Re: The image of transhumanism

Anders Sandberg (
06 Jul 1998 19:57:05 +0200

den Otter <> writes:

> --Image may be important, but ultimately what counts is survival
> and flourishing. The actual goals should not be compromised too
> much for PR reasons

No, of course not. But there have never been any competition between practical work or PR. In fact, practical work is great PR if handled well ("Don't whine about Y2K, this is how you can protect yourself if things go badly!"; "We have implemented a backlink system for critical analysis to make our own discussions more rational"; "I use these simple methods to live longer and feel healthier" etc.). In fact, one of the most common criticisms against transhumanism is that it is just talk, so practical work is good from a PR point of view. Just don't call it "survivalism" or something that will bring bad associations.

> --Right now, there are hardly any projects (that I'm aware of) that
> deal with the practical side of facing the future. Ideally, there
> would be a transhuman network that could at least partially survive
> a collapse of society. I know, it sounds paranoid, but when your
> goal is immortality, and you live on earth, you *better* be "paranoid".
> Also a >H network of this kind would have many useful spinoffs such
> as suspension facilities and community forming. One thing that would
> certainly be needed is a radio network: in case of some disaster
> the net would be one of the first things to go.

An interesting idea. Of course, implementing something like this with a reasonable chance to survive global disruptions is extremely hard and would require a lot of dedicated work for everyone involved. But it might be interesting to figure out how to create a worldwide transhuman cooperative network to help members from local trouble (like saving you if the banks burst or us swedes once our government goes completely crazy :-), that is likely easier and much more needed.

> --Apart from major disasters etc, there are the problems of everyday
> life. Since money can buy you just about anything, including health,
> hapiness and life extension, it should be a major point on the
> transhuman agenda. Wealth is essential for survival and flourishing.

This is where I think the transhuman business network idea we discussed on TV98 briefly would come in handy as a start, as well as helping each other learn the necessary skills to become wealthy. At our summercamp, for example, Valdemar Ingdahl will lecture about reaching economic independence, which seems to be a good start.

> --If you want a "clean" image *and* the practical "survivalist" stuff,
> you need to create separate organizations. There are already several
> educational organizations (WTA, ExI, WFS etc) but none that deal
> specifically with the practical side of transhumanism: how can we
> maximalize our chances to survive and flourish in the twilight of
> humanity and beyond? Such an organization would most likely be
> low-profile, since others do the message-spreading, and would
> mostly draw members from within the transhuman community. Touchy
> but practical (or just interesting) issues would be handled on
> a separate list.

I think you have the mistaken impression that I think all practical work to further transhumanist goals will be bad for PR. Not at all - it will likely be a great PR boon if handled well. But what I worry about is formulating it in the wrong way, making it look like something nasty, secretive or dangerous. That was why I attacked the word "survivalism" - it is tainted and will be misunderstood. The same goes for many other practical activities, some need to be handled very carefully (for example, research into cognition enhancing drugs is best done in a very dry and scientific way, otherwise people will link it to narcotics. Once they are accepted scientifically, things can change).

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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