Thursday, July 12, 2007

Theoretical Man - Archetype II

OK - been awhile but many things are happening ... anyways, I read lots.

I was reviewing the article by Cathy Young a while back and then I was reading Theoretical Man - Archetype II on Dannie's blog and it seems to be a movement of thought. Googled around and yes - there is discussion.

Indeed, it's difficult to find a contemporary work of research OR science fiction that does not engage with the ideas of the transhumanism or the 'next man' complex. We see this in the shape of natural evolution but also in cybernetic implants, genetic reconstruction or (my bedtime reading of) cognitive engineering and synthetic biology.

Both reads offer interesting - and I really do mean interesting - ideas and concepts but in both of their arguments, there is an element of 'conscious decision making' whereas I think that this movement is more natural, inevitable and rather close at hand.

And it will happen again and again because man is simply a combination of nature and philosophy. A product of science and religion. The by-product of our current societies.

Some may say that the rapid fertility decline in most advanced industrial nations, coupled with secularization and the disintegration of the family, is a sign that man (civilization) is beginning to collapse, even while radical religious movements pose challenges to so called 'western dominance' but what is that really saying? That the idea of a changing 'humanness' is already with us? Moving slowly but present nonetheless.

I don't agree because this argument is one sided and the general discussion has lost its neutrality and perspective.

In theory, current developments in biotechnology, including human genetics, human-animal hybridization, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, pharmacologicals, and robotics advocate both great benefit and tremendous challenges to a truly human future. But how are we analyzing the ways they may affirm or erode human well being? Aren't we basing our evaluation with respect to how we see society today?

Isn't that the wrong approach?

Under these circumstances, it is pointless to be cautious about developing converging technologies that undermining the entire basis of ethical decision-making, so it is necessary to seek a new basis for social acceptance and the uneasy relations between science (read: nature) and religion (read: ethics).

And remember: ethics, like humans, are not to be considered north, east, south or 'western'.

So what are the REAL prospects for developing a new and self-sustaining civilization or 'theoretical man'?

I think it was W.H. Auden who said that:
'We are all here on earth to help others. What I can't figure out is what the others are here for.'
And I think that this is exactly the problem. Without the concept of the singularity, societies overlap and because of this, minds overlap - and ethics overlap - and values overlap. This is nature and there is no linear solutions to be had.

Human evolution has many conflicting work streams and the critical lines are very very red. The future of man is, at this moment, undefinable.

Hopefully, it will always be so.

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