Re: Extropian public image

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 20 Jun 1997 20:50:30 +0200 (MET DST)

On Fri, 20 Jun 1997, Max More wrote:

> How will you implement this policy? You can present the milder aspects of
> these ideas to non-transhumanists but then, when they look at your web
> sites or literature, they will see all those wild ideas. How do you plan to
> segment the market? Will you set up different web sites and print different
> literature for the different audiences? If so, how do you prevent
> crossover? (A quick web search and the non-transhumanists will find the
> explicitly transhumanist sites.)

No, there is no point (and actually a bit dishonest) to present two
images (a bit like scientology starting out as self-help training and
then turning into a religion). I leave secret teachings for the
initiates of the inner order to the cults.

It makes a lot of difference if the first impression people have of
transhumanism is somebody speaking about how you can become
smarter/happier/more long lived through some fairly simple tricks
(especially if they can be demonstrated easily) or if it somebody
speaking of uploading oneself into a computer and colonizing the
entire universe. The latter is so far-out that it doesn't matter
other than conversation fodder (if even that), the former is
downright interesting, and can in time lead to discussions about
basic transhumanist philosophy and other practical self-enhancing

As I see it, there are three groups of people we want to reach: the
people who are or will become transhumanists, the people who think
transhumanism is a good thing, and the people who accept
transhumanism as a valid view, even if they disagree with it. We need
to enlarge the last group if we are to be able to make our voices
heard in the debate, otherwise we will be seen as simply some lunatic
fringe group of no importance. The second group is of course
important to get public support. Compare this to the environmental
movement: practically everyone today agrees that environmental issues
are relevant, many support environmentalism (albeit passively) and a
small group is active environmentalists.

> The public image and presentation issue is tremendously important for the
> future of our ideas. Apart from Anders' comments on the above questions, I
> encourage everyone else to offer suggestions. How do we find the optimal
> path between being boring/blending in with other ideas, and standing
> out/looking scary.

As a radical idea becomes more acceptable it seems to go through
different phases. At first people find it crazy or ridicullous. Then
it becomes scary and people get angry about it. Then it is new and
suddenly completely mainstream. We have moved from crazy to scary,
and that is a good thing. But there is no doubt that we have
turbulent weather ahead.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y