Author Topic: Let me............... Tel-e-port you!  (Read 38787 times)

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Offline Mongoose

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I do find somewhat interesting the claim that those resistant to such concepts as wholesale body-swapping or flat-out full cyberization are doing so out of "fear," since I feel like the same claim could be leveled in the opposite direction.  Isn't thinking along such lines driven by a fundamental fear of death, a desire to not succumb to that finality that is our fate as biological creatures?  That scrabbling and clawing, going to ridiculous measures just to achieve some semblance of "immortality"...what else would drive someone to such ends?  Why is there this massive resistance to the thought of dying, of not experiencing the future in this world beyond a certain point?  We are limited, irrational beings, and frankly, I wouldn't have us any other way.  I embrace the fact that, some day, I won't be walking around here anymore.  I do believe that there is something afterwards, but even if it winds up that there isn't, it won't phase me, since I won't be around to be upset over it anyway.  As Akalabeth said, it's by embracing our limitations and striving to the utmost within them that we're able to achieve the most; to wish for something beyond that is simple frivolity.  I'm going to die someday, but if I manage to achieve even one worthwhile deed over the course of my life, then from my perspective, I'll be fine with that.

(And to be honest, I find Akalabeth's treatment of the human condition to be far more personally satisfying than the cold and clinical view of Battuta's.)

I do have to wonder if anyone in here has ever read C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, particularly the final novel That Hideous Strength, or what they would think of it if they had.  I suspect Battuta, at least, would be yelling his head off at Lewis's portrayal of at least some aspect of this argument. :p Along the same lines, a lot of this discussion reminds me of many of the core themes of the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex.  What does it mean to be human, indeed.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I read the Space Trilogy, found it interesting.

Look, though, the 'embrace our limitations' argument is well and good, but when you can prevent harm with fewer limitations, it is ethically wrong to maintain those limitations.

I don't like seeing the stock market crash because of glitchy heuristics. If the human being is in need of patching, then patch. This idea that our assets are tied to our flaws is unsupported by evidence.

In particular:

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We are limited, irrational beings, and frankly, I wouldn't have us any other way.

Why do you want people making decisions about the deployment of nuclear weapons using a cognitive toolset that dates to the Stone Age?

Why do you want children to be denied access to basic education due to social circumstances that could be corrected by rational strategies?

Why do you want minorities to be stereotyped due to the over-weighting of improbable coincidence events?

Why do you want people to suffer pain for the entire duration of their lives due to a genetic preset, when that preset could easily be corrected?

Rejecting any genetic or technological augmentation of the human species requires you to put away all the technological augments you already use (so smash your computer) and to argue against the existing biological therapies we use to improve our lot.

You say we are okay right here. Let's go no farther. People have been saying that for centuries. But it is human nature to go farther.

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I embrace the fact that, some day, I won't be walking around here anymore

Um, me too. I just want to see what awesome stuff we get up to in the next few hundred years. I have no problem with dying, but I have a problem with not living any more. There's so much to see, to do, to learn...why would anyone want to give that up?

And if you would want to give it up, why do you want to force that choice on me?

I have no problem if you don't want to do these things yourself. But at least let us help those who can be helped. And that includes those who want help to achieve extraordinary things - including, perhaps, an astronaut who wants his longevity extended so he can fly to Alpha Centauri.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 09:59:32 pm by General Battuta »

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
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We are limited, irrational beings, and frankly, I wouldn't have us any other way.

Why do you want people making decisions about the deployment of nuclear weapons using a cognitive toolset that dates to the Stone Age?
As Nuke would probably say, because it's far more fun that way. :p

But more seriously, because that irrationality comes part and parcel with so much that makes you you.  Try to stamp out irrationality, and you wind up with a literal Spock (only without his occasional flashes of emotion).  As someone mentioned on the previous page, love is perhaps the most irrational emotion we experience, and arguably the most powerful.  Would you risk losing that just for the sake of "updating the cognitive toolset"?

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I embrace the fact that, some day, I won't be walking around here anymore

Um, me too. I just want to see what awesome stuff we get up to in the next few hundred years. I have no problem with dying, but I have a problem with not living any more. There's so much to see, to do, to learn...why would anyone want to give that up?
Well, to be brutally honest once again, from where I'm sitting, the world is a pretty ****ing terrible place as a whole.  I'm completely comfortable with not seeing what else we manage to muck up after my natural lifespan expires.

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And if you would want to give it up, why do you want to force that choice on me?
From my perspective, I'm not "forcing" anything on you personally, because this entire argument is remarkably abstract.  We as a species aren't yet capable of even building something resembling an intelligent A.I.  It's going to be far longer than you or I will spend on this planet before what you're proposing becomes feasible, if it ever does.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
But that's the thing, Death is synonymous with our being biological creatures, the difficult part is to keep the emotive argument and the logical argument seperate, there are many reasons why people might resist the idea of losing their organic body, I can understand that, but most of those arguments are emotive, it involves things like 'the nobility of human nature' and the 'fragility of the soul' and 'the essence of love', absolutely none of which are quantifiable values.

To start defining these things as 'right' or 'wrong' is wholly a question of perspective, they just are, and are, in all likelihood, inevitable, without wanting to give Evolution a 'purpose', it's what we were designed for, and we've being steadily doing it for Aeons, clothing, armour, houses, prosthetics they are all attempts to modify the world around us, or ourselves, in order to achieve a longer, safer and better life.

It's all very nice to read stories about how artificial life might fall in love, or how converting ourselves into robots might dehumanise us, but we also need to bear in mind that these people are authors, they deal in stories and emotions, and the very same concerns that are mentioned here are what powers those stories, but they are still only stories, not factual recountings.

My father had Angioplasty performed on some main arteries earlier this year, after a heart-attack, 10 years ago, he would have died, it's a road we are already on, and everything in our nature prevents us from turning around.

Edit : As for the fact of Death, I agree, you will never, ever completely remove Death from humanity, fly a ship of constructs into a Supernova, and they're dead, end of story, but there's also the question of Age, of Decay, of waking up in the morning and wondering where that muscle twinge came from.

It was only a couple of centuries ago that witches were burned at the stake for providing natural remedies because it was 'up to God' whether people survived an illness or not, that sentiment died out and now Medicine is completely accepted, same in this case, we will grow, we will change and we will adapt, if we didn't, then we would have stopped being human.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 10:06:38 pm by Flipside »

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
But more seriously, because that irrationality comes part and parcel with so much that makes you you.  Try to stamp out irrationality, and you wind up with a literal Spock (only without his occasional flashes of emotion).

What? What the **** is this? Where does this even come from?

Sorry for getting pissed off (nothing personal), but this betrays a complete misunderstanding of the nature of irrationality.

It is rational to do what makes you happy. If what makes you happy is to eat salmon every day, fine. Nobody cares!

Rationality means effective problem solving. Why do you want to suffer from heuristic glitches? Why do you want to think that if 5 machines can make 5 objects in 5 minutes, 100 machines can make 100 objects in 100 minutes (as your brain instinctively suggests as the first answer)?

Why do you want to suffer from implicit bias?

Why do you want to instinctively associate black faces with anger and aggression?

Why do you want to have cognitive loopholes that allow others to control your performance just by activating relevant stereotypes?

A hypothetical transhuman with patched rationality would be as emotive as you or I. We all manage to control our emotions to a degree. The fact that you can control them doesn't mean you don't have them.

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As someone mentioned on the previous page, love is perhaps the most irrational emotion we experience, and arguably the most powerful.  Would you risk losing that just for the sake of "updating the cognitive toolset"?

I don't understand why people think it's not okay to argue about history without knowing some history, but it is okay to argue about irrationality without knowing what irrationality is.

Love is perfectly rational. It is an end state. It makes you happy. Love defines a utility function. We use rationality to achieve our utility function, not to change it.

But making bad decisions about love is irrational. Shooting your wife in the head because you can't control your rage? That's irrational. On a more concrete level, thinking that because ten heads came up in a row on your last ten coin flips, the next toss is more likely to be tails - that's bloody irrational.

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From my perspective, I'm not "forcing" anything on you personally, because this entire argument is remarkably abstract.  We as a species aren't yet capable of even building something resembling an intelligent A.I.  It's going to be far longer than you or I will spend on this planet before what you're proposing becomes feasible, if it ever does.

We have longevity drugs for mice right now. We have gene therapy for our kids right now. I want these tools available to me.

And Flipside continues to impress me.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 10:11:38 pm by General Battuta »

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
But that's the thing, Death is synonymous with our being biological creatures, the difficult part is to keep the emotive argument and the logical argument seperate, there are many reasons why people might resist the idea of losing their organic body, I can understand that, but most of those arguments are emotive, it involves things like 'the nobility of human nature' and the 'fragility of the soul' and 'the essence of love', absolutely none of which are quantifiable values.
I would argue that the emotive argument cannot be removed from the logical argument without making the whole argument moot in the first place.  There's far more to life than mucking around with quantifiable values.  If that makes me a flawed being, then so be it.

Battuta, I'm not even going to begin to get into an argument about what constitutes the proper definition of "irrational,"  particularly if you're going to reduce the concept of love to an "end state."  It's not worth it to me.  Have fun with your Brave New World flights of fancy; I'll go be a meatbag elsewhere.

Edit: I know this comes across as me throwing a hissy fit and running away from the sandbox, but honestly, it's not worth me getting irrationally (hee) angry over forum threads anymore.  I have enough to be pissed about as-is.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
No, I agree, but what's pissing me off is that you think this is a 'Brave New World flight of fancy.'

Mongoose, I sit down with definitions of irrationality every day. We have concrete, scientific knowledge of what it means in humans. There is no argument about the proper definition.

I am just peeved that you draw sweeping conclusions about what I believe without even understanding the terms I'm using.

I really dislike your use of the term 'reduce' here:

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particularly if you're going to reduce the concept of love to an "end state."

Why do you think I experience love less fully than you? An end state is a goal worth pursuing for its own sake. I thought that's what you thought love was.

I just do not get why you think this is some dichotomy between Cold Clinical Science and your 'meatbag existence.' I am a meatbag too. I want more of what I have, not...some bizarre reduced life.

When you hear rationality you think monk. When I say rationality I mean acting in a way that fulfills your utility function, i.e. your happiness, as efficiently as possible - i.e. not committing systematic errors due to glitches in human cognition.

One can act rationally in the pursuit of whatever goals one pleases. If your goal is to dance around like a loon, that's fine. If your goal is to make a beautiful work of art, that's perfectly rational. If your goal is to make a nutty stand against an overwhelming foe..

Being rational is going about your goals in the best way possible. It means 'not being an idiot'.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 10:28:11 pm by General Battuta »

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Well, to quote Terry Pratchett on Schrodingers box, the easiest answer is to open to box and look.

I agree that humanity is a whole bunch of non-quantifiable values, but non-quantifiable doesn't mean non-transferrable, and you can be certain that, at some point, someone is going to try to do it. I cannot say that things like love will certainly be transferred in such a condition, though I have my suspicions, but equally, it's impossible to say that they wouldn't, but, purely from a logical, survival of the species point of view, it's going to happen, even the planet we are currently on is constantly in flux, and many species have died because they couldn't keep up, we were 'designed' to keep up, and our nature will make us do so, be it on Earth or in space, it's what humans do.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I'm just going to leave this thread to Flipside. I'm getting upset at people for not knowing everything I do, which is silly.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Well, I was considering posting a request for people to calm down a bit to be honest, things got a bit heated earlier.

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Just...**** this.  Battuta, I'm sorry.  I can't even get my ****ing points across right now, I can't focus in on the points you're making and respond to them in kind, and I'm getting all sorts of worked-up over this for what seems to be no reason whatsoever.  I never should have ****ing posted here in the first place.  This discussion deserves better than what I can give it.

I think it's just that...what you're proposing, and what Flipside is proposing, and everything along those lines...it runs completely and utterly contrary to my entire understanding of my own identity as a human being, of my view of humanity as a species, of my beliefs about life and death...about everything, really. I can't step back and look at this particular topic from a detached, theoretical viewpoint; I'm just not able to.  What I believe involves a concept of absolute right and absolute wrong, and this whole idea comes down pretty hard on the "wrong" side...it's not something I should even be attempting to debate in this setting.  I can't even really accept that science and medicine can get in my head and tell me why I think what I think or do what I do.  It's just...incompatible with my whole notion of self.  And I'm truly honestly sorry if that looks like I'm disparaging your entire field, because that's not my intention.  I feel like all I can hang my hat on is the idea that I'm an inexplicable, unique being; you take that away, and I might as well be that bag of meat.  So yeah, I'm sorry that I pissed you off there; it was some sheer stupidity on my part.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I'm sorry. I'm getting upset for no good reason too.

Honestly, when I think about arguments like this, I think of a rather reasonable post you made a while back about how the thread was just stressing you out.

If the debate is making us unhappy, then we should probably let it be. It's not like we can't get along perfectly well while still disagreeing, and it's not like it's that important to convince other people either. Pluralism is great.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I'll admit that the idea scares me as well, I certainly, right now, would be unwilling to leave my physical body behind, I'm rather attached to it, but it also needs to be borne in mind that, to us, it's something un-natural and totally divorced from personal experience, just as medicine was 200 years ago, to those who would actually be of that generation, it would not seem to be such a massive change, they would have grown up with it.

That's what I mean by seperating the Emotive and the Logical, emotionally, it's difficult to accept, but logic suggests its inevitability, oddly enough, like Death, it's something we all have to come to terms with in our own way.

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
That's what I mean by seperating the Emotive and the Logical, emotionally, it's difficult to accept, but logic suggests its inevitability, oddly enough, like Death, it's something we all have to come to terms with in our own way.
Heh, that's a good point.  Even on the off chance this does come to pass before I die, so long as no one's trying to force me into a robotic body, it's not going to phase me personally either way.  I'll let my (potential) grandkids deal with it.

And yeah, Battuta, it does feel rather stupid that certain threads manage to get a rise out of me for no real reason.  I think it's the sentiment in this comic.  You see someone who doesn't agree with you about a particular issue, which apparently makes them "wrong," which apparently means you have to get into a back-and-forth to try to make them "right"...and there it goes.  I just need to figure out how to stop falling into that trap.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 11:05:13 pm by Mongoose »

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Yeah, me too.

On some issues where people I'm close to are really put off by the thread, I can feel a little White Knight about it. But I don't know any transhumans to get offended...except, I guess, I do wear glasses...

 

Offline redsniper

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
I'd like to reference this. I think it's relevant. :D
"Think about nice things not unhappy things.
The future makes happy, if you make it yourself.
No war; think about happy things."   -WouterSmitssm

HARD LIGHT PRODUCTIONS:
"...this conversation is pointlessly confrontational."

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
 I embrace the fact that, some day, I won't be walking around here anymore.  I do believe that there is something afterwards, but even if it winds up that there isn't, it won't phase me, since I won't be around to be upset over it anyway.

Given that you are religious you kinda torpedo your own argument about being okay with the finality of death. If you believe that something will happen to you after death that is simply your method of dealing with fear.
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Offline Flipside

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Whereas mine is to kick Death squarely in the nuts and run like hell ;)

 

Offline Liberator

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
Here's what get's me about this whole "discussion".

Pages and pages of repetitive blathering without any actual progress being made.

Here's my perspective on the transference of mind from biological to machine basis:

Machines can't feel.  Hard silicon brains and steel body are fine for the concrete tasks of day to day life.  But no matter how fast or fuzzy-logic capable you make it, a digital processing system cannot by it's nature process abstract information or concepts.  Also, whether you will admit it or not, there is something about the human mind that science can't quantify, the quality that many would call the spirit or the soul, that does not exist as some byproduct of 6 pounds of gray matter and various quantities of neurotransmitters.

Sure, one day, it will probably be possible to copy the memory of a human into a computer, but you wouldn't be copying the human, you would simply be providing that human's memories and experiences into a machine, the aspect of the human that would qualify him(or her) as human would remain with the biologic.

Battuta your argument that there is a "need" to update the cognitive toolset is kind of...pointless.
You know what kept WW3 from happening in 1962?  Kennedy bluffed Kruschev into giving into his base fear and calling back the ships.  A more "rational" mind would have probably let the generals have they're way and we'd all never have existed.  I say that to say this, get your head out of your statistically codified, logically compartmentalized ass.  All the things you are berating humanity for and saying we should change are what makes humanity something other than a primitive.  All the technological achievements from the beginning of human history to the end of it don't make a damn if you can't appreciate it spiritually.

Also, Death as a concept isn't a ravening destroyer, it is a companion all our life.  Helping us make decisions and if necessary, relieving pain and suffering.  While it is natural to fear death, it is not natural to fear Death.
So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.

There are only 10 types of people in the world , those that understand binary and those that don't.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The Earth is uninhabitable
It's odd that you'd say 'pages and pages of repetitive blathering without any actual progress being made', when people have chimed in saying how much they've learned. The only thing apparently not making progress is your own understanding of the topic. You've been exposed to some seriously advanced thought here; it's a shame you're not absorbing any of it.

Your ad hominems will get you banned if you're not careful. Insulting the educated just makes you look like a boor.

As a biological machine, you should be careful about making generalizations about machines, and as a person who wants religion respected, please don't bring your religion into science by attempting to say there's something 'science can't quantify.'

If the brain is Turing-complete, it can be emulated on any Turing machine. A basic knowledge of computational science reveals this.

Science. It works, *****es. There's nothing you can do.

Your implications that the educated cannot experience life as you do are a sad attempt to self-justify your belief systems. War can rarely occur in a system of rational actors with good information (as both parties in a state-state conflict have) - only negotiation. Meanwhile, a clear need to update the cognitive toolset exists when humans can't make a simple judgment about probability. (Roulette wheels spring to mind.)

Your sad misperceptions of scientific thought betray your ignorance. Science embraces the utility of intuition and feeling (as you should know if you'd read recent titles like Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.) My 'statistically codified, logically compartmentalized ass' knows when to go on gut instinct and when to use rigorous analysis in a way that you can't appreciate without training.

Save the superstition for the yokels. You're typing on a computer and living in a society built on the principles you despise.

Go sit in a corner, we're done with this debate. We're all feeling nasty as a result of it. Listening to you plug your ears, bury your head in the sand, and spout 'can't won't don't' without any empirical basis is not improving anybody's mood.

No matter how firmly you state an unsubstantiated viewpoint, it remains unsubstantiated. And if machines can't feel, and you're a machine, where does that leave you?
« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 11:38:40 pm by General Battuta »