Stop Discriminating the Serene Ideas of Transhumanism


Yesterday the website for Global Future 2045 congress went live and I looked at the Speakers page. Credible researchers, like Dr. George Church, Dr. Marvin Minsky, Dr. Ed Boyden, Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro and Dr. Peter Diamandis, are mixed with self-realized Siddha masters, jewish mystical meditators and mahatmandaleshwars of the Juna Akhara Order of Hindu monks. This is beyond unacceptable.

This combination of researchers and religious activists will allow the organizers to promote their religious ideas whatever those may be. Substrate-Independent Minds has nothing to do with religion and faith. It is crucial not to transform Substate-Indipendent Minds in some sectarian idea of finding a soul.

Combining religious leaders and credible researchers discredits both the work of those scientists and transhumanist ideas.

17 Comments

Filed under Mind Uploading, Policy

17 responses to “Stop Discriminating the Serene Ideas of Transhumanism

  1. I totally agree. You should write to the scientific speakers and ask them to refuse to take part of the conference if changes are not made to the speakers list.

  2. Onur

    agree++

    check out the Gandalf look-a-like:

    The list is sprinkled with these to attract visitors I suppose, not the other way around -promoting religious ideologies and attracting visitors with well respected scientists-.

    In any case it’s absurd.

  3. Onur

    Check out the “Synthesis of science and spiritual traditions” topic info under program:
    http://gf2045.com/program/

    Now it makes a bit more sense.

    • There can be no synthesis of science and religion. Either Religion tries to incorporate scientific advances, or science tries to explain religious belief as a phenomenon. There can be no fusion.
      In this case, religion is trying to feed on the credibility of these scientists.

      • This is false. Religion/spirituality does not at all have to mean tell yourself comfortable lies and opposing anything that may cause you to question them. Are you saying that to be a scientist you can have no inner life or shared community of belief and action?

        • An “inner life or shared community of belief and action” need have nothing to do with spirituality or religion, provided the beliefs in question are rational and evidence-based.

          Maria is saying there cannot be a fusion of an understanding of reality based on evidence and objective study, with one based on myths, self-delusion and wishful thinking — not without destroying the integrity of the former.

          • Samawry

            Unless you have all possible data- which seems rather unlikely,if you think you have enough data to know what’s possible/impossible,and what is or isn’t true- you have strayed from logic,and scientific method. This a priori rejection of any possibility that science and religion could be connected not only shows a profound lack of knowledge the history of science,but appears to be an expression of belief,colored by hubris and hypocrisy.

        • James Clark

          Yes it does. Supernaturalism by it’s very nature is against the scientific method.
          A scientist ceases to be a scientist when they accept false ideas as reality. Resurrection myths, magical potions and spellcraft, belief in angels, fairies, Gods, demons, and other such nonsense is just plain incompatible with science.
          This doesn’t mean a complete religious lunatic can’t do good science. We can see examples such as Jack Parsons who was a follower of the late Aleister Crowley’s religion of Thelema and who was the founder of JPL (jet propulsion laboratory) but, this is because the scientific method is just that a formula to find facts and could be used by anybody with a capable mind. The problem comes in the form of bias forged by belief in supernaturalism which in turn could feasibly mess up the recording of data to sway the results of the experiment in favor of one’s beliefs.
          We can see this in nonreligious political profit driven bias Dr. Linus Pauling’s did good research involving intravenous administration of Ascorbic acid. The Government (US gov.) Hired scientists to “reproduce,” the research which they did using oral Ascorbic acid which caused gastrointestinal distress aand also couldn’t reach the same level of saturation and therefore, didn’t produce the same results.

  4. You’re right Maria! This problem is prevalent across a bunch of conferences where everything is presented on an equal level. There is a reason science is called science and there are such things as the “scientific method,” a method very different from the “faith based method.” It took a lot of brave people to rescue science from the religious hands in Europe centuries ago, and we cannot just let it roll back to those dark pre-Enlightenment times.

  5. Aside from the total incompatibility of the scientific and “spiritual” approaches to reality, this conference is about efforts to achieve specific goals which are firmly technological in nature. A bunch of mystics and flim-flam “masters” have nothing to contribute to that discussion any more than an astrologer would have to contribute to designing a car engine.

    And as you point out, it discredits the real scientists and their work by association. Radical life extension and mind-machine integration are still considered radical, “fringe” ideas by much of the great mass of the population. The last thing those ideas need is to be muddled together with this sort of nonsense. A great opportunity to reinforce transhumanism in the mass public mind as a solid and realistic direction for technology may be squandered. It is infuriating.

  6. It’s only honest to point out that the event hosts make quite plain that among the other “key topics” are Spiritual Development and Science and Spirituality. Only seems fair that spiritualistic type peoples of some description be included in discussions of these sort, don’t you think?

    Disagreeing with the presentation topic selection is all fine and good; castigating the presumed character and competence of the topic “experts” who accept the invitation to take part seems at best more than a little presumptuous. If the event proves to be poorly planned and/or executed it won’t be the speakers fault. Besides, this isn’t billed as a hard-science conference anyway; what else would one expect from an effort openly trying to merge fairly cutting edge research into mainstream acceptance than by involving those most likely to be commonly expected to pass judgement upon the scientific results when they become publicly available technology? The GF2045 organizers at least show a basic grasp of fundamental strategy, something I commend to my fellow readers of Maria’s blog.

    If life extension/anti-aging are to become anything more than research for its own sake, engaging the dispensers of popular wisdom as informed messengers is absolutely essential to creating a widespread positive acceptance of a market in these types of trans-formative technologies.

  7. So far, I agree rather strongly with Maria’s position. However, I will abstain from judgement until the congress has passed and I have had the opportunity to familiarise myself with its proceedings.

    Maybe it will be the high-minded debate between different positions toward a central greater goal. I hope it will be. However, I do concur fully with her position when she expresses concern over the transhumanist discourse getting stifled by mysticism, religion and other forms of organised superstition.

    These people already have fixed and fictional ideas about escaping suffering and death, and both my observations and my personal experience as the founder of Latvian Transhumanist Association shows that they are entirely too willing to oppose and suppress actual research towards such ends. That does not, of course, describe every religious or inclined to some form of mysticism individual out there but it does describe certain worrisome trends in the communication between the science of human enhancement and the mythology of religions and mystic teachings.

    Furthermore, equally worrying is the memetic contamination of transhumanism itself from these sources. Already we see articles and essays like http://transhumanity.net/articles/entry/the-singularity-is-the-cosmic-reflection-of-the-big-bang – ideas that are not just misunderstood or incomplete but completely false, in the not-even-wrong, woefully ignorant and completely misrepresenting way of being false. The danger from this factor is, I infer, twofold – firstly, it similarly stifles actual research and reduces the signal/noise ratio in the transhumanist community; and secondly, it lowers (and for a good reason) the perceived credibility of actual scientific and strategic proposals coming from transhumanist organisations and initiatives, on the basis of exactly the overly welcoming inclusiveness of this sort of charlatanry and, for the lack of a better word, bullshit.

    I do want to be proved wrong about my concerns and about my conclusions. I do want to be shown that transhumanism isn’t approaching some kind of “eternal September” where it could become dominated by fantasy and fancy instead of science. I hope that our path onward and upward is broader, more inspiring and more clearly cut than ever before.

  8. Braekmans Herman

    Indeed, religion should be kept as far away from science as humanly or inhumanly possible. It is the opposite of science and, yes, culture. It is C.R.A.P, with that difference that “crap” in its original meaning, in the context of good sanitation, is completely harmless.

    • Sam Awry

      The anti-mystic culture among those working in science that has been passed down since the church persecution of Gallileo all to often has replaced honest inquiry with reactionary prejudice. Faith in science is just another belief system,unrelated to doing science. Much very useful information has been derived through applying scientific method to ideas that come from religious, mystical ,supernatural beliefs. . Kepler was an astrologer, who through tested the notion that the planetary orbits follow the patterns of platonic solids discovered the orbits are elliptical . Newton was also deeply interested in astrology ,who’s contemplation of how this could work likely led to his theory of gravitation. Experimental method was developed by alchemists. . And btw with a particle accelerator it is possible to turn lead into gold.

  9. Preston Estep

    I think those committed to the evidence-based pursuit of immortality need to recognize that those committed to the belief-based pursuit of immortality at least share their ultimate goal: transcendence of death. Despite disapproving of their methods, I find their desire for and pursuit of indefinite life far more appealing than the prevailing secular views we so commonly hear: death is natural and part of the cycle of life; I wouldn’t want to live forever; life-extension is purely selfish; etc. Who is more delusional and confused, the one who believes in an elaborate fantasy because it is currently the only way out, or the one who celebrates and embraces death? As a non-believer who has spent over a decade debating these issues in the public arena, and occasionally having joined with religious leaders to explore commonalities, my experience tells me the latter is far more hopeless.

    • Glen

      Most people who voice their objections about life extension talk about perpetual fraility, sustainability or philosophical quandries (boredom etc.). I personally have struggled to find any secular objections. This is probably because secularists are preoccupied with what they consider more pressing secular issues (chastity, contraception, good/evil).

      I think the biggest obstacle to aging research is the fact Gerontologists have no clear ideas on where to begin on intervening on the process or what that intervention may look like. If you had a clear plan or a view to some kind of treatment than it would lead to more fruition than arguing with secularists at conferences.

      Philophical musings are all well and good but it’s not going to lead you anywhere unless you have a plan on what you want and how to get it. This is why a contemporary like Aubrey de Grey is so successful and gets people interested in the topic.

  10. osamaface

    Become transhumanist and let govs/NSA/illuminati control me? Nah, no thanks. I’d rather stick to my new agy / esoteric beliefs.

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