PtE: Transhumanism, AI, Nanotech, & Space Travel

This week we will have a lively discussion of some of the topics which fall under the title of "Transhumanism", including:

Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Gerontology, Space migration, and more.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism

We can talk, at minimum, about whether we think any of these things are plausible, and to what extent any of it might be desirable.

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  • Rowena K.

    Re Transhumanism:

    1. Humans evolved from primates. When humans no longer could procreate with other primates, they were a separate species.
    2. We evolve by interaction with our world, particularly technologies we’ve created. As technology progresses, humans evolve faster.
    3. Whether or not we should delay technology to solve economic/governmental inequities first, technology will continue to develop and change us ever more rapidly.
    4. Transhumanity and posthumanity are terms to apply to humans when they evolve into a new species by leaving their bodies (called by one science fiction writer, “meat puppets”) to upload into computer networks. Or, until humans modify their morphology so radically to live in space or on other planets that humans, as currently constituted, can no longer reproduce with them. Or smart computers and/or robots replace us. Until then, we'll continue to be evolving humans. Rowena

    January 26, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    At the transhumanism meetup, I said that artificial life researchers had replicated the behavior of a single-celled organism. I was wrong, it was in fact an entire organism, a worm.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tech...­

    This is actually less dramatic. The problem of simulating all of the processes within a single cell is actually more difficult.

    2 · January 23, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sorry if I wasn't clear. When I said "artificial life" I meant it in the sense of virtual, simulated organism.

      January 24, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      The OpenWorm is cool, of course. Thanks for posting that. @Sastun - Not close enough FOR matter, though.

      January 24, 2014

  • Gretchen

    According to this article, lab created d.n.a. was put into a cell (ah, there's the rub!), where it replicated.
    <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scie...

    January 24, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      To use this link, right-click, choose Copy link address, paste it in the Address bar, and remove the last 3 characters. Honestly Gretchen, Synthia wouldn't make this mistake! :<)

      January 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Although the subject of the origin of life is not really on topic to transhumanism per se, it did come up at the meeting. I thought this article might be interesting to some of you. It describes a new theory stating that the laws of thermodynamics actually dictate the spontaneous formation of complex molecules that more efficiently dissipate energy in an open, driven system. In other words, under certain conditions, self-organizing, self-replicating structures are almost inevitable.

    https://www.simonsfoundation.org...­

    January 24, 2014

  • Erick B.

    Alva Noe on why "you are not your brain":
    http://www.salon.com/2009/03/25...­

    January 22, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      "We find the world, we don’t make it in our brains."

      January 23, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      I don't think any reasonable neuroscientists would argue that consciousness could meaningfully exist without an interaction between brain, body, senses, and environment. Noe's points are all valid, but they are directed against a position that no one in their right mind would hold.

      January 24, 2014

  • Gretchen

    From the Wikipedia article on emotion "... The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Although those acting primarily on emotion may seem as if they are not thinking, cognition is an important aspect of emotion, particularly the interpretation of events. For example, the experience of fear usually occurs in response to a threat. The cognition of danger and subsequent arousal of the nervous system (e.g. rapid heartbeat and breathing, sweating, muscle tension) is an integral component to the subsequent interpretation and labeling of that arousal as an emotional state..." Which is to say: stimulus gives rise to association/interpretation, which produces related body responses that we experience as emotion. (unless it's a stimulus not requiring interpretation, producing an automatic body reaction; a startle response, jerking the hand from a hot stove, etc..)

    January 24, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Where we disagreed was, if I understood your position correctly, that self-awareness is a necessary condition for emotional response. That is most certainly not the case. Cognition is one thing, it's a low level process. The illusion of self is a very high level process. The high level processes are dependent on the low level processes, not the other way around.

      January 24, 2014

  • Rowena K.

    Thanks, Sastun!! The rsbakker citation is absolutely wonderful. So much there to think about.

    January 24, 2014

  • Sastun P.

    http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2...­

    An interesting description of transhumanism in evolutionary terms.

    2 · January 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Got a little bogged down in the details of what might or might not be trans-technology. I would have enjoyed some discussion of what constitutes humanism vs. transhumanism or anti-humanism in general.

    January 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I noticed a couple of interesting fallacies come up in the meeting, ones that we don't see to often: The first is Volitional, that what people want is known, this could also be called matters-of-opinion, but specifically relates to the speaker believing or implying that he knows what everyone else thinks, or that "polls-are-right", perhaps another version of the Mind Projection Fallacy. The second I would call the Comprehension Fallacy, the belief that the "present time" is comprehended or known by individuals, presumably through their participation in it, and by extension that people are able to predict the future.

    January 23, 2014

  • Chris M.

    Lively & many views. We scratched the surface, as usual. We focused on the impact of evolving technology on humanity, but we neglected the parallel evolution of political science, governance, economics, and management science and their influence on humanity and feedback to the technology evolution.

    January 22, 2014

  • Stephanie G.

    Sorry, something came up with me and the guest. I will see you guys next week

    January 22, 2014

  • Robin

    Hi all. What's the convention if we're likely to be late? Should I un-RSVP, or leave it as is? Also, how long do people normally hang out?

    January 21, 2014

    • David B. H.

      People arrive late - it doesn't seem to be a problem. The meeting is 7-9, then we retire to the bar.

      January 22, 2014

  • viking1

    Sorry to bail on my first meeting, but I've got a cold that I don't think you want to share.

    1 · January 21, 2014

  • Liv

    I have an appointment that ends at 7 pm, so I'll be late. This is my first time to this group; how do I find you guys at Tom's?

    January 20, 2014

    • Stephanie G.

      If you enter through the restaurant head back as if you are going through to the bar, we are in an area that is in between the bar and restaurant

      1 · January 20, 2014

  • Stephanie G.

    FYI- my "+1" friend will be about 20 minutes late. Sorry in advance.

    January 16, 2014

  • Steve S.

    For people interested in this topic I recommend the movie "Her".

    3 · January 14, 2014

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