American Samizdat

Monday, March 24, 2008. *
Not Everything That Can Be Done Should Be Done. I am rarely flummoxed. I've been researching and trying to write an essay about the convergence of transhumanism, the technological singularity, and eugenics. I can't . . . I just bloody can not do it. I understand the damn material, but it just freezes my brain. So I'm gonna have to let you do most of the work. I'll provide some basic resources.

Let me say this before I give you some links and quotes: scientists and the power elite on the planet (1) have given up on the human species and (2) are within a micrometer of doing something about it. It is inevitable. There is nothing we can do about it. Mankind has unleashed and nearly perfected the matrix of its own extinction . . .

Eugenics. From Old-thinker News, "Eugenics Moves to the Twenty-First Century":
From the elimination of undesirables from the human race; mass culling in the name of saving the earth; to altering the genetic code of humanity with advanced technology:

Eugenics has moved into a new era.

What is eugenics?

The word eugenics comes from the Greek words eus (good or well) and genēs (born) meaning "well born". The American Heritage dictionary of the English language describes eugenics as, "The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding." Sir Francis Galton was the man who coined the term, and developed the first eugenic policies. Galton expressed distress at the lack of emphasis on the betterment of the human race during his time, comparing men and women of his day to "pariah dogs" . . .

The aristocratic, wealthy elite of America played a central role in the development of eugenics in America and abroad. Two such elite families are the Rockefellers and the Carnegies.

In 1902, Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institute which among other things, funded the Eugenics Record Office in America. The ERO (1910-1944) operated from Cold Spring Harbor in New York. Eugenics policies, which led to the sterilization of thousands of Americans, were developed in this office.

The Rockefellers, perhaps more so, were also heavily involved with eugenics. Rockefeller influence in American eugenics can be traced to the beginnings of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. John D. Rockefeller, along with Averell Harriman gave $11 million to create the facility in the early 1900's. Rockefeller influence also spread overseas to Germany, where the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Eugenics, Anthropology and Human Heredity resided. Much of the money used to run these facilities came from Rockefeller. These weren't just average scientific institutes; the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes would become the center for Nazi eugenics programs. . . .

Since the early days of eugenics, a new "brand" of this science has emerged in modern times. The environmental branch of eugenics believes that, due to overpopulation, measures must be taken to either impede population growth through various eugenic policies, or take drastic measures to eliminate living human beings from the earth. Unlike those who advocate eugenics to strictly rid humanity of "undesirables," some advocate the culling of humanity in general in order to save planet earth. Many globalist initiatives surround environmental issues, one of which has been population control and reduction . . .

Since the founding of eugenics, the movement has changed, but it has retained its core goals over the years. Thomas H. Campbell of the University of California believes that the eugenics model of Galton is outdated and impractical, as do many other scientists. Instead of relying on breeding "better humans," without the intervention of technology, many scientists believe that technological means should be employed to further our "evolution." With the rise of advanced scientific technologies, the ability to alter the genetic code of living organisms, and the augmentation of human bodies has become a reality. Some individuals who are involved with the modern eugenics movement see the rise of these capabilities as an opportunity to create or alter human beings to acquire the most "desirable traits" and rid humanity of traits deemed "undesirable" . . .
Singularity. Next, from Transtopia, "The Technological Singularity" . . .
The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough (and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur):

  • There may be developed computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. (To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is "yes, we can", then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter.)

  • Large computer networks (and their associated users) may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity.

  • Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent.

  • Biological science may provide means to improve natural human intellect.

The first three possibilities depend in large part on improvements in computer hardware. Progress in computer hardware has followed an amazingly steady curve in the last few decades [17]. Based largely on this trend, I believe that the creation of greater than human intelligence will occur during the next thirty years. (Charles Platt [20] has pointed out that AI enthusiasts have been making claims like this for the last thirty years. Just so I'm not guilty of a relative-time ambiguity, let me more specific: I'll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.)

What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter time scale. The best analogy that I see is with the evolutionary past: Animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster than natural selection can do its work -- the world acts as its own simulator in the case of natural selection. We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct "what if's" in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human past as we humans are from the lower animals.

From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever) will likely happen in the next century. (In [5], Greg Bear paints a picture of the major changes happening in a matter of hours.)

I think it's fair to call this event a singularity ("the Singularity" for the purposes of this paper). It is a point where our old models must be discarded and a new reality rules. As we move closer to this point, it will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs till the notion becomes a commonplace. Yet when it finally happens it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown. In the 1950s there were very few who saw it: Stan Ulam [28] paraphrased John von Neumann as saying:

One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue . . .
Note that many involved in this movement pinpoint the year 2012 (give or take a few years) for the occurrence of the singularity event.

This rather short video illustrates some of the fundamental issues:



Transhumanism. Wikipedia:
Transhumanism (sometimes symbolized by >H or H+), a term often used as a synonym for "human enhancement", is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as stupidity, suffering, disease, aging and involuntary death. Transhumanist thinkers study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Possible dangers, as well as benefits, of powerful new technologies that might radically change the conditions of human life are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.

Although the first known use of the term "transhumanism" dates from 1957, the contemporary meaning is a product of the 1980s, when a group of scientists, artists, and futurists based in the United States began to organize what has since grown into the transhumanist movement. Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings will eventually be transformed into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman". Transhumanism is therefore sometimes referred to as "posthumanism" or a form of transformational activism influenced by posthumanist ideals.

Transhumanist foresight of a profoundly transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of perspectives. Transhumanism has been described by one outspoken opponent as the world's most dangerous idea, while a proponent counters that it is the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity" . . .
Here's a truncated video that serves as a basic introduction:



In researching this I finally realized that I could let myself get sucked into the black hole of "complexity" or just keep it simple . . .

The human species is so arrogantly and narcissistically stupid that it doesn't realize how stupid it is. Stupid is, after all, as stupid does. Given the history of "human development", what the fuck makes you think that any of this shit will be used "for the good of mankind"???

There are really only two relevant questions. The first is, "who owns this stuff?" The second is, "what are their goals?"

Here are some readings and websites:

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posted by Unknown at 6:03 AM
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