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Transhumanism

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GCG
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« on: September 27, 2010, 12:51:18 PM »

not the best link, but one with the least flash and stuff that distracts
http://www.longevitymeme.org/topics/transhumanism.cfm

i never really gave it much thought, till i had a cool conversation by the braai on friday with a mate.
the idea is quite mindboggling, and, if humankind doesnt murder each other off, quite propable.
the basic concept is, that via technology, you will be able to transplant your consciousness, memories and personality, onto a harddrive, and be uploaded into either a robotic body, or a cloned/genetically engineered living body. 
so, you would decide to be a griffin for a year, then be a humanoid robot, then a fish.... the list is endless.
but im just wondering, how much of your 'personality' is dependant upon your actual synaptic connections, that is set out just so, according to your DNA.  that you like chocolate, but hate wine.
surely when the actual brain gets removed, you will be nothing but a stored file.  you may remember your memories, learn, but will you be able to remember WHY you dont like wine.
then, again, the idea of soul comes into play.  or consciousness.  when you die, or your human body ceases to exist, what will enable the new body with your 'file' to be conscious.  wont it just be an AI program, with as much humanity as any computer game?
then, you can make a hundred copies of yourself, and there can be a hundred yous around. 
what makes something alive.?
the criteria for something being alive is, if i remember correctly, it should breate, consume nutrients, excrete waste, multiply  and something which i cant remember.
so you can then build a sophisticated program, upload it into a bionic form, then call it alive.  then it can have rights, you cant kill it, etc etc.

i didnt say much, cause i hadnt had enough time to really think about it.  but the idea is exciting.  but wont you just become a computer file, and lose your humanity completely then?
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Brian
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2010, 13:08:02 PM »

You really want to get Teleo going do you? LOL. From the link I can't really see the connexion as they talk about transhumanism as
Quote
"Transhumanism is, fundamentally, the idea that humanity can, and should, strive to overcome naturally existing limits in order to attain greater individual choice and capabilities - physically, mentally, and socially.[\quote]

The definition sounds like something we've been doing all along...we strive to overcome existing limits. WTF!!

However, your point re storing our consciousness etc is mind boggling to say the least! I watched Terminator 2 for the zillionth time last nite....will this be the outcome? I'd be interested to hear from the boffs who understand more of this stuff than I do!
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Lilli
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2010, 13:41:03 PM »

the basic concept is, that via technology, you will be able to transplant your consciousness, memories and personality, onto a harddrive, and be uploaded into either a robotic body, or a cloned/genetically engineered living body. 
Via technology I would believe that anything is theoretically possible, but why would we want to 'live forever' like that? Unless we start colonizing other planets pretty soon, I see space problems anyway...
but im just wondering, how much of your 'personality' is dependant upon your actual synaptic connections, that is set out just so, according to your DNA.  that you like chocolate, but hate wine.
surely when the actual brain gets removed, you will be nothing but a stored file.  you may remember your memories, learn, but will you be able to remember WHY you dont like wine.
I can't explain any of this in terms of genetics or whatever. Is there a reason why some people like chocolate and others simply don't? Some scientific explanation?
then, again, the idea of soul comes into play.  or consciousness.  when you die, or your human body ceases to exist, what will enable the new body with your 'file' to be conscious.  wont it just be an AI program, with as much humanity as any computer game? then, you can make a hundred copies of yourself, and there can be a hundred yous around. 
what makes something alive.? the criteria for something being alive is, if i remember correctly, it should breate, consume nutrients, excrete waste, multiply  and something which i cant remember.
As far as I can remember from high school biology, The criteria shared by all living things include that they are made of 1 or more cells, contain genetic material (DNA), respond to stimuli, metabolize (take in energy and carbon and make waste) reproduce and change over time (grow, basically as I understand it, though I have heard of people referring to this as 'evolutionary change') I think it is important at this point to not only ask 'what makes us alive?' but also 'what makes us human?' What you describe as the computer program basically being a very sophisticated AI thingemebobby, does not in my opinion necessarily mean it cannot be alive, but I would not call it human so easily.  Undecided
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GCG
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2010, 13:57:03 PM »

if one could 'upgrade your body' as it were, and transplant your consciousness into a new body, then is that evolution?  surely, the human body will continue to evolve, but what if the next step, is creting a 'perfect' body, then continuing to live through that.

brian, that link was a quickie i found, not the best i know.
the whole idea is, when you die, you can transplant your whole 'self' into a new body, and continue living.  indefinitely if you should choose too.
you could be a centuar, a dolphin, male, female, reptilian, machine....   it's vey much a sci fi thing, but surely as technology evolves, that will come into play.  i mean, having yourself frozen when you die, with the hope of finding a cure for what killed you in the future, that is allready a kind of transhumanism.
my mate called it ultrahumanism. 
i, for one, this its cool beyond reconing. 
if one's memories, and actual personality and consciousness can be put down to synaptic activities, then storing your 'mind' and moving it over, should be a breeze.  then your whole 'soul' could be coded.
if there is, indeed some sort of 'soul' involved, then the wheels will fall off, coz for the personality to function, it would need it's soul.
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Brian
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 14:10:15 PM »

My point is that I don't think we have a soul: miskien Afr 'gees' maar nie 'siel' nie: your point seems to be that we could encode the soul while Lilli asks what is it that differentiates humans from other living beings or even machines. I think what differentiates us is our consciousness, in other words we think and are aware that we think and if you subscribe to Julian Jeynes' theories, consciousness was indeed an evolutionary outcome (and still is). Besides Lilli's valid points re technology, storage space etc. there will inevitably arise ethical issues as well...do we leave out bad traits/viruses etc? What about 'morally' unacceptable behaviour and can we then by implication 'programme' the code to eliminate religious and other superstitions? The mind boggles as I said. Interesting thoughts though!
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 14:23:14 PM »

Transhumanism is a very broad subject. At the base level, it simply entails us "enhancing" ourselves with technology. Which we're already doing to varying degrees, ie: Our technology already allows us to live much longer than before.

The "intermediate" step, if you ask a transhumanist, is "curing old age". Or in effect, repairing our bodies to such an extent that we have no natural death, no dementia, no alzheimers, etc. (No use having a fit body if your brain degrades). Of course, this still has limits, you can still be run over by a bus, die in WW3, etc.

Thus the "holy grail" of transhumanism becomes the ability to "back yourself up" into a computer. They like to argue, rightly in my opinion, that if you can survive the next 50 years, the 50 after that should take care of itself, since technology will improve drastically in that time, allowing you live a bit longer, etc. Until you reach a tipping point where each year new technology discovered can add more than 1 year to your life. At that point you've reached a state of having "cured old age". After that, you just have to survive accidental death, etc, long enough for technology to improve to the point that you can back up your brain. HOWEVER, I do see problems with that proposition...

Lets say they back up your brain into a computer, and can simulate your brain in real time.... being as hedonistic as we are, what is the point of continuing to exist in the real world? We humans HATE the real world, it's full of limits and work and stuff. No, we'd rather, prefer to live in a matrix-like world simulation of our own creation, perhaps allowing the "rules" of the world around us to be changed at will. -Assuming our energy is easily available at such a futuristic point- But then, what becomes the point of it all? Will we give a damn? (OK, you and me might because we've spent our entire lives living in the "real world", but I'm sure youngsters from THAT time will feel differently). Perhaps the point is that, given instant communication with anyone in this "mind-internet", and an absolute free flow of information from mind to mind, that we'll become "a mind greater than the sum of it's parts", where the collective can think and make informed decisions in unison. Perhaps we'd become a god unto ourselves at that point. Who knows.

I DO think, given sufficiently advanced technology, it is possible, and personally I can't give a shit if I'm being run on wetware(a brain) or hardware, the difference is so arbitrary I couldn't care less. In fact, hook up any upgrades you want, even if it does make me into "something else" than human. It's all just words anyway. What is important is my conciousness. The question is, will anyone in this weird future, find any value in dedicating computing time to simulate little old me?!

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GCG
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2010, 14:43:42 PM »

i think the idea of backing my brain up, is kak exciting.
i wont stay on this planet though, i would want to explore and help colonize.
i think the extent to which you could 'outlive' others, would depend very much on the money at your service.  if you are poor, you die, you get buried.  end game.
or, if you are planning to take over a world, start a war, whatever.  then you can make copies of a particularly violent person, then make an army of violent freaks.
or, if your lover leaves you, you could make a copy of her, and keep her with you forever.  how do you keep people from copying you, or splicing your attributes with other people's, making an entire new person.
if its a case of you get a new cloned body, your own personality gets copied over.  so you are still yourself, just newer.  i could do that.  but then again, what if the person being cloned, is a nuclear physica genius, but completely bipolar?
so ja, what do you leave out?
it boggles my mind.  and i love it.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2010, 15:56:54 PM »

Quote from: GCG
how do you keep people from copying you, or splicing your attributes with other people's, making an entire new person.

I think this is called "having babies".
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Brian
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2010, 16:48:42 PM »

It'll be uber cool...when my great grandkids want to hear my pearls of wisdom they can just plug me into a thingamabob and presto I speak and share ideas with them! BUT who'se to decide? When I kick the bucket someone somewhere  plugs me in and copies everything; then at some point somewhere in the distant future someone else looks me up in the cyber-library and decides to duplicate me for some unknown reason  Huh? Why? Who?
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GCG
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2010, 17:07:43 PM »

boogie, ja ja ja....  Grin
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Brian
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2010, 17:10:14 PM »

boogie, ja ja ja....  Grin
sounds like a dance  Cheesy
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2010, 17:46:23 PM »

I wonder how one would adapt though.

I recall my great-grandmother, when I was a weeee tyke, she'd seen everything from concentration camps, to TV and SAUK nuus. There has to be a point where the world has become so alien to you, that your mind just cannot deal with it. Now try to stretch that out over 100's of years. Can a human mind adapt that much?

EDIT: No my mistake, obviously I'm recalling incorrectly, great trek would be impossible.
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Brian
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2010, 17:50:36 PM »

You're so right Boogie. My father was born 3 years after the invention of the car: when he died man had landed on the moon!...he still spoke of talking movies but refused to watch TV and always sat with his back to it!
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kollectiv
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2010, 16:27:09 PM »

Folks, SF (note: NOT SciFi!) has explored everything mentioned here, so often, and so well...and probably none better than Charles Stross, in his recent novel "Accelerando".  This takes you in a couple of hundred years from a hyper-nerd who believes in Open Access patenting, through to people as information traversing what amounts to a cosmos-wide informational superhighway.  Seamlessly....

Ideas like "is a copy of a person a person?", and "what determines personality anyway if the person is now just information?" have been hashed to hell and gone, and...well, if you accept that it is a possibility that what you are could in fact be reinvented every time you go to sleep, because the current "you" dies every time - then why would "you" care?

But remaking your body into anything you want it to be has already started: anyone with optional surgeries has already started that process; the first crude cyborgs are already among us (think cochlear and retinal implants and thought-controlled limbs); when we actually get tissue engineering right, even more exotic mods will be possible.
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Hermione
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2010, 17:36:55 PM »

I also think the idea of having your mind transplanted into a computer is very exciting.  There would have to be a way to program in the ability to feel emotion and pleasure, otherwise I wonder if it would really be worth it?

Just think of the implications for space travel - we could travel all over the place if we had no expiration date and didn't have to take any oxygen or food with us.
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2010, 07:42:20 AM »

Its exciting, but in all honesty, I wouldnt want to have it for myself.  I want to die someday (not yet, got a couple things still to do), I cannot think of anything more torturous than having to live forever, its far too stressful to even contemplate....
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Hermione
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2010, 10:12:00 AM »

?
Its exciting, but in all honesty, I wouldnt want to have it for myself.  I want to die someday (not yet, got a couple things still to do), I cannot think of anything more torturous than having to live forever, its far too stressful to even contemplate....

I agree with you Faerie, living forever doesn't sound like fun to me either.

But what if we could program our new bodies not to feel any stress, or pain or negative emotions?  If we could only feel pleasure and contentment, what would that be like?  If we never got tired, would we then want to live forever?

Or would life experience become a saccharine bore empty of any meaning?  Would humans be able to create and/or be moved by creative works?  If we had perfect pain-free lives, would we have a reason to want to go on living, or would it be the end of hope and striving
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Faerie
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2010, 10:26:03 AM »


But what if we could program our new bodies not to feel any stress, or pain or negative emotions?  If we could only feel pleasure and contentment, what would that be like?  If we never got tired, would we then want to live forever?

Sounds far too much like the xtian heaven.... Undecided
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Hermione
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2010, 12:45:31 PM »

Sounds far too much like the xtian heaven.... Undecided

Now I think about it, it does.  I never could understand why people would want to spend eternity in heaven.  How boring life would be without "sin"!
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2010, 13:16:20 PM »

Well hey, it helps the whole "population explosion" thing if some people want to die for those of us who want to live longer have more room. Thanks for taking one for the team guys.  Grin

More seriously, I don't think anyone would or could "live forever" (entropy you cruel bitch). However it would be a damn cool thing if humanity had within it's hands the tools to have that be a decision we can each make for ourselves. Currently, we HAVE to die before or around 100 years, no choice, whether we think life is grand or not. We have no say, and we die.

I'm far in favor of a world where, if you think it's not worth it, by all means, die a natural death, and if you think life is just too awesome to give up, you CAN make that choice and keep living. I would not preclude other people from making that decision if they so wish. If after 1000 years you realise you've "seen it all", you'll still have the option to end it, but you would've had 1000 years more to enjoy the universe. All I ask is, don't echo a religious zealot who says "it doesn't work for me, therefore that goes for everyone".
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« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2010, 13:28:58 PM »

All very well to live a 1000 years if you can do it in a 30 or 40 year old body. Don't know so much about a 100 or 200 year old body.
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Hermione
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« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2010, 15:59:34 PM »

All very well to live a 1000 years if you can do it in a 30 or 40 year old body. Don't know so much about a 100 or 200 year old body.


Why not a 20 year old body - that could be fun.  Remember being able to stay up all night and not feel like you've been run over by a train the next morning?

Did anyone here ever read the book
"A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters"
by Julian Barnes?  One of the chapters is about him waking up in heaven one morning.  He gets served the best breakfast he ever had - grapefruit segments that seperate easily from the skin, grilled tomato that's just firm enough, etc.  An since he's there for all of eternity, he reads all the books that have ever been written, until he runs out of books..

That used to sound like my idea of heaven, just reading and reading forever.  Unfortunately I don't think I'd enjoy a very large proportion of the books out there, I mean imagine being stuck reading Danielle Steele for all eternity..
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« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2010, 16:45:15 PM »

All very well to live a 1000 years if you can do it in a 30 or 40 year old body. Don't know so much about a 100 or 200 year old body.
I mean imagine being stuck reading Danielle Steele for all eternity..

Wrong spot Hermione, that'd be hell!
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