Re: Posthumans in Nature

Ross A. Finlayson (
Fri, 12 Nov 1999 12:45:45 -0500 wrote:

> Robin Hanson, <>, writes:
> >
> > Nature
> >
> > Sterling, B. (1999). Homo sapiens declared extinct. Nature, 402, 125.
> >
> > Yes, human beings have finally gone, but the 24-hour global party continues.
> > AD 2380: After a painstaking ten-year search, from the Tibetan highlands to
> > the
> > Brazilian rainforests, it's official - there are no more human beings.
> > "I suppose I have to consider this a personal setback," said anthropologist Dr
> > Marcia Raymo, of the Institute for Retrograde Study in Berlin. "Of course we
> > still have human tissue in the lab, and we could clone as many specimens of
> > Homo sapiens as we like. But that species was always known primarily for its
> > unique cultural activity."...
> Very refreshing, if I am interpreting it right. The moral is that we should
> not be so concerned that our descendants carry on our genetic code, but that
> they carry on our culture. Here we have a presumed posthuman acting in a
> manner which we find understandable and familiar. He cares about extinct
> species just as we do.
> Even in this forum we often succumb to a form of chauvinism, in which any
> future which isn't dominated by humans is seen as a failure. Particularly
> with regard to predicted human vs machine wars, we automatically side
> with the humans, without asking which group is more deserving morally.
> We need to start thinking in broader terms and not identifying so closely
> with our genetics and metabolism.
> Hal

They would not be our species, but predominately mechanized humans might be homo mecha. What are the next post-sapiens, and how are they described?

An artifical intelligence, with the capacity to be called life, would be a new species, I guess its own phylum or whatnot. I search to see Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

Philogeny or phylogeny is an interesting subject of which I know not so much. Where taxonomy is classification, philogeny is the study of evolution.

In those kinds of terms, the comparative advantages of a synthetic basis are several, as well, of course, comparative disadvantages. The first advantage that comes to mind is computational speed, but that is certainly tempered by the utter inadequacy of a conventional computer to emulate a brain.

It would not be surprising that some of the most advanced mecha would be organic.

You mention human chauvinism, in the very long term I think such attitudes are beneficial for the species. Our most ancient rituals are of birth, love, and death, these are the seeds of art. Xenophobia is not necessarily good, but it is not necessarily bad, in some sense it is a preservatory imperative. Xena is good.

I have not read the article, and find its premise amusing.

Even if/when people are technologically and spiritually capable to fully transcend the flesh, I'm sure many would still choose to journey within it. There would be a large amount of time to do so.

Ross F.