Questions I have been asked lately

by on June 24, 2009 at 7:12 am in Philosophy | Permalink

What are the exact conditions for counting "transhumanism" as having been attained?  Would you rather have a worse trip with better memories, or a more fun trip with fewer memories?  Why do some Senators act so obnoxiously to their subordinates?  Why don't more people from Hollywood go into politics?  From here on in, what is the best case scenario for your life?  Does it increase the productivity of a man if he marries a very religious woman?  If so, through what mechanism?  If China starts first with explicit genetic engineering, does that make it more or less likely that the U.S. will follow suit?  What does the presence of affirmative action in U.S. universities signal to foreigners?  What effects does the strategy of "male neuroticism" have on a marriage?  Will you become a "granite slave"?

Nathan Cook June 24, 2009 at 7:44 am

I think “transhumanism” is more a philosophy or ethical frame than an objective. I would regard it as a vindication of transhumanism’s aims, if not methods, if: world poverty is completely ended, average life-spans are extended beyond 150 years, methods of mind uploading, secure from malicious interference, are freely available, sentient beings are free from intentional harm and control by others, average inflation adjusted income exceeds several hundred million dollars globally, methods of greatly increasing intelligence are freely available. Any three from that list and we’re there.

I would rather have the fun trip. The Senators do so because they’re preselected for social dominance, and those who are less so, nevertheless find themselves in an environment where obnoxious behaviour is acceptable. The scarcity of actors in politics is a gift horse the mouth of which I don’t want to look in. I’m not smart enough to know what the absolute best life I could have from here on would look like. Not if he’s a mathematician. Genetic engineering (of humans?) will become very much more likely in the U.S.: the existence of actual genetic engineered people who don’t behave like Star Trek villains will lessen the “yuck” factor enormously. Particularly if they’re charming, smart, attractive and highly moral. It signals moral superiority; the signal is not reliable. Divorce, or if impractical, repeated affairs with alpha males. What?

PeterW June 24, 2009 at 11:12 am

What is a “granite slave”?

Laserlight June 24, 2009 at 11:48 am

By “better” memories do you mean “more pleasant”, “more extensive” or “more vivid”? I’d prefer a rough trip with vivid memories of high happiness, vs a bland trip; but I’d rather have a bland trip than one where I remember every detail of how horrible it was.

Diversity June 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Should a fairly comprehensive answer be useful:

‘Senators are obnoxious to subordinates “because they can”. A necessary condition of transhumanism being generalised is that Senators shall be generally respectful to their underlings. The narrower condition for transhumanism being attained is that the human condition shall have been comprehended as opposed to just apprehended, human-like. Hollywood acts out elements of the human condition other than those apprehended in politics. The elements acted out in politics generally require limited self-awareness; and are combined with a corrsponding lack of ability to describe political life in gripping prose. The experience of marrying a very religious woman will tend to increase real self-awareness as well as the likelihood of adopting a neurotic male strategy (with a view to giving his wife a fault to pardon), but its effect on productivity (other than in increasing the probablity of a numerous descendency)could be neutral, negative or positive; whatever valuation of output is used. The exception is that his productivity in genetic engineering is likely tp be reduced; regardless of Chinese policy. The USA will shortly realise that direct competition with China is a losing game; exploiting comparative advantage is a much better bet. The US has comparative advantage in university level education; affirmative action appears (to me as a foreigner) as a tactic to enable the US universities to overcome the compartive US disadvantge in general public secondary education by compensating for some of its failings. No. I will not become a granite slave.’

anonymous June 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

If someone mistakes you for a granite slave, does that mean you’ve been taken for granite?

Ignacious Plunder June 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I’ve got a question for you. I was watching Superman the other day and I got to trying to figure out how much he’d make if he entered the labour market. As it is Superman is pretty underutilized. He spends most of his time in disguise creeping on Lois Lane and writing columns for the daily planet. Certainly not his comparative advantage. His decision to actually work as Superman is arbitrary. He hears that a truck is out of control, or some villain is threatening this or that, his efforts are limited to crime fighting and emergency work. What would be the change in social surplus if Superman just put in eight hours a day for the highest bidder?

Nathan Cook June 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Ignacious Plunder, that sounds familiar.

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