IEET’s George Dvorsky offers course on Introduction to Transhumanism

{An interesting 2014 article demonstrating an artificially stimulated interest in transhumanism - ED].


by Institute for “Ethics” and Emerging Technologies (IEET)
(Co-founded by transhumanists James Hughes and Oxford don Nick Bostrom)

IEET’s George Dvorsky offers course on Introduction to Transhumanism

George Dvorsky, prominent futurist, writer on ethics and technology and Chairman of the IEET Board of Directors, is offering his:  Introduction to Transhumanism course during May, from May 1st to May 31st, 2014.

This course introduces the philosophy and socio-cultural movement that is transhumanism. We will survey its core ideas, history, technological requirements, potential manifestations, and ethical implications. Topics to be discussed will include the various ways humans have tried to enhance themselves throughout history, the political and social aspects of transhumanism, the technologies required to enhance humans (including cybernetics, pharmaceuticals, genetics, and nanotechnology), and the various ways humans may choose to use these technologies to modify and augment their capacities (including radical life extension, intelligence augmentation, and mind uploading). Along the way we will discuss social and ethical problems that might be posed by human enhancement.

Schedule and readings: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for each week, and students can proceed at their own pace. There are no live events planned. An assortment of resources will be used, including academic papers, online presentations, instructional videos, and popular articles. Everything about the course and all readings are provided within the PSA Moodle website. Course lectures, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive George Dvorsky’s replies in discussion forums. There is nothing “live” you can miss – log in and participate anytime day or night, 24/7, throughout May.

Ask George about this course by tweeting to him at twitter.com/dvorskyor posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/gdvorsky

Canadian futurist, science writer, and ethicist George Dvorsky has written and spoken extensively about the impacts of cutting-edge science and technology—particularly as they pertain to the improvement of human performance and experience. George is a contributing editor at io9 where he writes about science, culture, and futurism. A founding member of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, he is its Chair of the Board and the founder and program director for its Rights of Non-Human Persons program. In addition, George is the co-founder and president of the Toronto Transhumanist Association and has served on the Board of Directors for Humanity+ for two terms. His work has been featured in such publications as The Guardian, the BBC, CBC, Forbes, the New York Times, Slate, Radio Free Europe, and al-Jazeera. He is also an avid CrossFitter, an ancestral health enthusiast, and an accomplished music performer, composer, and recording engineer.




[Note:  Couldn’t be more “in their own words” and “in your face”.  Let’s remember that bioethics founder Art Caplan is on the IEET board of trustees, so we already know which “ethics” they use, including utilitarian’s “for the greater good” and the libertine bioethics principle of absolute “autonomy”:  http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/caplan/;  also,

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/category/C46.   And of course, see a good upfront description of transhumanism/futurism/posthumanism in the recent articles by transhumanists, at:  http://wavism.net/principles/what-is-social-futurism/, and at  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-transhumanistphilosopher/201404/transhumanist-explores-new-type-community (Bitcoin and all). The article first appeared here.

A Transhumanist Explores a New Type of Community - "Zero State"

[A 2014 article from transhumanist Amon Twyman who is an advocate of radical social and technological change leading to a zero state, no gender, no individuality, no freedom, where the majority are nothing more than engineered man-machines comprising the vast part of a one world community under autocratic control.  His statement; ".. direct democratic action to circumvent obsolete political institutions." promotes the 'social justice' of Aldous Huxley's eugenics world dream via 'mob rule' anarchy  - ED ]

Interview with Zero State founder and transhumanist Dr. Amon Twyman. [Emphasis DNI]

Rapid advances in technology are paving the way for new ideas about the future, including those of the communities we live in. I had a chance to catch up with transhumanist, Zero State founder, and cognitive scientist Dr. Amon Twyman, who is a leader of one such community that is exploring new directions for the betterment of humanity

Dr. Amon Twyman

 

Q. Dr. Twyman, What is Zero State?

A. Zero State (ZS) is a community that grew out of the transhumanist movement back in 2011. It’s now part of a broad coalition of groups and movements that we call WAVE, referring to a coming wave of radical technological and social change. The basic ZS idea is to create networks of people and resources which could evolve into a distributed, virtual State. Right now there are only a few thousand ZSers (albeit well connected to much larger networks), but in a hypothetical full-blown Zero State there would be tens of millions or more, all supporting each other and being part of a single nation no matter where they live in the world. Our motto is "positive social change through technology."

 Q. How does transhumanism relate to ZS?

A. Our core principles and ideas are deliberately compatible with transhumanism. That comes naturally, as ZS grew out of transhumanism and our most active “citizens” tend to self-identify as Transhumanists. That said, it’s important to stress that people don’t have to be transhumanists to join ZS. More generally, we consider ourselves to be a “Social Futurist” community, which is to say that we believe technological breakthroughs don’t happen in a social vacuum. There are social, economic, and political issues which not only stubbornly continue to exist in the face of techno-optimism, but which are sometimes greatly exacerbated by technological change. In short, we believe that technology should be applied to improving the human condition on both physiological and societal levels.

Q. How can ZS help the world?

A. In the first instance, we are focused on helping ZS’ citizens, or more accurately, helping them to help each other. An increasing number of people are finding themselves in need of help of one type or another these days, and we would like to demonstrate that mutual support is made more achievable than ever before thanks to the power of cutting-edge technologies. We tend to focus on bringing together people and ways to access current technologies such as meshnets, cryptocurrency, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, while exploring ideas such as longevity, super-intelligence & wellbeing, accelerating change, and direct democratic action to circumvent obsolete political institutions. Beyond working to help our own people, we actively work to support the wider network of like-minded groups and believe that compassionately, intelligently applied technology has the potential to improve the lives of everybody in the world.

 Q. How did you come to be the founder of ZS?

A. My background is in a combination of psychological research (consciousness and decision making, Artificial Intelligence) and digital & performing arts. Although I’d read my fair share of science fiction as a kid, I decided I was a transhumanist while studying at university, after reading “Mind Children” by Hans Moravec. Over time, my various interests in art, science, transhumanism, and contemporary social/political issues coalesced into a coherent worldview, and I eventually decided to form an organization to pursue these ideas. The result, Zero State, was heavily informed by my experience as a co-founder of the UK Transhumanist Association, which has since evolved into Humanity+ UK. I started building WAVE, the broader network ZS is part of, two years later. That was once we’d had time to realize that there was a bigger picture emerging; a large number of like-minded groups forming to address a vast array of specific issues with a common outlook. That common outlook is characterized by technological savvy, distaste for old thinking and limits, and a keen awareness of social issues.


A. What does the future hold for ZS?

Q. ZS-affiliated project groups continue to work on developing tools for our members. A lot of these projects are collaborative and many have a distinctly transhumanist flavor, such as experimentation with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (using electrical charge to help concentration—work being done in collaboration with Dirk Bruere and Andrew Vladimirov). Some of the projects seem more like simple fun than serious experimentation at first glance—such as the ZSers building Minecraft environments in which to test their AI software—but that’s half the point; For people to do something useful and have fun at the same time. Our most vigorous efforts are currently going into WAVE, expanding the wider, networked context in which ZS operates, doing what we can to help out like-minded groups. We’ve been establishing connections with large networks, such as The Zeitgeist Movement and an emerging coalition of online transhumanist organizations. We live in extremely exciting times, with lots of rapid change both good and bad, and it looks like Zero State will soon get its chance to help people help each other in that brave new world. If you believe in the promise of technology, the importance of social justice, and the power of community building then feel free to jump in and join the fun!


Zoltan Istvan is an award-winning journalist, philosopher, and activist. You can find him on TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn. Zoltan is also the author of the recently published #1 Philosophical bestseller novel The Transhumanist Wager. Available in ebook or paperback, the controversial novel is a revolutionary reading experience. You can check it out here

 



Zoltan Istvan

Zoltan Istvan is an American-Hungarian philosopher, journalist, entrepreneur, and futurist. He is best known as a leading transhumanist and the author of the controversial novel, 
The Transhumanist Wager, a #1 bestseller in both Philosophy and Science Fiction Visionary and Metaphysical on Amazon.[ He has a B.A. in philosophy and religious studies from Columbia University. The article first appeared here. If this doesn't give you reason to pause, I don't know what could - DNI]




Zoltan Istvan, "Should Transhumanists Have Children?"

by DN Irving


The article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/transhumanist-beliefs_b_4870636.html  by transhumanist Zoltan Istvan is nothing more than a grand scheme for population control.  To see this, read it first “as is” -- pure transhumanism (which is bad enough).   Then go back and read it again, against the backdrop of the essential Gnostic principles inherent in it (briefly summarized below).  I apologize for the repetition, but this article is a classic example of Gnostic Transhumanism that is hard to pass up. 

The Gnostic bottom line is that all “matter” is evil.  The piece of the divine in most human beings is imprisoned in an evil material body and material soul, and must be freed so that it can move back up through the spheres of the cosmos and finally fuse back into the Ultimate god/goddess from which it originally emanated to help heal this divine breach (not unlike the transhumanists’ goal of transferring our brains into computers in 2045 in order to ultimately fuse into The Singularity).  Every new birth is simply a further terrible dispersing and breaching of the Ultimate god/goddess.  Thus any and all manner of “birth control” or “population control” is required to stop this terrible continuous breaching of the Ultimate

As recently explained, the cosmology of the Gnostics is far different than most.  Although there are many different kinds of Gnostic myths that vary from century and geographical location, there are many common elements that they all share (see world expert in Gnosticism Hans Jonas’ encyclopedia article in Irving, "GNOSTICISM, the Heretical Gnostic Writings, and 'Judas'" (April 9, 2006), at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_121gnosticism1.html,   Below is an example of some common elements that might help one understand the connections among transhumanism, Gnosticism and population control:

Most Gnostic myths are attempts at explaining how the world came to be, and based on the imagination.  Most are pantheistic (only ONE “thing” or Ultimate god/goddess in reality);  some are dualistic (only TWO “things” in reality).  They are polytheistic (many minor gods/goddesses of the Spheres).  In pantheism, the interior of the spiritual Ultimate is composed of an infinite number of “opposites” or “contraries” that are connected (because this is a pantheism), and are thus the same.  As Heraclitus said, “The path up and the path down are the same”.  Because these are “opposites” there is constant “strife” or “dialectic” among them all, resulting in an “explosion” or a breach of the Ultimate wherein some of the “opposites” flow out (emanate), and congeal beneath the Ultimate.

Thus the First Sphere is formed.  (Eventually, this terrible breach of the Ultimate must be stopped and repaired -- and that is where the population control element comes in).  The same is repeated multiple times because the interior constitution of each Sphere is also composed of “opposites” in strife, resulting in a group of Spheres.  There is a god/goddess of each Sphere.  The first group of Spheres to emanate are the divine spiritual Aeons (good guys, Messengers of Light);  the lowest Aeon goddess Sophia “sins” (often involving sex) and procreates a son named the Demiurge, often equated with the God of the Old Testament (thus Gnosticism is anti-Semitic and anti-Christian).  Both are kicked out of this group of Spheres into the Chaos

The monstrous Demiurge, ignorant of the divine Aeons and Ultimate above him, thinks he is god, and emanates the second physical group of Spheres called the Archons (the bad guys;  each one is a psychic power).  Again, the First group of Spheres and the Second group of Spheres are thus “opposites” within Gnosticism itself, and all connected because this is a pantheism.  The Demiurge and the Archons then emanate evil “matter” and the rest of the physical material cosmos, planets, stars, etc., including human beings.  There are no true “individuals” in the cosmos because they are really just “pieces” of the pantheistic Ultimate from which they have emanated. The Ultimate is the only true “individual”.  Because each item that has emanated from the divine Ultimate (and then from the divine gods/goddesses of the Spheres), most have a “piece” of the Ultimate divinity in them

In a human being that piece of the Ultimate is called, e.g., the “Self”,  “Pneuma”, “Spark”,  “Light” or “Spirit”, etc. -- and it is held captive as a prisoner in the evil material body and evil material soul.  In order to keep their “creations” or emanations intact and continuing to multiply, the Archons emanated physical human sexHuman beings are oblivious to the little piece of the Ultimate deity within them (at least, within the elite human beings), and every new human child born represents an even further and continuous breach of the Ultimate.  The Aeons of the upper divine realm of spheres have a solution.

To trick the Demiurge and his Archons and free the piece of divine entrapped in evil material bodies and souls, the Aeons defy them using two different methods.  Some Aeons defy the Archons by destroying and abusing anything having to do with the material body, especially sex or the product of sex, e.g., (in today’s terms) by promoting abortion, embryo research, "free sex", homosexuality, self-mutilation, etc.  Other Aeons defy them by simply not using sex, by abstaining from it, by being ascetics -- as Hans Jonas puts it, they “go on a metaphysical strike” against it -- and both Aeon-types include population control measures for that purpose.  That is, they want to stop any further breaching of the Ultimate any way they can.  Thus the Aeons, the Messengers of Light, trick the Archons by "revealing" to (elite) human beings their true divine "essence" and other secret knowledge (gnosis) while humans are meditating, dreaming, in any kind of altered mental states (even drugs). 

This gnosis also consists in informing humans that the laws of science and nature they are using are false, and provide them with their True Science in its place.  Gnosis also consists in “informing” humans that the Laws of Moses are false (Gnostics are anti-Semitic);  and gnosis also has an “ethical” dimension (or “knowledge of the way out of this material world”), i.e., instructions on how one should live one’s life in order to get on the PATH back to their origins -- i.e., the Ultimate.  Eventually the idea is that all this breaching of the Ultimate must stop, all the divine “pieces” in the cosmos (including that in man) must move back up through the many Spheres and finally FUSE BACK INTO (or merge or transfer back into -- not unlike The Singularity) -- the Ultimate from whence they emanated.  This is called The Ingathering of the Light or “salvation” -- when the Ultimate is made whole and healthy once again. 

Of course, this goal is “a-cosmic”, necessarily involving and willing the destruction of the cosmos itself.  These types of Gnostic myths have been passed down and around since at least 5000 B.C.  Some things never change.

NOW, try going back to Istvan’s article above and this time read it from the Gnostic perspective.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/

 

[See also:  Psychology Today;  The Transhumanist Philosopher, at:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-transhumanist-philosopher.  Also, Zi Ventures - Istvan Media, at:  http://www.istvanmedia.com/.



The Transhumanist Declaration 2.0

by Dirk Bruere


This was the winner of the competition for a new declaration that was held by Transhumanity. As such it is currently the definition adopted by Zero State. It is shorter than those it was based upon with many of the negative caveats concerning its dangers condensed into a single point.

The Transhumanist Declaration 2.0 

*  Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We assert the desire ability of transcending human limitations by overcoming aging, enhancing cognition, abolishing involuntary suffering, and expanding beyond Earth. We intend to become more than Human.

*  The single defining factor of Transhumanism that separates it from all previous philosophies is the proposed use of technology to transcend what it means to be Human.

*  However this needs to be constrained by some basic ethical principles, not least for our own benefit and indeed survival. We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise. This is to be seen as a consequence of the adoption of Abolitionism, defined by philosopher David Pearce, as our core ethic. 

*  We favour allowing individuals wide personal choice over how they enable their lives, live their lives and if necesary end their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to enhance intellect, mood, concentration, memory; anti-ageing therapies; reproductive choices and  technologies that seek to alter genotype and phenotype. We also seek to develop artificial intelligences by various methods. 

*  We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. However, whilst these dangers need to be explored and guarded against the spirit must be one that embraces the Proactionary Principle rather than the Precautionary Principle. We must not allow timidity to rob us of our unique future.

 *  Positive Transhumanist ideas and ideals need to be infused into public life at all levels, from popular culture and art, to politics and religion. Technologies that facilitate Transhumanist goals need to be adequately funded. The political leadership of our societies need to ensure the benefits are made available to all citizens in a non coercive manner.

Dirk Bruere

Attended Nottingham University and later what is now Westminster University, and has a BSc in Physics. Subsequently pursued a career in electronics and computer research and is a research engineer at Surface Measurement Systems. A founder member of Zero State (ZS) and a member of the Futurists Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. Founder of The Consensus in 2002CE, a political party with a core philosophy of Transhumanism, which has been influential in Zero State and the Wave. Other interests include the interface between technology and theology explored in the books TechnoMage and The Praxis, and was co-presenter of a UK radio show, OneTribe. Head of The Praxis, a ZS spiritual organization. For several years held the position of Branch Master in the World Shorinji Kempo Organization, teaching Zen and martial arts, although is now retired from a teaching role.  See Zero State, at:  http://wavism.net/group2/

This was the winner of the competition for a new declaration that was held by Transhumanity. As such it is currently the definition adopted by Zero State. It is shorter than those it was based upon with many of the negative caveats concerning its dangers condensed into a single point.

 




[Note: In their own words. The article first published here -- DNI]





11 Ways to Revolt Peacefully

by Chris Campbell


There is something which unites magic and applied science (technology) while separating them from the ‘wisdom’ of earlier ages. For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.”  – C.S. Lewis

Slowly but surely, we here at LFT are making our lives as untethered to the fragility of modernity as possible. 

Modern life, after all, is defined by its lack of interest and, oftentimes, belief in a *true* nature of things — in its disconnection to the source. (Of production, of history, of creation, of truth, of biology, of any semblance of an objective essence of beauty, and on.)  And all of this, to be sure, has happened in the name of liberation.

Come. Liberate yourself from reality. From the harshness of life itself. Pain is unnatural. Take these pills. Watch these people sing and dance. Here. Have some bread. Watch this! Over here! Yoo hoo! Hollyweird has all the answers. Feeling sleepy? Don’t worry. The politician will tuck you in now. There’s almost certainly not a monster under your bed.

But let us check for you.

One day, as many Singulistas sincerely hope, a la Ray Kurzweil, you’ll be able to hook yourself up to an IV of tiny nanorobotic computronium that will connect you to a virtual reality utopia (in the name of “uploading your consciousness”) and you’ll feel infinite bliss and never have to confront anything you don’t like ever again.  It’s like having a direct link to God, they’ll say.

It’ll all be artificial, synthetic, fake… but it will be your special delusion and nobody else’s. You’ll likely eventually become essentially a human battery for some A.I. program — but it will love you for who you are and not for what you were.

Ignorance and darkness are natural allies. Darkness play a pivotal role in the world. And when it is ignored, it is more often than not weaponized.

Jung called it the “Shadow Self.” And your unwillingness to see reality as it is and not as your projections wish it were, can and will almost certainly be used against you. Power comes from a connection to the true nature of things. Absolute power comes from making those around you believe there is no true nature of things — that reality is programmable. That reality is as the cult leaders say.

The greatest science fiction example I’ve found is seen in the exceptional and terrifying short film Uncanny Valley at this link.

It is our beat to — in all ways we can — revolt against the madness. To get closer to the source of things. To dig out their true nature in the name of self-reliance and true freedom.  If all goes according to plan, we’ll soon be doing some boots-on-the-ground learning and reporting on valuable skills ANYONE can use to build a resilient, sustainable, free-as-can-be lifestyle.

Sometimes, as you’ll see, the only way to move forward is to go back.  Today, as just a taste, we invite Jacob Hunter of Primal Survivor to the show.

Jacob Hunter, a master prepper, is good at getting readers to confront that thing which the lotus peddlers would have you ignore. And how to prepare.


Read on., article continues in lower half here 11:  Unconventional Prepping Tips for Preppers Who Are Tired of the Same Old Advice




This article is republished under a creative commons license Here

Another One For The Transhumanist Scrapbook: Draconian Punishments

by Joseph P. Farrell


So many people sent me versions of this important and significant development that it was simply a kind of moral imperative that I alert readers here to it, and say something about it. In this case, there are four different articles, each of which reveals, almost immediately, what the new concern is:


Is Biotech Seeking Ways to Make People Suffer Eternally?

Should Biotech Make Life Hellish for Criminals? 

Enhanced Punishment: Can Technology Make Life Sentences Longer? 

Could we condemn criminals to suffer for hundreds of years? Biotechnology could let us extend convicts’ lives ‘indefinitely

When Dr. de Hart and I were writing Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, one of the questions we were impelled to raise, one which the transhumanist movement itself raises repeatedly, is what does it mean to be “human”? And this, we implied, was not simply a philosophical question. Nor was it a question of biological or chemical “scientism” with its convenient, and largely useless, materialist reductionisms. It was a question of culture, society, jurisprudence, and morality

Within the transhumanist “vision” there is a common underlying theme, regardless of whether or not one accepts the “heaven scenarios” of such advocates like Ray Kurzweil, or the more sobering assessments of transhumanist researchers like Joel Garreau and their “hell scenarios”, for in both cases, the favored transhumanist “GRIN” technologies – genetics, robotics, information processing, and nano-technologies – open both favorable and horrific vistas of the future.

In this case, we are concerned with the horrific ones, for as the articles suggest, what if such technologies made life extension possible as a matter of judicial punishment? This unpleasant prospect, as the articles aver, is actually being not only entertained but its advocacy is even being implied in some circles. What if, in addition to this, other technologies are super-added to life extension, technologies of the “androgynous and alchemical fusion” of man and machine, to implant criminals with chips, to subject them to forms of “virtual torture” and suffering? Some transhumanists have envisioned the downloading and uploading of individual’s personal memories as a technique of virtual life extension. But what if such technologies could recover the memories of victims of crimes? Would criminals then be punished by making them relive in some sort of “virtual reality” the horrors of the crimes they committed on their victims? Could criminals of the future be sentenced to “life extension and ‘hard reliving’ of their crimes from the victim’s point of view” for “x” number of years, without hope of parole or reprieve? While such questions sound like science fiction, as the above articles point out, they are already being entertained, and they are being entertained, because the technologies impelling them are already under development.

Indeed, one can envision a state of development where such technologies were so advanced that a sentence of life in prison with “at hard virtual labor” would be so horrific, that the death penalty, far from being a thing to be avoided by defendants, might become a thing sought.

But there are yet other possibilities as well, possibilities that were, in fact, explored in the television science fiction series Babylon Five in the 1990s: the “death of personality.” In that series, convicted murderers are subjected to a kind of “death of the ego”: the erasure of the personality, memories, and emotions of the perpetrator

While some may view all of this favorably, and argue that it is “ethical,” I incline to the other opinion, and hold that it is barbaric, and a measure of the dehumanizing that such philosophies and technologies are inevitably bringing with them. I submit that such punishments are indeed “cruel and unusual” and little other than a form of torture.

 But whatever one’s opinion may be, the cultural transformation of culture and society that the transhumanists are championing or, in a few cases, decrying, are indeed hurtling down the tracks toward us and will force each of us to deal with the types of questions these articles are pointing out.


See you on the flip side.



The article first appeared here.