Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You, Robot

Well, maybe not you, but, you know, people.

Maybe the label "transhumanism" is chosen to be weird and I'm not met with blank or pitying stares when I talk about it (in certain forms), but it's still true that many people are pretty vigorously opposed to using technology to change humans. Transhumanists are mostly interested in cognitive enhancement and increasing lifespan.

Instinctively, I think opposition this opposition is misguided but it seems pretty reasonable. Without getting bogged down with troubling future changes, surely it's relevant that rich westerners are already transhuman in many ways.

  • Our life expectancy is about three times what it used to be.
  • Average IQ is way up.
  • People have prosthetic limbs, artificial hips, hearing aids, contact lenses etc.
  • People effectively store chunks of their personality in places that are not their brain. Blogs, Facebook, books etc.
  • Drugs can temporarily improve mental and physical performance (seen the Bioplus add?).
  • People use drugs to alter their minds in ways they think is an improvement, permanently. I'm thinking of people with conditions like bipolar disorder and stuff.

Are any of these developments to be regretted? How are we not transhumans?


Greg Torr said...

Nice post.

Please supply the following information: Probability that average age to which our generation will live will be
a) below 70
b) between 70 and 90
c) between 90 and 110
d) 110 to 130
e) 130 to 150
f) 150 to 200
g) above 200

Our generation for these purposes is rich westerners currently between 25 and 35.

Trevor Black said...

I am not going to try find answers to Greg's question, but I am going to guess what I would think the distribution would be...

a) 9%
b) 45%
c) 30%
d) 10%
e) 3%
f) 2%
g) 1%

mutt said...

trevors guesses are like, totally wrong.

Here is the information you requested (Assuming that we're prepared to freeze our heads of course)

a) 20%
b) 10%
c) 35%
d) 15%
e) 5%
f) 5%
g) 10%

Greg Torr said...

I'm very disappointed with the paltry chances of living beyond 130.

And scared about the high chance it'll be less than 70 (that's the nano-robots-eating-all-the oxygen-particles-and-killing-us-all-scenario, I presume).

stuart said...

doesn't old mutual have good data on this stuff. surely those stats would be your real best guess (i.e. 0% chance of living to 130)?

I'm guessing that you're being sarcastic in your reply. But yes, nanobots. And nuclear war and global warming doing something somehow...

You should read this great book called "the black swan"