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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 04:50pm
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Formless wrote:
Well then, what specifically is he claiming?


His primary focus is the claimed upcoming Singularity, which I'm sure you're familiar with. His claims no doubt sound as absurd as any description of our technology and society would be to someone from two centuries ago.

The key difference is he's projecting we're at/just reaching the elbow point of a exponential curve of progress. The latest batch of newest/superior technology gets turned onto itself to improve and produce even better versions, so we're living in an era where we're seeing this exponential growth right in front of our eyes. I'd think you're observing it as well.

I honestly can't ignore this reality, all I have to do is look around. In my lifetime, we went from simplistic rotary phones to iphones. In just the past couple of years the new shit that pops every year makes my jaw drop (my local electronics stores are now selling 3D TVs...it's nuts).

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That technology in general is growing at an exponential rate? Well sure, in some sectors certainly, but at the cost of increasing environmental damage and resource depletion.


Problems exist and there is no disputing that. What I dispute is any notion these probems are insurmountable or would take ridiculously excessive amounts of time to address based on current technological progress.

Will we fuck it all up and lose everything? I certainly don't dismiss that possibility, but I'm not going to go get depressed about it either. There's reason to be quite optimistic in my opinon.

As for your comment about 'some sectors', those sectors not showing exponential growth patterns are either in their infancy and/or just entering into the information sector, which is the kick starter for exponential growth and progress. That's one of the reasons biology is becoming quite exciting; it only very recently entered into the modern information age. It's not a coincidence we're starting to hear about new biology developments every other week now.

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Limiting factors that can slow growth in a measurable fashion. If we really want to look at history, we should look at all of history; and doing so we see multiple examples of whole civilizations, even relatively technologically advanced ones, falling prey to simple issues like that (the romans, the myans, etc.).


Except all those previous civilizations were magnitudes more primitive than we currently are, and our advancement is still increasing exponentially.

But you're quite correct, we should look at all of history and you failed your own suggestion (:wink:). You focused on human civilizations, which is just a tiny fraction of history. Exponential growth, complexity and returns is a ongoing trend throughout the planet's history, and Ray Kurzweil points this out. He also points out your claim of problems like world wars, depressions, enviromental concerns, etc. And yet this exponential growth pattern remains practically unaffected.

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Then the question becomes "can you find a viable alternative technology to replace the old technology?" If you can't, you can't continue exponential growth. The limiting factors are still there, new technology only postpones when we will hit them.


Based on everything I've read about (say) computing, we're no where close to hitting a limit just yet. Current chip designs are still two dimensional in operation and utilizing the third dimension is being rapidly worked on. Along with additional design concepts like more efficient chip architechure, more efficient power usage, multi core designs, breaking away from unicore programming concepts, etc.

Computer physicists and designers point out molecular construction science indicates building computers at that scale would result in machines magnitudes superior and smaller to our current ones. Then there's Quantum Mechanics and who knows what else we'll discover between now and then.

Are there limits? I can't fathom why there wouldn't be, but I think it's just a little bit arrogant and presumptous to think we've hit them already.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:19pm
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What are you arguing here, that you would not do this, that he should not do this, or that no one would ever want to do this? Obviously you're correct on (a), (b) is subjective and I highly doubt (c), given all the crazy things humans already do.


That he shouldn't do it just because he can. He should do it for a better reason than he can't imagine what else he wants to do in a post-scarsity world.

I was responding to LionElJonson. I should have made that clear.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:21pm
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Singular Intellect wrote:
Formless wrote:
Well then, what specifically is he claiming?


His primary focus is the claimed upcoming Singularity, which I'm sure you're familiar with. His claims no doubt sound as absurd as any description of our technology and society would be to someone from two centuries ago.

The key difference is he's projecting we're at/just reaching the elbow point of a exponential curve of progress. The latest batch of newest/superior technology gets turned onto itself to improve and produce even better versions, so we're living in an era where we're seeing this exponential growth right in front of our eyes. I'd think you're observing it as well.

I honestly can't ignore this reality, all I have to do is look around. In my lifetime, we went from simplistic rotary phones to iphones. In just the past couple of years the new shit that pops every year makes my jaw drop (my local electronics stores are now selling 3D TVs...it's nuts).

Is he aware of how this technology is manufactured? How expensive a cell phone really is? Is he aware of how its disposed? Has he ever thought about the implications of making disposable electronic equipment that doesn't last and ends up in landfills in Asia that pollute like a son-of-a-bitch? Has he ever thought about where we get silicon, tungsten, lead, mercury, and other materials that make his nerd-world possible? Get down to the basics of our technological society, and much of our "progress" is revealed to be either an illusion or supported on a very shaky foundation. Shake it too much, and it the support beams collapse.

And you only have to step outside the First World to see this.

Quote:
Problems exist and there is no disputing that. What I dispute is any notion these probems are insurmountable or would take ridiculously excessive amounts of time to address based on current technological progress.

Because you've never assessed them. That's what happens when you only listen to the opinions of optimists.

Quote:
As for your comment about 'some sectors', those sectors not showing exponential growth patterns are either in their infancy and/or just entering into the information sector, which is the kick starter for exponential growth and progress. That's one of the reasons biology is becoming quite exciting; it only very recently entered into the modern information age. It's not a coincidence we're starting to hear about new biology developments every other week now.

What about material science?

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Except all those previous civilizations were magnitudes more primitive than we currently are, and our advancement is still increasing exponentially.

The basic mechanisms of social collapse haven't changed, and that's the problem you're ignoring. I would suggest the works of Jared Diamond for more information. :) (he's where I got the example of the Mayans-- for all the jokes on this board about "peak soil" that's literally what happened to them.)

Quote:
But you're quite correct, we should look at all of history and you failed your own suggestion (:wink:). You focused on human civilizations, which is just a tiny fraction of history. Exponential growth, complexity and returns is a ongoing trend throughout the planet's history, and Ray Kurzweil points this out. He also points out your claim of problems like world wars, depressions, enviromental concerns, etc. And yet this exponential growth pattern remains practically unaffected.

Unless you live in a shithole like Haiti. And even here, one nuclear war is all it would take to put an end to that trend, in the most permanent way possible. Just ask Stuart.

Quote:
Based on everything I've read about (say) computing, we're no where close to hitting a limit just yet. Current chip designs are still two dimensional in operation and utilizing the third dimension is being rapidly worked on. Along with additional design concepts like more efficient chip architechure, more efficient power usage, multi core designs, breaking away from unicore programming concepts, etc.

Computer physicists and designers point out molecular construction science indicates building computers at that scale would result in machines magnitudes superior and smaller to our current ones. Then there's Quantum Mechanics and who knows what else we'll discover between now and then.

Now you've got to find a way to make sure this hypothetical computer doesn't overheat and that quantum computer doesn't suffer from decoherence. Oh, yeah, forgot about my friend thermodynamics? He hates you, by the way. Of course, he hates everyone, so you're nothing special. :twisted:

Quote:
Are there limits? I can't fathom why there wouldn't be, but I think it's just a little bit arrogant and presumptous to think we've hit them already.

Who says we've hit them already? All I dispute is that you can extrapolate past exponential growth into the future, let alone indefinitely into the future.



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Last edited by Formless on 2010-08-14 05:27pm, edited 4 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:21pm
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Formless wrote:
lazerus wrote:
As for the assertion that "Any Utopian Ideal is Stupid" -- let me ask you this. If you had to chose between living in the 10th century (as a functional member of that society, insofar as your world view or health issues will let you function), and sawing your left hand off with a hacksaw, which would you chose?

If you even have to stop and think about it, you've demonstrated my point. Society does vastly improve over time, largely as a result of technology. Our standards change so it never seems to us like we live in a perfect world, but that does not mean improvement isn't occurring.

People in the tenth century didn't have to worry about pandemic diseases, nuclear warfare, or anthropogenic climate change. We do improve, but the problem is we can't expect perfection. Every social/technological change brings with it new problems unforeseen by the previous generation, even as it solves the issues that generation took for granted.

Edit: oh, and there is also the problem of over-population. That one almost certainly wasn't an issue for tenth century people.


Evading the point. Our problems have changed, but there's been a vast improvement in quality of life overall.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:26pm
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Serafina wrote:
Yes. Problem is, we are never going to have a post-scarcity society. Not a real one anyway, at best one where the ordinary human doesn't know it. But then you have a system that doesn't NEED the ordinary human, so why should there be such a thing?

For the same reason societies maintain elite classes who get to enjoy great wealth and the opportunity to be relatively unproductive if they want to: it's generally good to be one of those people. Only problem is you need the labor of other humans to support them so most people can't live like that ... but the idea of an effective post-scarcity society is to replace those laboring humans with robots so the entire human race can enjoy a relative freedom from the demands of productivity and restrictions of scarcity that traditionally is reserved for a small fortunate elite.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:30pm
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lazerus wrote:
Formless wrote:
People in the tenth century didn't have to worry about pandemic diseases, nuclear warfare, or anthropogenic climate change. We do improve, but the problem is we can't expect perfection. Every social/technological change brings with it new problems unforeseen by the previous generation, even as it solves the issues that generation took for granted.

Edit: oh, and there is also the problem of over-population. That one almost certainly wasn't an issue for tenth century people.


Evading the point. Our problems have changed, but there's been a vast improvement in quality of life overall.

How is that evading the point? The argument is about whether or not we can ever expect utopian ideals to pay off. Unfortunately, utopia is a form of perfectionism, and perfection is impossible.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: we're not arguing against your ideals. We're arguing against your expectations.



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"To Err is Human; to Arrr is Pirate." — Skallagrim
“I would suggest "Schmuckulating", which is what Futurists do and, by extension, what they are." — Commenter "Rayneau"

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:48pm
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Formless wrote:
Edit: oh, and there is also the problem of over-population. That one almost certainly wasn't an issue for tenth century people.

But they had to deal with the very ugly flip-side of it: they didn't have an overpopulation problem because things were killing most people before they could reproduce.

Also, did they not have an overpopulation problem, or was it more that the population was controlled by a famine-driven boom and bust cycle (I honestly don't know)? If so, actually the only difference would be that we at least have hope of being able to avert the bust.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 05:58pm
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Since when have transhumanists (the lucid and informed ones anyway) argued for capital-U Utopia? I don't see anyone arguing for perfection; I do see a lot arguing for things being substantially better due to technological and resulting economic progress. But I don't see how "substantially better in most aspects" translates to "perfection just like Jesus heaven".



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 06:43pm
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I would be willing to face one of transhumanism's detractors in the Coliseum.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 07:25pm
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Starglider wrote:
Not it is not 'basic'.


DNA is a fairly simple molecule. The complexity of genetics is not inherent in the DNA molecule itself.


Starglider wrote:
It seems 'basic' to you because literally millions of engineers and scientists have spent the last fifty years making incredible progress in the field of computing, such that you can now get something 1000 times more powerful than a 1960s mainframe computer in your $100 cellphone. Plus of course solid state physics, quantum chemistry, biochemistry and a host of other fields. If you asked a biochemist or an electronic engineer in 1950 if it would be 'easy' to solve protein folding by brute force simulation of a few trillion molecular interactions, they would laugh in your face. Yet now it seems 'basic' to you, although in actual fact design of software to do this is one of the most challenging areas of software engineering./
Quote:

What exactly are you trying to prove? All I said was that DNA is a fairly simple molecule, so being able to model its chemistry is not a huge feat for a piece of software. Which is true. The complexity is in the interactions of DNA and regulatory molecules, not in a strand of DNA itself. Learn to read before going off on your little strawman.

[quote="Starglider"I am sure that if you were around in 2200 or so you would be saying something like 'sure, bioengineering a new species from scratch isn't actually all that hard, but picotechnology, that's just ridiculous...'


What a surprise, another strawman. Please point out the post in this thread where I made any claims about bioengineering or technology advancement at all. If you note, my only post was to refute your claim about the software. So please, pull your head out of your ass.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-14 10:13pm
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LionElJonson wrote:
Serafina wrote:
Quote:
Presumably, the people who made the software that'd make this possible would have thought about that, and engineered in safeguards to prevent blatantly unethical usage.
Yes, because that happens all the time in real life :roll:
Did i already say that you are a naive? Well, you are.

Yes, because software engineers never design their software to minimize the possibility of idiot users fucking it up. :roll:

Oh, we would, but then the users scream at us and get management to force us to build them something else. :lol:



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 Post subject: Re: Misconduct found in Harvard Animal Cognition Lab PostPosted: 2010-08-15 12:06am
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Alyrium Denryle wrote:
The problem is not with out programming of a friendly AI. It is with the building of subsequent machines. First off, the machines will not be smarter than we are. It will have a faster CPU, the two are not the same thing. We have to program this thing to be able to do things like perform higher math and mimic having an actual biological intelligence. It will be limited in its ability to do these things by the human programmer who initially creates it and as a result will be limited in its understanding of higher math to the degree that the programmer understood higher math. In turn, it cannot subsequently program a machine that is smarter than it unless it uses some sort of genetic algorithm that creates random mutations in code and then selects for those machines which get built that display higher cognitive capacity. These same mutations however can create a non-friendly AI. As a result malevolent AIs could well (and eventually will, simply due to mutation and drift) evolve out of your recursively more intelligent AIs due to a lack of function mutation in the Friendly code.


This is easily demonstrated as false just by looking at the way humans learn higher math, we don't even need to bring computers into the equation. When discussing higher math with teachers in the subject, my mind does not run through countless attempts at trial and error and return with a solution that hopefully satisfies them. Invariably, if I am wrong, either I or they can actually pick out the logical error that was made.

Your claim amounts to 'rational AGI is impossible'. For rational AGI to be impossible, a complete algorithmic model of thought must also be impossible. Since every human being does it, claiming that something we do is impossible to fully understand is an extremely spurious statement.

It is certainly difficult. I think Starglider's numbers are off by a couple orders of magnitude. I think Kurzweil is rather optimistic about his timescales. But each year, programming techniques become more sophisticated, and writing self modifying and self analyzing code is becoming more the norm. If someone's off by a decade or two, well, predicting the future was never easy.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 12:46am
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Even if transhumanism isn't viable, a very advanced form of humanism certainly is - it doesn't require super-intelligent AI, just a very large and capital-intensive manufacturing capacity based on advanced forms of power (thermonuclear is the best bet). I'm saddened by the lack of time to participate in this thread.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 01:37am
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Only humans and New Caledonian crows are known to MANUFACTURE tools, as I said, and crows manufacture only one (and use another). Tool USE, as I noted, does occur in several nonhuman species. Not very many in the grand scheme of things.

Quote:
Personally I would define transhumanism as the idea that transcending the fundamental limitations of humanity through technology is both possible and desirable.


That already happened.

Unless you are talking about transitioning a consciousness into a non-human, or even non-biological, body? If so, I would be interested to know why you think this is possible. I'm also faintly amused by the idea that a society even vaguely resembling the one we live in today would perform such a procedure en masse. Atheist techno-geeks (i.e. people like me, and probably most of us) are a fraction of a percentage of the world population.

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"To all those who dismiss transhumanists and singularity enthusiasts as "rapture nerds" and other derogatory comparisons, consider this: Strip away all the dross, all the fiction, all the buzzwords, the 'nano'-this and the 'matrioshka'-that and you are left with this simple truth: humanity is not the pinnacle of creation."


There's no such thing as creation. "Pinnacle" is a totally subjective concept. The proposition that there will be something that's better at being a human (i.e. a being that we humans value) than a biological human is not supported. It is a cool idea to think about, but from what I've seen it has never progressed farther than that.

Happy to be proven wrong though.

Quote:
His primary focus is the claimed upcoming Singularity, which I'm sure you're familiar with. His claims no doubt sound as absurd as any description of our technology and society would be to someone from two centuries ago.


This must sound like a compelling argument to you, but unfortunately it is not. It is just as likely in my opinion that we are near a peak in human society, that we live in a Golden Age that may never be surpassed or equalled again.

Being able to locate patterns in history does not allow one to predict the future in detail. There are many good reasons to think that there are limits to human technological growth; including lack of resources, incompatible ideologies, the difficulty and expense of space travel, and the general fragility of our society.

If you actually take a step back and look at the history of our planet, rather than of our species, we are an aberration, an anomaly, a brief blip that might not even appear in the hypothetical fossil record.

As I see it, only religion or mad optimism would allow one to take the survival of the human species over the next hundred thousand years as a given. This should articulate exactly how likely I find a post-scarcity society to be in that time.

Note that this thought does not grant me pleasure.

Quote:
but the idea of an effective post-scarcity society is to replace those laboring humans with robots so the entire human race can enjoy a relative freedom from the demands of productivity and restrictions of scarcity that traditionally is reserved for a small fortunate elite.


That would be nice. I don't know how development on those is coming along. Can you fill me in?

What is projected to occur in this scenario when robots become cheaper than wage slaves? Do you conjure that this development will be good for any of the workers who are being replaced? Do you believe that this transition will be easy, or peaceful? Do you believe that these replaced people will continue to eat? (Out of the goodness of capitalists' hearts, no doubt, that's gotten us so far.)

Formless wrote:
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: we're not arguing against your ideals. We're arguing against your expectations.


BINGO!

lazerus wrote:
I would be willing to face one of transhumanism's detractors in the Coliseum.


I can't tell if I'm a detractor of transhumanism or not! I'm not sure that there is in fact a common set of ideas that every self-identified transhumanist who has posted in this thread shares that I do not. "You guys" are arguing with "each other" as much as you're arguing with "us."



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 01:46am
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Quote:
I can't tell if I'm a detractor of transhumanism or not! I'm not sure that there is in fact a common set of ideas that every self-identified transhumanist who has posted in this thread shares that I do not. "You guys" are arguing with "each other" as much as you're arguing with "us."


You mean, large movements with no central leadership can be widely varied and often internally divided?

Say it aint so! :angelic:

The vague prompt is a problem, we would have to work out an exact debate topic. But it just feels like here we're rehashing a lot of old arguments and definitions, so something more formal would be more informative and interesting.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 04:08am
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Anguirus wrote:
That already happened.

Note: by fundamental limitations I did mean something a bit more than simply "the limitations of our muscle power" if that's what you're thinking (in that case even using stone knives would be "transhuman" and the concept would lose all meaning). To be honest though I'm not sure exactly where I'd draw the line between transhuman application of technology and regular application of technology. Perhaps the best way I could put it offhand is that transhumanism involves actively making ourselves better in some way through technology, as opposed to simply using technology.

Quote:
Unless you are talking about transitioning a consciousness into a non-human, or even non-biological, body? If so, I would be interested to know why you think this is possible.

Ultimately I see no reason why it wouldn't be possible and some apparently informed people believe it is (there's a good video on whole brain emulation that got linked to in another thread, I can try to find it again if you really want), but it's far from the only transhuman possibility so if you don't mind I'd just as soon not get sidetracked into an argument over this side issue.

Quote:
I'm also faintly amused by the idea that a society even vaguely resembling the one we live in today would perform such a procedure en masse. Atheist techno-geeks (i.e. people like me, and probably most of us) are a fraction of a percentage of the world population.

While this is all a somewhat tangential, I'd like to point out that uploading wouldn't have to be a universal or even popular choice to potentially have hugely transformative effects on society. E.g. one might imagine a scenario where companies would pay skilled professionals to allow themselves to have their minds copied and then recopied a very large number of times, and you wouldn't need a very big fraction of the population to be willing to submit to such a thing for it to have huge effects on society. The vast majority of abstainers in such a scenario would still benefit from the resulting explosion in humanity's collective brainpower.

Quote:
There's no such thing as creation. "Pinnacle" is a totally subjective concept. The proposition that there will be something that's better at being a human (i.e. a being that we humans value) than a biological human is not supported. It is a cool idea to think about, but from what I've seen it has never progressed farther than that.

Happy to be proven wrong though.

It's "not supported" in the sense that the necessary enabling technologies are in their infancy or embryonic stage and therefore unproven. Of course it's imprudent to rely on unproven technology to solve our problems, but I see nothing wrong with having it as a goal to work toward, which is all I advocate.

Edit: would you say that isolating a number of genes that contribute to high and low intelligence and psychological problems and promoting the first while removing the second and third from the gene pool would be a concept which's eventual feasibility is "not supported"? I'd consider that at least borderline transhuman - it would result in a future humanity that would likely be noticeably different and more capable than the present one, albeit it would simply be a difference of changing the average rather than transcending the peak.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 04:30am
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Missed this:

Anguirus wrote:
That would be nice. I don't know how development on those is coming along. Can you fill me in?

I'm no expert in computer science or automation, but computer technology seems to be advancing pretty steadily, and the ability to make increasingly more capable and autonomous robots should logically follow. It may take centuries to get to the point of humans being mostly dispensible for all I know, but I see no reason it wouldn't be possible eventually and technology does seem to be trending in the right general direction so far with computers becoming ever more powerful and capable.

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What is projected to occur in this scenario when robots become cheaper than wage slaves? Do you conjure that this development will be good for any of the workers who are being replaced? Do you believe that this transition will be easy, or peaceful? Do you believe that these replaced people will continue to eat? (Out of the goodness of capitalists' hearts, no doubt, that's gotten us so far.)

What such a transition would look like depends on a huge variety of variables which I'm not prepared to speculate on at this point. I certainly won't deny that there are a huge number of potential problems and in the short term there's no guarentee that advancing automation would necessarily be good for people. If you're looking for somebody advocating a one-size fits all solution for all imaginable scenarios you've got the wrong guy.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 04:52am
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LionElJonson wrote:
I'm not a racist; what color your skin is has no bearing on your worth as a person. I'm simply saying that uplifting a stone-age society to a modern one is a moral good, and most of these animals don't even possess that much technology (and in any case, both flint weapons and fire pre-dated modern humans). Western culture is superior to basically all the others to date, with East-Asian cultures running a close second, but the color of a person's skin is irrelevant. If we weren't superior, we wouldn't have dominated the world like we did.


I suggest you read Guns, Germs and Steel

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 05:47am
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Anguirus wrote:
That would be nice. I don't know how development on those is coming along. Can you fill me in?

What is projected to occur in this scenario when robots become cheaper than wage slaves? Do you conjure that this development will be good for any of the workers who are being replaced? Do you believe that this transition will be easy, or peaceful? Do you believe that these replaced people will continue to eat? (Out of the goodness of capitalists' hearts, no doubt, that's gotten us so far.)


You seem to be assuming that greedy capitalists would be in charge of these robots.

RepRap finished Mendel the better part of a year ago: http://reprap.org
Fab@Home is still polishing up the Model 2: http://fabathome.org

The scenario parallels the early home computer industry, although it is proceeding at a slower pace (or so it feels like).

The problem is mostly one of an enormous amount of work that needs doing, in general, and across a great many fields. But individual steps along the way tend to offer rewards - I submit a patch to an open source project to solve a particular problem or establish a certain feature, for example - and over the course of decades and millions of developers, quite a lot gets done to add to humanity's overall toolbox. And you can work on other things and hope that problems in certain major packages will get fixed by others if they aren't immediately critical - we don't exist in a void, everyone has their itch. The simplicity of many of the problems is often surprising if you don't consider the magnitude of just how many there are.

I've always suspected that by the time we develop AGI, we won't have a particularly critical need for it, because we'll have solved so much on our own, already. A friendly AGI could do a lot of good right now. I'm sure nukes would have solved World War I quite effectively, too.



Give fire to a man, and he will be warm for a day.
Set him on fire, and he will be warm for life.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 08:07am
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Xeriar wrote:
You seem to be assuming that greedy capitalists would be in charge of these robots.

Unless you abolish capitalism to a large degree, 'greedy capitalists' would certainly remain in control and ownership of the robots. So there's nothing wrong with Anguirus' statement. The way things stand now, you could end hunger and poverty for less effort than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even with our present levels of agricultural and industrial capacity. However, it's not ended. It is hardly a problem of raw industrial capacity.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 08:42am
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I would love to see capitalism and commercialism utterly ruin the bright future transhumanists foresee. As I said in testing:

Shroom Man 777 wrote:
You know I like to go on about how in the future these trans/posthumans will all have corporate branded organ systems so we can all be POSTHUMANS except you have to buy PREFABRICATED STEM CELLS and, like, rent COPYRIGHTED GENES. Your skin will be covered in corporate logos your organ systems will be made by General Electric or shit your vision centers of the brain will have nVidia graphics cards! :D And all your organs will have PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE! Just like any other consumer electronics!

Imagine, if you're too poor, you can't even afford any of this and you will be stuck as a mongrel homo sapiens. You can't even TALK to the rich people since they use wireless transmissions for brain-to-brain interwebbing communications. So your puny unbranded mouth organs will be obsolete, your words will be just as comprehensible to the average future-man as obsolete telegraph morse code telegrams! If your brains are not upgraded, other people can even THINK faster then you! Your brain systems might not be able to COMMUNICATE with them since the superior posthumans transmit way larger files and communications and resolutions to each other. You must UPGRADE! But you are poor! When you expire, your organs get re-harvested and donated to third world countries or third planet countries where the poor people at least get the chance to use crappy second-hand organs that are better then theirs.

Angered poor people kill rich people to harvest their superior organs for personal use, or for sale death squads hunt people who sell bootleg or pirated organs :D

They'd be stealing PATENTED COPYRIGHT DESIGNS! RIAA death squads will be after them! Like that time Apple sent goons to that internet blog because they nicked that new iPhone prototype? Except with corporate cyber-ninja assassins. With military-grade organs. Weaponized organs.

You try to eviscerate a military-organed assassin? Well, his intestines are combat-capable! They will fly out of his abdominal cavity and STRANGULATE YOU! BECAUSE HIS GUTS ARE MADE BY LOCKHEED MARTIN! OH SHIT!

Alyrium: All of the sudden his stomach explodes from his chest out of a trap door and starts digesting your face.

Like, when you join the military, they cut off all your civilian organs and freeze them, and after you are discharged you get them back. In the service, they replace them with military-grade organs. If your military is poor or shitty, the organs are poorly maintained and lowest-bidder crap. Like, reused Vietnam-era organ-weapons. They replace your feet with tank treads (because legs are for stupid mecha)! Your body hair with camoflage netting! Ribs with steel grills!

People become hermaphrodites if they want to. Imagine a uterus that can, like, envaginate or prolapse, turn INSIDE OUT, and then reconfigurate itself into a cock. Or a cock that can sink back into your groin and invert itself into a cavity. Your cocks are now TRANSFORMERS! MORE THEN MEETS THE EYE!

Athletes would get organ systems that are funded by Ferrari. Feet soles made from Michellin, cardiovascular systems made by FROD Motors, leg muscles made by Porsche! Applications are endless!

This is an awesome transhumanism. If you live in a communist state, well, FUCK! You get state-produced shitty organs :D

Oh man imagine, factory defects! The CORPORATION must RECALL ALL YOUR ORGANS! Your kidneys fail! Ford Motors must recall all your kidneys and compensate you!

This is the best thing about transhumanism. Except real transhumanist would probably be horrified at my ideas. But fuck them. A lot of them are BORING anyway! Man, real life will so shit on the transhumanist's dreams. Big Pharma will so crap on them :D

HAHA.



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 08:51am
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You were watching Repo Men, weren't you, Shroom?



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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 09:19am
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Stas Bush wrote:
You were watching Repo Men, weren't you, Shroom?


Or perhaps Repo! The Genetic Opera.



A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 09:49am
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JointStrikeFighter wrote:
I suggest you read Guns, Germs and Steel


Awesome book.

Transhumanism's viability really depends on the timescale in which we're talking. I don't think we can say what can or cannot be manipulated in the human genome until a lot of basic research has been done. That is, we'll be able to start talking about genetic manipulation of humans once we've mapped out every gene in the human body, found what every individual gene does and what processes they are linked to. Once we've completely mapped out every mechanism, to a reasonably high degree of accuracy that goes on inside and outside of the human cell. Once we've figured out what each gene does in combination with all the other genes and once we have a much, much, much higher degree of accuracy as to the mechanism of human development from embryo to foetus, that is we know for certain how the embryo develops, what causes cell differentiation and how etc. We'd also need to know exactly how each individual cancer is caused, what mutations cause them and how they cause them. Basically, we'd need to know everything about human genetics and cell mechanisms, completely and thoroughly, such that we can make definitions like: changing gene A to gene B will cause this effect in Cell C, because it will affect gene complex D in this way.

Basically, whilst we cannot say for certain that we will never be able to introduce changes to human genes to improve certain functions, (succesfully of course, no use doing it if the resultant human comes up with cancer); we can say that if it can happen it won't happen soon. Not for an extremely long time.

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 Post subject: Re: Transhumanism: is it viable? PostPosted: 2010-08-15 10:44am
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Xeriar wrote:
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
The problem is not with out programming of a friendly AI. It is with the building of subsequent machines. First off, the machines will not be smarter than we are. It will have a faster CPU, the two are not the same thing. We have to program this thing to be able to do things like perform higher math and mimic having an actual biological intelligence. It will be limited in its ability to do these things by the human programmer who initially creates it and as a result will be limited in its understanding of higher math to the degree that the programmer understood higher math. In turn, it cannot subsequently program a machine that is smarter than it unless it uses some sort of genetic algorithm that creates random mutations in code and then selects for those machines which get built that display higher cognitive capacity. These same mutations however can create a non-friendly AI. As a result malevolent AIs could well (and eventually will, simply due to mutation and drift) evolve out of your recursively more intelligent AIs due to a lack of function mutation in the Friendly code.


This is easily demonstrated as false just by looking at the way humans learn higher math, we don't even need to bring computers into the equation. When discussing higher math with teachers in the subject, my mind does not run through countless attempts at trial and error and return with a solution that hopefully satisfies them. Invariably, if I am wrong, either I or they can actually pick out the logical error that was made.
You can learn higher maths this way because you have a teacher who knows his stuff to guide your way. In other words, the problem has already been solved, and your only task is to learn the material.

But the "trial and error" that is described by Alyrium is in regards to improvements on a design that the humans have already busted their balls programming to the best of their understanding. That's a horse of a different color. Apart from a minimal amount of guidance the humans may provide, the computer is all on its own and completely blind, and experience has shown the best way to solve these kinds of problems is trial and error.

Xeriar wrote:
Your claim amounts to 'rational AGI is impossible'. For rational AGI to be impossible, a complete algorithmic model of thought must also be impossible. Since every human being does it, claiming that something we do is impossible to fully understand is an extremely spurious statement.
Alyrium's statement is that 'rational AGI is probably impossible for us to realize'. The emphesised statement is important. We may simply not be smart enough to realize a rational AGI, even if it is possible in theory.

First off, we're not really rational ourselves. For the most part, our reasoning is post-hoc if it occurs at all. Only those of us who have trained our fundamentally flakey survival machine called a 'brain' to simulate rational thought can pretend to be rational. Even for them, their prejudices, ambitions, laziness, and so forth can get in the way to foul their reasoning. This is why we have the peer review process in the first place: to catch each other's mistakes.

The second point is that intelligence may not be a step-by-step list of instructions you can write down. There are many other types of algorithms that are not amenable to digital computing. We won't know for sure until intelligence is nailed down and understood.

Xeriar wrote:
It is certainly difficult. I think Starglider's numbers are off by a couple orders of magnitude. I think Kurzweil is rather optimistic about his timescales. But each year, programming techniques become more sophisticated, and writing self modifying and self analyzing code is becoming more the norm. If someone's off by a decade or two, well, predicting the future was never easy.
Predicting the future is almost impossible. Just ask any prophet.

Self-analysis is extremely limited, if it is applicable at all, due to Rice's theorem. There's no general algorithm to analyze a general algorithm to see if the partial function it implements has any non-trivial property, of which friendliness is one. This lies at the core of computational theory, and so its hard to dismiss with the assertion that "programming techniques improve every year." Programming techniques will not allow you to do the impossible no matter how sophisticated they are. We must first prove that friendliness is amenable to that kind of analysis.

And before you appeal to us as a friendly intelligence, realize that we do not fit our own definition of "friendly." We do immense damage to ourselves. We don't even know if a friendly intelligence can exist, let alone implement one.

The second problem with this assertion is even if we prove that we can compute the answers, there's no guarantee to the complexity of the task. Many non-trivial problems explode violently in time and space requirements as the characteristic measures of its size increase, like the traveling salesman problem. Intelligence is intricate enough to expect that emulating it is going to take a fair chunk of computation, and analyzing it for properties like friendliness is going to increase that complexity to obscene values.

Even if nanotechnology pans out, there will be no picotech revolution — once you get smaller than molecule size, there's hardly any structure to matter that one can organize into computing elements. This is neglecting the real challenges to nanotech computing, like the fact that molecular computing elements will be mechanically floppy and will not take much electrical disturbance before tearing themselves apart. The amount of computing horsepower availible will be limited no matter how you slice it.

Xeriar wrote:
Anguirus wrote:
That would be nice. I don't know how development on those is coming along. Can you fill me in?

What is projected to occur in this scenario when robots become cheaper than wage slaves? Do you conjure that this development will be good for any of the workers who are being replaced? Do you believe that this transition will be easy, or peaceful? Do you believe that these replaced people will continue to eat? (Out of the goodness of capitalists' hearts, no doubt, that's gotten us so far.)


You seem to be assuming that greedy capitalists would be in charge of these robots.

RepRap finished Mendel the better part of a year ago: http://reprap.org
Fab@Home is still polishing up the Model 2: http://fabathome.org
The substance directly extruded by these methods are plastic. Do you really expect we will have no need for machined metal in the future?

Both websites read exactly like the overly-optimistic tripe that futurists often fall prey to. While home replication will have its place, it cannot replace industry. The materials we must work to achieve our high-tech society are too diverse for one small machine to be able to work them all. It cannot cure ceramics, it cannot cut steel rods, it cannot forge gears, and it cannot etch ICs. It cannot even work with all plastics. That is a very limited capability

Xeriar wrote:
The scenario parallels the early home computer industry, although it is proceeding at a slower pace (or so it feels like).
Yes, and look what happened to home computing. It fell by the wayside. Do not dismiss the power of the economy of scale.



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