Re: transhuman projects (Was: SOC/TECH: Greenstar)

Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 18:09:05 MDT

In a message dated 6/25/00 4:23:57 PM Central Daylight Time,

> speaking of "explicitly transhumanist work," what might some of
> those be? it seems to me that all the basic enabling technologies of the
> transhuman vision are right on schedule; they are not receiving charity,
> but investment capital -- because they give immediate economic payoffs at
> almost every step of the way.
> what then constitutes explicitly transhumanist work? without
> slowing down my typing, i might think of three: 1. increasing public
> awareness of the coming tide; 2. catalyzing more integrated and
> cross-disciplinary research; 3. helping those already aware of what's
> coming to better prepare for the future. of course, there is also 4.
> forcasting the far-distant future (when i learn how to count again).

I think you've identified all but one of the main outlines of "explicitly
transhumanist work". I'd add "community building" as another. This task has
a couple of levels. On one important level, it's important to work toward
creating a social network for people with transhumanist goals, because most
people need to feel that their values and goals are shared by other people
they know and respect. Although there are some examples of people who can be
happy and do productive work in social isolation, I think they are the rare
exception, rather than the rule. At another level, we may well need to
create legal and social structures to protect those who want to forward the
transhumanist agenda from interference from people who will actively try to
stop them. In the broadest sense, this is the work of building an effective
transhumanist community.

The importance of the first task you identify is now becoming very clear, as
reaction against radical technological progress is growing on a number of
fronts and at a number of levels. In fact, at this point, "awareness" seems
to be far outstripping any kind of real understanding in the media and minds
of the average person. So, I'd offer a slight modification of that point:
What's important is the illumination of values that make comprehension of the
transhumanist agenda clearer. This may be what you're talking about in your
third point.

Folks like Eric Drexler, Robert Bradbury, Greg Stock and Robert Frietas are
doing a lot on the front of " cross disciplinary research" - at least to
plant seeds of the need for that work. Within the next five to 10 years,
though, we'll have to start really putting our money where our mouth is,
looking for the creation and funding of real technology development with a
clear transhumanist goal. This will be a period I liken to the aerodynamic
concept of "Max Q", or maximum aerodynamic pressure: It will be at that point
that the work we've done up to that point will have to start bearing real
institutional fruit.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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