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Old 12-11-2012, 11:56 PM   #1
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Would you vote for a transhuman?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/su...-you.html?_r=0

Quote:
In a future presidential election, would you vote for a candidate who had neural implants that helped optimize his or her alertness and functionality during a crisis, or in a candidates’ debate? Would you vote for a commander in chief who wasn’t equipped with such a device?


If these seem like tinfoil-on-the-head questions, consider the case of Cathy Hutchinson. Paralyzed by a stroke, she recently drank a canister of coffee by using a prosthetic arm controlled by thought. She was helped by a device called Braingate, a tiny bed of electrodes surgically implanted on her motor cortex and connected by a wire to a computer.
Transhumans are coming and, as a 22 year old, I'm going to be among the people voting for them, becoming them and generally dealing with the issues brought up by super-empowering technology like this.

Personally, I think at the end of the day, it still matters more what a person's stance on freedom and individual rights is than whether or not they have a head-computer.

But that's just me.

And even if you don't think that people will ever go beyond just replacing broken limbs, this is still very exciting for disabled people everywhere.

Then, of course, the question continues to a more personal note: How far will YOU go?

As the article puts it...

Quote:
Which leads us to the crucial question: How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?


Over the last couple of years during talks and lectures, I have asked thousands of people a hypothetical question that goes like this: “If I could offer you a pill that allowed your child to increase his or her memory by 25 percent, would you give it to them?”


The show of hands in this informal poll has been overwhelming, with 80 percent or more voting no.


Then I asked a follow-up question. “What if this pill was safe and increased your kid’s grades from a B average to an A average?” People tittered nervously, looked around to see how others were voting as nearly half said yes. (Many didn’t vote at all.)


“And what if all of the other kids are taking the pill?” I asked. The tittering stopped and nearly everyone voted yes.
Hmmm...
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:02 AM   #2
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I find the very idea of transhumans purely theoretical and extremely tedious. It will be some time before implants do anything more than compensate of illness or disability.

IMHO exceeding the normal range of human cognitive ability will be harder than transhuman meme-fans think, and probably cause more problems than it is worth, at least for the next few centuries.

Thus I put this question in the same 'who cares' file as 'what if we cloned Hitler' and 'what if I traveled back in time and killed my grandfather'.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:05 AM   #3
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I'd only vote for them if they could shoot laser beams from their eyeballs.

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Which leads us to the crucial question: How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?

Over the last couple of years during talks and lectures, I have asked thousands of people a hypothetical question that goes like this: “If I could offer you a pill that allowed your child to increase his or her memory by 25 percent, would you give it to them?”

The show of hands in this informal poll has been overwhelming, with 80 percent or more voting no.

Then I asked a follow-up question. “What if this pill was safe and increased your kid’s grades from a B average to an A average?” People tittered nervously, looked around to see how others were voting as nearly half said yes. (Many didn’t vote at all.)

“And what if all of the other kids are taking the pill?” I asked. The tittering stopped and nearly everyone voted yes.
That response is funny considering how opposed and even outraged most people seem to be regarding performance-enhancing drugs (steroids, blood-doping, etc.) being used by athletes.

Would they be okay giving little Jimmy some D-Bols so he could throw a great game and be the star quarterback? If not, then why is it okay to give him a pill so he's valedictorian?
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:06 AM   #4
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Probably not. Because, as I've noted before, most 'transhumanists' deal with the how and not the why. Plus most of the transhumanists I've encountered have made it clear we mundanes will not be first class citizens.

You're one of the few, Zoombie, that won't regard people like me the way Voldemort regards Muggles.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:29 AM   #5
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Probably not. Because, as I've noted before, most 'transhumanists' deal with the how and not the why. Plus most of the transhumanists I've encountered have made it clear we mundanes will not be first class citizens.

You're one of the few, Zoombie, that won't regard people like me the way Voldemort regards Muggles.
Wow, you really need to stop hanging out with dickwits.

Most transhumans I've met discuss the possibility of time traveling by accelerating wormholes to relativistic velocities...
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:39 AM   #6
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:15 AM   #7
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I find the very idea of transhumans purely theoretical and extremely tedious. It will be some time before implants do anything more than compensate of illness or disability.

IMHO exceeding the normal range of human cognitive ability will be harder than transhuman meme-fans think, and probably cause more problems than it is worth, at least for the next few centuries.
Incredible things will happen within 20 years. Check out what Dean Kamen has already done.

There's no telling what will happen within a century. No doubt sea level will drop because of the great need for water in outer space.

In the late 1980s I was on a computer BBS with people who firmly believed a computer would NEVER beat a human chess champion. Meanwhile, the chess ratings of the best computers continued to go up in a roughly linear fashion...
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Wow, you really need to stop hanging out with dickwits.

Most transhumans I've met discuss the possibility of time traveling by accelerating wormholes to relativistic velocities...
That's definitely post-singularity tech. The amount of energy involved in such things can only be generated by converting planets' or stars' worth of mass into energy. But the nearest stars are less than a decade's flight time away...
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:39 AM   #8
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Wow, you really need to stop hanging out with dickwits.

Most transhumans I've met discuss the possibility of time traveling by accelerating wormholes to relativistic velocities...
Quote:
Originally Posted by benbradley View Post

That's definitely post-singularity tech. The amount of energy involved in such things can only be generated by converting planets' or stars' worth of mass into energy. But the nearest stars are less than a decade's flight time away...
I don't mean to poop too much into this discussion, but wormholes are so far purely hypothetical, and second of all, what do you mean by accelerating wormholes?

Back to the initial question. I think it would depend on what kind of augments the person had and how well tested they are.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:47 AM   #9
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Incredible things will happen within 20 years. Check out what Dean Kamen has already done.

There's no telling what will happen within a century. No doubt sea level will drop because of the great need for water in outer space.
I have a 1972 book about what life would be like in the year 2000 that I find instructive. Mainly in showing that we suck at predicting things. And also that people stubbornly remain basically people, with all our foibles.

For example they predicted that with good birth control no births would be unwanted and the human population would shrink. Uh-huh. In reality a solid 50% of births are unplanned now, just as they were in 1972.

Add to that, humans are not built for after market improvement. Most of our so called progress was just reaching more of our built in potential. Actual augmentation of the human body itself remains essentially fantasy IMHO.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:15 AM   #10
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Why do all the efforts go towards making people smarter and not towards making them kinder, or more tolerant, or, indeed, more honest?
As for voting for transhumans, I'd go for 'more honest' in a flash.
Do we want smarter criminals? Really alert abusive partners?
If we do it to children, there's still no way to predict what they'll do with their lives, and I wouldn't trust someone who had themselved adapted because they wanted to run for political office.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:26 AM   #11
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Who made their implants? Can I be reasonably assured said implants don't come with a built-in back door that allows their inventor to turn all of those with implants into long range puppets? For that matter, can I trust that they won't be turned into long range puppies?

It's a slippery slope, I tell 'ya. First we elect a transhuman with cognitive advantage, then the other guys bring one in that's got the laser eyeballs, and before you know it, we've got some bald dude in a floating wheelchair who sounds like Patrick Steward doing his FDR impression in the Oval office.

Slippery slippery slope...

(In all actuality, I wouldn't mind implants that could improve or replace natural functions that have started to break down. I think the reality of it is that as soon as such implantations become reality, doomsdayers will rush legislation through that sets limits on what can and can't be enhanced. If you get new legs, you can't run in the Olympics, for instance. If you get enhanced hearing, then you can't work at the UN where you might overhear things you're not meant to.

You're going to end up with those afraid of the technology, but also not wanting to be at a disadvantage because they won't use it. There will be protests on a socio-economic level based in the availability and quality of the tech available to the poor. There will be movements dedicated to the "natural" humans. And it will be generations before any advances are actually allowed to advance.

That's the world we live in.)
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:31 AM   #12
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Why are they called TRANShuman? I was thinking this was a discussion of the offspring of a human/alien union.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:32 AM   #13
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I have a 1972 book about what life would be like in the year 2000 that I find instructive. Mainly in showing that we suck at predicting things. And also that people stubbornly remain basically people, with all our foibles.
TO be fair...

We're better at predicting the future than any other form of life we know about, as far as I can determine.

I'd take "Pretty bad at" over "can't."

EDIT: Which is to say, I do try and take a lot of predictions about the world with a pretty hefty grain of salt. Hell, I wrote a book that takes place in the 2060s and they don't even have much appreciable transhumans, even though the technology exists. But I think discussing the issue...even if it's unlikely, is still a pretty good idea. Especially with an idea so...transformative.

As I've said elsewhere, do you think that the cold war would have still happened if we had discussed and thought about the possible ramifications of the atom bomb before inventing it?

PROBABLY! But that's no reason for us to give up trying to choose to approach the future in a more rational fashion.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:42 AM   #14
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Some threads, you can tell who started them just by the title.

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:49 AM   #15
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TO be fair...

We're better at predicting the future than any other form of life we know about, as far as I can determine.
Really? Other animals seem to be much quicker at recognizing and reacting to danger. That's prediction...


As to transhumans, look at all the fuss over the 99%/1%. Imagine if it became the 99.99%/.01%.

People are--by and large--pricks. They'll still be pricks when they become "transhumans."

Readeth thou this, Zoombie: http://books.google.com/books/about/...d=Z4fh3Jou9XwC (ignore the reviews; most are obviously from proles...)
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:05 AM   #16
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Why are they called TRANShuman? I was thinking this was a discussion of the offspring of a human/alien union.
They're transhuman because they're on their way to posthuman.

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As to transhumans, look at all the fuss over the 99%/1%. Imagine if it became the 99.99%/.01%.

People are--by and large--pricks. They'll still be pricks when they become "transhumans."

Readeth thou this, Zoombie: http://books.google.com/books/about/...d=Z4fh3Jou9XwC (ignore the reviews; most are obviously from proles...)
As I understand it, the ultimate goal of transhumanity is to progress beyond the current humanity.
So if nothing changed, it would mean that transhumanism hasn't actually occurred.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:09 AM   #17
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Really? Other animals seem to be much quicker at recognizing and reacting to danger. That's prediction...
Actually, one of the problems is that we're one of the few animals that causes such huge alterations to the world around us...so, it could very well be that other animals COULD make better predictions IF they changed the world around them through agriculture and technology.

BUt since we're the only ones who are making changes, we're the only ones demonstrating the ability to notice what changes are positive and what changes are negative and attempting to adress said negatives.

(Note: I never said we were good at that attempt. Just that we were tying.)


Quote:
As to transhumans, look at all the fuss over the 99%/1%. Imagine if it became the 99.99%/.01%.

People are--by and large--pricks. They'll still be pricks when they become "transhumans."
Well, one of the repeating trends in technology is that it starts crappy and expensive and ends awesome and cheap. I don't see any reason why transhuman augmentations won't eventually become cheap and awesome, just like cars or I-phones.

And, heck, if transhuman augmentation requires technology like nanotechnology or strong AI, both of which could handily change our economic systems as radically as the steam engine, then it could be that the whole 99%/1% dichotomy will be exploded apart.

(Note: Such a process will destabilize the current social order, which can lead to much gnashing of teeth and all the badness that can bring. Plus, the same super-empowering technologies have inherent dangers that deserve serious thought and discussion on.)

As for the "most humans are dicks" ...well, I believe otherwise.

If only because if humanity was as bad as we said we are, then the world would be many orders of magnitude worse than it currently is.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:10 AM   #18
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I clicked on this thread all ready to be like, "Hells yeah, I'd vote for a transsexual candidate!" .....Clearly, I was way off the mark.

While I have no issue with, say, an amputee taking advantage of this kind of technology to improve quality of life, I'd have to say, no, I wouldn't vote for an otherwise unimpaired candidate who relied on this technology to make them seem smarter and more capable than the rest of us. I don't trust my fellow humans to play fair as it is, so unless, as someone else said, these implants were going to make it impossible for the candidate to lie, or to act against the interests of their constituents, I wouldn't be voting for them. I feel like it would just make it easier to screw over the rest of us.

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Old 12-12-2012, 03:11 AM   #19
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PROBABLY! But that's no reason for us to give up trying to choose to approach the future in a more rational fashion.
I don't see transhumanists encouraging people to try to choose there own future, just badgering them about how a transhumanist future is inevitable and probably desirable.

For reasons I have already covered, I disagree on the first and am ambivalent about the second.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:19 AM   #20
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I don't see transhumanists encouraging people to try to choose there own future, just badgering them about how a transhumanist future is inevitable and probably desirable.
Well, I've always thought a society is like an ecology. Monocultures - like, say, grass lawns - can be really pretty, but are also pretty brittle. A good, sharp shock from an unexpected direction can doom the entire ecology.

Societies are all made of humans, but humans differ from one another by their ideology and their culture and their art and all the other things we surround ourselves. Cultures that are more diverse, that embrace the plurality of humankind, are tougher. They can roll with the punches and come up swinging.

Monocultures, that have ONE idea about the world...well, when that idea is challenged, they collapse. My favorite example being the ancient Assyrians: Their monoculture was "If we keep winning wars, the world won't end."

Then they lost one battle and the whooooooole thing fell apart.

We should try and avoid becoming a mono-culture. That means that, even if a transhuman future comes to pass, I wouldn't want it to just be MY kind of human. I want all kinds of human, because that means our culture is richer, more stable, more able to hack the tough times.

Plus, think of the wild profusion of pornography that our many cultures can create!
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:20 AM   #21
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Well, one of the repeating trends in technology is that it starts crappy and expensive and ends awesome and cheap. I don't see any reason why transhuman augmentations won't eventually become cheap and awesome, just like cars or I-phones.
When it's awesome and cheap, it's no longer cutting edge and no longer provides the same kind of competitive advantage. It's the building up to that point that creates the dichotomy, one that isn't overcome when the new technology disperses.

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And, heck, if transhuman augmentation requires technology like nanotechnology or strong AI, both of which could handily change our economic systems as radically as the steam engine, then it could be that the whole 99%/1% dichotomy will be exploded apart.
Don't think so. Some new members in the elite, some fallout from what is already there, but no real explosion.

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As for the "most humans are dicks" ...well, I believe otherwise.
I know. And it's why I'm keeping a space open for you in my end-of-civilization bunker...

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If only because if humanity was as bad as we said we are, then the world would be many orders of magnitude worse than it currently is.
Nah. There's just limited opportunities to be really bad and day-to-day life works better with some amount of cooperation. But when those opportunities appear, there's usually plenty of people lining up to jump in.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:46 AM   #22
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Hmm... I don't really see the problem with transhuman tech. Provided I had access to it.

So, yes, I could vote for a transhuman, depending on what their stances were -- and if they were still grounded into reality.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:50 AM   #23
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Then, of course, the question continues to a more personal note: How far will YOU go?
This far, of course. Anything less would be a failure, and FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:52 AM   #24
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I don't know...a body that's 40 feet tall SOUNDS good, but just wait until you try and buy a house.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:56 AM   #25
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Why do all the efforts go towards making people smarter and not towards making them kinder, or more tolerant, or, indeed, more honest?
As for voting for transhumans, I'd go for 'more honest' in a flash.
Do we want smarter criminals? Really alert abusive partners?
If we do it to children, there's still no way to predict what they'll do with their lives, and I wouldn't trust someone who had themselved adapted because they wanted to run for political office.
QFT.

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I clicked on this thread all ready to be like, "Hells yeah, I'd vote for a transsexual candidate!" .....Clearly, I was way off the mark.
So glad it wasn't just me. I was thinking... the social policies would be groundbreaking!!!! Yes, yes, yes!!
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Originally Posted by K.L. Bennett View Post
While I have no issue with, say, an amputee taking advantage of this kind of technology to improve quality of life, I'd have to say, no, I wouldn't vote for an otherwise unimpaired candidate who relied on this technology to make them seem smarter and more capable than the rest of us. I don't trust my fellow humans to play fair as it is, so unless, as someone else said, these implants were going to make it impossible for the candidate to lie, or to act against the interests of their constituents, I wouldn't be voting for them. I feel like it would just make it easier to screw over the rest of us.
Same here.

And I also have to mention... every time I hear about the "latest thing" that improves your life... I'm skeptical. The problem with improvements, IMO, is that the body adapts and builds up a tolerance over time... what worked then doesn't work so good now, at least psychologically speaking. We don't even know how to cure pain. Morphine wears off. Our bodies build up a tolerance to anti-depressants.... although I'm not scientifically astute enough to understand what a trans-human actually is....

But still, I'm all for au naturale, whenever possible. Yes, even including nekkid!
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