Talk:Transhumanism/Archive 5

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Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6

IMPORTANT: Article Size

When one tries to edit the Transhumanism article, one can read the following warning at the top of the page:

This page is 39 kilobytes long. This may be longer than is preferable; see article size

I've trimmed the article just enough for the warning to go away. I recommend that future editors be as concise as possible and avoid adding redundant information. --Loremaster 23:04, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Don't be foolish. The rationale for the 30k limit faded away years ago; it is merely retained through inertia. I think it would be "preferable" for the article to be even longer. --maru (talk) contribs 00:46, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
Limit or no limit, if you say in many words what can be said in few, you're wasting the reader's time. Eliminating redundancy and wordiness is a worthy cause. -- Schaefer 01:54, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
In that case, Loremaster should not have said anything then, since his admonition to avoid redundancy is itself redundant- there are no style guides that say to wax prolix; clarity too is a worthy goal not always compatible with conciseness. In my experience on Wikipedia, when someone calls for concisenss and avoiding redundancy, those calls are coded messages that really mean "Let's start removing stuff." --maru (talk) contribs 04:20, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
Wow... I always find people's ability to debate nothing amazing. This isn't a Da Vinci Code novel. I simply think we should be clear and concise. When a Wikipedia article is too long, it discourages many people from reading it. As for removing stuff, as the main editor to this article, I wouldn't want that to happen since the current content is crucial to understanding what transhumanism is about. --Loremaster 16:04, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Emergent Philosophy?

"Transhumanism" as a term is not employed by analytic philosophers of any hue. Suffice it to say that "transhumanism" as an "emergent philosophy" is an overeggageration, at best. I'll be reediting this page significantly to bring it up to par with the other branches of materialism. Amicuspublilius 02:25, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Nick Bostrom (Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University) seems to be an analytical philosopher of some hue, and yet this is the WTA's 'Transhumanist FAQ', with the authorship of which he is credited on the page. --Archelon 15:56, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It's a movement rather than strictly a philosophy (and there is no body of agreed philosophical doctrines). But analytic philosophers are gradually coming to look at transhumanist ideas. So far, these have attracted most attention from philosophical bioethicists rather than from the field of applied ethics more generally. Metamagician3000 12:51, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

Brain as major focus?

This showed up on Human Brain: "The ethical/political theory known as Transhumanism is largely concerned with methods of enhancing the human brain; although enhancement of the body and peripheral nervous system is also proposed, the brain is considered the common denominator of personhood and is thus the primary focus of Transhumanist ambitions." If that's true and interesting, could somebody integrate the material here? I wasn't sure if it was necessary, but I didn't want to toss the text outright. --William Pietri 14:39, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

Go for it Will. It should compliment the existing information here on the mechanics of altering humanity. Pydos 11:20, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
I think this information was never added to the article. Should we or should we not include it or some version of it? --Loremaster 04:47, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
It may just be me, but in my experience, transhumanists are largely focused on the brain- why else would uploading receive so much attention and interest? --maru (talk) contribs 04:55, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't know how much attention mind uploading is actually getting in transhumanist circles compared to the use of human genetic engineering for an overall enhancement of the human body. However, neurosciences and neurotechnologies are seen as the driving engines of near-future society. I'll think about it during the night and come up with the best way to include a concise version of all this information in order to add it to the article.--Loremaster 05:00, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Done! --Loremaster 21:30, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Mark Alan Walker might be a good source for the brain focus material since he has written an essay on that very subject. --Loremaster 20:05, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

This essay might be it: --Loremaster 16:08, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Added it as reference in the article. --Loremaster 22:17, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Transhumanist technocracy?

Unless one can provide online documentation of transhumanist technocracy has an existing and organized (rather than simply conceptual) current with transhumanism, its mention will be deleted. Loremaster 16:45, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

If such a thing existed or occurred it, then chances are we wouldn't be having this discussion on wikipedia... Kind of like Doomsday argument and End of the universe were to actually occur... We'd have some form of communication one would think, but I don't think a transhumanist technocracy should be included unless someone has wrote an extensive paper, PHD thesis, magazine article, or a book on the subject and used as a reference in this article. Otherwise we'd be just pulling the concepts out of thin air. --James 21:42, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
I guess I could have worded that better. I simply meant that unless there is a prominent transhumanist thinker or activist advocating the virtues of a future transhumanist technocracy, we should not mention this concept in the article. --Loremaster 04:54, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Edits to history

Among the copyedits, I thought i'd flag these changes: 1] i de-linked john spencer, since none of the disambiguated people seemed to be the right one. 2] i tried to increase the NPOV in the Drexler paragraph. Hope that helps, "alyosha" 22:21, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

The reference to Broderick really has to be deleted or changed. His novel The Judas Mandala in no way belongs in a history of transhumanism. If anything, that particular text is more anti-transhumanist than otherwise. Broderick's expressed attitudes to cyborg technologies, etc., changed greatly during the 1980s and 1990s, after this work was written. It would be better to refer to his later non-fiction books, such as The Spike and The Last Mortal Generation. I'm confident that Broderick has never actually called himself a transhumanist, though he has been broadly associated with the transhumanist movement for the past decade or so. Metamagician3000 12:47, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

Moving "Transhumanism in fiction" to its own article

The fiction section has been getting very long and strays in topic quite a bit from the rest of the article, which deals with the real-life variety of transhumanism. Also, the article has passed 30kb in size. I'd like to fork this section into a separate article if none here are opposed. -- Schaefer 02:06, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

I'd agree with that sentiment, it would allow both articles to be further expanded. The original article should still contain some references to fiction's influence on transhumanism, however. Glowimperial 15:56, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
It is the correct thing to do. The normal wikipedia style is to have a paragraph on transhumanism in fiction with a link at the beginning of the paragraph in italics to the new article saying see main article etc, SqueakBox 15:59, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

About McKibben

I think that McKibben's view is considerably more precise and sophisticated (even though I happen not to agree ith it) than its representation here. At some point, I'll try to tighten up the relevant sentence, if no one else does so. Metamagician3000 12:21, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

VfD and RfC on an article for a major transhumanist

Edward Smith (psychologist) is the person that composed The Catalog Of Correctable Omnipresent Human Flaws. He has also made scientific discoveries that are major, fundamental, and verifiable, which have made transhumanism rightfully look good by association (not to imply that transhumanism NEEDS that, mind you, but it says something good about transhumanism when such people are major contributors thereof).

I don't think that you would like the article of one of your major contributors deleted, so I am notifying you of this. Weigh in on the VfD and RfC if you have anything to say about it. IrreversibleKnowledge 21:55, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

A thorough reference for the implementation of transhumanism called The Catalog of Correctable Omnipresent Human Flaws,[1] composed by psychologist Edward Smith, describes in detail a large number of the specific alterations that some transhumanists desire to make, and provides guidelines for species names, preemptive control of abuse of genetic modification, and methods of active research and implementation of transhumanist genetic modification of human zygotes.
I've removed the text above from the article for the following reasons: 1) it's an example of theoritical rather than practical transhumanism; 2) it lacks intellectual rigor; 3) it has never been cited by a major (or minor) transhumanist or non-transhumanist philosopher; 4) the Wikipedia article should not be used solely to promote the ideas of one fringe transhumanist. --Loremaster 23:03, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
I think this was the right decision. Metamagician3000 01:06, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Problems with transtopianism article

Because of the discussion here, i thought it would be good to make folks aware of the notices i've just placed on transtopianism, and the explanation i posted in Talk:Transtopianism. I look forward to your input there. Thx, hope this helps, "alyosha" (talk) 00:40, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

When I have some free time, I am reluctantly working on improving it. --Loremaster 01:35, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
I've done a fair bit of work on it, and left a comment on its talk page. Metamagician3000 12:13, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Looks like the transtopianism article has been deleted and references to transtopianism seem to have been taken out of this one. That makes sense in both cases. Metamagician3000 05:50, 21 January 2006 (UTC)


Anonymous user added a NPOV tag to the Transhumanism article, implying that its neutrality was in dispute. However, this was done without explanation. Until one is provided, the tag will be removed. --Loremaster 14:17, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Whilst it appears to be written to a NPOV, far more space is devoted to criticism rather than arguments in favour (of which very many exist)
The Criticism section contains criticisms but also the major arguments in favor of transhumanism. Although there many other arguments, I think we need to be as consice as possible to avoid the article being tediously long. That being said, we could expand the Theory and practise section. --Loremaster 20:28, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
This seems to be getting pretty close to right, NPOV-wise. Metamagician3000 02:49, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

About Brave New World

The reference to S. Newman and J. Rifkin as "bio-luddites" and "bio-conservatives" is just name-calling. Newman is a biologist whose research employs modern technology and has generated novel concepts in developmental and evolutionary theory. Rifkin is a progressive social critic who advocates a technological "soft path" rather than a "hard path." None of this is alluded to here. Much of this article is compromised by a lack of neutrality.StN 06:35, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

1. StN, relax. :)
2. No offense but you sound like a biased defender of Newman and Rifkin so one could question the neutrality of your comments... That being said, although I respect some of Newman & Rikin's respective work, I hope you are aware that it has been criticized by many people including progressives.
3. If you actually read the Bioconservatism article, you would realize that refering to someone as "bioconservative" is not an insult but a neutral description. However, I agree that "bio-luddite" is a loaded term which is often used as an insult.
4. The article was not claiming that both Newman and Rifkin are bioconservatives or bioluddites but that their argument is shared by biconservatives and bioluddites. However, I've edited this sentence to reflect some of your comments.
5. The article was and continues to be fair and balanced. Editors have gone to great pains to present common criticisms of transhumanism and replies to those criticisms, which is something that is done in many other Wikipedia articles. Therefore, the accusation that this article is compromised by a lack of neutrality is obviously false.
6. All Wikipedia articles reflect the knowlegde of the users who create and edit them. So you should not interpret the lack of some information only you are aware of as evidence of bias. If you feel that there is information that is lacking, feel free to edit these articles to include it.
--Loremaster 16:40, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the word "draconian". Whether the proposed measures are draconian or not is a matter of opinion. Metamagician3000 08:15, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

I am replacing it with the word "strict". --Loremaster 17:22, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

It seems to me that the Posthuman Future argument and Brave New World argument are mislabeled. "Brave New World" does not deal with monsters like "Frankenstein" or human-animal hybrids as in "The Island of Dr. Moreau," but rather a future in which humans are made to order to fit certain social needs. However, the attempt to produce such designer people (i.e., the Posthuman Future), according to critics, will inevitably produce erroneous results ("Frankenstein"; "Dr. Moreau") that will be misfits in society and nature. This also shows that some practical and ethical criticisms are also intimately related to each other in a way that is not clear in the article as it currently stands. Perhaps the "Posthuman Future" argument should be renamed "Brave New World" and what is now "Brave New World" should be renamed "Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau." A separate paragraph should indicate the confluence of the practical and ethical arguments, an issue discussed at length by Newman at StN 05:41, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

The comment above has not been addressed in the Discussion, and I am reluctant to implement my suggestions without feedback from the principal authors. To reiterate, Huxley's concerns in "Brave New World" were much more similar to those attributed (correctly) to Fukuyama in the Posthuman Future section. Shelley's concerns in "Frankenstein" were more akin to those listed here in the Brave New World section. Wells was similarly concerned about the prospect of technology corrupting the relationships among living beings. This could be done deliberately or inadvertantly, which connects this scenario to the one on Practical Arguments. StN 16:48, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Let me think about it. --Loremaster 17:02, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree. I have made the changes. --Loremaster 20:50, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm, sorry guys but I'm now getting a bit worried about this issue. I'm minded to delete this bit: "Some thinkers who are sympathetic to transhumanist ideas, such as Russell Blackford, have also objected to the slippery slope reasoning involved in the use of Brave New World-type arguments. According to this view, some innovations might, indeed, be unwise (at least in some circumstances), but they could be regulated without abandoning others that might bring benefits.[35]" I think it's accurate, I'm but not sure it belongs precisely where it is now. In fact, I'm not sure that the concern currently under Brave New World arguments really is precisely, or at least entirely, what people like Leon Kass have in mind when they allude to Brave New World. I think the point is really something that we haven't covered here at all, that various activities and relationships, including some that have traditionally been greatly valued, such as certain kinds of romantic and familial relationships, would eventually be destroyed or greatly distorted if we used technology in certain ways. However, it's difficult to be sure that that is the argument, because a lot of arguments do seem to get intertwined in the writings of Kass, Fukuyama, etc, and it can be difficult teasing out what claim is supposed to depend on what, etc. I don't want to trivialise their arguments - some of them may bave considerable force - but their authors haven't always made it easy to summarise just what the different arguments are. The comment attributed to Russell Blackford is really about how you can theoretically say, "Yes, this point, point C, is a real concern, so let's address it rather imposing bans on A and B that ostensibly lead to it via a slippery slope." I'm now not sure that there's a good spot in this article to acknowledge that POV. OTOH, I think that something needs to be said about the kind of point I have attributed to Kass, which is I point I would be wanting to include under the Brave New World sort of heading.

All this while trying to save, rather than add, words! Metamagician3000 06:39, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

I've rephrased that sentence. It now reads:
Some thinkers who are sympathetic to transhumanist ideas, such as Russell Blackford, have also objected to the fear-mongering and appeal to radical traditionalism involved in the use of Brave New World-type arguments.
Do you approve? If not, rephrase it. As for the rest of the content in the Brave New World argument section, feel free to expand it while remaining concise. --Loremaster 20:34, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
I'll have a look at it, and a think about it, a bit later. All this is just final tweaking, hopefully. Metamagician3000 00:10, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I'll probably change the words you've quoted because they don't sound very neutral. Let's see what I can do ... Metamagician3000 02:33, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Nearly there. Hopefully we almost have this nailed. Metamagician3000 10:01, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


We need to work on turning all the external links that are in the Overview and History sections of the article into references. --Loremaster 22:54, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Done. However, we need to improve the refering of the article in general. --Loremaster 04:45, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
What references do you think are missing? --Loremaster 18:45, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
Many of the existing references don't include authors or publish years in the reference section when such information is easily available. Also, there are entire sections of non-trivial information that go unsourced and speak in terms of high-level generalizations without attribution or even specific examples.
For example, see the Practical transhumanism section of the present (as of writing) version of the article. Just as an example: "[…] transhumanists tend to use existing technologies and techniques that improve cognitive and physical performance, while engaging in routines and lifestyles designed to improve health and longevity." I doubt there are any serious studies comparing transhumanist health-consciousness to that of the general public. A more well-supported statement would look something like "Many transhumanists advocate healthy living and proper nutrition: Ray Kurzweil authored The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life, and John Q. Prominent-Transhumanist writes 'Healthy living is important to transhumanism because blah blah.' [insert footnote citation here]"
This is just one sentence. Not one sentence in that section gives any attribution or citation. Granted, not every sentence in an article needs them, but many here do.
A few other examples:
Attribution with no proper citation: "Geneticist and science writer Steve Jones argues that humanity does not, and never will, have the technology that proponents of transhumanism seek. He once joked that the letters of the genetic code, A, C, G and T should be replaced with the letters H, Y, P and E. Jones claims that technologies like human genetic engineering will never be as powerful as is popularly believed."
No attribution at all: "Although some transhumanists report a strong sense of spirituality, they are for the most part secular. In fact, many transhumanists are either agnostics or atheists. There are, however, a number of transhumanists who follow liberal forms of Eastern philosophical traditions, and a minority of transhumanists who have merged their beliefs with established religions (such as Christian transhumanists). Some also look to the simulation argument as a synthesis of deism and digitalism."
Bold claims without attribution: "Modern transhumanism essentially developed out of an American civil libertarian cyberculture. The idea of equating that culture's position on genetic therapy and enhancement with the eugenic policy of Nazi Germany or the impetus for a hypothetical future 'Eugenics Wars' is seen by transhumanists and many non-transhumanists as absurd and libellous." Throwing mud at fringe pseudo-transhumanists, no matter how much they deserve it, without any attribution is especially bad, since it's not just poorly referenced, it's non-NPOV.
There's too many examples to list all of them, but these should help everyone get the gist of it. I'm not trying to insult anyone here, I just don't think this article stands any chance of becoming featured if we don't fix issues like these. -- Schaefer 01:56, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
Although I agree with some of your comments and recommendations (except for the last one about "throwing mud at fringe pseudo-transhumanists" since the citation in question does not reflect this criticism and content of that nature was edited out of the Transhumanism article a long time ago) and I will work on better referencing the article, you seem to demand a level of referencing that is a bit excessive. --Loremaster 16:56, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to note that my above message was pasted from here, and was meant to object to Transhumanism becoming a featured article, not as a list of general complaints. We can't make every article perfect, but not every article can be featured on the front page either. The list of featured articles is deliberately exclusive, as it should be. -- Schaefer 20:55, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
I think everyone understands that. --Loremaster 21:02, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

We should all follow the guidelines of Wikipedia:Citing Sources. --Loremaster 23:37, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Some numbers in the references don't currently seem to match up. There are 18 listed external references but the numbers go up to 19. I think the "19" is probably meant to refer to the "Politics of Transhumanism" article. I don't want to tamper with this myself, as I'm not sure what was intended in each case. I expect it could be fixed very easily by somone who inserted a lot of the references and knows what is meant to go with what.Metamagician3000 00:39, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Fixed! However, I'm still working on improving the References section. Also, the Theory and practice section will need to be improved in order be well-referenced; and we need to find a source for Steve Jones's argument. --Loremaster 07:22, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Numbering endnotes can now be done automatically with the new <ref> element. I might get around to implementing this soon if nobody beats me to it. -- Schaefer 21:05, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for the info. --Loremaster 20:04, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

The reference list includes 8 (out of 46) by James Hughes, correctly described in the article as a "radical bioethicist." This is too high a proportion for any contributor to this complex and controversial field. Some of these should by replaced by writings of individuals critical of transhumanism. StN 00:04, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

  1. I dont't think 8 out of 46 is too high. 15 or more would be. However, I have lowered the number to 6.
  2. You seem to think "radical" is meant as "extremist" when, in this context, it simply means "thoroughgoing reformist". However, due to your misinterpretation, I will use a more neutral and accurate term to describe Dr. Hughes.
  3. Hughes was used as a reference several times (because he has written both a history of transhumanism and counter-arguments to criticims of transhumanism) to support claims about transhumanism that have been written by others as well. I could have easily chosen someone else who would be confirming the same facts.
  4. Let's not forget that this article should mostly be about transhumanism not criticisms of transhumanism.
--Loremaster 00:20, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Just to clarify, the article does not cite eight works by James Hughes. Some of the items on the reference list are doubles, which is incredibly bizarre. I'm not aware of any style guide that suggests repeating full citations like this article does. Full citations are almost always listed alphabetically, and references are usually made through either in-line parenthetical notes with the author's surname, publishing year, and page number, or (less commonly) with numbered footnotes that provide such information so that the reader can refer to the alphabetical reference list. -- Schaefer 00:44, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
StN, Schaefer, please know that I am aware of how an article should be properly referenced. However, I have been working on improving this article while doing ten other things at the same time. The References section is very much a work in progress, which is why I keep insisting that everyone work on it rather than simply criticizing it while remaining aloof. If you see something wrong, don't wait for me or someone else... FIX IT! If you do something wrong, someone else will simply fix it and so on.--Loremaster 01:35, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

It would simplify the notes and references and make them more consistent if everything that is cited more than once was changed to a reference, and cited as notes. This would apply to three of the Hughes works, two of the Bostroms, and perhaps some others. If there is agreement I will do it unless someone gets to it before me. StN 03:50, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Go ahead! I am very happy with the good work both you and Schafer have done so far. Please let me know when you are finished. :)--Loremaster 05:11, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Good article

I found myself moved to research this subject and came upon this article. I give you the stamp of approval, for what's its worth from a moocat ;) -Moocats 18:44, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

The Transhumanism article will be a featured article candidate soon. Please should your support on the appropriate page when the time comes.
Been waiting a few days, is it going up soon? Or was it squashed? -Moocats 20:35, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
It hasn't been squashed. The article simply needs some tweaking. Patience, my friend. :) --Loremaster 20:52, 22 February 2006 (UTC)


Also, would anyone know of an avatar to utilize upon forums for transhumanism? I've seen the >H and H+ but not found an actual picture for one. -Moocats 18:44, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Here are two images that I found on the WTA website which could be suitable for your needs:
The Measureless Man
Posthuman Future
--Loremaster 20:00, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps we should upload the Posthuman Future image and add it to the Transhumanism, Transhuman and Posthuman articles. Also, we should upload the image the book cover of Enough. --Loremaster 20:14, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Done! --Loremaster 21:14, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

I've added more images. Anymore would be excessive since this is an article not a gallery. --Loremaster 22:01, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

I think the we can rebuild him image hurts the article, especially as a featured article candidate, where professionalism is presumably of importance. It has no informational or artistic merit, and just looks like the efforts of some fanboy playing with his 3D graphics software. (And besides, I object to the notion of a transhuman future where people have no sexual organs. :-) )
Although I have changed the previous caption under the image, which was tongue-in-cheek, I disagree with almost everything you said for the following reasons: 1) The image is explicitly transhumanist; 2) The designers of the image, Ken Brown and Chris Wren of Mondolithic Studios, have had their work featured on the cover of major magazines such as Scientific American; and 3) Some transhumanist thinkers actually foresee and even welcome a transhuman future where some people choose to have no sexual organs. See one of James Hughes' quotes. ;) --Loremaster 18:41, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
We can replace the picture! We have the technology! --maru (talk) contribs 18:58, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but can you rebuild his, um, you know... :-) KarlBunker 19:05, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Marudubshinki, are you serious or joking? I ask because I will only replace the image if a substantial number of people dislike it. So far, only KarlBunker has objected to it. --Loremaster 20:33, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
The latter. --maru (talk) contribs 20:36, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Understood. :) --Loremaster 20:37, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
That image may be problematic since it uses Advanced Micro Devices's logo on the space suits without permission. See the AMD homepage here for their logo: --Ben Houston 02:37, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
How do you know the creators of the image did not get permission? --Loremaster 02:51, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Actually, you're right. Ignore my comment. --Ben Houston 03:13, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

I replaced the image in the Transhumanism and spirituality section with something more relevant. --Loremaster 01:19, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

First paragraph?

Transhumanism (sometimes abbreviated >H or H+) is an intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to overcome human limitations and improve the human condition.

That's so general as to be meaningless, IMO. All science and technology, back to the first time a pre-human used a stick for a club, has been "to overcome human limitations and improve the human condition." What about "...supporting the use of science and technology to alter and improve the bodies and minds of human beings." ...or something like that. KarlBunker 16:56, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

However general it might be, this is the common and accepted definition of transhumanism while what you propose is an extremley narrow one. For example, supporting the development of molecular nanotechnology to create a post-scarcity world is very much on the transhumanist agenda but has nothing to do with altering and improving human bodies. Your definition would exclude this... --Loremaster 01:16, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I accept that. But: I thought I read the article pretty darn carefully, and I came away with the impression that transhumanism is about modifying human beings. If it isn't, what is it? Advocating the development of some speculative technologies that might change the world in profound ways? Advocating the development of some speculative technologies that some people find scary? Just advocating the development of some speculative technologies? I'm confoozed. And I'm wondering if the subject of this article is so fuzzily defined that, no matter how well crafted the article is, it won't make a good FA, because who wants to read an article about something that isn't defined? KarlBunker 02:13, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Although I would define transhumanism as a movement advocating the development and use of emerging technologies which could have radical impact on individuals and society (in ways past and present technologies do not), you seem to be the only one has a problem with the current definition. Many people find this article interesting and worth-reading. That being said, I slightly improved the definition for more clarity. --Loremaster 04:14, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

See if you can both accept my new version. I think it's pretty accurate without being wishy-washy. All improvements received with gratitude; all suggestions treated with respect. :) Metamagician3000 06:56, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I like Metamagician3000's version better. I was also wondering if it's really correct to say that technologies or uses of technology that don't directly bear on altering humans are a part of transhumanism, or are they just among the things that transhumanists tend to talk about, since anyone who looks at transhumanism is going to be someone who looks at future uses of technology in general. Just a thought. KarlBunker 11:20, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
That's a difficult question, and I'm not sure I know the answer. I think of it as being primarily about altering human beings. But as Loremaster alludes to, some thinkers who are either transhumanists or closely allied to transhumanism do seem to put a lot of emphasis on the other aspect, emphasising such things as the creation of artificial superintelligences and the development of very powerful methods of molecular manufacture. I'm not sure where, exactly, it begins and ends or how we could document one "correct" definition rather than another. It's complicated by the fact that not many thinkers with serious profiles beyond the transhumanist movement actually seem to call themselves "transhumanists", even if they are obviously allied with the small group who openly do (Max More, Nick Bostrom, James Hughes, etc), and often have the label to applied to them by others. If we tweak the definition further, I suggest that we look at what people like More and Bostrom have said on the subject of definition. Metamagician3000 12:18, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

"previously believed to be impossible..."

From the article: Transhumanists argue that many technological advances previously believed to be impossible, such as cloning for example, were predicted by science fiction or non-fiction futurists.

I think this passage is poor stuff. Saying that "xxx was once believed to be impossible" is a silly and logically flawed argument. When I took the passage out, Loremaster put it back saying that it's a common TH argument, even if flawed. Well, saying that Jeremy Rifkin is a total poopoo-head is also probably a common TH argument (because he is a total poopoo-head), but that doesn't mean that it's an argument that should be repeated here. Secondly, cloning is a really bad example of something that was "previously believed to be impossible." I think you'd have to look long and hard to find any moderately educated person who ever said that artificial cloning of mammals was impossible. Cloning happens naturally with many plants and lower animals, and it's been done artificially with tadpoles since 1951. So cloning mammals is just not something that has ever looked "impossible". (And of course, another problem is that the sentence in the article doesn't specify artificial cloning of mammals, so it's saying that something that occurs naturally was "previously believed to be impossible.") KarlBunker 18:43, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

1. I think there is an obvious difference between repeating a common but logically flawed argument and repeating an insult. The former should be included while second should not.
2. I could provide you with an impressive list of experts who said that artificial cloning and other technologies were impossible.
--Loremaster 18:49, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
That being, I encourage you to write a better rebuttal to Dublin's argument. --Loremaster 18:51, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Re. 1): Personally, I think a logically flawed argument is about as worthless as an insult.
Re. 2): I'll take your word for it. I guess I should have said "moderately intelligent" rather than "moderately educated". :-)
Regardless of the worth of a logically flawed argument, if it is the most common argument voiced by an individual or group relevant to the topic of the article, it wouldn't not make any sense not to mention it. The entire Criticisms section is filled with the logically flawed arguments of anti-transhumanists. Should they be deleted? --Loremaster 20:29, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Good point. I guess my pro-transhumanist bias was showing. KarlBunker 20:42, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
What about: Transhumanists point out that while predictions of pending technological developments have often been inaccurate or premature, pronouncements that any particular technological advance is "impossible" have also been proven wrong with embarrassing frequency." KarlBunker 19:34, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Good. I will include it. --Loremaster 20:29, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
That's all good. Don't change anything for this, but I think this is something of a straw man argument anyway. I'm not sure that there are many transhumanist thinkers who are committed to predictions of particular technologies being viable in particular timeframes. I know Kurzweil (who can fairly be labeled a transhumanist even if he doesn't call himself that) makes a lot of predictions, but making predictions is not essential to transhumanism. Transhumanists advocate research and they push back against attempts to constrain it, but I suspect that few transhumanists would have a blueprint for techno-utopia in their back pocket - something requiring particular technologies for its implementation. If any of them are thinking that way, they are probably being unrealistic to say the least. :)
This thought is just meant as a seed for another time. It needn't affect anyone's editing right now. I'm thinking of just playing with the new wording a bit in terms of style and grammar - sorry, I can't help myself. Metamagician3000 03:47, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Btw, has any transhumanist thinker actually made these responses to Dublin anywhere citable? Metamagician3000 04:11, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

About Abraham Maslow

I can't say that I am familiar with everything that Abraham Maslow wrote, but nothing that I have read of his has anything in common with the proposed use of genetic and other somatic biotechnologies to produce improved humans. Including Maslow because of his use of the term "transhuman" distorts and trivializes the article by conflating the tradition of transcendence and spiritual awareness with the sorts of things Hughes et al. have been promoting. Does anyone think a single critic of Transhumanism in any of the categories below would have a problem with Maslow's philosophy? Why isn't Buddha listed as a transhumanist, then, or Timothy Leary?

If there is no persuasive response to this comment in the next two days I will remove the reference and citations to Maslow.

What a coincidence! At this very moment, I was thinking of removing the reference and citation to Maslow... I guess I will do it now.--Loremaster 22:47, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
P.S. I encourage you to end all your messages on Wikipedia talk pages with --~~~~.
Thank you --StN 23:19, 2 March 2006 (UTC).

HIDL theory?

Additional support to ideas of transhumanism comes from the biological HIDL theory (PMID 15247073), which states that humans are born with an "exceptionally high load of initial damage", and therefore "even small progress in optimizing the early-developmental processes can potentially result in a remarkable prevention of many diseases in later life, postponement of aging-related morbidity and mortality, and significant extension of healthy life span."

I have removed this text from the Overview section so we can all analyze it and debate whether or not a version of it should be included in the article. --Loremaster 23:47, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

"HIDL" receives only a single hit on PubMed that refers to the sense of the term in this paragraph. That paper refers to the desirability of "progress in optimizing the early-developmental processes" to avoid the effects of ageing. The latter is so speculative and infeasible given the current state of knowledge in developmental biology as to disqualify it from discussion in the article. --StN 00:05, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it's too specific for a general article like this. Metamagician3000 00:11, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
I concur. --Loremaster 23:41, 3 March 2006 (UTC)


Once we find sources for the following passages, I think Transhumanism will be ready for feature article candidacy:

1. Geneticist and science writer Steve Jones argues that humanity does not, and never will, have the technology that proponents of transhumanism seek. Jones claims that technologies like human genetic engineering will never be as powerful as is popularly believed.

Does anyone have a source for this? An article or a book? --Loremaster 02:33, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't have it. Given his background, it sounds as if Jones is really only talking about genetic technology, so perhaps this should be made clear - it's an example of the difficulties. If no one can find what Jones really said, I'll offer a good alternative. :) Steven Pinker is often cited for the same view, basing it on the complex interactions of genes, and of genes with the environment. The usual citation is to the transcript of his evidence to the President's Council on Bioethics. The URL seems to be: Metamagician3000 07:40, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I edited the article to reflect your comments but we still need to find a source for Jones. --Loremaster 01:10, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, it looks like there might be something relevant in Almost Like A Whale: The Origin of Species Updated (London: Doubleday, 1999 (there's probably also an American edition), but I don't have a copy to hand. I'll check when I get a chance, but not sure when that will be. Metamagician3000 12:06, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
I couldn't find a source for the statement. I found instead this article, where Jones argues that the planned (in 2004) European constitution was a danger to research in genetics (and eugenics). Ben T/C 11:00, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Interesting but not relevant. We need a source for Jones' criticism of a transhumanist hope not his opposition to barriers to genetic research. --Loremaster 01:23, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
It's actually quite difficult to find credible sources who naysay the trajectory of the current biotech revolution. I'm wondering if referrences to Jones should be removed in favour of legal, ethical, social, and metaphysical considerations (which would mirror the Wikipedia entry for human genetic engineering. -- gdvorsky 23:11, 3 March 2006 (EST)
Although they may be hard to find, I think pratical criticism should be included since it is one of the most common criticism of transhumanism. --Loremaster 00:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
I can advise that I've just read Almost Like a Whale' (1999 British edition) from cover to cover, and there is nothing remotely relevant in it. My searches on google to try to get to the bottom of this mainly pick up sites that are quoting Wikipedia. Of course there's lots of places where Steve Jones could have said it... Metamagician3000 07:50, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps we should replace Jones with someone else who says the same thing. Any suggestions? --Loremaster 00:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
My best suggestion at the moment is Steven Pinker, as above. His views have been discussed by the President's Council on Bioethics and by Michael Gazzaniga so they are not obscure, even though they don't seem to be in any of his books. Metamagician3000 07:03, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
The Newman essay already on the reference list is filled with practical objections to human cloning and germ line genetic modification. Apart from the inherent uncertainty of the techniques, the practical obstacles merge with ethical considerations when it is recognized that a program to implement human developmental modification would violate the Nuremberg Principles concerning human experimentation.--StN 05:05, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
We need a clear statement from someone who claims that we will never be able to do what transhumanists want to do with reprogenetics. Does Newman say this anywhere? --Loremaster 20:22, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Look at pp. 458-461 of the paper. He says it would be exceptionally difficult and lead to errors, but that this may not be an obstacle to those who feel they have the right to experiment on their prospective offspring. This is where the issue of the Nuremberg Principles comes in. I think it is setting the bar too high to look for a source that says that something can never be done. Few scientifically knowledgable people would say never about anything. The question is how many existing culturally established restrictions, including those involving experimentation on people not in a position to give informed consent, are transhumanists willing to traduce to get to where they want to? This doesn't have to hashed out in detail in an article on Transhumanism. I am just noting that anyone you find who says that something can never be done (in the physical-biological sense) can (and will) be neutralized and ridiculed by a comment on how people also said that man could not fly, etc. But the issue is more subtle and the practical considerations must include social as well as biological constraints.--StN 21:08, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree that looking for a source that says that something can never done is setting the bar too high since there are things that some transhumanists hope for that are highly improbable if not impossible. There are even some transhumanists that are highly critical of the feasiblity of the ideas of others. For example, some think that the Singularity, depending how it is defined, is pure nonsense or that the complexity of the human brain renders mind transfer a pipe dream. So perhaps we should touch on a variety of subjects in the Pratical criticism section rather than be focused on arguments and counter-arguments about genetic technology, some of which are quite dated. By the way, from what I have read recently, some transhumanists do propose solutions to avoid traducing many existing culturally established restrictions to get what they want... --Loremaster 22:03, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I think this is fine. I just don't think it will be easy to come up with confident predictions of lack of success. I'm not sure what you are referring to in your last sentence. Germline genetic engineering and full-term cloning, even with experience from animal studies, will be a crap-shoot. --StN 22:37, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I've read many confident predictions of lack of success (especially in relation to cryonics). I'm simply trying to find the best one. That being said, perhaps the easiest thing to do is simply delete Jones until we find a source for his opinions and stick with Dublin who actually has written a book on the subject. As for your crapshoot comment, I've talk to some prominent (non-transhumanist) animal and human biologists who say otherwise. --Loremaster 23:08, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
This is one of the real problems with this whole discourse. People can say anything they want in private conversations. The real question is whether you or anyone else can come up with scientific papers on animal cloning or transgenesis that indicate that the technical problems are under control, or look soon to be, and give reason to believe that the first such attempts in humans won't be simply uncontrolled experiments. But as I said, there may be better places than this article to make this case. I do think the viewpoint should be mentioned, however. I'm sorry that I will have to bow out of this discussion for a week. I will be interested to see what you have come up with when I get back to it.--StN 23:32, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
When I find the time (and money), I can provide you with these papers. That being said, I think it might useful to cite someone, whether it be Newman or someone else, on the *safety* issues and provide a transhumanist rebuttal in the Frankenstein argument section. I will try to work on that while you are away. --Loremaster 00:28, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
I've settled on Gregory Stock on the feasibility issue for the Pratical criticism section. I may also use him for the Frankenstein argument section regarding the genetic engineering crapshoot issue. --Loremaster 19:08, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

2. Materialist transhumanists do not believe in a transcendent human soul. They often believe in the compatibility of human minds with computer hardware, with the theoretical implication that human consciousness may someday be transfered to alternative media.

Is Marvin Minsky the most respected reference for this subject? Has he written a seminal paper or book that we can cite? --Loremaster 22:59, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Excellent referrences to the idea of mind transfers and cognitive functionalism can be found here and most definitely here. One of the most credible and cited is Hans Moravec's Mind Children (1988). Moravec describes several possible techniques for consciousness uploading. gdvorsky 22:15, 3 March 2006 (EST)
Sandberg's page on uploading will do. --Loremaster 00:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

3. Transhumanists concede that predictions of pending technological developments have often been inaccurate or premature. However, they respond that pronouncements that any particular technological advance is "impossible" have also been proven wrong with embarrassing frequency. Artificial cloning of adult mammals has been one of many examples.

As Metamagician pointed out, do we have a source for this? One of the columns perhaps? --Loremaster 23:48, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure if this can act as a credible citation, but here's my blog entry that lists naysaying quotes that are now quite ridiculous. -- gdvorsky 22:41, 3 March 2006 (EST)
Good but not good enough. We need an article or an essay. Has Nick Bostrom written anything on this subject? --Loremaster 00:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Damien Broderick's The Spike might be a possibility, though Broderick does not call himself a transhumanist. I've never read the later and revised/expanded US edition, only the earlier Australian edition. Will do so soon and report back to the group. Metamagician3000 07:08, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
OK. I've noted and referenced Broderick. --Loremaster 00:43, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Doping and Performancing Enhancing Drugs

I think that the article should include a section on doping and performancing enhancing drugs. I was just reading this article on SI: . It seems to me that doping is technically within the domain of transhuman philosophy and it should be discussed head on.

Although doping with performance-enhancing drugs is technically within the domain of transhumanism, I don't think there is enough of a focus on this subject by transhumanist philosophers for it to warrant a section in this article. However, the Human enhancement article would be the perfect place for it. --Loremaster 20:30, 8 March 2006 (UTC)