Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, September 07, 2009

Transhumanism

Arising out of a discussion of transhumanism on the Stross blog -
The whole of our constructed weltanschaung of modernity and enlightenment values and democracy rests on the fundamental axiom that existing human lives are of equivalent value. Back in the bad old days, under the monarchies, in the era of chattel slavery, that wasn't so: some people were worth more than others. Update the vision: if your king (or your slave owner) needs a new kidney (or heart), then you'd better hope you're not a histocompatible donor. But as long as we're only dealing with Humanity 1.0, it's hard to argue on empirical grounds that one human is intrinsically worth more than another.

If we run into alien intelligences, or create artificial ones, we will be dealing with beings that may force us to reevaluate that basic axiom of the enlightenment project.


With the artificial improvement of intelligence, we may yet be saved by our own stupidity.
(1) Any salable intelligence booster would have to be validated against the Wechsler IQ scale:
(2) The Wechsler is a brain-dead attempt to replicate the upper-class skill set;
(3) People whose minds were upWechslered would therefore be no better in actual competition in real life than the current membership of MENSA, which is to say not at all.

Until we can say what it is that we want, rather than begging every conceivable question about the mind by using the term 'intelligence', we won't know where to point ourselves, and no conceivable technology will assist us. Luckily.

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