentt 07:25, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
this page, "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. " leads to the wiki for Procreative_beneficence which links to "Procreative beneficence: why we should select the best children." (Savulescu J.), which starts with "Eugenic selection of embryos is now possible by employing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). ", blahblahblah. (And re "Time Enough for Love", I forgot to include "Methuselah's Children", hope that makes it clearer.) --zeeblebot 00:56, 02 June 2006 (PST)
I strongly agree that one or a few of books of Robert Heinlein should be mentioned in the Fiction and Art section. I was planning on adding a mention before this issue was brought up by zeeblebot. --Loremaster 18:10, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
StN, can you add a mention of Heinlein? --Loremaster 22:43, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Physics of immortality / Correctable Flaws

Didn't you consider Frank Tipler's book The Physic's of Immortality ISBN 0385467990 as an important contribution to transhumanism? Despite it's flaws the book struck me 10 years ago because of it's (for me) unprecedented boldness of imagination. As non-native speaker (and not a transhumanist either), and because this is the featured page I would rather ask somebody of the previous contributors to reflect on the book. I believe that Anders Sandberg has commented it on one of his pages. --Juela 07:21, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Works such as Tipler's are indeed influential on some transhumanists. I'm not sure what I could say about it concisely, but a careful sentence on it somewhere in the theory and practice section or the spirituality section (for example) would not strike me as out of place at all. If anyone does this, please remember to put the book in the references and notes. :) Metamagician3000 07:48, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
I believe that this was the book to which Michael Shermer gave a dressing-down in Why People Believe Weird Things. Not to say that I agree with either of them in all particulars, naturally, but since we keep balancing arguments with counter-arguments, it might be useful to remember. I'll try hunting the Shermer book down. Anville 14:19, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
God bless the search engines which the sages of 1980s hypertext never foresaw. Yes, I remembered the book correctly, as the Skeptic's Dictionary indicates; now, I just need to hunt down a copy of it. In lively discourse, no assertion goes undisputed! (-: Anville 16:33, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I think Tipler's work is pseudoscience but I wouldn't be opposed to it being mentioned in the Spirituality section if one can provide a notable source linking his work with transhumanist thought. --Loremaster 19:00, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, a lot of what is said and written by people who call themselves transhumanists is indeed pseudoscientific. A case in point is the document on "Correctable Flaws" that you excluded because academic transhumanists didn't think it was reputable. We have to be careful about not censoring the range of transhumanist views and producing an article that would more properly be titled "Academic Transhumanism." A comprehensive treatment would include the fringe, which could be distinguished, where appropriate, from the academic mainstream.--StN 19:14, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree. However, I don't think a Wikipedia encyclopedic article should give undue importance to fringe works or be used specifically to promote these works. --Loremaster 16:42, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
Tell that to the frères Bogdanoff. And, for that matter, to the folks who post links to mystic gibberish on the quantum mechanics article. (sigh) Anville 00:25, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
Hey Anville, transhumanism is hardly quantum mechanics. I think one of the problems with the article as it stands is that by solemnly and uncritically discussing notions like the technological singularity, mind uploading, and cryonics, it gives them the aura of science, rather than what they are -- wishful thinking.--StN 01:22, 4 June 2006 (UTC) And that's just the academic stuff! My feeling is that we should have a paragraph under Theory and Practice that also describes non-academic, rank-and-file, science fiction-infused transhumanists, who generate documents such as the genetically-determinist, human body-loathing Catalog Of Correctable Omnipresent Human Flaws. Unless I hear persuasive reasons not to from the main contributors to the article, or anyone else, I may insert such a paragraph in the next few days.--StN 02:11, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

I think it would be massively disproportionate to devote more than a sentence to this "Catalog". If it is discussed for the purpose of trying to create a certain impression about the credibility of transhumanism, one way or the other, that is in breach of NPOV. All the document demonstrates is that at least one transhumanist wants to modify the human body and has gone to the trouble of creating a specific list of desired changes. I have no problem with the document being cited to support that claim, but I'd have a big problem if we started saying that therefore such modification would be a good thing, or conversely that some transhumanists are genetic determinists in some specifiable sense or that they hate corporeality. Some self-identifying transhumanists perhaps do hate corporeality, judging by the fact that some people post in transhumanist forums in a way that seems to uncritically embrace the idea of "the meat" (which was definitely not presented uncritically by William Gibson etc), but I've never seen any serious transhumanist thinker talk that way. It's more a certain hacker fringe, or something.

My general view remains the same. I'm not opposed to any particular document being mentioned, but we need to retain a sense of proportion. I'd also think that we should be trying to keep the article as stable as we can, now it has been featured. Metamagician3000 03:38, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

I think the version you posted is fine. I was not planning to critique the document in the article. In fact, the version I posted after GoodCop's initial post on June 2 was:
The Catalog Of Correctable Omnipresent Human Flaws by Edward Smith [28] describes in detail a large number of claimed defects in human anatomy and physiology that some transhumanists favor correcting in human zygotes if associated genes can be identified.
which isn't too different in tone from yours.
My characterization of the document on this page was just to point out that the document represented a strain of transhumanism not covered up till now in the article. This is also GoodCop's position. Readers can link to the document and judge its merits for themselves.--StN 17:00, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
I've moved the sentence to the top of the third paragraph of the Theory and practice section. --Loremaster 23:17, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Comments

Congratulations on this article - it's very well written and thoroughly researched. If I had to come up with any negative criticism, it might be that the intro is a bit weak, and that it comes off as somewhat biased towards transhumanists (every section seems to end with "but transhumanists say that isn't true because..."). Perhaps some counter-rebuttals are in order. The first thing it made me think of is Ghost in the Shell, particularly the original movie which explicitly portrayed a negative view of transhumanism in its dialogue, and I'm glad to see it was mentioned (however briefly). Deco 23:09, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for these supportive comments. Other readers have mentioned the obligatory counter-rebuttals to the criticisms as representing a pro-transhumanist tone, if not exactly a bias. As the only principal author unsympathetic to transhumanism, I argued against this structure as the article was being written, but ultimately I did not persuade the other main authors. (A record of this debate can be found in the Archives of this Discussion page.) I think a version generated by anonymous editor 216.227.25.4 shortly after the article went to the Main Page, in which some of the positions described in the rebuttals were shifted to the "Theory and practice" section, represented a more neutral format.--StN 23:33, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Ghost in the Shell? The same movie which says, "Your desire to remain who you are is what limits you"? Anville 03:07, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
As I've said many times before, it would be unfair and inaccurate not to present the counter-arguments of transhumanist thinkers when they devote so much of their work doing just that. If we remove the counter-arguments as Deco and StN suggest, you will have many readers who will legitimately complain that this article is biased against transhumanism. So I am strongly opposed to them being removed. On the contrary, I think some of them (such as Enough) should be expanded. --Loremaster 14:27, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
I've always felt that the problem with the article, if it has one, is the huge litany of arguments against transhumanism. More commonly in a Wikipedia article there would just be a brief "Criticisms" section. Even then, some indication would be given of answers to the criticisms. Given that we've reported a huge range of arguments against transhumanism, we have a responsibility to report what transhumanists say in response. Either we do it this way, or we have a much shorter article. The advantage of doing it this way is that it does give a comprehensive picture of the debate going on at the moment between transhumanists and various kinds of sympathisers, on the one hand, and various kinds of critics on the other. It gives the impression that transhumanism has endless problems, which is a bit unfair to the movement, but then again it really does have critics from many perspectives.
This is about as neutral as it gets. Transhumanists or sympathisers can complain that most movements/philosoophies are described with much shorter criticisms sections and without this cumulative impression that they are under siege from all directions. Critics of transhumanism can wish some of the criticisms were allowed to stand as if they were uncontested. Neither "side" really "wins" here - views simply get reported, attributed and cited. I think that the article is in good enough shape that anyone who is interested can follow up the sources and make up their own minds. I wouldn't want to see the balance changed in either direction, and it's too late to cut it down to a shorter version after all the work that has gone in.
Really, we have a great article here. It's just been featured as one of Wikipedia's best. I'm happy to see the work that's been done to pretty it up after some copyright problems were raised again last week. But my general attitude is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Metamagician3000 01:54, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
Well said as usual. --Loremaster 02:01, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Version 0.5

I've taken the liberty of nominating this article for assessment for the Version 0.5 list. Metamagician3000 13:55, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

What is Version 0.5 exactly? --Loremaster 22:13, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
See here. Metamagician3000 01:32, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
So, if I understand correctly, the Transhumanism article could be on a Wikipedia CD or DVD if they ever decide to make one. I guess this is one more reason for us to find good images to add to the article. --Loremaster 14:32, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality

The "Terminator Argument" is extremely biased in favor of transhumanism, listing only users of the argument who can then be debunked by their other agendas. Kashami 14:35, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I've edited this section to reflect your criticism and removed the neutrality tag. --Loremaster 14:55, 9 June 2006 (UTC) A great source for the sentence on Kalle Lasn: Walker, Ian. (2001) Cyborg Dreams: Beyond Human. ABC Radio National --Loremaster 16:38, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm also concerned about the neutrality of the article. I'm not sure how noting that Bill Joy was influenced by Theodore Kaczynski addresses this. It seems to me to make it worse, putting a reasonable critic in the company of a crazy. Perhaps I misunderstand Loremaster's intention in doing this. Also, Transhumanism itself has an extremist, risk-taking side, which is not featured in the article. That is why, though I am philosophically very much out of tune with Natasha Vita-More, I have to agree with her that the tendency in the movement represented by Max More and Extropianism (which is prominent in discussion groups despite the dissolution of the EI) has been slighted. Finally, the point-counterpoint structure of the Criticisms section , where each criticism is met with a reasonable, precautionist-sounding WTA-inspired response, makes the whole thing sound very academic, with the transhumanists coming out as balanced and reasonable in all cases. A number of readers have commented on the pro-transhumanist tone of the way the criticisms are handled. But as the only non-TH sympathizer among the primary contributors, I have continually been out-voted when trying to change this. Given the criticism-response structure, then, it would be as legitimate, as a reflection of the spectrum of opinion in transhumanism, to deal with the Eugenics Wars argument, for example, by quoting the Nobelist James D. Watson to the effect that the problem with the German eugenics program was that in some cases they chose the wrong genotypes to eliminate. Or to deal with the human experimentation argument by countering with "no pain, no gain", which is essentially Gregory Stock's and Lee Silver's position. --StN 16:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
On the issue of Joy/Kaczynski, I was stating a fact, which is important since many critics (journalists, academics) have have pointed out the surprising coherence of Kaczynski's views expressed in his manifesto. As for the Criticism section, I find the majority of the arguments balanced and reasonable due to StN's great work so I don't see what the problem is. As I've said before, I think most transhumanist counter-arguments are not developed enough. StN's suggestions on how to expand them are actually good. That being said, I would like to point out that Kashami felt that only the Terminator argument lacked neutrality (before I edited it) not the rest of the Criticism section so it is misleading to put him in the caterogy of people who think this entire section is pro-transhumanist in tone when it is not. There have also been people who complained that the article was biased against transhumanism, a number which is likely to increase if the article is radically altered. I'll let Metamagician respond on the issue of whether or not there is a (dark) side of transhumanism that is being overlooked. --Loremaster 19:03, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I still say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." The article was neutral enough to pass an FA review.

Maybe someone needs to create a "criticisms of transhumanism" article or something if they want to explore the full range to the debate. I still think that the criticisms part is disproportionately long, if anything, for an article of this kind (an introduction to a philosophical movement), and that it should certainly not be designed to give the impression that the criticisms are either valid or invalid - merely to indicate what they are, and what transhumanists say in response to them so the impression is not given that transhumanism has been debunked. Note that we present each criticism in some detail with very careful and sympathetic language to do full justice to each criticism. That is useful to scholars who want to use the article as a resource, but it requires that we also find the most cogent responses made by transhumanists. The whole thing could have been done in a much more summary style, but of course the downside is that it would have less information for people wanting to research the topic. Metamagician3000 02:28, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

To me, the whole criticisms section seems biased in favor of the critics. It didn't seem this way when I nominated it for FA status, but now, in the critisicms section it gives very little information about trasnhumanist counter arguemets to the critics. Many critics on the list have made agruments which have potential flaws, but there is no mention of transhumanist response. To me now, it seems like the whole article treats trasnhumansim like a bad thing, (which offends me). A few weeks ago, the article seemed balanced and fine. (When it's balanced people can see how silly the criticisms really are.) Tobyk777 03:23, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
For ease of reference, I have copied the Criticisms section from the version which was first Featured and placed it in User:Anville/Criticisms of Transhumanism. Note that it is 34 Kb long by itself. As a side issue, I'd like to note that in my esteemed and inerrant judgment (cough, cough), the images of the Futurehype, Brave New World and Enough book covers used in that revision would fall under Fair Use.
I wouldn't mind splitting the Criticisms section off into its own article, leaving (say) a slightly expanded version of the first paragraph in the main article. Anville 16:43, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm undecided. I can see the merits of both keeping things the way they are or downsizing the Criticisms section and creating a Criticisms of Transhumanism article. --Loremaster 18:07, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

I wonder what, of anything, has changed greatly since the version that got FA status. I'm not saying this article has since gone downhill, and I realise that none of us own the article, but I do suggest we be very careful that degeneration does not set in. The risk with an FA-level article is that various people will want to keep tinkering in small and unnecessary ways, with the cumulative result that the article actually declines. I've actually been trying to keep my hands off the article. That said, I don't mind the different selection of pics that we've ended up with. Nor do I see any reason to think it's lost its neutrality at this point.

All the same, I'd be interested to do a comparison between the two criticisms sections, i.e. at FA time and now, or to hear what Anville has discovered in comparing them. Metamagician3000 04:51, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't think the problem is one of differences between the current version of the article and the one who got FA status. The issue is more about whether or not we should create a Criticisms of Transhumanism article in order to make the Transhumanism article more balanced. Regardless of whether or not the Criticisms section is pro- or anti-transhumanist in tone, I think its current size does give the undue importance to the criticisms of transhumanism when so much more can be said about transhumanism itself. Also, although I respect StN and appreciate all the work he has done to improve the Transhumanism article, I think it is obvious that he would prefer an anti-transhumanist tone to be reflected throughout the article (i.e. deleting all the counter-arguments) and therefore seizes on any negative comment posted on this talk page by a reader in order to build his case... --Loremaster 14:38, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
I've come to conclusion that we should create a Criticisms of Transhumanism article in much the same way we both have a Fiction and art section in the Transhumanism article and a Transhumanism in fiction article. --Loremaster 14:41, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
I strongly object to this. The only reason I haven't added more fringe transhumanism fantasies to this article, or raised neutrality questions about the respectful treatment of some truly irresponsible proposals for human genetic engineering implicit in the Theory and Practice section, is that the article is balanced by the Critiques section. If this were to be severed from the main article it would be necessary to spell out some of the crackpot schemes endemic to this movement so that readers could appreciate its full scope.--StN 14:58, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Regardless of whether or not we create a Criticisms of Transhumanism article, I think StN's bias is now clear. --Loremaster 15:17, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
I never hid my critical stance toward transhumanism, as neither Loremaster nor Metamagician hid their generally positive (sometimes more than that) view of it. "StN's bias is now clear" seems to me a bit like Captain Renault's being "shocked, shocked!" that gambling was going on in Rick's Bar in Casablanca. The only thing required not to be biased here is the article, not the individual contributors. This has been an enjoyable experience for me partly because of the process of negotiation with reasonable people who I am very much in disagreement with. It's very democratic. But I think all will acknowledge that some nutty things have been proposed in the name of transhumanism, and to make this article an advertisement for the reasonableness of the WTA and WTA-like positions would not be fair or accurate.--StN 15:46, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
1. I know that StN has never hid his bias against transhumanism. However, I am concerned that, if Metamagician and I had never contributed to the Transhumanism article or simply stop watching over it from now on, he would reduce it to an aggressive attack on or refutation of transhumanism.
2. Although I've been very enthusiastic about creating a good article on transhumanism and related topics and I enjoy playing its devil's advocate, I'm quite critical of transhumanism.
3. Despite the fact that there are some nutty things which have been proposed in the name of Christianity, communism, socialism, environmentalism, libertarianism, etc, I don't think encyclopedic articles on these topics should report them.
4. Not reporting some of the positions of the leading transhumanist organization would be unfair and inaccurate.
--Loremaster 18:00, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Would it be reasonable for an article on Communism to list the ways in which Joseph Stalin's actions diverged from the utopian writings of the nineteenth century, citing verifiable sources to make each point? We seem to be playing fast and loose with a "No true Scotsman" fallacy: "No Transhumanist advocates eugenics." "But look, this guy calling himself X-9000 advocates eugenics." Pause, and then: "No true Transhumanist advocates eugenics." Anville 18:10, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Regardless of whether or not Stalin was a real communist, he had a tredemendous impact on both communist theory and history. So I'm not arguing about who is and isn't a transhumanist. I simply think that an encyclopedic article should not give undue attention and importance to the views of all the nutty self-described transhumanist activists who produce badly-written articles filled with extremist views which are not taken seriously by anyone in or outside the organized transhumanist movememt. --Loremaster 18:33, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Criticisms section scrutinized

This has been an enjoyable experience for me partly because of the process of negotiation with reasonable people who I am very much in disagreement with. It's very democratic.

Now now, StN, haven't you heard the bromide that "Wikipedia is not a democracy"?  ;-) That aside, here are what I consider to be the notable differences between the Criticisms section as first featured and that which exists today:

  • The headings "Ethical criticisms" and "Practical criticisms" have been removed, and the sub-headings for each argument have been raised a level. I think this is an improvement, since the division isn't really hard-and-fast.
  • The lead paragraph of "Ethical criticisms" has been moved to become the second paragraph of "Criticisms" overall. This seems a reasonable change. Immediately following this, a note has been added:
Some of the most widely known critiques of the transhumanist program are found in novels and fictional films which, despite presenting imagined worlds rather than philosophical analyses, can be used as touchstones for some of the more formal arguments.
I think this is a bit of a misstatement. There's a difference between a work of art made expressly to critique an intellectual position and a work of art which incidentally illuminates an idea (or can be made to do so, given lots of lit-crit elbow grease). Brave New World might exemplify the former, while The Terminator is more of the latter. However, I agree that an overall statement about the role fiction plays in the back-and-forth arguments is an important thing to have.
  • Explanatory notes have been added to the section headings, e.g., "Gattaca argument (biotech divide)". This is probably a wise move.
  • The covers for Futurehype, Brave New World, Playing God and Enough have been removed, as have the movie posters for Gattaca and The Terminator. This is probably not worth worrying about, though I could make a case for bringing back one or possibly two of them.
  • The "Terminator argument" subsection has been modified. The version first Featured says the following:
A notable critic of what some see as transhumanist hubris is Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who argued in his essay Why the future doesn't need us, that human beings would likely guarantee their own extinction by developing the technologies favored by transhumanists. He evokes, for example, the "grey goo scenario" where out-of-control self-replicating nanorobots could consume entire ecosystems, resulting in global ecophagy.[1]
Related notions were voiced earlier by Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, an avowed neo-luddite zealot, and culture jammer Kalle Lasn, who claimed that humanity has an inherent lack of competence to direct its own evolution and should therefore completely relinquish technology development.[2]
Concerns raised above prompted this to be rewritten as follows:
A notable critic of what some see as transhumanist hubris is Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who, after reading the anarcho-primitivist manifesto of Theodore Kaczynski, argued in his essay Why the future doesn't need us, that human beings would likely guarantee their own extinction by developing the technologies favored by transhumanists. He invokes, for example, the "grey goo scenario" where out-of-control self-replicating nanorobots could consume entire ecosystems, resulting in global ecophagy. [2][1] Related notions are also voiced by Kalle Lasn, a culture jammer who wrote the Cyborg Manifesto spoof 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.
I'd call this an improvement, although I don't enjoy weasel phrases like "what some see as transhumanist hubris". How about "Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, criticizes what he sees as transhumanist hubris. After reading the anarcho-primitivist manifesto of Theodore Kaczynski, Joy argued . . ." I mean, it's not my job to say just how much hubris has been vented in discussing transhumanism, but the only thing this reference proves is that one guy sees evidence of unwarranted pride.
  • The counter-argument to Enough has gained a footnote. Whoopie.
  • The following has been removed from the Gattaca argument:
Libertarian's would respond by pointing out that this may be a problem in the short term, but that in the medium to long term, due to market forces and more effecient technology the average price would fall to a point where it would become largely affordable, just like with most products in human history. For example, due to market forces plastic surgery is now far more affordable than it was even five years ago.
Yeah, it deserved to go.
  • Playing God has been modified. The paragraph which read,
The first argument does not trouble transhumanists since most secular bioethicists 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.
has been expanded to
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.[3][4]
The addition of sources alone makes this an improvement.

That's all I can spot on a first pass. Anville 17:51, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Bill Joy never explicitly mentions "transhumanist hubris" in his essay Why the future doesn't need us, or in interviews about his views expressed in his essay. He is simply critical of technologies that many transhumanists support so I am changing the beginning of this sentence to read "A notable critic of emerging technologies favored by transhumanists" --Loremaster 18:05, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
OK. Sounds like a move in the right direction. Anville 18:11, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for all this work. It seems to confirm that that the article has actually improved of late, despite Toby77's concerns and my nervousness about fiddling with it. Metamagician3000 01:47, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Bill Joy

The Bill Joy-Ted Kazcynski connection is a bit obscure. Was Joy persuaded by the arguments of TK, spurred to write because of some merits of TK's views, or did he think the Unabomber phenomenon itself represented an example of the destructive forces that might be unleashed in reaction to the technologies? It would be easy to retrieve the Joy article and refresh my memory on this, but the TH article should be self-contained. The way it is currently written ("after reading...") is not specific and taints BJ. Even if BJ was persuaded by TK, it might be put differently.--StN 20:43, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Heh. It almos looks like we should give more credit to Kurzweil than to Kaczynski:
In the hotel bar, Ray gave me a partial preprint of his then-forthcoming book The Age of Spiritual Machines, which outlined a utopia he foresaw — one in which humans gained near immortality by becoming one with robotic technology. On reading it, my sense of unease only intensified; I felt sure he had to be understating the dangers, understating the probability of a bad outcome along this path.
Joy says that he found himself profoundly troubled by "a passage detailing a dystopian scenario." He quotes the passage and then observes, "In the book, you don't discover until you turn the page that the author of this passage is Theodore Kaczynski — the Unabomber." Anville 21:08, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Update I edited the Joy–Kaczynski passage to reflect the facts as stated in Joy's essay. Please sanity-check my revision; I welcome all improvements. Furthermore, I added Tipler's Omega Point to the Spirituality section, along with a critique of it, and I inserted a few sentences from Bailey's counter-argument to Enough in the appropriate section. I hope these edits are all satisfactory in legibility, NPOV and other concerns.
I suggest bringing the Futurehype book cover back out of obscurity to illustrate the first subsection under "Criticisms". First, we do discuss this book to a sufficient extent for Fair Use to apply, I believe. Second, placing an image in that spot would break up the long stretch of text and improve the ocular friendliness of the article's latter half. Finally, by using the cover of Futurehype and not, say, The Singularity Is Near, we would provide a slight emphasis on the non-transhumanist side, which would counterbalance the effect of having the "But the transhumanists say" blurb following every argument.
Approaching this from as much distance as I can, I think that this is the sort of issue where a reader's overall attitude is likely set before encountering the detailed arguments. (Regrettably so, in my opinion; I know my views have altered upon encountering the discourse, but I might be atypical.) Consequently, pushing sentences back and forth or adding the "endorsement" of an extra book cover can bring only small alterations of the overall POV. It's a property of a local maximum: small perturbations have small effects when the derivative is zero.
Again, your comments and further revisions are eagerly awaited. Anville 23:20, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Bravo! My only nitpik would be that the flow of the last paragraph in the Spirituality section seems interrupted by the addition of the Tipler material. I'll have to think about how best to revise this. --Loremaster 01:15, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I see what you mean. Part of the problem is (I think) that the last sentence of "Spirituality" is kind of tacked on there anyway. Maybe move the sentence beginning "Transhumanist personhood theory. . ." to be the second in the paragraph, and start a new paragraph after the Tipler material? Anville 14:38, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Eugenics Wars argument

Political scientist Klaus-Gerd Giesen, for example, has suggested that transhumanism's concentration on the individual body as the locus of solutions to social inequities represents the triumph of the market economy.[5]

I've temporarily removed the sentence above from the Eugenics Wars argument section because I don't think it belongs there. It would make more sense for it to be in the Gattaca argument section. --Loremaster 17:07, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Done.--StN 01:26, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Good. --Loremaster 01:51, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
I've also changed the title to something I think is more appropriate. --Loremaster 17:15, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I've also changed the sub-title. --Loremaster 01:51, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Where did the Giesen stuff go? After all the effort we went to to struggle with it, I think it is worth keeping. That doesn't mean I see much merit in its arguments, but that's not the point... Metamagician3000 08:25, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
It's now in the Gattaca argument section. --Loremaster 14:04, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Gattaca argument

I've noticed and support StN's recent and very good edits of the Master race, Gattaca and Frankenstein arguments. However, I think the Gattace argument is slightly misleading. Correct me if I am wrong but in the film Gattaca the biotech divide is not a result of the poor not having access to eugenic enhancement technologies but bioconservative people choosing to have natural children who grow up to be working-poor second-class citizens. --Loremaster 01:58, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

This is one way of looking at it. But this perspective can lead one to say that those who don't get with the high-tech program have only themselves to blame if they lose out. A prime advocate of this view is the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. It seems to me to underestimate the heavy hand of those in control of the technologies and to overestimate the choices available to those on the slide. The film may have been Friedmanesque, but I don't remember it that way.--StN 02:23, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Whether of not we mention Thomas Friedman, I think the argument should reflect both the Mckibben and Friedman perspective in order for both the name of the argument and the citing of the film to be accurate. --Loremaster 14:02, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
In Loremaster's most recent changes to this section I feel that the difference between McKibben's liberal argument and Giesen's more radical argument is inappropriately finessed. Hughes's response is directed toward the liberal critique but doesn't touch the radical one. I think it is another case of giving the transhumanists the last word, but here the critic's point (unless a more profound, non-technophilic response can be found) should be afforded this privilege.--StN 02:35, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. Although you are right that we should expand Hughes's response to Giesen's critique, the point I am trying to make clear is that democratic transhumanists do not concentrate solely on the enhancement of the individual body as the locus of solutions to social inequities. Hughes also argues that we must use technology and democracy to solve problems like poverty and climate change. Since I assume you haven't read his book, have you at least read his essay, Democratic Transhumanism 2.0? --Loremaster 14:02, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I read it (and the book). Its all great, except for the transhumanism part. And the snarky way he deals with people he disagrees with. (But maybe that goes along with the transhumanism?)--StN 16:45, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
I think I now have to bow out of editing this article, since my points are being misunderstood and my changes are being reverted by Loremaster without good arguments, and I don't seem to be getting support from other editors. I thought the article was about transhumanism and not what a fine person James Hughes is. How will transhumanism, which Metamagician now acknowledges was invented by Max More, end poverty, neo-colonial wars, and stop preventable climate change (sorry for the climoconservative bias)?--StN 15:27, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
This makes it sound as if I was somehow evading the point about Max More's role in the 1980s and early 1990s. We've long said that he gave transhumanism its modern definition. I was surprised that Natasha thought we were doing him down. For better or worse, though, he's really left it to others to develop and promote the philosophy in prominent mainstream articles and books, which is why so many citations are inevitably to Bostrom and Hughes. Max More is still a fairly young man, so I hope he'll add to his legacy with a major book or something. However, he has not done so so far. Metamagician3000 02:17, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
First, I think critics of transhumanism such as StN but also many transhumanists have a very limited understanding of what transhumanism emcompasses. Despite (apolitical) transhumanism's emphasis on individual human enhancement through cybernetic, genetic and nanotic technologies, transhumanism has many currents which specifically focus on the social problems StN keeps mentionning. For example, the pro-automation/post-work/guaranteed minimum income society or the molecular manufacturing-based post-scarcity economy is a transhumanist approach to ending poverty while technogaian alternative technology is a transhumanist approach to stoping preventable climate change. Second, I think StN's critique of transhumanism is in bad faith. Does anyone criticize environmentalism, which is an ideology and movement which focuses on finding and promoting solutions to environmental problems, for not focusing on ending poverty, neo-colonial wars or stoping the digital divide? Of course not. I strongly recommend everyone reads Community Perspectives on Transhumanism. --Loremaster 16:00, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

There's no need to assert bad faith. For whatever combination of reasons, StN dislikes transhumanism and is likely to see an article as a eulogy where I will see it as quite neutral, or to see it as neutral where I see it as highly critical. That's always a problem where different editors have different initial beliefs and values. I may not agree with all his criticisms, but I think he's been very reasonable about them. It can't be easy when most people here are much more sympathetic to the movement than he is. That said, his latest criticism sounds odd to me, too, for various reasons, but I respect his right to put it. The disagreements we've had here are very mild and civilised compared to the situation with other articles. Metamagician3000 02:17, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Note to future editors: problems with this article's logic

1. (From History) In 1988, [libertarian] philosopher Max More...laid the foundation of modern transhumanism.

2. (From theory and practice) While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science, and technology to foster humanitarian principles and values, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual, rather than collective, level.

3. (From Criticisms: Gattaca argument (biotech divide)) Some critics argue that transhumanism does not focus on the key factors contributing to human divisions and misery. The Marxist-oriented political scientist Klaus-Gerd Giesen, for example, has asserted that transhumanism's concentration on the individual body as the locus of solutions to social inequities represents the triumph of the market economy.

4. (From same section) These criticisms are taken seriously by democratic transhumanists who believe that 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). [See point 2, above]

5. (from same section) [B]ioethicist James Hughes... argues that biopoliticians [what are these?] must articulate and implement public policies (such as a universal health care voucher system which 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.

6. Summary: Transhumanism was set on its modern course as a libertarian philosophy centered on the individual body. It remains distinct from other philosophies and movements by its continued focus on the individual body. Critics say that changes to individual bodies will not solve major social problems, not because they are not available to everyone, but because major social problems are not amenable to such solutions. James Hughes says more is needed to solve social problems than focusing on the individual body. In particular, what is need is a social system in which body enhancements are available to everyone. This is claimed to be responsive to point 3, which says that the major problems confronting humanity cannot be solved by enhancements to the human body, individually or collectively.--StN 16:01, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the Transhumanism article has problems in logic due to edits which have changed the original meaning and implication of several sentences and paragraphs. However:
1. No one disputes that Max More founded modern transhumanism. Although it hasn't been clear enough to everyone's satisfaction, the article has always mentioned this fact but both Max More and Natasha Vita-More argue that transhumanism has always been and continues to be an apolitical philosophy.
2. I would disagree with the assertion (which I believe was written by StN) that transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual, rather than collective, level. For example, the strong transhumanist interest and advocacy for molecular manufacturing or space colonization contradicts this.
3. Although some critics argue that transhumanism does not focus on the key factors contributing to human divisions and misery, I would argue that there is ample evidence that this criticism is not accurate.
4. See my point 2 above.
5. Biopoliticians are policymakers concerned with problems or issues that involve politics or public policy and one or more of the life sciences
6. StN's summary is therefore flawed.
--Loremaster 16:24, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
I've edited the article ro reflect both StN's criticsms and my response to them. --Loremaster 16:35, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Bad faith?

Loremaster, you can define "transhumanism" any way you wish, and use this article to cleanse the concept of the nuttiness with which anyone who has been around the web is familiar. But it is a disservice to people who want to learn about this movement to give an anodyne WTA response (rather than the more characteristic, "Who cares? Deal with it!") to all scenarios of inequality, dehumanisation, eugenics, etc. In the words of one friendly critic of the movement "So many among the "transhumanist"-identified were and remain market fundamentalists, facile genetic determinists, climate-change deniars, corporate-military apologists, boys-with-toys, parochial know-nothings." I don't really see this reflected in the article.--StN 18:40, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

A) If you find a verifiable source quoting this "friendly critic", then the quotation you give would slide nicely into the beginning of the "Criticisms" section. B) To me at least, the logical first reply to said criticism would be "ad hominem". Anville 19:11, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
As Hughes explains in his 2002 essay The Politics of Transhumanism, "Transhumanism is an emergent philosophical movement which says that humans can and should become more than human through technological enhancements. Contemporary transhumanism has grown out of white, male, affluent, American Internet culture, and its political perspective has generally been a militant version of the libertarianism typical of that culture. Nonetheless transhumanists are becoming more diverse, with some building a broad liberal democratic philosophic foundation in the World Transhumanist Association ... For the transhumanist movement to grow and become a serious challenge to their opposites, the bio-Luddites, they will need to distance themselves from their elitist anarcho-capitalist roots and clarify commitments to liberal democratic institutions, values and public policies. By embracing political engagement and the use of government to address equity, safety and efficacy concerns about transhuman technologies, transhumanists are in a better position to attract a larger, broader audience." I would argue that there is evidence that in 2006 this is happening or has already happened so I think it would be a disservice to people who want to learn more about transhumanism to silence this new reality in order to satisfy a personal bias. --Loremaster 22:51, 16 June 2006 (UTC) From William Saletan's Slate article, Among the Transhumanists: Cyborgs, self-mutilators, and the future of our race: "A while back, I'm told, there was a left-right battle for the soul of transhumanism, and the left won. Libertarians got a few nods at the conference, but mostly for opposing drug laws and the draft." --Loremaster 00:25, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
Here is the situation as I understand it: transhumanism has been, and still is, X, according to James Hughes, but Hughes hopes it will become Y. You believe there is evidence that it is becoming Y. The Y position is featured throughout the article (six citations to four works by Hughes, six citations to two works by Bostrom, three citations to three works by Sandberg, seven citations to six articles from the WTA website, assorted others). The X position is barely hinted at. But when I suggested adding something specific about X my "bias" was castigated, and when I inserted Giesen's argument so as to indicate the fact that it is not addressed by Y (which did not necessitate removing any Y text), it was immediately repositioned to suggest that it was addressed by Y. Moreover, I was said to be acting in bad faith for suggesting that transhumanism be evaluated in relation to its ambitions of transforming the human future. Am I really the one who is trying to silence reality, or to satisfy a personal bias?--StN 00:50, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
I guess I wasn't clear enough. My point is that 1) even though critics are not aware of this, transhumanism has been Y for a while now; and 2) Y does in fact address Giesen's argument even if the Gattaca counter-argument I wrote still doesn't reflect this to your satisfaction. --Loremaster 08:08, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
I would also add that both Max More and Natasha Vita-More have distanced themselves from their earlier elitist anarcho-capitalist views. So who exactly are we supposed to quote as an advocate of "X transhumanism"? All the nutty rank-and-file transhumanists mentioned by the "friendly critic", Dale Carrico, who have badly-written websites or post messages filled with extremist views on some Extropy Institute or WTA mailing lists? --Loremaster 15:34, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Evidence of Transhumanism article's decline

First sentence of "Theory and practice" section at time of Featured Article designation:

While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science, and technology to foster humanitarian principles and values, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual, rather than collective, level.

First sentence of "Theory and practice" section today, after transhumanism's universal progressive orientation was questioned:

While transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science and technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability, malnutrition and oppressive governments around the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual as well as the collective level.

Note sweeping characterization of "transhumanist theorists and advocates" and expanded portfolio.

Number of non-redundant Google hits using transhumanism + "oppressive government": 24; number of these dealing with Aeon Flux: 3; number dealing with Omega Point: 2; number dealing with an actual oppressive government: 0 --StN 01:54, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the earlier version was better. I'd be happy if it were changed back, or if something in between were adopted. There's always a risk of seeing a particular version of transhumanism (e.g. that of James Hughes) as "transhumanism". There are many transhumanist positions, and an article like this has to describe the lowest common denominator of them. Metamagician3000 02:37, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
Decline??? Can we please avoid the histrionics? I actually went back to the 30 December 2002 version of this article to copy and paste part of the the original sentence which was written by George Dvosrky of Betterhumans.com that was in this section before StN edited it to fit his narrow view of transhumanism. I don't think the original sentence was presenting a particular version of transhumanism. On the contrary, it was trying to emcompass all the versions out there. Regardless, I think we should debate whether or not there is evidence to support this statement before altering or deleting it. --Loremaster 07:58, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me to say "liberal-minded" transhumanists, but maybe that's just my bias.--StN 16:37, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
I stand corrected. However, I would argue that liberal democratic transhumanism is now the dominant transhumanist philosophy which the vast majority of transhumanist thinkers and advocates from the left (James Hughes and Nick bostrom) to the right (Max More and Natasha Vita-More) adhere to. Surveys of the WTA show that the majority of their rank-and-file members are left-wingers or moderates. Reckless libertarian transhumanism is increasingly a marginal current which only some nutty but vocal people still adhere to. --Loremaster 18:18, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Can everyone please remember....

...that we are here to write a neutral article explaining transhumanism. We've interpreted that brief as including the writing of a large section with a neutral account of the criticisms commonly made of transhumanism and the transhumanist agenda, including what is typically said in reply to those criticisms. That's all we're here for. The article should contain enough factual information to be a starting point for someone who wants to debunk transhumanism, or promote it, or simply learn more about it. But the article itself should not reflect anyone's agenda to put transhumanism in either a good light or a bad light. If any of us find ourselves itching to debunk transhumanism or to promote it, we are getting too emotionally involved. And yes, I do also appreciate (as above) that people's initial beliefs and values will affect what strikes them as neutral. One person's obvious point is another person's self-evident absurdity. That's a reason to cut each other some slack. However, it's also a reason for each of us to bend over backwards to assist the "other side" of the argument. For example, I expressed the Catholic view and the McKibben view as eloquently as I could, although I disagree with them. I've actually put more work into coming up with good formulations of views that I disagree than into formulating views that I agree with. That's how NPOV is supposed to work. Metamagician3000 02:33, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I totally agree. And for the record, I am not interested in either debunking or promoting transhumanism. I only want to see a fair and accurate article on a subject I find interesting. --Loremaster 08:02, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

About the fairness and accuracy dispute

Despite my removal of one POV sentence, I am satisfied with almost all of StN's recent edits to the article. --Loremaster 17:36, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

I removed the following text from the Gattaca argument: In the view of these critics, therefore, transhumanism is part of the problem, not part of the solution. I think this is StN's personal interpretation of the views of these critics, especially Giesen's, rather than something they actually said. --Loremaster 18:10, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
I refactored and largely removed some new argumentative material - wherever it came from. Again, without checking who is making what edits, I do worry that the article is still so unstable after having gone through FA. Although Anville's analysis seems to show that it is improving rather than declining, we must all avoid the temptation of thinking that we are here to deter people from, or attract people to, transhumanism. Our task is simply to describe it. Metamagician3000 04:00, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

POV?

I'm disturbed by the POV "counter-counter-arguments" that StN has recently added. I will be editing the article to restore neutrality immediately but I will also try to radically improve the Criticisms section overall some time this week. --Loremaster 07:09, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Loremaster, I would suggest that you follow Metamagician's advice and not undertake a radical rewrite of this article, since it has attained Featured status more-or-less in its present form. In my opinion your changes have the tendency to obscure vulnerabilities in the transhumanist program that have been identified by critics. (This is despite your occasional statements that you have your own criticisms of transhumanism. This is neither here nor there regarding your role in writing and editing this article, but I have seen little evidence of anything other than the desire to put transhumanism in the best WTA-inspired light possible. You must mean (I surmise) that you are critical of non-WTA transhumanism, and the way you have chosen to deal with this is to keep any references to non-WTA transhumanism out of this article.) Since transhumanism is distinctive in its focus on biological transformations to the human body (not democracy, universal health care, nanotechnological manufacturing methods, rational technology assessment), it is not fair to constantly resort to these in providing transhumanist replies to criticisms when many of the critics accept these things, but just don't like what is distinctive about transhumanism.--StN 16:14, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
StN, when I talk about "radically" improving the Criticism section of the article, I was refering to the fact I've always felt that many arguments seem to be confusing too many issues together while some of their counter-arguments do not directly respond to them as you have often pointed out. That being said, for the record, I've improved the wording of many criticisms before and after you came along, created a new criticism against transhumanism (such as the Frankenstein argument), and provided some of the best sources for all these criticisms when did they didn't have any. The only reason why the majority of my other edits seem to be pro-transhumanist is because your changes have the tendency to obscure the fact that transhumanist thinkers have responded to the criticism of the vulnerabilities in the transhumanist program. As for the issue that many of my references come from the WTA, you seem to forget that the WTA's first task was organizing an international group of transhumanists to write the Transhumanist Declaration, published in 1998, and the Transhumanist Frequently Asked Questions, published in 1999. The following persons contributed to the original crafting of these documents: Doug Bailey, Anders Sandberg, Gustavo Alves, Max More, Holger Wagner, Natasha Vita More, Eugene Leitl, Berrie Staring, David Pearce, Bill Fantegrossi, Doug Baily Jr., den Otter, Ralf Fletcher, Kathryn Aegis, Tom Morrow, Alexander Chislenko, Lee Daniel Crocker, Darren Reynolds, Keith Elis, Thom Quinn, Mikhail Sverdlov, Arjen Kamphuis, Shane Spaulding, Nick Bostrom. This group includes social democrats, liberals and libertarians most of whom participate in WTA annual conferences and regularly contribute to WTA mailing lists. Although transhumanism is distinctive in its focus on biological transformations to the human body, every transhumanist thinker and advocate whose writings I have read talk about a so-called transhumanist approach to democracy, health care, nanotechnological manufacturing methods, rational technology assessment, etc. It is therefore unfair and inaccurate for you or anyone to want to obscure this fact in order to prevent transhumanism from attracting an audience. Lastly, now that you reformulated the only criticism of transhunmanism's distinctiveness (Giesen's) in a more logical manner, I haven't provided a transhumanist reply to this criticism... until I find one. --Loremaster 18:06, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't dispute that you may have introduced criticisms prior to my engagement with the article, but if you check the archived record I think you will see that I created the Frankenstein argument, since the discussion in the Brave New World article mistakenly contained Frankenstein-type criticisms.--StN 18:43, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
In Febrauray 2006, Metamagician added some headings to the Criticisms section. I was the one who changed these headings to names of books and movies critical of transhumanism and/or emerging technologies and added images of these books and movies which some could argue is free publicity for critics (while I only added one image of a transhumanist book, Engines of Creation, which I later removed in order not to to give this book undue importance in the History section). If you check the archives more thourougly, you will discover that I created the Frankenstein argument (without a counter-argument) which was later temporarily renamed Brave New World and that we both worked on expanding quite well. My point is simply that, although I wasn't alone in improving the Criticisms section, my work has contributed to it standing out in ways that other Wikipedia articles that have such sections do not. So I find your personal criticism of me unfair and inaccurate. --Loremaster 19:27, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

StN's edits

As a practical matter, moreover, international protocols on human subject research may not present a legal obstacle to attempts by transhumanists 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.

Why does the first sentence imply that only transhumanists would want to improve their offspring?

Despite the goal of some transhumanists to disperse the benefits of enhancement technologies widely, some critics question the movement's focus on body modification as a central means of alleviating some of the problems facing humanity. The Marxist-oriented 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 negative manifestation of advanced capitalism.

1. Regardless of what critics say, when and where have transhumanists argue that "body modification is a central means of alleviating the problems facing humanity"?

2. Although I don't doubt that he is left-wing, how do we know Klaus-Gerd Giesen is Marxist-oriented?

Transhumanist personhood theorists do not suggest, however, that all sentient persons (in their definition of the term) must have the same rights and obligations of citizenship (voting, for example). The stratification of humans by virtue of degree of biological enhancement implied by the transhumanist program therefore suggests to critics that civil rights and liberties would differ among different human-derived groups in any posthuman future. (See Master race argument, below).

1. When and where do transhumanist personhood theorists do not suggest that all sentient persons must have the same rights and obligations of citizenship? I've read that some don't recognize the personhood of fetuses and brain-dead people (like many non-transhumanist secular personhood theorists) but I never read that some argue that unenhanced humans and enhanced humans should have different civil rights and liberties.

2. The line "in any posthuman future" is POV. Are the critics precogs?

Annas et al., however, argue that social stratification would present unprecedented challenges to democratic governance, even if it came about as the cumulative result of individual choices.

This lone sentence belongs at the end of the first Master race argument.

--Loremaster 10:02, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

In fairness, the last sentence you quote is my cut down version. You might well consider what was there before I changed it to be even worse, but I just thought I'd point that out.
I'm actually not too worried about any of these as long as they are properly attributed. The one about "sentient" persons is just an honest mistake, I think. Surely the point is that no one believes that all beings with personhood should have the same rights, e.g. no one suggests that gorillas or even young teenage humans should have the right to vote. If a critic of transhumanism has done something with that idea, let it be said all means. It could be speculated that a time might come when only artificial superintelligences will be entrusted to have certain rights to make major public decisions - but of course that speculation would be original research unless this claim is already a notable one made by others.
All in all, I'd just like the article to stay more stable. Apart from possibly putting in a few additional images (Max More? Natasha?), I don't recommend too much fine-tuning back and forth until such a time as there is an important new development (e.g., we should mention it if Simon Young's plans for a new transhumanist organisation ever come to anything). Of course, I realise that every time one person changes the article others will want to do likewise because there will be unhappiness with the changes. For myself, I'm trying to be as minimalist as I can in making any changes in response to what others do. Metamagician3000 10:31, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, it is not legitimate to rearrange the text simply to give the transhumanist position the last word. You have to have an argument that is responsive to the ones already there; just saying transhumanists have a response to something is not enough. The logic of the Master race argument is to raise the specter of eugenics and then show that the elective form advocated by transhumanists is different from the coercive forms. The critics are not satisfied by this difference, so this has to come after, rather than before, the description of the difference. If transhumanists have an argument that is responsive to this objection, then put it after the paragraph that describes the critics' comment in its appropriate position.--StN 15:50, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Whether an argument is "responsive to the ones already there" is necessarily a judgment call. While in general terms I am quite sympathetic to this concern, policy dictates that the Wikipedia is not the place to resolve such a dispute.
Alice, a think-tanker at the Cato Institute, writes a screed saying that the WTA is only so much futurehype. In response, Betty — a noted author in the field of, let's say, genetic engineering — writes a reply in Reason Magazine. Here, the cause-and-effect relationship is clear, and all the sources are perfectly verifiable. The logical order is to present Alice's argument and then a summary of Betty's rebuttal.
Perhaps many outsiders feel that Betty's rebuttal is a non sequitur which fails to address the key points in Alice's thesis. OK, that's their right — but the Wikipedia article can't legitimately reflect that until Carol writes a new thesis saying so.
I have bad memories of high-school debate team, where who "wins" each round is determined not by the cogency of any argument but by ensuring that each point in the "flow" is followed by a counter-point of a recognized type. . . That's not discourse. I'm afraid that the grounded and democratic approach I've seen so far will devolve into a William S. Burroughs cut-up pastiche of scholarship, which would be a real pity. Bear in mind that I exhausted my store of real knowledge on this subject quite some time ago, so all I can offer is argumentation on rhetorical grounds.
Please bear in mind the possibility that because all the participants in this discussion have quite obviously thought and read on the issues, somebody has raised a concern (or counter-concern) for which there is no citeable source. I have no doubt that in a field whose essence is informed speculation, Wikipedia talk pages can be as good a font of ideas as the Faculty Lounge. The people who voted in this article's FAC obviously thought it was a well-balanced and informative piece. Logically, then, the issues one finds with it now are only apparent to specialists — yes? The distinctions currently being made may, for all I know, be rising here in a clearer form than they have before, in which case somebody needs to write them down and generate a new verifiable, footnotable source. Just a thought. Anville 17:59, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Anville. However, when I said I wanted to "radically" improve the Criticisms section, it was in reaction to the fact that I agree that that we need to expand the transhumanists counter-argument to respond to all objections if possible which they don't do at this time. --Loremaster 18:12, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
While critics acknowledge the differences between coercive and elective forms of eugenics they argue that the social stratification that may result from the latter would still be unacceptable. In particular, in their view, it would present unprecedented challenges to democratic governance, even if it came about as the cumulative result of individual choices.

Although I think Bailey's Brave New World counter-argument responds to this quite adequately, I think Hughes addresses this issue in Citizen Cyborg. I'll have to rea-read it see if I can quote something cognent as a response. --Loremaster 19:37, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

About Giesen's critique of transhumanism

Despite the goal of some transhumanists to disperse the benefits of enhancement technologies widely, some critics question the movement's focus on body modification as a central means of alleviating some of the problems facing humanity. 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 negative manifestation of advanced capitalism.

I do think that some of the critiques of consumerism as a kind of domestication of freedom in an era of relentless privatization, distraction, and docility are valid to a point, and I guess I might agree with Klaus-Gerd Giesen that at least some of such a critique will apply to at least some ongoing and upcoming practices of medical modification.

I don't quite see what makes medical modification a more "ultimate" kind of consumerism than, you know, common or garden variety consumerism is, unless the stealthy premise here is that there is a natural and normative body that is being wilfully violated and consumed here, but if our Marxist friend read more of what Marx had to say about nature he might find himself wondering to what extent his own apparent intial personal investment in the very idea of such a natural and normative body itself might have already made him vulnerable to such a consumer critique. Certainly he's bought a line of bourgeois bullshit *somewhere* along the line here. :) Dale Carrico

How come Dale Carrico pops up from time to time under Loremaster's timestamp (see the Discussion History log) to deliver cutting apercus using unpleasant language? Does he communicate his insights directly through Loremaster, or is he some sort of doppelganger? And who is "our Marxist friend" referred to by Carrico, Giesen, or yours truly? In either case, it is a snide form of criticism, and the quoting of scripture from a 19th century thinker against 21st century commentators is a bit of a misunderstanding of Marxist-influenced thought, to which I (StN, not Giesen, since we're channeling others today) plead somewhat guilty. Marx, in fact, never dealt with consumerism, but some writers influenced by him have. To say body modification is the ultimate form of consumerism is not to endorse a "normative body" (I, for one, don't care what people do to, or with, their own bodies) but only to say that consumerists have traditionally made themselves happy (or less unhappy) by means of clothes, cars, cell phones or other fashion accessories and appurtenances, and going after the newest fashion in technological improvement (as Anville has recently posted about here) of one's own body (and doing it to future generations) to relieve some sense of inadequacy, is certainly the ultimate in the consumerist ethic. One's body is, after all, even in our post-modern world, closer to one's self than is one's iPod. It has nothing at all to do with privileging the "natural."--StN 22:15, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I posted Dale Carrico's comments, which were forwarded to me by email, in some talk pages in order to contribute to the debate. To answer your question, Carrico was refering to Giesen as "our Marxist friend". --Loremaster 00:58, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
    • ^ a b Joy 2000
    • ^ a b Kaczynski 1995
    • ^ Cole-Turner 1993
    • ^ Peters 1997
    • ^ Giesen 2004