Transhumanism and Macro Human Behavior

James Rogers (
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 16:46:31 -0800

Here are some observations and ideas I have had regarding macro human
behavior and its relevance to extropian transhumanism:

Whenever I am around a crowd, I like to observe its behavior and motions. I
don't observe individual people, but the crowd as a single unit. One thing
that has always struck me about crowds is that if evaluated as a single
unit, it behaves almost identically to a simple organism, like a protozoan.
Most of the behaviors have direct analogs to the pondwater world. This has
led me to a couple thoughts regarding the human mind and society.

1) Despite that every human is an intelligent, sentient being, much of our
behavior appears to stem from the oldest parts of our DNA. In spite of our
evolutionary advancement, our net behavior is more or less identical to that
of the oldest organisms.

2) If the net behavior of humanity is really that basic and simple, then it
should be possible to predict with great accuracy the reaction of the human
population under a given set of conditions and circumstances. Given a good
enough model of macroscopic behavior, one should be able to predict with a
high level of certainty the organization of the future world, and outcomes
in the present one. A "perfect" model remains to be created however.

3) Technology has not had any significant net impact on behavior. The
advance of technology has not yet allowed people to overcome our behavioral
DNA, only mask it.

One thing that kind of bugs me about this is that I have a suspicion that a
group of the most dedicated extropian transhumanist would behave the same as
the rest of humanity if evaluated as a group via hidden observation. I
realize that it is not easy overcoming millions of years of evolution, but
at some level, I think we are fooling ourselves into thinking that we are
progressing beyond our basic biological imperatives. If evaluated from afar
as a group, I have a suspicion that Extropians would appear to behave with
the same net imperatives as everyone else, even if on an individual level
there were some differences.

We may have reached a point where evolution is hindering, rather than
helping, the development of transhumans. The fact that we don't notice that
we are following these behaviors indicates how fundamental they are. The
timescales we are using for the evolution of transhumans is too small for
evolutionary development. While our DNA may be appropriate for modern
humans, it is not appropriate for transhumans, and the influence is
observable in a larger context, no matter how well extropian transhumanists
hide it as individuals.

Perhaps it is impossible for humans in our current state to achieve
extropian transhumanism. Maybe attempts at transcending beyond our current
selves is nothing more than superficial; a candy coating on old DNA.

-James Rogers