Re: extropian memes in business week

Stan Kretler (
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:14:31 -0700 wrote:

> In a message dated 99-09-20 03:41:57 EDT, (Stan Kretler) wrote:


> > However I still don't quite get what the list is about, and your
> > suggestion to self-toast reminds me of my puzzlement.
> Part of this is the feeling of having been right. Some of us have
> been exploring these ideas and coming to basically the
> conclusions you've seen discussed here for 30 years or even
> more. When things you've been thinking for decades all of
> a sudden become "news", you can't help but be a little
> self-congratulatory.

Maybe they weren't news in the past simply because the news industry thought the ideas involving a fairly distant future wouldn't be interesting to most people?

> > The changes that I see taking place towards the end of this century,
> > including those changes in discussion about the following century, seem
> > nothing other than the logical, historically predicitable, outcome of
> > the renaissance and the enlightenment. We're descendants of Bacon,
> > Descartes, Newton, etc. Science improves, and eventually turns its eye
> > towards the brain, towards artificial brains, and so on. This seems
> > totally obvious, and was predicted years ago.
> Seems obvious to me, too :-) Which is why I have repeatedly called
> transhumanism and especially extropianism "The New Enlightenment."

Sounds great!

> > I guess my general question would be: What's the big deal? I get the
> > sense that a lot of what I read here is just cheerleading for the
> > inevitable. I don't mean to say that it's not very cool stuff being
> > celebrated. But it's just the train we're on, little more.
> >
> > > We should be in the mainstream *while* maintaining our daring
> > > and original character.
> >
> > Another way to ask my question would be: what is it that's daring here?
> >

<interesting stuff snipped>

> Transhumanism and extropianism are "daring" in exactly the same
> way that humanism, science and classical liberalism were "daring"
> when they were new. In historical terms (to say nothing of
> biological terms), these ideas are very, very new.

If you're thinking of the views of the majority, you're absolutely right about the newness. In fact it isn't even *close* to a majority that believes techno-humanist ideas, even today in 1999.

I guess I didn't realize how much measures of success in this group (these groups) involve the general public. It makes sense of course that the general public should be taken into account!

But I still don't see a justification for "daring". Science and humanism were daring a few hundred years ago because people who advocated them were at risk of losing their life. Many did lose their lives.

No one advocating really smart computers or technological enhancements to the brain is very likely to be executed. (There are always psychopaths of course. But they can target anyone.) Indeed society *loves* these ideas. The media has been eating them up at a ferocious pace.

The snipped stuff included a lot that sounded Libertarian. Some other posts made me think that extropianism *wasn't* libertarian. Well, if extropianism *is* libertarian, then then there's certainly a lot for libertarians to toast these days. But that has to do with what seem like very separate issues, like the state's relation to the individual person. Technology is a different matter.

Thanks for the lengthy, very useful article.