Friday, July 8, 2011

singularity snapshots ... hooray for religion!

So there have been an enormous number of things happening in transhumanism lately, including more press for Kurzweil (obviously), more voices on H+ as a religion, and--most awesomely--an evangelical Christian who claims that Jesus predicted the Singularity.

I'm short on time so I'm skipping the Kurzweil press. After all, he gets plenty.

Giulio Prisco recently revamped his 2004 essay on how transhumanism is religious, leading to the usual chorus of "ain't no way my beliefs about stuff that hasn't happened yet and cannot be confirmed in the immediate future are religious!" You can see Giulio's essay here. As I keep claiming, transhumanism is, indeed, a religion. It's nice that a growing number of transhumanists are coming on board with Prisco; publication with H+ Magazine is a sign of some respectability in the community. And it's not as though this is some sort of problem. After all, as I commented on his post, religion is a tool and, like other tools, it is not inherently evil. Moreover, the guy who coined the term transhumanism to refer to this movement (Julian Huxley) actually saw it as religious. I've got an article dealing with that issue (and others) coming out this summer.

Also, BoingBoing recently featured a brief spot on how transhumanism has connections to a 19th century Russian Orthodox thinker.

Someone new is talking about the folks that I lump into the Apocalyptic AI, category, calling them "informatic futurists," which is probably even more awkward than my term. The author, Abou Farman of CUNY, evidently used the term at a conference in May. Can't we get something short and sweet? I'm still dreaming of being the one who gets a catchy term going.

Finally, for now, and best of friend Eric Steinhart notified me that the folks at RaptureReady, whose Rapture Index I've shown to students for years, have now decided that Jesus predicted the Singularity. Obviously, I look forward to the transhumanists' response to being enfolded within the Christian evangelical community.


  1. I love the term Transfigurism, but doesn't it kind of "belong" to the LDS?

  2. No. That term has no history in Mormonism - until Mormon Transhumanists started using it, at least.

  3. Of course, "transfiguration" has history in Mormonism, Christianity and other religions.

  4. "ain't no way my beliefs about stuff that hasn't happened yet and cannot be confirmed in the immediate future are religious!"

    Are you making the argument that scientifically-based attempts to understand future events "that havent happened yet and cannot be confirmed in the immediate future" are somehow inherently religious? I must be missing something because it seems like such a terrible argument to me.

    Is it "religious to speculate about manned space travel to Mars, climate change changes in coming decades, quantum computing, or cybernetic implants (as a continuation of cochlear and other brain implants)?

    Oh, wait, you probably think the last one is sufficiently weird and outside your intuitive sense of what's normal, so now we're veering into religious territory. 

    The whole "as soon you start talking about nanotechnology or extending longevity" you're automatically entering religious terrority line makes no sense to me.

    Richard Feymann, were he alive today would have his hand in a better understanding of future human technological capacity, just as he did when he envisioned nanotechnology, and there was nothing religious about it then, and there would be nothing now. Do you think "There's plenty of room at the bottom" is religious. If so, then you are using the word in so expansive of a way as to render its usage meaningless.

    To say, oh wait, people thinking Jesus predicted the singularity has anything to do with Nick Bostrom's recent talk in Oxford at Winter Intelligence Conference on superintelligence is like saying the seriousness of David Brin's views on extraterrestrial contact are compromised and in any way quasi-religious because people (in a state of a sleep paralysis, probably) report being probed by aliens.

    Frankly, I don't even understand how it makes sense to think of any speculation on the future direction of, say, nanoengineering as automatically religious. Is the International Institute for Nanotechnology in any way a religious organization? It obviously is predicated on the study of "things that haven't happened yet and cannot be confirmed in the immediate future."

    Why would anyone who researches, say, AI or nanotechnology get "enfolded some group with a patently irrational, nonscientific worldview."

    I simply don't get it.