Monday, March 28, 2011

Bookforum - Merging with Machines, on Transhumanism

I am NOT a fan of transhumanism in its most common forms (i.e., downloading consciousness into a computer or some such nonsense). Considering that consciousness is a bodily, culturally, and environmentally embedded process, to think we can have anything resembling human consciousness without a body is incomprehensible to me.

Where I think transhumanism is useful is in nanotechnology for tissue repair, fighting viruses and diseases, or performing intra-organ surgeries, and so on. There are also some impressive developments in limb replacement, eye replacement, and even synthetic mesh-based stem cell implants for cartilage repair/replacement.

For what little its worth - I have no doubt that at some point, machines/computers will become conscious (the singularity), but it will probably not resemble our own notions of consciousness, which may make it hard to identify when it happens.

Anyway, today Bookforum collected a bunch links associated with transhumanism and the singularity for our reading pleasure. By the way, the image is by HR Giger.

Merging with machines

From IEET, Sascha Vongehr on higher consciousness, simulation hypothesis, and other religious matters. From h+, is God an alien mathematician? An interview with Hugo de Garis on his transhumanist argument for the reality of a Creator; and an interview with Giulio Prisco on the intersection of transhumanism and spirituality. Is transhumanism a secular sandbox for exploring the afterlife? Transhumanism, human enhancement, and so on, have the potential to be as philosophically respectable as any other issue traditionally studied. Richard Loosemore and Ben Goertzel on why an intelligence explosion is probable. An interview with Eliezer Yudkowsky of the Singularity Institute of Artificial Intelligence (and part 2). Charlie Rose interviews Ray Kurzweil, "Transcendent Man" (and more and more). Paul Root Wolpe on why it's time to question bio-engineering. A look at how conservatives view human enhancement — will designer babies turn the USA into a culture of compulsory overachievement? More and more on Unnatural: The Heretical Idea of Making People by Philip Ball. A review of The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian (and more and more and more). Inside Google’s Age of Augmented Humanity: For its next act, the Silicon Valley giant wants to put a supercomputer in your pocket, the better to sense, search, and interpret your personal surroundings. With our tiny screens and cellphones, we have become prosthetic gods, the whole world in our handhelds — are we not also monsters? Michio Kaku on the technological singularity and merging with machines. The eroticism of technology: A review of World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machine, and the Internet by Michael Chorost (and more). An interview with Minsoo Kang, author of Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords: Should we fear the rise of intelligent computers? From Wired, is the Navy trying to start the robot apocalypse? Adam Rawnsley wants to know. Check out Forbes's Robot Overlords, a blog on the future of technology, culture, transhumanism, the Singularity, and all of the other cool things that lie in wait for us.

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