Transhumanism

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Postby Psudo » Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:33 am

Please, explain. What are those concerns that would be harmed by the improvement of the human body and could supercede it?
Independent will, for example. It is conceivable that artificial enhancements to the body would be subject to hacking and, thus, lend the body (or parts of it) to control by someone other than it's owner. Even if the body is superhuman in capability, I would find that to be an undesirable trade.

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Postby Satya » Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:44 am

See Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - nanotechnology system gets hacked and taken over, all "chipped" soldiers and equipment ostensibly under the control of a single person through a single controlling AI system, able to disable any equipment connected to the system and control the neuro-chemical regulating system implanted in every soldier connected to the system.
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Postby jotabe » Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:31 am

From what i read, brain's plastic enough even for birth blind people to learn to interpret what they see when they recover sight. Our brain is very hardwired to have an imaging system linked to our sight. I think it takes some adaptation, that can be enhanced with professional assistance.

Regarding the loss of free will... if you want to take over the body of some person to do your bidding you can kidnap someone they care about, or inject them some drug that will kill them and offer them the antidote for their obedience. It's far cheaper than hacking nanotech lol. For which you'd first need to take the nanomachines out of the body (you can't just wi-fi control machines of that size, antennas won't work at those sizes).
Actually, why do you think our bodies can't be hacked? We just don't have tech enough to interface with our organic limbs, but it is not impossible. Not for a civilization that can create nanobots, in any case.
Quite the opposite, non-biological limbs can have protections against hacking, making them "better" than biological ones, in that sense.
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Postby neo-dragon » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:07 pm

Please, explain. What are those concerns that would be harmed by the improvement of the human body and could supercede it?
Independent will, for example. It is conceivable that artificial enhancements to the body would be subject to hacking and, thus, lend the body (or parts of it) to control by someone other than it's owner. Even if the body is superhuman in capability, I would find that to be an undesirable trade.
A system that isn't connected to anything can't be hacked from an external location. Our bodies already function by constantly sending and receiving signals to and from the brain, but you can't remotely "hack" someone's body. The presence of bodily enhancements, especially if they're achieved by genetic modification rather than going the "Ghost in the Shell" route, isn't likely to change that.
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Postby Psudo » Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:52 pm

From what i read, brain's plastic enough even for birth blind people to learn to interpret what they see when they recover sight.
Surely true, but recognizing what you see takes practice. Gaining one's sight after a lifetime of blindness gives one a childlike understanding of sight. See the movie At First Sight; it has some interesting thoughts on the point.
Regarding the loss of free will... if you want to take over the body of some person to do your bidding you can kidnap someone they care about, or inject them some drug that will kill them and offer them the antidote for their obedience. It's far cheaper than hacking nanotech lol.
People you're blackmailing are capable (and likely) to want to thwart you. Gaining control of their body directly gives you a degree more power over them. For example, if a biological enhancement intended to treat chronic depression could be altered by an unscrupulous third party, perhaps it could be used to induce acute, suicidal depression. You didn't tell the guy to commit suicide, you just pushed the "suicide" button and he deterministically obeyed. Speaking as a former depressive, it's a terrifying thought.
A system that isn't connected to anything can't be hacked from an external location. Our bodies already function by constantly sending and receiving signals to and from the brain, but you can't remotely "hack" someone's body.
I never said "remotely." If people can be surgically enhanced, they can also be surgically crippled. Why would electronics, genetic engineering, or any other means of alteration defy that pattern?

Edit: added reply to Jotabe
Last edited by Psudo on Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:56 pm

I'm confused. The kind of sensitive access you'd need to someone to meddle with any technological enhancements is at least as, if not more considerable than the access you'd need to cause severe harm now. Where do you perceive the risk increasing?
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Postby Psudo » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:11 pm

I'm confused. The kind of sensitive access you'd need to someone to meddle with any technological enhancements is at least as, if not more considerable than the access you'd need to cause severe harm now. Where do you perceive the risk increasing?
The kind of sensitive access you'd need to meddle with electronic ballots is at least as much, if not more than to meddle with paper ballots. Electronic voting machines cannot be remotely hacked (I think?). And yet paranoia abounds about new voter fraud caused by the upgrade to electronic voting.

That particular paranoia is not entirely irrational; when they install anti-virus software on electronic voting systems that shouldn't ever be remotely accessed anyway, it sounds like the designers fundamentally fail to comprehend electronic security.

If some human enhancement were a metaphorical parallel to that appearance, both needing solid security and lacking it, human hacking could potentially occur.

I don't expect it to be common (just as I don't expect electronic voting machines to destroy democracy). What scares me is the potential level of control and the erosion of individuality.

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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:35 pm

I still don't get it. Where exactly are you expecting this hacking to take place? The only place voting machines are ever hacked is once they get to the polling stations where the only people there to maintain security are usually understaffed senior citizens. AI mental enhancements would be more akin to transplant organs in the early stages, or PC parts once a universal architecture is developed. There's no glaring security hole there, at least not anymore than modern information security. Yes, you might still see viruses propagate, but it sounds like you're worried about people having their free will overridden by AI enhancements.

Any enhancements would likely be to mid-brain functions - the raw information processing center of the brain - sentience and personality don't live there. I can't imagine any medical ethics board approving brain altering surgery that would risk disrupting that portion of the brain.
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Postby neo-dragon » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:38 pm

A system that isn't connected to anything can't be hacked from an external location. Our bodies already function by constantly sending and receiving signals to and from the brain, but you can't remotely "hack" someone's body.
I never said "remotely." If people can be surgically enhanced, they can also be surgically crippled. Why would electronics, genetic engineering, or any other means of alteration defy that pattern?
I don't understand your point because that's true for our natural bodies anyway.
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Postby Psudo » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:46 pm

AI mental enhancements would be more akin to transplant organs in the early stages
There is a black market for organ transplants, which is unscrupulous and dangerous but cheaper. Why wouldn't there be one for human enhancements?

Say a new Nazi-style totalitarian regime rises a thousand years in the future. Why would stop them from using human enhancement technology in cruel and malicious ways? Medical ethics boards and legal protections would hardly protect against that.

I'm not saying that transhumanism represents some entirely new risk, but that the same risks associated with everything will still apply to the new technology. Everything is susceptible to corruption.

Actually, though, this has digressed from my original point, that human enhancement is not necessarily the most important moral goal for humanity. Capability is always good if all else is equal, but I'd sacrifice a little capability to prevent my own slavery, or to avoid murdering people. I don't like the transhumanism movement's consideration of personal improvement as the sole sacrosanct moral principle. I don't agree that it transcends all other morality.

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Postby Rei » Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:38 pm

I'm not so worried about the potential to hack into a modified body or not. I'm far more worried about non-modified people being treated either officially or unofficially as second-class citizens. Again, see Gattaca. The main character can only get a janitorial job because he's not modified. While such discrimination is illegal in the film, they can always find an excuse to discriminate legally (even if just barely).

Yes, that is just an example from a movie, but I'm not convinced that that isn't exactly what would happen anyway.
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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:18 pm

Gaps like that already exist. There are lots of people who do lots of good work in a field, or have a lot of experience, but will lose out on jobs or positions for lack of a college degree, whether or not they've got equivalent or superior knowledge. If anything, transhumanism promises to help close those gaps as it allows us to overcome or mitigate natural disadvantages.

Speculating on the economics of transhumanism is a sketchy pursuit at best, and I'm not saying that human enhancement will end class structures - the internet makes information more free than it's ever been before, but the disadvantaged still struggle to gain access to and use that info. However, it's undeniable that the internet has leveled the playing field like nothing since the printing press. Mental enhancements are just another step down that path - the kid working with a TI-83 instead of a TI-89 is at a disadvantage comparatively, but he's at less of a disadvantage than the kid who couldn't get into college at all. What happens to the playing field when you can download a college degree onto a memory stick?

Now yes, there will be a competitive gap between humans and transhumans, but there's little difference between that and between kids who grew up with a PC in the house and those who didn't when it comes time to compete for most any non-manual labor job today.

I don't think transhuman/human discrimination would be as bad as all that. Depending on the circumstances, if they were desiring of modification, but lacked the economic means, they'd be no different from the economically disadvantaged of today. If they were objecting to the technology on some other grounds - they'd either be like the Amish who have accepted that society is moving on without them, but make their own way, or they'd be insane trolls demanding we all play on their level like those idiots suing over the change in the stem cell law.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:35 pm

I just remembered that this sort of thing shows up in Elizabeth Moon's books. "Humods" of varying modifications show up, as well as those that refuse mods and those who view all humods as abominations. Good series, "Vatta's War".
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:12 pm

Well, hey, we did this to death. But if anyone's still interested, I ran into an interesting book called Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness, by Fiona Kumari Campbell. I can't say I agree with everything in it, but the concepts give one food for thought.
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Postby neo-dragon » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:24 pm

I just saw This on the news and it reminded me of this thread. They showed the actual moment when the implant was activated and the little girl heard sound for the first time. I can only imagine what it must be like to suddenly gain a sense. Naturally, she just cried in shock and confusion. It must have been terrifying. I would like to see how it is for someone who's old enough to understand what's happening and articulate.
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Postby Jayelle » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:40 pm

I know a little girl who has coclear implants! They are amazing. She is profoundly deaf (like jet engine next to her= nothing) and she is able to speak and hear, she got them at a year old and she's now 5 and is totally understandable - aside from the hearing aids attached to her head, you would barely know she's deaf. The technology is astounding.
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Postby Rei » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:59 am

We have a friend in his twenties with bilateral CIs and it really is quite remarkable. That said, he keeps us in on all the drama of Deaf vs. the fascist hearing regime. The hate for CIs/hearing aids by Deaf people (as opposed to deaf) is quite something.
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Postby Luet » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:40 am

I watched a documentary about that...it was about two adult brothers, with deaf children, on opposite sides of the debate. It was very interesting.
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Postby Wind Swept » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:11 pm

I'm sleepy and going to bed immediately following this post. I haven't actually read the thread, but I did do a quick search of both pages for "Deus Ex" and found no results. It's definitely my favorite fictional exploration of transhumanism. There's a 50 page thread discussing the topic on their official forums. They also have a website up for a fictional augmentation company to hype the new game. It's quite enticing.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:54 am

Article in the BBC today about heritable impairments and genetic selection.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12987504
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