Crit, biotech position paper Re: [TE] Letter From the Front]

From: Alex Future Bokov (
Date: Fri Jul 21 2000 - 15:29:37 MDT


"Like the open source movement, there should be an open science movement."

                                        --Sasha Chislenko,
                                          conversation in restaurant
                                          after Extro 4

> Where I think there is legitimate disagreement with transhumanist ranks is
> over what the appropriate and necessary conditions are for the safe use of
> new technologies. We are beginning to see that debate in the discussion
> over gray goo. I support the necessity of a consumer and environmental
> movement, working to make sure that pressure is kept on to ensure the
> safety of new technologies. And I believe we need federal agencies whose
> job it is to regulate for safety and efficacy.

We have a tricky path to walk, and yet a rewarding one. Tricky because
there is a tendency to think in dualistic terms-- big evil corporations
versus courageous ELF terrorists. Rewarding because the average, undecided,
moderate person who's following the issue might be facing a lesser of
to evils dilemma. They will therefore welcome a third option, a balanced

I think those interested should get together and write a Transhumanist
position paper. Yes, yes, I know that any time you have N
Transhumanists together you have two to the power of N opinions. When I
say position paper I mean a document summarizing a consensus view of
the movement, and if there are several schools of thinking that 'agree
to disagree', then representing each school. It is possible to do--
after all, not everyone here participated in the writing of the
Transhumanist FAQ or the Transhumanist Principles (v 1.0 was that?
Hello, who's the lazy bum who started and abandoned THAT project? :-) )
and there are probably quite a few people who haven't gotten around to
reading them so far. Yet those documents still give a reasonably
accurate idea of Transhumanism. What I have in mind is something like
that but specific to genetic engineering.
> In fact Alex Bokov's response shows that he, and perhaps many others in the
> transhuman circles, have many concerns about corporate-directed research:
> > On many issues, I am opposed to the agenda
> > of the agricultural industry, including terminator seeds and the
> > patenting of genes. For that matter, I question the continued value of
> > patents and copyrights in general, but that's a different discussion.
> > However, when genophobes try to make this into a black and white issue,
> > it becomes an assault on science and rationality, and I am forced to ally
> > with whomever else happens to be against them.
> And that I think is the key strategic question: what is the best way to
> defend scientific progress and promote transhumanist ideas?
> I think we would do well to advance the cause of transhumanism by not
> veering off into a technophilic mirror-parody of the Green's Luddism, but
> to steer closer to a rationalistic, future-minded, techno-realism.

You know, their stubborn absolutism may be ruining the Greens just like
religious fundamentalism threatens to ruin the republican party. That's
certainly what made me decide that they aren't the way to go (I care
care deeply about preserving the Earth *for* humans, not *from* them).
Absolutist memes are simple and addictive, but they tend to isolate
their carriers from mainstream public support, at least in democratic
> Bioengineered critters could wreak havoc, and here's how we prevent that...
> GM food could be dangerous, but it hasn't been, and here's how we make sure
> it isn't...
> (and at least in Alex and my cases apparently)
> No genes shouldn't be patentable, but that will actually accelerate
> scientific progress and the development of new applications, not impede
> them...

Intellectual property issues would definitely be a crucial topic a >H
position paper. In fact, I think how we resolve the IP debate may be a
deciding factor in whether we evolve into a humans-first society or a
humans-are-superfluous society. But, that's a topic for a future essay
I have simmering on the back burner.

So, then, here's what I'm doing. I've written a seed document which over
time we can develop into a transhumanist position paper using the Crit
mediator. Here is the URL (no it's not a typo; paste it in as shown)--

I invite everyone, including Alias. Especially Alias, if he is willing to
engage in good faith debate aimed at actually uncovering answers.

- --

POM Constitution Vince Foster
Why are the above words in my signature? Check out:

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