Posted: Sun, December 30, 2012 | By: Dirk Bruere
Something I wrote on Facebook seems to have sparked a controversy, not least with the editor of H+ Magazine the voice of HumanityPlus, Peter Rothman. The exact post is this:
“Well, something that might well have contributed to me being kicked from the WTA list is that I view H+ is essentially a project to murder the Human race. If we get our way then in a few centuries tops there won’t be any Humans about, unless its a few scraps on a reservation or zoo somewhere.”
What do I mean by this? Well, for a start “murder” is a word I use rhetorically, although a project whose core meme includes creating a vastly superior “PostHuman” species that will inevitably out compete us in all spheres might reasonably lead to that word. The problem is that although we may merge, be absorbed by or voluntarily become that new species it will inevitably lead to the extinction of the current Human genome and phenotype, not to mention the more vague “Human mentality”. To illustrate, let’s take a step back and consider a hypothetical “TransNeanderthalism” or N+ for short.
Here we have a group of Neanderthals dedicated to creating a better species to be called “PostNeanderthals”, or more succinctly, “Humans”. Now, the N+ people have decided that the new creation will probably incorporate some Neanderthal DNA but otherwise it will be smarter, faster, more dextrous, better at tool creation and use, breed faster and require less energy to live. The predictable downside may well be that the new Humanity out-competes Neanderthals and drives them to extinction, not deliberately but simply as a consequence of always getting the resources that the Neanderthals need to flourish.
So, what if someone said to the N+ group that they are plotting to murder all Neanderthals and essentially commit genocide? Would that be a valid accusation? With hindsight, one might argue “Yes”.
Which bring us to modern Transhumanism (H+). We are engaged in a variety of projects that may well result in a PostHuman species. It may be something similar to what we already are if it’s merely genetic engineering, or it may be something utterly alien if it is one of a variety of potential Artificial General Intelligences. Intermediates candidates would be brain simulations or even uploaded Human or animal minds that have been enhanced to beyond Human capabilities.
There is much discussion about how such creations may impact Humanity in the short term but almost everyone agrees that old style Homo Sapiens will not have a long term future as masters of their own
destiny. The best we might hope for is pampered pet status or simply to be left alone on reservations (which might include the entire Earth). The worst scenario would be to be treated as we treat the natural world and other animal species now – driven to extinction as “collateral damage” because PostHuman wants and needs outweigh the value of our lives.
Can we stop all this? No – not without wrecking the modern world and crashing the population to hunter-gatherer levels. That would mean a ninety five percent death rate over the next few decades. A cure worse than the disease. What we can do is try and look ahead and choose the best path available. Nevertheless, my claim that we are plotting the extinction of Humankind stands.
Of course, this is not popular from a public relations and fund raising point of view which is why some organizations like to dress up H+ in rather bland terms and keep quiet on these issues. Indeed, I have even been told that a poll question I would like to address to Transhumanists is meaningless.
It is this: If you knew that the price for creating a finer and greater intelligence on Earth was ultimately the extinction of Humanity would you still do it?
I suspect the answer would shock non Transhumanists – but I do not know since the question has never been posed to a representative sample. Oh… and my personal answer is “Yes”. Since in the natural way of things I am going to die anyway I would rather roll the dice and have a shot at Godhood.
My last Facebook post on that topic:
I don’t think it unreasonable that if a video was sent back from the future and it showed a world filled with alien creatures, unimaginable technology and no Human Beings that most people would assume we were extinct. Nor that if they were told all that was planned by H+ people now alive that many would consider it genocide.
Full Spectrum Praxis : ZERO STATE : http://zerostate.net