Re: Questioning transhumanism & Futures

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Tue Jul 11 2000 - 08:31:18 MDT

On 7/7/2000 Anders Sandberg wrote:
>The problem is that most of us are not well educated in economics,
>philosophy and sociology, and that it often doesn't seem they are
>necessary. After all, the system largely works, doesn't it? We miss
>the obvious stuff just because it is right under our noses, and
>concentrate on the rest. But transhumanism is very much about
>questioning the way things have always been, *all* of the human
>condition - including how we relate to the current philosophical,
>political, social and economical systems. If we don't question things,
>try to come up with new solutions and then test them to see if they
>are better than the current ones we will be dependent on the solutions
>other groups produce, solutions which may not just be bad but also
>based on fundamentally incompatible values.

I of course encourage people to learn more about social/human sciences,
but I don't really like this apparent "dream of autarky" you try to
motivate it with (

We live in an interdependent world, and this is a wonderful thing.
It is why we are rich. There is a *division of labor*, whereby we
each specialize in improving some aspect of living, and then we can
all share all of the improvements. It is madness for some small group
to insist on developing all their important systems by themselves,
for fear of being corrupted by the values of other groups.

If you want to live in a rich hi-tech world, you WILL "be dependent
on the solutions other groups produce". Otherwise you're the Amish.

You do get to choose your expertize and focus. There is really almost
no one using social science expertize to think seriously about how
future technologies will influence social systems, and what new
possibilities they open up. I encourage anyone capable to join me in
this enterprise.

But time spent doing this can't be spent improving cryonics, developing
AI, designing launch systems, or sketching Jupiter brains. You have
to *choose* what you influence, and then you have to accept what the
rest of the world does on all the other topics.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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