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


Dale Carrico Classics

Just in case there are new readers, I want to refer them to the writings of Dale Carrico, probably the best transhumanist critic thus far. He's a lecturer at Berkeley. (Maybe The New Atlantis should try hiring him, though I sort of doubt they'd get along.) I especially enjoy this post responding to my "Transhumanism Has Already Won" post:

The Robot Cultists Have Won?

When did that happen?

In something of a surprise move, Singularitarian Transhumanist Robot Cultist Michael Anissimov has declared victory. Apparently, the superlative futurologists have "won." The Robot Cult, it would seem, has prevailed over the ends of the earth.

Usually, when palpable losers declare victory in this manner, the declaration is followed by an exit, either graceful or grumbling, from the stage. But I suspect we will not be so lucky when it comes to Anissimov and his fellow victorious would-be techno-transcendentalizers.

Neither can we expect them "to take their toys and go home," as is usual in such scenes. After all, none of their toys -- none of their shiny robot bodies, none of their sentient devices, none of their immortality pills, none of their immersive holodecks, none of their desktop nanofactories, none of their utility fogs, none of their comic book body or brain enhancement packages, none of their kindly or vengeful superintelligent postbiological Robot Gods -- none of them exist now for them to go home with any more than they ever did, they exist only as they always have done, as wish-fulfillment fancies in their own minds.

You can read the whole thing at Dale's blog.

Comments (37) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I really will never understand your affection for this fellow. He has a strange manic energy for logical conflation and elaborate neologismic name-calling, but isn’t it tiring to read the same esssay over and over again?

  2. Dale provides a biting critique of the pernicious political implications of the existing transhumanist movement. I recommend eir blog, though I’ve found it basically impossible to have a constructive conversation with em. I’m also skeptical of eir [comparatively] conservative reformism and embrace of electoral democracy as a path to egalitarianism.

  3. Dale is a really great writer, a smart and acute thinker, and I suspect he is also a very nice person. Too bad he obsessively hates us, but nobody can be perfect and perhaps, as his beloved Oscar Wilde would say, nobody should.

  4. He is pleasant to interact with in person.

    • Why would you want to?

      He can’t resist the temptation for insults.

      Is he then simply writing controversial stuff just for the sake of attention?

    • I figured this was the case :D

      I thoroughly enjoy his blog and hope someday to be ripped to shreds by one of his beautifully-worded blog posts :)

  5. A summary and commentary on SIAI 2009 accomplishments:
    1.) The singularity summit is nice and is probably the only thing of value SIAI has managed to do to date. (apart from employing some people who outside of SIAI would never get any form of research of high-paying job = Mike, EY)

    2.) New employees I am just inspired with confidence. A whole six full-time employees after how many years? This doesn’t impress anyone and doesn’t constitute the right team.

    3.) Visiting Fellows might be impressive if there was some real accomplishment to be seen. Oh wait none, just some BS vague statements about what was done.

    4.) 9 talks in 2009. Lets see that is less then 1 a month. Hmmm… I award you the prize for laziness. This is embarrassing its not like any of the sources are even remotely prestigious.

    5.) How is speaking to believers in the cause, helping improve your non-standing academia. From what I can see, you guys are still nothings outside of the tiny world you live in.

    6.) How does a blog count as an accomplishment? I posted stream of consciousness stuff every day. Wow and I almost passed out with how impressed I am not.

    7.) More unimpressive stuff. Done by the senior minister for lack of accomplishment. TDT is not an algorithm. There is no math.

    8.) A useless webapp that is so oversimplified as to yield meaningless predictions. You really think this deserves credit?

    Feel free to reply. If you agree then great if not then consider your responses *plonk.

    • All crazy and dumb people have two things in common: they’re predictable and they get boring very quick. Only intelligence is capable of unpredictability and novelty (a fact which the FAI theory rests on). This guy clearly has some condition which the incessant repetition and rigid patterns of expression are evidence of.

      So he thinks SIAI and its people are non-entities, good-for-nothings; I suppose according to him they should basically be living on the street. He probably isn’t doing too well himself; people who think and act like this don’t do well in life, except perhaps as criminals or tyrants. This anti-social pattern is so strong and insistent that he actually may be dangerous. Perhaps forward him to the authorities. He probably matches some profile.

      Don’t stir the poor man’s confused mind, and when he gives up, erase everything. This deserves no place in this blog archive, or any storage medium for that matter, as it adds nothing of substance or value to it, or to the world in general.

  6. What’s a “palpable loser”? Doesn’t he mean “putative loser”?

  7. Michael:

    You have a great website but I cannot access it from a Windows computer. Some malware causes a nonsense site to pop up.

    I only accessed it today because I’m at the Apple store.

    I thought you had lost the domain name or something.

  8. I discovered Dale’s blog from yours. I now read Dale constantly and really like his political commentary. His articles about Republican attempts to destroy Medicare were very powerful. I think that me, you and Dale would agree a great deal about contemporary politics except for the fact that you and I are “robot cultists”.

    I don’t know how someone can convince Dale that we are neither corporatist propagandists nor naive fools. We have studied science and come to the conclusion, mostly independently of each other, that certain technological and ethical consequences necessarily follow from established science.

    They way that you defeat a cult is by taking its ideas completely seriously and then subjecting them to critical analysis. (Why didn’t the god of the old testament know that the earth is 4 billion years old? Why doesn’t the Christian-Jewish-Moslem god give direct evidence of his existence?). This is how scientists deal with creationists and global warming deniers. They show where their ideas fail, as scientific theories. They don’t just note their religious or corporate bias and then dismiss them.

    Dale should explain where the technical arguments in favor of nanotechnology, AI and self replicating robotics are in error. He doesn’t do this. All he does is make a bunch of ad homenein attacks.

    • I think that me, you and Dale would agree a great deal about contemporary politics

      Most transhumanists seem to lean to libertarian politics, I do in any case. Dale also likes to pick on libertarians. I’m wondering, why does anybody from the People’s Republic of Berkeley care about this stuff. It’s like a buddhist monk from Kathmandu becoming obsessed with calvinist predestination theology.

      • I always considered myself a “soft” libertarian. On social issues I’m a liberal/libertarian (who isn’t?). On economic issues, I generally favored using market principles. I like balanced budgets, privatization mail delivery, etc. I never like the crazy libertarianism of Ayn Rand.

        I have always voted Democratic. Democrats are the only ones who have balanced the budget. Bush Jr. destroyed President Clinton’s surplus for no reason whatsoever.

        Since the Financial Crisis, I no longer consider myself a soft libertarian. There has been absolutely no reasoned response from the right about how the Financial Crisis occurred and what needs to be done to prevent another one. (The Community Reinvestment act giving money to black people doesn’t count as a serious argument)

        Why are so many transhumanists attracted to libertarianism? I was. In the extropian era, they actually made libertarianism an explicit political position that was a part of extropianism. (which made me uncomfortable back then).

        I still think that the laws of physics permit nanotechnology and AI, but maybe Dale is on to something after all.

      • Ironically, Singularity Institute is mainly headquartered in Berkeley.

    • I’ve tried to get him to explain his reasoning and provide evidence for his views, but all i get back is rhetoric, rudeness and repetition.

      It was a waste of time. See

      I’ve yet to see an argument from from him based upon evidence or logic. His arguments are a very weak solution, which after a great deal of boiling down, we can surmise the following.

      1. The technologies envisioned by futurists don’t exist so they can’t exist.

      2. Because they can’t exist, the very act of envisioning and pursuing future technology somehow diverts attention from all the things that are wrong in the world and therefore these scientist should do something more immediately productive like… um.. lecture on rhetoric at Berkeley and complain about how bad the world is.

      3. Unfounded accusations of criminality, fraud and profiteering against all the individuals and organisations he doesn’t like.

  9. Yeah, why don’t they use real arguments? Name-calling means nothing, except what it tells about you.

  10. @dev
    Sorry dude this was wildly unimpressive. Oh and for your bright idea, not gonna work for the following reasons:
    1.) I have in no way, shape or form hacked this site
    2.) I have made no threats
    3.) I have made no claims of illegal activity
    4.) Mike made the inopportune statement of “trolls bring it on” (invitation if ever there was one)
    5.) I have not bypassed any IP blocking
    6.) I have not bypassed any spam blocking
    7.) I have not engaged in spamming
    8.) I have not flooded this site with pointless comments consider ratio of my comments to other comments
    (If this was a scare tactic approach it failed miserably.)

    What am I then guilty of?
    1.) Being obnoxious (not illegal) – get over it look at google groups, look at youtube comments etc

    Now go put your toys back in your toy box and stop sucking up.


  11. The Amor Mundi blog might be a way to convince The New Atlantis people to become transhumanists.

  12. A friend of his?
    WiFi-hacking neighbor from hell gets 18 years in prison

    “harassment campaign”
    “”I decided to ‘get even’ by launching computer attacks against him,””
    “”you sorry ass excuse for a human,” the letter said.”
    “prosecutors described as a “depraved criminal””

  13. The counterarguments are essentially:

    You haven’t got the technologies yet and you aren’t getting them any time soon/ever. Therefore you’re wasting your time even thinking about these things/dumb/cultists and other ad hominems.

    I’m sure people were saying the same preceding the technologies of the previous century.

    But discussion gets you only so far, so wake me up when it’s Singularity time… I got me some engineering to do in the meanwhile (which actually may help bring it about).

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’m amazed this guy is allowed anywhere near a Rhetoric class. Ad hominem insults make poor rhetoric, since they discredit the speaker more than the person being insulted.

      My opinion of Berkley has just taken a nose dive. He wouldn’t make it through his masters at Cambridge, England, where i trained.

      Rhetoric is usually bad philosophy. The weakest point in most arguments are the rhetorical questions. Real philosophy is spoken in measured tones, and involves real thinking and analysis.

      Don’t get drawn into flame wars with this guy.

      • I took classes with Dale. He is amazing!!! You are all are a bunch of egalitarian nerds with sticks up you know where. Hey man, you can even spell BerkEley.

  14. I know I’m a “cultist” to say this, but I believe every prediction transhumanism has ever promulgated, particularly SL4+, the cosmic engineering of Cosmism, and I believe the Singularity – in fact several, perhaps an infinite number of ever higher singularities unknowable to lesser entities – is as inevitable as death and taxes – but they of course no longer are inevitable after it…

    Why? Because they WILL happen if physically possible and I haven’t read one magical non-physics based claim ever by the transhumanists.

    Have you?

    The only unknown is time.

    Why are these things physically impossible in the long-term? That’s the only counterargument I’m interested in and willing to listen to.

    The rest is science and engineering.

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