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Charos
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11/5/2013 4:03:59 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is somewhat of an addendum to magic8000's post on transferring your mind into a computer, so thanks to them on bringing it up. One of the topics I've noticed in the last twenty or so years come up in media to a larger degree (Ghost in the Shell, the Deus Ex game series, and to some extent the Matrix off the top of my head) is that of the philosophy of Transhumanism. This is in general the perspective that through utilizing emerging technologies such as computerization, genetics, biological engineering and so on we should strive to transcend our human form or limitations by "sidestepping" them. For example augmenting the brain in such a manner with computer technology in order to increase memory recall, removing physical limitations such as balance for example through replacing limbs with mechanical upgrades or using nanotechnology. Or even removing those same limitations by using gene splicing in order to implant animal genetic code into our bodies.

This could also extend to the idea of manipulating the unborn in order to maximize quality of life, for example learning the genetic basis for a predisposition to certain types of cancer then using genetics or egg selection in order to remove that genetic penchant to ensure the child won't have that form of cancer (or vision problem, or deafness etc.)

My questions are, what is everyone's opinion on the moral implications of this form of philosophy? Would removing a child's predisposition for addiction or MS be acceptable or does this seem stepping outside the bounds of what's acceptable morally for us as a species? Why or why not?

Beyond that more black and white application (after all, who among us wouldn't like to see cancer removed or reduced from society?) what if this technology was used in order to ensure more grey-area "improvements"? As an example this tech could be controlled in such a way that only soldiers or citizens who lose limbs are capable of obtaining these upgrades where others may be willing to remove perfectly healthy body parts in order to give themselves a social edge. Others may use genetic selection in order to ensure their child has the aesthetic traits they want such as hair or eye color. Where do you feel the line should be drawn in this, if you feel there should be one? And again, why or why not?

Hope this topic hasn't come up here recently, didn't see any topics on it on the forum and it was always kind of a passion of mine ever since I had gotten a copy of Christopher Dewdney's excellent book "Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era" which would be highly recommended for anyone interested in the subject at large.
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
Sidewalker
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11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 4:03:59 AM, Charos wrote:
This is somewhat of an addendum to magic8000's post on transferring your mind into a computer, so thanks to them on bringing it up. One of the topics I've noticed in the last twenty or so years come up in media to a larger degree (Ghost in the Shell, the Deus Ex game series, and to some extent the Matrix off the top of my head) is that of the philosophy of Transhumanism. This is in general the perspective that through utilizing emerging technologies such as computerization, genetics, biological engineering and so on we should strive to transcend our human form or limitations by "sidestepping" them. For example augmenting the brain in such a manner with computer technology in order to increase memory recall, removing physical limitations such as balance for example through replacing limbs with mechanical upgrades or using nanotechnology. Or even removing those same limitations by using gene splicing in order to implant animal genetic code into our bodies.

This could also extend to the idea of manipulating the unborn in order to maximize quality of life, for example learning the genetic basis for a predisposition to certain types of cancer then using genetics or egg selection in order to remove that genetic penchant to ensure the child won't have that form of cancer (or vision problem, or deafness etc.)

My questions are, what is everyone's opinion on the moral implications of this form of philosophy? Would removing a child's predisposition for addiction or MS be acceptable or does this seem stepping outside the bounds of what's acceptable morally for us as a species? Why or why not?

Beyond that more black and white application (after all, who among us wouldn't like to see cancer removed or reduced from society?) what if this technology was used in order to ensure more grey-area "improvements"? As an example this tech could be controlled in such a way that only soldiers or citizens who lose limbs are capable of obtaining these upgrades where others may be willing to remove perfectly healthy body parts in order to give themselves a social edge. Others may use genetic selection in order to ensure their child has the aesthetic traits they want such as hair or eye color. Where do you feel the line should be drawn in this, if you feel there should be one? And again, why or why not?

Hope this topic hasn't come up here recently, didn't see any topics on it on the forum and it was always kind of a passion of mine ever since I had gotten a copy of Christopher Dewdney's excellent book "Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era" which would be highly recommended for anyone interested in the subject at large.

You approach the problem with it when you went to "Beyond that", I think the real problem with this philosophy is where do you draw the line. It's not a very long step from this to Eugenics, and the problem becomes you are judging fitness based on some external definition of what constitutes fitness as a human being. Is a person with a physical or mental handicap less a person, are they not a person? Such external evaluations of humans have never been particularly good at prejudging quality of life or contribution to society. This philosophy discounts the human spirit, physically and mentally challenged people typically step up to the challenge and overcome it and the human spirit prevails.

History certainly doesn't demonstrate that the greatest contributions to society or the highest quality of life correlates with neurotypicals or the most physically perfect human beings by any stretch of the imagination. Isaac Newton was autistic, had the technology you are discussing been available, I'm sure someone could have judged that he should have been "fixed" or "corrected" prior to birth. Neurodiversity is as healthy for society as biodiversity is for the environment.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
AlbinoBunny
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11/5/2013 6:39:53 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 4:03:59 AM, Charos wrote:
This is somewhat of an addendum to magic8000's post on transferring your mind into a computer, so thanks to them on bringing it up. One of the topics I've noticed in the last twenty or so years come up in media to a larger degree (Ghost in the Shell, the Deus Ex game series, and to some extent the Matrix off the top of my head) is that of the philosophy of Transhumanism. This is in general the perspective that through utilizing emerging technologies such as computerization, genetics, biological engineering and so on we should strive to transcend our human form or limitations by "sidestepping" them. For example augmenting the brain in such a manner with computer technology in order to increase memory recall, removing physical limitations such as balance for example through replacing limbs with mechanical upgrades or using nanotechnology. Or even removing those same limitations by using gene splicing in order to implant animal genetic code into our bodies.

This could also extend to the idea of manipulating the unborn in order to maximize quality of life, for example learning the genetic basis for a predisposition to certain types of cancer then using genetics or egg selection in order to remove that genetic penchant to ensure the child won't have that form of cancer (or vision problem, or deafness etc.)

My questions are, what is everyone's opinion on the moral implications of this form of philosophy? Would removing a child's predisposition for addiction or MS be acceptable or does this seem stepping outside the bounds of what's acceptable morally for us as a species? Why or why not?

Beyond that more black and white application (after all, who among us wouldn't like to see cancer removed or reduced from society?) what if this technology was used in order to ensure more grey-area "improvements"? As an example this tech could be controlled in such a way that only soldiers or citizens who lose limbs are capable of obtaining these upgrades where others may be willing to remove perfectly healthy body parts in order to give themselves a social edge. Others may use genetic selection in order to ensure their child has the aesthetic traits they want such as hair or eye color. Where do you feel the line should be drawn in this, if you feel there should be one? And again, why or why not?

Hope this topic hasn't come up here recently, didn't see any topics on it on the forum and it was always kind of a passion of mine ever since I had gotten a copy of Christopher Dewdney's excellent book "Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era" which would be highly recommended for anyone interested in the subject at large.

Ultimately beneficial if used properly, but very, very dangerous.
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Charos
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11/5/2013 6:44:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
You approach the problem with it when you went to "Beyond that", I think the real problem with this philosophy is where do you draw the line. It's not a very long step from this to Eugenics, and the problem becomes you are judging fitness based on some external definition of what constitutes fitness as a human being. Is a person with a physical or mental handicap less a person, are they not a person? Such external evaluations of humans have never been particularly good at prejudging quality of life or contribution to society. This philosophy discounts the human spirit, physically and mentally challenged people typically step up to the challenge and overcome it and the human spirit prevails.

To a large extent I think those who support this philosophy would argue that it's not so much about those with physical or mental handicaps being less of a person and the support for this technology being about building beings who are "more" than simply human. The danger I've seen argued is that such a mindset lends itself to creating a kind of elitism in that eventually those who don't augment themselves would begin to feel it necessary to do so just to keep on par with those who do. For example I play music, if this was a professional thing for me and a group of people invested time and money in obtaining ten fingered hands and increased small muscle dexterity in order to play chords that we simply can't manage with our imperfect bodies then in order to keep pace I'm going to have to invest in the same "augments" or be doomed to fall behind.

Ultimately though I wonder as to whether this could simply be seen as what we do anyway during the process of evolution, a more adaptable mutation happens to work better and as such the old is phased out through selection pressure. The only distinction really is in this case we're taking control of that into our own hands and directing it where we want it to go.

At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
History certainly doesn't demonstrate that the greatest contributions to society or the highest quality of life correlates with neurotypicals or the most physically perfect human beings by any stretch of the imagination. Isaac Newton was autistic, had the technology you are discussing been available, I'm sure someone could have judged that he should have been "fixed" or "corrected" prior to birth. Neurodiversity is as healthy for society as biodiversity is for the environment.

This is a good point, I suppose the best way to look at this is to use another technology as an example, when Oppenheimer created nuclear energy he didn't create something that necessarily was beneficial or detrimental, he created a tool that was either good or bad depending on who used it and how. Yes it gradually began to overshadow older forms of power and forced many out of jobs, but at the same time it offered a great deal of benefits uniquely exclusive to itself (and consequently, risks uniquely exclusive to itself). The question at that point becomes, to which degree would utilizing this new science or tech be acceptable and to what degree would it be unacceptable and how would we as a species go about protecting that line from encroachment...could we?

The book I mentioned earlier, Dewdney's Life in the Transhuman Era brings up a somewhat stark truth in that, if the potential for such technology is ever realized then the genie is out of the bottle, it will be here and regardless of policy there will be nations or rogue organizations completely happy to do so to get that edge over those not willing to do so. If the Chinese military goes to war with North America for example and we have laws against using this sort of tech and they decide to ignore that then we end up in the same "musician problem" I mentioned above, either we would have to allow some degree of utilization or accept imminent defeat like the Japanese did when the US proved they were willing to use nuclear weapons. Should a group take the moral high ground so to speak with the foreknowledge that it would portend their doom? I don't know that our inherent survival instinct would allow us to do that, and at that point we come back to being forced to answer the same questions I posited initially.

At 11/5/2013 6:39:53 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:

Ultimately beneficial if used properly, but very, very dangerous.

Wouldn't that be true of any new technology really though? Would this be any more dangerous do you think than the advent of nuclear weapons or even historically the advent of crossbows in response to regular bows? How should we as a species go about minimizing that risk do you think?
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
AlbinoBunny
Posts: 3,781
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11/5/2013 7:25:19 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 6:44:03 AM, Charos wrote:
At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
You approach the problem with it when you went to "Beyond that", I think the real problem with this philosophy is where do you draw the line. It's not a very long step from this to Eugenics, and the problem becomes you are judging fitness based on some external definition of what constitutes fitness as a human being. Is a person with a physical or mental handicap less a person, are they not a person? Such external evaluations of humans have never been particularly good at prejudging quality of life or contribution to society. This philosophy discounts the human spirit, physically and mentally challenged people typically step up to the challenge and overcome it and the human spirit prevails.

To a large extent I think those who support this philosophy would argue that it's not so much about those with physical or mental handicaps being less of a person and the support for this technology being about building beings who are "more" than simply human. The danger I've seen argued is that such a mindset lends itself to creating a kind of elitism in that eventually those who don't augment themselves would begin to feel it necessary to do so just to keep on par with those who do. For example I play music, if this was a professional thing for me and a group of people invested time and money in obtaining ten fingered hands and increased small muscle dexterity in order to play chords that we simply can't manage with our imperfect bodies then in order to keep pace I'm going to have to invest in the same "augments" or be doomed to fall behind.

Ultimately though I wonder as to whether this could simply be seen as what we do anyway during the process of evolution, a more adaptable mutation happens to work better and as such the old is phased out through selection pressure. The only distinction really is in this case we're taking control of that into our own hands and directing it where we want it to go.

At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
History certainly doesn't demonstrate that the greatest contributions to society or the highest quality of life correlates with neurotypicals or the most physically perfect human beings by any stretch of the imagination. Isaac Newton was autistic, had the technology you are discussing been available, I'm sure someone could have judged that he should have been "fixed" or "corrected" prior to birth. Neurodiversity is as healthy for society as biodiversity is for the environment.

This is a good point, I suppose the best way to look at this is to use another technology as an example, when Oppenheimer created nuclear energy he didn't create something that necessarily was beneficial or detrimental, he created a tool that was either good or bad depending on who used it and how. Yes it gradually began to overshadow older forms of power and forced many out of jobs, but at the same time it offered a great deal of benefits uniquely exclusive to itself (and consequently, risks uniquely exclusive to itself). The question at that point becomes, to which degree would utilizing this new science or tech be acceptable and to what degree would it be unacceptable and how would we as a species go about protecting that line from encroachment...could we?

The book I mentioned earlier, Dewdney's Life in the Transhuman Era brings up a somewhat stark truth in that, if the potential for such technology is ever realized then the genie is out of the bottle, it will be here and regardless of policy there will be nations or rogue organizations completely happy to do so to get that edge over those not willing to do so. If the Chinese military goes to war with North America for example and we have laws against using this sort of tech and they decide to ignore that then we end up in the same "musician problem" I mentioned above, either we would have to allow some degree of utilization or accept imminent defeat like the Japanese did when the US proved they were willing to use nuclear weapons. Should a group take the moral high ground so to speak with the foreknowledge that it would portend their doom? I don't know that our inherent survival instinct would allow us to do that, and at that point we come back to being forced to answer the same questions I posited initially.

At 11/5/2013 6:39:53 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:

Ultimately beneficial if used properly, but very, very dangerous.

Wouldn't that be true of any new technology really though? Would this be any more dangerous do you think than the advent of nuclear weapons or even historically the advent of crossbows in response to regular bows? How should we as a species go about minimizing that risk do you think?

This one is more dangerous because we might not realise we've doomed ourselves before it's too late.
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Noumena
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11/5/2013 4:48:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 3:57:28 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Bookmarking for later.

I look forward to this if you do respond. I find that I have a hard time articulating th kinds of things I find relating to this: breakdown of the Enlightenment project and its commitments to technological 'progress', the relationship between technology and self-subjectification, etc. Of course I can't claim to know what yer thoughts might be on transhumanism but nonetheless.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Charos
Posts: 22
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11/5/2013 5:40:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 7:25:19 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
This one is more dangerous because we might not realise we've doomed ourselves before it's too late.

*nod* some may argue that's more insidious more than being more dangerous, but I suppose that's all semantics :) I think a major risk would be as much in who uses it as how it's used. I'm unsure if you've had the chance to play the Deus Ex series (damn good video game series), but a major overarching problem they bring up is the idea of corporations getting these technologies. If some major corporation for example invented some neural enhancement that instantly gave everyone perfect didactic memory, would they be able to make that technology proprietary, and if so what kind of ultimate effect would this have on the market, would they be able to crank the price way up so only the rich and well-off were able to afford it, and would that not create a black market in itself and marginalize those who couldn't?

I'd be curious as to anyone's ideas on how the world could go about ensuring "proper use" as you put it. I wonder whether that would be possible without a drastic shift in how governments are run.
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
Sidewalker
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11/6/2013 6:11:16 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 6:44:03 AM, Charos wrote:
At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
You approach the problem with it when you went to "Beyond that", I think the real problem with this philosophy is where do you draw the line. It's not a very long step from this to Eugenics, and the problem becomes you are judging fitness based on some external definition of what constitutes fitness as a human being. Is a person with a physical or mental handicap less a person, are they not a person? Such external evaluations of humans have never been particularly good at prejudging quality of life or contribution to society. This philosophy discounts the human spirit, physically and mentally challenged people typically step up to the challenge and overcome it and the human spirit prevails.

To a large extent I think those who support this philosophy would argue that it's not so much about those with physical or mental handicaps being less of a person and the support for this technology being about building beings who are "more" than simply human.

That still seems to be a matter of defining a human being by something external, it just seems that if you are building human beings that are "more" than simply human because of some physical or mental ability then you are judging someone with a physical or mental handicap as less than simply human. You are talking about genetics and biological engineering, in effect determining the qualifications of who gets to be born based on this judgment regarding fitness for inclusion in humanity. It is in effect the same mentality of the eugenics movement of the early 1900s, and we saw where that led to by the 1940s in the Nazi party.

The danger I've seen argued is that such a mindset lends itself to creating a kind of elitism in that eventually those who don't augment themselves would begin to feel it necessary to do so just to keep on par with those who do. For example I play music, if this was a professional thing for me and a group of people invested time and money in obtaining ten fingered hands and increased small muscle dexterity in order to play chords that we simply can't manage with our imperfect bodies then in order to keep pace I'm going to have to invest in the same "augments" or be doomed to fall behind.

I don't know what you play but if it's guitar then you've probably heard of Django Reinhardt, if not, he is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, most think he's the greatest Jazz guitarist at least. He was a Gypsy that played violin until a tragic trailer fire that crippled his left hand in such a way that he couldn't play violin so he decided he'd learn to play guitar. No guitar teacher would accept him because of his disabled left hand so he had to teach himself. With nobody to "teach" him what he could and couldn't do, he revolutionized jazz guitar. The guitarists of the day with physically perfect left hands were in awe of Django's ability, I doubt the presence of guitarists with extra fingers would have changed that.

Ultimately though I wonder as to whether this could simply be seen as what we do anyway during the process of evolution, a more adaptable mutation happens to work better and as such the old is phased out through selection pressure. The only distinction really is in this case we're taking control of that into our own hands and directing it where we want it to go.

I think the steroid problem in professional sports demonstrates that, I'm betting that when they took away Lance Armstrong's medals they elevated other steroid users into the winners box. The sport evolved into a situation that you can't compete without it, most of those who didn't use steroids got selected out of the sport.

At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
History certainly doesn't demonstrate that the greatest contributions to society or the highest quality of life correlates with neurotypicals or the most physically perfect human beings by any stretch of the imagination. Isaac Newton was autistic, had the technology you are discussing been available, I'm sure someone could have judged that he should have been "fixed" or "corrected" prior to birth. Neurodiversity is as healthy for society as biodiversity is for the environment.

This is a good point, I suppose the best way to look at this is to use another technology as an example, when Oppenheimer created nuclear energy he didn't create something that necessarily was beneficial or detrimental, he created a tool that was either good or bad depending on who used it and how. Yes it gradually began to overshadow older forms of power and forced many out of jobs, but at the same time it offered a great deal of benefits uniquely exclusive to itself (and consequently, risks uniquely exclusive to itself). The question at that point becomes, to which degree would utilizing this new science or tech be acceptable and to what degree would it be unacceptable and how would we as a species go about protecting that line from encroachment...could we?

If the technology was available, I can't imagine such technology wouldn't be used to make sure we don't get autistic people like Isaac Newton, to make humanity better.

The book I mentioned earlier, Dewdney's Life in the Transhuman Era brings up a somewhat stark truth in that, if the potential for such technology is ever realized then the genie is out of the bottle, it will be here and regardless of policy there will be nations or rogue organizations completely happy to do so to get that edge over those not willing to do so. If the Chinese military goes to war with North America for example and we have laws against using this sort of tech and they decide to ignore that then we end up in the same "musician problem" I mentioned above, either we would have to allow some degree of utilization or accept imminent defeat like the Japanese did when the US proved they were willing to use nuclear weapons. Should a group take the moral high ground so to speak with the foreknowledge that it would portend their doom? I don't know that our inherent survival instinct would allow us to do that, and at that point we come back to being forced to answer the same questions I posited initially.

Yep, we have rules about steroids in sports, but hasn't been much of a deterrent. It's implicit in competitiveness to assume winners are better than losers, we are always going to look for ways to emulate the qualities the winners have, and we will always be looking for that edge, a steroid and a win makes you a better human being, and it goes on and on.

Fact is, you are right, we have taken control of our own evolution already, we've extended memory with writing, printing press, and stronger and stronger storage and recall capabilities, extended our mental processing power with computers, our communications abilities with electronics and mass media, where does it stop? The answer is it won't stop, and the law of unintended consequences will step in to show us the folly of our ways when we go off center. I'm counting on the human spirit to rise to the occasion and help us check our excesses. Maybe the next Newton will be some flawed person that is going to be a person that steps up and shows us all that cooperation is healthier than competition, and neurodiversity is as healthy for the human race as biodiversity is for the environment.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Sidewalker
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11/6/2013 6:16:39 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 6:44:03 AM, Charos wrote:
At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:

At 11/5/2013 6:39:53 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:

Ultimately beneficial if used properly, but very, very dangerous.

Wouldn't that be true of any new technology really though? Would this be any more dangerous do you think than the advent of nuclear weapons or even historically the advent of crossbows in response to regular bows? How should we as a species go about minimizing that risk do you think?

I doubt that we as a species can do anything about it, I think excess is in our nature. I'm reminded of a TV commercial from before most of you guy's time, I think it was for butter or something like that. The character was this sweet smiling lady playing Mother Nature, in the end she gives a stern scowl and says "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" and there's a thunderclap. I think she's gonna be the one that steps in and show us where we went wrong with a pretty nasty scowl.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
cybertron1998
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11/6/2013 3:46:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 6:44:03 AM, Charos wrote:
At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
You approach the problem with it when you went to "Beyond that", I think the real problem with this philosophy is where do you draw the line. It's not a very long step from this to Eugenics, and the problem becomes you are judging fitness based on some external definition of what constitutes fitness as a human being. Is a person with a physical or mental handicap less a person, are they not a person? Such external evaluations of humans have never been particularly good at prejudging quality of life or contribution to society. This philosophy discounts the human spirit, physically and mentally challenged people typically step up to the challenge and overcome it and the human spirit prevails.

To a large extent I think those who support this philosophy would argue that it's not so much about those with physical or mental handicaps being less of a person and the support for this technology being about building beings who are "more" than simply human. The danger I've seen argued is that such a mindset lends itself to creating a kind of elitism in that eventually those who don't augment themselves would begin to feel it necessary to do so just to keep on par with those who do. For example I play music, if this was a professional thing for me and a group of people invested time and money in obtaining ten fingered hands and increased small muscle dexterity in order to play chords that we simply can't manage with our imperfect bodies then in order to keep pace I'm going to have to invest in the same "augments" or be doomed to fall behind.

Ultimately though I wonder as to whether this could simply be seen as what we do anyway during the process of evolution, a more adaptable mutation happens to work better and as such the old is phased out through selection pressure. The only distinction really is in this case we're taking control of that into our own hands and directing it where we want it to go.

At 11/5/2013 6:07:54 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
History certainly doesn't demonstrate that the greatest contributions to society or the highest quality of life correlates with neurotypicals or the most physically perfect human beings by any stretch of the imagination. Isaac Newton was autistic, had the technology you are discussing been available, I'm sure someone could have judged that he should have been "fixed" or "corrected" prior to birth. Neurodiversity is as healthy for society as biodiversity is for the environment.

This is a good point, I suppose the best way to look at this is to use another technology as an example, when Oppenheimer created nuclear energy he didn't create something that necessarily was beneficial or detrimental, he created a tool that was either good or bad depending on who used it and how. Yes it gradually began to overshadow older forms of power and forced many out of jobs, but at the same time it offered a great deal of benefits uniquely exclusive to itself (and consequently, risks uniquely exclusive to itself). The question at that point becomes, to which degree would utilizing this new science or tech be acceptable and to what degree would it be unacceptable and how would we as a species go about protecting that line from encroachment...could we?

The book I mentioned earlier, Dewdney's Life in the Transhuman Era brings up a somewhat stark truth in that, if the potential for such technology is ever realized then the genie is out of the bottle, it will be here and regardless of policy there will be nations or rogue organizations completely happy to do so to get that edge over those not willing to do so. If the Chinese military goes to war with North America for example and we have laws against using this sort of tech and they decide to ignore that then we end up in the same "musician problem" I mentioned above, either we would have to allow some degree of utilization or accept imminent defeat like the Japanese did when the US proved they were willing to use nuclear weapons. Should a group take the moral high ground so to speak with the foreknowledge that it would portend their doom? I don't know that our inherent survival instinct would allow us to do that, and at that point we come back to being forced to answer the same questions I posited initially.

At 11/5/2013 6:39:53 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:

Ultimately beneficial if used properly, but very, very dangerous.

Wouldn't that be true of any new technology really though? Would this be any more dangerous do you think than the advent of nuclear weapons or even historically the advent of crossbows in response to regular bows? How should we as a species go about minimizing that risk do you think?

At that time of the creation of nuclear weapons and crossbows, the benefits out weighed the costs. Yeah we found more costs bug not at the time of creation. At this time, the costs of moving your consciousness greatly out weigh the benefits. Honestly the "benefits" of it are mostly based on selfish desires.
Epsilon: There are so many stories where some brave hero decides to give their life to save the day, and because of their sacrifice, the good guys win, the survivors all cheer, and everybody lives happily ever after. But the hero... never gets to see that ending. They'll never know if their sacrifice actually made a difference. They'll never know if the day was really saved. In the end, they just have to have faith.
Cheshire
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11/6/2013 7:40:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/5/2013 4:03:59 AM, Charos wrote:
My questions are, what is everyone's opinion on the moral implications of this form of philosophy? Would removing a child's predisposition for addiction or MS be acceptable or does this seem stepping outside the bounds of what's acceptable morally for us as a species? Why or why not?

I think that as society advances to reach that stage it will develop morals concerning it. When vaccines were first developed it was controversial, and there are people who do not accept them today. I think that for health purposes though, transhumanism will be generally accepted.

Beyond that more black and white application (after all, who among us wouldn't like to see cancer removed or reduced from society?) what if this technology was used in order to ensure more grey-area "improvements"? As an example this tech could be controlled in such a way that only soldiers or citizens who lose limbs are capable of obtaining these upgrades where others may be willing to remove perfectly healthy body parts in order to give themselves a social edge. Others may use genetic selection in order to ensure their child has the aesthetic traits they want such as hair or eye color. Where do you feel the line should be drawn in this, if you feel there should be one? And again, why or why not?

At first I think society will jump at the chance to 'upgrade' themselves, but eventually I think the trend will die out. People will probably weed out mutated genes, and general susceptibilities, but what parent wants to take the blame for their teenager's complaint about not being attractive?
Charos
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11/7/2013 5:46:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/6/2013 6:11:16 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
That still seems to be a matter of defining a human being by something external, it just seems that if you are building human beings that are "more" than simply human because of some physical or mental ability then you are judging someone with a physical or mental handicap as less than simply human. You are talking about genetics and biological engineering, in effect determining the qualifications of who gets to be born based on this judgment regarding fitness for inclusion in humanity. It is in effect the same mentality of the eugenics movement of the early 1900s, and we saw where that led to by the 1940s in the Nazi party.

It can be a dangerous precedent...it seems natural a parent would want to give their kid the best leg up they could, my college work was all towards social services and I did quite a lot of work through that with mentally handicapped kids, you mentioned autism for example and while there's definitely a lot of intellect that can come with that (the so-called "idiot savant" able to repeat a musical piece instantly after only hearing it once and such), most would happily trade that to be able to interact with other people normally. In a lot of ways this seems more a neutral idea, it's like a knife kind of, I can use a knife to stab someone to death or to cut food to feed myself. Neither approach implies the knife itself to be good or bad, it's the way the tool is used that defines that. The question is as to whether we would be able to use such a tool as genetics and biology constructively rather than destructively.

At 11/6/2013 6:11:16 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
I don't know what you play but if it's guitar then you've probably heard of Django Reinhardt, if not, he is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, most think he's the greatest Jazz guitarist at least. He was a Gypsy that played violin until a tragic trailer fire that crippled his left hand in such a way that he couldn't play violin so he decided he'd learn to play guitar. No guitar teacher would accept him because of his disabled left hand so he had to teach himself. With nobody to "teach" him what he could and couldn't do, he revolutionized jazz guitar. The guitarists of the day with physically perfect left hands were in awe of Django's ability, I doubt the presence of guitarists with extra fingers would have changed that.

I have heard of Django, another of my personal guitar hero's, Jeff Martin from the Tea Party named his son Django after him :) I play most stringed instruments, but my core is primarily acoustic guitar, give me a bass though and all the notes are the same so I can usually work it out quite readily. Never got bowed instruments all that well though, violin or viola...a lot of proponents of this approach would ask "but what could Django have been able to do if we could give him back his hand?"

At 11/6/2013 6:11:16 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
Fact is, you are right, we have taken control of our own evolution already, we've extended memory with writing, printing press, and stronger and stronger storage and recall capabilities, extended our mental processing power with computers, our communications abilities with electronics and mass media, where does it stop? The answer is it won't stop, and the law of unintended consequences will step in to show us the folly of our ways when we go off center. I'm counting on the human spirit to rise to the occasion and help us check our excesses. Maybe the next Newton will be some flawed person that is going to be a person that steps up and shows us all that cooperation is healthier than competition, and neurodiversity is as healthy for the human race as biodiversity is for the environment.

We've also been playing in the realm of genetics for a hell of a long time, for example all the species of dogs we have were literally "created" by us, cows that give milk have been built by us, even many of the human traits we see were the result of inclusive societies ensuring breeding only went on within their own given tribe. The main difference here is scale, where that took hundreds of generations of work, this is the ability to do it in one generation. Also, looking at the tech side of things, improving something we have wouldn't necessarily mean removing the other. Let's say for example we could get Newton and without changing his core personality we gave him instant photographic memory on top of what he already was. I can only imagine the connections he would have made with things he'd long forgotten that he didn't with his memory as was. Also, do you think who decides what's occurring would affect things? If I personally chose to do something like the didactic memory I mentioned to myself on my own, would that be different than a parent doing it "to" me in utero?

At 11/6/2013 3:46:01 PM, cybertron1998 wrote:
At that time of the creation of nuclear weapons and crossbows, the benefits out weighed the costs. Yeah we found more costs bug not at the time of creation. At this time, the costs of moving your consciousness greatly out weigh the benefits. Honestly the "benefits" of it are mostly based on selfish desires.

Is that necessarily a bad thing though? I mean, I agree it isn't the most altruistic of motives, but the nuclear bomb was made by the US largely out of self-interest, they knew the German's would make one eventually if left to it and jumped to do it themselves so as to devastate them as hard as possible and avoid that fate themselves. I agree that at the moment the costs outweigh the benefits (I know I wouldn't want someone jamming a chip in my brain at the moment) but eventually that line is going to get crossed where the cost is outweighed by the reality that if we don't do it and invest in researching it here, someone will, and by then our options will be accepting it and fading into the background or rushing to utilize it ourselves. I really do wonder whether it isn't just inevitable given time.

At 11/6/2013 7:40:39 PM, Cheshire wrote:
At first I think society will jump at the chance to 'upgrade' themselves, but eventually I think the trend will die out. People will probably weed out mutated genes, and general susceptibilities, but what parent wants to take the blame for their teenager's complaint about not being attractive?

Isn't that much the same thing people said about computers initially too? That they'd reach a sort of nadir in usefulness...I also just noticed this:

http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com...

Which is, while rudimentary, along a similar line of development if anyone's interested :)
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
Sidewalker
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11/8/2013 11:58:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/7/2013 5:46:43 PM, Charos wrote:

a lot of proponents of this approach would ask "but what could Django have been able to do if we could give him back his hand?"

That's easy, he'd have been able to play guitar just like everybody else, which would have been a tragedy for the rest of us.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Charos
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11/8/2013 2:51:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/8/2013 11:58:05 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
At 11/7/2013 5:46:43 PM, Charos wrote:

a lot of proponents of this approach would ask "but what could Django have been able to do if we could give him back his hand?"

That's easy, he'd have been able to play guitar just like everybody else, which would have been a tragedy for the rest of us.

I dunno, I mean Django would still be Django, but then we're getting into a chicken or egg sort of thing, "was django great because he had to play in a certain way" or "was django great because he was great". I often see Tony Iommi mentioned in much the same way, he'd cut the tips of two fingers off in a sheet metal accident and used homemade prosthetics to play, found his fingers getting sore and so loosened up the strings to make it easier on himself and ended up creating the dark, crunchy metal sound because of it. One has to wonder though, would any of these guys be any less brilliant artists if they hadn't done these things? Sure, the fact that they overcame something was certainly indicative of them being brilliant, but was it the injury or disability that made them great, or were they great in and of themselves?
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/9/2013 8:00:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
In a certain sense, I am an enthusiastic transhumanist. There is something immanently and viscerally satisfying about the idea of technological augmentation of our biology. What I think characterizes our species more than anything is our amorphous, inexhaustible potentiality, part of the experience of which is the relinquishing of biological essentialism, the insistence that there is some inviolable biological locus of the human which we threaten or destroy by participating in extensive physiological manipulation. In this commitment, however, I do not think the name "transhuman" is appropriate. The idea of trans- coincides with surpassing, transcending, moving beyond. I do not share the opinion of those who suggest that technology is something external to the human (when, in reality, technology, the use of tools, is co-constitutive with human evolution), something which can help us transcend or perfect ourselves. This only mimicks the essentialist error, except that, contrary to the essentialist's insistence on protecting a biological heritage, the transhuman contention is that, even if mankind does possess a biological essence, abandoning it in favor of hybridization (or, really, perfection in the form of retreat from biological limitations) is preferable.

I contend, in contrast to both of these, that the exploration of the possibilities of our own bodies through manipulation are among the most authentic possible experiences of being human, of constructing oneself and one's world. It isn't as if we don't already do this--we work out, we take vitamins, we study--in fact, it is our unique capacity for distancing ourselves from our immediate surroundings to, through and as language, reflect upon and make sense of our world which exposes us in our openness. I cannot imagine a more complex constructive operation than the partitioning and syntactical ordering of the world through the signs and signatures which permit us to articulate and be understood. Compared to so detailed a manipulation (and the possibilities this implies), something like the gradually more sophisticated augmentation of the body seems less counterintuitive.

In this context, I think what we're faced with is the possibility of being entirely human without being humanistic, i.e., the idea that the human is really what endures and survives humanism, the boundlessness which exceeds every attempt at delimitation. This is not to say that the transhuman archetype (the cyborg) is obligatory, or that anyone who refuses to participate in it is squandering a special human power; rather, the transhuman, in its willingness to turn itself into a site of exploration, perfectly exemplifies the more general potentiality by which we are characterized and which can never be completely consumed.

What's really at stake is not that we produce some technology, nor which technologies we produce, nor even how we use them, but the regimes and discourses which govern their use. I suggested the dominion of linguistic manipulation over physical, and this acquires here a fuller sense. The potentiality of which the transhuman (which we could understand, not as a surpassing of the human, but as what survives the delimitation and identification of the essentially human) is representative is not just a potential to do this or that thing, to be this or that way, but also a potential not to, or the potential to be otherwise. The transhuman cannot help carrying risks, but this is something which inheres in every place and moment we inhabit. Someone can murder his children as easily as be a good father, and someone can be a cruel dictator as easily as a wise and gentle leader. Even language finds itself split between words and things, truth and falsehood, sincerity and lie, sign and discourse. There will always, in all things, be a residue or remainder of what remains potential. In every healthy body there inheres weakness, as there remain antidotes dormant in the structure of poisons. Our fate, bound inextricably with the fate of the sorts of technologies to which we've gestured, will ultimately be decided by how we construct and order the world in which these modifications take place. I once read a lovely aphorism which states that those in command cannot employ force on everyone all the time--at least some of the time, submission must be voluntary, and this is the position assumed by the stories we tell (that homosexuality is unnatural or a sin, that illegal immigrants and refugees are of a fundamentally different order than legal citizens, that skin color ought to be determinant of social, political, and moral status, that it is or isn't fair for some to be rich and others poor, that those who do not follow the true religion ought to be put to death). If we convince ourselves that there is something sacred about our biology, or that those with technological enhancements are deserving of higher status, the outcomes will likely be unpleasant. But this is neither a technological problem nor a political problem. It is an ethical problem insofar as our relation with our language, with that in which we put ourselves and our world at stake, is first of all an ethical relation. Potentiality is the terrain of ethics, and navigating this terrain is as much a cause for care and attentiveness as an occasion for celebration. And, if it is true that our species is not up to the challenge, then we only fool ourselves to think that fleeing from the transhuman will deliver us from our inescapable responsibility.
Charos
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11/10/2013 1:43:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/9/2013 8:00:45 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
In a certain sense, I am an enthusiastic transhumanist. There is something immanently and viscerally satisfying about the idea of technological augmentation of our biology. What I think characterizes our species more than anything is our amorphous, inexhaustible potentiality, part of the experience of which is the relinquishing of biological essentialism, the insistence that there is some inviolable biological locus of the human which we threaten or destroy by participating in extensive physiological manipulation. In this commitment, however, I do not think the name "transhuman" is appropriate. The idea of trans- coincides with surpassing, transcending, moving beyond. I do not share the opinion of those who suggest that technology is something external to the human (when, in reality, technology, the use of tools, is co-constitutive with human evolution), something which can help us transcend or perfect ourselves. This only mimicks the essentialist error, except that, contrary to the essentialist's insistence on protecting a biological heritage, the transhuman contention is that, even if mankind does possess a biological essence, abandoning it in favor of hybridization (or, really, perfection in the form of retreat from biological limitations) is preferable.

I contend, in contrast to both of these, that the exploration of the possibilities of our own bodies through manipulation are among the most authentic possible experiences of being human, of constructing oneself and one's world. It isn't as if we don't already do this--we work out, we take vitamins, we study--in fact, it is our unique capacity for distancing ourselves from our immediate surroundings to, through and as language, reflect upon and make sense of our world which exposes us in our openness. I cannot imagine a more complex constructive operation than the partitioning and syntactical ordering of the world through the signs and signatures which permit us to articulate and be understood. Compared to so detailed a manipulation (and the possibilities this implies), something like the gradually more sophisticated augmentation of the body seems less counterintuitive.

In this context, I think what we're faced with is the possibility of being entirely human without being humanistic, i.e., the idea that the human is really what endures and survives humanism, the boundlessness which exceeds every attempt at delimitation. This is not to say that the transhuman archetype (the cyborg) is obligatory, or that anyone who refuses to participate in it is squandering a special human power; rather, the transhuman, in its willingness to turn itself into a site of exploration, perfectly exemplifies the more general potentiality by which we are characterized and which can never be completely consumed.

What's really at stake is not that we produce some technology, nor which technologies we produce, nor even how we use them, but the regimes and discourses which govern their use. I suggested the dominion of linguistic manipulation over physical, and this acquires here a fuller sense. The potentiality of which the transhuman (which we could understand, not as a surpassing of the human, but as what survives the delimitation and identification of the essentially human) is representative is not just a potential to do this or that thing, to be this or that way, but also a potential not to, or the potential to be otherwise. The transhuman cannot help carrying risks, but this is something which inheres in every place and moment we inhabit. Someone can murder his children as easily as be a good father, and someone can be a cruel dictator as easily as a wise and gentle leader. Even language finds itself split between words and things, truth and falsehood, sincerity and lie, sign and discourse. There will always, in all things, be a residue or remainder of what remains potential. In every healthy body there inheres weakness, as there remain antidotes dormant in the structure of poisons. Our fate, bound inextricably with the fate of the sorts of technologies to which we've gestured, will ultimately be decided by how we construct and order the world in which these modifications take place. I once read a lovely aphorism which states that those in command cannot employ force on everyone all the time--at least some of the time, submission must be voluntary, and this is the position assumed by the stories we tell (that homosexuality is unnatural or a sin, that illegal immigrants and refugees are of a fundamentally different order than legal citizens, that skin color ought to be determinant of social, political, and moral status, that it is or isn't fair for some to be rich and others poor, that those who do not follow the true religion ought to be put to death). If we convince ourselves that there is something sacred about our biology, or that those with technological enhancements are deserving of higher status, the outcomes will likely be unpleasant. But this is neither a technological problem nor a political problem. It is an ethical problem insofar as our relation with our language, with that in which we put ourselves and our world at stake, is first of all an ethical relation. Potentiality is the terrain of ethics, and navigating this terrain is as much a cause for care and attentiveness as an occasion for celebration. And, if it is true that our species is not up to the challenge, then we only fool ourselves to think that fleeing from the transhuman will deliver us from our inescapable responsibility.

So in essence what you're saying is basically that these technologies, genetic manipulation, integrating technology with flesh and so forth are effectively extensions of our own "technological children" so to speak. Or rather, technology is essentially a child of our own genius and as such using it in such a manner that it becomes a part of us is intrinsically of value in and of itself? I mentioned earlier on that Dewdney book "Last Flesh" that kind of introduced the concept to me and he takes very much the same basic view. He actually goes a step beyond and contends that we've been enacting variations on the theme for thousands of years now. Modifying ourselves through integrating the "obtained" (be it bone, steel or whichever) into our bodies and to alter our bodies by using such things as piercings, neck stretching and other such bodily modification. His basic argument is that integrating those things we create into us is fundamentally ingrained in us as a species and as such the act, however it manifests, is intrinsically "natural" for us.

It was one of the sources that, while it didn't necessarily introduce it to me, changed my perspective on it from basically one of mistrust to one of excitement. Out of curiosity, has anyone on here seen the Japanese film "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" before? It always seemed that the Japanese had a much more accepting mindset about this kind of self-transcendence we lack in the West. Tetsuo, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments: Lain and even films like Akira touch on the subject in a very positive, or at least neutral light. In the west art will touch on it but it tends to be something approached from a much less forgiving mindset, The Matrix for example gives the basic message that the computers are antagonists, the Matrix (integrating technology with flesh) is seen as a sort of trap. I wonder what it is socially about Western civilization that contrasts with Eastern that would account for that kind of difference.
*+_Charos_+*

"Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings
who thought themselves good because
they had no claws"
--Nietzsche
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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11/10/2013 2:14:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/10/2013 1:43:00 PM, Charos wrote:
So in essence what you're saying is basically that these technologies, genetic manipulation, integrating technology with flesh and so forth are effectively extensions of our own "technological children" so to speak. Or rather, technology is essentially a child of our own genius and as such using it in such a manner that it becomes a part of us is intrinsically of value in and of itself?

What I'm saying is that technology is something neither outside us nor of our own invention, but constitutes the human as much as it is constituted by it. I'm thinking not only of the bodily modification to which you gesture below, but even something like agriculture, which arguably effected in humans serious phenotypic (and likely genotypic) change. In that sense, technology is both the paradigm and the product of human potentiality.

I mentioned earlier on that Dewdney book "Last Flesh" that kind of introduced the concept to me and he takes very much the same basic view. He actually goes a step beyond and contends that we've been enacting variations on the theme for thousands of years now. Modifying ourselves through integrating the "obtained" (be it bone, steel or whichever) into our bodies and to alter our bodies by using such things as piercings, neck stretching and other such bodily modification. His basic argument is that integrating those things we create into us is fundamentally ingrained in us as a species and as such the act, however it manifests, is intrinsically "natural" for us.

It was one of the sources that, while it didn't necessarily introduce it to me, changed my perspective on it from basically one of mistrust to one of excitement. Out of curiosity, has anyone on here seen the Japanese film "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" before? It always seemed that the Japanese had a much more accepting mindset about this kind of self-transcendence we lack in the West. Tetsuo, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments: Lain and even films like Akira touch on the subject in a very positive, or at least neutral light. In the west art will touch on it but it tends to be something approached from a much less forgiving mindset, The Matrix for example gives the basic message that the computers are antagonists, the Matrix (integrating technology with flesh) is seen as a sort of trap. I wonder what it is socially about Western civilization that contrasts with Eastern that would account for that kind of difference.
Cody_Franklin
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11/10/2013 2:15:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/10/2013 1:43:00 PM, Charos wrote:
So in essence what you're saying is basically that these technologies, genetic manipulation, integrating technology with flesh and so forth are effectively extensions of our own "technological children" so to speak. Or rather, technology is essentially a child of our own genius and as such using it in such a manner that it becomes a part of us is intrinsically of value in and of itself?

What I'm saying is that technology is something neither outside us nor of our own invention, but constitutes the human as much as it is constituted by it. I'm thinking not only of the bodily modification to which you gesture below, but even something like agriculture, which arguably effected in humans serious phenotypic (and likely genotypic) change. In that sense, technology is both the paradigm and the product of human potentiality.

I mentioned earlier on that Dewdney book "Last Flesh" that kind of introduced the concept to me and he takes very much the same basic view. He actually goes a step beyond and contends that we've been enacting variations on the theme for thousands of years now. Modifying ourselves through integrating the "obtained" (be it bone, steel or whichever) into our bodies and to alter our bodies by using such things as piercings, neck stretching and other such bodily modification. His basic argument is that integrating those things we create into us is fundamentally ingrained in us as a species and as such the act, however it manifests, is intrinsically "natural" for us.

It was one of the sources that, while it didn't necessarily introduce it to me, changed my perspective on it from basically one of mistrust to one of excitement. Out of curiosity, has anyone on here seen the Japanese film "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" before? It always seemed that the Japanese had a much more accepting mindset about this kind of self-transcendence we lack in the West. Tetsuo, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments: Lain and even films like Akira touch on the subject in a very positive, or at least neutral light. In the west art will touch on it but it tends to be something approached from a much less forgiving mindset, The Matrix for example gives the basic message that the computers are antagonists, the Matrix (integrating technology with flesh) is seen as a sort of trap. I wonder what it is socially about Western civilization that contrasts with Eastern that would account for that kind of difference.