Re: Transhuman List Blatant Commentary

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 13:14:40 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 wrote:

> So what would be the point of an extropians list and Extropy Institute
> if there's no difference and no division between extropians and other
> transhumanists?

It may be important to frame this from the perspective of cultural differences. The ExI is currently fairly biased pseudo-"American" type organization (because the directors at least, with the exception of Max are culturally "American" (with perhaps wide degrees of freedom). The World Transhumanist Association is in part a superset of a number culturally specific organizations. Transhumanism is in *my mind* a socio-cultural perspective, while Extropian"ism" is more of a rational-technical perspective (though others may disagree).

The entire concept of "transhumanism" may have inherently cultural specific components to it. The pictire that a Japanese person has for a transhumanist I suspect is quite different from that of a American. The range of transhumanism is very broad. On the other hand the volume covered by Extropic ideas "feels" smaller. It may be more rational-technical related, but its principles encompass all of the transhumanist "cultures". Perhaps transhumanism includes international "cultural" logics, while Extropian"ism" is more boolean or fuzzy logic based.

> Why should all differences just dissolve into some happy,
> fluffy, mushy mess?

I don't think they do, I think they are two sets nested subsets within each other, something which is impossible by definition.

> If there's a problem it's that extropianism isn't much different
> from general transhumanism anymore, not that it's too different.

I think the emphasis would be that the transhumanist organizations may end up dealing more with local flavors and adaptations of transhumanism, cross-cultural issues, etc., while ExI may be more focued on technical issues (from its very loose affiliation with the Foresight Institute) and perhaps Art (from its very loose affiliation with the Transhumanist Art Centre [though Natasha may correct me on this]). In large part organisations are going to reflect the connectedness and perspectives of the individuals that participate in them.

It is my general impression, that the transhumanists are perhaps saying there are many "right" ways and exploring, while Extropians such as my self, Greg or Max, may be focused what are the "best" ways (in technology, law/ethics, politics, philosophy). I'm sure they and others will correct me if I'm putting words in their mouths. Where transhumanism seems more about diversity, Extropic thoughts seem more about optimality. As such there may always be tension between the poles -- diversity is seldom optimally efficient but may efficiently be optimally diverse.

All of this is all subjective of course.