Re: The most compelling argument against extropian ideas

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 20:38:57 MST

At 12:20 AM 3/29/01 +0200, Anders wrote:

>OK, analysing something like this is in itself an exercise in
>silliness or too much seriousness. But I think it reveals something
>about the memes we have to struggle against

Well, yes, but even putting it that way seems to me disrespectful. This
person is making a point that might in principle have the power to
influence us, if careful scrutiny corroborated it. (I am making no such
claim, of course.)

>The core of the confused mail seems to be that 1)
>being a cyborg is not fun,

Although this is what is literally said (in frail non-native English), I
don't think it conveys what is intended.

>2) extropianism seeks to turn everybody
>into cyborgs.

This seems to me a partial misreading.

Here's a quick shot at reading it sympathetically:


>> >Youa are mad, if you think tha it's good to be a cyborg.If
>> >you want to be do it yourself, but don't give the chance to
>> >other people, who don't know what to do with their lives
>> >and they think it's fun.

If you want to become a cyborg yourself, do so, your values are obviously
deranged anyway. But please keep the technology to yourselves, because
there are vulnerable people out there, the same ones who kill themselves
with heroin in a foolish search for diversion from what, sadly, they see as
a meaningless and hopeless life.

>> >Because IT'S NOT! Whay do everyone
>> >wants to be a computer?

This `cyborg' choice, like drug or gambling addiction , is NOT a fun
alternative to living a complex human life, learning to deal with
frustration and pain and the risks of love in the way that only a human
being can, unlike a programmed computer--it's life as what Phil Dick called
an `electric ant', pre-programmed and meaningless. Yet people keeping
trying to vitiate their rich humanity and replace senstitive awareness and
choice with stupor or mechanical `canned' routines? Why? Why?

>> >Why do everyone tries to put an end
>> >to humanity?

In promoting this terrible anti-human choice, in helping make it possible
for people to believe that it's better to be a machine than a person, you
collude with those who would destroy humanity. Why? Why? What the hell's
*wrong* with you?

>> >I can't really understand, but you will win!

Your self-destructive project will defeat every softer alternative, just as
heavy tanks crush soft human bodies and seductive but wicked ideas seduce
generation after generation into ruin. It's beyond comprehension that we
remain so susceptible to the lure of the death-lovers, but we do, and you
will win, you damned maniacs.

>> >You idiot! Bye!


I think this cry of pain and rage must be met with a considered reply, one
that points out that (for example) enhancement of current human capacities
is NOT the same as repudiation of human decencies, of love, of all those
values typically and often legitimately seen as threatened by
`mechanisation', `global rationality', etc. That the values and schemes
advanced by transhumanists are an *extension* of what now makes us
conscious, conscienced beings, not its *denial*. This is by no means
self-evident. A lot of hard work remains to be done.

Damien Broderick

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