Re: SOC: Opposition to Transhumanism

Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 23:38:08 MST

Greg Burch writes:
> [once again, only time for a brief comment . . .] Hal, this sounds like a
> very attractive way to address potential opposition to transhumanist goals.
> but let me ask you, how would you apply these principles into action if
> genetic engineering humans for the prupose of augmentation were outlawed
> everywhere on the planet? I'm not saying that's likely, but I DO believe
> that it is at least POSSIBLE. Can women in Afghanistan "peacefully coexist"
> with the Taliban?

I agree that this would be an undesirable outcome, but I also agree that
it is not very likely.

Modern communications media like the internet foster greater diversity.
I hope and expect that diversity will breed tolerance, both because more
tolerant communities will be able to thrive in a diverse environment,
and correspondingly, intolerant communities will find it difficult to
enforce their restrictions on the net.

Keep in mind that those who fear change have their own nightmare: a world
in which genetic engineering and augmentation is used universally, and
everyone is effectively forced to do so just to survive the competition
that results. In many ways this is just as bad an outcome. Complete
memetic victory is no better than total defeat.

Better to seek for ways to coexist, to have a world where some people
experiment with new ideas and new ways of life, while others retain
the traditions of the past. Religion has a place in the future, as
do environmentalism, communism and other forms of social cooperation,
and many other meme sets which we tend to see as our opponents.

My ideal world is not one in which everyone is just like me, and I am
sure most of us feel the same way. Practicing tolerance of those with
different views is an important step towards that world. Think of it
as Gandhian non-violence brought into the memetic world, memes which
attempt to coexist without defeating their rivals.

I realize that this is pretty fuzzy in terms of specific prescriptions
for action in the real world. I don't claim to have a fully fleshed
out philosophy here; these are ideas which I am exploring and offering
for consideration. It has long seemed to me that the traditional mode
of discourse, argument and rebuttal, is not very successful. I believe
we have seen mostly failures in our own debates here. We are much more
successful when we are working cooperatively, brainstorming together,
bouncing ideas off one another. I would like to see us find a way to
bring this kind of approach into a larger arena.


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