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10/09/2014

“I, Transhumanist”

I rely on Wesley Smith’s Human Exceptionalism blog to keep up with things.  Maybe I rely on it all too much but once again I have to give him the “HT” for his mentions of the popular transhumanist Zoltan Istvan.  Last week, Smith commented on, and provided a link to, a piece by Istvan entitled “The Three Laws of Transhumanism and Artificial Intelligence.”  Now, I know I should resist being flip, but I’m not sure we’ve seen such boldness since Lamech in the 4th chapter of Genesis.  Musing about how to conceive of the “will” of a thinking machine, he posits that “a sophisticated artificial intelligence will be able to upgrade its ‘will,’ toward the ultimate “human” objective of “perfect personal power—to be omnipotent in the universe.”  This is a “Will to Evolution.”  And in its service, behold “Teleological Egocentric Functionalism” with its “3 laws” and their conscious analogy to Asimov’s “3 laws of robotics:”

“1) A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.

“2) A transhumanist must strive to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible–so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First Law.

“3) A transhumanist must safeguard value in the universe–so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First and Second Laws.” [And as long as the value serves my purposes—blg*.]

Well, for heaven’s sake.  (Admittedly, I may have the wrong eternal realm there.)  Does this sound like anything other than good old-fashioned ethical egoism to anybody?  It’s so utterly unserious yet so disturbingly earnest.

(That, of course, apart from the kindergarten Nietzscheanism and the convenient ignoring that evolution is not teleologic, unless, of course, I choose to make it so…)

And finally, the messianism:  Expect a new era of learning and advanced life…[as long as we do not] let artificial intelligence run wild and out of sight, but [are] already…part machines ourselves, so that we can plug right into it wherever it leads. Then no matter what happens, we are along for the ride. After all, we don’t want to miss the Rapture  Singularity.

*”blg”=”blogger” as “ed”=”editor

Addendum to last week’s post: In my post last week, I challenged Smith’s reading of Oxford’s Charles Foster.  In doing so, I missed an earlier post by Smith in which he posed criticisms of Foster similar to mine.  Let the record be corrected.–JTH

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