Post Tagged with: "transhumanism"

Warning: Future

Warning: Future

Warning: Cognitive Hazard

A collection of future warning signs by Anders of Anders Transhuman Page. These are from October, 2006 – predating the similar signs that appear in Doktor Sleepless.

Andart: Warning Signs for Tomorrow

(via Justin P)

March 7, 2011 1 comment
Mormon Transhumanist Association

Mormon Transhumanist Association

Mormon Transhumanist Association

From the About page of the Mormon Transhumanist Association:

What is the Mormon Transhumanist Association?

The Mormon Transhumanist Association is an international nonprofit organization that promotes practical faith in human exaltation through charitable use of science and technology, as outlined in the Transhumanist Declaration and the Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation. We support discussion and public awareness of emerging technologies, defend the right of individuals in free and democratic societies to adopt technologies that expand human capacities, and anticipate and propose solutions for the potential consequences of emerging technologies. Although we are neither a religious organization nor affiliated with any religious organization, we support our members in their personal religious affiliations, and encourage them to adapt Transhumanism to their unique situations.

What is the relation between Mormonism and Transhumanism?

Increasingly, persons are recognizing parallels and complements between Mormon and Transhumanist views. On the one hand, Mormonism is a religious ideology of the Judeo-Christian tradition that advocates faith in God leading to salvation. On the other hand, Transhumanism is a mostly secular ideology that advocates ethical use of technology to extend human capabilities. However, Mormonism and Transhumanism advocate remarkably similar views of human nature and its future: material beings organized according to law, rapidly advancing knowledge and power, imminent fundamental changes to anatomy and environment, and eventual transcendence of present limitations. Resources available through this site provide details on the relation between Mormon and Transhumanist views.

Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation:

  1. We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation of individuals and their anatomies, as well as communities and their environments, according to their wills, desires and laws, to the extent they are not oppressive.
  2. We believe that scientific knowledge and technological power are among the means ordained of God to enable such exaltation, including realization of diverse prophetic visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end.
  3. We feel a duty to use science and technology according to wisdom and inspiration, to identify and prepare for risks and responsibilities associated with future advances, and to persuade others to do likewise.

(via Justin P)

March 7, 2011 3 comments
Mac Tonnies and Other Digital Ghosts in The New York Times

Mac Tonnies and Other Digital Ghosts in The New York Times

cyberspace after death

Rob Walker wrote a long piece on “digital ghosts” – the online remnants of people who have died. He talks quite a bit about Mac Tonnies:

I spoke to a half dozen people Mac Tonnies met online and in some cases never encountered in the physical world. Each expressed a genuine sense of loss; a few sounded grief-stricken even more than a year later. Mark Plattner, who lives in St. Louis and met Tonnies a dozen years ago through the comments section of another blog, decided that Posthuman Blues needed to survive. He used software called Sitesucker to put a backup of the entire thing — pictures, videos, links included — on a hard drive. In all, Plattner has about 10 gigabytes of material, offering a sense of Tonnies’s “personality and who he was,” Plattner says. “That’s what we want to remember.” He intends to store this material through his own hosting account, just as soon as he finds time to organize it all.

Plattner was one of several online friends who got involved in memorializing Tonnies and his work. Dia Sobin, an artist who lives in Connecticut, met Tonnies online around 2006; they communicated often by e-mail and phone, but never met in person. She created art for Tonnies’s site and for the cover of what turned out to be his final book. Less than two weeks after he died, she started a blog called Post-Mac Blues. For more than a year, she filled it with posts highlighting passages of his writing, reminiscences, links to interviews he gave to podcasters and bloggers, even his Blip.fm profile (which dutifully records that he listened to a song from “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today,” by David Byrne and Brian Eno, at 4:16 p.m. on the last day he lived). Her site is “a map to Mac Tonnies,” Sobin says. “And a memorial.”

“I only ever knew him over Twitter,” Sarah Cashmore , a graduate student in Toronto, told me. She shared his enthusiasm for design and technology and learned of his death from Twitter contacts. “I was actually devastated,” she says. A few months later, she teamed up with several other members of Tonnies’s Twitter circle to start a second Tonnies-focused blog, Mac-Bots.

This outpouring of digital grief, memorial-making, documentation and self-expression is unusual, maybe unique, for now, because of the kind of person Tonnies was and the kinds of friends he made online. But maybe, his friend Rita King suggests, his story is also a kind of early signal of one way that digital afterlives might play out. And she doesn’t just mean this in an abstract, scholarly way. “I find solace,” she told me, “in going to Mac’s Twitter feed.”

New York Times: Cyberspace When You’re Dead

(Thanks Chris Arkenberg)

Walker also covers various services for dealing with one’s digital life posthumously and transhumanist notions of immortality.

See also: Technoccult interview with Sarah and Mark on MacBots.

January 18, 2011 2 comments
Indie Game Designers Luke Crane and Jared Sorensen on Transhumanist RPG FreeMarket – Technoccult Interview

Indie Game Designers Luke Crane and Jared Sorensen on Transhumanist RPG FreeMarket – Technoccult Interview

FreeMarket

New York based game designers Luke Crane (of Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard fame) and Jared Sorensen (known for octaNe and the various games released through his Memento Mori imprint) are sometimes referred to as godfathers of the indie game scene. Tomorrow they’re releasing their new game FreeMarket at GenCon – you can find them at booth #1732. I talked to them a couple weeks ago about what FreeMarket’s all about.

Could you briefly go over what FreeMarket is and why it’s different from other role playing games?

Luke Crane: FreeMarket is a transhumanist RPG in which players take on the roles of telepathic, immortal infovores living on a space station orbiting Saturn.

Jared: That’s also what makes it different from other RPGs.

Luke : In order to get ahead on the station, players must make friends, cooperate and give gifts to one another. Doing so enhances a player’s reputation. Players can then spend this reputation to accomplish personal goals. It uses a unique card-based mechanic, comes in a box and is really pretty.

Jared Sorensen and Luke Crane
Left: Jared Right: Luke

It also sounds like it’s a more intellectual game than most – you’ve said you can, for instance, play the role of a philosopher and have that be meaningful within the game.

Luke: Yeah, but don’t think you can’t play Soulshitter Killfuck and have fun, too. But, unlike many other games that I’ve played, you can play an artist and have serious conflict about what you do. It’s impossible to just make a piece of art in this game and have it sit there, inert. Art is controversial.

Jared: And conflicts (especially philosophical, critical and artistic) are both internal and external and can have wide-reaching and unplanned repercussions.

Right. So you could do a more typical hack and slash scenario, or you could do something where you’re dealing with post-scarcity speculation. Or maybe both.

Luke: Yes. But the “typical” scenario is also turned on its ear.

Jared: Definitely. “Death artists” is a common FreeMarket trope we see in our games.

Luke: You can kill the living shit out of something in the game. In fact, when you get into a fight, someone is going to die, period. But that is very costly, so you better be ready to have another side to your character. You better be ready to cooperate and give gifts. Otherwise, you’re not going to survive.

Jared: Some of the nicest people on FreeMarket Station are killers… because they have to be nice in order to remain viable members of society.

FreeMarket 1

So you can kill or be killed in the game?

Jared: Yes, but not permanently

What do you mean?

Luke: Yeah, the station just resuscitates you or reloads your back up into a new body if you’ve “perfect deathed.”

Jared: There are different levels of death… from induced death to brain death to total bodily destruction. If you just go around murdering people left and right, people are going to shun you and you’re going to burn your social capital to ashes.

Luke: Right, killing costs a lot of your reputation.

Jared: Especially if you’re killing people who are valuable members of the society. Assholes who kill each other off can get away with that for a while

Luke: *Laughs* True!

Jared: But kill a baker? Or a garbage man? You are FUCKED.

FreeMarket 2

I haven’t role played in years, and it’s been even longer since I’ve been at all serious about playing. But Free Market sounds like something I’d like to play. Do you think this is the sort of game that people who have lost interest in role-playing or maybe never even role played before would get into?

Luke: YES

Jared: We had a woman play — she was the CFO of a game company — who had never played an RPG before. She got it in five minutes. It was awesome.

Luke: It’s different. It’s not about roll-to-hit and not a number style play. People who are diehard RPG players have the most trouble with it, actually.

Was that your intention? To create a game for non-gamers?

Luke: No, we just wanted to create a game that we liked (and that Peter Adkison would like).

Jared: We wanted to create a game for people interested in science fiction.

Luke: That, too!

Jared: Not SF gaming, but actual SF.

Luke: Yeah, this isn’t space pirate romance.

Jared: No travel, no aliens. Which are two mainstays of the game genre.

You’ve said before this is the first actual science fiction game.

Jared: We say a lot of things.

Luke: *Laughs* True. Paranoia is the first science fiction roleplaying game. Our friend Joshua made a really neat science fiction game called Shock, but it’s not really an RPG.

What makes it a science fiction game and other sci-fi themed games NOT science fiction games?

Luke: They’re about fighting and romance. FreeMarket is about time, space and identity.

And economics?

Luke: Not really!

Jared: D&D is as much about economics as FreeMarket. The title of the game is ironic commentary — the space station was renamed “FreeMarket Station” by its residents and it’s probably ironic commentary by us as well.

So it’s not Milton Friedman: The Game?

Jared: Hah, no.

Luke: Unfortunately, no. Milton Friedman would probably hate the economy in this game.

Jared: More Malcom Gladwell.

Luke: There’s no money. No market.

Jared: That’s the joke. The market is one of ideas.

FreeMarket 3

More “free” than “market.”

Jared: And it’s a truly free society. For the first time ever, people have real freedom. And it’s terrifying.

Luke: Utterly.

And you’re going to be giving the game, sans artwork, away for free online at some point, correct?

Luke: We already did that.

Jared: With artwork even.

Luke: We gave away a PDF from November to April. We took it offline while we launch.

Jared: It was limited to 1,000 people. And we used that for our “colony program.”

Luke: I’m sure it’s out on torrent sites.

Jared: It totally is.

Luke: We’re discussing the future fate of the electronic life of FreeMarket. We need to see how well the printed version does. You can definitely get a sense of the game from the PDF. But to play it, it’s best to have the materials—the cards and chips.
FreeMarket hazard

How did you get interested in transhumanism and why did you decide to write a game based around it?

Luke: I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk since I had a brain…since about 1991. Transhumanism seems like the next natural step. It’s like cyberpunk, but without the 1980s and with some more thoughtful science fiction.

Jared: The game has gone through a lot of development and research but even from the first step we knew “transhuman science fiction” was going to be its thrust. And it was kinda unexplored as a game subject at the time (2007).

Luke: Yeah, somebody said to us, “What would you do with X” and we both said, “Transhumanist SF RPG. Space stations and weird technology.” I think I was reading Bruce Sterling at the time.

I suppose it would be hard to create a normal hack and slash transhumanist game. Unless you count Rifts or something.

Jared: You can play out brutal combat sequences in FreeMarket and it’s very satisfying. It’s just the consequences are all backward and upside down.

Luke: Rifts is totally transhumanist. But Eclipse Phase, our cousin, is a TH game about fighting. Did I just say that out loud?

Jared: *Laughs* Except that DEE-BEES are not human (so really, it’s transdimensional).

Luke: Fuck.

Jared: Rifts also has space whales I think.

Were virtual worlds like MOOs and MUSHes and newer things like Second Life an influence?

Jared: Definitely.

Luke: Absolutely. Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter too.

Jared: Everything from MUDs and Second Life to Facebook, dating sites and Slashdot.

Luke: Good science fiction expresses the present through the fiction of the technology. We wanted FM to feel like an outgrowth of today.

FreeMarket 4

How were social networking sites an influence?

Luke: Well, in the game, you friend each other. Friending each other increases your overall reputation and provides “social insurance.” The more friends you have, the harder it is for you to be kicked out of the community. So the influence is rather naked. It was more “What if that shit was about people and real life rather than your profile?”

Why wouldn’t everyone just friend everyone then?

Luke: Hah, well, do you go around friending everyone on Facebook? Do you love the people who do nothing but friend you?

No, but it doesn’t really keep me from getting kicked off my space station.

Jared: There are game equivalents of “like” and “mod down” buttons, social groups and trolling. There are people on the station who try and friend everyone. But friending carries serious social implications. Friending is like allowing someone access to your Google Calendar. And Ebay account. And email. Etc.

So there’s a real trust relationship there.

Luke: And if you’re worried about getting kicked off, then I don’t know if we should be friends. because you’re obviously up to something that’s going to get me in trouble. When your reputation tanks, your friends all take a hit, too.

Jared: Klint’s friends are all switchers, breakers and wetworkers! Don’t friend him!

What advice would you give people who want to be game designers?

Jared: continue to want to be that.

Luke: *Laughs* Play lots of games. Start breaking games. And then play your games. And break them. Also, recruit tolerant friends.

Jared: And stay the hell off of game forums.

Luke: That, too.

Are there any books on game design you’d recommend?

Luke: I like Rules of Play by Salen and Zimmerman. But Jared and I are both self-taught.

Jared: Also Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Luke: Oh, yes!

Why Understanding Comics?

Luke: Because it’s the single best deconstruction of a medium around there. It teaches you how to think structurally and critically. It shows you how to clearly break down complicated stuff.

Jared: And if you get a chance to come to a convention seminar by Luke and me, I seriously recommend it.

Anything else you’d like to say to readers?

Jared: Replace your body as soon as possible! But don’t throw out the original packaging just in case.

Luke: Always back up your memories. Unless you need to forget.

Special thanks to Jesse for suggesting this interview!

FreeMarket

August 4, 2010 6 comments
R.U. Sirius: The Best-Case Scenario For Posthumanity, And Who Is Making It Happen

R.U. Sirius: The Best-Case Scenario For Posthumanity, And Who Is Making It Happen

R.U. fuckin' Sirius

Annalee has asked me to comment on what is the best-case scenario for posthumanity and what groups are working on putting that scenario in motion. This is the sort of question that invites utopian musings. I’ve become somewhat shy of utopian projections, which is maybe why I tend to interview other people and let them take the fall… but what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

The fun, of course, would be in visions of tall, thin, beautiful blue skinned beings that are superbright rather than corny (maybe winged, too. Winged would be nice), a third arm for carrying groceries, skinny little fingers for ever-tinier portable devices, and everybody engineered at the germ line to be crazy sex freaks.

But being of nobler stuff, I’ll give you what I think is the best down to earth scenario for near-term enhanced humanity, and then I’ll also mention a few further out vision – some of which I’m fond of.

io9: The Best-Case Scenario For Posthumanity, And Who Is Making It Happen

Want to get involved in building the future, but lack a background in engineering science and hard science? Get started learning get started studying engineering online for free.

(Thanks Cole Tucker)

May 7, 2010 1 comment
One in four Germans wants microchip under skin

One in four Germans wants microchip under skin

RFID Implant

Above: Amal Graafstra‘s self-administered RFID implant.

It sounds like something from a sci-fi film, but one in four Germans would be happy to have a microchip implanted in their body if they derived concrete benefits from it, a poll Monday showed. [...]

In all, 23 percent of around 1,000 respondents in the survey said they would be prepared to have a chip inserted under their skin “for certain benefits”.

Around one in six (16 percent) said they would wear an implant to allow emergency services to rescue them more quickly in the event of a fire or accident.

And five percent of people said they would be prepared to have an implant to make their shopping go more smoothly.

PhysOrg: One in four Germans wants microchip under skin: poll

(via Chris S.)

See also:

Scrapheap Transhumanism

Lepht Anonym’s blog

Amal Graafstra’s blog

March 8, 2010 0 comments
DIY transhumanism on the cheap

DIY transhumanism on the cheap

scrap heap transhumanist

I’m sort of inured to pain by this point. Anesthetic is illegal for people like me, so we learn to live without it; I’ve made scalpel incisions in my hands, pushed five-millimeter diameter needles through my skin, and once used a vegetable knife to carve a cavity into the tip of my index finger. I’m an idiot, but I’m an idiot working in the name of progress: I’m Lepht Anonym, scrapheap transhumanist. I work with what I can get.

Sadly, they don’t do it like that on TV. The art of improving the human is shiny and bright in the media. You see million-euro cryogenics policies and hormonal life-extension regimes that only the elite can afford. You see the hypothesis of an immortal silicon body to house your artificially-enhanced mind. You could buy that too, maybe, if you sold most of your organic body and the home it lives in. But you can do something to bring it down a notch: homebrewing.

Read More – h+: Scrapheap Transhumanism

(via Grinding)

See also: Lepht Anonym‘s blog.

February 22, 2010 0 comments
Botox Parties, Michael Jackson, and the Disillusioned Transhumanist

Botox Parties, Michael Jackson, and the Disillusioned Transhumanist

Yet when I asked a lot of “average” people — people who weren’t part of my circle — what they would do with the kind of self-transformative power that may perhaps be ours to wield, I was increasingly appalled. The jocks I talked to wanted to be bigger and stronger so they could beat the shit out of everybody else; the women wanted to morph into their ideal role models. I began to realize that what most people wanted was conformity; their “ideals” would turn us into a world of underachieving Nicole Kidmans and eight-foot Brad Pitts, identical cut-outs with no individualism.

My previous rather naive notion that biotechnology would free us from the tyranny of “normalcy,” that we could become anything we wanted, morph ourselves into elongated, blue-skinned, orange-haired, sixteen-fingered geniuses or perhaps flying ribbons of sensual bliss that performed acrobatic choreographies above the sunset, was a very utopian and, as it turns out, unpopular dream. Individuality or creative improvisation is the last thing most people want. So Botox is really a dreadful symptom of a new, radical mundanity enabled by biotechnology. And that’s disillusioning.

H+: Botox Parties, Michael Jackson, and the Disillusioned Transhumanist

July 1, 2009 4 comments
New Devices Aid Deaf People By Translating Sound Waves To Vibrations

New Devices Aid Deaf People By Translating Sound Waves To Vibrations

Lip reading is a critical means of communication for many deaf people, but it has a drawback: Certain consonants (for example, p and b) can be nearly impossible to distinguish by sight alone.

Tactile devices, which translate sound waves into vibrations that can be felt by the skin, can help overcome that obstacle by conveying nuances of speech that can’t be gleaned from lip reading.

Researchers in MIT’s Sensory Communication Group are working on a new generation of such devices, which could be an important tool for deaf people who rely on lip reading and can’t use or can’t afford cochlear implants. The cost of the device and the surgery make cochlear implants prohibitive for many people, especially in developing countries.

“Most deaf people will not have access to that technology in our lifetime,” said Ted Moallem, a graduate student working on the project. “Tactile devices can be several orders of magnitude cheaper than cochlear implants.”

Full Story: Science Daily

(via OVO)

March 2, 2009 0 comments
New Issue of H+ Magazine: Has the Future Been Canceled?

New Issue of H+ Magazine: Has the Future Been Canceled?

h plus magazine

Read it at H+

One gripe: why is a publication so obsessed with the future stuck replicated the decidedly past format of print magazine? The do better than anyone I’ve seen at making this quasi-print webzine into a true hypermedia object with permalinks to specific articles and a search functionality. But they are still stuck replicating the past.

That aside, I’m looking forward to reading this.

February 26, 2009 0 comments