Re: The image of transhumanism

Dwayne (
Tue, 07 Jul 1998 20:53:51 +1000

den Otter wrote:
> > This is an extremely good and valid idea.
> > however, the practicalities of communicating effectively over
> > intercontinental distances make such a network reasonably
> > expensive, and also, if the balloon really DOES go up, you'd want
> > to be careful that you aren't targetted by surviving military
> > elements zeroing in on your signals.
> I'm quite sure costs can be kept relatively low if you use local
> networks (so that the transhumanists in a country or region have
> a way to get in touch when phones/the net etc. are down. These
> [local networks] are the most useful anyway. Maybe it would also
> be possible to have one stronger sender per local group, but
> obviously some research into radio gear would be necessary for
> this.

This is true. When I brought up the PunkNet idea ( on the cypherpunks list some years ago, there was quite a bit of discussion regarding how to set up an unbreakable communications network over intercontinental distances. There weren't a lot of decent responses, as the problem is non-trivial.

But local nets, yes, are a good idea. I'm working on doing something on a metropolitan scale across Melbourne, Australia, I'll let anyone interested know how it pans out.

> > Well, this is also a practical idea. But you're advocating a
> > survivalist, apocalyptic group, with all that entails.
> Actually, the survivalist "thing" is just a part of a greater
> vision to turn transhumanist philosophy into something practical.
> Maybe (hopefully) no disaster will happen, and the singularity,
> when it comes, will be a pleasant one. But...we can't rely on that.

This is true, and why I think such preparations are massively useful, although hopefully won't be required. But I think it would be foolish to assume humanity will just peacefully evolve, based on our past, just as much as I think it would be foolish to immediately hole up in a salt mine with a bunch of tesla cannons and robotic railguns.

> Many transhumanists belief that there is a considerable chance that
> things will go very wrong within the coming decades, and certainly
> not all of those are wide-eyed, gun-toting survivalist freaks.

I think that looking at the history of the last 200 years will give anyone rational food for thought.

> So, what's the logical thing to do for someone who wishes to be
> around for an indefinite period of time? Right, you prepare
> yourself (as far as finaces etc. allow) for the worst, and hope
> for the best.

Well, no, I am certainly not going to prepare for the worst. If I were going to do that I'd be figuring out how to convert an asteroid into some sort of stealth generation ship and getting the hell away from everyone else, and that's just silly.

Like everything else in life, it's not a binary choice, it's heavily weighted. I'll prepare for the worst I'm prepared to prepare for :-)

> It's probably a bit beyond our finacial capabilities, but ideally
> we'd have this abovementioned network and a couple of old
> nuclear bunkers troughout the world with, aside from all the
> basic supplies and a fully autonomous cryonics installation etc,
> computers & books with as much of today's relevant knowledge as
> possible, a bit like the Ark.

Nuclear bunkers are just silly, as they are already targets. You'd want something new, although given current spy satellite capabilities you'd want something you could convert, like an old mine somewhere remote.

You most certainly would not want something *already* identified on some catalogue somewhere as a current or ex-military target.

> Of course such databases already
> exist, but most if not all are in places that would be prime
> targets in a conflict, or they would be occupied by very
> unpleasant military folk.

Precisely. I really should read ahead in my replies. Oh well.

> It goes without saying, btw, that a privately owned island would
> be even better than the bunkers, being a highly unlikely target
> for any sort of WW-style attack, and it's better living too, you're
> already in your safe place when the shit hits the fan (always
> unexpectedly) etc. Also, unlike the bunkers, the island could
> actually be a great source of income too. But, ah well.

Well, this is one of my long term plans. Not because I'm a survivalist nut, but because I like the idea of a small self-contained community to go and hang out in from time to time. And if it's in the middle of, say, the Pacific when WWIII starts, well, so much the better.

you'd have to take some care that you aren't seen building bunkers etc on the place, though, as curious military nuts would come along and investigate.

> > Isn't this a private list?
> Not really, since anyone can join at the touch of a button and
> the files are public (worse yet, they're all over the net due
> to HotBot etc.)

So I was informed today. But if it isn't open subscription, how would you filter the subscription requests? I could probably get on as I know some transhumanist types, but what if I were new to net but fascinated by this sort of thing?

I think exclusionary lists are self-defeating in the long run, as people will get bored with each other. You need open subscription lists. If people don't fit in, they'll go away eventually.

> > What
> > would happen to me? Would I be excluded?
> No. The main list could remain as it is, but a
> "transcore" (transhumanist hardcore ;-) list would
> be added to the existing repertoire. Basically,
> anyone who wants to be on it could join, unless
> others identify you as a known "rat".

Fairy nuff.

> > I would suspect that if
> > someone who strongly disagreed with the issues discussed here
> > came along they'd just get bored and unsubscribe. It's not like
> > we're all columnists in a newspaper...
> Maybe not, but as others already remarked some (new) list members
> could be intimidated/annoyed by certain discussions on this list,
> like the "survivalist" meme.

Well, I must admit from my own experience that i'm sick to death already of arguing pro/anti guns, and arguing libertarian politics. I'm not sure how relevant it is to the list as opposed to relevant to some listmembers. But I have a bad habit of arguing with people if I think they are wrong :-/

> Also, we may not want to paste *all*
> comments all over the net, which is effectively the case with this
> list (try just about any topic, and search engines like HotBot
> come up with dozens of postings from this list. Great advertizing
> trick for sure -- unless it happens to be one of the many not-so-
> politically-correct postings).

Um. Why is it possible to find this list in hotbot? Why isn't it closed to search engines?

I find the prospect of having my postings readable by the whole internet quite disturbing, as I may well feel free to say some things here which I might not want to be known about by the general public.