Why are transhumanists such dicks?
  • FrankFrank December 2014

    Apologies for the clickbait headline, but “politics and
    philosophy of transhumanism” was a bit of a snooze-fest.



    I’ve been around and interviewed quite a lot of self-identified
    transhumanists in the last couple of years, and I’ve noticed many of them
    express a fairly stark ideology that is at best libertarian, and at worst
    Randian. Very much “I want super bionic limbs and screw the rest of the world”.
    They tend to brush aside the ethical, environmental, social and political
    ramifications of human augmentation so long as they get to have their toys.
    There’s also a common expression that if sections of society are harmed by transhumanist
    progress, then it is unfortunate but necessary for the greater good (the greater
    good often being bestowed primarily upon those endorsing the transhumanism).



    That attitude isn’t prevalent on this forum at all – I think
    the site tends to attract more practical body-modders than theoretical transhumanists
    – but I wondered if anyone else here had experienced the same attitudes in
    their own circles? What do you make of it? 

  • glimsglims December 2014
    Yay! A rant thread! Ooh ooh pick me!

    Are you asking why the elitist, mostly white male, mostly upper middle class, nerd culture on steroids with a side helping of pseudo science, has a tendency to be a bit shrill and rabid in their claims of validity and entitlement to the future, despite the majority of breakthroughs happening not by "transhuminists" but by normal scientists and engineers that don't usually maintain that particular party line?

    I'm as stumped as you ;D

    That being said, the grind scene has it's own share of the similar. As you rightly noticed, most things here tend to be closer to the mod scene than the armchair scene. That in itself lends to a certain wishy washy artyness that sometimes bites us in the ass and a distinct focus on the personal as opposed to the global. The community is close and accepting, but it is still pretty personally focused. Plenty of wanting bionic limbs and no discussions of ramifications to go around here.

    The two non grind pet projects I have on my plate are a solar powered aquaponics system to make our lab / home more robust and sustainable and gm remediation microbiota. I believe that as a transhumanist and a grinder, thinking large about the biome is crucial, cause having that sweet body armour implant is pretty useless when you are choking to death on your neighbors suv fumes. Maybe other people feel that way too, or have other projects like that. If so, they don't come up on this forum because they don't have to do with the personally focused projects everyone is excited about.

    EDIT: Not saying that there is anything wrong about it. I mean, that's what this board is for, so I don't expect more. I'm just pointing out the similarities.
  • BirdMachineBirdMachine December 2014
    I've always felt like that's one of the things that tends to define the separations between griders and transhumanists. Transhumanism seems to sprout from the 'top' of society where money, time, and resources are overflowing. Meanwhile grinding is more of a roots based effort, where I see a lot of people aiming to broaden a shared pool of knowledge and lower the barrier of safe access for others.

    I feel like a lot of transhumanists also already see themselves as 'more than human' and start from a place where they already reassure themselves that they're already at or near the top of humanity. Grinding however seems to start from being just human and building on that, grinding away and upgrading as new knowledge is shared and new techniques are forged. Including actually doing that forging and research to bring new tools and techniques to the community. Not just ourselves. The community. I think that's a big part of it.

    It's something I've definitely noticed, and part of what puts me off on the former, but draws me into the later.

    Edit: Glims... that opener right there is 100% wonderful!
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    I should say, I'm not insisting that everyone wielding a scalpel and a magnet should have a stated position on the ethics and impact of ferro-philic fingertips; but I am curious as to why whenever transhumanists do venture into philosophy, they always reveal themselves to be Randian types. 

    Take for instance, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska's book The Proactionary Imperative, which expoused throwing out the precautionary principle to "embrace risk", and was given a drubbing in New Scientist:

    If the authors are aware how their plans might sound to vulnerable populations, to disabled people or ethnic minorities, they don't give much evidence of it. Yet it was in response to abuses of these populations that we developed the current research regulation. 

    For example, the Nuremberg Code, an early set of research ethics principles, was adopted in response to medical experiments on Jews and other prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. And some years on, in 1974, came the National Research Act, which led to federal guidelines governing medical research in the US. This act was a response to outrages including the Tuskegee syphilis study of impoverished African-American men, and the Willowbrook hepatitis study, which was conducted on institutionalised disabled children.

  • SaalSaal December 2014
    My experience has been pretty similar. The Silicon Valley/H+ mag/Zerzan crowd seems pretty Randian or at best right-Rothbardian. Down here in the slums of the movement we get libsocs/anarchists, people who just don't give a shit, and Pinky & the Brain (I'm looking at you Rich. Whatcha wanna do today? ;) )
  • DirectorXDirectorX December 2014
    ZING! Well, guilty as charged.
  • otpthepersonotptheperson December 2014
    I think it might have to do with the idea of transhumanism itself lending well to the idea of being better than others- completely missing the point, which is to advance and transform humanity as a whole. When a lot of the more self centered people call themselves transhumanists, I imagine they see it as they themselves being more than human, leaving everyone else in the dust.

    But here, we're doing things for the community. We report our findings, we do proper experiments, and most importantly, we share how to do it safely and learn from one another's mistakes.

    Basically, we're not rude and help one another.
  • TranshumanManTranshumanMan December 2014
    This is interesting. I guess I always felt that grinding could be considered a part of transhumanism. If not, then a starting point.
    I was talking to my brother a few days ago about how I feel like I've been getting colder towards others. But I'm not a privileged white male, I'm more like lower-middle class Mexican male. And though I usually talk down to religious people, I do try to get them to understand modern tech.
    As well as improving my body, I would like to improve my mind. So I'm trying to be more tolerant, less judgmental etc..
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    I think grinding could definitely be part of transhumanism - it's about doing the impossible after all. (Though I'm wary of labels in general, as people have their individual motivations. The transhumanists I'm moaning about were all self-described as such) 

    Case in point - I was on a panel along with an amputee where a transhumanist guy stood up said (and I paraphrase) "we shouldn't be scared to do extreme research and yes some people will get hurt but it will benefit everyone in the end" and all I could think was "hey, dude, those people you're going to hurt... that's me and the guy sat next to you". Then he started extolling eugenics, and it all got weird. Did I mention this was one of the speakers, not some random cat in the audience?

    I wonder if anyone here has had similar experiences, or I'm simply unlucky...
  • DeusExLiberDeusExLiber December 2014
    Well you can have extreme research that is ethical Frank. For example if someone gives there informed consent to an extreme augmentation then there is no ethical breach. At least in my opinion I haven't taken classes in ethics.
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    You're not wrong, DEL - the Ebola vaccine being fast-tracked (and given immunity from prosecution under US medical negligence laws) is a good example. (though I'd argue informed consent is not by itself enough to make something ethical)

    "Extreme" was probably the wrong word to use; this guy (like Fuller and Lipinska) was arguing that we should set aside pesky ethical regulations because they were standing in the way of him getting his super cyborg arms or whatever. He didn't seem to understand that it's overwhelmingly the poor, desperate and disenfranchised who get harmed when you suspend these rules.

    I don't know a huge number of transhumanists, though - so it's possible there are prominent voices in the area that don't subscribe this philosophy.
  • aviinaviin December 2014
    While I agree that some ethical lines need to be drawn, it can be very hard for even a small group of people to come to a clear consensus of where those lines are.  It just isn't possible to please everyone, and because of that, we err on the side of caution and at times overly restrict what we will and will not allow.  I worry that often times we end up with laws and regulations that hold us back and ultimately cause far more harm than the few "broken eggs" we would get along the way to the omelet.  Sure, not too many people would want to be the broken egg, but that's partly where grinders come in.

    I would dare say that many grinders feel like we ARE the disenfranchised.  There are so many possibilities just beyond reach, so many things that a bit of money or crossing a few "ethical" lines would yield.  For our own benefit, sure, but for all of humankind as well.  Because of this feeling of disenfranchisement, we're willing to risk being that broken egg.  It's an informed decision and one we actively seek.  To push boundaries, to reach for a future that we know is just over that next rise.  And if when we top that rise, should we see another "unreachable" goal (and we surely will), so much the better.  Every time we tell a person about our implants spreads information, makes them look at the world a little differently, brings them a little further up the ladder of transhumanism themselves.  Every failure we make that we share with the world helps to increase our knowledge base and helps us advance.  In essence, every step we take that we share with others is advancing the human condition.


  • pibpib December 2014
    I love this thread. The title is clickbait, but bait I am happy to take. 

    I too have noticed that many of the more vocal, self-described transhumanists tend to espouse political ideologies that strike me as ethically repugnant, so much that I hope they are simply politically ignorant. "The Transhumanist Wager" terrified me. Spend some time on the poorly-named facebook group "Scientific Transhumanism" for plenty of examples of either willful ignorance or disgust of identity issues (gender, race, and disability politics). @Frank 's story about the eugenicist is no longer surprising, or the horrifying Proactionary Transhumanist article @Frank also exampled. 

    And it maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. There are multiple societal factors contributing to the sharing of extreme libertarian views, conservative social values, and transhumanism. The first is as @Glims pointed out. To put that point another way, ""The most obvious answer is that there is an even more pronounced bias among longevists (or indeed transhumanists in general) towards IT professionals, mathematicians and similar professions, and there is of course also a strong gender bias in those professions" (Aubrey de Grey...I think). That gender bias and political bias has appeared numerous times in recent media. Remember, it's all about ethics in video game journalism. See also the rise of the neoreactionary ideology, and look at the majority of it's subscribers.

    There is a seductive intellectual ease to transhumanism. Transhumanists is concerned with future of all humanity (or just a few lucky immortals), that sticky and squishy issues like the poor, the environment, or politics and identity in general are just not a concern. Certain transhuminists have an ultimate goal, one that is on intellectual level that transcends traditional humanity and thus traditional morality, and the ends justify the means.

    However I do think transhumanism is an apolitical ideology (disregarding Mr Istvan and a handful of others), thus it intersects with all sorts of ethical persons. IEEET, The Mormon Transhumanist Association (bare with me here), for example. There was an organization seeking to crowdfund a feeding the hungry program called "Transhumanists against hunger." The work of Kate Darling discussing the ethical and empathetic issues between robots and humans. They all share transhumanist values along with a more empathetic and collectively-centered values than the "transhumanist dicks" first mentioned. 

    Assholes are everywhere. I do wish there were louder organizations of ethically and politically-minded transhumanists, but the argument could be made they'd fail because they'd only appeal to a certain class of liberal, intellectual elite (like me). 
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    @avinn Interesting view that grinders themselves feel disenfranchised!(compared to a future version of themselves...)

    @pib I had to look up the Transhumanist Wager - oh my. It sounds like a re-write of the Turner Diaries for the H+ set. I think you're certainly right that some people tend to see transhuman things happening in a space isolated from their squishy, sticky issues. I think these people tend to have a very individualist mindset. The "but these things improve all humankind" is kinda tacked on as an afterthought to "I get what I want". 

    But then if I'm honest there's an element of individualism within transhumanism that I'd subscribe to - of the self being a sovereign entity and not wanting to be constrained by outside forces (clear example: I'm not allowed to reprogram my own hearing aids, which is obviously bullshit...). But I'd stop short of pretending this is a good philosophy wholesale...
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Funny thing though, from what I heard from another transhumanist the ones that are currently holding sway in the movement are what he termed "transhumanist left": people who are more about "people should be allowed to do what they want and we should not judge what they think their 'improvements' are (he believes that sex change itself is already part of transhumanism: you're altering your human condition to suit what you need)" as opposed to "we should all upgrade ourselves and cane everyone else's arse!" 
  • ShankTShankT December 2014
    I dont think transhumanists are dicks at all.

    I'm in a local transhumanist group, and we meet for beers and do projects with VR and tDCS, etc. All of these people are awesome. Not a single one comes off as elitist. 

    Aside from that, most of my experience with other people that call themselves transhuman is through Humanity+. I'm a member and have had direct interaction with the organization's leadership.

    My experience with them hasn't been 'bad'... in conversations with board members, they've been respectful and friendlly. They do seem to have an attitude that I would call 'aloof'.

    Here is the essence of the conversation I tried to start with them:

    Transhumanism at its core is just acknowledgement that humans use tech to evolve. Its just human evolution.

    Humans are human, Transhumans are human. Posthumans are human... We're all transhuman. Preaching it is like telling humans to be human.

    The point was missed entirely. While friendly and respectful, the responses were how people could be trained and educated.

    The idea of being trained and educated on how to evolve seemed pretty ridiculous to me, so I just let it go.
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Let me take a stab at why this may have confused some people there.

    "Posthumans are human"?
    So, I'm assuming that we are just giving up on the traditional method of preffix usages completely?
    _Wanting_ to be more than human is human. _To_be_ more than human is to not be human. Otherwise we need to just start throwing out adverbs as well...
    That's where that aloofness comes from I am guessing.

    That and you can't train people how to evolve. People change, species evolve. You can educate people on how to better the species, or technically, even how to use crispr to mess with genetics, but that's not evolution. That's a modification. 

    Sorry for those who have heard me talk about this before, I just think it's a good idea we use the words correctly so we don't think we're binding nature to our will or something. Use the words wrong and you start thinking things are happening that aren't...

    I don't see any transhumans around me. Definitely not posthumans. We are currently good and well mired in standard humanity with light modification. There is no speciation going on yet.

    Doesn't mean there isn't potential, just that the philosophical handwaving should be kept within the confines of physical reality.
  • ShankTShankT December 2014
    "giving up on the traditional method of preffix usages completely?"

    No... As it has been the prefix describes the word it prepends. I don't really know how to clarify except to say:

    A pretest is still a test.
    A postdated check is still dated.
    A transplanted plant is still planted.

    In this case, the prefix in question describes the state of the word it prepends. I believe my usage is correct... transhumans and posthumans are still humans. 


    "We are currently good and well mired in standard humanity"

    My point exactly.

  • glimsglims December 2014
    We could have a little latin throw down right here but it's off topic. Suffice to say, your point is technically valid, but contextually, as the word is commonly used, not so much. A post operative patient is no longer being operated on, post natal recovery is definitely after natessence (is that a thing in english, i forget). language is funny that way.

    Regardless

    My point was that transhumanists tend to think this way. "We are already moving beyond being human". I use tranhumanist as a separate concept from an actual transhuman because we have little to no good example of true transhumans, as the definition goes. Excellent example of misuse of language for back patting. A few art projects and a couple of sensationalistic science projects. One or two really good things, that required removal. It's that ol' we're all cyborgs cause we have contact lenses jazz... Building ourselves robotic arms just to pat ourselves on the back.

    It's that sense of entitlement. That concept that just through a bit of know how and a handful of pretty beads and tech toys, we are passing into the future, not scrabbling to meet it and having it trickle back to us as we always have, picking up the scraps...

  • FrankFrank December 2014
    I'm with @Glims on this one - sometimes I remind people that literacy is an augmentation (we're not born with it, and it doesn't develop naturally). And it's widespread and has big social, political and personal impacts, so it's useful to hold up as an augmentation for study. Of course, nobody thinks being able to read makes you some kind of post-human ubermensch.

    Which comes back to my original question - if "transhumanism" is primarily an identity / philosophy rather than a real thing you can do, is it necessary that it has this libertarian focus? Is transhumanism without libertarianism just... you know... being a normal inquisitive human?
  • glimsglims December 2014
    I think it comes with it. Entitlement. Chosen, Living forever, Smarter, Better. Posthuman as in what comes after human. The common phrasing thrown up is that a posthuman is to a human as a human is to an ant / flatworm / whatever. So how do you engage in that narrative without using that as your base metric? Thinking about people as ants...

    Sometimes it's subconscious, sometimes it's some weird form of 1st vs 3rd world nonsense where we must go an help the natives cause they are so lost without our tool sets. This time we figured it out. This time it's not cultural imperialism. We're better this time.

    You get enough people in one place, cyclically reinforcing themselves they they are doing better than others (I'm looking at you silicon valley campuses) and you get this kind of crap. Like the guy who was offering homeless people 100 dollars or coding lessons. Not a transhumanist per se, but that mindset. That software will save you. That you can plug and play technology to fix the problems that plague our society.
    They are saying that the "sharing society" (uber etc) isn't a sign that everyone is becoming better through software. it's that we are all becoming pretty fucking poor and we are trying to make ends meet.

    Here's a collection of tweets from Marc Andreessen that Bruce Sterling posted. His brief commentary just about nails it:


    Transhumanists tend to be in the elite status that I mentioned in my first reply up top. Of course everything looks sunny on their side of the divide. The rest of us just must be... not trying hard enough. Or maybe we're just not good enough.

    Transhumanists that aren't in the elite have a tendency to respond to this concept the way that poor people in America do. Oh well, I'm not going to throw stones because it's just a matter of time till I'm up there too. The poor in America don't consider themselves poor, they just consider themselves "not rich yet". Or, the techno hippie peace love and we'll all come together method.  And it's how we fuck ourselves.

    Transhumanist who manage to fall outside that place as well end up starting to look like Grinders. Weird. Scarred. Distrustful of governments and corporations. The opposite. Still flawed, but it's our flaws that give us character.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Well, I don't agree with the "flaws give character" argument. Flaws create problems that is ultimately to our detriment.

    I kind of like the argument that a friend of mine has made in this where he argued that transhumanism is about embracing how technology is going to change the human nature, and that gender queerness is actually a part of it (as shown by sex change).
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Hey, character doesn't mean positive character ;) It was a play on words not meant to be taken too seriously.
  • glimsglims December 2014
    I have also plugged that gender fluidity is the closet thing to transhumanism we have. While it's not as hot swappable as (some) people would like, the ability to have ones body altered to such a degree is pretty awesome. However, it is at the core level, just surgery. There is no lasting effects, as in, on a long term biological level. Like any other alteration, it is merely as transitory as the person how has it. It may have more sociopolitcal ramifications than a facelift, but they are still within the same scale as compared to genetic alteration etc.
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    Transexualism as a frame for transhumanism is super-interesting... And yet in a weird way I think that Randian ghost is hovering in it. The triumph of recreating yourself in your true self-image, refusing to be constrained by society/biology, etc etc.

    That said, I think it's coincidental. I don't think many people here are getting magnet implants because, their true mental self has magnetic fingers(!). But very interesting all the same.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Well, I do identify myself more as a machine than human, so there's that. :P

    I personally am more fascinated by the effects of magnetic fingers (how does it work? Do the receptors sense the changes to the magnetic field of the magnet as it interacts with outside EM fields? How do they do that? etc) and trying to improve on the current process/magnets used/etc.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    "I think that Randian ghost is hovering in it. The triumph of recreating yourself in your true self-image, refusing to be constrained by society/biology, etc etc."

    Also, this sounds a bit too simplistic way of looking at it. Social attitudes (in particular, attitudes towards gender and sexuality) is not necessarily egalitarian (by Western standards my very existence is "Randian" in your view as I am not white, where "normal" is a cisgendered white male). Not to mention that this implies that our choices are not influenced by society/our biology anyway (just ask those who still become transgender even after being raised as their born gender) which is totally not true. 
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Also, just cause Ayn went the distance and ruined the concept of self sufficiency and independence for a lot of us, doesn't mean that those concepts are inherently "Randian". You could just as well say that they are "American" or any other number of philosophies. I don't see anything particularly Randian in wanting control of your body. Or are you to lead me to believe that everyone who says a woman should have control of her body re birth control and abortion is a secret libertarian?

    Like so many other things, the concepts themselves are not the message, it's how you carry it out.
  • glimsglims December 2014
    I'm just gonna smack this in here. Saw it on my news feed this morn and figured that I was relevant to this topic of self-centeredness and technology...

    Cory Doctorow interviewing Bruce Sterling:

     Cory Doctorow: Do you feel that the world is, on balance, improved by technology?

    Well, if you ask that question from the point of view of almost anything in this world that’s not a human being like you and me, the answer’s almost certainly No. You might get a few Yea votes from the likes of albino rabbits and gene-spliced tobacco plants. Ask any living thing that’s been around in the world since before the Greeks made up the word “technology,” like say a bristlecone pine or a coral reef. You would hear an awful tale of woe.

  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Well, I wouldn't consider that to be self-centeredness. More like human beings only care about human beings and all other life-forms take a back seat. It's not just about technology but just about everything in terms of human behaviour, from the way that we get our food to the way we change the environment to suit us.

    Suffice to say IMO it is not technology itself per se but it's the human beings that's the problem.
  • glimsglims December 2014
    I wholeheartedly agree. However, you can't really separate humans from their tools. Maybe human centric technology is the problem. I mean, when we as a species figured out how to make sharp rocks and attach them to sticks was right around the time that 60-70% of the macro species on this planet died. It's only gotten worse since then. What's the latest numbers? We reduced the number of animals, just like straight up moving biomass by 50% in the last century or something like that. Human centered, species centered, self centered, call it what you will. 

    I thought it was funny, when people expressed concerns about the mouse uplifting experiment. All I could think was, "what's the problem, worried they might hold a grudge?"

    So I guess that's maybe a new question. I mean if you want to point some fingers at people being dicks, we have to examine ourselves first.  How do we not be dicks like the outspoken transhumanist armchair faction? What is it that we could or should be doing to not be world bothering, libertarian whatnots? Instead of just high fiving for being different, can it be broken down? Are we a different fruit or just different flavour?

    edit: too many commas
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Well, the fact that we are having this conversation is already a big difference.

    Though I don't think there is a simple solution to this, as quite often humans interest (by that I include survival itself!) goes up against animal interest and you cannot have the cake and eat it too. Eg: should we allow the malaria parasite to kill us or should we kill it with drugs/immune system/etc? Or should we allow diseases to remain untreatable and people to keep dying from them so that we don't experiment our drugs on animals? Funny thing is that the only way to be able to figure out an answer is to have augmented intelligence!
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Pff, the malaria parasite is not trying to kill us. That's anthropomorphization.

    Also, you're just picking the button issues on the negative side.
    We could say, should people just chill the fuck out, or should we be nailing coyotes onto fence posts?
    Funny thing is that to make that call, I don't actually need a pokedex in my head. Huge amount of data that says that removal of apex predators is one of the worst things that we do. Huge amounts of data say that removing mirobiota are also an issue. So, do we take responsibility for what we do, or do we say that we can only do it if we have help? I prefer responsibility. 

    There are ways to interact with the world without killing it. I would think that our recent understanding about the human microbiome and antibiotic resistance would be enough to nail that point home

    We can just ignore things and keep waiting for someone (or something) to fix them. Sure. Software it up. But don't think that is the answer. Let them eat code is not the answer.,

    So! Same question. How do you delineate functionality? What is it that we do that is good?
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Now you're arguing semantics. The fact that the malaria parasite have no intention of killing us doesn't mean it doesn't leave people any less dead. Are all those "smoking kills" ads anthropormorphising smoking too? You know what I mean.

    And you're avoiding talking about the "no way out" situations which does not make them disappear or any less real. Yes, they are negative examples, but they exist. Can you look into the eyes of a parent whose child had died of a disease that would've been prevented had we allowed animal clinical trials because they should not be so selfish and need to think of other animals as well? You can't. Not to mention I don't see how you're going to find the line of functionality and where self-centered-ness begins without talking about controversial, borderline example. I mean, do you really want this thread to be a series of "Ok, we all agree with that. Next item that everyone will agree with"?

    There is no simple answer. Our well being and well being of others cannot always co exist. Should the human race suffer and risk extinction for the sake of other creatures? And of course, we have to take responsibility for our actions and their consequences, which is why the situations that I've been talking about are legit concerns because we have responsibility towards ourselves, other people as well as animals/ other living things. To ignore our responsibilities towards other people for the sake of other living creatures is as irresponsible as the other way around.

    As to your questions, they are not really answerable as long as you don't resolve (read: balance) the conflict between the different responsibilities first. Otherwise I can claim "for the sake of all other animals the only "funtionality" the humans deserve is cessation of existence. Screw responsibility for people." (An example that I don't ascribe to).

    Also, in regards to functionality you have the problem of "not everyone is the same". On average, a 65 year old is weaker and more frail than an 18-year-old. Should a 65-year-d amputee get a worse prosthetic than an 18-year-old? Should amputees keep replacing their prosthetics as they age? Is that even practical? Isn't that ageism?
  • glimsglims December 2014
    First things first. You are rocking the small view. What's good for humans is not good for peoples per se. And yeah, I'm touching into that terrible territory that @Frank was referencing. Luckily, I never told people I'm not a dick. I'm just a different type of dick. By now no one here should be surprised.

    Now, I'm going to work backwards through this, by paragraph, but I may lose track a bit. Stick with me.

    No. Everyone should have access to the same levels of technology. Why would a 65 year old get a worse prosthetic? I'm confused about this line of questioning. One of the things that Grinders seem to get is the concept of "Peeled Back Technological Democratic Access". That is, basically, what's the use of technology if everyone can't use it? Fabbing up a prosthetic out of reclaimed plastics is cheap easy and in terms of resources and the grand scale of functional, so simple that it doesn't matter. I could do it in an afternoon.

    I dig your all or nothing outlook. Very human, very short term. If you believe that humans are only capable of destruction, then sure. You say you don't ascribe to it but you are bringing it to the table. I never said that's how it has to go down.

    Let's not make assumptions about how I would respond to looking into a person eyes. That's probably best all around. It might be awkward. I'm not taking the hippie bs line here btw. I'm not saying we should stop animal trials or not eat meat or whatever. There are, on the other hand, some huge extinction level activities that we participate in that we should be curbing. Yes it will make life more difficult. That is why we need to start exploring technologies that aren't so exploitative. Balance. So it doesn't suck for us with us having a complete environmental collapse and choke on our own fumes.

    Smoking kills isn't anthropomorphization. It's a human activity. It is literally anthropic. Malaria happens. People die. Less malaria, less people dying. Great. Wiping out most of the species on the planet, because Joe can't walk his fat ass down to the bodega... mmmm not so much. Again, balance. You want to pick malaria, fine, you can have the malaria argument, pick it off, wipe it out. I want honeybees. There has to be a way to do your thing, and keep my thing.

    I don't want this thread to be a series of casual agreements. I think I am doing a fairly good job expressing that. I'm still looking for an answer to what does the Grinding community bring to the table? This has been bugging me for a while actually... Is it just the peeled back technological democratic access? Do we do that well? Are we making developments and moving forward or are we just playing around and duplicating other peoples work? Maybe thats all we do, make high level work more accessible. Are we focused, do we have a purpose, or is it just a bunch of projects so that we can become better interfaces for our cellphones? I am not a peripheral for my phone.

    It's always coming down to the same disagreement. The complete and utter disassociation from biological and physical reality that floats around these circles. The way that we have been doing things is not in the best interests of humanity. I would think the worst drought in 1200 yrs here down in SoCal may have made everyone thing about that. Yet, somehow....

    Our well being as individuals and the well being of other individuals cannot always coexist. Granted. Our well being as a species should be able to figure it out.  It's not a matter of needing augmented intelligence. It more about not being quite so ... well, what we are now. I'm not sure "smarter" is the best answer here.

    If we both agree humans are the problem, then super humans sound like just a super problem... Posthumanism at it's core is not about being superhuman. It's about being not human. It's that anthropic principle again, coming into play, clouding things up. This is, I believe, the fallacy of current transhumanist thought. If a post human is to a person, what a person is to an ant.... People aren't like ants at all. They are radically and irrevocably not like ants, you get me?
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    "No. Everyone should have access to the same levels of technology. Why would a 65 year old get a worse prosthetic? I'm confused about this line of questioning. One of the things that Grinders seem to get is the concept of "Peeled Back Technological Democratic Access". That is, basically, what's the use of technology if everyone can't use it? Fabbing up a prosthetic out of reclaimed plastics is cheap easy and in terms of resources and the grand scale of functional, so simple that it doesn't matter. I could do it in an afternoon."

    Because when you start talking about "everyone should not be using technology to improve their functionality" you're talking about they should not be using implants to make themselves stronger/faster/etc. The problem is, a 65-year-old is on average naturally never going to be as fast or as strong as someone much younger. As you say, if they should have assess to the same prosthetic as am 18-year-old, wouldn't that mean that you're essentially improving 65-year-olds as they are going to get stronger/faster/etc than they naturally are. And that's not including training as well. Should an athlete amputee lose their hard trained capabilities by having a prosthetic that performs worse than their original or should normal people get a prosthetic that is equal to an athlete's normal which would be better than their original?

    "I dig your all or nothing outlook. Very human, very short term. If you believe that humans are only capable of destruction, then sure. You say you don't ascribe to it but you are bringing it to the table. I never said that's how it has to go down."

    No I don't. I'm putting those examples out there because they are extreme which is where you find your balance point. We can talk about whether we should destroy the planet without gain all day long, but that's so far in the "No because we need to be responsible for our planet" side of the scale that we cannot even see where balance point is and where "we need to be responsible for ourselves" side starts. I don't see the point of discussing scenarios where there isn't a serious conflict between responsibilities because as rational decent people I think we all know that we need to be responsible. It's when those responsibilities start to conflict where we found our balance points.



  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    "Let's not make assumptions about how I would respond to looking into a person eyes. That's probably best all around. It might be awkward. I'm not taking the hippie bs line here btw. I'm not saying we should stop animal trials or not eat meat or whatever. There are, on the other hand, some huge extinction level activities that we participate in that we should be curbing. Yes it will make life more difficult. That is why we need to start exploring technologies that aren't so exploitative. Balance. So it doesn't suck for us with us having a complete environmental collapse and choke on our own fumes.

    Smoking kills isn't anthropomorphization. It's a human activity. It is literally anthropic. Malaria happens. People die. Less malaria, less people dying. Great. Wiping out most of the species on the planet, because Joe can't walk his fat ass down to the bodega... mmmm not so much. Again, balance. You want to pick malaria, fine, you can have the malaria argument, pick it off, wipe it out. I want honeybees. There has to be a way to do your thing, and keep my thing"

    Yes, of course we should stop extinction level activities provided that doing so won't be causing major harm to us. Of course we should keep the honeybees. Like you say, balance. But that's, again, so far away from the balance point that there's nothing to talk about, is there? And btw, saying "there is a way" isn't in anyway providing a solution, is it?

    "I don't want this thread to be a series of casual agreements. I think I am doing a fairly good job expressing that. I'm still looking for an answer to what does the Grinding community bring to the table? This has been bugging me for a while actually... Is it just the peeled back technological democratic access? Do we do that well? Are we making developments and moving forward or are we just playing around and duplicating other peoples work? Maybe thats all we do, make high level work more accessible. Are we focused, do we have a purpose, or is it just a bunch of projects so that we can become better interfaces for our cellphones? I am not a peripheral for my phone.

    It's always coming down to the same disagreement. The complete and utter disassociation from biological and physical reality that floats around these circles. The way that we have been doing things is not in the best interests of humanity. I would think the worst drought in 1200 yrs here down in SoCal may have made everyone thing about that. Yet, somehow...."

    Well, I do find that the grinders differ from the transhumanists in that they are more grounded because they are trying to get their hands dirty and get things to work. It's like the difference between experimentalists and theorists in the scientific research field. The disassociation I found is usually because most grinders are not scientifically/medically trained which means that they attempt unfeasible projects. However, because we are actually trying to get things to work that gets filtered out quickly because unfeasible projects by definition don't work!


  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    "Our well being as individuals and the well being of other individuals cannot always coexist. Granted. Our well being as a species should be able to figure it out.  It's not a matter of needing augmented intelligence. It more about not being quite so ... well, what we are now. I'm not sure "smarter" is the best answer here."

    Well, if there's an answer that everyone can agree on and not ruled out by different scenarios I'd like to hear it. 

    "If we both agree humans are the problem, then super humans sound like just a super problem... Posthumanism at it's core is not about being superhuman. It's about being not human. It's that anthropic principle again, coming into play, clouding things up. This is, I believe, the fallacy of current transhumanist thought. If a post human is to a person, what a person is to an ant.... People aren't like ants at all. They are radically and irrevocably not like ants, you get me?"

    Sure, though I would ask where would you start drawing the line between "superhuman" and "not being human at all"? 

    And to be fair I'm not even sure if that's not even worse let alone better. It is far easier to "dehumanise" (for a lack of better word) people the more you differ from other people. The implication of the "post human to a human is and human to an ant" is not just the difference but the superiority and value: you value an ant far less than a human being. There is a hint of misanthropy there I think.
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Ah, the point I was trying to make is that the philosophy itself lends to that sort of superioristic thinking. That was my pint all along. And I personally don't value ants less than people.

    Yes, of course we should stop extinction level 
    activities provided that doing so won't be causing major harm to us

    Interesting. Harm to us the species? I think we are doing an excellent job harming the species and reducing our ability to survive. 

    Anyway, we're getting off topic again. This is fun and all, but I feel like I've made my main point re the topic of this thread. Transhumanists are dicks because their philosophy lends itself to a species centric, top down, position of power that is exercised through blatant disregard for their actions, a casual and community reinforced belief that they are special, and a generous helping of the same old justifications made by the elite that they deserve the place that they are in.

    so, again, how are grinders different? What is it that we are doing to make ourselves different from the armchair faction? Yes yes, we have managed to stick some rocks and a couple of circuit boards into our bits. And...? What? I mean how do we define ourselves as a useful contributor to the future?

    However, because we are actually trying to get things to work that gets filtered out quickly because unfeasible projects by definition don't work!

    Quick! Name 3 things that have successfully worked for the grinder community that aren't just sticking lumps of metal/glass into their body!  I can think of a few if I stretch the bounds of "working", one blew up, one caused people to go a bit crazy, one nobody cares about, one actually works but is an augment to offset biological failure as opposed to an upgrade.

    We have a passionate community of outspoken individuals who have little regard for safety and a desire to do cool stuff and we are still arguing about the best way to close a wound or how to turn our fingers into glowsticks.

    Also, please demarcate if you are going to copypasta huge chunks into your replies. Its hard to keep track when one spends half the time reading the previous post in bits.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Quick! Name 3 things that have successfully worked for the grinder community that aren't just sticking lumps of metal/glass into their body!  I can think of a few if I stretch the bounds of "working", one blew up, one caused people to go a bit crazy, one nobody cares about, one actually works but is an augment to offset biological failure as opposed to an upgrade.

    We have a passionate community of outspoken individuals who have little regard for safety and a desire to do cool stuff and we are still arguing about the best way to close a wound or how to turn our fingers into glowsticks.

    I think you're asking for way too much here. Considering that hardly anyone here, if at all, are trained medical professionals (let alone surgeons who are actually trained to put implants inside people's bodies) or researchers in the medical field (I think I've seen a couple of biologists here) I think that it is already extraordinary that no one here got themselves seriously mangled in the first place, let alone getting a few that almost worked and one that actually successfully offset a biological failure! 

    And personally, I actually think that already proves that this community of grinders at least are different from the transhumanists that you've been talking about. As far as I can see most people's response to other people's questions are "Ok, I've tried this and works. Dunno if it will solve your problem but it might." We throw ideas at each other. Everything is taken seriously. Forget about the "bioconservatives are trying to stop us from becoming supreme beings" crap that some transhumanists throw out now and again: there's not even "I'm a medical doctor and I think what you're doing is stupid and you should all stop" (at most it's "I don't think this will work because X") or even "lurk more and use the search button, noob" thing that is prevalent in other forums. What superiority? This place is the opposite of that.

    Hell, this thread is the proof of that. In a transhumanist forum/thread this kind of talk will attract transhumanists who would then accuse you of "dragging them down"!
  • glimsglims December 2014
    Fair enough.

    I don't feel like I'm asking for too much tho, just more...
  • FrankFrank December 2014
    @glims Do you think it's sensible to talk about a code of ethics for grinding? Or is the practice of biohacking too piecemeal to make that worthwhile?

  • glimsglims December 2014
    I think there is little need and it may be detrimental to attempt to put rules in to place in a group who gets a kick out of breaking or ignoring rules.

    Besides, no one is doing enough to necessitate having some sort of ethics code. And it's all self experimentation. Like I've said in other threads, there are things I wouldn't do on myself, but I'm happy to take notes while someone else does it. I have no desire to curtail other peoples personal freedoms like that.

    IF we somehow get to a point where people are actually coming up with things that are dangerous to others, then we might need to have that talk. But right now, its like... I dunno, we're in the kiddie pool. The code is basically don't drown in 6 inches of water when you trip over your own feet.

    I may be ready to push the boundaries, but I won't, for instance,  give anyone something that will burn their eyes. This isn't out of goodwill to my fellow man per se, it's cause I want things to work. I can't keep testing things on you guys if you're dead ;)

    Keeping people safe and alive means we have more people to work with and more ideas to build on. That's common sense, if you don't think you're some sort of ubermensch. I think that maybe transhumanists might get a little crazy when they talk about things like this cause they have no frame of reference. Lack of actual experience means they tend to gravitate towards the extremes of what experimentation might be.




  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Also, given the amount of self-experimentations that is going on at the moment (for new stuff as opposed to pretty established ones like magnet implantation) I doubt that a code of ethics is necessary or useful yet (if someone is determine to chop their own arm off without surgical training it's rather hard to stop them as opposed to them trying to do this to other people, and I don't think that people here are stupid enough to do that). And people here seem pretty aware that they are not professionals with lots of resources (as in, teams of researchers plus equipment plus...) at their disposal so I don't see people going to do something real dangerous anytime soon.
  • AlexSmithAlexSmith December 2014
    @IvoTheSquire I wouldn't be so sure... I mean, sure, we know we're not professionals, but I know of a few people here, myself included, who have done some stupid/risky self implantation experiments. so far we have been lucky there have not been any really bad outcomes.

    Not that I want a code of ethics, I'm going to keep experimenting on myself no matter what anyone else thinks.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire December 2014
    Hence why I said it's rather hard to stop self-experimentation. On top of that on the agency/ autonomy side of things (you know better than anyone when the risks to your own body are too much etc).

    As opposed to opening a shop and providing such services to other people where now customers or anyone can just call the cops and arrest people. :P
  • FrankFrank January 2015
    All great points - I agree it's not useful to try and pass "rules" on biohacking. But what I'm wondering is whether it's possible to semi-formally state some set of values that define grinding. 

    So, rather than a code of ethics being something that restricts, it could be something to aspire to. For example, you can already see this on the Grindhouse Wetware homepage: "augmenting humanity using safe, affordable, open source technology"

    I think right there - safe, affordable, open source - immediately sets GW apart from the Randian fantasies of transhumanist theorists.
  • TimmyCNinjaTimmyCNinja January 2015
    @Frank part of the inspiration for Grindhouse came when I saw a clip of Max Moore talking about life extension technology, and when he was asked about the obvious disparity this could cause between have's and have-not's he simply replied "Aww capitalism should take care of it". I was like "Oh Fuck! This shit cannot be delivered by Apple or Haliburton, This needs to come from a place of lifting up the everyone not causing MORE disparity"

    I advocate investigating the risk, mitigating them as much as possible,having a reasoned ethical discussion on the ramifications, and then trusting in the community to do moral policing in real time, rather than a "code of ethics" or "rules". That said I am grinder and not "risk averse" 

    One of my largest goals is to use this technology to more effectively aid the 3rd world.
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire January 2015
    The fact that we're already talking about the possibility of inequality before we have human enhancement tech means to me that such tech is going to do to the current capitalist system what nuclear weapons did to world peace wars, ie it's going to either radically alter it for the better (eg it becoming something like universal healthcare) or completely replace it with something else.

    And the thing is that you cannot really stop it. Eg say for example life extension technologies: any opposition have to answer the morally thorny questions "When does the human being cease to have the right to live and the right to well being and who gets to decide that?"
  • kuroro86kuroro86 February 2015
    I think the main reason transhumanism has such a individualistic philosophy, is simple all talks that spoke about enhancing a group of people or a society has ended in fascism. I think every one know the Uberman by Friedrich Nietzsche's , that was the philosophical standing for both Hitler and Mussolini, and helped to shape the fascist mentality. By speaking only for them self detach of society they avoit getting to close to Nietzsche. ( I find it a smart move)
    And for why the look all coming from the liberal or randian, is that both philosophy are descendent of Rationalists and empiricits. That both expect to have a clear and objective view of reality, it is obvious to that a clash with other mentalities will happen and that they make it clear they are not going to back down. There is always the cache hat some idiot goes to government and decide to slow down progress out of the "ethical " concern. biohacking is at it infancy and has in small part  become main stream in just few nation and you have media discussing it far consequence  in inequality and social life.
    We are dealing with something new standing around and asking ourselves to predict the far future is pointless we have a really bad track record of it.
  • glimsglims March 2015
    Oh look! We're Boing Boing famous. Which tbh, is one of the better types of internet famous...

    http://boingboing.net/2015/03/02/why-are-some-transhumanists.html

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