Transhuman Apotheosis/Transhuman Apocalypse



Note: This post is a companion to "The Psychedelic Solution," posted here.

It doesn't bother me that Transhumanism meddles with the forces of nature - bending nature to our will has been the human story since the first tool was made or the first potion was brewed. And it doesn't bother me that Transhumanism will inevitably primarily benefit the rich, despite all of the protests to the contrary from its apologists - I'm used to that kind of thing by now.

What really bothers me is that Transhumanism is a religion.
A religion every bit as totalizing and apocalyptic as the ones it seeks to replace. It preaches apotheosis and deliverance from death and it makes universal claims of salvation. It even has its own rapture in the form of the Singularity. And that makes debate nearly impossible.

We've already seen some fairly intemperate language from the Transies when it comes to dealing with opposition- how could we not? They believe that Transhumanism is going to turn us- and by us, I mean the super-rich and a handful of their lackies - into gods, who will live forever, out-think supercomputers, and generally make Nietzsche's Overman look like Beavis and Butthead. Anyone who would stand in the way of that is a fool, right?

I'm not opposed to rejiggering the human machine in principle- it's done on a daily basis for both better and worse. Nothing's going to change the fact that very few of us wouldn't like to be stronger, smarter and sexier. If someone could offer me a way out of the daily obstacle course of pain I have to run, there's not much I wouldn't do. But my experience with the latest wonder drugs for my condition has been anything but wonderful, so forgive my cynicism about the latest and the greatest.

But again, my main concern is this: what I'm reading in Transhumanist literature is religion, of the old-fashioned variety. And the problem with religion is that once it establishes itself you can't argue with it.

To be perfectly frank, I'm also old enough to have seen a lot of these techno-Utopias be hyped as the next big thing fail to change everything. Virtual Reality is still more concept than reality, simply because it's extremely difficult and time consuming to animate even simple virtual environments. I remember watching a lecture on CSPAN in which Tom Wolfe darkly warned that we were entering the decade of neuroscience and everything was going to radically and suddenly change. That was 15 years ago. Nanotechnology was another promise/threat that's still more theory than reality. And let's not forget all of the DARPA wonder weapons that never seem to make it to the field.


The problem is that Scientism is every bit as evangelistic as the supernatural religion it claims to despise. It's usually overly eager to proclaim the good word once the numbers are all worked out. But the problem is that these things take time, they cost money, they use up a devilish amount of energy, manpower and resources. Things rarely go according to plan. And when you're talking about screwing around with biology you have to deal with the immune system, which is kind of like Nature's version of black magic. The Transhumanists should ask the pharmaceutical companies how easy it is to get the immune system to behave itself. It could also ask the transplant industry how well artificial organs are tolerated.

Or is this all too obvious?

Even so, I haven't seen much of that on sites like IEET and H+. Because a religion is self-evident: Transhumanism has to work because the Transhumanists believe that it will. If you question that, you're an enemy, an infidel. And if this Transhumanist apotheosis is in fact ever achieved, it's a pretty sure bet that the first order of business will be to do something about the goddamn humans, who are screwing everything up and need to be dealt with.


Religion also tends to inspire backlash.
Transhumanism could all go very badly and inspire a new purtianical Luddism and a vogue for human devolution (well, one even worse than the present variety). Thanks to digital technology, the cognitive elite's power is pretty awesome as of this writing, but things have a nasty habit of changing suddenly and returning to the laws of the jungle. Romans thought their civilization was eternal, too. It took more than five centuries of disease, squalor and carnage to rebuild Europe once it fell.

Now, you'd think a lifetime of sci-fi fandom would soften me up for the Transhuman pitch, but it's just the opposite. Which brings me to my next topic.

I already recommended the work of Mike Mignola as my favorite example of the interface between magic and art, so let me just make a recommendation for your wishlist that deals with all of the topics explored today.

BPRD: Garden of Souls introduces a gaggle of Steampunk transhumans. They're members of a 19th Century scientific secret society called the Heliopic Brotherhood who've survived by transferring their consciousness into robot bodies. But they have bigger plans- they are engineering super-Golems that will play host to millions of souls. To free up all of this conscious energy they plan to engineer earthquakes and tsunamis in the south Pacific which will transhumanize the local population. For their own good, you understand.

That's a pretty good allegory of religious Transhumanism run amok. The Borg and their Doctor Who predecessors the Cybermen are another. And that's what concerns me. Whether or not any of this will come to pass is by no means the sure bet the Transies claim it to be. As I've said before we live in a very dangerous neighborhood and one of the dangers is waking up one morning and finding out none of our electrical equipment works anymore for whatever reason. And so on.

I love technology, and I love the idea of using it to solve seemingly intractable human problems.
Any art, philosophy or science should be dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering. But I don't love religion - meaning a reductive binding principle- and don't think that grafting its worst impulses onto what I see as very speculative science will help matters any. Just one man's opinion, but maybe one informed by a sense of history.

48 comments:

  1. Very thoughtful piece Chris; you have a nice careful approach to the topic which is appreciated.
    I can't believe that it has been almost 20 years since I read Ed Regis' Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition And If any of your readers want a fun overview of the transhumanist landscape, it still surveys it pretty decently. At any rate I recall the peculiar feeling that these Hard Scientists were recreating every promise of the Christian heaven; resurrection, Eternal Life, Control over the creation of life,etc. And yet for me it was all so compelling . . .. much of it was the future that I was promised as a small boy. And Even today i suppose if I were given a chance I'd let my resurrected head be place on my nanobot maintained body and be sent out among the stars. But you are right, it couldn't help but become a religion because it was from the start.
    As an appropriate aside I have to tell all my American friends here that the final five episodes of Caprica really amp it up give you a chance to chew on all the ideas Chris is talking about, they are really worth seeing and if you don't have a PVR then make certain you have the afternoon free when SciFi runs it's marathon. (Canada's SPACE channel ran them as it should and the last episode ran last week.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Chris,

    Another interesting post. You never cease to amaze.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm intrigued by the concept of virtual reality (I'm a veteran Second Lifer), but downloading my consciousness into the computer has never been on my wishlist. Although some would say we are already unknowingly doing that now...but I digress.

    Basically, I don't wanna live in a Matrix of any kind. And I just don't believe that machines, regardless of their processing capabilities, can ever eclipse, let alone contain, our wonderous souls.

    If, perchance, I'm wrong, then let's just hope I end up with my very own robot body (not sharing an overcrowded Super Golem).

    ReplyDelete
  4. You balance a bunch of ideas
    in a way I can handle...lots
    of things I had not heard of.

    I like Kurzweil and crew but
    they don't have a complete
    picture, transhumanism is
    fun for me but I believe in
    God through Christ so there
    is a Utopia that is beyond
    any scientific conception.

    I trust God and so I don't
    try and ," make it happen",
    by going against nature the
    way Kurzweil implies that we
    can.

    Nature will slap us down.

    Sailors know the sea is not
    to be played with, and that
    is a good analogy for how
    we might begin messing with
    genetics, as well as particle
    physics in terms of CERN...and
    find some limits.


    God already gave us everything
    we need....can we reach into
    our hearts and begin Theosis?

    It is difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Agreed completely.

    For a far less evangelical look at the future of upgrading humans, I recommend the groupblog grinding.be - it's an offshoot of the (sadly unfinished at this time) near future SF comic Doktor Sleepless. THe Grinders (in both comic and blog) are amateur tinkerers with their own bodies and minds - a kind of Maker culture taking the bits of transhuman tech they find and doing the "street finds its own use for things" appropriation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Arosha9:07 AM

    I know its unrelated sorry, but as I was getting ready for work this morning I was thinking about annunaki, and how they wanted to use us for mining gold. Work = money, money = a percentage of metal, they get the metal. Are they subconciously making us slaves, and do WE think we profit?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice post. I honestly see the super-rich as being entirely too stupid to put transhumanist technology to any use. If the "singularity" ever happens maybe they'll wipe eachother out and we'll never have to deal with them again. That's just looking at things semi-positively. I feel there is knowledge that will never be able to be catalogued and uploaded at 5 billion terabytes per second, and this is what they already lack. Looking at the internet, you don't need an ounce of common sense to be tech-saavy. I see the transhumanist world as being the equivalent of YouTube comments.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Hi Chris,

    been following your amazing blog for some time and appreciative of its quality and scope...looking at the mignola artwork reminded me of the videogame Bioshock,with its big daddies...i don't know if you are aware of its story but it relates nicely to utopian/oceanic themes described here and your previous posts. Off topic (is that statement ever true btw???) but brief, whats your view on the wikileaks phenomena and julian assange (such an interesting name)? thank you, you have been a source of inspiration and a beacon of the ajna (in its most embracing definition of course)!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I remember this 'friend' at youtube---I hadn't known about his transhumanist longings when I first discovered his vids. it was mainly his music and laid back manner i liked and we were quite friendly UNTIL I saw him talking about this dude with a very patriarchally long beard who claims you can conquer the 'disease of death' and when I challenged him--the HATE and fear in his eyes!! Like I had said I was the Devil to a fundy Christian. Things went downhill after that. he just couldn't dig I didn't want that.

    I think it is the inevitable outcome 'trans-humanism' of the humanist enterprise which was the dethroning of 'God' and putting 'Man' capital M on the throne. And not wanting to put-nature-right. The ARROGANCE of that. Like you I of course am not ANTI knowledge and science but in a way that understands the intelligence of nature and working WITH it--like permaculture for example, and not imposing some metalized digital pushbutton neon lit gaudy cast over it

    I mean when you look at these creeping cities with google Earth you see the regular cities of abstract mono-laind out grid like structures with hardly ANY of the natural world being allowed any intrusion of these concrete cancers
    HOW much delightfully different might the cityscape be with people like this artist as architect?? Hundertwasser Service Station

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I'm not opposed to rejiggering the human machine in principle- it's done on a daily basis for both better and worse."

    That's how I feel about it but the word transumanisum makes my stomach churn. For some reason whenever I hear the word transumanisum I get a picture of a guinea pig in my head. I guess that's probably because I don't like the idea of being one.

    What do you make of psychokinesis as an ancient ability that humans had?

    ReplyDelete
  11. As a transhuman (using the strictest definition), I'm not a Kurzweilian.

    You can say I'm along for the ride, staying one step ahead of the Reaper as gerontology advances.

    Eventually the Trail ends, but who's to say another Door doesn't open, post-human or Heaven/Hell?

    ReplyDelete
  12. What really bothers me is that Transhumanism is a religion. A religion every bit as totalizing and apocalyptic as the ones it seeks to replace. It preaches apotheosis and deliverance from death and it makes universal claims of salvation. It even has its own rapture in the form of the Singularity. And that makes debate nearly impossible.

    Chris knocks another one out of the park.

    In a previous thread I posted something that bashed green ideology a bit, something I see as another secular religion. I couldn't find quite the right words. These are the right words.

    The thing that bothers me about green ideology is not ecology, or caring about the Earth, or conservation, or sustainability. The thing that bothers me about it is that it's a religion, and that makes debate impossible. Confront an ardent green with anything contrary to their views and you'll get an emotionalist moralistic diatribe or some form of apologetics.

    A bit of a tangent from the topic at hand I know. It's just that singulatarianism being a modern secular fundamentalist religion got me to thinking about other modern secular fundamentalist religions.

    But my experience with the latest wonder drugs for my condition has been anything but wonderful, so forgive my cynicism about the latest and the greatest.

    The technology of transhumanism is actually quite far off, maybe as far as a hundred years. I do believe we'll eventually get there, just like I do believe we'll eventually have routine solar-system-scale manned space flight. I just think the whizzy tech salesmen tend to always underestimate the difficulty of these things. This kind of sci-fi tech contains big shaggy hairy engineering problems that do not yield overnight.

    Meanwhile, the singularity... [barf]

    The singularity is a silly concept. Why? Three primary reasons:

    1) Thermodynamics. Energy is the primary limiting factor here. Where are we going to get the exponential sources of clean energy to fuel this? If anything we're going to have to learn to deal with less energy use in the shorter term (though I think we'll be back to growing energy use after we make the transition off fossil fuels... but that's further in the future).

    2) There are speed limits to learning. Google "no free lunch theorem." Ignore the intelligent design claptrap that comes up... they like to misinterpret the theorem for their own purposes, but then theorem is basically sound. NFL is heady, but to put it in plain English it consists of a proof of a trade-off between the generality of intelligence and the maximum rate of learning or adaptation. You can be a fast specialized learner or a slow general learner but not both. Speed of adaptation comes at the expense of breadth. That's why we have AIs that can play chess exceptionally well but can do nothing else, but we do not have HAL-9000. This is a strong mathematical result that no amount of handwavium will reverse.

    3) There are practical limits to adaptation. Exactly how fast can humans learn? How fast can economies shift? How fast can things be built? There are speed limits everywhere in here, mostly as consequences to #1 and #2.

    That being said, discontinuities and sudden lurches forward do happen. We are in the midst of one of those. But the magico-religious singularity is silly... very very soft fantasy sci-fi at best.

    (I'm a hard sci-fi type obviously.)

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous3:52 PM

    Chris,
    You are like my own mind, that can think clearer and faster than the mind I am aware of. That is how true your ideas resonate with me.

    What isn't religion? Hardly anything really works for the best outcome of the planet and all of us, but we keep doing what we do. That doesn't feel like rational behavior.

    As for follow through, more like fall throughs-
    Santa,
    rabbits- easter and white,
    church threats and carrots,
    flying cars,
    free energy,
    love and sex for free,
    free time,
    good health-
    food, clean water,
    peace.
    And so on...these are just a few of the chestnuts I was handed.

    Have you ever dealt with engineers-lots of theory and diagrams and if they actually pick up a screwdriver they freeze with anxiety or poke their own eye out. My experience anyway, hope you know some more capable ones, screwstrippers mostly IMHO.

    I know what you mean about new and better drugs- I get migraines.
    I've been prescribed some shit unless zombiedom sounds fun and relaxing.

    Good luck to the transeys in their tin cans- I'll fly over in my free energy car and check them out.

    Best wishes, Delorus

    ReplyDelete
  15. the very concept of technical reason is perhaps ideological. Not only the application of technology, but technology itself is domination... methodical, ascientific, calculated, calculating control.

    --herbert marcuse

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous5:52 PM

    What cracks me up about these people is that we ARE essentially living in a virtual reality! This whole "movement" towards "physical immortality" is a fixation on the virtual reality game and its game pieces. We already ARE immortal! Like Chris said, technology is cool, but it's not the be all end all... Think of it this way: at one time humans could communicate telepathically, that is, WITHOUT technology or even spoken language. Now we need phones, computers, etc to accomplish what we were already capable of doing without them!!! A focus on the physical instead of the spiritual. The "fall of man" so to speak. And another thing... would you really want to live in your physical body FOREVER??!! Wouldn't that become extremely boring after a while? Shit... I'm in my early thirties and I'm already becoming bored of this character. If we ever were on the verge of actually reaching "physical immortality" make sure to remind me to ask where the nearest cliff is... or woodchipper for that matter. When you hear of "the gods of old" or other alien groups talk about their lengthy lifespans and wear it like a badge of honor, remember that this takes away from the variety of experience like we have here on Earth. Yes we live "shorter" lifespans, but we have a HUGE variety of experience. This is why our cultures are becoming homogenized and this horrendous "One World Police State" (sorry One World Government) is being imposed on us. They DEMAND conformity. Everyone looking, talking, acting the same... Watching our country and our world degenerate into the zombified, disgusting mess that it is still amazes and disheartens me... At the same time, though, I realize that this is all an experience with lessons to be learned throughout. The trappings of all religions are no different. We ALL get burned before we learn...

    I hope ALL my brethren on the Secret Sun Blog have a Wonderful Holiday Season!!!! And so I'm not too politically correct... Merry Christmas!!
    Don't get offended. We all "worship" the Sun in our own way!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Youtube is blocking some of your videos from being shown in our country - Canada - what a bunch of lameasses - is there anyway you can work around that so we can see the videos you are talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anon writes: Think of it this way: at one time humans could communicate telepathically, that is, WITHOUT technology or even spoken language. Now we need phones, computers, etc to accomplish what we were already capable of doing without them!!!

    I'm not convinced this is true, but if it is... I had an odd thought a while ago.

    It seems like the formula (in a "magical formula" sense) is shifting from a focus on the inner to a focus on the outer. Inner spirituality is giving way to externally focused discovery.

    If what you say is true, maybe that's part of it. Inner communication shifts toward an external reification of that, an external projection.

    If that's true, then have you ever wondered if maybe that's what's supposed to be happening? Maybe the construction of external reifications of spiritual realities is part of the journey. Maybe it's what we're supposed to be doing right now.

    Maybe all the bad things that technology does: pollution, war, control systems, etc... are also external projections of spiritual realities that are inside us. We're not just balls of love and light you know.

    Maybe projecting what's inside onto the screen of of the universe is to help us see it by making it so explicit.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Good article, Chris. The funny thing about the 'technology is advancing ever faster' meme is that aside from a few areas (i.e. those related to computers) technological advancement has really slowed down and in many ways is stuck at the position of 30-40 years ago. Heresy? Well no, today we have no supersonic civilian planes (Concorde was around in the 70s), we haven't been back to the moon for decades, a mission to Mars is seen as borderline fantasy, public new energy tech is at the same level as when Jimmy Carter was President.... meanwhile we still drive petrol cars, still get hit by the same big diseases, gene therapy is presently a failure, our kids are no brighter, our supposedly cynical population still falls for shady marketing scams or the ersatz life traumas of ersatz reality TV stars and after a decade of the Brain+ten years we've got... some anti-depressants that sort of work.

    Computers are far more advanced (though the core science was pretty much all worked out before the mid 70s), however that is grinding to a slowdown as well. The nano-tech people will talk about using molecular transistors made of fullerines or DNA but that hypothetical hardware (at least in the civilian world) won't be commercially viable for maybe 15-20 years. So we're stuck with silicon which has perhaps five years of process improvement left before something else is needed. Meanwhile AI has been a dead end - scientists can brute-force certain algorithmic processes to simulate aspects of cognition (chess playing, analysing text) but have no real understanding of how intelligence arises in lifeforms, just overly simplified models that fail when exposed to scrutiny.


    Someone born in 1940 would have seen the arrival of radar, jet planes, computers, rockets, nuclear power, transistor radios, satellites, colour television, lasers, dudes on the Moon, antibiotics & reliable birth control before they reached the age of thirty.

    Someone born in 1980 has seen much better electronics, stealth bombers and that's about it.


    (no disrespect is meant to scientists currently working on cutting-edge research. I look forward to seeing some of it instead of a slightly faster CPU or somewhat changed version of a drug we've been using for years)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous8:10 PM

    AdamI: I absolutely agree with you! We can create whatever world we desire. We create our reality. The problem is the majority of the population is ignorant of this and want "someone else" to fix the problems. Victimhood rules the day. We have GIVEN OUR POWER AWAY!!! The only solution is reclaiming it (starts individually). This is what our external reality is showing us: a massive collective (again starts from the individual) lesson on power give aways... I was only commenting on the addiction to technology "the shifting of focus from the inner to a focus on the outer". Technology can be used for "good" as well as "evil". The problem right now is we're allowing our "rulers", who are hell bent on power and destruction, dictate where the technology goes. Which usually means control systems, weapons, etc. As you said, we are being shown this. Now what do we learn from it?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anon writes: We can create whatever world we desire. We create our reality.

    That I don't believe. I don't think we know how. Creating a better reality is not easy. If it was we'd already have done it.

    I think we're learning. Part of that learning process might be what we're doing now.

    I thought of a more compact way to say what I said in my previous post:

    It's a mirror. We're building all this stuff to look at our souls in a mirror.

    It's hard to see the plank in your eye without a mirror, right?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Everyone needs a religion or a spiritual system, and Transhumanism seems to be the one that fits best with the ideals of the Sci-Fi/Techno Geeks who are starting to take over the world. This is a real, growing and very scary religious movement, with a living prophet (Ray Kurzweil), a lot of smart, wealthy converts and an ideology that fits perfectly with modern scientific materialism and techno-capitalism. As I said in this (rather crazy) post: http://thesingularitarian.blogspot.com/2009/11/welcoming-rise-of-machines.html , “Transhumanity becomes the logical endpoint of a technological civilization aligned with the evolutionary process.”

    I used to think this sounded pretty cool, but these days I’m finding it more and more terrifying. Attempts to replace existing religions with secular, materialistic ideologies have tended to result in mass slaughter. Transhumanists remind me a lot of the Italian Futurists of the early 20th century, who glorified technology and wanted to overthrow everything old and the traditional in favor of the shiny and new. Futurism inspired the 20th century fascists, and Transhumanism is a likely candidate to inspire a more fanatical and potentially far more destructive 21st century techno-fascism.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Gah! Still bogged down. Will dig into all of this stuff working backwards as soon as I can. But seriously- I am so proud of the intelligence and diversity of opinion in the comments I get on this blog. Not only proud, but profoundly grateful, especially on the comments I get for these Exegesis posts. I work my ass off trying to put all of my inchoate thoughts into semi-cogent essays but the circuit isn't complete until you guys weigh in.

    Will be back ASAP...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Have got to go and don't want to get into a huge debate anyways.... We're saying similar things AdamI, just slightly different. Now if I look into a mirror and it shows me my hair is all messy and looks like crap, does that mean I'm stuck with that look? Absolutely not, because now I can get gel, mouse, or even clippers and change the appearance. You are correct: the mirror showed me the flaws in my appearance... but now I can change that appearance if I so desire (creating a new hairdo). The mirror, or virtual reality (to stay on topic), is only a tool... Now, whether you want to use Transhumanist GEL, or Catholic Mouse, or scientific atheist communist clippers is up to you. Each one will tell you their product works the best, but in the end YOU (as an individual) has to do the work to change your appearance.


    I was going to say keep the hair short like me and remain unaffiliated, but my commie clippers would have ruined the analogy!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Living forever is kinda like going through life without sleep - sucks! Here's to the ultimate reboot - death.

    and mushrooms.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "Everyone needs a religion or a spiritual system, and Transhumanism seems to be the one that fits best with the ideals of the Sci-Fi/Techno Geeks who are starting to take over the world. This is a real, growing and very scary religious movement, with a living prophet (Ray Kurzweil), a lot of smart, wealthy converts and an ideology that fits perfectly with modern scientific materialism and techno-capitalism." quoting Sean Strange here not so much to single him out, but rather because he encapsulates this thought stream fairly well right there. And It is a statement that I could read and easily agree with.
    BUT I think it is very important to remember that Trans-humanism has a history that is FAR older than Kurzweil; and if he is their perceived "Messiah", than he has supplanted those that have brought these ideas this far.
    Kurzweil's Singularity has it's roots in ideas that ought to be very familiar to Secret Sun readers. It is borne of the McKenna brothers TimWave Zero theories, of Dr. Timothy Leary's postulated necessary evolutionary process he called SMILE (Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, Life Extension)and his Starseed co-operative to colonize Space. Robert Anton Wilson postulated an evolutionary "octave" of eight Circuits of of Cultural gowth that ended in a Cosmic Satori that would be achieved inpart with human technology. He likened his 8 circuits to Gurdjieff's levels of consciousness.
    All these gentlemen can be properly seen as grandfather's of this very blog (If I may say without offering any insult to Chris). And if you are a fan of this blog and/or of Synchro-Mysticism you do NEED to read Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger if you have not already. A case could be made that BOTH Transhumanism and Synchro-Mysticism were were birthed in that marvelous read!
    One can carry the argument back as far as Crowley and even the older alchemists. The technology of Magick and transformation was meant to be a system that would ultimately be accessible to all men.
    And is always been a possibility that if we are to follow our God's to their home in the stars that might be as much a technological exploration as one transcendental.
    It doesn't parse so well along good/ bad lines as perhaps one would like.


    XXXXXXChris - something is up with my browser - I may have submitted this 3 times OR not all - I am not sure. Go ahead and delete the multiples if they are there???XXXXXX

    ReplyDelete
  27. Chris,

    There are lots of amazingly cogent thoughts on this site, and on these exegesis posts.

    My deepest views are probably TOO mystical and soft, if I'm honest, but I think that's because my experiences have often felt so extreme that my interpretations are extreme as a result.

    Yet, I'm also a hard sc-fi fan and truly appreciate hard, logical and reasonable thinking.
    This kind of sci-fi tech that the transhumanists discuss, if it doesn't already exist in secret (and I'm not fully ready to discount such an extreme possibility - thermodynamics or not) then we need incredible feats of imagination and hard engineering and modelling to make those things reality.

    Strangely, it's a view I also share about magic and mysticism. All is fiction, but within this infinite realm of shifting contexts and subject/object subtlties we often need hard data, intense concentration and the space to make as many false starts as possible.

    Even though I've only watched one season of Fringe, I think this view is something Walter would appreciate. Nikola Tesla might've grasped this too, perhaps.

    Technology is the interfacing of many literalized imaginary patterns for some USABLE APPLICATION, formed from the primordial ooze of the subject/object split, from which physics and science springs.

    Creating usable fiction, and technology IS usable physicalised fiction, requires BOTH magical and rational thinking. In practical terms it's this relationship that is the drive of mankind's neccesity to mold things from that which appears to not be himself.

    I'm rambling a little, but I hope I'm understood. Will return to this comment a little later. So busy right now. Great stuff as always, Chris.

    Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Back sooner than I thought. This Transhumanist utopia that many envision seems implausible to me. In many ways we already have many aspects of such a society, but a commercially viable world of genuine supertech? I doubt it.

    If we ever came close it would be a horrifically bleached, hollywood plastic world with shades of Orwell's 1984 - a 'sexy' 1984 owned by leviathan corporations where critical thinking is zero but the kinds of pornography available are endless.

    Or else it would be a grim dysopia where two worlds co-exist, the supertech fascism world of sleek commercialism and then the hordes of black market underworlders who trade bits and pieces of salvaged tech in the poorer, starving lands.

    Or both.

    Wait, isn't that a basically fair assesment of our current state? How much of the earth's population has access to clean food and water, let alone laptops, iphones and blu-ray DVDs? A minimal percentage, if we're honest. If we're honest most of the world are little more than abused, exploited serfs for a handful of sociopathic elites. So, fight the future, sure, but lets at least work on trying to save the present.

    Blogs like this are a part of that. You care enough to ask questions, to not call propoganda truth, and to intervene in all this madness by not towing the line and by standing up for what you believe in. You've inspired me to do the same, Chris, and I hope I can inspire others too.

    Peace

    P.S. the olyimpics site here in London certainly has a weird vibe, but then East London in general has a weird vibe. The East End has a lot of strange mythology, history and legend attached to it, a lot of it very dark. I'm still not sure how much of it I understand, but it all seems connected in an oblique way. Will try to write something semi-cogent about it in the near future.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Back sooner than I thought. This Transhumanist utopia that many envision seems implausible to me. In many ways we already have many aspects of such a society, but a commercially viable world of genuine supertech? I doubt it.

    If we ever came close it would be a horrifically bleached, hollywood plastic world with shades of Orwell's 1984 - a 'sexy' 1984 owned by leviathan corporations where critical thinking is zero but the kinds of pornography available are endless.

    Or else it would be a grim dysopia where two worlds co-exist, the supertech fascism world of sleek commercialism and then the hordes of black market underworlders who trade bits and pieces of salvaged tech in the poorer, starving lands.

    Or both.

    Wait, isn't that a basically fair assesment of our current state? How much of the earth's population has access to clean food and water, let alone laptops, iphones and blu-ray DVDs? A minimal percentage, if we're honest. If we're honest most of the world are little more than abused, exploited serfs for a handful of sociopathic elites. So, fight the future, sure, but lets at least work on trying to save the present.

    Blogs like this are a part of that. You care enough to ask questions, to not call propoganda truth, and to intervene in all this madness by not towing the line and by standing up for what you believe in. You've inspired me to do the same, Chris, and I hope I can inspire others too.

    Peace

    P.S. the olyimpics site here in London certainly has a weird vibe, but then East London in general has a weird vibe. The East End has a lot of strange mythology, history and legend attached to it, a lot of it very dark. I'm still not sure how much of it I understand, but it all seems connected in an oblique way. Will try to write something semi-cogent about it in the near future.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Meanwhile, comin up a road near you real soon


    New transit campaign in Toronto will go after Allah, Christ, UFOs


    "A new "skepticism campaign" is aiming to roll out on Toronto's transit system in 2011, taking on "well-known and widely believed claims" such as homeopathy, UFOs, Zeus, Christ and Allah, according to the Centre for Inquiry Canada .
    If the CFI raises enough funds, it plans to launch the Extraordinary Claims campaign in 2011, featuring two main spots on TTC buses: they would each read "Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence" and then list a variety of things the CFI says are not backed by science, including UFOs, homeopathy, Zeus, Allah, Christ and God.
    The campaign's website says: "Why is belief in Bigfoot dismissed as delusional while belief in Allah and Christ is respected and revered? All of these claims are equally extraordinary and demand critical examination."

    Checkout the LIST on the side of their --I see they've missed out 'Transhumanism'!!! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have to agree with Sean Strange's point, which were well said. I suppose my biggest concern with Transhumanism is the fact that it is a two edged sword, like any belief system, it can be used for good or for ill. The hope with any belief system is that system will include checks and balances, or else it will go astray. It goes back to the life lesson to never just take anything at face value, but allow for skepticism with everything.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Nancy B.2:03 PM

    The biggest problem with the Secret Sun Blog is that both the articles and comments are so deep that adequately processing them would be a full time job.

    I hate how life interrupts learning. And how I end up floating along the surface, in shallow waters.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Agreed. Which is why I want to spend a lot of time in the next few weeks reviewing some of the issues we discussed this past year.

    ReplyDelete
  34. ooh! ooh chris! initiation; do initiation

    ReplyDelete
  35. "Which is why I want to spend a lot of time in the next few weeks reviewing some of the issues we discussed this past year."

    I know I'd appreciate that a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Anon writes: Think of it this way: at one time humans could communicate telepathically, that is, WITHOUT technology or even spoken language. Now we need phones, computers, etc to accomplish what we were already capable of doing without them!!!

    Back in the day when you suppose humans communicated w/o technology and spoken language, I suppose that humans probably had a lot less to say.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Anonymous9:16 PM

    World's' best comments, no joke.

    I totally agree that RAW's cosmic Triggers are a must read.

    Raj- Your thoughts about and discription of technology ring like a bell for me. Thanks.

    This is like the best coffee shop chat circle ever, or the most fun book club.

    I feel bad about dissing engineers earlier- of course there is no such thing as the "average" engineer, and some are true magis who, for good or ill, have manifested this magic mirror world. Some can obviously handle a screwdriver.

    The part of the technological scenario that has always bothered me is what we don't learn in the first place about the great new ideas, in many cases how they are going to leave a catastrophic mess. Like "We have no idea of how to get rid of nuclear waste" or "plasics will end up being mountainous piles of nonbiodegradable stenchy filth". That's not the way it's presented at the sale point.

    Thanks again all, Deloruss

    ReplyDelete
  38. "The part of the technological scenario that has always bothered me is what we don't learn in the first place about the great new ideas, in many cases how they are going to leave a catastrophic mess. Like "We have no idea of how to get rid of nuclear waste" or "plasics will end up being mountainous piles of nonbiodegradable stenchy filth". That's not the way it's presented at the sale point."

    I saw a video some months ago that I really shocked me. It was a sea bird feeding its little ones plastic---because it said in video that it didn't know difference. It make me feel physically sick, and when I think of the plastic problem now (apparently the Pacific ocean is riddled with plastic) that image haunts me.
    It is no wonder some people ARE putting their hopes in aliens, because when you look at the fukin psychopaths in control who can see any improvement there? It gets worse and worse.
    You get glimmers of hope but you are kinda afraid to believe them....yet. Such as Stanley Fulham's predictions that aliens have 'told him' they are worried about the carbon monoxide pollution of Earth and plan to help clean it up.
    But you find out this dude is ex NORAD, and your mind goes WHOAH, but you still hope because you feel so hopeless ion this fukin stinkin toxic mess that has been made by callous, immoral, profiteers over many hundreds and hundreds of years and you get born into the history of that!

    ReplyDelete
  39. @muzuzuzus you may feel better knowing that electrolux is working with civic groups all over the planet to mine the ocean for plastic that will end up in a recycled-plastic vacuum cleaner.
    http://www.ethicalcorporation.com/content.asp?ContentID=7194

    It's a start!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Maybe all technology is satanic. Maybe we need to get in tune with the technology of nature. Rather than using the internent, the shamans use thee holographic internent to get their information. We've all heard the stories of levitation, invisibility, shapeshifting, telepathy, astral travel, remote viewing, etc.. All of that sounds much more advanced than what technology could do.

    By the way, have you ever seen a shaman about your chronic pain?

    ReplyDelete
  41. No. It is not really dealing with the problem itself. PLASTIC.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I agree with Anon, above, u seem to be like a SouL Counterpart, are you my SouLShard, as weLL?

    HehS, anyhow, I'd like to "add"

    Nancy B. please do not "Fret" for these "mild" Interruptions are a Blessing, just trust and show faith, that the Mysteries Played out, here, wiLL Last for aLL Eternity, and that this is part of the "game" the deaL we made, before we "chose' to Incarnate


    It's fun, not knowing, it's FUN Discussing, Imagining, neh?


    Anyhow, Letting it Soak into Our Sub-ConsciouS minds, we are able to Re-Shape Reality as we SEE Fit, neh?


    Tis more IMPORTANT: To Re-Focus on the EmotionaL Spectrum, to Temper the Inner Wisdom, Psychic, we stiLL are, and really, we are Communicating & Converging both Technology MechanicaL--ElectricaL with Bio-ChemicaL~SpirituaL, neh?


    Anyhow, we've NEVER Lost: Our abilities, we just gotta get "re" Acquainted, with one another, Baby Steps, Learn to CrawL, before we Run & Walk, neh?


    Pyrokinesis & Telepathy, StiLL Exist, dormant, within our DNA


    ALL history, encoded, waiting for the MagickaL: KEY 2 Unlock those "hidden" Powers, once more


    But< Protect'd & Block'd for our own good, not to destroy, u see?

    Focus less on those "powers" and abilities: Focus more on how u Treat Others, with Subtle LOVE, neh?


    That's more important, in the end, that's how you "make' a Difference, not by Fear-mongering, Anxieties & Worry, but thru the Subtle Way you "treat" others, and Acknowledge their PersonaL Suffering, neh?


    Be kind to one another, in Subtle, Minor Ways, but Shifting their Energy, thereby re-focusing and Balancing the Universe, throughout TIME-Space, Echoing across aLL known Vibratory Galaxies..........


    By Virtue of Thought, Kiss & Make UP, do no more "harm" to one another..................

    Compassion & Diplomacy, CarefuL Concessions, Balance, neh?

    Compromise, wherever you can, and forget the Rest, Stand up for yourself, and your beliefs, Celebrate ThySELF, ha!


    Trans-Who?


    Never, ever......................


    Let those "imagination" Starved FooLS: Believe whatever Fiction they Choose to "subscribe" to, do not "ruin" their Fantasy, just politely, keep your distance, and SEE: that this is just a Game, believe what gets u thru, use Thy Imagination, tis FUN, really, only when u take THIS: LITERALLY, and expect others to, as weLL, then does that become a Greater ISSUE, neh?


    LiteraListS, can be SO Un-Imaginative, and BORING, neh?

    Freedom & Self-Liberation, thru the Imagination, and Acknowledging, this addendum, neh?

    Reality is Mutable, EthereaL & EphemeraL.........................


    Our Own Feelings are "often" Play'd Out, by those we "Influence" with Our Gaze, which is aLL SO powerfuL: By mere "witnessing" we are changing the Molecules & Waves around us, the PERCEIVING & Perception, is not ReaL: Those are JUST your Inner Animus Projecting, and those Part-time Players, are "acting" our inner most Feelings and Thoughts, for Our Pleasure, and Enjoyment


    They free our Inner Fears & Driven Emotions, and heaL uS, the Dark Side, finding Expression, in order to Purge & Purify thy Imperfection, Climbing towards a Seemingly Entropic End Point, neh?


    Nirvana? Short-term Stay, neh?


    Reality, dose of which, is craved, Cold Hard, but sometimes, Shy & Fleet-foot'd, hahahahahahahS, neh?


    BwahahahahahahaS, toodles!


    Ya'll have some WonderfuL Thoughts & Sharing Loving Experiences, now, u hear?


    HehS......................


    Peace OUT, ha!

    ReplyDelete
  43. David- It's fascinating how those religious impulses can be rechanneled but never suppressed. It's the human condition that drives it. It's like this wishlist to Santa, whether it's Jehovah or Kurzweil. Maybe Caprica was a bit too blunt for some people- maybe it alienated both sides of the equation. I look forward to those last episodes.

    Matt- Cheers.

    Sibyl- The thing about it is that we end debating this issue but there's still no real application stage-just a bunch of papers and promises.

    Pete- Yes, Nature still has to weigh in on all of this. The Transhumanist agenda is breathtakingly audacious, but it's a war on Nature. And as any general will tell you any battle plan falls apart once the first shots are fired.

    Cat-Excellent. Thanks for the link. Comics are the sugar that help the pills go down sometimes. You didn't mention it was a Warren Ellis book though!

    Arosha- That's Sitchin's interepretation. There are others.

    Tommy- When you've never worried about your basic needs being met it gives you a whole other set of priorities. The rich are indeed very different. Which is the most worrying thing about all these stupid, naive nerds giving them superpowers.

    1218- I think Wikileaks is a big media pageant. I've actually stopped paying attention. I don't buy any of it.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Muzu- Yes, and the thing about religion is that the more elusive its promises the more passionate the believers are in fighting to defend them. I'd be a bit more worried about it if I actually believed that these promises are in any immediate danger of coming true.

    Wotie- I don't but I've always had dreams of being psychokinetic. For some reason that's a major wish on my list. I don't much think of it outside of my dreams.

    Dad- Being a step ahead of the reaper is a worthy ambition, but what are we willing to sacrifice to achieve it?

    AdamI- Yes the Green Religion is another one. Man is a religious animal. There's no way of getting around it. But I'm also glad you share my skepticism of these promises. Where are the field tests? It seems they are afraid to roll out the tests because the applications are nowhere near being workable yet. Fascinating critique of the Singularity- thank you.

    Delorus- Yes- what isn't religion? What don't people use to organize around and create ingroups and outgroups? We all need promises to get through the day, don't we?

    PO- Fascinating quote. Thank you.

    552- Stirring stuff. Thanks for that pep talk. I've got nothing to add, so well done.

    Adam- Here's the thing- looking for that Platonic ideal of light and no shadow is the source of untold misery in this world. The light needs the shadow to define it. Everyone I know who's looking for this perfection is so goddamned terrified of life. These stupid fairytales of milk and honey that we've been told for 2000 years can really do your head in.

    ReplyDelete
  45. 730 You raise a lot of interesting points here. There is the salesman myth of unending technological progress, which in many ways is incremental and in many ways is cosmetic. The Singularity people seem hooked on the same myth that fed the real estate crash- the idea that things are linear and can only grow. Things are cyclical- things can crash and then rebuild. But yes- working with computer graphic software I can tell you in the past 20 years there have been incremental improvements but things are essentially the same, still.

    810- We can create our own reality but the question is will the rest of the world go along with it? That's by no means a sure bet.

    Sean- The Futurist allegory is very apt. There really seems to be a scent in the air- the old Social Darwinist beast is reawakening. It's battle cry is always "Progress" and its brief is always that the weak and the sick are holding the rest of us back. So I think you're suspicions are well-grounded.

    Stitch- Hear, hear!

    David- Well, you raise a lot of important points but there are degrees of difference here. There are those weirdo marginal types with their wishlists and then there is a more troubling agenda on the part of the rich and the powerful to make themselves into superbeings and to toss the rest of us in the trash. There are a lot of plans and dreams to achieve this kind of apotheosis but combining that with this Gilded Age philosophy that's in the ascendency is another thing altogether. I think a lot of people go through these messianic phases like you mention but when you can forces these changes on the world that's when it gets worrying.

    Muzu- Cool- thanks for the link.

    Raj- The interesting thing is that sci-fi seems to be consistently skeptical about Transhumanism. Why not define themselves as Optimalhumanists? Why do we have to dispense with our humanity when we could decide instead to maximise it? It seems so academic now since we haven't seen much in the way of applications. Remember The Six Million Dollar Man? Well, where are the bionic limbs? There are a lot of amputees coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan- why not test this stuff out on them and get some great publicity out of it? Again- the immune system doesn't like foreign objects, which is why transplant patient need so many drugs to keep the immune system at bay.

    Muzu- Yeah, this isn't going to end well for those guys. The main problem is that they've tied their horse to the liberal politics cart at a time when Liberalism and neoliberalism and the rest of it are in serious trouble everywhere. Just as Evangelicalism is the propaganda wing of the Republican Party the same goes with the Skeptics/Atheists and Liberal Lefitsm. These confrontational tactics are ill-advised since these guys aren't very good at coalition building and tend to enjoy alienating people. People who won't lose much sleep if they start running into serious opposition on the street level. The funny thing is that a lot of those types are antiSingularity as well.

    Nancy- Ha! Tell me about it! What have I unleashed?

    Wotie- Yes, I believe it's time to really consolidate some of the gains we've made here. I'll see posts in the LinkWithin that I totally forgot about!

    Lynn =)

    Muzu- Yeah, that's what I was referring to about the Ocean. It's a disaster. And did we need that crap in the first place? Usually not.

    GEO- Until we have workable modes of those types of paranormal phenomena we'll have to settle for technology. I think most of it is morally neutral- the problem comes in the application stage.

    Riotus- If you're saying we need to concentrate on our own internal software before we worry about all of the external stuff then I agree with you. I think.

    ReplyDelete
  46. "1218- I think Wikileaks is a big media pageant. I've actually stopped paying attention. I don't buy any of it. "

    the Wikileaks has kinda been in the periphery of my vision. I was utterly shocked, disgusted (all these terms are overused. the media uses them. What I FELT cannot be put INTO words) at seeing Wikileaks footage of American troops slaughtering people using a 'video games killing machine' and braggin about it.

    So anyway, the other day I saw this which really gave me a deeper feel of who Julian Assange is and what Wikileaks is all about, and I was SO moved I spent a good portion of the day sharing this video, and putting it up on my blog. So you saying this has given me opportunity to share it here: WikiRebels - The Documentary (1/4)

    ReplyDelete
  47. "Adam- Here's the thing- looking for that Platonic ideal of light and no shadow is the source of untold misery in this world. The light needs the shadow to define it. Everyone I know who's looking for this perfection is so goddamned terrified of life. These stupid fairytales of milk and honey that we've been told for 2000 years can really do your head in."

    This is so DEEPLY important to explore that I want to quote it and reflect more on that profound insight. it is something I have been exploring myself very much lately.
    Actually many moons ago after early LSD experience as tyoung teenager. The aftermath had me seeking out books to help me integrate the extraordinarly life change that had happened. The ONLY book-at that time- that really hit home was Alan Watts' book Clouhidden Whereabouts Unknown where he explores polarity--how you not only cannot have light without dark, life without death (etc) you cannot KNOW light (or dark) without knowing the whole dynamic reality, or process which is light and dark

    When you look into this you see clearly that riddled throughout our 'reality' is these splits which are imposed on us via 'education' and propaganda. Ie., you are looking at light vs dark....then you go over there and what's this splt you find in this 'other field' mind vs body---then over there spirit vs nature, and on and on. So it is like this reality is a fragmented fabricated reality made so by a control of consciousness by the rich. Wait what do i see HERE? ...conscious vs unconscious...

    ReplyDelete

Off-topic info, links are always welcome if kept brief, but please refrain from unrelated data dumps and off-topic lectures.

As always, I reserve the right to delete comments that I consider to be inflammatory or overly off-topic

If your comment doesn't show up, please email.

Please be aware that Blogger often dumps comments with hyperlinks into the Spam folder. Please try to avoid them, since it makes more work for me to read through the spam folder for your comments.