Comments:


meganmay     Tue, Jan 8, 2008  Permanent link
There is not the same sense of fixed identity - even a person's name will change during their life.

I think this type of fluidity is absolutely essential to mention in any kind of manifesto for Space Collective and/or the future in general. In a time when things are changing so rapidly, the idea that one would follow an absolutely linear path seems like a poorly conceived survival strategy concocted from an unreasonable fear of the unknown that's unfortunately programmed into our rationally minded western civilization. It would seem to me however, that this fear is in fact based on the very idea that man is in control of his world, and the tighter the grip the shakier the hand. Of course, the impulse to cling onto something solid is somewhat understandable. Here we are, walking around on this sphere floating in space trying to understand what the hell we're doing here. But it's absolutely fantastic and I see no reason why would we ever need to fully understand it. If we are going to revise the grand narrative I would hope that we can paint ourselves as inquiring minds built to be ready for anything, rather than slaves to some deity or absolute rulers of the planet, and I think Space Collective is helping to make this happen. Likewise...more on this to come.

Rourke     Wed, Jan 9, 2008  Permanent link
Your words about identity made me think of the work of Julian Jaynes, a name I have seen elsewhere in Space Collective. Did our ability to identify ourselves as independant entities with thoughts that we claim as 'ours' emerge from our ability to build metaphor? Simply put, is even human identity a consequence of language?

Studies on people from Eastern and Western cultures show divergent ideas of identity. It's no surprise, as Eastern spiritual belief concentrates on the cycle of reality rather than its flow. To locate the self as existing at this point and project that feeling into the future is very much a Western tendency and explains a lot about the function our mythologies usually take.

I like the idea you ponder of a more forward looking myth. We need to recognise that catastophy (such as unmetered climate change, or nuclear holocaust - all the cliches basically) is inherent in our idea of change. We see these things as ultimate conclusions, perhaps justifying our collective response to these problems as ultimate means would give us enough focus to move on together.

People need purpose in their lives. There is so much we need to work on together, and so much that we can achieve as a collective that it seems strange that our more popular grand narratives don't already take the forward looking, positive approach on board.

It's obvious that we talk about these collective objectives in such grand, narrative fashion, yet rationally/scientifically focussed communities rarely alter their language to do this consciously. I think of the grand drive that put men on the moon, or the collective identity which was engaged during World War II. Only by using the right language in the right way can we achieve the collective identity we need to strive onwards.
Wildcat     Wed, Jan 9, 2008  Permanent link
Obvious, first thank you for a very enlightening and inspiring post and then, are you aware of this:



“Languages are very unevenly distributed among the countries of the world. The map tries to capture this fact by rendering each country in a size corresponding to the number of languages spoken in it. (Because of the inherent problems in accomplishing this, sizes are rather approximate). The ten shaded countries are those in which more than 200 languages are in use.”

The Ethnologue, cited a bit further, only lists 9 countries with more than 200 languages, however. Here are the 12 top countries:

Papua New Guinea 823 languages
Indonesia 726
Nigeria 505
India 387
Mexico 288
Cameroon 279
Australia 235
DR Congo 218
China 201
Brazil 192
United States 176
Philippines 169

It’s curious how the linguistically most diverse country in the world is Papua New Guinea – because it’s also the place with the biggest biodiversity anywhere, one of the last places in the world where new species get discovered regularly. I wonder whether there’s a single explanation for both phenomena.

the rest is here

Rourke     Thu, Jan 10, 2008  Permanent link
Thanks Wildcat, that's a great link. Don't they also think that Papua New Guinea has the most 'uncontacted' tribes still left in the world? I remember watching a questionable documentary which followed an even more questionable 'explorer' into a deep, Papua New Guinean jungle in search of such a tribe. When they finally contacted the uncontactable tribe they noticed that they all sported plastic beads around their necks. On top of that, the tribe wouldn't allow them any closer to their camp, but hung around just long enough for the filmcrew to give them some more Western, mass-produced tit-bits.

It was as if they had been playing the explorers for fools.

Imagine if aliens landed on Earth and we hid all our cool technology, dressed in Pre-Victorian garb and denied we understood enough to see the significance of their arrival. The aliens would quickly get bored and fly off elsewhere, but not before they handed us primitives some cool, shiny toys to play with.

The pollution of cultures happens at levels from language upwards, and it seems to work both ways. As Picasso said as he left the ancient, painted caves of Northern France, "We have learnt nothing."
giulio     Fri, Aug 5, 2011  Permanent link
Re "If science, rationalism and 'Utopian Singularity Thinking' is ever to make a mark on the masses it MUST reorder itself into narrative forms which innate human capacities can find palatable. The Grand Narratives of Religion, in all their dangerous naivety (see here for more on this), have hold over the populace because they work with the human faculties of narrative and mythology."

Well said and very, very true. This is why some people try to develop interpretations of singularity thinking with narrative forms and mythologies more appealing to persons with "spiritual" sensibilities and needs. I have written frequently about this, see for example:
 http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/06/28/engineering-transcendence-addendum-from-2011/ 
giulio     Fri, Aug 5, 2011  Permanent link
This post was referenced in:
Jason Silva Muses on Humans Turning Into Godshttp://blogs.forbes.com/alexknapp/2011/08/05/jason-silva-muses-on-humans-turning-into-gods/

(that's how I found it)
Rourke     Fri, Aug 5, 2011  Permanent link
Thanks for your comments.

Since I wrote this I've come to consider the singularity/transhuman question as more of a philosophical one than a practical or technical one.

Jason SIlva's ideas are a little too anthropocentric for me. Rather, I'd like to ask the question what happens when we remove the human from the centre of the thesis? The very impossibility of that proposition (i.e. humans attempting to think beyond the human) outlines neatly why the transhuman conceit falls flat.

When I wrote this I should have warned about scientific mythos from the past. Indeed, I would argue (and I am by nomeansalone) that Transhumanism is a continuation of the Positivist narrative. If we want to think past the human, we have to think post humanism without blindly accepting the biggest myth of them all: progress.