Talk:Transhumanism/Archive 11

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Archive 10 Archive 11 Archive 12

Adding images of transhumanists?

Max More:

Natasha Vita-More:

Nick Bostrom:

A colleague of mine who has contacted Nick Bostrom tells me that he gives us permission to use the image linked to above or any image found on his website at or --Loremaster 23:33, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I just read an announcement of this article and I am impressed with the quality. You all have my full premission to use a picture of me, and you can best get one at . Other images are at or
Max More also gives permission to use his image which you can find at
Now I am going to read more about this piece. Best wishes, Natasha Vita-More
I've uploaded the images I had selected and listed at the top of this section. They can now be found in the respective articles of More, Vita-More and Bostrom. However, I'm still debating whether or not we should add these images to the Transhumanism article. I'm concerned with the possible self-promotion factor... --Loremaster 22:42, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
I share Loremaster's concern. I suggest just leaving the MM, NV-M and NB in their respective articles.--StN 22:45, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with your suggestion. --Loremaster 23:04, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure where to make this comment, so I'll just put it here. Why are you resistant to giving credit to Max More? I sense some tension here and I don't understand it. You have "In 1988, philosopher Max More founded the Extropy Institute and was the main contributor to a formal doctrine for apolitical and libertarian transhumanists," This is another low-blow. Please understand that you must put your political directives behind you and realize that Max More first wrote about transhumanism before FM, and before Nick Bostrom. Nick is a fine person and made many important contributions to transhumanism, but that does not affect the fact that Max wrote about transhumanism without reference to any political viewpoint. I remember it because I first read Max's writings on transhumanism in a magazine in the late 1980s. Just rewrite what you have and give credit to Max for being the father of transhumanism. He earned it. Best wishes, Natasha Vita-More
Mrs. Vita-More, I've edited the article to reflect your criticism. --Loremaster 18:25, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Please do call me Natasha. (I'm Ms. anyway, not very traditional)

If we have permission from Max More and Natasha Vita-More to use their images, let's do so. I don't see any issue of self-promotion. I see it as people who have been extremely important to the history and development of transhumanism being kind enough to show an interest in what's going on here, and helping us get around any copyvio problems with things that we'd like to do anyway. They both have my thanks.

Natasha, I don't think any low blows or acts of damning with faint praise are intended (they certainly are not intended by me). Getting those historical paras just right, from a distance of some years now, is quite tricky, and we are required to rely on public sources. I hope that what is there now strikes you as more accurately reflecting the historical reality. It seems obvious to me that Dr More pretty much invented transhumanism, as opposed to merely coining the word "transhumanism" (which we attribute to Julian Huxley). I thought the article said that, but maybe it's now clearer. Best wishes, Metamagician3000 08:22, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

As long as we keep FM-2030's picture in the History section (closer to the top), I have no problem adding with someone adding Max More in that section (closer to the bottom). As for Natasha Vita-More, we could add her picture in the Fiction and Art section to highlite the fact that she is first self-described transhumanist artist. --Loremaster 17:45, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
I've added pictures of the Mores to the article. --Loremaster 22:55, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Enough section

I've found the source for Bailey's criticism of Bill McKibben' argument: Enough Already: A leading environmentalist makes a foolish case against technological innovation --Loremaster 18:00, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

The Enough counter-argument needs to be expanded with some other source as well. --Loremaster 18:16, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
In my opinion the last sentence of this section is unfair to McKibben. Is calling something "Neo-Romantic" a counter-argument? It sounds pretty nice to me, but in the context it seems it is meant to be unpleasant. However, it it not explained why. Also, saying that close scrutiny of the Ming Dynasty, the Amish, etc. show them to represent the opposite of what McKibben claims, without describing what he says about them, is uninformative. The arguments in the article should be self-contained. Bailey's argument in the next-to-last sentence is relevant; the one in the last sentence is not.--StN 02:36, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I tend to be with StN here. I don't think we need so much detail about what Bailey says. The idea is just to give a quick idea of what has been said in response to McKibben's argument (as reported). I'd be happy to see the last sentence edited down somewhat. Metamagician3000 03:03, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree but I think the previous version of this response (before it was expanded by Anville) was rather fluffy. The current version still is to a certain extent. --Loremaster 16:18, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Disingenuousness alert

Quoting a previous debate:

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)

As for the term "human racism", which is a word often used by Hughes and other transhumanists to refer to a specific form of speciesism, 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)
Disingenuousness alert??? Putting adide the fact that all the arguments against transhumanism are often based on alarmist visions of the future, I don't see how transhumanists wanting to fight against intolerance towards clones, chimeras or genetically enhanced humans, which many people already feel hostility to despite the fact that they don't exist yet, is a disingenuousness alert. --Loremaster 01:21, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't think concern about discrimination against the possible Wolverines and Mystiques of the future should take precedence over the scientifically demonstrable harms to mammals from cloning and germline genetic engineering. And while the ambiguous species identity of geeps may not present a policy problem since goats and sheep have about the same civil rights, it would be a problem for human-chimp chimeras. In any case, the disingenousness alert was directed toward your argument defending the term "human-racism." "Luddite" is not the same kind of slur as "racist". (Although it is used as a slur by Hughes, and is characteristic of his unnuanced approach to thinkers he disagrees with.) "Human-racist" is like Rush Limbaugh's "femi-Nazi." Anyone who doesn't recognize this either has a tin ear or is indeed disingenuous.--StN 16:30, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
StN, when will you understand that it doesn't matter what you or I think should take precedence? The article is about what transhumanists and their critics think. (Transhumanist personhood theory addresses the issue of human-chimp chimeras and their civil rights) That being said, the term "human-racism" is not being used in this sentence as a slur against someone. The sentence makes it quite clear that it is simply the term used by transhumanists to refer to a negative form of Human exceptionalism that is seen by them as the real problem. --Loremaster 16:41, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I understand. (Please, no patronizing.) That's why my comment on this was placed in this section rather than in the main article. It was just to motivate my wanting to either use a synonym for this nasty term so that it doesn't gain currency, or to indicate in some way that critics take it as a slur (and for the reasons I gave above it is certainly meant as such, not least because of homonymy with racism). When you place responses to the criticisms into the article that give a "transhumanists want everybody to be happy" spin to things, you are also inserting a POV. You could just as well say some transhumanists advocate survival of the fittest. I'm sure this is true, but of course the WTA position is now the mainstream, and any actual alternatives that may cast a cloud over the movement, or the motivations of some of its adherents, do not seem to be acceptable to you.--StN 17:09, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
1. NPOV (Neutral Point Of View) is a fundamental Wikipedia principle which states that all articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias. I have improved criticisms of transhumanism and then provided summaries of the stated views of transhumanists advocates or the stated position of transhumanist organizations as a response. This isn't POV.
2. There are extremists in the environmentalist movement that advocate the voluntary or involuntary extinction of the human race as a solution to environmental problems. However, it would be unfair and inaccurate to write an article on environmentalism which gives the impression that an overwhelming majority of environmentalists embrace these marginal views. The same goes for transhumanism. So if a majority of transhumanist individuals and organizations advocated survival of the fittest, this would be a fact that should be mentioned in the article. However, not only is there no evidence that this is the case but there is now growing evidence to the contrary (the stated views of notable transhumanist advocates that can be found on their personal websites or those of the WTA and Extropy Institute, surveys of members of these organizations, interviews, etc)
3. Ultimately, I have no problem with the mention of alternative views in the transhumanist movement, even if they are extreme and deplorable, as long as it is clear that they are marginal and that they are properly referenced to a serious source (the website of some self-described transhumanist that no one takes seriously or a poorly-researched article by a journalist indulging in ad hominen would not be one). The irony is that the notable people who publicly advocated what some would judge as deplorable views are now distancing themselves from them. This is a fact that should pointed out as well in the interest of fairness and accuracy.
--Loremaster 18:07, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Although I understand all of these histrionics are in reaction to my personal criticisms of StN, I am getting tired of this "seek and destroy" mission that he seems to be on as of late. --Loremaster 01:21, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

A plea; or, brick wall alert

This alert is directed at my own head. Please, guys, we have here an article that has been accepted as one of Wikipedia's best. It doesn't have to contain a convincing answer to every criticism ever made of transhumanism. Nor does it have to contain anywhere some knockdown, unanswered argument against some aspect of some transhumanist's view of what the transhumanist agenda might be. It exists solely to give a description of transhumanism at the relatively introductory level of an encyclopedia article. In so far as we've kept a long criticisms section - having repeatedly veered away from creating a separate Criticisms of Transhumanism article - that section should summarise the main criticisms that have been made of transhumanist ideas. It should give some even-more-summary indication of the kinds of things that transhumanists have said in response. And that's all.

We all have our views on these issues. I, for example, am sympathetic to transhumanism, though in a highly qualified way, and have even been known in the past to accept/adopt the label "transhumanist" - but I've been back-pedalling ever since in the other forums where I discuss these things, because I actually oppose a lot of proposals that are made by high-profile transhumanists, such as creating conscious super-AI, "uplifting" non-human animals etc. I also deny that we are under a moral obligation to "cure aging", though I do favour cautious, reputable anti-ageing research. If you look at my views on specific issues they are often more bioconservative tban transhumanist, and I'd often find myself on the same side as StN if we were discussing specific proposals, though perhaps for different reasons based on my own broader philosophical position which probably does not resemble his. I am sympathetic to transhumanism in so far as I have a general philosophical view that it is acceptable, and perhaps even desirable, for us to change our own nature over the coming hundreds or thousands of years if we can do so without breaching independent and well-justified ethical principles. Perhaps that view does make me a transhumanist of sorts; I don't know anymore. It makes it appropriate for me to be associated with the IEET, but it is certainly not mainstream transhumanism.

What I do know is that I have no wish for the article to reflect my particular position on any issue. I only want it to do its job as a good introductory account of transhumanism. I was actually contemplating running a series of seminars for honours philosophy students in which I could say, "Here is a good, stable, neutral Wikipedia article; read it as a way in to exploring transhumanism. Follow up its references." I doubt that I'll do that now - partly, to be honest, because I don't think I'll have time to set it up this year, but also because the article has become unstable. But I would really like to have a stable article that can be used in such ways.

Loremaster, I do feel that you are too concerned to have every criticism answered convincingly. What we say here can only be indicative. The main thing is that there is a sense conveyed of the reality that transhumanists have answers to these various criticisms (though they may not have answered every single formulation and nuance ever put by every critic - no philosophical position is like that, as debates are always ongoing, with new variations of arguments constantly being developed and published on the various sides of issues). Surely there must be concise formulations we could use that suggest that tranhumanists have a general line of answer to criticism A, criticism B, and so on, without opening up detail that provokes StN to want to come back saying, "But... but!" If the article is written like that (as I believe it was prior to the FA), I think that the last word on the various issues should, indeed, go to the transhumanists, but not in a way that settles that they are "right". Could you accept this in principle? I believe that it matches your oft-stated intentions to do no more than write a neutral article on a subject in which you've developed an interest, but trying to look at it objectively I really do think you have a tendency to try to get in more than an indicative idea of what transhumanists say in reply to their various critics, and that this causes problems.

StN, I'm afraid I'm starting to get the feeling that you won't be content until we have an article that will point readers to the "truth" that transhumanism is a Bad Thing - that there are serious criticisms out there that have no answers. Perhaps there are, when it comes to specific issues. But it is not our role here at Wikipedia to uncover the truth, or even to ensure that the youth of the world are not corrupted by dangerous ideas, only to write a useful encyclopedia article.

Can we please restore the cooperative spirit that prevailed when the article was being considered for FA status? If we're not careful, we'll lose that status because of article instability. I'm starting to wonder whether some sort of mediation would be appropriate here, though I'm not the person to do it. I'm too impatient (and too busy) to be a mediator and I have too many views of my own about the subject matter under discussion.

I may well have offended you both, which I'd hate to do as you're valued colleagues, but I felt this had to be said. I feel inclined to withdraw from editing the article if we can't turn around the way the debate on this page is currently going. However, I'd be very unhappy if I had to do that. I've put a lot of effort into this, I think it's a worthwhile project, and we still have a great article that we should be proud of. Metamagician3000 03:42, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Metamagician, you have not offended me at all. I have admired your generous spirit and fairness toward positions that you clearly disagree with throughout this process. You are of course correct that my main impulse has been to bring in the "dark side" of transhumanism; I think that's the only way a balanced article can be achieved. I have never concealed my bias. I believe that scientific research and medical trials are continuously being proven fallible, and for "early [technology] adopters" to produce children using these experimental techniques would be criminal.
The WTA can promote all sorts of liberal ideas about democratic access, and so forth, but living in the U.S. it is clear to me that technologies that people are willing to pay for will be implemented way, way, before any truly democratic system is in place (if it ever is). Corporation-friendly lawyers will devise ways of protecting the implementers against liability. And if anyone ever solves the problem, despite the unpredictability of genetic engineering, of making enhancement work, the corporate backers of these expensive technologies will figure out ways to ensure that their "superior" product-clients will take on their rightful elevated places in the social heirarchy. It is unlikely that genes for altruism (if such exist) will be the first ones that shareholders would want to see marketed. The most likely outcomes in my view, however, will be iatrogenically "demoted" humans. The technological optimism of the WTA might have flown 100 years ago (but even then there were some who saw what was coming). After the experiences of the 20th century I think it must be seen as just another religion, albeit a post-modernist one.
That being said, I have no problem with morphological freedom for individuals, and none of my criticisms has been directed against this tenet of transhumanism.
Please do not feel obligated to respond to these points. I just wanted to describe where I stand. I suggested a few days ago that I would opt out of the editing process, but I couldn't bring myself to do so without adding some negative points in response to what I saw as a subtle change of tone of the article toward the WTA position ever since (i) the dissolution of the Extropians, (ii) the passing of the front page listing, with the associated need to maintain neutrality, and (iii) the Stanford conference, which fortified the WTA and some of its supporters in their program to take over the franchise. (Perhaps a TM (trademark) symbol should be added to the article's title).
So, no worries. I will withdraw for now and see what you, Loremaster, Anville and others make of our mutual project. I learned a lot.--StN 05:42, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
I would like to note my agreement, broadly speaking, with these Metamagician's sentiments. Also, I'd like to add that I consider a useful encyclopaedia article a better goal, on both practical and moral grounds, than yet another screed advocating a particular position on issue X. Really, folks — everyone else is arguing these things. Let them play their self-selected roles, the Apostles to the Gentiles self-ordained to preach Green, Extropian and technosocialist faiths. We have a very good opportunity here to be historians and not polemicists. Can't there be one place on the Net with a little dignity? Anville 04:53, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Metamagician wrote: I really do think you have a tendency to try to get in more than an indicative idea of what transhumanists say in reply to their various critics, and that this causes problems.

I disagree. If you look at the arguments against transhumanism and/or emerging technologies they tend be very cognent and specific in their criticisms while the transhumanist counter-arguments are often vague and sometimes do not directly respond to the argument in question as StN as often pointed out. I simply want to correct this so that no one stumbles upon this article and comes away thinking that transhumanists don't have much to say despite having the last word when they actually do.

StN wrote: I couldn't bring myself to do so without adding some negative points in response to what I saw as a subtle change of tone of the article toward the WTA position ever since (i) the dissolution of the Extropians, (ii) the passing of the front page listing, with the associated need to maintain neutrality, and (iii) the Stanford conference, which fortified the WTA and some of its supporters in their program to take over the franchise. (Perhaps a TM (trademark) symbol should be added to the article's title).

If you look back through the archives, you will discover that the Wikipedia article on Transhumanism, which was written by transhumanist advocate George Dorvsky, had a much stronger tone towards the so-called WTA position. Ever since then, users have been expanding and improving on the work he has done. This process, which you contributed to, has made the article more neutral. The dissolution of the Extropians does leave the World Transhumanist Association as the leading international transhumanist organization. Are we not supposed to mention this because it supposedly fortifies the WTA's conspiracy to take over transhumanism? Regardless, it wouldn't make any sense for an article on transhumanism not to report the position of the WTA on various questions. From everything you have confessed to, it is clear that you are not interested in neutrality but simply want this article to reflect your POV... --Loremaster 15:21, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't recall ever having removed any of your arguments, though I edited some of them. So I don't think you can rightly complain that the WTA position is scanted. Look at the number of references and citations from WTA sources. On the other hand, you have actually removed arguments I inserted. so if the philosophy has some flaws (as opposed to arguments by people who don't understand it or haven't familiarized themeslves with the sources), these shortcomings don't seem to make it into the article. Yes, my role has been to emphasize this side, as yours has been to show how positive the whole movement is and how the critics haven't considered the completeness and persusiveness of the theory in allaying their concerns. A balanced article would show the pros and cons, but you first have to acknowledge that there might be cons.--StN 15:49, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
StN, you seem to want to imply that this article has never showned the cons. Before you started your recent campaign to add (sometimes unfair and inaccurate) counter-counter-arguments, the Criticisms section already contained plenty of cons both you and I worked on rewording or creating and referencing. As I said before, the Criticisms section of the article is quite compelling compared to others. My only complaint is not that the specific position of the WTA is scanted but that the content you add is often worded in way that clearly expresses your personal point of view but also implies that transhumanist thinkers haven't addressed these issues. Also, I would like to point out that the number of references and citations from the WTA or WTA-associated people is quite reasonable in light of the fact that the WTA's first task was organizing an international group of transhumanists to write the Transhumanist Declaration and the Transhumanist Frequently Asked Questions. --Loremaster 16:05, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Brave New World argument = Erosion of morality?

I think the Brave New World argument is about the specific erosion of human equality, social order or even a species ethic but not morality in general. I therefore think we should change the sub-title. --Loremaster 18:54, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Social order and human equality overlap with other criticisms. (Actually, the social order was pretty much under control in the novel). Species ethic is the one element particular to BNW and this section. But this is an unfamiliar term that corresponds most closely to morality in ordinary language. So I think the subtitle is ok as is.--StN 21:00, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. Morality deals with that which is regarded as right or wrong. How does biotechnology threaten people's sense of what is right and wrong? If you read the entire Brave New Word argument, I think the central issue is the threat it poses to human equality *and* solidarity. --Loremaster 21:21, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't think it's just that. Regardless of whether we've done it justice, the idea comes through in Kass and Fukuyama that morality in a more traditional sense is somehow being eroded and that technologies of human enhancement will somehow add to this. E.g. Kass compares our current sexual mores to those of Brave New World, thinks we are going down the same path, and makes some vague connection with cloning. I find it all quite difficult to understand but it seems to be about us somehow progressively losing things like religion, connection with the natural order of things, the ups and downs of a traditional lifelong monogamous understanding of romantic love, and so on. And when you step back from it, the populist claim that we're headed for a Brave New World isn't essentially about egalitarianism and so on; it is about social conservative fears of a world in which sex, reproduction and entertainment are too easy and we have somehow lost the difficulties and embarrassments that these people find so valuable, not to mention our biological connection with nature. The idea is partly that, if we use technology to remake the world and ourselves closer to our desires, much of our psychological experience will be flattened out and much of value will be lost - or something like that. I am so out of sympathy with this way of thinking that I find it difficult even to put into words, but I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that much of the techno-fear is coming from the direction of a very conservative approach to morality in general. I do think there are some words in the article that allude to all this. Metamagician3000 01:39, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Metamagician. And though I don't value many of the same things that Kass does, I think he is right that powerful technologies change what people consider right and wrong. This is a clear source of conflict in the indigenous rights community where technology is confronting deeply traditional values. It happens more incrementally in the mainstream culture, but it still happens.--StN 02:20, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm actually completely perplexed, Loremaster, that you could ask "How does biotechnology threaten people's sense of what is right and wrong?" Do you mean that just biotechnology can't do this, or no technology can? Did technology have nothing to do with the differences in people's moral values from neolithic times (or medieval times) to the present? Did the birth control pill have no influence on moral views concerning female sexuality? A case in point from more recent times: a strong consensus among (non-pro-life) reproductive and developmental biologists throughout the 1980s and 90s was that research on excess in vitro human embryos was acceptable, but generating new human embryos expressly for research was not. When mammalian cloning and human stem cells were described in 1997 and 1998, respectively, it became clear that patient-customized stem cells could be produced by creating clonal embryos using the patient's nuclei. The consensus rapidly changed to one where the production of human embryos for research was now acceptable. A transitional moral position, still in effect in some quarters, is that a clonal embryo is not a "real" embryo, since it is unlikely to develop into a healthy human. This transition in morality was brought about by new technologies, with their attendant scientific, medical and professional opportunities.--StN 02:58, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
StN, I know all that. In a rush, I didn't formulate my question properly. However, due to Metamagician's comments, I've been convinced that this sub-title is appropriate. --Loremaster 15:55, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

About the Master race argument

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 re-read the book to see if I can quote something cognent as a response. --Loremaster 19:37, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

I've decided to tweak the argument a bit and leave it without a response. --Loremaster 19:09, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Loremaster, by putting the argument that elective eugenics doesn't solve the problem ahead of the description of elective eugenics itself, the impression is given that the transhumanist scenario is a response to the Annas argument. It isn't. Why couldn't you just leave it as you said you would above? There is no requirement to imply that there are no loose ends. here you are are imposing your viewpoint. If you had actually found a good argument responsive to Anaas, that would have been a different matter, but you haven't.--StN 03:23, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Are you sure it wasn't me who did what you're objecting to? I've generally been trying to consolidate positions rather than having back and forth, but can't remember what I may have done here.

Anyway, I am going to be travelling around the countryside for the next two or three weeks, so I won't be here much from now on until some time well into July. I still don't know what to do with this "loose ends" issue. I think I now understand more about where you both are coming from, after yesterday's discussion. I can't respond in detail to your points about that now, but thanks for explaining more about what you are trying to do.

My view is that no philosophical position at any given time will have a response for every nuance, argument, etc., put by anyone on the other "side" of a debate that often doesn't have just two sides, and it is unfair to expect it. We shouldn't be implying that there are no loose ends, but nor should we be implying that loose ends somehow undermine the whole thing. The idea is still just to summarise the main, notable lines of criticism and the main lines of response to date, rather than to try to establish the truth of who is right or even of exactly what the state of all these complex debates might be as of any precise time. New stuff is constantly being published. Often the thinkers concerned will be talking past each other, using different language, or not taking aspects of each other's views seriously because of fundamentally different values or empirical beliefs. Without getting too far into original research, maybe we should point this out somewhere as a generalisation. Metamagician3000 04:31, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

No, Metamagician consolidated the Giesen argument into an earlier part of Gattaca, which I had no objection to. Loremaster consolidated the Annas argument to an earlier part of Eugenics Wars, which made no sense to me. I restored it to an earlier version which he expressed satisfaction with previously. I think it was much better.--StN 05:16, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Metamagician. See my comments in the sub-section below. --Loremaster 16:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
Surely, somebody out there has to have made the generalization of which Metamagician spoke and said it in a reputable, academic environment. All we have to do is find that person and honor them with a footnote! Anville 19:57, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
No offense but are you arguing that we should be quoting some academic simply to say that academics often disagree? --Loremaster 20:01, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have inserted an emoticon or two, indicating that I consider the proposition intrinsically humorous (albeit tinged with validity). The statement "academics often disagree" is, I would argue, the sort of common knowledge which even the Wikipedia does not need to footnote. Here, however, it is the mode of disagreement which I find interesting. Historians, theoretical physicists and futurists do not disagree in the same ways, and I am curious to see what has been written about the general trends of H+/non-H+ argument. Anville 20:11, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
Understood. ;) --Loremaster 00:54, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Eugenics Wars argument

I've renamed the argument about eugenics back to its original name, Eugenics Wars argument, and changed the sub-title to "genetic class warfare". I think this preserves that pattern we have set of naming arguments after relevant books or movies and I've just discovered the Eugenics Wars isn't just a backstory in the Star Trek universe but also the name of a series of books.

Following Anville's suggestion, I've consolidated the first and third paragraph of this section. This was also done because the first paragraph no longer had references. --Loremaster 22:03, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

I've now edited the Eugenics Wars counter-argument to respond to both the argument and "counter-counter-argument" which I have consolidated together. The following is my one of sources: From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, a book written by four of America's leading bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler. I regret not having been able to do it sooner. --Loremaster 16:14, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, this is not legitimate. Metamagician was making a general statement, not agreeing with you on the specific rearrangement of the Eugenics Wars section. It is still illogical to place the the critique of elective eugenics before the description of the distinction between coercive and elective eugenics. The critique loses its force in this arrangement, since the impression is given that the distinction satisfies it. Are you taking it upon yourself to be the final arbiter of this point? This is not in the spirit of the Wikipedia editing process, since there is no consensus among the regular contributors that the consolidated argument addresses the social division question brought up by Annas, but also other writers, such as Lee Silver. You have reverted my changes several times, and the new citation you added does not speak to my argument.--StN 17:30, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
1. I know that Metamagician was making a general statement, which I agree with, and that the specific rearrangement of the Eugentics Wars section is a different issue.
2. As Anville explained, whether an argument is "responsive to the ones already there" is necessarily a judgment call. Policy dictates that the Wikipedia is not the place to resolve such a dispute.
3. The From Chance to Choice argument does respond to the critique of elective eugenics since it is a middle ground between coercive eugenics and purely elective eugenics.
4. Please don't lecture us about the Wikipedia spirit when you have taken upon yourself to add contentious material in the Transhumanism article without discussing it on the Talk page first.
5. I am confused. Are you or are not bowing out of editing this article?
--Loremaster 18:44, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I did intend to bow out of editing it for a while, until you took it upon yourself to reverse changes you had said you already agreed to, such as leaving the Eugenics Wars arguments and counter-arguments in a logical order. So you have abused my concession for the sake of reducing conflict and are really not playing fair with this. In any case, the From Chance to Choice argument represents no middle ground between between a future society divided between genetic haves and have nots because of enhancement technologies, and one that is not so divided. All you cite them for is in relation to the distinction between coercive and elective eugenics. Even if they represent, as you state, a middle ground in this respect, it has no bearing on the argument that social divisions could arise from one, the other, or anything in between. So you have evidently misunderstood my point, or have just chosen not to address it.
Moreover, there are no editors on this or any other controversial article that are not informed by their distinct viewpoints in what to put in or leave out, or the order in which to present things, yourself included. The hope is that by extending mutual respect to the different views, an objective and balanced overall presentation can be achieved. I have not put in contentious material, I have just put in what people have said in criticism of the transhumanist program. Since much of this is speculation about what might happen in the future, there is no absolute way of "sticking to the facts." In the case of much the material you have introduced, the "objective facts" are the great things the WTA says are in store for us. In my case, it has been what critics who call these scenarios into question have said. You are again being disingenuous to say that since WTA is the transhumanist "mainstream" they deserve the last word on everything. As we have seen, even the order in which the same things are presented is subject to a point of view. To not acknowledge that this is a delicate matter is just being manipulative. I don't know why your point of view on the order of presentation of these items should prevail. No other editor has agreed with you, yet, that yours is the right choice. It is obvious that you are trying to keep the social division argument from getting the last word in this section, and it's obvious why. This is not a matter of "fact". It's a matter of what might happen in the future according to critics like Annas, or even supporters of "reprogenetics" such as Silver. You can get away with this if I just get tired of correcting your mis-emphasis, but you are doing no service to readers of the article by these ploys.--StN 20:32, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
1. I consolidated the Eugenics Wars argument and your previous counter-counter-argument because it could be legitimately argued that the transhumanist counter-argument followed by the From Chance to Choice counter-argument now respond to the critique of purely elective eugenics. However, even if it didn't, it doesn't have to. Look at all the other counter-arguments in the Criticisms section.
2. Although you are correct that editors are always informed by their distinct POV, your bias is so extreme that it should disqualify you from editing the article. You have often phrased the argument of prominent critics to not only reflect your stated point of view but also sometimes make them say things that they did not.
3. I haven't argue that because the WTA is the transhumanist mainstream that they deserve the last word! I was giving the last word to America's four leading bioethicists. My next edit will make this more clear.
4. Like Metamagician and Anville have explained, we should provide a summary of the various arguments against transhumanism on a specific topic and then provide of a summary of the transhumanist counter-argument. Counter-counter-arguments open the door to counter-counter-counter-arguments ad infinitum.
5. As for Lee Silver's argument, I have no problem with it being added to the Gattaca argument where it would more appropriate for it to be since it focuses on the biotech divide. see my comments below.
--Loremaster 23:11, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

From Chance to Choice

Finally a relevant argument! Not too persuasive as far as I am concerned, and a bit clumsily stated, but at least it's responsive to the social divisiveness question. Much better than petulantly reverting to a non sequitur. Bravo!--StN 00:28, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

There was no petulance on my part. The problem is that the previous version of this section did not expand on what is meant by egalitarian liberal eugenics. I wanted to do this all along but I didn't have access to good sources yet. As for the non sequitur, although I would prefer that they do, counter-arguments do not need to respond to every specific critique contained in the argument it follows. --Loremaster 00:50, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Lee Silver's argument

StN added the following "counter-counter-argument" in the Eugenics Wars section: 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" in a society in which social democratic reforms lag behind implementation of enhancement technologies.

I've consolidated part of this text with the initial argument: While some 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 problematic in a society in which social democratic reforms lag behind implementation of enhancement technologies. In particular, in their view, it could present unprecedented challenges to democratic governance, even if it came about as the cumulative result of individual choices. --Loremaster 19:29, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

I've moved the entire text of Lee Silver's argument to the Gattaca argument and restored the initial Eugenics Wars argument to the previous version. --Loremaster 23:12, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I would like to add that I think the Gattaca argument is essentially about the dark side of liberal eugenics while the Eugenics Wars argument is about the specter of coercive eugenics and violent conflict. The arguments and counter-arguments should therefore reflect this in order to avoid the two sections needlessly overlapping. --Loremaster 23:30, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
I've edited the Eugenics Wars argument to reflect this reasoning. I think it is now a solid and forceful argument ending with a devastating line. --Loremaster 00:31, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

About Bordo

StN recently added the following text to the History section of the article (which I deleted): A different view of contemporary impulses to remake the human body is provided by the feminist philosopher Susan Bordo, who characterizes them as "the logical (if extreme) manifestations of anxieties and fantasies fostered by our culture”.

Since this section is about explaining the history of the transhumanist movement, this just isn't the place to present these kinds of criticisms. Expanding this section with material provided by Natasha Vita-More's work CREATE/RECREATE, which document the topic in question, take precendence over lame attempts to discredit transhumanism. --Loremaster 19:38, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

That being said, the Bordo material could be added to the Gattaca argument in relation to consumerism. --Loremaster 19:40, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Why is this a lame attempt to discredit transhumanism? Tying the impulse to transform the body to the heroic myths of ancient religions, as Bostrom does, is no more about the history of transhumanism than are Bordo's observations on contemporary society. She is not talking about transhumanism per se, but about about the culture that has engendered these impulses. This is highly appropriate to the history of modern transhumanism.
In the introduction to this article mention is made of Fukuyama's characterization of transhumanism as the world's most dangerous idea. Readers of the article, including readers of the history section, should see why some reasonable people believe this. If the history section relates transhumanism solely to the Renaissance ideal, it is a biased history. (Note to Loremaster: this is not a basis for removing Fukuyama!)
The history section of an article on a social movement, such as transhumanism, should not just be the history as seen by advocates of the movement, even if they are prominent in, and representative of, the movement. The history should also reflect the broader context of the movement as seen by thinkers who might not be in sympathy with it.
Loremaster, since you removed a legitimate item of social history, it is incumbent on you to justify it, or put it back. Not "I disagree" plus some ad hominem comments.--StN 20:09, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
If there are no good reasons provided to eliminate the cultural context provided by the Bordo quote, I will put it back, in some form, in the history section. If it is then removed again because of supposed lack of relevance to the modern transhumanist movement, so should the references to ancient mythology, Condorcet, etc. Julian Huxley can stay, since he originated the term. Haldane is questionable.--StN 20:24, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
The lead of the article is an overview of the article with touches on the criticisms section by specifically mentioning Fukyuma's opinion (FYI I wouldn't remove the mention of Fukuyama since I was the one who fought to keep it in!). This isn't the same thing as a History section which focuses on the history of the transhumanist movement. Although you are correct that the history section of transhumanism should not only be history as seen by advocates of the movement, I think we should cite independent historians which have documented the history of the transhumanist movement rather trying to link comments made by some academic on contempary society with transhumanism when said academic was not talking about transhumanism. That being said, I've deleted the mention of ancient mythology and Benjamin Franklin but I've left the mention of the Renaissance, the Enlightnenment, Condorcet and Haldane since they are highly appropriate. Let's not forget that the Renaissance and the Enlightement are often accused of being the sources of modern positivism and scientism so I don't think it's entirely a good thing for transhumanists to claim roots in those cultural movements. --Loremaster 22:55, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough, but I think Bordo's views should have a place here. They are deeper and more comprehensive, in my opinion, than the critique of consumerism. Indeed, they address something about our culture that may be at the source of consumerism. Moreover, placing a sentence about her in the Gattaca section wouldn't do justice to her views, which are not primarily about inequality or unequal access. I won't propose another crticism subsection, since there are already a lot of them, but the flight from carnality (supply an appropriate fictional work: Peter Pan?), is a characteristic of transhumanism (in the broad sense) that has attracted critics but is nowhere to be found in this article.--StN 23:32, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Let me think about it more before we proceed with including this critique in the article. Off -topic question: Have you read the entire NBIC report? If not, you should. --Loremaster 06:33, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
I think any critique section that mentions Bordo should also include Midgley and Hayles.--StN 17:32, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
I read the NBIC report when it originally appeared a few years ago. I was struck by the emphasis on military applications and the rationalization of the worker-machine interface. Of course there are many other things there, some positive in my view, but frankly this report provides a major backdrop to my views on transhumanism, including the liberal form. What are you seeing there that I may have missed?--StN 17:27, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Only that we haven't touched upon the military applications and consequences of human enhancement technologies. --Loremaster 21:24, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree that this is important, but I don't know of any writings on it.--StN 23:37, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
If we do find some, we should mention them in the Terminator argument section. That being said, the text on the NBIC report that you added to the Theory and Practice section is perfect. We should have added it a long time ago. --Loremaster 16:53, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
By all means add the CREATE/RECREATE material.--StN 21:00, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Further reading

Could someone supply a list of prominent papers and books on the subject for those who are interested? --Oldak Quill 15:55, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Many relevant sources are listed in the References and cited throughout the article.--StN 15:57, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
You're right. I've just finished reading the article and it's scattered with further reading. --Oldak Quill 20:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
The Transhumanist Resources pages on the WTA website might also be a good source. --Loremaster 16:00, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Non-Local Memory!

The memory (stored data) ISN'T local, but NON-LOCAL. That is simply a fact ! How can any real futurist think that the brain is some 'hard drive' (?), when it is a sort of 'antenna' (plus 'processor' of information, but stored elsewhere)... Refer to work of Rupert Sheldrake, and the theory of morphic fields. Even in Vedas, 5000 yrs ago, were mentioned 'Akashic Records' (actually morphic fields of an individuals' past) as something non-local (to brain), being a sort of cosmic 'library'. Also, many other scientists are aware of the NON-LOCAL nature of memories, eg. Nikola Tesla, who gave the AC electricity to the world (and opened the doors to 'modern age') knew a whole century ago, that brain is just a sort of antenna to somewhere else where these data are actually stored. Plus, if there was any physical traces of data IN the brain, it would have been already detected with some nano-hi-tech equipment, but of course weren't since data are simply NOT IN THE BRAIN. greetings 20:59, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Putting aside the fact that your views regarding memory are pseudo-scientific and not widely held by members of the scientific community or the public at large, where exactly in the Transhumanism article does it state that memory is something local and material? --Loremaster 21:04, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Look at the Primo_Posthuman picture, and you'll see the brain depicted as Data memory STORAGE (!?) system! Absolutely wrong and even ridiculous... Data are NOT stored in the brain. Brain is a 'processor' and an 'antenna', but NOT a 'storage'. Of course the greedy capitalistic demons will try to maintain that erroneous idea of brain-as-a-storage, since the idea of sharing (the experience-memories) is so alien to them. Not only personal memory-experience is non-local (stored in some 'fields'/'hyperplanes'/'records_in_UNIVERSAL_database') but all the cosmic experience (including personal). And not only mental, but all the organic experience as well. Genes are only 'keys' to unlock some information from this (non-local) database (fields/hyperplanes), ie. non-locally stored. Genes are NOT information themselves. 21:41, 12 July 2006 (UTC) greetings
Please read the Pseudoscience article. --Loremaster 13:58, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
The thing is that this view of 'memories-IN-the-brain' is what is pseudo! Science DIDN'T find any physical traces of memories IN the brain and will never find them, so how can a view that is based on memories being STORED IN the brain be non-pseudo, and something that doesn't contradict the reality (since reality is that they are NOT found IN the brain) be 'pseudo'(?)... 17:35, 13 July 2006 (UTC) greetings
This talk page is not the place to debate the merits or flaws of your views on memory. Please stop it or you will be reported to an administrator. --Loremaster 18:49, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
This talk page does not contain information! The letters you see here are only antennas to a hyperspatial flux-manifold where the real information lives. Your naïve belief that the Wikipedia contains information is only pseudoscience!!
Sorry. I couldn't resist. Anville 20:34, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
You're right, wikipedia doesn't contain 'information', but CODED information. The words you read are not information itself, but certain 'code'. And what comes as a result of your brain's processing is - information. So what you said yourself really was - pseudoscience (but I never said I believe that in the first place). And that again has nothing to do with the fact that brain itself is not a storage of any kind since the memories (some coded information that after decoding represents what we perceive as memories) are NON-LOCAL, not IN (or 'on') the brain. Brain is not (functionally) a HDD, but an 'antenna'. The 'storage' where the coded memories are is non-local (it is everywhere and nowhere), like quanta (from quantum physics) are also non-local (quantum nonlocality). 09:24, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
This talk page is not the place to debate the merits or flaws of your views on memory or information. It is for discussing changes to the Transhumanism article. Since memory is not the major or minor focus of this article, your criticism is irrelevant. --Loremaster 14:51, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Ok. I hope there won't be any more vicious comments needing my reply... 18:28, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Transhumanist Art Manifesto

I don't see emphasis about the Transhumanist Art Statement manifesto which had critical impact on how transhumanism was expressed in the 1980's. It should be included since it written about in Wired and covered at the London Museum of Contemporary Art. It is also in a collection of earthly artifacts on the ESA space probe to Saturn. (Impressive). Christopher Sherman

The Transhumanist Art Statement is mentioned in the last sentence of the fourth paragraph of the History section. However, I have no problem with someone emphasing its importance. We could also work it in the Fiction and Art section. --Loremaster 02:53, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
The link is missing within the article. Here it is for you I noticed that a link is missing from the Transhuman UPdate as well. This is not a very good link, but it authenticates the show and perhaps I can ask my webmaster to fine tune that page. Thank you. Natasha Vita-More
The first link you mention is in the Reference section. However, we should include the second one that is missing. --Loremaster 22:24, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Nice and bizarre

"Body Modification's Role in the Coming Human-Robot Apocalypse". Going one toke over the line God did not intend Man to cross. I found this via Crank Dot Net, quite an enjoyable little site. Anville 21:25, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Anville, since this is the talk page for discussing changes to the Transhumanism article, did you think this article on body modification could be cited as a source or did you simply want to discuss the content of the article itself? If it is the latter, this isn't the right place. --Loremaster 22:10, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for this link, Anville. While the material there is not ready for prime time in the TH article, it provides food for thought concerning possible future tweaks.--StN 16:52, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
Having now read it, I agree. --Loremaster 17:01, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
Thank you; I appreciate your responses. (I'm sure the sum total of the irrelevant things I've said in improper venues pushes the limits of what surreal number theory can enumerate.) I'd also like to express my esteem for the people who pushed this article to FA and, to the best of my knowledge, didn't explode with anger when the Main Page exposure brought along the inevitable vandalism. You people do good work. What's next? Anville 19:27, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, before moving to a new article such as Posthumanism, I think we still need to 1) summarize and mention Natasha Vita-More's book CREATE/RECREATE in the History section; 2) mention Robert A. Heinlein's work in the Fiction and Art section; 3) mention Omega point (Tipler) in the Spirituality section; 4) expand the Enough counter-argument using Ron Bailey's Reason article and some other source; and 5) find appropropriate images for various sections of the Transhumanism article to make it look as esthetically stimulating as it used to be before it was a featured article. --Loremaster 20:12, 8 June 2006 (UTC)
3 and 4 have been done. Can someone work on the rest? --Loremaster 17:28, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Relevant for overall "Criticisms" introduction

Quoting David Brin:

Depending on whatever decade you happen to live in, techno-transcendentalism has shifted from one fad to another, pinning fervent hopes upon the scientific flavor of the week. For example, a hundred years ago, Marxists and Freudians wove compelling models of human society — or mind — predicting that rational application of these models and rules would result in far higher levels of general happiness. Subsequently, with popular news about advances in agriculture and evolutionary biology, some groups grew captivated by eugenics — the allure of improving the human animal. On occasion, misguided and even horrendous undertakings prompted widespread revulsion. Yet, this recurring dream has lately revived in new forms, with the promise of genetic engineering and neurotechnology.
Enthusiasts for nuclear power in the 1950's promised energy too cheap to meter. Some of the same passion was seen in a widespread enthusiasm for space colonies, in the 1970's and 80's, and in today's ongoing cyber-transcendentalism, which promises ultimate freedom and privacy for everyone, if only we just start encrypting every Internet message, using anonymity online to perfectly mask the frail beings who are typing at a real keyboard. Over the long run, some hold out hope that human minds will be able to download into computers or the vast new frontier of mid-21st Century cyberspace, freeing individuals of any remaining slavery to our crude and fallible organic bodies.
This long tradition — of bright people pouring faith and enthusiasm into transcendental dreams — eerily resembling the way previous generations clasped salvation tales that were more religious or magical. This recurring theme tells us a lot about one aspect of our nature, a trait that crosses all cultures and all centuries. Are techno-transcendentalists really all that different, deep-down, than Saint Francis or Buddha — or kabbalist rabbis — vesting what amounts to sacred devotion upon unproved assumptions, almost as articles of trascendant faith?

From "Singularities and Nightmares: The Range of Our Futures", quoted in Contrary Brin. Such sayings might give perspective to the "Futurehype" section, it seems to me, while the comparision between "techno-transcendentalists" and religious figures may illuminate the "Playing God" section as well. Again, just thoughts. Anville 20:08, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Good stuff. Although it's the classic argument against transhumanism, a summary of Brin's argument could and should be added to the Futurehype argument only as as long we respect the fact that transhumanists have a reply to this criticism. ;) --Loremaster 20:23, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Fair warning: reading the whole thing — at forty-nine cents, buying the essay strains my budget mightily — puts the freely available passage quoted here in a (perhaps somewhat surprising) context. Anville 20:41, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
It could be argued that the difference between "techno-transcendentalists" and organized transhumanists is that the former simply indulge in enthusiasm while the latter want to build a grassroots demand for research and public financing of technologies that they believe could improve quality of life. --Loremaster 16:06, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, Brin completely disqualified himself already by advocating a transparent society, derogatorily denoted Brinworld since.

It is comforting to know that a concept can still be demeaned via the simple act of giving it a name. It is also comforting to learn that we have a two-syllable expression standing for a society based upon reciprocal accountability and the belief that the Enlightenment was not a fever dream. Anville 20:28, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Depending on whatever decade you happen to live in, techno-

It's good he doesn't say century, or millenium.

transcendentalism has shifted from one fad to another, pinning fervent hopes upon the scientific flavor of the week. For example, a hundred years ago, Marxists and Freudians wove compelling models of human

Excuse me? He claims Marxists and Freudians were technologists?

Would "sciento-transcendentalism" be a better word? Does that kind of hair-splitting matter? Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

society — or mind — predicting that rational application of these models and rules would result in far higher levels of general happiness. Subsequently, with popular news about advances in

As in "I think something better, and by thinking alone it will become better" is silly?

No shit, Sherlock.

Please. Civility matters in a civilization. Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

agriculture and evolutionary biology, some groups grew captivated by eugenics — the allure of improving the human animal. On occasion, misguided and even horrendous undertakings prompted widespread revulsion. Yet, this recurring dream has lately revived in new forms, with the promise of genetic engineering and neurotechnology.

So basically he claims 1) humans can't be improved by a change, being basically perfect 2) genetic energineering and neurotechnology can't change the human primate, or can't change the human primate for the better.

I am not clear where the "being basically perfect" part comes from. Furthermore, I don't see how a statement that technique X failed in the past automatically implies that technique Y (which vaguely resembles X) is guaranteed to fail in the future. Also, I wonder if it is possible to distinguish a claim advanced in one part of an essay, say a three-paragraph segment quoted to establish the general topic, with the final conclusion said essay reaches. No, that would require reading the entire essay. Quickly, then, I note that page 20 of said essay states, "Having said all the above, let me hasten to add that I believe in the high likelihood of a coming singularity!" Anville 20:28, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Enthusiasts for nuclear power in the 1950's promised energy too cheap to meter. Some of the same passion was seen in a widespread enthusiasm for space colonies, in the 1970's and 80's, and in today's ongoing

So he's looking at the past to predict the future. Uh, er, am I the only one to see a tiny little problem there?

Yes, "history is bunk," according to Henry Ford. Do you wish to suggest that no events in the past have any relevance for our state in the present or what may plausibly happen in the future? This is such a baldly absurd claim that I find it difficult to believe anyone can propose it seriously. Applying this idea consistently leads to the conclusion that human nature changes completely every passing instant, which is just not tenable. Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

cyber-transcendentalism, which promises ultimate freedom and privacy for everyone, if only we just start encrypting every Internet message, using anonymity online to perfectly mask the frail beings who are typing at a real keyboard. Over the long run, some hold out hope that

Ah, this from a man that thinks we should abolish privacy, and exects that powers to be will cede that secrecy willingly. As opposed to legislation protecting exercising technical means of privacy. From a man who received a sound beating on the cypherpunks and cryptography list, and who retreated sulking.

"With so many identification methodologies working independently and in parallel, our children may find the word "anonymous" impossibly quaint, perhaps even incomprehensible. But that needn't mean an end to freedom — or even privacy. Although it will undoubtedly mean a redefinition of what we think privacy means." [1]  :"Every device or function that's been described here serves to enhance some human sensory capability, from sight and hearing to memory. And while some may fret and fume, there is no historical precedent for a civilization refusing such prosthetics when they become available. Such trends cannot be boiled down to a simple matter of good news or bad. While technologies of distributed vision may soon empower common folk in dramatic ways, giving a boost to participatory democracy by highly informed citizens, you will not hear that side of the message from most pundits, who habitually portray the very same technologies in a darker light, predicting that machines are about to destroy privacy, undermine values and ultimately enslave us." [2]
Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

human minds will be able to download into computers or the vast new frontier of mid-21st Century cyberspace, freeing individuals of any remaining slavery to our crude and fallible organic bodies.

A yet another strawman.

People really do claim this, y'know. An extreme case of a legitimate argument is not the same thing as a strawman. Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

This long tradition — of bright people pouring faith and enthusiasm into transcendental dreams — eerily resembling the way previous generations clasped salvation tales that were more religious or magical. This recurring theme tells us a lot about one aspect of our

Do you think human embryo cryopreservation is a) fantasy b) has been made possible by the Linde process, and would have remained a) until technology made it possible?

What works and what doesn't depends upon scientific facts and our technological abilities. Why we decide to work upon certain things is a question of human nature. It's a complicated question whose answers spiral out into vagaries and seeming paradoxes. Technological and scientific inspiration can come from so many different sources: Kekule saw the structure of benzene in a dream, Alfred Russel Wallace thought of natural selection in a feverish delirium, and Francis Crick might have been dropping acid while he and Watson tried to figure out DNA. In the end, the routes they took and the drives which pushed them to their discoveries don't matter compared to the verifiable truth of those discoveries. But if we wish to understand how science happens, how can we neglect the human drives which make the scientific world go round? Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

nature, a trait that crosses all cultures and all centuries. Are techno-transcendentalists really all that different, deep-down, than Saint Francis or Buddha — or kabbalist rabbis — vesting what amounts to sacred devotion upon unproved assumptions, almost as articles of trascendant faith?

A mere scientifically ignorant writerling has the nerve to write this? Granted, people write dumb shit all the time, but are we required to have this steaming pile to be paraded in front of our noses on finest china?

I feel cheap saying something so obvious, but Brin has a bachelor's degree from Caltech, a master's from University of California, San Diego and a Ph.D. also from UCSD. [3] Anville 19:49, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

About the Criticisms section

Beyond expanding the Frankenstein counter-argument to address some of the issues raised by StN, I am now safistified with the current version of the Criticisms section of the Transhumanism article and don't plan to edit it in any significant manner for the foreseeable future. --Loremaster 17:56, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

With the recent addition of the Peter Pan argument, I think this Criticisms section of the Transhumanism article is quite full and I would tend to be opposed to having other arguments added. However, I welcome the improvement and slight expansion of the existing arguments and counter-arguments. --Loremaster 17:21, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Peter Pan argument?

As mentioned in earlier discussions, the following argument should appear in this article: Critics such as Susan Bordo, N. Katherine Hayles, and Mary Midgley write of a culture that fears mortality and, in its extreme, is revulsed by the carnal. Transhumanism, though not a named target of these critics, can be considered, in some of its forms, to be an expression of what such critics see as fantasies of eternal youth and bodily perfection.--StN 15:54, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I have no problem with this argument being added. If I find one, I'll post a counter-argument eventually. If not, so be it. --Loremaster 18:30, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
The word "fantasies" needs to be replaced with "unrealistic hopes". --Loremaster 20:28, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
'Fantasies" was used by both Midgley and Bordo, as per the direct quotes from them. Although the language is strong, it does represent scholarly opinion.--StN 15:49, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
The opinion of two scholars you mean... --Loremaster 15:58, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

As a transhumanist, I think humans who wish to be humans forever (not growing up to become posthumans) are the ones with "Peter Pan syndrome". Yudkowsky writes in Fun Theory? "Right now, we are each of us growing old. Not growing up, growing old. -- The fear of growing up is the third major cause of the fear of living forever; after the repressed fear of death, and the fear of boredom. In our time the fear of growing up is actually a minor academic fad except that it is not called the fear of growing up. It is called the fear of posthumanity."

Interesting take. The more one reads the Peter Pan argument the more flaws one see in it including the title. I'll add a brief counter-argument now and provide references as soon as possible. --Loremaster 14:00, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I indicated where references are need before seeing this. I won't object if you want to remove the markers in the interim.--StN 15:49, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Everyone should feel free to improve both the Peter Pan argument and counter-argument. --Loremaster 14:42, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Speaking of Peter Pan, maybe Edward Scissorhands should be mentioned somewhere. Edward is clearly a kind of modern, transhumanistic Frankenstein's monster: immortal, scissors as hands, feared by normal mortals - but actually just a childlike android who wants to make beautiful sculptures.

I think this is a huge stretch and would opposed to this film or character being mentionned in the article. However, it someone build a convincing case, I thinks it only deserves to be mentioned in the Transhumanism in fiction article. --Loremaster 19:43, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Loremaster placed the follwoing passage in the article:

"While pointing out that Peter Pan is a boy who doesn't want to grow up, not one who doesn't want to die, transhumanists explain that they are interested in radical life extension not perpetual immaturity."

I think "explain" (also used earlier on, but since changed), makes the article sound like the authors are taking issue with the criticisms on behalf of the transhumanist position. "Assert", "point out", etc. are better in such cases. Also, it seems to me that the writings of some transhumanists (Natasha Vita-More, perhaps?) express the desire not to die. This is a natural impulse, as pointed out by Nick Bostrom, below, but in some hands it becomes a element of the TH program. Concerning not wanting to grow up -- certainly transhumanists have promoted perpetual youth, in a physical and cosmetic sense, as a goal. Since even Peter Pan himself would not reject learning from experience, "not wanting to grow up" is bit more nuanced than simply wanting to remain a child. Peter Pan is not such a bad objective correlative for this impulse, and Loremaster's sentence isn't entirely fair.--StN 16:05, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

1. I appreciate you improving my wording since it I was aware that it might give the impression that I was taking issue with the criticisms on behalf of the transhumanist position.
2. No one disputes that the desire not to die is an element of the TH program. The issue if whether or not this desire can be linked to notion of perpetual immaturity embodied in Peter Pan.
3. Perpetual youth (which is a transhumanist goal) and not wanting to grow up or wanting to remain a child is obviously not the same desire. Also, a person can appreciate learning from experience and still not want to grow up to become a mature adult with responsibilities.
4. Personally, I think we need a better objective correlative than Peter Pan for this argument to be taken seriously. However, I wouldn't have a problem keeping this one if we don't find an alternative.
--Loremaster 16:25, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I wonder if it is really important to focus on how transhumanism differs from Peter Pan, per se (e.g., in his not wanting to grow up). The titles of these sections are just meant to be suggestive, not literal. If it is considered desirable to present a defense of TH against presumed accusations of lack of gravitas, doing it specifically in relation to the fictional character seems to be misdirected.--StN 18:34, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Fine. --Loremaster 19:36, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
We need a reference and/or citation for the Peter Pan counter-argument. We could use Nick Bostrom again but some other transhumanist would be even better. --Loremaster 00:03, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Reply by Nick Bostrom

The following is the content from a forwarded email by Nick Bostrom:

There is a grain of truth in that. One does indeed come across "self-indulgent, uncontrolled power-fantasies" within the transhumanist community from time to time. But to limit one's assessment of transhumanism to this observation would be to miss the point. One might as well dismiss the idea that we have an obligation to help the poor or to save the environment on grounds that some of the people involved in these pursuits have been motivated by vanity or bigotry (or fear of castration, or whatever).

I was referring approximately to such views in the following passage from the Fable:

Sages predicted that a day would come when technology would enable humans to fly and do many other astonishing things. One of the sages, who was held in high esteem by some of the other sages but whose eccentric manners had made him a social outcast and recluse, went so far as to predict that technology would eventually make it possible to build a contraption that could kill the dragon-tyrant.

The king’s scholars, however, dismissed these ideas. They said that humans were far too heavy to fly and in any case lacked feathers. And as for the impossible notion that the dragon-tyrant could be killed, history books recounted hundreds of attempts to do just that, not one of which had been successful. “We all know that this man had some irresponsible ideas,” a scholar of letters later wrote in his obituary of the reclusive sage who had by then been sent off to be devoured by the beast whose demise he had foretold, “but his writings were quite entertaining and perhaps we should be grateful to the dragon for making possible the interesting genre of dragon-bashing literature which reveals so much about the culture of angst!”

I would also note that there is nothing particularly contemporary about desire to defeat death and remain young forever. It is a recurring theme in many different cultures, and can be traced back at least to the Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 1700 BC). I would hazard the guess that it is rather more culturally, temporally, and demographically universal than feminist philosophy. Not that the two are incompatible - see e.g. the Canadian philosopher Christine Overall's recent work on life-extension from a feminist perspective.

Finally, the transhumanist goal is not exactly to live forever or to remain young forever. Rather, it is that men and women ought to have access to technologies enabling them to stay healthy and vigorous for as long as they find their lives worth living. Transhumanists think that what matters is not how many years have lapsed since the day you were born, but rather what quality of life you are able to look forward to. Preferring life to death, health to sickness, intact well-functioning cancer-free cells to ones that have accumulated junk and dangerous mutations - this is not an attitude that cries out for some deep psychoanalytic or cultural explanation. What is puzzling to me, rather, is that so many people feel compelled to make up reasons for thinking that aging, disease, and death are somehow beneficial things, especially as these same people usually are in favor of medical research and of access to health care for people of all ages. Why not drop the pretense? - Nick Bostrom

--Loremaster 15:44, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I removed the following sentence as it makes a controversial claim without attributing it to anyone: "The desire to remain young forever, embodied in the character Peter Pan in J. M. Barrie’s 1911 novel Peter and Wendy, is reflected in contemporary yearnings to remake and perfect the human body, of which some claim that transhumanism is a theoretically motivated example."
If someone wants to put it back it should be with attribution so readers can see that it is the view of Bordo or Midgely, or whomever, not that of Wikipedia. I fail to see how the desire to stay young (as in staying at the peak of your adult powers) has anything to with not wanting to grow up, and thus always be a child, far from having adult powers (muscular, cognitive, sexual, etc.). So if Bordo or someone has, indeed, said this it is going way out on a limb. Metamagician3000 10:20, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
I have no problem with this sentence being removed. However, if it is never put back (with an attribution), we may have to change the title of the argument to something other than Peter Pan. --Loremaster 14:57, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
I've found of way of preserving Peter Pan as the title of the argument by mentioning the character in the counter-argument. --Loremaster 17:18, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Eugenics Wars argument

I don't see any mention of "Eugenics Wars" in the cited references. Could more specific citations be provided to support the assertions made in that section? -Will Beback 21:29, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Although the Eugenics Wars counter-argument is well-referenced, I do agree that some of the claims made in the argument itself do not have specific citations to support them. We need to work on that. --Loremaster 21:49, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't see the references for it. The references that are cited don't mention "Eugenics Wars". Over in Eugenics Wars it is claimed that this is a common argument, but there isn't even a single instance of it. Let's see what we can fix, and what isn't sourceable should be removed. -Will Beback 23:57, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Will, you seem to not understand something about the Transhumanism article. StN explained in in the past that "As we note in the introduction to the Criticisms section, the various literary works and films *themselves* represent critiques of transhumanism. While these obviously do not take the form of "arguments", they reflect, and are reflected, in arguments made by others. It is not new research to assert, for example, that the genetically divided world portrayed in Gattaca is the kind of dystopic future contemplated by Bill McKibben and James Hughes (though they come to different conclusions about it). In other contexts, people are said to make "slippery slope" arguments even though they don't use the actual words "slippery slope."
In other words, it isn't necessary for any of the references to mention "Eugenics Wars". As for the claim made in the Eugenics Wars article, I've deleted it.
So what we need to determine is whether or not George Annas and/or Lori Andrews 1) allege social bias in the use of concepts such as "limitations", "enhancement", and "improvement."; 2) see the coercive eugenics, social Darwinist and master race ideologies and programs of the past as warnings of what eugenic enhancement technologies might unintentionally encourage; 3) argue that the social stratification that may result from elective eugenics could present unprecedented challenges to democratic governance; and 4) fear future genetic class warfare as the worst-case scenario. If they don't, we need to find new sources. --Loremaster 18:09, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Here's a 2001 speech by George Annas that contains a capsule summary of the arguments made in the article we cite. It expounds all the views attributed to transhumanism's critics in the "Eugenics Wars" section: --StN 02:19, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Perfect. Let's cite this source and add it to the References section. --Loremaster 02:31, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I think the sourcing can stay as is, since the more recent law review article, which also has Lori Andrews as an author, makes the same points. Citing the speech would be redundant. --StN 02:36, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
OK. --Loremaster 14:51, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps we should re-write the section to match the sources. To start with, the heading "Genetic genocide", used by one author, may be more appropriate than "Eugenics Wars", used by no authors. -Will Beback 04:20, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
As Loremaster mentioned, the structure of this Criticisms section is to use literary or other cutural touchstones for the section subheadings even though the critics themselves may not have mentioned the works in question. This goes for Gattaca, Peter Pan, Frankenstein, Playing God, and probably others. I don't see a big difference between the idea of genetic genocide and eugenics wars. They would only be different if it were assumed that there would be no resistance to such attempts at genocide.--StN 13:50, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Will, the reason why we named this argument "Eugenics Wars" is because unlike your proposed name, "Genetic genocide", there is a (Star Trek) science-fiction novel by that name which draws on concerns over eugenics, and its possible consequences for society. We've tried to name all the arguments in the Criticisms section after relatively popular books or movies which are known for having this characteristic. --Loremaster 15:07, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Brave New World, "equality", Fukuyama

The entry state that:

"In his book Our Posthuman Future and in a Foreign Policy magazine article,[1] political economist and philosopher Francis Fukuyama designates transhumanism as one of the world's most dangerous ideas because it may undermine the progressive ideals of liberal democracy, through a fundamental alteration of "human nature" and an erosion of human equality."

This should be reformulated. As the critics which immediately follow this paragraph makes clear, it is quite strange to read that Fukuyama, an ardent proponent of liberal democracy, defends this POV by the argument of an "erosion of human equality". Why? For the simple reason that Fukuyama, and any liberal, believes in de jure equality, not de facto equality. This is, of course, one of the main distinction between liberalism & socialism. Thus, why would "transhumanism" threatens de jure equality?

I hope this help understand why this paragraph is a bit meaningless, and should be changed. The current formulation might lead someone to the rather strange conclusion that Fukuyama is advocating socialism! And the critics that come immediately after are, in fact, true liberal critics, which Fukuyama should have endorsed. Fukuyama's argumentation must be different from the one explained hereby! Lapaz 15:12, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Although I think you may be misinterpreting this entry, feel free to improve the formulation of Fukuyama's Brave New World argument. --Loremaster 17:03, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
In response to Lapaz's argument I have removed the "equality" phrase from the description of Fukuyama's position. Society doesn't afford the same rights to all organisms. It is a matter of disagreement by how much genetic engineering can change human nature or species identity. If you agree with Fukuyama and Habermas, Bailey's response is not relevant. if you don't agree with them, then you might agree with Bailey. The new phrasing removes the logical problem Lapaz identified.--StN 00:35, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I've replaced the word "progressive" with "egalitarian". Does anyone have any objections? --Loremaster 18:03, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
This is fine with me.--StN 19:00, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Notes and References

Correct me if I wrong but it seems that the numeric order of the notes is completely out of whack. Can someone work on this? --Loremaster 22:06, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Enough argument

RevanX added the following sentence (in bold) in the Enough counter-argument:

Transhumanists and other supporters of technological alteration of human biology, such as science journalist Ronald Bailey, reject the claim that life would be experienced as meaningless in a world where some human limitations are overcome with such technologies. They suggest, for example, that a person with greater abilities would tackle more advanced and difficult projects and continue to find meaning in the struggle to achieve excellence. A simple example would illustrate their point. According to McKibben's argument, it seems a person's life would lose meaning if he or she chose to use a computer keyboard instead of a typewriter to produce the same document. The computer offers technological advances that obliterates limitations of the typewriter, it allows cut/copy/paste, and countless other enhancements. It would be irrational to conclude that using the computer eliminated the 'meanings' we gain from using a typewriter. In contrast, using the computer offers more flexbility of functions, and lead to more advanced challenges and goals. Bailey also claims that McKibben's historical examples are flawed, and support different conclusions when studied more closely.

Although StN removed it due to the sarcastic POV language, I think a more neutral version of this sentence should be added since I've always thought this counter-argument was quite thin. --Loremaster 17:12, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree with this. This counterargument was added either in bad faith or in ignorance of McKibben's position. McKibben does not object to all technologies. Since this article is about transhumanism the counterarguments should deal with modifications to the body, not e.g., central heating or the internet.--StN 03:07, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
It's an analogy. However, I agree with its deletion as it was unsourced. Metamagician3000 04:47, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't want to belabor this, Metamagician, but this kind of analogy simply holds McKibben's critique up to ridicule. It would be as if someone were to state, by way of analogy, in criticism of transhumanism, that if scientists were able to engineer us so that we could walk through walls, there would be a problem keeping prisoners incarcerated, and we may in fact be susceptible to falling through floors. I can find nothing in McKibben that suggests he is defending typewriters over computers.--StN 18:52, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Although I agree that RevanX's text should be deleted because it was sarcastic and unsourced, I don't think his analogy was in bad faith. First of all, it wasn't premised on the notion that McKibben objects to all technologies but rather it was a critique of the romanticization of a technological status quo. Second, on several occasions, I've heard famous writers specifically defend typewriters over computers in their version of an Enough argument. Third, as long as the counter-argument is fair and accurate, no argument is beyond ridicule. That being said, I do agree that it would be better to find counter-arguments, whether or not they are analogies, which are more relevant. --Loremaster 21:54, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I've expanded and improved the Enough counter-argument as much I think it needed to be. --Loremaster 22:34, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
They argue that although enhancement technologies may ease certain of life’s burdens they will not remove the bulk of the individual and social challenges humanity faces. They suggest, however, that a person with greater abilities would tackle more advanced and difficult projects and continue to find meaning in the struggle to achieve excellence.
The text above is a summary of some of Bailey's arguments in his critical review of McKibben's book. So I've removed the Citation Needed tag. --Loremaster 00:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Looking good. McKibben's book is an obvious target for mockery - but that's all the more reason why we need to go out of our way to be fair to it and to source any criticisms. Metamagician3000 02:13, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. And I agree with you. --Loremaster 02:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Terminator argument

I've temporarily deleted the following text from the Terminator counter-argument:

An example of this would be to develop Friendly AI before implementing molecular nanotechnology - the reasoning is that human brains, with their obvious mathematical limitations, would be incompetent to write safe, effective programmes for nanorobot swarms. However, benevolent artificially intelligent computers with the ability to calculate with perfect accuracy the ultimate outcome of any sequence of instructions, would, it is claimed, be able to control nanomachine swarms as easily as human beings control their own limbs. The notion, though, that the detailed behavior of such systems can, in principle, be predicted and controlled with perfect accuracy, is disputed by modern complexity theorists.

I mistakenly assumed that the first two of these three sentences came from Nick Bostrom's essay on existential risks so I left them alone when they wered added by anonymous user on August 1st, 2006. Can someone cite a source? --Loremaster 12:59, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I've removed the mention of the source for the last sentence as well. --Loremaster 14:37, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Regis reference

A book by Edward Regis has been inserted into the reference list at some point in the past, but with no citation to it in the main text. It seems to be an affectionate look at fringe science, including transhumanism. There may be a relevant place to cite it, but if whoever added it, or someone else, can't come up with one soon, it should be deleted.--StN 06:10, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

You're right, though it is in fact quite an important book about transhumanism and related stuff as things stood back in the 90s. In fact this was the book that actually introduced me to transhumanism more than anythng else did. Its tone is rather ambivalent, half making fun of transhumanism in a sort of gonzo way, half treating it affectionately. Have a look at it if you get a chance. Metamagician3000 07:56, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Does Regis mention John Spencer in his book? --Loremaster 12:49, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
StN removed the Regis reference. --Loremaster 20:20, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
    • ^ Fukuyama 2004