Tagged: Technology

THE GHOST OF TRANSHUMANISM & THE SENTIENCE OF EXISTENCE

Image result for embodied mind
The Ghost of Transhumanism
A spectre is haunting Europe and the rest of our planet –the spectre of TranshumanismIts priests and familiars inhabit some of our most prominent research laboratories, universities, major corporations and political institutions. Its books decorate our major bookstores and airport shops. Its products and totemic objects are already available on our high streets. Now its leaders have started to question the virtues of democracy.
Transhumanism is a negative perspective on human nature coupled with a techno-scientific vision of how we should improve. This perspective is best recognized by a superstitious belief in science as saviour and a distanced contempt for our human nature: our fragility, our mortality, our sentience, our self-awareness, and our embodied sense of of ‘who’ we are (as distinct from a ‘what’). Transhumanists confound emotionality with irrationality, dormant potential with stupidity and disability with dispensability. And as a result of this confusion they promote and push for a future that blindly heralds ubiquitously wired, genetically optimized, computing-led societies, in which supposedly fallible humans are manipulated and enhanced by an invisible, presumably controllable and more optimal, robot-driven machinery called the next stage of ostensible “evolution” for humanity.
Transhumanists’ visions for our future remain largely unchallenged, because their mind-set is a symptom of prominent scientific ideologies that emerged in the wake of modernity. As a result, they feel empowered to dictate what we understand by the term ‘progress’, and what we respect as rational. They talk as if they knew what the future “will” look like and exhibit stubborn resistance to any rational critique against their outlooks; thereby displaying symptoms of an irrational ideology.
The purpose of this manifesto is to expose transhumanism’s irrationality and dangers. Continue reading
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THE TRUTH OF FACT, THE TRUTH OF FEELING

We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.

Before a culture adopts the use of writing, when its knowledge is transmitted exclusively through oral means, it can very easily revise its history. It’s not intentional, but it is inevitable; throughout the world, bards and griots have adapted their material to their audiences, and thus gradually adjusted the past to suit the needs of the present. The idea that accounts of the past shouldn’t change is a product of literate cultures’ reverence for the written word. Anthropologists will tell you that oral cultures understand the past differently; for them, their histories don’t need to be accurate so much as they need to validate the community’s understanding of itself. So it wouldn’t be correct to say that their histories are unreliable; their histories do what they need to do.

Right now each of us is a private oral culture. We rewrite our pasts to suit our needs and support the story we tell about ourselves. With our memories we are all guilty of a Whig interpretation of our personal histories, seeing our former selves as steps toward our glorious present selves.

[But] all of us have been wrong on various occasions, engaged in cruelty and hypocrisy, and we’ve forgotten most of those occasions. And that means we don’t really know ourselves. How much personal insight can I claim if I can’t trust my memory? How much can you?

Digital memory will not stop us from telling stories about ourselves. As I said earlier, we are made of stories, and nothing can change that. What digital memory will do is change those stories from fabulations that emphasize our best acts and elide our worst, into ones that—I hope—acknowledge our fallibility and make us less judgmental about the fallibility of others.

Ted Chiang, The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling.