Re: Public Relations?
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 11:21:05 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 4 Jan 1998, Twink wrote:

> Except among a very small and select group, Extropian/transhuman ideas do not
> usually receive serious attention. Often they are scoffed at and their
> purveyors ridiculed -- if not outright ignored. This does seem to be
> the case with cryonics, though other forms of life extension are slowly
> gaining ground. MNT suffers from it too, though to a lesser degree,
> especially if the more outlandish claims are kept under raps.
> Knowing that many others are already trying to do a good PR job, I
> would like to suggest trying to recruit a big name actor or actress to
> the movement. It sounds stupid, but it seems to work for a lot of other
> movements, causes and ideas.
But *is* extropianism a movement? And if so what is it a movement
*toward*? If Demi Moore were to start talking about cryonics or molecular
nanotechnology on the talk show circuit it is possible that more people
would sign up for the one, or would invest in the development of the
other... but just how this would be an advance for extropianism as a
movement is unclear to me, unless we regard every scientific and
technological development, as well as every cultural and political
development in the direction of greater freedom and diversity, as an
advance for extropianism as a movement. Does extropianism just mean
civilization, then?

I am not sure if it makes much sense to think of extropianism as a
movement, given the forms it seems to exhibit most characteristically over
the five years or so I've been looking it over. More like a constellation
of spaces in which a group of people discuss certain idiosyncratic
preoccupations (most of which I share). Usually stimulating, often
useful, sometimes deeply pleasurable, but a *movement*?

Is it the goal of extropianism as a movement to expedite the arrival of a
technological singularity, or a particular configuration of future
technologies, perhaps by way of the information exchange that happens
here? Is it the goal of the movement to insure that religious or
ecological fundamentalism don't manage to stifle development of a better
future? Is the goal to disseminate as widely as possible the diversity is
good meme, so as to give pause to the first Powers that emerge if it
should occur to them that mehums look more like ubergoo feedstock for
their transhuman engineering projects than potentially valuable
conversational partners? All of these would look like the agenda of a
movement about the future properly so-called. Maybe having Demi Moore
talk about these things on Rosie or whatever would have a positive effect
of the kind you are talking about. None of them seem to have enough of a
consistent articulate consensus behind them (except maybe the one about
fearing the damage fundies could do) as the conversations on our various
fora unfold, though, to suggest that they define the coherent agenda of an
extropian movement. Not that I think extropianism necessarily *wants* to
aspire to movementhood, given the rather grisly track record of movements
in general in this century. It's just that the term gets bandied about
quite a bit and I'm never completely sure why everybody seems so
comfortable with it.

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

If you want to tell people the truth be sure to make them laugh.
Otherwise, they will kill you. -- George Bernard Shaw
State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. -- Nietzsche