Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BSG & Transhumanism

While watching last week's episode of BSG (warning, small spoilers ahead) I commented that the Transhumanists must have been masturbating over one of Cavil's lines... well sure enough: It was fascinating to see human enhancement issues addressed so directly while learning more about John Cavil’s character and ambitions in this episode of Battlestar Galactica. In spite of his misguided clinging to petty jealousy and revenge, I found a lot to sympathize with in John Cavil’s character. He wanted both to overcome the belief in a single God he derived from early Cylon models, and reach beyond his limited human emotions and senses. He powerfully expressed the desire to more fully experience the universe in all its beauty and perceive supernovas via novel sensations:

“I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays, I want to hear X-rays, and I want to smell dark matter. Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly because I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language. But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me. I’m a machine and I could know much more, I could experience so much more, but I’m trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way.”

The article is here. I'm not super interested in transhumanism but if you're interested in the future, you have to sit through a lot of talk about transhumanism to get to anything interesting about AI/AGI. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all saw Gattaca, you know what else we saw? Monty Python, Get on with it!) Nominally I am a transhumanist but I care so very little about their issues compared to the more pressing and immediate issue of what will become of us and our economy when we become an Automated Nation.

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