TransVision Thursday Morning Session I
26 July 2007 (updated 12 June 2020)
I’m in Chicago for TransVision 2007. Here are some notes and thoughts from Thursday morning session I.
Max More spoke on evidenced-based Transhumanism. There is not much evidenced-based business. Medicine is getting better, but Transhumanism is overly focused on best practices rather than evidences. Not all groups place value on evidences.
Some are non-critical. Critical thinking is a good idea. Transhumanism is trans-humanism. It comes from enlightenment thought.
It is based on critical thinking and questioning authorities. It’s also about views of the future and trends. What is posthuman? We don’t know.
We’re not seers or mystics. We question our beliefs. Are we experts on Transhumanism? There should be a test for this rather than only appeals to reading claims.
Experts reproduce superior results. There are no Transhumanism experts. No one has been tested or has proven superior results. One may be an expert in aspects of individual aspects, but not in the multidisciplinary whole.
Many forecasts are wrong because they are not anticipating change broadly enough, including counter-acting trends. Some say all the experts claim global warming is unquestionable. However, some do question it and some well-known forecasts violate best practises for forecasts.
Who are the experts? What should we trust? The principles on which expertise should be based. Structured methods that don’t depend on experts seem to be most effective.
When something is complex, appeals to experts tend to be less effective. Transhumanists are not all futurists, but should be able to critique ideas about the future. Rule-based forecasting is sometimes better than expert forecasts. If there are well-known relationships, mathematical models can help.
Extrapolation can help, with focus on nearest data points. Combining forecasts helps improve accuracy. The forecasting principles web site discusses how to select between various methods.
Ron Bailey spoke about a post-scarcity economy. Will it be mount olympus, the borg or something else? Commented that the wealth of nations is in our institutions and minds. There will always be scarcities of one sort or another.
Time will be scarce. Economics is the study of allocation of scarce resources. Relationships and positions are scarce. Some argue that poverty is humanity’s natural state.
GDP per capita appears to be accelerating. Something happened during the enlightenment. Capitalism, democracy and the rule of law, and liberal science all emerged. Life expectancy has increased from forties to seventies since 1900.
We have more time to promote relationships. Status has improved generally in some areas. Olympian option: immortality with individual identity. Borg option: immortality without individual identity.
Is immortality a kind of oblivion? Does it remove desire to achieve? Is it the root of all evil? The greek gods had no physical needs except sacrificial smoke.
They could conjure some things, but some were scarce and had to be made by work. The Greek gods were not concerned with virtue. Do these ideas provide a warning against pursuit of immortality? It was their way of dealing with the problem of evil.
The Greek gods also did not progress, which is different from some Transhumanist ideas. The Borg do not compete. They are not omniscient, but have hive mind. They aren’t really happy, but they are virtuous between them.
Is the Borg like a Buddhist saint? Mind uploading seems to be headed toward borg-like existence. Why do we compete? Genes make us.
You need wealth to get power, to get status, to get the girls. Does immortality reduce this drive? Physical immortality: why reproduce? Security and status may still matter
Digital immortality: infinte reproduction resulting in less concern for security? Are 800,000,000 galaxies enough to go around?
Jerome Glenn spoke on global challenges in transition to conscious-technology age. There were not many futurists in the 1970s. Now there is a whole movement. Some think we’re becoming cyborgs.
Some think a built environment will become intelligent. Eventually these trends merge. When the trends are indistinguishable, we’ll be in the post-information age. As ages or eras have progressed, we’ve moved toward linkage in products, individual power, wealth in being, motion for place, war over identity, and inverted time.
The millennium project is a new kind of think tank. It is global. It was shaped by universities, corporations, governments and NGOs. Nodes of the think tank are worldwide and connect views between sites.
There are 15 global challenges. How can sustainable development be achieved? How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict? How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
How can genuine democracies replace authoritarian regimes? How can policymaking be more sensitive to long-term perspectives? How can info tech and communication convergence work for everyone? How can ethical markets be encouraged to reduce gap between rich and poor?
How can the threat of new and recurring diseases be reduced? How can our capacity to decide improve as the nature of work and institutions change? How can shared values reduce ethnic conflicts? How can the changing status of women improve human condition?
How can transnational organized crime be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated? How can growing energy demands be met safely? How can accelerating tech be used safely?
Here are my other other notes and thoughts from TransVision 2007:
- TransVision Tuesday Morning Session I
- TransVision Tuesday Keynote Aubrey de Grey
- TransVision Tuesday Morning Session II
- TransVision Tuesday Afternoon Session II
- TransVision Wednesday Keynote Ed Begley, Jr.
- TransVision Wednesday Morning Session II
- TransVision Thursday Keynote Peter Diamandis
- TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session I
- TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session II
- TransVision Thursday Keynote William Shatner
- TransVision Thursday Keynote Ray Kurzweil