Re: Is Expecting Future Strangeness Our Essense?
Mon, 18 Aug 1997 15:36:47 -0700 (PDT)

I'm noticing an upsurge of this kind of questioning lately -- perhaps a
consequence of X3, which reminded folks that transhumanism is as much like
a fledgling community as it is a conversation. Nicholas Bostrom's
question as to whether it is an occupational hazard of extropianism to
expect the future to be interesting in ways we like is another variant. I
think there are lots of folks at present who expect a strange future on
the horizon, and lots of kindred spirits among those who relish the
unexpected strangenesses of the present-day. Of these people I have in
mind the folks who litter the hallways of my Department at Berkeley, the
queer theorists, multiculturalists, poststructuralists, and the like (I
think Nietzsche was the first serious theorist of the singularity).
Despite rough affinities, though, there is definitely a difference that
makes a difference. The spirit of rolling up shirtsleeves and grappling
with problems and possibilities, perhaps? I am loath to think of
extropianism as a "movement" (movements don't have a particularly
attractive track record in the twentieth century really), but there is a
flavor to conversation in these fora that you simply can't find anywhere
else. I wonder, is extropianism just libertarian-inflected technophilia,
or more? Is it a foretaste of what societies may come to look like once
the specters of death and conspicuous scarcities are finally trashed for
good? Is this just a place where likeminded folks come for the waters?
Discussions of the desirability of an extropian political party a few
weeks back had me wondering just what kind of agenda could a group like
this intelligibly agree to. Expedite the arrival of the singularity
(whatever that might be)? Bring on the demise of the nation-state?
Frustrate the surge of religious fundamentalisms? What? Best, Dale

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

It is impossible to make significant change by force.
The only way to make significant change is
to make the thing you want to change obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Death, where is thy sting-a-ling?" -- Noel Coward