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Nick Bostrom makes me wonder whether I’m really a transhumanist May 3, 2011

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anti-imperialism, Primitivism, Transhumanism.
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This post comes as a response to rereading Bostrom and Dale Carrico for the last session of David Correia‘s class on cyborg society and techno-futures.

I find Bostrom’s insistence on global security by any means necessary as one of the core elements of the ideology quite troubling. Folks who talk of security in such terms scare me far more than the the bogeymen they invoke. Particularly combined with Bostrom’s embrace of the progress narrative, eir global security sounds suspiciously like security for transnational capital and the world industrial system. At least it lends itself too readily too such ends. Avoiding species extinction has obvious merit, but focusing on the paradigm of security holds strictly negative political implications. Michael Anissimov of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence recently channeled Thomas Hobbes and preached the need for security through force. Ey invokes the notion that the luxury we supposedly enjoy here in the West comes as result of the macho violence of earlier generation and the current guards.

I consider the the primitivist conception of civilization as a primarily oppressive enterprise more convincing than such progress trumpeting. Both stories have validity and deserve thoughtful consideration, but the primitivist analysis works against current processes of empire while the civilization tale tacitly or explicit supports the War on Terror and similar horrors. The constructed fear of wildness conditions people to accept masters. Though not completely satisfying, one response involves embracing uncertainty.

As Shevek says in Ursula Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed, “Freedom is never very safe.”

Dale Carrico, on the other hand, inspires me to wear the transhumanist identity proudly. Though to be fair ey has encouraged me to rethink my engagement with the Singularity scene, eir utter disdain for ambitious social transformation convinces me of the revolutionary potential in transhumanism. Carrico’s dismissal of the desire to overcome biological limits such as aging as insane and infantile demonstrates the ideology’s distinctiveness despite eir fervent protests to the contrary. Ey contradicts himself by claiming transhumanists offer nothing new yet simultaneously constitute a pernicious robot death cult.

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Comments»

1. AnonymousCoward - May 3, 2011

Why did Carrico start that exactly? Why does Dale say those things? I don’t get his writings. And I find it weird Annissmov is a political conservative.

Summerspeaker - May 3, 2011

Many struggle to understand Dale Carrico. Ey has a long history of involvement with transhumanist/Singularitarians/Robot Cultists. Anissimov self describes as a Bill Clinton/Tony Blair moderate.

2. jose garcia - May 6, 2011

The fact that Singularitarians are politically conservative shouldn’t suprise, it makes perfect sense. Some of them are praticaly Neo Nazi. Stay the course, keep the empire going, keep destroying the environment, we’ll solve all our problems in the future. Don’t worry about the people opressed by our puppet dictators, we’ll upload their grandchildren… maybe.

Summerspeaker - May 6, 2011

Indeed. That’s the obvious implication of Kurzweil’s thought in particular. It’s the same old progress story. Shut up and keep working, you’ll get to heaven/get rich soon enough.


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