Immortality for sale

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Immortality for sale

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:23 pm

I just this morning checked out an interesting book from the library. It’s called “To Become a Machine” and it’s by an English/Irish writer named Mark O’Connell (Doubleday, 2017). The book is all about the “Transhumanist” movement, a word I am encountering for the first time, although I think it’s been around a long time. The Transhumanists feel that God/Nature gave the human race a raw deal. They want to enhance us with computer chips and other bionics, and either resuscitate our liquid-nitrogen-preserved brains or upload them into an electronic circuit, so as finally to defeat death.

Hmm, where have I heard all this before? Oh yes, in “That Hideous Strength”. And other places. I frankly doubt that Transhumanism has many adherents, but apparently it has enough to keep Alcor in business cryogenically preserving their brains. O’Connell himself looks at this spectacle very skeptically, as well he might. First of all, the program itself is not feasible, no matter how much people dream about it and waste their money trying to implement it. It’s just not going to happen. But the main objection is the ultimate, blinkered hubris involved. In all the conferences reported by O’Connell, the talk is always of getting people with better reasoning power, better memories, etc. It’s never about enhancing their ability to empathize with other people. That’s just a vestigial ability we’ll get along fine without, I suppose. The Transhumanists also believe in some kind of Manifest Destiny in which the human race will eventually control the whole universe. Never mind Entropy. One of its chief fugelmen, a guy named Max More, from Bristol in the UK and now CEO of Alcor, actually formed a group called the Extropians. (Originally, I learn from O’Connell, he was Max O’Connor. He changed it because he didn’t want to be associated with those lumpish Irishmen.)

Is this not just one more depressing, futile example of human stupidity and arrogance? What does the human race have to do that is important enough to require such enhancements of intelligence, especially without any enhancement of other valuable human qualities? And what has the human race ever done that makes us believe we are qualified to run the rest of the universe? What do we know about what is “out there”? O’Connell, in my view, doesn’t go far enough in his satire of these people. Max O’Connor/More should be known as Maximum Moron. Well, if it keeps these people out of our hair, let them waste their lives and their substance on this project. As for me, to paraphrase Steven Wright, my birth certificate expired some years ago, and I don’t plan to renew it.

But, as my bottom line, the book is highly amusing to read, and I think you'll enjoy it. O'Connell is an English major who finally realized he wasn't going to get an academic position anywhere and switched to free-lance writing. He's very good at it, and I want to encourage him.
Last edited by Upton_O_Goode on Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A general conversion among the boys was once effected by the late excellent Mr. Fletcher: one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit, for which he was severely flogged; which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion on his mind."

James Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington, the Present Bookseller

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:18 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:Is this not just one more depressing, futile example of human stupidity and arrogance? What does the human race have to do that is important enough to require such enhancements of intelligence, especially without any enhancement of other valuable human qualities? And what has the human race ever done that makes us believe we are qualified to run the rest of the universe? What do we know about what is “out there”?

I've always had a tendency to think that we can't achieve true intelligence without empathy, but perhaps that's my personal bias. My ability to empathize has always been high, even as a child, and it's gotten higher the older I've become in that I'm now able to reject my own knee-jerk judgments in order to look a bit deeper into a person's situation and find a way to empathize.

At the same time, I perpetually feel like a stranger in a strange land. I like logic, and I dislike irrationality. For that reason, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how most people think. Most people don't seem to make decisions based on the facts and on reasoning, but based on their beliefs and on their emotions. To me, that's certifiably insane. Example...

Friends of mine were interested in buying a house. They (stupidly, IMO) didn't want to spend 1500USD on a licensed inspector to check the structural integrity, electrical and plumbing systems, and so on. They asked me to do it as a favor. :blink: My only qualifications for this task were 20 years of being a homeowner, having taken the time to learn the care and feeding of houses, and my ability to research. Ok, fine. I spent some time researching specific things I should look for, packed up a tool belt, and off we went. What I found should have put them off buying the house. The roof showed evidence of ice dams, and the flashing hadn't been installed correctly. The chimney cap had been missing for years, as evidenced by water damage to the brickwork, fire brick, and walls and floor surrounding the chimney. Worse, the roof trusses had severe fire damage. There were a number of other issues, but those three were the worse. But they loved the house, so they ignored the facts and bought it against my recommendation...which was to spend the money and hire a licensed inspector to either confirm or overrule my findings.

People make these kinds of irrational decisions all the time, yet these transhumanists think we're qualified to run the universe? LOL. Where's their proof? We're currently destroying our own planet. We clearly don't have empathy for each other, and we base that lack of empathy on artificial social divisions. Yet we're so certain we're superior and we know what's best...but that certainty is based on emotionally-biased beliefs, not on the available factual evidence.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:15 pm

Nikki Nyx wrote:I've always had a tendency to think that we can't achieve true intelligence without empathy, but perhaps that's my personal bias. My ability to empathize has always been high, even as a child, and it's gotten higher the older I've become in that I'm now able to reject my own knee-jerk judgments in order to look a bit deeper into a person's situation and find a way to empathize.

At the same time, I perpetually feel like a stranger in a strange land. I like logic, and I dislike irrationality. For that reason, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how most people think. Most people don't seem to make decisions based on the facts and on reasoning, but based on their beliefs and on their emotions. To me, that's certifiably insane.


I sense that we share the same outlook here. I'm a rationalist. That is, I wish people (including myself) made decisions more rationally than they do. But all that is in the context of goals. What is to be achieved when a course of action is proposed? By what standard do we decide what is worth doing? Rationalism may help to answer those questions by ruling out self-defeating actions, but it won't completely solve them.

I've read a bit further in the book now and like it better and better. The more I think about Transhumanism, the more I realize I've seen it all before, for example in Evgeny Zamyatin's novel We, which prefigured Orwell's 1984, and depicted all the horrors of reductionism. One scientist, for example, proposed eliminating all living non-human life, replacing trees by metal structures that could be changed whenever one grew tired of the scenery. Or, one thinks of H.G. Wells's Men Like Gods, which should be read in tandem with his final essay Mind at the End of its Tether, to see how unrealistic (to use a mild term) it was. The issue was stated with great clarity by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, although he pushed the issue too far, arguing for absolute standards of artistic excellence as well as absolute morality (which sounds vaguely like a good thing, until you realize how impossible it is to encapsulate any general rules of human behavior that will yield a pleasing result in all situations).

I'm also reminded of a sci-fi short story I read back in the 1950s, in which a man sells his soul to the Devil in return for unlimited power and invulnerability. The Devil insisted, however, on an escape clause: If the man commits suicide, Satan gets his soul. Certain that he won't ever do that, the man agrees and signs in blood. Then Satan reaches around into the back of the man's head and removes something. Suspicious, the man asks what it was. "Oh, just some parts you will no longer have need of," says Satan, and goes away. The man then sets out to acquire power and wealth in a way that puts Donald Trump in the shade. But after many decades of committing horrendous crimes without being convicted of them and accumulating untold wealth and power, he realizes that he isn't enjoying any of it; in fact, he has become completely anhedonic. Now more suspicious than ever, he summons Satan back and demands to have those parts restored to his brain. Since their removal wasn't in the original contract, Satan is forced to comply. He puts back into the man's brain....his CONSCIENCE. Suddenly, the full horror of his crimes becomes real to him, and he immediately puts an end to himself. Satan wins again.
"A general conversion among the boys was once effected by the late excellent Mr. Fletcher: one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit, for which he was severely flogged; which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion on his mind."

James Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington, the Present Bookseller

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:35 pm

Nikki Nyx wrote: At the same time, I perpetually feel like a stranger in a strange land. I like logic, and I dislike irrationality. For that reason, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how most people think.


Hmmmm...... this is a DIRECT application of: you need some more empathy.

A dither: is intelligence related to empathy? ==> No, not at all. I challenge you to explain what the connection could even possibly be. Hint: think of a different word.
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:24 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Nikki Nyx wrote: At the same time, I perpetually feel like a stranger in a strange land. I like logic, and I dislike irrationality. For that reason, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how most people think.


Hmmmm...... this is a DIRECT application of: you need some more empathy.
Clearly, and I continue to work on expanding it. While I'm able to empathize with someone's particular situation, I have more trouble understanding why that same someone fails to learn from his mistakes, but repeats the same ones.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:A dither: is intelligence related to empathy? ==> No, not at all. I challenge you to explain what the connection could even possibly be. Hint: think of a different word.
Ok. It may be a thin thread.

In my experience with people, I haven't seen that intelligence and narrow-mindedness live in the same brain. Narrow-minded people generally get that way by discarding factual evidence in favor of their own baseless beliefs. Empathy is not merely the ability to share another's feelings, but the ability to understand them. This requires looking beyond one's own experiences and at the facts of the other's experience.

Narrow-minded people can't do that; most believe that every single person will react the same way in a given situation, and that life is an equal playing field. They fail to understand that innumerable variables can affect a given situation and a person's reaction to it. While they have no problem empathizing with someone in a situation that's within their own experience, they can't empathize with someone in a situation they themselves have never experienced.

This connection doesn't work both ways. There are any number of intelligent people who possess no empathy. But truly empathetic people, IMO, those who not only share, but also understand others' feelings, are intelligent.

Image
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:36 pm

Nikki Nyx wrote:
bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Nikki Nyx wrote:
In my experience with people, I haven't seen that intelligence and narrow-mindedness live in the same brain. Narrow-minded people generally get that way by discarding factual evidence in favor of their own baseless beliefs. Empathy is not merely the ability to share another's feelings, but the ability to understand them. This requires looking beyond one's own experiences and at the facts of the other's experience.

Narrow-minded people can't do that; most believe that every single person will react the same way in a given situation, and that life is an equal playing field. They fail to understand that innumerable variables can affect a given situation and a person's reaction to it. While they have no problem empathizing with someone in a situation that's within their own experience, they can't empathize with someone in a situation they themselves have never experienced.

This connection doesn't work both ways. There are any number of intelligent people who possess no empathy. But truly empathetic people, IMO, those who not only share, but also understand others' feelings, are intelligent.

Image



This is a splendid description of a poster that bobbo and I have both encountered on another thread here. Thank you for expressing it so clearly.
"A general conversion among the boys was once effected by the late excellent Mr. Fletcher: one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit, for which he was severely flogged; which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion on his mind."

James Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington, the Present Bookseller

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:43 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:This is a splendid description of a poster that bobbo and I have both encountered on another thread here. Thank you for expressing it so clearly.
You're welcome! I have a feeling I know who you mean. :mrgreen:
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:40 pm

intelligence: The ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience

empathy: Understanding and entering into another's feelings

Any two concepts, actually all concepts, can sometime be more easily contemplated by using the Venn Diagram. it works admirably with this subject. What we get is: Pure Intellect, Pure Empathy, and the always desired: Overlap.

To this, we can add a third concept: Things you like and admire. Notice the .......... overlap.
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:58 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:intelligence: The ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience

empathy: Understanding and entering into another's feelings

Any two concepts, actually all concepts, can sometime be more easily contemplated by using the Venn Diagram. it works admirably with this subject.

I disagree. A Venn diagram doesn't work at all for intelligence and empathy. First, though, let me define what I mean by "intelligence." Critical thinking is essential, as is logical problem solving. Knowledge is important, but integration of knowledge is more important. Self-awareness and emotional regulation are extremely helpful. Creativity is a huge plus. An intelligent person should always be learning, should understand that his opinions will change as new facts become available, and should accept that not all questions have answers.

A shallow form of empathy is possible for those who are not intelligent. They are able to understand and share the feelings of another only when they've experienced a similar situation, but they require that similarity in order to empathize. Without intelligence, the understanding part is missing.

What you get from people who aren't intelligent are comments like:
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"You're overreacting."
"Get over it."
"You shouldn't feel that way."
"It's not that bad."
Because they quite literally cannot empathize, since they haven't experienced the situation. Since they can't understand your feelings, they invalidate them, because it makes more sense to them that you're being a ninny than that they're being an insensitive lout. We've all seen people like this on the Internet—and in this forum—people who simply are incapable of understanding the tragedies of others. I maintain it's because they're narrow-minded, so they can't possibly be intelligent.

I realize that this entire premise sounds ridiculously arrogant, but what percentage of the people you know would you deem to be intelligent by the definition I outlined? Does the suspension of disbelief required by religion automatically disqualify someone from being intelligent? If so, that lets out most of the world. Does a staunch denial of factual evidence prove someone is not intelligent? How do you, bobbo, determine intelligence in a person? What makes you think someone is or isn't intelligent?
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:00 pm

I'm confused.

You start by saying you disagree, that VD won't work. Then, you don't address the failure of VD at all. Instead you move to a discussion of a fuller discussion of intelligence with a side of empathy.

How do I define intelligence? Starting with a definition or argument and following thru? Thats not all snark. It means actually using the intellect one has and not going off on side tangents until the main mission is accomplished?

You have several ideas packed into your post most of which I disagree with. Much of what you say is true..... it just isn't responsive.

So how to proceed? I really enjoy sentence by sentence, but thats too long.

Lets start at the beginning? How does a VD not work at all on the subject of Intelligence and Empathy?
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:04 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:You start by saying you disagree, that VD won't work. Then, you don't address the failure of VD at all. Instead you move to a discussion of a fuller discussion of intelligence with a side of empathy.
I did address why a Venn diagram won't work here: A shallow form of empathy is possible for those who are not intelligent. They are able to understand and share the feelings of another only when they've experienced a similar situation, but they require that similarity in order to empathize. Without intelligence, the understanding part is missing. You would require two diagrams to note the relationships, not merely one.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:How do I define intelligence? Starting with a definition or argument and following thru? Thats not all snark. It means actually using the intellect one has and not going off on side tangents until the main mission is accomplished?
My main mission was accomplished, I stipulate: What you get from people who aren't intelligent are comments like:
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"You're overreacting."
"Get over it."
"You shouldn't feel that way."
"It's not that bad."
Because they quite literally cannot empathize, since they haven't experienced the situation. Since they can't understand your feelings, they invalidate them, because it makes more sense to them that you're being a ninny than that they're being an insensitive lout. We've all seen people like this on the Internet—and in this forum—people who simply are incapable of understanding the tragedies of others. I maintain it's because they're narrow-minded, so they can't possibly be intelligent.


bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:You have several ideas packed into your post most of which I disagree with. Much of what you say is true.....
You seem to be saying that you disagree with the truth. Now I'm confused.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Lets start at the beginning? How does a VD not work at all on the subject of Intelligence and Empathy?
One Venn diagram will not suffice to describe the relationship between intelligence and empathy, as my hypothesis describes said relationship. But two diagrams will:
Image
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:10 pm

I leaving the house.....but the typical vd is the one with overlap. Not a circle within a circle. Do the overlap...and it symbolizes your issues completely. ie: they work. They have to work as they are symbollic representations of subject matter that is totally symbolic itself. The overap: two same size circles with their centers slightly apart. This forms pure intellect, pure empathy, and then: the overlap. Usually its the overlap that is most interesting....but here it may be the purity of it all?
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:04 pm

That's why I say it doesn't work: there is no pure empathy without intelligence. That's why the empathy circle is inside the intelligence circle.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:33 am

My Kneejerk: to disagree and note that you are demonstrating the very benefit of VD analysis: what is the pure empathy part of the circle? Then I applied this to myself: why not a totally subsumed circle.

Had to think for awhile.

First Notion: do it both ways. compare and contrast. My way: as stated. But what would be pure empathy, or empathy without intellect? Is "to be defined" sufficient to keep the circle inflated? Bringing me back to another bed rock notion: Its all definitional.

Your way: can't have empathy without intellect. Well then: how do you know whatever you are calling empathy is not all intellect? And there I think shows a limit on my understanding of VD. Is a totally subsumed circle making that very point? Its been too long since my formal studies on point..........and its still definitional? If we have a circle of Birds and a subsumed circle of flightless birds...... what does that tell us about empathy? i think that it is just a type of intelligence. yeah....I think that's it.

and that brings us back to definitions. I never argue definitions. Just define it.................and proceed.
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby ElectricMonk » Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:17 am

Transhumanism has been around for a while, mostly riding on the back of the computer revolution in anticipation of brain-uploads and in longevity health programs involving massive doses of certain vitamins, trace elements etc.
It got a new boost from CRISPR and budding A.I. systems and is (according to Yual Harari) basically the current religion of Silicon Valley and similar cutting-edge technology centers.

I, personally, have no problem with the quest for Amortality (i.e. immortally except through violence/accident): everyone wants to live forever, so there is no way to stop the research anyway. Secondly, the longer people live, the less innovative they become: this will put an automatic negative feedback loop on the success of the super-old compare to those who maintain the generational model: we see this already in the issue of inheritance, there the increased lifespan causes youth poverty because the old use up all their savings or leave them to their kids who themselves are already well-established in their lives and don't really need it.

Also, I have no clue what any of this has to do with empathy...
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2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:28 am

ElectricMonk wrote:Transhumanism has been around for a while, mostly riding on the back of the computer revolution in anticipation of brain-uploads and in longevity health programs involving massive doses of certain vitamins, trace elements etc.
It got a new boost from CRISPR and budding A.I. systems and is (according to Yual Harari) basically the current religion of Silicon Valley and similar cutting-edge technology centers.

I, personally, have no problem with the quest for Amortality (i.e. immortally except through violence/accident): everyone wants to live forever, so there is no way to stop the research anyway. Secondly, the longer people live, the less innovative they become: this will put an automatic negative feedback loop on the success of the super-old compare to those who maintain the generational model: we see this already in the issue of inheritance, there the increased lifespan causes youth poverty because the old use up all their savings or leave them to their kids who themselves are already well-established in their lives and don't really need it.

Also, I have no clue what any of this has to do with empathy...


I have a couple of large problems with amortality. Wanting to live forever is a young-person thing. Ask most candid people beyond the age of 70, and they'll agree with Mark Twain that death is a friend. I agree whole-heartedly with HL Mencken, who said that, on the brink of senility it was his firm conviction that life isn't even amusing. That kind of world-weariness has settled over me, and I don't envy people my age who seem immune to it. People often wouldn't mind being dead, but getting into that state is not something anybody looks forward to. It's that TRANSITION that people don't want to face.

You are certainly correct that this research will continue, and that's fine with me. Let the research continue. I am indifferent to it and wouldn't attempt to stop it even if I could. But I would pose some questions.

First, while I think it very likely that human consciousness results from brain function, and without my brain, I wouldn't exist, the question is whether that same consciousness, connected to my present consciousness, could be transferred elsewhere. Without the connection, the new entity wouldn't be me.

Second, do we even have a DEFINITION of consciousness? More generally, when, if ever, will we know EVERYTHING that goes into a human personality and have the ability to duplicate it?

Third, whatever "operating system" it is that focuses our attention at a particular moment, giving us what we call consciousness or awareness, surely has limited capacity, like any other such system. It can't handle a potentially infinite amount of memory, Add all the memory you like, the operating system itself won't be able to use it beyond a certain point.

I do object most strenuously to the "manifest destiny" view of the omega-point people like Tipler, those who believe human beings are going to be Masters of the Universe. As I stated above, nothing in the history of the human race suggests even remotely that we are qualified for this office. In the role of God, we'd be the cosmic Donald Trump. Not that this possibility has even a scintilla of plausibility. This is the point where empathy enters the picture. We won't succeed by becoming a race of geniuses, unless we also succeed in cooperating and supporting one another. Without empathy, that won't happen.

Let's set a more modest ambition and see if we can wisely manage even the planet we have access to and some power over. Up to now, the signs aren't very encouraging that we can even do that. Again, I commend to everyone's attention the two works by HG Wells, Men Like Gods, written when he was still optimistic, and Mind at the End of its Tether, and exaggeratedly pessimistic production of his final year.

Just my ultimate pessimism showing through here, I'm sure. Even if we did manage to clean up our act and run this ball of dirt well for a few thousand or even a few million years, there is no possibility on the horizon that we'll escape the Second Law of Thermodynamics. And if we did, and migrated to a different star system, that too will have a FINITE lifetime. Eventually, nothing of interest will be going on anywhere in the universe.

So, rather than looking for infinite life, I say, let's focus on the finite one we know we have. It's much bigger than we are, and gives us enough to do to keep us busy. Even I, with my dark view of the human race and the present situation, nevertheless feel impelled to do what I can to make things better. Whether I am doing so wisely or not, I can't be sure. Every day, my outlook grows closer to that of Macbeth in his final hour, once he realized the folly of his ambition: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Well, he let his ambition lead him to that point. With a little more wisdom, he might have made something better of his life. As it is, he serves only as a bad example of nobility gone rotten.

Wow! This post is getting long. I'd better haul up. Once you start down this path, it's easy to get carried away. I often think of Gray's Elegy, where it is said that "The paths of glory lead but to the grave." And every time I come across it I say to myself, "Well, I don't know any paths that lead in any other direction."
"A general conversion among the boys was once effected by the late excellent Mr. Fletcher: one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit, for which he was severely flogged; which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion on his mind."

James Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington, the Present Bookseller

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby ElectricMonk » Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:48 am

I agree that there is nothing predetermined or inevitable about humans in their current or any future form: if we survive the next 1,000 years more or less intact it is likely that some sort of tranhumanism will have occurred. But then it might not or our kind might be extinct. There is no destiny, only potential.
And it has forever been the case that we only want eternity if we can have in health.

But I still think that empathy has little to do with this: how much empathy we can afford is a question of safety and luxury, nothing else: we can't share what isn't there. Only abundance makes true empathy, or rather compassion, possible, since we can't feed other before we feed ourselves: remember to put the oxygen mask on first before you help others.
And if we can afford to extend out lives, we can easily afford to provide a normal life for others.
Already today, the world has a bigger problem with obesity than hunger. There is no reason to assume that the project for amortality will cause suffering for those who can't afford it apart from jealousy.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:00 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:Already today, the world has a bigger problem with obesity than hunger. There is no reason to assume that the project for amortality will cause suffering for those who can't afford it apart from jealousy.


The obesity vs. hunger problem may be very temporary indeed. I won't venture to predict. But how do we plan to support all those selfish people who refuse to get out and make room for new babies? We're already polluting the place unconscionably, and I think the latest mass extinction may very well get us too. We really haven't got a substitute for the honeybee yet. The amount of fruit and vegetables we could pollinate by some clever mechanical device wouldn't support very many people. And desertification is a real threat to much of the breadbasket areas of the world. I wouldn't bet on us to get through to the year 2100. We might, as Bertrand Russell once said, leave the place to more beautiful and less vicious creatures, such as lions and tigers. (He was wrong. We WILL outlast them. Hell, I might personally outlast them.)
"A general conversion among the boys was once effected by the late excellent Mr. Fletcher: one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit, for which he was severely flogged; which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion on his mind."

James Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington, the Present Bookseller

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby ElectricMonk » Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:56 pm

Longevity and birthrates are negatively correlated: the countries with the oldest citizens also have the fewest children per women.
because of how ovaries are build, it is very unlikely that an amortal female would stay fertile; at most, one could cut out and freeze one of the ovaries at puberty and insert it later when the women wants to get pregnant. But this would mostly postpone, not increase, the time a women has to get pregnant.
People in countries with high life expectancy also have their children later.
Combining these and you will see that even in an amortal society, population would at best increase linear (assuming no one dies) but not exponential.
Being amortal would also dramatically shift policies away from short-term gains to long-term sustainability, since the country you make is not the one you leave to your grandchildren, but to yourself. People would also focus more on durable goods and less on fashion items.

So while I agree that living longer brings problems I don't see them as insurmountable.
My greatest worry is the risk aversion and lack of innovation that amortality will bring: if you can only die in an accident, you might consider spending your life in a bunker. You would go to great lengths to avoid disruptions such as wars, even at great cost. And you certainly wouldn't do something as risky as space travel.
I believe that amortal societies would simply become obsolete compared to those with a faster generational turnover.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Jul 03, 2017 5:44 pm

When I was younger, I didn't care that much about dying. As I am older now, I find a growing curiosity about how things will turn out. I still don't mind dying, but I wouldn't mind seeing how things turn out for a bit longer than I think I have.

Shirley people who don't want to live longer than usual are incurious and/or................health problems if not just the steady decline of aging? Those last two certainly to be taken care of .... leaving only curiosity.
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:30 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Your way: can't have empathy without intellect. Well then: how do you know whatever you are calling empathy is not all intellect?
Because there can be intellect without empathy, unfortunately. There have been and are sociopaths who are intelligent. However, maybe you have something here, bobbo. Can a person truly be intelligent without also possessing empathy? Or does the lack of empathy create a blind spot in their intellectual ability? Hmmm... Perhaps my hypothesis requires some rethinking.

Anyone else want to chuck in their two cents?
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:38 am

ElectricMonk wrote:everyone wants to live forever
I don't...unless cures are found for my chronic pain disorders.

ElectricMonk wrote:Also, I have no clue what any of this has to do with empathy...
Probably nothing. I sometimes rabbit trail off on my own side quests. :mrgreen:
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:10 am

Nikki Nyx wrote:However, maybe you have something here, bobbo. Can a person truly be intelligent without also possessing empathy?


The Venn Diagram says: Indubitably. Do you want more than 1000 words?
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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:52 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Nikki Nyx wrote:However, maybe you have something here, bobbo. Can a person truly be intelligent without also possessing empathy?


The Venn Diagram says: Indubitably. Do you want more than 1000 words?

LOL. You should know by now that I'm always willing to change my viewpoint when shown facts that are new to me. My Venn diagram is not a fact; it's merely an opinion based on experience...which means it includes bias. :mrgreen:
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Immortality for sale

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:59 am

My better self is not about trying to change anybody's mind about anything. I do enjoy challenging all opinions including my own. Lots of overlap according to the VD. As stated, and I will repeat because I think it is sublime: make your VD's include both the overlap and the subsumed. Think about how each applies. The pros and cons. No need to decide or to rank. Can always keep both in mind..... apply as thought best.
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