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Transhumanism


Lord J

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[c=#00dd00]Err... I can't tell if that means you agree or disagree.[/c] huh.gif

I like the way you express your thoughts. As for whether I personally agree or not, I must say that your view of humanity seems too dark at times, but then again, that's certainly justified.

[c=#00dd00]I would have absolutely no objection to correcting human behavior - if it were possible, and for the common good. But I don't think it's possible, and even if it were possible, I don't think it would be for the common good.[/c]

It is my understanding that certain aspects of individual behaviour can be at least temporarily affected by the administration of various psychotropic and/or nootropic agents, and via brain surgery. I suppose it is quite possible that in the future these methods will be more effective, and maybe even other methods will be developed as well as our understanding of the human brain deepens.

[c=#00dd00]Second, even if it were possible to fine tune human behavior, we'd still have a major problem: Who can be trusted with the power to do this? How could we ever be sure that the people undertaking this project have good intentions - or that they won't be corrupted by the power we put into their hands?[/c]

Yeah, that is definitely the core of the problem: said corrective procedures could be used to create fearless, remorseless soldiers just as well as (or maybe even more readily than) they could be used to make people generally nicer.

There's yet another ethical aspect of this problem (given that such corrections are indeed going to be effective and permanent). Developing positive personal traits can be viewed as a part of more global progress in the development of an individual. If attaining such positive qualities will be a matter of therapy, that might actually lead to the devaluation of the whole personal development process. Even though I realize this whole line of reasoning may be a bit far-fetched, there are implications in this that should better be not overlooked.

[c=#00dd00]Yes, I've read it. As you might expect, I really dislike We. It's not just because the novel is anti-communist; I dislike We because its message is against science, reason, and modernity. It's just one more in a long list of literary works complaining that modern industrial society turns people into numbers (literally, in Zamyatin's case), crushes the soul and takes all the wonder out of life.

Maybe that was a creative new thing to say in the 1920s, and certainly seems to have been part of the spirit of the times (see Metropolis), but today there is far too much mistrust of progress. And this mistrust is wrong. We are living longer, happier, healthier lives precisely because of the kind of rationalization of society that Zamyatin deplored. Yes, we are becoming more integrated, more like parts in a greater whole - and that is a very good thing. We can do more, build more, think more than ever before. We can talk across continents and access all the art, music and literature of Humankind from our living rooms. We are more dependent on each other than ever before, and we are all better off thanks to it. It is time to stop dreaming about some romantic past that never happened, and start dreaming more about our technological, collective future.[/c]

I also dislike the novel for the portrayal of the society which I find highly unrealistic in the first place. Unlike Orwell, real political issues are either left unexplored or presented in a very weird way. However, I understand the author's idea or, rather, his fear that scientific/industrial progress would threaten to dehumanize us - however, the ways in which it really did that, he couldn't even imagine.

Oh, it had just occurred to me that the transhumanist ideas (as presented in this discussion at least), seem to bear a strong resemblance to eugenics.

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From a theoretical perspective, one of the very purposes of religion is to make people nicer, more considerate, and less impulsive or dependent on vice. There are failures all along the way: religions endorse ingroup altruism, but outgroup condemnation and fear. But sometimes religion gives people a form of community and accountability that their lives lack. This is an example of a technology (of sorts) to control and alter human behavior that is somewhat successful. As for systematically changing behavior, there is ample evidence from the field of applied behavior analysis.

I've just recently finished reading Living Walden Two, as you'll remember me mentioning in a previous thread. One of the major problems with Skinner's Walden Two was its dependence on a central set of Planners who decided upon the use of behavioral modification to improve life in the community. These planners (and their agenda) were not elected democratically, but because they were trained in the ethical use of scientific methods, it was assumed that they would not abuse their power. In the construction of North American "Walden Two communities", though, it became readily apparent that people did not trust the planner system. The only way the majority of those communities survived was to use some form of democratic process, which is fraught with apathy, competition, and inactivity. The problem with Skinner's belief that planners can be trusted to rule unimpeded in a community setting, of course, is that planners are human beings too. We're very dependent upon this concept of self-determination, which I believe is largely an inherited trait.

Speaking of inherited traits; eugenics is absolutely the next logical step in this question. But then, eugenics has been used to validate genocide and acts of racism/bigotry. If we can determine whether someone is likely to produce mentally or physically challenged offspring, should we prevent them from producing offspring at all? What if they have Huntington's chorea? What if they are overweight?

Then there is the question of creating a new generation of balanced, intelligent citizens environmentally: Should overweight parents be allowed to raise their own kids? How about undereducated parents? Single mothers? Unemployed parents?

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the problem remains the same as long as (1) the means of production are private property, and (2) their owners use them for personal gain.<br /><br />Communists propose to solve the problem by removing condition (1). I suppose you could also solve the problem by removing condition (2) - in other words, by making all the capitalists altruistic, so that they would always act for the common good. But if you had the power to play around with the minds of the capitalists, then you would also have the power to nationalize their property and change the economic system (which is by far the easier solution).
Wrong! That is where Communism failed: (2). As you stated (1) suffices. Add (2) and you have a failure.
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From a theoretical perspective, one of the very purposes of religion is to make people nicer, more considerate, and less impulsive or dependent on vice.

I'm afraid I'll have to disagree: becoming nicer and less dependent on vice might be among the means of attaining the goals set forth by a particular religion, but the main purpose of religious practices is to give the practitioners a certain way of interacting with the supernatural. The result of such interaction depends on the nature of the religion itself (salvation, enlightenment or just about anything else), and so are the means by which the practitioners move towards these goals. Not every religion in the world teaches kindness, tolerance and love as necessary for attaining whatever religious experiences and/or merits it offers to the practitioners.

Speaking of inherited traits; eugenics is absolutely the next logical step in this question. But then, eugenics has been used to validate genocide and acts of racism/bigotry. If we can determine whether someone is likely to produce mentally or physically challenged offspring, should we prevent them from producing offspring at all? What if they have Huntington's chorea? What if they are overweight?

Then there is the question of creating a new generation of balanced, intelligent citizens environmentally: Should overweight parents be allowed to raise their own kids? How about undereducated parents? Single mothers? Unemployed parents?

Answering No to these questions might very well be viewed as simply anti-Constitutional, and violating basic civil and/or human rights.

Generally, I find the whole idea of someone deciding what other people should or should not do, and whether they are "worthy"/good enough or not for any social activity simply because of what they are, especially if such decisions come in the form of overgeneralised statements like "Overweight people/people with IQ less than 75/people wearing glasses should not be allowed to raise their own children/attend high school/have the right to vote etc.", repulsive and bordering on fascism. There is a set of universally agreed rights and responsibilities of people living in a modern society, and it is absolutely nowhere stated that all people have to be equally "engineered" to function correctly, or that there are strict norms of what an average human should be, with everyone falling outside these norms being viewed as something that must be "corrected".

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Yes, but those rights and responsibilities are based on the concept of self determinism; that out of the noise of the human condition-- the braying, clanging, screaming nonsense-- the human species will probably continue because of a few right decisions made by a few of the right people. It's like owning a business where the employees play casino games all day. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but you think, somehow that you'll make a huge profit because you have been told that if the employees really want it, they can win the games. The fact of the matter, though, is that it's a crappy business model because no matter of belief will change the laws of probability.

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... it is absolutely nowhere stated that all people have to be equally &amp;amp;quot;engineered&amp;amp;quot; to function correctly, or that there are strict norms of what an average human should be...

Plus that that would be a very dull world to live in.

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Yes, but those rights and responsibilities are based on the concept of self determinism; that out of the noise of the human condition-- the braying, clanging, screaming nonsense-- the human species will probably continue because of a few right decisions made by a few of the right people. It's like owning a business where the employees play casino games all day. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but you think, somehow that you'll make a huge profit because you have been told that if the employees really want it, they can win the games. The fact of the matter, though, is that it's a crappy business model because no matter of belief will change the laws of probability.

Basically, what you're saying here is that humanity is inherently faulty, and it can be "corrected" by scientific methods, right? Because I do not see any immediate correlation between the basic human rights of all people and the "crappy business model" you presented here.

You also seem to imply that humans are chaotic, and this is wrong. Yes, humans are chaotic, but this is by no means wrong. I suppose Dante will probably give some valuable input on how evolutionary processes work, and how the apparently chaotic phenomena fit into this process.

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Hmm... My understanding (which, granted, may be mistaken) of the "basic human rights of all people" is that people should be free from tyranny (coerced participation in government affairs) and free to participate in any aspect of society they choose without discrimination due to any "discriminable" feature. I'm pretty sure that the essential part of this definition is "freedom", which implies that humans have some unseen will, identity, or soul, that should direct their actions; not external, physical forces. My argument is that this concept of "freedom" is inherently flawed, because it requires personal accountability, which leads to the removal of said freedoms due to the simple fact that people act in accordance with society, not some invisible homunculus.

In reality, "basic human rights" is a codephrase for countries to say, "Hey, I like your resources. So... I'm going to invade you and take your resources. But I'll tell everyone that I'm not invading; I'm liberating your people from your oppressive regime!"

Now interestingly, I would also argue that humans are very sensitive to coercion; we know when other people are pulling our strings, and we do not like it! This is undoubtedly inherited, and is functionally a very positive trait in that we are likely to use countercontrol (revolution) to ensure our freedoms. Of course, this is all based on the definition of "coercion" as control by pain, fear, hunger, etc: No one objects to a controller that says, "Hey, if you do what I want, I'll give you money, food and sex!" The SS didn't object to the Holocaust, afterall, nor did the Civil Conservation Corps object to socialism... at least, that which was envisioned by FDR. You see, the phrase "human rights" is relative at best. Do we have the right to own guns? Do we have the right to shoot trespassers? Do we have the right to shoot people that look like trespassers? ...Like they might trespass at some point in their lives?

And yet, when someone decides that someone looks like a trespasser, or that someone is mean, or drunk, or a different ethnic, race, or sexual identity from their own, and therefore should be shot, they are prosecuted for their individual crimes when society set up the scenario to begin with!

Sorry, that sentence isn't very clear, but I think you probably get the drift.

Finally, on chaos. Firstly, I want to address your use of the word "wrong". When I use moral statements (such as above, when I was referring to a "crappy business plan") I usually mean them in a functional sense: i.e., the above plan is bad, because it is not likely to result in the valued outcome: profit. I try very, very hard to never use moral statements in the context of absolutism: that your idea is "good" and my idea is "bad". Moral absolutism is a religious practice that has incorporated itself into philosophy to the detriment of functional rational discourse. Secondly, I would never state that chaos has not produced meaningful and important outcomes in the past. However, to use natural selection as an argument to retain our current notion of "human rights" seems antithetical. Maintaining human rights means not allowing the weak, frail, sickly, unintelligent, and poor to be dominated by the strong, intelligent, and wealthy. Without the selection of certain characteristics in current society (usually strength, intelligence, and/or wealth) society ceases to be "naturally selected" and comes under the auspices of higher cognitive function and altruism (which, to be fair, is a naturally selected trait, imho). Natural selection and chaos isn't good or evil, because it doesn't have a purpose (in my personal opinion), it just does what it does.

Essentially, what I'm arguing is in line with natural selection: we have progressed to a point that we know that humans tend to make choices that seem right, right now, but have dire consequences in the long run. In order to save our species from extinction (i.e., nuclear holocaust, climate change, waking Cthulhu) we should use that advanced cognitive development; that understanding to promote change.

You see, I don't really care about what is "good and right" (except in terms of what I think is best for my friends and family; most of which are poor, and some being minorities, of one sort or another). I care about the survival of the species.

I know, I'm a drama queen. ;)

EDIT: Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot to address your response to my concept of religion. Essentially, I disagree with you (surprise, surprise). Perhaps some religions are based solely on the concept of identifying with the supernatural, but I would argue that the exclusive focus on the supernatural is what differentiates religion from mysticism: the religions that I am familiar with are based upon describing the relationship of humankind with the world around him, usually in terms of the consequences of his behavior (whether "sinful" or "virtuous") and how to make his life better; whereas mysticism, or more commonly, "spirituality" typically refers to one's recognition of things they do not understand. Popular religion requires change in external human behavior: "repentance", "transcendence", "faith", "self-awareness", etc. based on some outcome: "the afterlife", "karma", "reincarnation", "a better world".

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Way back when, Edric, I recall you arguing that assuming the existence of extraterrestrial life was flawed as we have only one example of a planet with life to work from. I disagreed, but I mention it because you seem to be making the same assumption about sapient species. Just because our own has a penchant for war and suffering doesn't mean that others (of our creation, possibly) will as well.

Further, just because something has always happened before, doesn't mean it will continue to do so. A small point, but I thought it worth mentioning. After all, you're the one who argued that there is no such thing as "human nature."

[c=#00dd00]There is no such thing as "human nature", and I do not believe our species has a penchant for war and suffering. When I said that multiple human-derived sapient species will inevitably try to enslave or exterminate each other, I did not mean they would do this out of some innate bloodlust.

The problem is not biological, but social. It is extremely unlikely that different species could live together in the same society. They would probably each prefer to live together with their own kind. Thus they would form separate societies, with much greater differences between them than the various human societies that exist today. These differences would lead the members of one species to look upon the other species with mistrust, fear and perhaps disgust. It would then be a simple matter for a few ambitious individuals of one species to exploit these feelings, persuade their fellows that the other species are evil and dangerous, and start a war in order to advance their own personal power. This scenario has already happened thousands of times with separate human societies.

Of course, that's assuming that the various species are about equal in intelligence, which is a good case scenario. If species A is far more intelligent than species B, things get much worse. It becomes likely that A will treat B the way we treat animals - chimps, or dogs, or cattle. Some members of A might hunt B for sport, or dissect them for scientific purposes. Others might be more kind-hearted and keep members of species B as pets - which still involves buying and selling them, separating parents from children, and euthanizing sick or old individuals. There might even be some B-rights advocates arguing that species B should be protected from cruelty. But not even they would support anything that we might call freedom for species B.

Now imagine if Homo sapiens was species B. It would be a horrific, dystopian world for us. We would be treated like dogs - at best. At worst, we would be treated like rats. You see, rats are very smart creatures, but that doesn't stop us from killing them by the thousands.

If you knew this was the coming future of Humanity, what would you do? What would you say if you saw the early rise of species A - some kind of species of super-human intelligence? I would say that we should strike first with overwhelming force, and exterminate species A while we still have the numerical advantage. I would say that it is better to die a free human than to live as the favoured pet of an ├╝bermensch. And I would say that we must start fighting while we can afford to lose a hundred of us for every one of them we kill - and still win. After all, if intelligence is on their side, our side must rely on numbers.

So the war would start.[/c]

Anyway, you seem to have misunderstood what I was saying. The elephant man and the octocular woman (I wish I'd chosen better examples now) aren't seperate species. They couldn't interbreed, which is the definition of species that I like to work with, but that doesn't necessarily mean that this will always be the case.

In the future I envision, everything will be alterable. And since everything is alterable, everything is cosmetic. Height, colour, number of limbs, shape of nose, length of digestive tract, ability to build muscle, these will not only be alterable in zygotes, but in adults as well. A war between peoples makes no sense when there are no discrete peoples. How, for example, could an Aryan race ever exist when the characteristics of that race (whatever they may be) could be adopted in a matter of weeks, or days? How could digital humans and biological ones ever come to blows when one could become the other, even be turned into the other against their will? Bit difficult to hold any racial principles when DNA is that fluid.

[c=#00dd00]Ok, well, that's a completely different story. In everything I said so far, I was assuming the existence of separate and distinct species, such that you would always remain a member of the species you were born into. If that is not the case, and you can change your appearance at will, then you are correct.

However, as I said in my previous post and also just above here, differences of appearance are a lot less dangerous than differences of intelligence. And if it is possible to augment human intelligence, then I really don't see how we could possibly avoid creating different castes with different levels of intelligence.[/c]

If I were writing a sci-fi novel on the subject (and hey, I just might) I would imagine that it wouldn't be just physical characteristics that could be so altered. If we're extrapolating the technology to do what I've described, it's not such a leap to believe that we'll have a better understanding of the brain. I do think that some degree of tuning will be possible. Making a connection between sexual attraction and grapefruit, for example. And in this novel, there would be some sort of overseeing body to ensure that this technology is not abused (making a person happy to work in salt mines all day, for example). Would it be perfect? Probably not. But such a body would have to exist, for self-protection if no other reason.

[c=#00dd00]And who watches the watchers?[/c]

And I admit, I am concerned about the implications, not just because of the possibility of reprogramming people against their will, but the possibility that people might choose to change themselves in unhealthy and unnecessary ways. Anorexia of the brain, believing that they have to think differently to be the person they want to be.

But such is the double-edged sword.

[c=#00dd00]I don't think a double-edged sword is the appropriate metaphor. Rather, I think the appropriate metaphor is this.[/c]

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Finally, on chaos. Firstly, I want to address your use of the word "wrong". When I use moral statements (such as above, when I was referring to a "crappy business plan") I usually mean them in a functional sense: i.e., the above plan is bad, because it is not likely to result in the valued outcome: profit. I try very, very hard to never use moral statements in the context of absolutism: that your idea is "good" and my idea is "bad". Moral absolutism is a religious practice that has incorporated itself into philosophy to the detriment of functional rational discourse. Secondly, I would never state that chaos has not produced meaningful and important outcomes in the past. However, to use natural selection as an argument to retain our current notion of "human rights" seems antithetical. Maintaining human rights means not allowing the weak, frail, sickly, unintelligent, and poor to be dominated by the strong, intelligent, and wealthy. Without the selection of certain characteristics in current society (usually strength, intelligence, and/or wealth) society ceases to be "naturally selected" and comes under the auspices of higher cognitive function and altruism (which, to be fair, is a naturally selected trait, imho). Natural selection and chaos isn't good or evil, because it doesn't have a purpose (in my personal opinion), it just does what it does.

I'm sorry, I must have used the word "wrong" improperly: I did not want to imply any moral justification or condemnation to chaos, just that you seemed to be viewing it as something that has a negative impact on human life.

Hmm... My understanding (which, granted, may be mistaken) of the "basic human rights of all people" is that people should be free from tyranny (coerced participation in government affairs) and free to participate in any aspect of society they choose without discrimination due to any "discriminable" feature. I'm pretty sure that the essential part of this definition is "freedom", which implies that humans have some unseen will, identity, or soul, that should direct their actions; not external, physical forces. My argument is that this concept of "freedom" is inherently flawed, because it requires personal accountability, which leads to the removal of said freedoms due to the simple fact that people act in accordance with society, not some invisible homunculus.

Okay, I was indeed referring to the "free will" thing, and the idea of tampering with individual behaviour seems to go against it. It's not that I advocate some sort of anarchy; on the contrary, if a person consciously follows the rules set up by the society (given that said rules seem reasonable), even if sometimes following the rules means to sacrifice some individual wishes and desires, that is a very good thing. However, if someone says, "Let me fix your brains so that you'll forever be a perfect law-abiding citizen", that's a monstrosity to me.

Sorry if I have somehow misunderstood your ideas, or oversimplified things in the above passage.

EDIT: Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot to address your response to my concept of religion. Essentially, I disagree with you (surprise, surprise). Perhaps some religions are based solely on the concept of identifying with the supernatural, but I would argue that the exclusive focus on the supernatural is what differentiates religion from mysticism: the religions that I am familiar with are based upon describing the relationship of humankind with the world around him, usually in terms of the consequences of his behavior (whether "sinful" or "virtuous") and how to make his life better; whereas mysticism, or more commonly, "spirituality" typically refers to one's recognition of things they do not understand. Popular religion requires change in external human behavior: "repentance", "transcendence", "faith", "self-awareness", etc. based on some outcome: "the afterlife", "karma", "reincarnation", "a better world".

I don't think there's really a contradiction between this and what I've said earlier: many religions do urge people to become morally and socially better, but that's a means to a specific end. So the goal of a religion is actually not to become a better person, but to attain salvation (for example) by becoming a better person.

[Edit]

Just found something about the notion of human rights:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights

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  • 3 weeks later...

Storm - What was the Purpose of that?

If the individual does not believe in God, then they have simply lived into their 80s, instead of their 40s.

But the individual still believed that they were an Evolutionary Product, or Slime + Time.

When we talk about this Transhumanism; we really only talking about the Economic Top 20% or even less having access to such things.

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WTF Eras? I know that was English, but really?

Storm: basically the humorous dressing-down of a hippie nutjob through a process where the philosophy of science is shown to be more logically sound than nonsense. It's relevance here is that the same argument can be extended for people who assert that transhumanism is somehow "wrong" because it reduces illusions of god, the mind, the will, and other human fictions to biosocial novelties.

Evolution: you seriously claim to be a fan of Dune and question evolution? Haha... Hahahahahahahah....

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Really, show me your creation "science" to be anything more than the babbling of crackpot Deists who are afraid of thier kids asking questions, and I'll gladly, well hell,I cannot think of anything really appropriate here.

Transhumanism: I keep hearing many of you speak about this in socioeconomic terms, but I think this is a failed assertion. Microprocessor units have fundamentally changed the way people live; the very nature of what it means to be human has been questioned by computers, the Internet, and so on. But though original and the best computers remain the territory of the wealthy, the rate of improvement (and obsolescence) means that technology trickles down at an incredible rate. And this is ultimately how successful businesses stay that way: the iPhone wasn't made available to only the wealthy at first, no, with enough free capital a homeless person can buy one; selling plasma for a couple of months. No, we live in a world much more complex than any communist or capitalist would have you believe-- the simple fact of it is that the poor will find a way to buy, even if it means poverty.

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Dark Matter, Punctuated Equalibrium...Those are hilarious and funny topics.

Listening to an evolutionary scientist trying to explain how the 'reproductive cycle' even began. That's another hoot.

Better is watching is this. When a so-called Master's Student at a 'Museum of Natural History' tenses up and almost tears up, when asked how a 'pre-historic' 30 foot crocodile can be constructed by just a Nose bone. Talk about students who have been treated with 'kid gloves'.

You want to see critical thinking. Ask my 15 year old daughter about the debate between evolution and creation science. That' some good thinking.

Dune is good writing. But I'm not throwing the 'bath water' and the baby out just because Frank Herbert believed in evolution. I've had some of my Evolutionary believing friends read the Christ Clone Trilogy, because it is great writing, for example. I don't expect them to change, although some begin to think.

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Microprocessor units have fundamentally changed the way people live; the very nature of what it means to be human has been questioned by computers, the Internet, and so on.

I agree that the changes introduced by the new computer technologies have been great, and the impact on our life is obvious, but somehow I d can't agree with your statement that humanity per se has undergone any changes ("what it means to be human has been questioned by computers", as you put it). Computers and the Internet, IMO, are just new ways to do old things, the most important of which is of course communication. Likewise, the invention of writing had had a tremendous impact on the development of human civilizations, but had it changed human nature? I don't think so. IIRC I have already stated it somewhere above that the development of technology is, in fact, a natural pattern of human adaptation, as opposed to species that rely more on their own biology to adapt to their environment, rather than adjust the environment to their own needs as humans do. Therefore, unless I have misunderstood your idea, I cannot agree that our human nature is somehow challenged by the new technologies. After all, those technologies are the product of our human nature in the first place.

BTW, speaking of mind and evolution, what is your opinion on cognitive robotics? And embodied cognitive science in general?

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Technology has changed the way we think, ergo what we are.

Seems simple enough. The question is only how much more we will change, and to what degree it will be a good thing.

Time was when "being human" meant an infant mortality rate that would shock today's population. Not anymore.

The buying of the poor seems to me to be a good way to keep them poor. Just sayin'.

Reproductive cycle: meaning what, Eracist, the menstrual cycle? The division of the sexes? Because I have perfectly sound explanations for both and am more than willing to beat you down with them.

And for the skeleton: bodies follow a logical progression. If you have a near-complete skeleton to work from then you can measure the ratio of bones to each other. Take this one for example:

VR1113_L_the-human-skeleton.jpg

If measured, you will find that the bones tend to fit together in a specific way. Given the length of the radius, you can make a reasonable estimate of the legnth of the ulna. Even with bones that are relatively distant from each other, the same applies. Ribs to legs, toes to fingers, skull to scapula, the same applies. Given a ratio to work from, skeletons can be reconstructed with surprising accuracy (the same principle applies in forensic science and related crime-solving activities, you may be interested to know). Of course the more skeletons you measure, the greater the accuracy of the result.

For a prehistoric crocodile, the procedure would be something like the one illustrated in this HANDY DANDY DIAGRAM:

HANDYDANDYRECONSTRUCTION1.png

HANDYDANDYRECONSTRUCTION2.png

Get it? Of course you don't, you're a walking insult to thinking creatures everywhere. But I'm going to pretend that you can comprehend basic science for a moment, if only in order to move on to my next point.

Do not turn this thread into yet another evolution debate. You don't have the mental capacity to argue on the same level as the rest of us, and in any case it would be off topic. I happen to be rather interested in the subject of this thread, and I doubt its author would appreciate attempts to derail it.

Moving back a bit, I liked Storm. My favourite part was probably the bit about alternative medicine.

And even further back, to Edric's points.

You're still assuming too much. I'm just not convinced that a sufficiently advanced couple of species would inevitably devolve into war. Besides which, what you appear to be advocating is a severely anti-intellectual attack on a more intelligent species just because they might interfere with our own. Leaving aside the possibility that greater intelligence almost by definition suggests that their notions will be an improvement, or that they will necessarily be malevolant (in which case intelligence isn't really the issue), that seems a somewhat xenophobic attitude to take. "They're different from us, we can't trust them!" seems to be both what you ruefully expect to happen and actively desire to see take place.

If I saw what I believed to be the rise of a super-intelligent life form then I would quickly ensure that it was well established and hopefully grateful. And if that meant turning on those of my own species who saw the same rise as a threat, then so be it.

Who watches the watchers? Well, I suppose it would have to operate in much the same way as the UN. That works, more or less. And if not, well, we've managed not to let dangerous technology corrupt us too much so far. I imagine that will continue, more or less.

If we do end up completely corrupted by the power we wield, I doubt we'll be in any position to notice.

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[colour=#005FFF]Now ath, I'm sure you think you're hilarious. I'm here to tell you that you're not. You're not even making sense. I understand your comprehension of logic and grasp of the English language are both tenuous at best, but if you're not sure, just don't speak.

In fact, the last two words of the previous sentence would be ideal on their own, but the sky is not falling, nor is there airborne bacon at this time, so I'm not holding out much hope.[/colour]

You can reconstruct a skeleton from a single bone but NOT always.

[colour=#005FFF]ErasOmnius' original, stupid assertion was that, since one student at a university somewhere (sidenote: no proof, by the by) clammed up in front of an audience about how the bones of prehistoric creatures could be used to extrapolate an entire skeleton, the entire theory must be flawed. By inference, this must also mean that science is a complete sham, and that Eras' anecdotal observation has eroded a crucial pillar of argument, single-handedly proving that the stable-born carpenter from the middle-east was right all along.

As usual, Eras is wrong. So are you. What's funnier is that you admit it.[/colour]

"This works, but NOT always!" [colour=#005FFF]Really? This is the summation of your entire rebuttal? I encourage you to carefully re-read the HANDY DANDY DIAGRAM above. If you still don't understand why you're wrong, then I encourage you to start reading this post again. Keep doing so until you either pass out or a fleck of inspiration passes through your tiny little world of ignorance.

With that dealt with (for all of perhaps half a day at most), we can move back to the topic at hand. Apologies for the mini-derail; I'll have some relevant content for my next post.[/colour]

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Reconstruct missing bones? That's ridiculous!

Who tells me that those '100' bones used belong to the same species?

Who guarantees that really '100' hundred bones were used?

Who guarantees that the scientist was not biased to support his own theory?

And where does variety come to play?

It seems that you are the one that didn't read carefully the diagram.

I am not wrong, the diagram can lead to wrong reconstructions: 'it may need adjusted...'

What you get is NOT a reconstruction (as the diagram claims) of an ancient skeleton, but an ESTIMATE of how it might be.

Eras is right. END.

-

Now back to topic.

I do not want 'bionic' parts. Can someone provide me an equivalent of my fleshly parts and organs?

Can someone replace my teeth when they fall or break?

Can someone replace my eye's lens when I get old?

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Godammit but you're an idiot, ath.

1- Did you assume 100 bones? Because nowhere did I mention anything like that.

2- Your arguments don't make sense. 100 bones from the same species? What?

3- Bias? Tell me we can't apply exactly the same procedure in forensic cases because of 'bias,' see how far that gets you. It's not just one person reconstructing skeletons, you know.

4- Yes, the process isn't perfect. Sometimes mistakes are made. But on the whole, it works.

5- Eracist's point was that there was no sound basis for reconstruction of a skeleton from a single piece. I have shown that there is, ergo that he is wrong. Quod erat demonstrandum.

6- It is an estimate, yes, but a very close one. Given a skull, modern techniques can closely reproduce an entire skeleton, or even missing facial structures like cartilage in the nose. If it's good enough for a court of law, it's good enough for science.

As for your other points, I'm quite sure that growing replacement body parts will be possible within the next few decades. One could still call them artificial, of course, even if they were to be grown in situ, as it were. But I expect that point will just breeze between that gap between your ears, right?

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Technology has changed the way we think, ergo what we are.

Seems simple enough. The question is only how much more we will change, and to what degree it will be a good thing.

Time was when "being human" meant an infant mortality rate that would shock today's population. Not anymore.

That is certainly an interesting point, but I've always assumed that in the concept of "what we are" there is a more or less stable "centre" and a more flexible "periphery". E.g. bipedal locomotion, breast-feeding, using language for communication are definitely in the "centre" of human nature, while the levels of health care, as in your example, obviously are constantly changing. And, even more importantly, the peripheral phenomena can revert back to less "advanced" conditions if the necessary resources, technologies or social conditions are no longer available. Thus, the level of health care depends on the social and political structure of a society, and not on any traits of a human organism itself. The example with infant mortality rates you brought up is a good illustration to exactly this point IMO.

As for your argument that "technology changed the way we think, ergo what we are", I think this is a very interesting topic for debate. Personally, I tend to believe that there are certain constraints to "the way we think" imposed by the very human nature of ours. Just like the human eye cannot see infra-red or ultra-violet, I think it's quite possible that things exist that are literally "unthinkable" to us. That is not to say we cannot comprehend something in the world around us, but that the comprehension will require a certain conscious adjustment to our human thinking. Continuing the vision analogy, we use technology to "see" in infra-red, with said technology converting the naturally undetectable (by us) signals into something that our senses can perceive. In the same manner (in my opinion, that is), we use metaphor and analogy to structure the outside world, imposing networks of concepts that, as some people believe, are very much human, i.e. dependent on the structure and function of our bodies.

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