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mark211A post-human future?2016-10-09 01:38:03
mark211At the end of last week's discussion, QM's Art Master and writer Rick Tornello drew our attention to a recent Science News article on the work of Qian Chen, a young Chinese scientist currently working in the US. Chen's research is "pioneering the design of new biologically inspired materials" and "exploring what it means to be “alive.”. The article concludes: "if Chen succeeds, she may be on her way to cracking the code that links biological structure to function — figuring out the parts of a protein, the pistons and hinges, that let it do its specific job. Knowing the structural building blocks of life, she says, will help scientists create them — and everything they can do — out of artificial materials." (The link is here if you want to read the whole thing: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/qian-chen-materials-scientist-sn-10-scientists-watch)2016-10-09 01:42:19
mark211And this got me to thinking about the broadly related concepts of trans- and post-humanism. There are many different definitions for this, so the one I'm thinking of in particular is the one which involves humans being able to enhance their physical form, physical characteristics, and slow down and even prevent things like aging and, ultimately, dying.2016-10-09 01:44:14
mark211What kind of world would that be? A world in which the very richest 1% are able to prolong their physical lives and enhance their physical bodies far beyond what are currently considered normal capabilities. What kind of influence could such an elite of 200, 300 or more year-old men and women? (I'm assuming it will be mostly men, but there will presumably be plenty of women involved their too). It's easy to see the downside of this, but would the experience of living across more than one century actually enhance our ability to solve key problems? Let us know what you think below.2016-10-09 01:47:17
GordonRowlinsonSounds like what you're talking about is genetic engineering. I think of the movie Gattaca when I hear of genetic engineering. In the movie, the world becomes two tiered civilization where the genetic elites who are smarter and stronger, get all the good jobs. People W/o genetic engineering could only get low paying jobs such as janitor. Job interviews consisted of a urine test. From that the analysts could tell your potential. It's a frightening scenario. 2016-10-09 10:05:31
GordonRowlinsonSounds like what you're talking about is genetic engineering. I think of the movie Gattaca when I hear of genetic engineering. In the movie, the world becomes two tiered civilization where the genetic elites who are smarter and stronger, get all the good jobs. People W/o genetic engineering could only get low paying jobs such as janitor. Job interviews consisted of a urine test. From that the analysts could tell your potential. It's a frightening scenario. 2016-10-09 10:07:25
RTSome basic essays on transhumanism can be found in The Transhumanist Reader, edited by Max More and Natasha Vita-More. It's a starting place. RT2016-10-09 17:28:59
IronspiderI've thought about this before and came to the conclusion that a post-human/trans-human future is likely to be one of continual violent confrontation. As a civilisation (yes, I'm lumping the whole human race into one big pot) we struggle to accord everyone the same basic, human value - the developed world tends to look down on the developing world, as if ownership of running water (for example) confers a specific measure of 'humanity'. There is still continuous ethnic clashes across the planet; skin colour is still an issue for some people. Can you imagine a future where enhanced humans are actually welcomed as equals? I can't. In the UK we have a divide based on wealth - it's always been there and will always cause tension - those in charge have no interest in a society based on equality. I get the feeling that a true post-human future will only arise once humanity has ceased to exist.2016-10-10 23:36:44
RT@Ironspider: Then you're talking about a post technical Singularity world.2016-10-11 05:31:54
r.tornello@Ironspider: Then you're talking about a post technical Singularity world.2016-10-11 05:37:24
MagonianH Tobias portrays a more humane trans-humanism in the flash fiction Happy Phylum-Day. The narrator bemoans his upcoming 200th birthday and considers only the day he is more machine than man worthy of celebration. In this instance the democratising of immortalising technology has arguably left the world unchanged, in terms of the human capacity to adapt to innovation and take it for granted. But if an otherworldly Eden as this should fall then there's no telling what could happen. So which is worse - phylocratic republic or democracy? 2016-10-11 11:40:59
MagonianPerhaps that question should read - which is best...?2016-10-11 11:50:09
r.tornelloMaybe the way things are going, referencing the political sabre rattling and human nature, the points above will be moot on this planet.

Just remember that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the Soviet Union gave its submarine commanders the option to launch without Moscow's permission. And when the US destroyer (?) was forcing a Soviet sub to surface the captain of that sub ordered a launch which was countermanded by an admiral on board. It was that close.

2016-10-12 07:57:48
r.tornelloRead today's NY Times Editorial and OPED pages, 12 October 2016, then consider what's being stated and how this reflects on the comments above.

I'm serious folks.

RT

2016-10-12 11:14:22





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