Archive for Humanism
Some catch-up material for the summer time.
Lately I’ve been taking a lot of lectures and podcasts on animal rights. For anyone “in the know” regarding our latest technological developments with synthetic DNA and cells coupled with out attempts to merge those with technologies seemingly more distant than from being what we know as human (homo sapien sapien), the regulatory and philosophical issues surrounding animal rights are urgent.
Consider how humans today are enthusiastic about enhancements of sorts to their physical and virtual being. Implants, prosthesis, medicines, computing powers, travel, ….our agility and fountain of youth…
Consider a near future where run-of-the-mill humans are simply inferior to those of us who decide (and can afford to) upgrade. Now consider how legal structure that’ll need to be built to manage the human species….ensuring that they don’t run-a-muck by over populating, over violating, overly interfering, and over representing themselves as valuable. Or will humans be valuable, and if so, in what capacity?
In an age of potential abundance and institutional scarcity (the current age) we are faced with the dilemma, to or not to identify less cognitively astute species as having rights. From a legal and point and attorney would tell you that rights are a privilege of a participating entity in a community, organization, nation/state of sort. It has been that way for centuries now, and is difficult to amend.
It’s always been necessary in (the attempt at) civil society to allocate rights to entities regardless of their societal status in order to avoid the (what some would call, natural) animal-istic virtue of respect. Anyone ever watched the animal channel where the Alpha in a pack or outside of a pack takes what it wants? Its due to a lack of formidable opposition by the others. The laws of society and cultural norms are not representative of the laws of the courts.
Humans are in the process of building species that will be more than capable of dominating in the aforementioned way. Defining rights and protecting them under laws is what keeps us from taking the Amish people’s land and doing what we please. We’ll require something similar for the bohemian naturalists of us out there, that no matter how sexy a trip to venus could be, they’ll never allow themselves the hedonistic good of downloading themselves into a body that travels at unthinkable speeds and distances, to see the rings.
So what do we do? Start protecting house pets and our food alike with the rights that we will soon have to allocate to our neighbors, or write them all off as less-than-valuable for a scientific study.
Most of the questions asked here are relevant in the topical debates on rights and animals today, but I’m of the group (if there exists such a group) that thinks, these questions aren’t addressing the root cause of this important issue affecting your parents and children. The argument that needs to be had is one of, how we value human abilities and what type of support (resources) we want to allocate to that potential. Its a conversation for elites and egalitarians, liberals and conservatives alike. And we’ve yet to address it will in civil society…lol @ civil,
Creation happened at some point approximately two hundred thousand years ago and human specific species was generated. There are many theories, and further, possibilities of more ancient human beginnings: from panspermia, to natural selection, to even implantation. Our ancestors may date back further than the Earth itself according to some theories. Regardless of the methods of creation the fact that matters is that we exist. I’ll leave the historical exploration to people currently pursuing it, as my interests are solely in the future.
Survival has been our core objective over the past two hundred thousand years. Our generation created some brutal environments for human to human interaction that linger even today. Sustaining life through repeated creation methods has made us durable and hyper consumers. Outside of scientific measurement of evolution, culture is the best measurement of our evolution or ability to record survival well.
Growth or succession of human generations has been defined through that of natural selection by the scientific community since the days of Darwin. Over the past two hundred thousand years there have been reports of humans becoming larger and smaller, and adopting a verity of climate tolerances depending on geographic location. In 2010 C.E. it is necessary to ask oneself if the era of natural selection has given birth to a new era of human selection. There are dozens of examples in the modern world that represent human selection. Contrary to the Darwinian elaboration of artificial selection and later philosopher’s expanded interpretation to unintentional cultivation of living things, there is nothing artificial about the human manipulation of the living and non living entities in the existing world, we are only further realizing our networked individualism.
Phenomena like domestication and land cultivation are the obvious of some less than autonomous or “natural” selection by the Earth’s evolutionary demand; however, 1882 is a far-far past from the human kind’s technological extension today. Survival is not the only incentive for development of living things in the 21st century.
Human Want: Synonymous with artificial selection – endangered species of the world are not simple domestication projects relative to the elaboration that Darwin gives on dogs, cats, and cows. Some species are dying because of human existence and human ability to consume so awesomely without regard. Per Darwin and colleagues they are unfit to survive. Still, groups of scientists are making efforts, the world over, to protect and cultivate their desired amphibian, mammal, reptile, fish, bird and other animal groups. Human will, to select and maintain the living is just as powerful as that of natural selection – and human will is growing exponentially with every human extension or thoughtful participant.
Human Extension: Technology encompasses such a dynamic group of products and methodological genre (services) of know-how, that it is difficult to quantify the term. Most people think of technology as being separate form human kind. Technology is in fact an extension of the human. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely the scariest set of concepts being developed the world over, as sci-fi pictures tell it. However, it is unlikely that AI could come to conclusions of efficiency and effectiveness that human kind can’t. AI software would be identical to non-AI software if they weren’t design to make “assumptions”. These sets of computer code make all the difference in AI. While AI can and will surely be able to compute faster than its organic creators, assumptions can only be as elaborate as the human imagination; hence, the enduring need for philosophical thought. Robotics and other intelligence are not ambitious, humans are, and we must not fail to create more opportunities for us to think well, while eliminating primitive tasks. An ideal development would be organic computing power that humans can link directly to his/herself for data manipulation.
Human Selection: Cloning, although viewed by the religious community as unethical, is a scientific reality. Currently there are socio-political barriers to funding the necessary body of research to create robust methods of cloning, but there will be development at some point, as human curiosity and will to produce becomes more prevalent. It has been nearly fourteen years since Dolly was cloned in Scotland, and the economic will of science combined with rapid privatization of scientific efforts in every genre will soon create an environment where human kind selects its earthly companions through cloning and controlled breeding. Imagine the highly politicized abortion argument evolving into a cloning solution. If it is currently unethical under some ideologies to have an abortion, is it ethical to clone to unborn, and have it at a more convenient time? Or further, to have the clone with a more suitable set of parents, possibly with a physically stronger mother, in an effort to avoid a parent death during child birth. Whose life is more precious? Human extension and human selection affords us the privilege to neglect making paradoxical decisions in this scenario. Technology allows us to have our cake (mother) and eat it t0o (child), as the age old adage goes…
Cloning and cultivation are older than we often realize from a stand point of control idealism. Birth control, energy control (solar, wind, wave, geothermal, etc.), and agricultural control, are all technological systems where we control output to duplicate a well functioning entity and control its growth potential. Could Darwin have rationed these ideas into his theory of natural selection? Probably not… While his thought experiments and ability to articulate natural selection and eventually artificial selection were extraordinary for his time, we humans can only think as far forward as our technological extension (ability). For instance, the first documented thought on silicon chips was documented some seventy years after Darwin’s death. Seventy years in the information age seems like a near eternity when I try and think of what will exist. In the future humans will be able to control the rate of growth of every entity in their reach of travel, and procure energy source directly from the physical elements of celestial and terrestrial bodies. There is one problem with human selection, it is ultimately predictable and allows no room for the risks that generate market style activity. Further, eliminating need to measure markets: money. In our next steps as the commanding species on this planet, we should aim to control all terrestrial production using the technological advancements that currently exist; leaving our focus on the unknown.
2010 C.E. is the beginning of a new era of technological command and human creation. On Thursday, May 20th scientists at the Venter Institute successfully cultivated the first synthetic cell; a cell that procreated on its own, designed by synthetic DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) after nearly a generation of scientific engagement. The journal publishing in Science Mag at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/science.1190719v1.pdf is arguably the most significant finding of human existence so far. The ability to craft an new organism yields a commanding power over life, solidifying human extension as potentially more dominant that any other kind of selection (natural, artificial. or other). Imagine the kinds of problems that can be solved through the cultivation and synergies of such cells in human and other living and non-living things. When theoretical physicists and aviation engineers think about the large time gaps that are required for space travel to far away celestial bodies, we can now start to imagine regenerative set of organs to sustain our humble body’s efforts to explore well.
Human kind has made the first step towards completing the human selection node of the existence cycle. We have the technological extensions to control how we consume energy, cultivate life forces, protect life forces, migrate life forces, and disseminate all knowledge to interested individuals. There is one huge problem that exists completely outside of the technological realm, as the speed of our technological development greatly exceeds our socio-political development. In an ideal world it would be unthinkable to experience one species recognizing two completely separate kinds of wisdom; however, it will be a reality for some time while we recognize ourselves. On one end of the spectrum, there will be the people who only know of natural selection and the uncontrollable wills of the world around them. On the other end of the spectrum, there will be the people who benefit from human selection, that recognize their limits as the ends of the multiverse, as Dr. Kaku would put it. In order to being to experience our real potential well, we must engage everyone. Of the approximately seven billion people on the planet we are only using the creative and scientific thinking skills of less than one percent of the individuals. A population with ten million theoretical physicists could surely perform better than a population with ten thousand. Consider the affect that two billion extra engineers would have on human initiative, or two billion physicians. These are realistic numbers, and we’d still have billions of minds to spare. Before I elaborate on how to, we need to understand the value proposition of how we exist under an individualistic versus our value proposition under an integrationalistic reality. Because of course, we should be trying to avoid human extinction – the last node of the existence cycle.
Chess in all of its perceived complexities is in essence a primitive game of cynicism and war translation, relative to the technology age’s potential of integration and exponential growth. The idea of participant [human, pawn, etc.] sacrifice in order to win at the war game of chess as an analogy for real world quarrel lacks innovation and real world or rather new world strategy. In an age where resource abundance is a buy product technological abundance, I have become infinitely board with the war game of win-lose economics as it translates with Chess.
I’m a believer that, in the 21st century political, economic, socio-cultural, and especially technological advancements can revitalize our collective value for human kind. A sort of networked individualism. How do you think that we can leverage technology to curb our collective losses and increase our win-wins?