Accelerating Future Transhumanism, AI, nanotech, the Singularity, and extinction risk.

5Aug/1030

Greg Fish on Life Extension

Greg Fish, whose past posts on transhumanism have mainly appeared to be about why he doesn't like mind uploading and why we need to copy the human brain to the last neurotransmitter to create AI, recently defended the merit of life extension against Paul Carr.

Paul's post at TechCrunch has some funny bits:

Oh yes, go to any Silicon Valley party right now and you'll find a scrawny huddle in the corner discussing the science of living forever: a topic that's gone from fringe to hot to cliche in -- ironically -- less time that it takes a tsetse fly to start getting interested in girls. But then why wouldn't it when the science of ageing touches on so many valley obsessions?

I am really enjoying the recent media against life extension. The arguments just aren't persuasive. Arguments against LE filled with holes are an essential complement of solid arguments in favor of LE.

Comments (30) Trackbacks (0)
  1. you overestimate your audience.

  2. i don’t like mind uploading either…………

    for the most part…….

    but i do like life extension.

    squeegy

  3. I’ve noticed a recurring meme in criticisms of transhumanism and LE: the idea that LE is the fantasy of young, Silicon Valley, sci-fi-deluded techno-hipsters. The name calling and stereotyping is an attempt to discredit the movement/philosophy by pegging it in the category of “dumb shit that young, naive, idealistic kids buy into.” Once they grow up and get wiser, they’ll accept that dying is a part of life, etc.

    But those who criticize LE are typically rather uninitiated in transhumanist literature, as evidenced by the common objection that a life of several thousand years would be excruciatingly boring (e.g., http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rationally-speaking/200907/the-problems-transhumanism). Anybody who imagines life extension without life expansion via radical cognitive enhancement is completely ignorant of basic transhumanist ideals and technological trends. The truth is that these critics have often made only a superficial survey of transhumanist ideas. The ideas are foreign and challenging and paradigm-disrupting, and they’re intimidated by them, and so they’re shooting from the hip to try to knock them down.

    David Verdirame

    ps. Michael, thank you for your tireless blogging efforts. I’m a relatively new reader. First-rate work.

  4. Want to find an argument that attacks a subject from an emotional angle and not an intellectual one? Look for the use of the word “cliche”.

    Who says it’s a cliche? Certainly not LE advocates.

  5. Life extension has always seemed to me the most plausible of the common transhumanist ideas. While there would problems, there are certainly negative consequences to aging at the rate we do today.

    As for death spurring accomplishment, I doubt it. Young healthy folks who don’t think much about do a lot of stuff. Death might spur some folks to do some things but I’ll bet that besides preparation for passing assets on, most activity motivated by awareness of death doesn’t accomplish much for anybody but the dying person. If I thought I’d die soon I’d try to experience things I haven’t been able to such as riding in a hot air balloon. I’d enjoy it, but all it would do for anyone else is make somebody whose business is providing balloon rides richer.

  6. Thank you David. I am happy you appreciate my blog even though my output has not been at its usual volume lately.

    Up until sort of recently, almost all of the prominent Silicon Valley life extensionists were in the generation above mine. Many of them still are. In the late 1990s, transhumanism in the Valley expanded fast enough that it now contains people of all ages. Every meetup I go to generally includes high school students, seniors, and everyone in between.

  7. Arguments against LE are repackaged Orwellian:

    War is peace, freedom is slavery, death is life

  8. I recently read Ron Bailey’s “Liberation Biology”; he presents an almost incredible array of crackpot statements against all sorts of biotech, including life extension, by many academic and government bioethicists.

  9. It’s a small thing, I know, but – even on a site entirely about technology, when you want to make fun of people you reach for the same old tired geek stereotypes? “scrawny huddle”, “interested in girls”, “obsession”, “overachievers”.

  10. Let’s be grateful for all the press we can get. When fringe movements get the “shocked and horrified” treatment from the establishment, that may be the first time some folks have heard of it. This is especially true for those who would be interested, if they “got out more often”, but simply have never run across such notions in their so-far mainstream circles. For every 90 readers who agree to be shocked and horrified, ten will be intrigued; three of them will use the accusations in the “anti” article as clues to track down more information, hopefully straight from sources like yours. That “three percent” response may be rotten for polls or elections, but it’s a phenomenal rate for free advertising; probably a doubling of the population that recognizes that the issues and potentials exist.

  11. interesting post, pretty much covered it all for me, thanks.

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