Um. Does Transhumanism have a fascism problem?
  • FrankFrank May 15
    Prompted by this article in NYMag:

    I'm also reading Zoltan's The Transhumanist Wager at the moment, which so far is reheated Atlas Shrugged material with added endorsements of dictatorship and genocide. 

    Then there's Fuller and Lipinska's The Proactionary Principle, which endorses the idea we should scrap the Nuremberg Code. o_O

    So... my question is... why does transhumanist libertarianism seem to blunder into this very nasty political space? And what can we do about it?

    [moderator edit: fixed link and category]
  • CassoxCassox May 15
    Well, I'm going to read the article in a second but I had a thought.. I think it stems from the "people are stupid" generalization. I've heard people say this so often, that the general populace is a bunch of bumbling idiots. So if you're looking to create some utopic future it stands to reason that we'd control or kill or fix the stupid sheep.

    I don't know. I'm not really an optimist so maybe I shouldn't be the one addressing this but still.. every group seems to do this. The gun toting redneck creationists talk about how stupid liberals are. The type of stupidity we're telling about is world view stuff.. not actual processing ability. Basically, if you don't prioritize that which I prioritize, you're stupid..
    So I guess it's an attempt to answer, what do we do with the people who have.. incompatible.. world views? What about the folks who'd rather kill you then allow you to have an abortion? Who want more military spending and no NASA? People who believe global warming is a hoax and want less restrictions ala the EPA?

    I think the answer is flaire. I don't think reasoning with people works all that well, but there was some shitty show I saw once where the protagonist was a young transexual male to female who was really hot and relatable. This show probably had a greater impact regarding acceptance then 1000 people telling people how they are stupid. Maybe we just need a more positive narrative. Churches do really well.. and they at least pretend to accept everyone. I think what we can do is be very cautious to avoid the "everyone is stupid" cliche, and instead see such situations as an opportunity to educate. We should try to keep transhumanism open and accepting... And we should look hot and cool as fuck while we do it. Flaire.
  • (heads up, your link might need fixing, doesn't seem to want to open up.) Looked through this article not too long ago and I agree, there's definitely a really uncomfortable flavor coming from a lot of transhumanist spaces. I've seen Zoltan propose stuff like chipping refugees so I'm not terribly surprised to hear that's how his written work plays out, but it's definitely not just him. It seems like a lot of people turn to transhumanism to re-brand shit like eugenics and white supremacy, and the lack of variety in what we're shown as the "SV Valley Savior" archetype doesn't really help.

    Full control over the individual self, with full access to 'bettering' oneself beyond the word and wills of nature? That there is a 'better' that can be achieved? These aren't inherently bad things. However, without basic acknowledgement of power structures and dynamics, they leave a lot of room for propping up some pretty gross ideologies. It's pretty much ripe for it, especially when 'better' becomes 'better in the eyes of the wealthy and unopposed' and not 'better for each individual to their own needs'.

    Far as what can be done? For starters I guess Dunk Hard on the fuckers using it to justify their horrible opinions. Perhaps there are ways to present transhumanism in a way that explicitly defines itself as anti-supremacist, too? There are Anarcho-Transhumanist groups that put a greater focus on the socioeconomic implications on transhumanism; there might be some voices in there well worth boosting to counter a lot of the Big but Concerning voices put on stage currently.
  • As with any group or purpose with a set of ideals, these ideas are our tools. They can be used for good or bad. They can be used to promote equality, or superiority, depending on the position you want to take.

    Grinders aren't any different. That we discuss this and have our own individual stance makes things even more dynamic. >3<

    I myself believe in using technology to better humans. Simple as that. There's no more to it than that, not that people x or y don't deserve it.

    Some people might validate the techno-libertarian ideal of inferiority or obsoleteness... Just like how some people may use a confederate flag as a symbol of hate. It's not the flags fault; it's the meaning behind the flag that it's been given by it's flyers. #_#

    My quick two cents. ^^'
  • MogMog May 15
    Interesting topic, but whoever wrote this did a pretty bad job of sounding unbiased. I found it hard to take it serious after reading, "...delirious faith in the coming merger of humans and machines." 

    There will always be weird and extreme members of every group. Every single group 

  • I really like how Cassox worded an explanation here. I myself can be pretty guilty of finding our own race at large to be pretty stupid and in need of correction. That said I'm pretty open about things I've done to myself. If I see someone using a compass for example, I never fail to mess it up with my hand.

    However, even with my large physique aside there are other physical attributes I have that let the world know I'm not a "regular" person, so I guess people already figure they're getting into some crazy when they talk to me. :) And oddly, I seem to pretty much get along with anybody I come into contact with despite how grumpy I am toward people from a distance. Rednecks and liberals alike. I think we all just want bliss in life, that's a trait we all share. Where we go wrong and start fighting amongst each other is when we disagree on how to get there. Fascism is just one of many outcomes from that disagreement.
  • Does fire have an arson problem? I am with Zerbula on thinking of it as you would tools, and I appreciate the dynamic introduced by people who I am not ideologically aligned with. I don't think there's a real present threat of genocide here, what more is there to be done than to disagree with people who say edgy things like that?
  • FrankFrank May 16
    Sure grinding is apolitical (somewhat) but I'm asking about transhumanism here. 

    FWIW I disagree with @cassox's take - there's always going to be disagreement between groups of people about how best to run the country. But this isn't liberal vs conservative: leading transhumanists are specifically arguing that large sections of the population have no social value and, in Fuller/Lipinska's case, that laws passed to protect them should be discarded

    There's a pathological level of individualism going on - it's "give me all the tech enhancements and fuck everyone else". 

    I'm with @BirdMachine on this - dunk hard ought to be the operative norm. Sure, this is a grinding forum not a transhumanist one, but the Venns do overlap. This is the coal face of homebrew human enhancement, this is where the journos come, where the meetups are organised, where the camera crews are sent, where conference organisers recruit; I think there's a responsibility to identify fascistic ideas in transhumanism and be prepared to call them out. 

    Awesome stuff man. I am working my way through the entire swathe (as far I can find) of transhumanist literature. The trends you are talking about are fully articulated basically as far back as the "official" record goes. I have been reading a bunch of Max More's stuff from the early 90s when he was writing on behalf of the "Extropian" variety of transhumanists, who were seemingly fully committed to unfettered flourishing but expressed that the blight of religion had to be excised in order for this to happen. Forget dialogue: there just needed to be permanent removal of religion in order for transhumanism to have its way.

    Istvan's book, which I read pretty recently too, is pretty atrocious and moves way past just the destruction of religion (which he satisfies himself by sending super missiles into every holy building on the planet) but also advocates the destruction of anyone who doesn't want to live the Nietzschean overhuman lifestyle. It was absolutely repackaged Randian "death to the moochers" philosophical nonsense. I would hope that part of the whole transcendence that transhumanism presupposes would be to move past violence as the solution to problems.

    As someone who is actually digging deeply on this stuff while working toward a PhD it does give me some pause on how much to personally associate with transhumanism. Most -isms have their downsides in the toxic us/them dichotomy but a lot of what prominent transhumanism advocates are saying is hard to qualify. It shouldn't be surprising that transhumanists will largely lean libertarian: they want to be free from the tyranny of the majority whom they know doesn't agree with them. But it will be persecuted and marginalized if this kind of behavior isn't being "dunked hard" on at every turn.
  • Elaborate on "call them out." Some awfully cringey things have been done in the name of "call them out," so it might be good to be more specific. What sequence of actions and what outcome will satisfy you in this case? In fact what positive role models do you look to for purging unwanted ideas or subgroups from a group?
  • FrankFrank May 16
    @DACBA Would love to read more in this vein - do please send me some links. 

    @Radiance I'm not suggesting a campaign, but at the very least it ought to be firstly, acknowledged, and secondly, commented upon. If Zoltan comes up in conversation, I'm not going to say "oh yeah the life extension guy", I'm going to say "oh yeah the guy who wrote a repugnant political screed". If I somehow end up on a panel with Fuller, I'm going to ask why he thinks rules on medical experimentation brought in following Nazi atrocities should now be discarded.*

    * FWIW, I did end up on a panel with one of these jokers who did recommend relaxing rules on human testing because "some people will get hurt but we'll advance as a whole." He should go read up on Josef Mengele if he wants to know where that leads. (I did call him out)
  • I notice that the main problem is not talked about, and is just mentioned in the article and that is DEMOCRACY .  What happens to your freedom collides with the  beliefs of the democratic group you belong too?  
    I noticed that many of the Transiumanist that seams to have this "we against them mentality" are Americans with many religious "friends". 

    I do understand where they're logic comes from, if your State decides that Divine intervention is equal scientific opinion to evolution , or that if you take this drugs Jesus is sad. Your freedom can be completely blog and your life ruined. It is simple to see why many are seeing their dum neighbors as a problem to they're freedom. Democracy is about percentage of population, not logic or evidence. There is no denying that politician will follow the will of the one that can get elected , and if the are in the wrong "who cares". 

    In my amble opinion , they are all bark with no bite , why? If you want to really do a experiment on you and that experiment has a high enough possibility of success you simply do it in Mexico or same where else , just like many thing illegal today in the USA. Many trasiumanist with limitation to genetics and implant simply went out and did it. Is all about waiting for the right time and price. If your government forbids something the neighbor one will have tehe incentive to allow it.   
    [edit] I forgot to mention that another point  for this mentality is the coming social war due to automation.What will all the people that did taxi driver for 30+ years do with self driving cars ?!

    Naturally I could be wrong, and there will be exceptions. Fun times await us 
  • glimsglims May 17
    It's the Dunning Kruger effect matched with libertarianism and technological eliteism. I'm all for the "people are stupid" theory. Thing is, statistically, if you are considering the elite to be the narrow end of the tail, we ourselves and most transhumanists out there, have a much greater possibility of being in the standard deviation than anyone wants to admit. What are the odds that you and everyone you like just happen to be the intelligent elite? Really fucking slim.

    It's fringe community and it's been bolstered by powerful toys. We've had this talk before on this board. While grinding is fairly more inclusive, transhumanism in general is the mostly white, mostly male, mostly wealthy demographic. And so you get what you would expect from that. People in positions of ease and privilege who think that they're better.

    The whole trope of "when the singularity comes, post humans will be to humans like humans are to ants" has some serious overtones of calling people ants. Which ends up just like you would expect. The normalization of thinking of people who aren't in your little tribe insects tends to skew your worldviews a bit.

    So of course you get people talking about how much progress would happen if we just experimented on the poor and weak a bit more. How we should chip refugees. It's not like the people saying this have ever been on the receiving end of it. It's the inherently selfish narrative of the future and survivor bias

    This is good conversation. I probably came to the boards well after these discussions were being had. Hopefully this whole thing isn't tedious. 

    What you said makes me laugh and reminds me of the "illusory superiority" effect or "above average effect" where far greater than 50% of people think they are above average, which is quite obviously impossible. Amusing, though. We all want to be special; yett transhumanism and biohacking even enable a shallow version of that by striving to imbue ordinary people with superpowers like magnetic vision or opening doors with the wave of a hand. This is really just "low transhumanism" though. There is limited benefit to the future potential of humanity if that becomes the goal.

    But your comments about worldviews being skewed by the demographics of typical transhumanists is interesting. You have probably had a lot more experience in meeting human transhumanists; I so far only know them via screens and books. I don't know what race/background everyone on here is and I don't really care: I'm not naive though -- it's probably similar to the description you give. Worrying about transhumanism is definitely a first world problem. I live and work and travel through Africa and can assure you that nearly a billion people on this continent couldn't give two shits about transhumanism or even take a guess at pronouncing or describing it for that matter. 30-40% of them are illiterate... though they almost all have cell phones, somehow.

    But more to the point, do you think that the demographics will impair its ability to realize its true positive potential? Transhumanism is likely one of the most important pivot points in the long path of evolution. The knob of development and change is being cranked up and sooner than later (short of existential crisis) there will be the "trans." And the odds are it will be a white, male, wealthy, and higher-than-two-standard-deviations-intellect who is developing the direction that all this goes. How do we help avoid a tyranny by some whackjob who wants to repeal the Nuremberg conventions? 

    I think we need to definitely start where Frank and BirdMachine want to go, which is to call it out. But that is reactionary, only. It is a dispersed group, I am sure, but I think it will take making influences count in the areas of education and social/cultural involvement. Thoughts?
  • FrankFrank May 22
    OK I just got to the point in The Transhumanist Wager where the "hero" bombs every significant government and religious buliding in the entire world and tells citizens to serve his transhuman project or die, so I'm going to file this book under "super fascist". Definitely drinks deep of the well @Glims noted, of singularity superiority complex. It's The Turner Diaries for people who read Ray Kurzweil. Yuk.

  • This kind of reminds me of a discussion that I've had with someone several years (so even earlier days) about transhumanism. His first comment was, verbetim, "you mean, that modern Eugenics movement?"

    I kind of think that we do have a bit of a problem when our goal is to "improve" or "enhance" humanity. Because that leads to questions like "what is 'better'?", "Does that mean that there are those that are objectively worse?" etc.Before we can go further, I think we need a good answer (I kind of do actually. I'm just not sure if everything shares that view) to that before we keep on going and then realize that we are heads deep in the abhorant path. We need to make a turn before we are too entrenched into fascism. Especially considering the current political environment.
  • I myself see the answer to that, @IvoTheSquire, as using technology to improve the human condition.

    It comes in a lot of varieties, and it varies in terms of its nature. But ultimately we all have a unique-ish makeup that will respond slightly differently when subject to the exact same things.

    For my own perspective... let's analog medicine. We all have different maladies, conditions, situations... these may call for different drugs, analgesics, anesthetics, antidepressants, etc. But the different drugs that are available do not necessarily make one group of people inferior to another. Or rather, it's not the drug itselfs fault.
    Steroids have legitimate medical applications as well as 'recreational' applications.

    Grinding may be used to equalize. Look at prosthetics, for example. ^^ but for sake of arguments, it's more like vitamins. To better our human conditions in preferred methods.

    The application to make someone's life better or easier does not constitute automatic evil. But it can be done in a way that is evil.

    Biohacking is a tool. It's in the hand of it's wielder to determine it's possession. Just like are pharmaceuticals can be used. Or religion. This is my view.

    One can become better or greater. But that does not mean they need to seek a path of superiority over their peers. That's their own vendetta, not the personal ideals of transhumanisim itself, for it's not a conscious or sentient living being.

    If someone who has beliefs of being superiors is also a transhumamist, and they go out of their way to use grinding to become 'superior'... that sounds like 'I used this tool to do this' to me. *~*

    Argue guns are evil, but they are not always used to kill innocent people. They can target shoot. They can hunt food. They can be used as deterrence against attack. ^^'
  • Answering @Frank, I feel like grinding leads itself to people seeking to create differences in authority the same way that guns lead themselves to people who strive for power; it's a tool to better lead to a set of goals.

    Give someone a gun who wants for protection. They are a bit more 'powerful' in the nature of the world. That by itself, from a survival or superior standpoint, is pretty huge. ^^'

    I'd love to see an augmented human have the capacity to kill 30 people in less than 3 minutes without exerting more energy than running and jumping. Because that's pretty 'superior' to an unarmed human. <~<
  • @Zerbula Interesting, because my answer is similar to yours: "Enhancement in variety. Improvement from choice." Transhumanism should be about what each of us is best for ourselves in terms of abilities and weaknesses. Just like sex change surgery allows people to choose the set of sexual organs they want and certain plastic surgeries allow people to choose their appearance.
  • I completely agree with that. ^^

    Also, I think myself, if transhumanisim has a problem with fascism, it's that fascists are fascists and they incorporate transhumanisim into it. ;_;

    My two cents.

    I love reading all these viewpoints. :3