Member 207
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The great enhancement debate
Nina Anissimov (35)
San Francisco, US
Immortal since Dec 8, 2007
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    From Xarene
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    A series of rambles by SpaceCollective members sharing sudden insights and moments of clarity. Rambling is a time-proven way of thinking out loud,...

    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    An email my brother Michael Anissimov sent to me in response to the three rant clips posted toward The Great Enhancement Debate, with short response commentary by myself:

    Haha interesting. Was this from that one interview with your friend's dad? Great to get these ideas out there for people to debate, I'll post these videos on my blog. Following are my comments, don't take offense if they sound critical, overall I think the interviews great, but of course I want to respond to what caught my ear.

    You seem more confident about transhuman benevolence than I am. I see an at least 50/50 chance that the dominant transhumans will magnify *negative* aspects of humanity (under the banner of "individuality" or somelike) rather than positive aspects. In this sense, I agree with some of the critics (as well as other transhumanists) that transhumanist technology can be dangerous. Also, I don't see why transhumans and naturals couldn't coexist as long as there is a power-sharing structure whereby the risk of naturals, say, initiating unnecessary war, is minimized.

    You say some things that can be construed as elitist... things that wouldn't be persuasive to those already wary of H+ goals. For instance, is the typical person in the US violent or cruel? No... actually only a minority (~5%) commit violent crimes or abuse their family members. But it sounds like you're saying all humans will inevitably be violent... a lot of humans would see this as really offensive. Also, talking about humanity as if from outside it already "a good being", etc., could offend some people.

    You're right, I suppose I was pretty optimistic about transhumans when I was speaking to Rene. However, i'd be interested in seeing if there is any correlation between level of education/intelligence and cruelty. I'm pretty certain you'd see crude violence more strongly associated with less educated demographics wheras higher education, higher income individuals might display different sorts of greed or ignorance-based misanthropy, Enron case in point. However, I think you associate my use of the term "cruelty" too strongly with physical violence—I meant more the general underlying tendencies toward ignorance, selfishness, lying, racism, sexism, ageism, etc. that most human beings exhibit and recognize.

    Of course naturals and enhanced people could coexist! At the very least we HAVE to, we are all still human and H+ enhancement doesn't imply loss of sympathy or empathy. And perhaps "scared" is a strong word. But if you look at the two groups, yes, one would be more likely to initiate unnecessary war, have selfish priorities, be spiteful or rude, racist, sexist, etc. and it's not unreasonable to feel that this might represent a significant social divide in the future. I think "cautious" is better than scared.

    You talk very articulately about all the human limitations... but don't spend as much time proposing specific ways that these limitations could be overcome... it just sounds kinda like you take it for granted. Yes, it would be nice if we could fly, tolerate greater temperatures, run faster, etc., but HOW? Most people can barely even begin to imagine the first steps. Unless you try to connect potential transhuman upgrades to things already achieved *today* (like the Olympic runner with a prosthetic leg who runs even faster than ordinary runners), most folks are clueless.

    true, but I was being fanciful! haha

    "Why can't I process at an infinite speed" - because the laws of physics don't allow it. I agree with all the things you say in the 2nd one but again, most people would be offended of course. Here I think it's important to emphasize that we anticipate the *cost* of these enhancements will be such that we see they'll eventually be available to everyone, like computers.

    The technology shouldn't be made available until it is universally accessible and affordable in my opinion. And yeah I know that laws of physics inhibit infinite processing speed, it's colorful language!

    Ex-boyfriend references — lol oh no! With my girlfriend I didn't have any talk, I just let her absorb it osmotically (through reading my blog mostly I think) and that seemed to work okay. She said that if I tried to push it on her it would have been a disaster. For introducing these topics to people it's worthwhile to be future shock level-savvy — i.e., never talk about uploading until you've talked about a dozen less radical topics, say. Some people are even offended by *present-day* medical techniques like organ transplants or the possibility of therapeutic cloning.

    Well i've become a lot more careful with how I discuss these matters now, and I think the osmotic approach is probably the most comfortable for everyone. People who are offended by organ transplants...well, let's wait until the day they face the choice between obtaining a donated kidney or entering hemodialysis every other day until they inevitably die. Reagan anyone?

    The Doors are crap? LoL. I guess you might want to say that your ex-boyfriend is a "romantic". Saying your other boyfriend was stupid is another thing that makes you sound elitist... anyway I think you'd better write something else and put it online that highlights your more altruistic side, otherwise your reputation on the internet will be that you're an elitist...

    Hey! I love the Doors. It was more his xenophobic distaste for techno than his preference for older music that I criticize. About the other matter, aye aye Mikey! Altruistic manifesto to come...

    Michael Anissimov's blog: 
    Thu, Dec 13, 2007  Permanent link

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    I realized some years ago as I was typing that, much like speaking english, I articulate ideas via my keyboard onto the computer without pre-thinking their content. I was very pleased, then, to be able to say that in some sense I was fluent in two "languages," one verbal and one as physical as sign language. I'm certain that others have put two and two together and used the same terminology as I to describe this, but what's important is understanding its underlying meaning. By removing the noise, the stuttering, the translation between mind and computer, we make ourselves more present and more available to the internet's vast social network. I'm so thankful that a portion of my elementary and middle school education went toward learning such a valuable skill, and i'm upset that elderly individuals who still "peck" at their keyboards are hindered not only in their speed of internet relation but also symbolic depth.

    As long as we're humans occupying our current physical form, transcending the mind-digital interface begins by achieving fluency in typing. Assuming one is fluent in typing, WPM better defines speed of thought than speed of typing, ignoring dexterity limitations.

    Next step, ditch the keyboards!

    In other news, did you know that some adults pay their administrative assistants to do their internet research, because they don't know how? I think we take our navigatory skills for granted...lost in the internet and unable to find your way. How sad!
    Sun, Dec 9, 2007  Permanent link

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