Directly after the video went live I got personal messages (in some cases from people I hadn’t heard from in years). Some messages were excited, but most were disturbed and revolted by many of the ideas in the interview itself.
A recent article by Dinorah Delfin, Director of Administrations and Public Relations of the U.S. Transhumanist Party sums up many of the responses I received. While I quote the article selectively, I recommend reading it in full on the U.S. Transhumanist Party website.
All in all, I dig what Dinorah mentions – but I’ll need to clarify some of my own positions here – particularly in drawing the line between “something I consider likely” and “something I am deeply hoping for.” A great divide exists between the two.
I’ll dive into some of the quotes below:
“Is the future Mr. Faggella illustrates – a society driven by the ‘fulfillment of drives’ controlled by ‘substrate digital monopolies’ – one we want?”
For the record, this world of substrate monopolies is not something I hope for, strive for, or wish for.
Rather, I consider it likely (read the full essay on the matter). It’s a hypothesis – and more than anything – a warning against a kind of power conflict that I fear. Such virtual worlds could be amazing and beneficial, but the conflict of controlling the substrate is a reality I foresee to be likely, not a reality I foresee to be preferable.
“Without LOVE there is no reason for LIFE to continue. Literally. Love relates more to Intelligent Creation than to Intelligence. Feelings of love, or high vibrational frequencies, enable GROWTH, complexity, creativity, and a strong immune system. Low vibrational frequencies are linked to stress and high anxiety levels which make the body sick and susceptible to all kinds of degenerative diseases. Love exists in many forms throughout all living systems – As above so below.”
Oh, comrade… yeah let’s get into this.
Of my substrate monopoly hypothesis, I will say this much: It is a hypothesis and literally nothing more. I was dumb-clear about never escaping Hume’s fork, I know nothing, and I am a postulating ape who doesn’t actually know what’s going on. That’s the ground I stand on.
These statements were framed as if they are iron Truths:
“Without LOVE there is no reason for LIFE to continue.”
Nay. This is an opinion and nothing more. There’s a chance it was intended to be framed as an opinion – but it seemed to be worded as Truth, which I’ll have to push against a bit – with all due respect.
I’m sure there have been philosophers who have said that life is all about “Truth”, or all about “overcoming”, or all about X or Y or Z. All opinions of apes. All just as connected to the ultimate understanding of all things (read: Not connected to said ultimate understand at all).
Now, don’t get me wrong. Love is, in my own life, among the most meaningful and important experiences and driving forces. Nothing like it, absolutely. I have felt my highest highs and lowest lows pertaining to love directly, and I cannot for one minute say that it isn’t important – even critical – to my hominid existence.
That said, I am a hominid, with specific hardware and software – built to want to fit it, to bond. If we get a wolf spider or snow leopard or hermit crab – and multiply its intelligence a thousand-fold – would that new intelligence value love the same as I do – as we humans do?
Nay. Nay, it would not. Love exists between our ears – as far as we can tell –
There are animals who have no need for “love” as we imagine it. And there are absolutely
There are also – almost undeniably – gradients of positive experience that stretch vastly beyond our own conception, that absolutely dwarf (and have nothing to do with) “love” as we (hominids) know and experience it.
“Love relates more to Intelligent Creation than to Intelligence. Feelings of love, or high vibrational frequencies, enable GROWTH, complexity, creativity, and a strong immune system.”
Here’s my take on “what relates most to intelligent creation”:
Just as my labrador cannot understand quantum physics or the essays of Montaigne, whatever the true “meta” is about – I can absolutely not access it. Frankly though, none of us can. A lick of claimed certainty about the ultimate causes of “intelligent creation” is a no-go in my book. Let us all have hypotheses, let us try to prove them – but by golly let us claim no lick of certainty.
Not a lick. Maybe this was all intended as an expression of opinion. In that case, there’s no argument on my end. If they were frames as Truths, the indeed, the pushing back, I must do.
What we have here are predictions. Lovely notions. What could be more lovely than a universe where “love” is a magical force in the whole universe – something that conjures forth all kinds of intelligent creation – a kind of grand extension of us. Not an arbitrary bunch of animal mind chemicals conducive to animal survival, but a real kind of force in the universe of which we are part. The Christian heaven is just as lovely a notion. Doesn’t mean I won’t still call it an opinion.
Hypotheses – wishful ones at that – and literally nothing more.
That doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting anyone else’s “felt truth” there, I’m not. I’m just not ready to call it Truth with a capital T. We are apes writing on the internet. We are wise crickets at best – we gotta chill when it comes to claiming “what it’s all about” and “how it all works.” We gotta chill on that capital T.
“Digital technology, just like any tool, is meant to help humans maximize our innate capabilities, and Planet Earth is to be regarded as one of the Most precious legacies and source of wisdom.”
So long as humans are the highest and most morally worthy entities we know of, indeed technology should serve us – and sentient life itself.
There is an idea that no matter what other supersentient, superblissful, or superintelligent entities come about in the next billion years – humans will always sit at the top of the hierarchy of value, forever. Revered little hairless apes, commanding it all until time itself comes to an end.
Absolutely, for the foreseeable future, humanity seems to be, pound-for-pound, the most morally worthy creature we know of, and technology should be built to serve it. If we carry this idea too many millennia into the future, it becomes a kind of vile speciesism:
Tech built for tech’s own sake is silly – and dangerous. The idea that in a billion years tech will serve humanity first – assuming vastly greater intelligences and sentiences exist (above humanity by a mile) – is equally silly. You may not have implied such a thing by saying “…is meant to help humans maximize our innate capabilities”, but I’ll at least make my position known there.
“Let’s aim towards a future where we use advanced technologies not only to teach our body to leverage, on-demand, the power of universal wisdom to heal and regenerate itself, but also to leverage this universal wisdom to design systems that will protect all sentient beings from any suffering.”
No disagreement from me here.
Again I fear that some of my “body as husk” ideas might be interpreted as “stuff Dan really really hopes would happen.” It’s not.
In the original essay on the matter (Lotus Eaters vs World Eaters) I posit this as a relative dystopic potential reality – a reality that I think we should be warry of, careful of, or maybe steer clear of altogether. Some of it we may want to keep – but the scenario I paint is merely one I consider to be somewhat likely – not preferable.
The goal – at least insofar as we can imagine goals – is indeed to better the qualia of sentient things – and (in my opinion) the ability for sentience to bloom into higher forms of understanding and rich, positive, sentient experience.
As an active member of the Transhumanist Movement and an Officer of the United States Transhumanist Party, I’d like to kindly extend an invitation to discuss these very important and pressing topics and, along with Mr. Faggella, get involved with the UN and similar organizations.
Comrades we are, then ;). I think it’s a discussion that absolutely must be fostered.
* I am not formally a transhumanist or part of the Transhumanist Party, though I see a tremendous appeal to many transhumanist ideas, and I believe transhumanism is inevitable given continued technological development. More than identifying as a transhumanist, I believe that transhuman ideas deserve a global discourse because they are issues humanity will have to face one way or another.
Header image credit: https://transhumanist-party.org