Anarchism and Transhumanism

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Mar 29 2011 00:18
Anarchism and Transhumanism

I've not seen much discussion on the relationship between anarchism and the young philosophy of transhumanism, so I thought I'd start a thread on the subject.
Transhumanism, for those who don't know about it, is "a philosophy favouring the use of science and technology, especially neurotechnology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, to overcome human limitations and improve the human condition". Transhumanists, broadly speaking, believe in and support the possibility of a technological singularity where artificial intelligence catches up to and surpasses human intelligence and believe that it can be used to alleviate many of mankind's problems, and ultimately to transcend humanity and become posthuman.
There are obvious conflicts between certain currents of both philosophies - green anarchists/anarcho-primitivists, for example, are branded "Neo-Luddites" by transhumanists in a derogatory sense; and the schools of transhumanist thought that hold that the free market is the best way to promote and distribute the converging technologies (the neuro- [nano- and info-], bio- and nano- technologies mentioned above) would dismiss left-wing anarchism (and left-wing ideology in general) as a destructive influence.
There are also overlaps, however. Many transhumanists believe that free market capitalism will only permit the rich to hoard the benefits of technology for themselves and deny them to the workers, whose labour and thought make them possible, broadening the class division and making it manifest in the physical differences between the rich and the poor - the rich would be technologically enhanced while the poor would be denied the opportunity, for example - leading ultimately to a technocratic dystopia where the very priveleged very few utterly dominate the masses. Thus, these transhumanists advocate the creation of socialised channels of distribution and the socialisation of intellectual property so that the ideas enabling transcension and the resources required are available freely to everyone. These goals, obviously, are broadly in line with the goals of the left, including the anarchist left.
Many transhumanists also see transcension as eliminating any question of the necessity of the state. A common criticism levelled at anarchism is that the state is either necessary - to preserve the population densities enabled by top-down organisation - or that it would inevitably arise in a vacuum of a state. The achievement of post-scarcity would sound the deathknell of the former criticism, allowing vastly greater populations than those that exist to prosper without the need for a state, and would go some way to answering the concerns of the latter, as where there is no reason for a state to form - no benefit to those who would become its ruling class - it is unlikely to do so. Some go as far as to promote the converging technologies and the technological singularity as a means to the dissolution of the state, viewing it, as anarchists do, as an innately oppressive organism.
I would be interested to know what people think about 'anarcho-transhumanism' - pursuing left-wing anarchism for its own sake as well as as a means to make the arrival of the singularity safer and fairer and to ensure the even distribution of its benefits.

admin: moved to general forum.

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Mar 29 2011 01:53

We don't need no rapture of the nerds to solve some of humanity's pressing problems. A lot of times a very cheap and simple technology will go much farther in helping people than neurotechnology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. H+ is more or less a white man's modernist power fantasy projected into the science fictional future.

But, if you really want to discuss Ian M. Banks' Culture novels, Charles Stross, David Marusek, Peter F. Hamilton and other sci-fi stuff, I suggest that you start a thread in libcommunity.

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Mar 29 2011 02:19

"Cheap and simple" technology can only go so far towards helping people. The tyranny of our fellow man can be overcome with sheer people power, I agree, and we've come a very long way already. But what about aging, cancer and death? What about the scarcity of the Earth's resources and the difficulty of space colonisation for humans? What about threats to the existence of life on our planet from the rest of the galaxy - solar mass ejections, hypernovae, etc.? The limits of the human brain's ability to comprehend reality?
The tyranny of mankind is easily overthrown by mankind, the tyranny of reality less so.
I don't see how transhumanism could be described as a white male power fantasy. When "white" and "male" don't mean anything and power relations are rendered obsolete by society's relegation to an amusement rather than a necessity for survival, who is supposed to be being oppressed? I can hardly see that the elimination of involuntary suffering is a particularly white, male or power-hungry goal. Primitivism, if anything, is a white male power fantasy, seeking to restore the hegemony of physical ability and reproductive success while forbidding those born without innate advantage - the losers of the genetic lottery - to level the playing field, and preserving the dominance of those born with innate advantage by forbidding anyone else to excede it.
I'm not saying "we need", I'm saying "we could use" or "would be nice". Anarchism, I believe, is a realistic aspiration for humans as we exist today. Even in an anarcho-syndicalist utopia people suffer and die, arguably preventably, however. Why should the choice not at least exist for them to live as long as they please, to suffer only what they want to suffer?
Incidentally, I don't read sci-fi. ("No, you just write it, hur hur.")

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Mar 29 2011 02:50

Problem is that H+ is often just a simple rehashing of old Cartesian bs; a very weird understanding of cognition, self and so on.

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don't see how transhumanism could be described as a white male power fantasy.

who came up with it? white males in their very white coats. H+ reflects the concerns of folks who are well educated, have plenty of money and have read to many sci-fi novels. It's more effective to give mosquito nets to folks than splice some DNA to solve the problem of malaria.

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Primitivism, if anything, is a white male power fantasy, seeking to restore the hegemony of physical ability and reproductive success while forbidding those born without innate advantage - the losers of the genetic lottery - to level the playing field, and preserving the dominance of those born with innate advantage by forbidding anyone else to excede it.

Fer sure, and H+ is just the complete opposite. Ever wondered why anti-feminists love H+? Well, no need for messy reproduction anymore; no need for women in fact. Let's just grow people in vats.

And sorry, a lot of the tech that will supposedly save the planet is still just sci-fi. Until actual nanotech can make us all have our personal replicator I just don't see why we should bother with H+ concerns. Sure, let us fix cancer and all that. As for aging and death; well let's also leave that for the time when rejuvenation and immortality (I take it you're referring to Moravec's upload fantasy). Sure, it would be nice to have a lot of sci-fi tech, but we don't so why bother engaging.

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Anarchism, I believe, is a realistic aspiration for humans as we exist today.

Sure it is, but H+ is not even realistic. The science is not even nowhere near; it's fucking fiction.

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Mar 29 2011 03:17
Khawaga wrote:
who came up with it? white males in their very white coats. H+ reflects the concerns of folks who are well educated, have plenty of money and have read to many sci-fi novels.

A line up of the great anarchist thinkers features a great many white faces, many of them well-educated and wealthy. If anarchism is better defined and represented by its adherents than its theorists, so is transhumanism.

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It's more effective to give mosquito nets to folks than splice some DNA to solve the problem of malaria.

And who's saying it's not? You don't need miraculous solutions to every problem, obviously.

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Fer sure, and H+ is just the complete opposite. Ever wondered why anti-feminists love H+? Well, no need for messy reproduction anymore; no need for women in fact. Let's just grow people in vats.

If there's no need for women then there's no need for men either. Characterising postgenderism, for example, as somehow innately anti-feminist seems either misguided or dishonest to me. "Let's get rid of gender roles, gender based stratification and gender disparity" isn't remotely the same as "Let's get rid of women".

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And sorry, a lot of the tech that will supposedly save the planet is still just sci-fi. ... Sure, it would be nice to have a lot of sci-fi tech, but we don't so why bother engaging.

The reason to bother engaging is because every major paradigm shift in the past has been seized by the ruling classes to expand their power at the expense of the oppressed until control of it was wrested from their hands - take, for example, the necessity of the response of the original Luddites to the Industrial Revolution. I think that's preventable. The point is to ensure egalitarian use of technology, whether it's a new vaccine, an improved mosquito net, or flying space unicorns that shoot lasers from their horns.

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Sure it is, but H+ is not even realistic. The science is not even nowhere near; it's fucking fiction.

I won't try to impress you with numbers and projections because I acknowledge that they're debatable and tentative. "The" science may be nowhere near, but "some" science is - science is happening every day, and it needs to be used to benefit everyone and not just the rich.

I can't comment on any reference to a sci-fi author because, as I said, I don't read science fiction. I've read Watchmen, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. That's about the extent of my acquaintance with science fiction.

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Mar 29 2011 06:58

Space colonization is much more far off and improbable than its supporters care to entertain. Humans have existed within a complex of biospheric relations on Earth that are at the moment minimally understood, at best. There are time limits on space trips for astronauts because of the significant human costs of long-term exposure. For example, humans require a diverse set of microflora and microfauna in order to function, fulfilling such roles as metabolizing certain polysaccharides that the human body alone could not - an abstraction since your microflora/fauna are as much a part of your "body" as your arm is. At the moment the understanding and the means to replicate the process through which the human-microbe associations develop are nearly non-existent in regards to the human experience on Earth, much less when considering long-term space travel or colonization of another planet. I don't mean that research into space travel should not continue because of these complications, however. Honestly, though, I don't really care if space research continues now in its current guise.

'Egalitarian use of technology' is an impossibility within capitalist social relations. Let me rephrase that; capitalist social relations produce technics that may have 'egalitarian' uses, but that is incidental, not because the evil capitalists use pure neutral science, but because the social organization of production is not based upon reproducing 'egalitarian use'. I'm not a primitivist or anti-civ by any means, but there is a valid and substantial critique of science and technology in capitalist production that first of all begins with acknowledging how much of what makes up scientific practice is part of capitalist production and would have to change in order to 'egalitarian' or what have you.

Besides that, future tech often has an extreme gap between the conceptual promises and the actual capability of feasible implementation; this is often intentional, since the hottest cant is really ad spiel to sell the next commodity.

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Mar 29 2011 12:59
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If there's no need for women then there's no need for men either. Characterising postgenderism, for example, as somehow innately anti-feminist seems either misguided or dishonest to me. "Let's get rid of gender roles, gender based stratification and gender disparity" isn't remotely the same as "Let's get rid of women".

Haven you ever wondered why feminists like Hayles and Haraway are pretty much against H+? Have you considered that H+ is just old fashioned humanism plus digital code? If not, then you haven't given H+ much thought at all.

And the difference between white male anarchist thinkers and white male transhumanists is that the former always considered the liberation of the toiling masses whereas the latter have an existential angst that sometime in the future, when artificial life emerges, that our artificial progeny will become so smart - indeed like Gods - that they will look at humanity as ants. That's the source of a lot of H+ writing; it's all to do about humanity in the future, not in the present. The goal is always to become part of the cosmic super intelligent game (to paraphrase Moravec) rather than dealing with current and more pressing issues.

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I won't try to impress you with numbers and projections because I acknowledge that they're debatable and tentative. "The" science may be nowhere near, but "some" science is - science is happening every day, and it needs to be used to benefit everyone and not just the rich.

No need; I've seen the numbers as well. Doesn't mean that we can all go to upload heaven tomorrow. Though I do agree that any new tech will benefit the rich; but that's an argument for class struggle not for engaging in writing more sci-fi (and you should read more of it; where do you think that a lot scientists get some of their ideas from? as well as where they get their worldview from? Too much reading of Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov).

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And who's saying it's not? You don't need miraculous solutions to every problem, obviously.

But that's the rub. A lot of H+ proponents will take the high-tech solution rather than the simple one.

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Mar 29 2011 13:35
Khawaga wrote:
Haven you ever wondered why feminists like Hayles and Haraway are pretty much against H+? Have you considered that H+ is just old fashioned humanism plus digital code? If not, then you haven't given H+ much thought at all.

Thinking about something and rejecting it is still thinking about it. The fact that we disagree doesn't mean that either of us has thought less than the other, just that we think in different ways. Instead of appealing to authority, why don't you make an argument?

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That's the source of a lot of H+ writing; it's all to do about humanity in the future, not in the present.

I think you may be mixing up "transhumanism as a philosophy" with "transhumanism in fiction". Transhumanism is not exclusively concerned with far-off wonder technologies. A mobile phone is a technological augmentation of the human body, as is an antler pickaxe. Transhumanism is interested in the way humans interact with technology to overcome their limitations - that doesn't imply cyborgs or photosynthetic skin, it can be as simple as a wooden leg or a shield. Case in point: the use of social networking to outmanoeuvre the police at a demo is technology being used to augment the natural ability of humans to communicate.

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Though I do agree that any new tech will benefit the rich; but that's an argument for class struggle not for engaging in writing more sci-fi

That's my point: there are transhumanist-interest arguments for class struggle. What I'm arguing is that class struggle is necessary to ensure that technology will be used fairly to the benefit of all and not just for the rich, and that transhumanism and anarchism are not mutually exclusive and have overlapping fields of interest. Both are, after all, concerned with improving people's lives, one through technology and the other through social transformation. The two aren't mutually exclusive and I believe they'd work better together - technology developed and shared cooperatively rather than as a part of capitalist production, distributed through socialised distribution channels, and used by the people to enrich their own lives.

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But that's the rub. A lot of H+ proponents will take the high-tech solution rather than the simple one.

Are any of them here?

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Mar 29 2011 15:10
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A mobile phone is a technological augmentation of the human body, as is an antler pickaxe. Transhumanism is interested in the way humans interact with technology to overcome their limitations - that doesn't imply cyborgs or photosynthetic skin, it can be as simple as a wooden leg or a shield.

Okei, so now I am starting to see where you're coming from. I would say that you're more of a post-humanist rather than transhumanist. Post-humanism is much more "edible" than transhumanism.

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Thinking about something and rejecting it is still thinking about it. The fact that we disagree doesn't mean that either of us has thought less than the other, just that we think in different ways. Instead of appealing to authority, why don't you make an argument?

How the heck am I supposed to know what you've thought about? Nothing in your previous posts indicate that you've even considered Hayles and Haraway; especially since you don't seem to disagree with Moravec's fantasies at all (third time I've mentioned him; are you going to bite? or rather; do you think that there's something to what he is arguing?).

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The two aren't mutually exclusive and I believe they'd work better together - technology developed and shared cooperatively rather than as a part of capitalist production, distributed through socialised distribution channels, and used by the people to enrich their own lives.

Fer sure, but if you buy into the whole upload heaven thing I don't think there's much to talk about. I also believe that H+ has a severe case of tech determinism (not necessarily saying you have though), which is a huge problem. While I don't buy into H+ at all (though I accept the post-human cyborg argument), I think that if most of the H+ fantasies were to be realized it could only be done in a post-capitalist society.

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Mar 29 2011 16:24
Khawaga wrote:
How the heck am I supposed to know what you've thought about? Nothing in your previous posts indicate that you've even considered Hayles and Haraway; especially since you don't seem to disagree with Moravec's fantasies at all (third time I've mentioned him; are you going to bite? or rather; do you think that there's something to what he is arguing?).

Honestly, I'm not familiar with Moravec and I only have a passing acquaintance with Hayles and Haraway. I'm familiar with feminist critiques of transhumanism in general, and I broadly agree with them. I'm a postgenderist transhumanist. There are a lot of similarities between the post-humanist cyborg and the transhumanist transhuman. "We are all cyborgs" can equally be rendered as "We are all transhumans", i.e. we are all augmented humans on our way to becoming more augmented, ultimately until we're more deliberate artifice than natural artifice or even wholly deliberate artifice.
As I say, I don't know about Moravec's fantasies; I've never read Moravec. For me there is no objective ideal outcome of transhumanism - that's the whole point of it. Each individual will have their own notion of their ideal condition and the purpose of transhumanism, to me, is empowering them to realise it at the expense of no one else - allowing everyone to get their way, so to speak, to no one's detriment. When or how it happens isn't so much relevant to me as that it should happen. Ultimate freedom of choice is what matters to me. If people want to grow people in tanks or just make a new person by writing their personality and putting it in an artificial body, I think they should be allowed to as much as if people want to continue to reproduce sexually after the necessity of sexual reproduction for the survival of the species is gone.
I could better answer your questions about Moravec's fantasies if I knew what they were.

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Fer sure, but if you buy into the whole upload heaven thing I don't think there's much to talk about. I also believe that H+ has a severe case of tech determinism (not necessarily saying you have though), which is a huge problem. While I don't buy into H+ at all (though I accept the post-human cyborg argument), I think that if most of the H+ fantasies were to be realized it could only be done in a post-capitalist society.

What do you mean by "buy into the whole upload heaven thing"? I think it's desirable that people should be able to live in any reality they choose, virtual or otherwise - is that what you mean? I don't believe in technological determinism, no - it doesn't seem sensible to me to think that technology exclusively determines culture and society, the relationship seems a much more mutual than that - culture influences technology and vice versa. And I agree, the difference between a technological utopia and a technological dystopia is that the former implies post-capitalist society.

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Mar 29 2011 16:36

Well, Moravec is the first one (as far as I am aware) who seriously advocated uploading our consciousness. Read his book Mind Children (can be hard to get at times, but I can send you a pdf of the relevant part if you want. PM me your e-mail). For me that is what transhumanism is all about or at least the end game (because if we reach that point there are no humans anymore).

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Mar 29 2011 16:59
Khawaga wrote:
Well, Moravec is the first one (as far as I am aware) who seriously advocated uploading our consciousness. Read his book Mind Children (can be hard to get at times, but I can send you a pdf of the relevant part if you want. PM me your e-mail). For me that is what transhumanism is all about or at least the end game (because if we reach that point there are no humans anymore).

Is there anything special about his ideas about uploading?
I think when it's possible it should be permitted but not compulsory. Not to permit it would be as oppressive as to make it compulsory (and furthermore would imply the existence of a coercive regulator). Whether or not its desirable is up to the individual. Personally I think it makes better sense to retain a physical body, even if all of its original components have been replaced, and it doesn't preclude living as an uploaded consciousness since by that point you're just a moving computer anyway - not to say that we aren't already all just moving computers anyway. I can't see many qualitative differences between a posthuman who exists only as an uploaded consciousness and a comatose human hooked up to life support - both are just static media of consciousness.

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Mar 29 2011 17:00

Upload (even if became possible which is pretty unlikely) is suicide and creating a copy of yourself that isn't you.

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Mar 29 2011 19:21

I agree if the upload was done all at once - just shutting down a brain and powering up an identical program on another medium is killing a person and making a functionally identical copy. But the brain replaces itself fully several times over the course of one's life and consciousness is maintained. I think so long as there's continuous contiguity maintained across the medium of consciousness, the consciousness is preserved - so that, say, hijacking the process by which brain cells replace themselves to replace them with artificial brain cells would effectively be transferring the consciousness to a new medium without destroying it.

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Mar 29 2011 19:42
Atanvarno wrote:
But the brain replaces itself fully several times over the course of one's life and consciousness is maintained. I think so long as there's continuous contiguity maintained across the medium of consciousness, the consciousness is preserved - so that, say, hijacking the process by which brain cells replace themselves to replace them with artificial brain cells would effectively be transferring the consciousness to a new medium without destroying it.

All of the cells that compose your body are in constant cycle of replacement. It's not like your body goes through an oil change. We can't even hijack the processes that allow the replacement of simpler cellular systems, much less the multiple kinds of neural cells found in the brain - how is this anything but far-fetched?

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Mar 29 2011 20:00

It is far-fetched in that it's speculation about a possible mechanism for a far-off technology. Maybe miniaturised groundhogs with human hands would be used instead. I don't know. The point is that it's theoretically possible to incrementally replace the brain with artificial parts without killing the person. But this is all too detailed to be relevant to the argument, anyway.

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Mar 30 2011 09:14

I suspect it would be wise to separate the self-as-experience from the self-as-identity. "Mind" and "consciousness" are often used to describe both "raw experience or qualia" and "identity," which are wildly different. One's "identity" is just a functional arrangement, so I don't really doubt that a computer could store my identity. Experience, however, is already fragmented, fleeting, and instantaneous. I am assuming panpsychism here: If consciousness is a property of any physical arrangement, then the physical arrangements in question will exist in moments. (If you do not agree with panpsychism, then you are either a radical behaviorist, or you will have to explain to me what makes a neural network unique.) The continuity of these arrangements would constitute identity, by virtue of relative similarity over time; though experience would still be limited to the moment.

I don't know if I really care about transferring to "the singularity," though. In fact, I'm not sure if anyone should really care about anything. While identity is different from experience, identity has limited access to experience. And, my identity recognizes that all of its corresponding instances of experience are essentially valueless. Concepts like "pleasure" and "pain" are complex mental behaviors that only make sense to the identity, not experience. Or, put differently, "pleasure" is never experienced, only enacted. But, experience is largely incoherent to identity, except for those limited things we remember: Sight, feeling, movement, etc. But, these aren't actually experiences, only approximations of experiences at best. Therefore, we can think of the body as an object that does not care about its own experience. But, it's completely absurd to think of doing anything to "fix" this situation: "Pain" is never "experienced," so there's no wrongs to be redressed. And, any moment spent trying to gain more pleasure for the body corresponds to an experience that is already dead at its moment of inception, so there will never be a "payoff" for any "investment." And, since "pleasure" will never be experienced, there is no experiential motive for me to pursue it, it's simply a part of my identity to do so. I am resigned to the economy/ecosystem of my flesh as the reality that I am. I speak, of course, as my identity, since my experiences cannot speak; they merely exist. We can assume that experience doesn't matter, and that the job of the body-in-time is the only discourse worth having, but in doing so, we ignore any considerations of experience, and "pleasure" becomes as qualitatively coercive as "religious dogma". (Pleasure may tend to hold more sway with people, but that just means it's more powerful or popular.) So, even the hedonist project dies in flame, as the uselessness of all human activity becomes apparent to itself.

That said, I will now take some drugs and jerk off in bed.

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Mar 30 2011 09:17

(I don't think this actually answers the question of what our bodies should say about joining the singularity, but my thoughts about the functional underpinnings of pleasure/pain are even less organized than my other crap; I just think we should be aware of the incredible burden of incoherence the philosophy of mind places on our attempts to characterize our most precious abstractions.)

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Jul 12 2013 21:51

I'm bummed to have seen this thread die! Having noted something similar to the comparison between anarchism and transhumanism as given in the original post here, I've spent the last couple of weeks searching for any sort cross-sections between transhumanism and anarchism, and it has been (at least in my experience) remarkably hard to find.

I essentially have two questions, 1.) what is the relationship between transhumanist-post work thought and anarchist post work thought (I'm sure I'm butchering some terminology here, please stick with me, I'm no expert)? and 2.) More broadly, what are anarchist philosophical views on some specific emerging technologies, with relevance both to their development and application.

Discounting much more speculative aspirations of transhumanists (such as highly advanced neuro-agumentation, the proverbial singularity, or even uploading human minds) and focusing instead on something more like Pro-Automation and Post-Work utopian transhumanist thought, I'm curious on what others thoughts on an intersection of anarchist and transhumanist thought could be.

-Abstractly the two are not necessarily related, aspirations for ever increasing automation and even post-work could just as easily apply to capitalist or even fascist thought.

-Ostensibly and in the most general terms, anarchism and Pro-Automated/Post-Work thought are somewhat easily connected, or so it seems to me, in aspiration for the liberation from menial work and thus orienting freedom for personal development as the primary focus of ones life, but this is a.) not terribly new in terms of any leftist thinking, and/or b.) requires thinking of trans-humanism as politically oriented in such a way that it intentionally works to overthrow systemic barriers to the positive implications of this level of technology. This is not the typical approach to trans-humanism, least not as far as I can tell, but to assume that advancement in predictions given by trans-humanists could lead to an end of work scenario without consciously working to overthrow systemic barriers to it would be techno-deterministic.

-Relevantly, to the real world and what not: Diverging slightly from trans-humanism and to the immediate future (10-30 years estm), what, if any, is the relevance of open-source/free-ware software design, internet piracy, and additive manufacturing, in terms of liberating humanity towards a Post-Work society? Open source and free-ware models are by no means tied directly to trans-humanist philosophy, but there seems to be a common connection between the two (though to be honest I can only corroborate this anecdotally so perhaps I'm way the fuck off in this generalization), where interests in socializing intellectual property are common justifications for piracy, leaks, as well as open-source and free-ware soft-ware development. Open-source approaches have been instrumental in the design, advancement and commercialization of 3D printers (though this may shift as the capabilities of printers increase and the printers become more relevant to production) and if we assume that the socialization of intellectual property will remain an aspiration of many of the designers of 3D printers as they decrease in cost and increase in capability, what would stop most people with access to said printers from being able to freely or else 'pirate' the majority of their commodity consumption? If that sort of production is in fact possible, shouldn't it be an aspiration of anyone supporting a Post-Work vision to work to popularize such technology? Similarly, to popularize technological education and literacy so as to ensure the wide spread application of such technology?

I mean look, I could be way off. But while lot's of Transhumanist philosophy may be contradictory to a lot of anarchist philosophy, surely the aspirations of technological advancement as a vital step towards post-work and human development are a cross-section worth considering? Particularly with relevance to emerging technologies. I mentioned additive manufacturing, but considering also mobile technologies which are predicted to vastly increase global internet access, smart toilette's (cheaper for wides spread use because they incinerate waste as opposed to the use of sewage system), nano-water-filtration devices, mobile doctoral diagnostic devices, I'm sure the list could increase. The given advancements are predicted to exist in the near future, as in ten maybe twenty years. They are not science fiction. They range from as of now in development, to already existing in a expensive pre-commercialized format, to just existing in speculative capabilities.

SO. Back to my questions.

I'm curious what thoughts those of you whom I'm assuming know a lot more about anarchist philosophy than I do, have to say about how to approach said emerging technology, maybe using transhumanist-post-work philosophy as sort of a bridge for the approach, or something. I might be grasping at straws there, or else trying to force a connection between the transhumanism and anarchism that is ultimately more coincidental than anything, I'm not really sure. Either way I am still interested to know how the technologies I've references, sometimes referred to as on coming 'abundant' technologies, might be approached anarchistically? (Or whatever. I'm sure, there's better terms for this question.)

I'm not sure if there's a way to add footnotes for a post here and I'm really not motivated to figure it out at this point. To corroborate what I just wrote here are some sources I drew on, originally retrieved for a paper I've been working on that is vaguely related this post. Hoo-fucking-ray:

Chris Anderson, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (New York: Crown Business, 2012)

Ramez Naam, the Infinite Resource: the power of ideas on a finite planet (University Press of New England, 2013)

‘The World in 2030’ by Dr. Michio Kaku” YouTube Video, 1:04:01, posted by “CUNYQueensborough” on Dec 15, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=219YybX66MY

Peter Diamandis, Abundance: The future is better than you think (Free Press: New York, May 2012)

“Bill Gate’s Better Toilet: His Foundation Seeks To Reinvent The Latrine” Huffington Post (blog) August. 14 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/bill-gates-wants-to-reinv_n_1776230.html

“Peter Diamandis at IMPACT 2012,” YouTube video, 1:01:35, posted by “Peter Diamandis” on Dec 3, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uThsDn4YRT8

Nic Halverson, “3D Printing Coming to Vending Machine Near You,” Mashable (blog), Mar, 07, 2013. http://mashable.com/2013/03/07/dreambox-3d-printing-vending-machine/

“Are We Ready For the Coming ‘Age of Abundance?’ – Dr. Michio Kaku [panel facilitated by Tom Stewart, consisting of Michio Kaku, Michael Schrage, Isabel Aguilera, and Peter Diamandis] (full)” YouTube video, 1:04:38, posted by “TheSasss1”, posted on Jun 27, 2011
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceEog1XS5OI

Emma Hutchings, “Nike Debuts First 3D-Printed Football Cleat,” Mashable (blog) Feb. 27, 2013. http://mashable.com/2013/02/27/nike-3d-printed-cleat/

Maya Shwayder, “One-Third Of World’s Population Using Internet, Developing Nations Show Biggest Gains” International Business Times, Sep. 24 2012. http://www.ibtimes.com/one-third-worlds-population-using-internet-developing-nations-showing-biggest-gains-795299

LibMarx
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Feb 24 2014 17:58

Considering the length of the debate, I have not read through all the arguments presented by both parties.

That being said, here's what I have to say.

I am a transhumanist and an Anarchist (Libertarian Marxist, but same difference)

It may seem at first that a movement born primarily from privileged males may benefit them, but the truth is, the potential of the idea goes beyond merely exacerbating authoritarian power relations.

I may being with this: Before you even start your day, and for +90% of your day, you spend it augmented; If you live outside of the tropics, you pretty much have to: You augment your skin every day with your clothes to better fit your needs for environmental protection or a job you may be doing: A coat, steel-toed boots, a bulletproof vest, glasses, all of these are designed to augment our naturally occurring abilities, and that is before we even get into more modern technology like hearing aids and exoskeletons.

You may say, "you can't compare cloth to super-intelligence" but I say otherwise. The point of transhumanism is to fundamentally alter the human condition for our benefit, which is precisely what clothes did at the dawn of civilization. Do you think that mankind could have grown to such a vast and intelligent species if our priority was always just how to keep warm? Today it is taken for granted our augmentations, and in the future the same will be true. What's more to be said is that no, the progress of clothing is not nearly what the progress of super-intelligence will be, but again we find that technological progress has for the most part followed a line-of-best-fit in an exponential growth for the rate at which it is developed; so the minor things we take for granted today were still ground-breaking 100,000 years ago, and the way that they fundamentally altered us then, new tech will fundamentally alter us in the future.

Next, we have the conversation of ability and transhumanism; as it has been said before, transhumanism offers us the capabilities to end "the hegemony of physical ability and reproductive success."

In terms of costs, there is quite a capitalistic mindset here, low-cost won't be the mindset of the future in any anarchist society, it would be greatest benefit for cost of resources; in a post-scarcity scenario, maximizing efficiency is the top priority. Even with that, there is still a case for transhumanism. Of course old tech like mosquito nets aren't going to vanish, but we can use new technologies to improves lives in other ways. Nano-technology is incredibly cheap when we introduce the assembler, a microscopic piece of technology that can replicate and engineer more nano-tech (analogous to stem-cells) at extremely low costs. More over 3D printing has allowed new breakthroughs in manufacturing prosthesis, such as work being done to help amputees in Uganda (source here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/01/17/using-3-d-printing-to-address-the-need-for-prosthetics-in-uganda/)

The last thing I want to address is the topic of what are the practical uses, especially when the topic goes to space colonization. Humans will need to become post-human if we wish to visit the stars. Maybe it's far off now, but remember that under capitalism we are squandering the potential of the majority of the human species, with anarchism, we will see an exponential increase in the capabilities of the entire species, as well as another massive surge when super-intelligence is achieved.

The star ages are coming, and we need to be able to deal with the extremes of space, which our biology can't handle.

That's just me. The discussion has been interesting so far.
Thank you for the time you took to read this and have a nice day.

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cresspot
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Feb 24 2014 05:55

Only through communism will we truly evolve.

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sometimes explode
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Feb 18 2015 17:34

Unnecessary update to say this book on posthumanism is a fantastic critique of transhumanism as humanism, critical posthumanism and of critics of transhumanism. The central contention- going via the "disconnection thesis"- is that everyone in the sets demarcated above are wrong about how radical technological augmentation *might* be.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Posthuman-Life-Philosophy-Edge-Human/dp/1844658066

"Posthuman Life argues that the enhancement debate projects a human face onto an empty screen. We do not know what will happen and, not being posthuman, cannot anticipate how posthumans will assess the world. If a posthuman future will not necessarily be informed by our kind of subjectivity or morality the limits of our current knowledge must inform any ethical or political assessment of that future. Posthuman Life develops a critical metaphysics of posthuman succession and argues that only a truly speculative posthumanism can support an ethics that meets the challenge of the transformative potential of technology".

It's pretty heavy with Sellarsian philosophy though.

factvalue
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Feb 18 2015 20:18

This is excellent too (and reasonably priced):

http://dlx.bookzz.org/genesis/1193000/e90ebb76260ade43cd1851d68a44fe5b/_as/[Rosi_Braidotti]_The_Posthuman(BookZZ.org).pdf