Review: Transcendence — The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity
Dec20

Review: Transcendence — The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity

Share By: Peter Rothman        December 19, 2014 Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity is a new book by former h+ Magazine editor R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell that will bring transhumanism to the masses. The title might be confusing; this isn’t just a book about spirituality, but is an encyclopedia of short articles on a wide range of topics related to transhumanism. The book clearly reflects R.U.’s personal take on the topic, which is brimming with cynical and somehow still fun optimism, and which is clearly influenced by the psychedelic side of the house. R.U.’s vision for a future transhuman world is a freaky party and we’re all invited. The book is organized around a list of words similarly to an encyclopedia or dictionary, and therefore each of the topics is presented in alphabetical order. This makes it relatively easy to find a topic of interest, or return to an old favorite, but the book is still fun to read linearly as well. In addition, each chapter includes one or more links to other chapter titles at the outset, a crude hypertext feature that sort of works. You will find some well known topics of interest like artificial general intelligence, cryonics, and nanotechnology that will be familiar to h+ Magazine reader,  as well as some somewhat less well known ideas such as “The Methuselarity”. My main quibble with this book is the title. The use of the title Transcendence seems like a decision from an SEO consultant looking to scarf hits from the movie release, and it has less to do with the content than the secondary title. It’s set up like an encyclopedia. But still, while this work is a fun and easy introduction to transhumanism, calling it an “encyclopedia” is a bit of an exaggeration. The book is neither large enough nor complete enough to earn this description I think, but perhaps a future version will be expanded to move in that direction. I would expect an encyclopedia to be more comprehensive and technical than this book, which is to say “encyclopedic”, but for now, this encyclopedia is fun but certainly not complete. Nevertheless, I expect that transhumanists will call this book simply “The Encyclopedia” and it will be widely read and enjoyed. Move over Ray Kurzweil. Of course any “encyclopedia” about transhumanism printed on paper is destined to be outdated rapidly or arguably immediately in the modern world. An annual update would be welcomed in addition to expanded and more technical coverage of some topics. The use of the wiki like text features here also suggests the benefits of an electronic version. But I like books too. The Encyclopedia includes a variety of short interviews or comments from...

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Jason Silva’s Latest: To Be Human Is to Be Transhuman
Apr01

Jason Silva’s Latest: To Be Human Is to Be Transhuman

ShareBY JASON DORRIER   APRIL 1  2014 The term ‘transhuman’ inevitably (for me) summons grotesque visions of humans and machines merging into a Borg-like race bent on eradicating biological imperfection. These creatures’ cold rationality calls it an evolutionary improvement, but to my admittedly backward biological brain, it’s a terrible thought. I’d prefer a little less HR Giger in my future, thank you. In his latest Shots of Awe video short, Jason Silva says forget about Hollywood’s nightmare scenarios. Humans are, by definition, transhuman. We ceaselessly invent and reinvent what it means to be human. We circumvent biological evolution with technology. But that doesn’t mean we’ll one day wake up with metal and microchips grafted onto our bodies, emotion and individuality scrubbed, a node in the collective. And neither will hacking our biology produce generations of transhumans with three eyes, tiger claws, lizard tongues, and extra limbs growing out of their foreheads. We won’t generate such a future—unless that’s the future we choose. Quoting Edward O. Wilson, Silva says, “We have decommissioned natural selection, and now we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.” That sounds more like freedom to me. More like the messy, democratic process of competing ideas and inventions from which the future emerges. Will we become one with our machines? Sure, we will. We already have—cars, planes, smartphones, these ever present ‘machines’ extend our physical and mental reach daily. We’ve been merging with machines for as long as we’ve had tools. The Borg were supposed to be eons ahead of us, but their technology already looks hopelessly backward. Our technology is getting smaller, subtler, and more symbiotic—more elegantly and seamlessly absorbed into life’s fabric. If we ever do physically merge with machines or hack our DNA, the outward manifestation will be far less obvious than bodies bristling with surgical implants, heavy hardware, and random animal parts. Why? Because we have a choice in the matter, and few (if any) of us want to be techno-Frankensteins. Image Credit: Marcin Wichary/Flickr Source:  Singularity...

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The Catholic Church Has Declared War on Transhumanism
Oct05

The Catholic Church Has Declared War on Transhumanism

The Catholic Church of course has a long standing opposition to science dating back to the middle ages. While in more recent times the church has attempted to update its position, it doesn’t take much work to find unscientific and erroneous ideas taken as fact in the Vatican’s positions. These are especially apparent surrounding the ideas of evolution and genetics but are clearly not limited to these areas as both history and the Madrid Declaration clearly demonstrates.

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