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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Are we Transhumanists?
    Project: The great enhancement debate
    The singularity- an optimistic take

    So, are we or are we not Transhumanists? That is a very difficult question especially considering the fact that the term has gotten such an ill reputation.

    Reason magazine has an interesting interview with Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal, angel investor in Facebook, founder of the hedge fund Clarium Capital Management, adviser to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and self-described libertarian).

    From the interview:
    Reason: But you’re betting that in fact there is a Singularity in the human future?

    Thiel: By definition, these are one-time, nonrepeatable events. Assigning probabilities to them is not an easy exercise. There’s something about the idea of a Singularity that is kind of unscientific, because you can’t really do an experiment. We can’t say, “What’s the probability this is going to happen?” We can’t assign numbers to this, but falsifiability I think is a bit too strong a criterion. We couldn’t have assigned numbers to the probability of a communist revolution in the early 20th century, yet people would have done well to worry about that.

    Thiel goes on:

    Reason: Do you consider yourself a Transhumanist?

    Thiel: The problem with the label is that it suggests that we should run away from being human. Take the question of aging. If you define that as the essence of being human, then Transhumanists are anti-aging and therefore you try to transcend this human limitation. I don’t think that death and life are inextricably interconnected in some sort of Eastern mystical sense in which for everything white there’s something black and there’s always a yin/yang type of thing. Every myth on this planet tells us the purpose of life is death, and I don’t think that’s true. I think the purpose of life is life.

    And finally on an optimistic note:

    Thiel : My optimistic take is that even though politics is moving very anti-libertarian, that itself is a symptom of the fact that the world’s becoming more libertarian. Maybe it’s just a symptom of how good things are.

    Read the article at Reason: 'Technology Is at the Center'

    On another note, about a week ago Michael Annisimov in his blog accelerating future wrote a beautiful and inspiring article entitled: “I am a Transhumanist, thanks!

    From the article:” I say, fear not. If you have clearly transhumanist beliefs, like the notion that human enhancement is coming in the next few decades and will be a big deal, then don’t be afraid to call yourself one.

    As Dr. Wittgenstein, one of my favorite philosophers ever, used to argue, words are just labels we fill with our own content. To think that a word has any inherent meaning aside from its use in language is absurd.

    Thus, the word “Transhumanism” is only as valuable as the people who apply it to themselves.”

    I both love the paper and agree with Michael and with Thiel.

    Now then, taking those two articles together, I think that a new wave of positive, optimistic, confident and cheerful views concerning the singularity, the technological advances for the betterment of all (including age related research, see the Methuselah foundation, the elimination of suffering based on our biological substrate and so on) and the resolution of ethical issues as the IEET strives to do, is coming upon us all.

    The question then comes to focus: are we to embrace Transhumanism as a positive approach to the future and declare ourselves as Transhumanists as Michael A. will have us do?

    This question, I believe, is of interest to all of us taking part in building a better future for ourselves as a specie.

    *As a side note let it be known that I personally prefer the term “ Transbeing”.

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