Re: Heresy

Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 15:51:57 MDT

Original Message:
From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

>To be specific, the reason I fear the use of the term "transhuman" to our
immediate world is that there is an extremely important and fundamental
distinction between claiming to be transhuman and seeking to become

That fundamental distinction is between the words "transhuman" and "transhumansit."

>I think that "transhuman" has inherent emotional impact regardless of the
formal definition, and I don't think the emotional impact of "transhuman"
can be safely weakened enough that "I am transhuman" will be interpreted
as "I wear contact lenses" rather than "I am your evolutionary superior,
foolish mortal".<

>Your exaggerated example presents a weak argument because contact lenses are certain not known as an advanced technology by todayís standards. What a contact lens does suggest quite clearly is that such a technology is an historical, however small, step toward more fully augmenting the visual sense capability. Let it be known, however, wearing a contact lens does not exempt a person from being a transhuman.

More productively, a contact lens is an excellent example in expressing how humans have been augmenting their bodies for quite some time and that it is a technological manifestation from the first magnifying glass designed many centuries ago. By this example, it is easier to explain to people how such technologies, which are commonplace today, were considered science fiction many yeas ago. Iím sure when Leonardo da Vinci designed the contact lens, it was considered novel but unrealistic. Albeit, this line of thinking is very important to understanding the human desire to improve him/herself and actualizing such augmentations.

A timelier example would be to use a person who has an add-on such as a bionic, robotic leg. If you consider a person running in a marathon who has one or two robotic legs, and who communicates with his legs as part of his body, not to be more than human in our evolutionary biological sense, you are very mistaken. That particular person with smart replacement part(s) is certainly transhuman, however emotional he or anyone may be about it.

Lastly, I do not consider mortals to be "foolish," but highly regard the human ability to overcome odds and to progress, regardless of those who hold onto the past. If you consider humans to be foolish, then this is an area to contemplate for your own communications skills and appreciation of humanity.


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