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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Numbers Movie and Other Observations

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The Numbers Movie is an interesting "women's perspective" on happiness and detachment. Normally I focus a bit more on technology and innovation on this site, but I think this short film is worth sharing on aesthetic grounds alone. I can also see a number of ways in which it directly applies to the subject of human enhancement -- specifically because it doesn't say anything about technology, power, money, innovation or other hard, "crunchy" factors clearly driving the field.

Why would such a thing matter? Because there are two terrible weaknesses of the field is that anyone can see. Number one -- enhancement resources exist that amount to simple exercises anyone can do... and they're often ignored, sometimes because people don't want to believe something "can be that easy," even when they've tested it out and "know better," sometimes because they're just bad at developing productive habits (like eating right and exercising) and sometimes because people are so busy "trying to fit it into my schedule" or "making sure that I do it right" that they never get started on them in the first place.

Number two -- people interested in more tech-heavy methods of augmenting humans often dismiss "ordinary means" of self-improvement... like having a healthy sense of detachment, and a perspective on what truly matters in your life. Frankly, I'm worried that too many such enthusiasts are crippling themselves -- and to no purpose, particularly in the case of fanatical tech-boosters whose particular means of self-augmentation hasn't actually arrived yet (be it an AI-god, personal uploading, cybernetic implants, etc). Why cut yourself off from resources that can help you in the here and now on the theory that one day such insights or personal skills will be rendered obsolete by a Singularity techno-rapture?

The other reason this tool is important should be obvious -- there are a lot of people out there who really want to get their wondertech or world-altering movement or revolutionary theories out there in front of the public. And too many people are willing to just post on the Internet or run the usual gamut of venture capitalists or use other conventional strategies to gain notice and resources.

Contrast that approach with the folks behind this item, who used fade-ins of static pictures (if spectacular ones), some nice music and a handful of well-turned phrases to generate one heck of an advertisement for their product.

I mean, all that for a free newsletter? And meanwhile, we've got guys licking stamps to send out their latest bone-dry grant proposals. Time to step it up, people.

Which brings me to my final point. As I've noted before, way too many individuals in the human enhancement field seem to think a single breakthrough in a particular area they favor (and perhaps work in) is going to Save Us All in a single blinding instant -- whether it's nano's True Assembler, AIs Silicon godling, neurology/neural networking's Final Upload, or what have you. As such, too many researchers and enthusiasts seem to discount what others would consider basic steps towards achieving their goals -- refinement and expansion of their existing (mundane) gifts and talents, securing financial means to pursue those interests, or promoting their ideas in the larger world.

Personally, I think that's a formula for having little if any influence on the course of the technology, science and social and economic trends arising from human enhancement breakthroughs. After all, you've just seen what "mere mortals" using relatively conventional talents can do on what was likely a very limited budget. Imagine what any of us could do with augmented, possibly superhuman abilities and the will to use them. But if you refuse to use the full range of your talents, even if you are a dramatically optimized "superhuman," you will be a mere shadow of your potential self. And if you fail to optimize at all, because the most practical means of doing so were right in front of you and you refused to use them -- 'cause they were "too fuzzy," "too sentimental," "too organic" or "too mushy" -- well, you'll just end up a hapless peasant in the shining realms and soaring citadels of Your Future Liegelords.

Congratulations. At least you didn't surrender your faith, your principles and the One True Way to Enlightenment.


Soc
Future Imperative

7 Comments:

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