Re: >H Defining Transhumanism

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 19 Oct 1998 11:49:48 -0700

Phil goetz writes:
>> Transhumanism is the idea that new technologies are likely
>> to change the world so much in the next century or two that
>> our descendants will in many ways no longer be "human."
>The use of the word "descendants" is problematical.

Why? Don't you think we will have descendants?

>> This definition focuses on positive, not normative, beliefs.
>What does that mean -- positive beliefs? How does the set "positive
>beliefs" differ from the set "beliefs"?

It is the fact/value is/ought distinction. Positive beliefs are about what is, not what ought to be.

>I know lots of people who believe that a big technology-induced change
>is coming, and that technology is a terrible thing.

Where are their web pages? Where are their thoughtful articles?

>> 3) When thinking about the future, most people succumb to wishful
>> thinking, and so choose positive beliefs based on normative ones.
>> So those who think big techno-driven change is OK are willing
>> to think it will happen. And those who think such change is bad
>> believe that it isn't likely.
>Yes, that's what I mean.

If so, don't we need to admit that our beliefs about big change are likely wishful thinking as well?

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614