Archive for August, 2010

TransVision 2010: Last week to register at the reduced August fees

Please note that this is the last week to register for TransVision 2010 at the reduced August fees. On September 1 registration fees will go up.

Note also that the conference venue has a limited capacity of approximately 230 seats, so you may wish to register now to reserve your seat.

TransVision 2010: Nuovi interventi

Nuovi interventi confermati per TransVision 2010: il noto autore transumanista italiano Roberto Marchesini, l’ artista Khannea Suntzu e l’ esperto e attivista della crionica europea David Styles. Il numero di relatori confermati sale a 33, e altri saranno annunciati fra pochi giorni.

TransVision 2010 è un evento transumanista globale, organizzato da varie organizzazioni e gruppi transumanisti coordinati dall’ Associazione Italiana Transumanisti (AIT) con la collaborazione di un gruppo di esperti. L’ evento avrà luogo il 22, 23 e 24 Ottobre 2010 a Milano, con varie possibilità di accesso remoto online.

Registrati adesso

per approfittare dei prezzi speciali validi fino a fine agosto, posta segnalazioni a Twitter, i tuoi blog e siti web, e aggiungi il tuo nome alla pagina TransVision 2010 su Facebook.

TransVision 2010 – New confirmed speakers

The following speakers will give talks at TransVision 2010, which brings the number of confirmed speakers to 33. Other speakers will be announced in a few days.

Roberto Marchesini Roberto Marchesini is a well known Italian biologist and epistemologist. He is the author of one of the first books on transhumanism published in Italy: Post-human (Bollati Boringhieri, 2002). A lecturer in several Universities, Marchesini is the President of the Italian Society of Applied Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the School of Human-Animal Interaction. See Roberto Marchesini a TransVision 2010.
David Styles David Styles is the organiser of the UK-based voluntary mutual assistance organisation for cryonics emergency standby, stabilisation, and transport services. In this position, he has laboured successfully over the past 18 months to strengthen capabilities in the UK and on the continent, and has lately been involved in a project (over the course of the last year) to create a professional Pan-European service, launching in this October. See David Styles at TransVision 2010: A new development in cryonics standby, stabilisation, and transport capabilities in Europe.
Khannea Suntzu Driven by extremes of ambitions, hope, aspirations, expectations; yet shackled by paroxisms of insanity, doubt, conceit, lazyness, pain, sexual depravity, despair and intransience, the person who has chosen to call herself ‘Khannea Suntzu’ is a western European artist. In fact Khannea is not one person, but several associated artists working together. Respective ‘real world’ identities and conventions of these people are no longer relevant — they have discarded their soul to a greater cause – the manifestation and incarnation of something Khannea refers to as ‘Lilith’ as an artillect. To this effect the cause of worldwide transhumanism is a means to an end – for Khannea transhumanism, (and specifically the ideals and values espoused by the smaller ‘Order of Cosmic Engineers’) signify a future where individuals have vastly amplified power over a vastly expanded world. See Khannea Suntzu at TransVision 2010.

TransVision 2010 is a global transhumanist conference and community convention, organized by several transhumanist activists, groups and organizations, under the executive leadership of the Italian Transhumanist Association (AIT) and with the collaboration of an Advisory Board. The event will take place on October 22, 23 and 24, 2010 in Milan, Italy with many options for remote online access.

Register now

post links to Twitter, your blogs and websites, and add your name to the TransVision 2010 Facebook page.

David Styles at TransVision 2010: A new development in cryonics standby, stabilisation, and transport capabilities in Europe

David Styles

David Styles will be at TransVision 2010 and give a talk on: “A new development in cryonics standby, stabilisation, and transport capabilities in Europe

Standby, stabilisation, and transport are all very important parts of human cryopreservation. The more time that elapses between cardiac arrest and cryopreservation, the more damage will occur.

Hence the importance of standby – having a team of trained personnel on hand at the patient’s bedside to begin the stabilisation process as quickly as possible. An average standby, statistically, lasts for around ten days. Three days is considered a very short standby, and twenty days is considered very long. The period during which standby is being performed can also be used for ensuring that any bureaucratic issues are foreseen and circumvented, that all paperwork is in place for the patient, before deanimation and subsequent stabilisation occur.

Stabilisation in this context refers to the following: continuation of cardiac support, insertion of medications appropriate to cryopreservation; this includes anti-coagulants, blood-thinners, vasoconstrictors, volume-increasing agents, and pH buffers, amongst others; such is followed by the replacing of the patient’s blood with a medical cryoprotectant, such that the patient may be vitrified rather than frozen, in that as little as possible freezing should be allowed to occur, even with the very low temperatures involved; firstly at dry ice temperatures, and later at liquid nitrogen temperatures. Without these arrangements, cellular degradation will have been more advanced than with them. Also, upon cooling down to very low temperatures, freezing damage is likely to occur. This causes considerable harm to the patient, deemed to be greater than any harm caused even by potentially toxic cryoprotectants. It is noted that the toxicity of these cryoprotectants can be regulated, and is also lowered at lower temperatures.

Transport is the third main element in this process, and is also an issue of critical importance. With good organisation, prior planning, and secure arrangements, a patient can be delivered at dry ice temperatures to their long term care facility within a couple of days. A period of a couple of days for total transport time is quite acceptable, and about the same time as it often takes to get a patient from one part of America to another, if they are passing state borders. Without good preparations for transport, it will be very difficult for a patient to get safely to their destination, and often unacceptable delays are incurred ranging up to weeks.

In the European Union, currently there have been little to no formal arrangements for any of this to occur. In the UK, capabilities have ranged from poor to fair over the years depending on personnel, and outside of the UK, few countries have made even that much progress. Most local cryonics support groups have been able to render only bureaucratic assistance to their members, hiring and instructing funeral directors to arrange shipping of the patient. Even in the UK, assistance has only ever been based on a voluntary mutual-assistance arrangement, and as such has never been guaranteed.

A need is evident, therefore, for a professional full-time cryonics standby, stabilisation, and transport service, throughout the European Union. This must give Europeans the care that they need prior to arrival at the long-term storage facility of their choice, and to ensure that they arrive there in the best possible condition.

To this end, an organisational solution has now been implemented. This development has rendered it such that European cryonicists may avail themselves of such a service, and thus enjoy a greatly enhanced chance of optimal cryopreservation, with what can reasonably be assumed to be better chance of earlier, safer, restoration to viability.

The Speaker – David Styles BA (hons) OPEN

David Styles is the organiser of the UK-based voluntary mutual assistance organisation for cryonics emergency standby, stabilisation, and transport services. In this position, he has laboured successfully over the past 18 months to strengthen capabilities in the UK and on the continent, and has lately been involved in a project (over the course of the last year) to create a professional Pan-European service, launching in this October.

David’s original academic background is in linguistics, holding a Bachelor’s degree with honours, but he is now pursuing further degree studies in mathematics to take his academia down a more scientific route.

David’s work background includes military service in the Parachute Regiment, from which position he also went on to be trained as a Combat Medical Technician (CMT), which has provided some transferrable skills for his later work in cryonics emergency service provision. Before switching to work in cryonics on a full time basis, David has also worked in the field of Health and Social Care, adding further practical medical background to his field of experience.

Khannea Suntzu at TransVision 2010

Khannea Suntzu

Driven by extremes of ambitions, hope, aspirations, expectations; yet shackled by paroxisms of insanity, doubt, conceit, lazyness, pain, sexual depravity, despair and intransience, the person who has chosen to call herself ‘Khannea Suntzu’ is a western European artist. In fact Khannea is not one person, but several associated artists working together. Respective ‘real world’ identities and conventions of these people are no longer relevant — they have discarded their soul to a greater cause – the manifestation and incarnation of something Khannea refers to as ‘Lilith’ as an artillect. To this effect the cause of worldwide transhumanism is a means to an end – for Khannea transhumanism, (and specifically the ideals and values espoused by the smaller ‘Order of Cosmic Engineers’) signify a future where individuals have vastly amplified power over a vastly expanded world.

Khannea knowingly is a traitor to humanity having sold herself to the machine deities before they even exist. Khannea states “you cannot engineer a posthuman future. You cannot lobby for it, or have it voted through parliament or legislate it. It must be a work of art, or a labour of love — or it must be like making love, insemination, conception and giving birth, even if we while doing so risk sacificing the mother… because you can’t do any but hope for something better…

Madness? Almost certainly. Irony with a hidden agenda? No doubt? Culture Jamming? You have a solemn guarantee!… It is all banter with a plan. A highly lateral plan, a highly holistic plan.

The interests of the artists known as Khannea lie in the realms of augmented reality, virtual reality, life extension, artificial intelligence, space industrialization, nanotechnology, body sculpting, extended sexual revolutions, uploading, nootropics, paradise engineering, gaming, basic income, robotics and far stranger things. If Khannea gets her way we’ll all end up being better humans because of it, and hopefully something better than humans as well.

As her influences she mentions (or constantly repeats to the points of being annoying) David Pearce, Extropia DaSilva, Aubrey de Grey, Marshall Brain, Larry Niven, Syd Mead, Ron Cobb, Kevin Warwick, Jamais Cascio, Martine Rothblatt, Hugo DeGaris, Anders Sandberg, Nick Bostrom, Mike Annisimov, Ray Kurzweil, Jacques Fresco, Zizek, Bruce Sterling, Philippe van Nedervelde, Natasha Vita-More, Kelly Lebroc, H.R. Giger, Armenius and quite a few others.

At TransVision 2010 Khannea will present a work of futurist art dedicated to space colonization: Terasem 1. On the long history of the terasem l4 space colony, a blog dedicated to Terasem 1, Khannea writes;

I was bought and sold, somewhere in the mnid 1980s, when I read the book ‘the high frontier’, by Gerald K. O’Neil. His proposals were so elegant. I still think that this is the road to go forward for humanity, and probably the only way to retain and expand our humanity (and our abundance). It was an almost surreal experience to then receive support of Mrs. Martine Rothblatt in this amazing endeavor – to literally be instrumental in the construction of model of a Bernal Sphere/island One habitat according to the vision of Gerald. I was like a dream come true.
.
The guy doing most of the work is Simon Deering (not hotdogs!), the prop builder who managers creatrix.nl, [and someone I deeply admire] – Simon has involved in the work on the original movie Alien and he is a career model crafter. This will be one amazing journey culminating in the Tranvision conference in October this year, where we will present the model and give it over to Mrs. Rothblatt, after which we assume she will put it on display in one of the Terasem offices.

Take this journey with me and see how the vision Gerald formulated a life time ago can still enchants and puts stars in your eyes.

I wish to encourage all readers to subscribe to and read Khannea’s blog the long history of the terasem l4 space colony, where she documents the design, planning, construction and deployment of the artwork. Terasem is one of the organizations most active on space colonization and other grand transhumanist visions, and I hope the Terasem 1 sculpture, once installed at terasem, will motivate Terasem staff to do something to really go to space, and for good. Read also Khannea’s personal blog. In a previous post titled Transvision 2010 Blurb, Khannea further details her vision:

Terasem 1, a model that should have been made ten years ago. The actual construction of these habitats should have started twenty years ago.

The model is a detailed prop depicting a Bernal Sphere along the designs of Gerald K O’Neil. Gerald wrote the book ‘the high frontier’ in the early 1970s (when we started having those oil crisis) and even then the book captivated a small but perceptive generation of visionaries. The vision of the High Frontier is not an easy digestible one  — it builds on series of cumulatively more abstract steps well into the sky, and beyond into the depths of space. The High Frontier is no less poignant a statement as it was in the 1970s and we need solutions put forth in the book more than ever.

The message is clear — even though the majority of human beings in this planet gravitate between ‘let other people sort it out’, blank ignorant apathy or a passive aggressive ‘don’t bother me with difficult issues’ we face insurmountable challenges to retain any appreciable level of our level of pluriform civilisation and industries in the next century. Instead of facing up to challenges we all flee in short term thinking and hollow consumerism.

The challenge in 2010 is – A world with ten billion people that has to relinquish acces to 15+ terawatt of energy consumptions is a world where very soon more than 5 billion will be dying.

The High Frontier charts out a solution that at every single step makes sense, from an egineering perspective. The price of this undertaking is high and potentially unaffordable in the current macro-economic and political climate, but it remains to this day the only way for modern society to expand, grow and become significantly more affluent.

The alternative has become unthinkable.

The road ahead is simple – do whatever it takes to create an industrial base in space. Mine asteroids and the moon. Make the colony self-sufficient. Build a SSPS (solar satelite power station) producing in the order of a gigawatt. Build another every year and (after a decade) every month. Rinse repeat, add space elevators, colonies on other planets and – habitats. The key here is  — adding habitats – safe and very comfortable permanent colonies in space. Enormous and equally implausible structures housing (initially) tens of thousands of people and (eventually) being a key destination for emigration of the human race into the rest of the solar system. Bear in mind — if properly exploited, just the ateroid belt alone holds sufficient minerals to build these habitats to make very comfortable living space equivalent to the earth’s landmass thousands of times over. That would in effect mean that after 25 or so years of doing this, energy availability would be bigger than acute demand, and energy prices will be falling sharply and irreversibly.

The message with this habitat is — does humanity choose stagnation and irrelevance, or is humanity capable of making the sacrifices to expand without little limit, indefinitely and in all directions? Look into this vision and can you imagine yourself living there?

Roberto Marchesini a TransVision 2010

La lista di partecipanti e relatori a TransVision 2010 include ora uno dei più noti intellettuali transumanisti italiani, Roberto Marchesini, la cui partecipazione alla conferenza è stata appena confermata.

Roberto Marchesini Posthuman di Roberto Marchesini

Roberto Marchesini (Bologna), studioso di scienze biologiche e di epistemologia, scrittore e saggista. Presidente della Società italiana di Scienze Comportamentali Applicate e direttore della Scuola di Interazione Uomo Animale, insegna Scienze Comportamentali Applicate in alcuni atenei italiani. Tra i saggi pubblicati: Post-human (Bollati Boringhieri, 2002), Nuove prospettive nelle attività e terapie assistite dagli animali, (Edizioni Scivac, 2004), Canone di Zooantropologia Applicata (Alberto Perdisa Editore, 2004), Fondamenti di Zooantropologia (Alberto Perdisa Editore, 2005), Attività e terapie assistite dagli animali. L’approccio zooantropologico alla pet-therapy (con Laura Corona, Alberto Perdisa Editore, 2007).

Roberto Marchesini è l’ autore di uno dei primi saggi transumanisti pubblicati in Italia, il già citato Post-human (Bollati Boringhieri, 2002). Il libro si apre con un’analisi di uno dei più dibattuti nodi del pensiero contemporaneo, l’incompletezza biologica dell’uomo, che fornisce all’autore la cornice di riferimento di un’ampia gamma di temi di ricerca. La prima riflessione suscitata dalla lettura di questo libro è che si tratta del frutto di un percorso critico che non rinuncia a confrontare e contaminare linguaggi, specialismi, paradigmi culturali, prospettive teoriche di riferimento. Più volte nel libro ricorre, spesso con modalità che appaiono convincenti, la messa in crisi del dualismo natura-cultura ai fini della comprensione dell'”umano”. La critica al riduzionismo biologico e alla conseguente rigida correlazione tra descrizione e prescrizione, ossia tra fondamento biologico e codice valoriale, consente poi approcci originali alla concezione dell’uomo.

Le proposte contenute nel libro, soprattutto quella di un nuovo umanesimo non antropocentrico che intenda l’uomo nel suo rapporto strutturale con l’alterità (il non umano), hanno il pregio di non presentarsi con una forma satura ed esauriente che potrebbe tendere a chiudere il discorso, e di lasciare lo spazio necessario affinché il dialogo interpretativo si sviluppi nell’intreccio di discipline differenti. Su questa impostazione di pensiero si dipana la critica pienamente condivisibile a una concezione dell’uomo come mondo chiuso e isolato.

L’uomo viene invece presentato come un vero e proprio miracolo biologico, che presenta “un potenziale cognitivo di partenza (…) senza dubbio competitivo rispetto agli altri animali. Ed è proprio questa eccellenza biologica che permette all’uomo di realizzare quel complesso epigenetico che chiamiamo cultura”. È in questa scia che l’autore addiviene al convincimento, che appare oggi pienamente accettabile, che non si possa adire a un’antropologia scientifica e/o filosofica lontana da un approccio biologico e da tutto ciò che da esso consegue.

Nel libro la presa distanza da una deriva tecnofilica e dalla opposta tecnofobia funge da sfondo su cui si collocano, da una parte, l’analisi del rischio di un concezione utopistica, fideistica e quasi escatologica della tecnologia e, dall’altra, il rifiuto di un’assunzione rigida delle tematiche ambientaliste.

La passione e la curiosità che animano Marchesini, nonché l’utilizzo di approcci teoretici lontani, con statuti definiti – pur a rischio di una contaminazione eccessiva di linguaggi che porta a una duttilità a tratti avventurosa -, permettono al lettore di mantenere viva l’attenzione di fronte a temi di certo non facili e, pertanto, facilmente liquidabili. La varietà delle tematiche, affrontate peraltro con lucidità argomentativa, si sviluppa utilizzando uno stile che, se a tratti appare indugiare eccessivamente in neologismi e ricorrenze discorsive, conserva tuttavia una propria originalità.

In conclusione si tratta di un saggio a cui si riconosce il pregio di una vivacità e ricchezza di interessi speculativi e culturali affrontati con un approccio non frequente che consente una lettura ricca di appeal anche a coloro che si avventurano in temi contemporanei e complessi senza il conforto di una formazione specifica. Proprio questi aspetti, tuttavia, sembrano evidenziare inevitabili mancamenti e forzature nel passaggio da tematiche concrete a un discorso sui massimi sistemi. L’autore sembra comunque accettare il rischio, consapevole evidentemente di transitare in nodi e chiasmi concettuali perigliosi e non facilmente dipanabili, e quindi non rappresentabili in modo chiaro e concluso.

Recensione di Estropico: “Post-Human” irrompe inaspettato sulla scena culturale italiana e osa affrontare concetti radicalmente nuovi che non è più possibile continuare ad ignorare. “Superando un’ontologia improntata sulla purezza essenzialistica e sull’autarchia culturale dell’uomo si sta affermando una nuova visione del concetto di umanità fondata sulla contaminazione con l’alterità non-umana. La perfusività dell’innesto biotecnologico, l’orizzontalità del bio-realm inaugurata dall’ingegneria genetica, la connettività dei supporti tecnologici resa possibile dalla miniaturizzazione dei sistemi informatici ela sempre maggiore bio-compatibilità di interfaccia sono solo alcuni dei tratti attraverso cui si va delineando il profilo post-human. D’altro canto l’avvento di alcune acquisizioni di avanguardia come le nanotecnologie, l’ingegneria proteica, la bio-computing, l’utilizzo delle cellule staminali fanno dell’uomo un frutto ibrido in continua trasformazione e ridefinizione. In questo senso ci stiamo avviando verso una nuova stagione della poietica umana che trasforma radicalmente il concetto di hybris, da atto che offende l’essere umano a momento centrale della stessa ontogenesi.”

English: Roberto Marchesini is a well known Italian biologist and epistemologist. He is the author of one of the first books on transhumanism published in Italy: Post-human (Bollati Boringhieri, 2002). A lecturer in several Universities, Marchesini is the President of the Italian Society of Applied Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the School of Human-Animal Interaction.

TransVision 2010 Presentation by Eugen Leitl

TransVision 2010 Presentation by Giulio Prisco

CRYONICS: Understanding Why It Failed

Cryonics is one of the great transformative ideas in human history, on par with the invention of agriculture, the industrial revolution, or evolutionary theory. Fundamentally, there are two kinds of new ideas; incremental ideas that advance our technology and scientific understanding gradually, and “paradigm changing” ideas that overturn the whole social structure, from morals through commerce. Examples of paradigm changing ideas are the Copernican system as opposed to the Ptolemaic, earth-centred view of the solar system in astronomy, and germ theory as opposed to Vitalism in biology.

Such revolutionary ideas are successfully promulgated in one of two ways: The first is by “seduction,” wherein the populace and the powers that be don’t understand that the new idea will destroy their most important cultural values and entirely transform their civilization. Instead, they are “seduced” by the “irresistible advantages” while being blind to, or ignorant of, the powerful transforming or damaging effects of the new idea or technology. Agriculture and the industrial revolution are examples of seductive introduction of paradigm changing ideas that transformed human culture destroying the then extant ethical, social and political milieu. Beginning 100,000 years ago with the start of agriculture, these technologies resulted not only in civilization as we currently understand it, but also a in a huge increase in the number of humans, as well as a mind-numbing increase in suffering and a reduction in mean life span by ~30%; a reduction which was not reversed until the mid-20th century.

The second route to introducing paradigm changing ideas is by “insurgency;” a more or less militaristic attack on the “hard core” of the existing order. The work of Imre Lakatos, (a philosopher of mathematics and science), who rejected the idea of mathematics and science as a patient accumulation of ever more complex truth, in favour of a model wherein advances occur as a result of dramatic proofs and refutations provides the framework for understanding insurgent scientific and technological change. Lakatos proposed a model of scientific advance wherein there is a “hard core” of scientific or mathematical theory which is surrounded by a “protective belt” of gentle inquiry. It is work going on within this protective belt that incrementally advances or erodes the hard core of the paradigm. Virtually all of routine scientific research (institutional science) operates in the zone of this protective belt while revolutionary, or paradigm changing ideas, penetrate it, smash the hard core, and thus demolish the whole structure. Cryonics, like Natural Selection, or the theories of General and Special Relativity, is core-smashing in character, and in the case of cryonics, the idea is so antithetical to the existing order of civilization that it can it only be advanced by insurgent means. This is so because cryonics overturns the Vitalistic view of life, challenges the conventional definition of death, invalidates the core tenets of contemporary medicine, erodes the need for a mystical afterlife, radically redistributes capital (disrupts inheritance, bequests, and mortuary customs), mandates a complete change in reproductive behavior, perturbs generational succession, requires space colonization, requires (and supports) profoundly disruptive technologies such as cloning, regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and finally, ends the species and enables, if not requires Transhumanism.

As a consequence, cryonics creates adverse emotional and intellectual states within the existing culture such as survivorship guilt, indefinitely extended anxiety and uncertainty accompanying life-threatening illness (the cryonics patient remains ‘critically ill’ for decades or centuries), prevents the psychological closure that accompanies “true” death with disposition of remains, creates indefinite anxiety about the well being of cryopreserved loved ones, disrupts the intimacy of family interactions during the “dying” process, may bitterly divide family members who are opposed to cryonics versus those who are in favour, and blocks or disrupts deeply held mechanisms for coping with death and bereavement that are inculcated from childhood by eliminating the customary wake, funeral, and other comforting rituals.

Because of the profoundly socially disruptive character of cryonics (and for that matter, Transhumanism), the only way these ideas can ultimately succeed in a time frame sufficiently short to save our lives is by a relentless insurgency; the idea that cryonics was just an extension of medicine and is compatible with religion and existing social and political institutions, while superficially satisfying, is both mistaken and bound to fail. (These approaches are useful as tools or pabulum in that they delay understanding by the culture that we represent its destruction, indeed that we represent the destruction of the human species and its replacement with us, which is unquestionably the most horrible thing imaginable; if they could imagine it, which thankfully, they can’t.)

An examination of the history of ideas successfully promulgated by insurgency reveals that careful advance preparation is necessary and that missteps or mishandling of such ideas during their launch is usually catastrophic. Natural selection and the idea of Drexlerian nanotechnology are both examples of paradigm changing ideas requiring insurgency where the innovators understood the danger these ideas posed to the existing order and took extraordinary steps to launch them with great care, attention to detail, and ultimately with a well organized and militant supportive intellectual militia.

Unfortunately, in the case of cryonics, the two men responsible for its creation and dissemination, Evan Cooper and Robert Ettinger, were intellectuals and introverts; neither was of a practical nature with expertise in finance, enterprise or engineering. They launched cryonics absent any of the detailed preparative work and planning that must necessarily accompany the successful launch of any new idea, let alone a paradigm challenging one, like cryonics. By contrast, both Charles Darwin and Marx were aware of the incendiary nature of their theses and both took decades to research and refine their arguments with meticulous scholarship before exposing them to public criticism. Unlike communism or natural selection cryonics required practical implementation in the world in 1964. Thus, in addition to its ideological component, it required the immediate creation of a variety of goods and services, such as human-sized cryogenic dewars, rescue and recovery teams, perfusion procedures and equipment and so on.

In the medical, biomedical and cultural context of 1964, the year Ettinger’s The Prospect of Immortality was published, the discovery of the structure of DNA was only 11-years old, CPR was only 4-years old, the Uniform Determination of Death Act would be passed until 1978 (14-years later), the first heart transplant was 3-years in the future (1967), and most of the United States had no emergency medical system (EMS) (ambulances were hearses driven by Funeral Directors).

Cryonics started without any significant or detailed forethought on practical matters making an incredibly challenging situation into an impossible one. This resulted in the first failure of cryonics when, during the period from 1964 to 1972 there was an initialization failure due to absence of entrepreneurship (abdication of responsibility for implementation of cryonics to others), no first approximation of technological specifications. no business planning, active endorsement of con men, frauds and the incompetent, failure to define death with scientific rigor and to establish “cryonic suspension” as a “fourth state” as distinguished from life, death, and true suspended animation (i.e., a condition with an uncertain prognosis and an uncertain time course to resolution), use of the words death and dead to describe cryopatients, identification and alliance with the mortuary and cemetery trades, as opposed to the medical and scientific professions, failure to develop any in-house standards of care, either technical or financial and thus a failure to professionalize cryonics.

What was needed was the clear definition of the “critical functional elements” required for a cryonics program in 1964. These included institutional elements such as brochures, educational seminars, legal counselling, management, financial arrangements, cost estimating and the like; as well as technical elements such as an emergency notification system, a perfusion and storage facility and equipment required to provide liquid nitrogen storage.

This did not happen in cryonics until an aerospace engineer, Fred Chamberlain, and a businessman, Art Quaife, came into leadership positions within cryonics circa 1975. It was only then, over a decade after cryonics was launched, that the first rudimentary procedures and accompanying instruction manuals for recovery and perfusion, as well the design and construction of the first hardware for performing cryopreservation, including construction of a mobile perfusion facility in the mid-1970s came into being. These initialization failures resulted in a cascade of follow-on problems; such as lack of adequate capitalization, no access to high quality profession and technical services such as physicians, cryobiologists, businessmen, and cryogenic equipment manufacturers, and most importantly, created intense hostility from the scientific community at large, finally, inevitably lead to the Chatsworth catastrophe.

Distinct from initialization failures, there are inherent in cryonics several corrosive and self destructive ideas that have grown over time until they have virtually overwhelmed cryonics today. The first of these is “temporal load shifting,” or more colloquially, the problem of ‘our friends in the future.’ This utterly corrosive idea that which is nevertheless intrinsic to the success of cryonics” (we can’t revive ourselves) posits that ‘our friends in the future’ have unknown limitations which quickly morphs into the belief that they will have none. Even more conveniently, those ‘friends’ are not yet born, so they cannot possibly object to the shifting of our technological and financial shortcomings today onto a potentially ‘near omnipotent’ future technology is easy, seemingly creditable, and removes the burden for urgent (or any) action to improve things now. This causes cryonicists to increasingly shift the burdens, technological and financial, present and future, onto the people (supermen) who we believe will revive us from cryopreservation, a concept that may fairly be called Trans-Temporal Communism: from cryonicists now according our ability (none); and from our ‘supermen friends in the future’ according to our needs (infinite).

This attitude raises the questions: How accurate is our vision of the future? How much hubris can we afford to have as seers, when our very lives depend upon the outcome? How many of your friends today are willing to pay for all your medical expenses, as well as set you up in a new life while also feeding, clothing and housing you while you are re-educated, retrained and put back on your feet? What moral and cultural code will make tomorrow’s people, or Transhumans, different from Bill Gates, or even the Dalai Lama, from how they treat their friends in need today? An even more damaging extension of this idea is the concept that the Singularity is at hand, and therefore any expenditure of effort on cryonics makes little sense to the young and hopeful. Omega point technology will allow resurrection of everyone – even the long dead – so why bother?

Trans-Temporal Communism leads to the creation of ‘Future Squatters; people who believe that technological advances will happen when conditions are right for them to occur. This is a brilliant position because it is never wrong; it is the perfect piece of circular reasoning that justifies doing nothing. This creates a perverse situation wherein intelligent and talented people who enter cryonics do not, as might at first be thought, find it impossible to believe that cryonics, vast extension of the human life span, or, for that matter, many of the transformational technologies of Transhumanism are impossible, but rather they that find it not only believable, but inevitable that these developments will occur within their lifetimes (i.e., Kurzweil and deGray).

Many, if not most in the Transhumanist and cryonics community believed that ‘history has an inevitable trajectory’ and that it is ‘designed to benefit them personally.’ Even glancing contact with history should cause any reflective person to realize that while the historical trend has been towards progress, the total time spent by the average member of species under good conditions has been miniscule, compared to the time spent under what can only be characterized as truly terrible conditions. What’s more, long periods of darkness and misery have occurred between ages of progress, and without any question the majority of humans who have ever lived, or who are living now, have no prospect of benefiting from progress, and arguably have suffered because of it.

Thus, the core problem in cryonics is the absence of a philosophical and moral basis for cryonics and the accompanying ethics and dogma required to enforce it. The Future Squatters who have come to dominate contemporary cryonics are not merely parasites content to sit and wait until robots show up at their doors with immortality on a silver platter, all too often they are actively contemptuous and dismissive of the (fewer and fewer) people working hard to build a practical, sustainable and robust cryonics that withstand the tests of time and deliver its patients to a future they have created; a future not only technologically capable of restoring them to life; but morally and financially impelled to do so, as well.

Eugen Leitl Eugen Leitl is a German cryonicist and transhumanist activist, a computer scientist and an expert in several disciplines including neurotechnology.

TransVision 2010 is a global transhumanist conference and community convention. The event will take place on October 22, 23 and 24, 2010 in Milan, Italy with many options for remote online access.

Register now

post links to Twitter, your blogs and websites, and add your name to the TransVision 2010 Facebook page.

TransVision 2010 Presentation by Emanuele Ratti

TransVision 2010 Presentation by Emanuele Ratti

Emanuele Ratti Emanuele Ratti (Milan, 1985) graduated in philosophy of mind in 2009, with a thesis about the new horizons of Strong Artificial Intelligence. Now he’s studying for an MA in philosophy of information at the University of Hertfordshire, focusing on the relationship between emergentism in philosophy of mind and the new science of computation created by Stephen Wolfram. He’s also interested in biopolitics and bioethics.

TransVision 2010 è un evento transumanista globale che avrà luogo il 22, 23 e 24 Ottobre 2010 a Milano, con varie possibilità di accesso remoto online. Sarà un intenso, rapido e appassionante percorso nel pensiero transumanista contemporaneo, le tecnologie in via di sviluppo, e quelle più visionarie basate su conquiste scientifiche ancora lontane. La conferenza, che avrà luogo da venerdì 22 a domenica 24 di Ottobre alla Sala Carmagnola dell’ Hotel dei Cavalieri a Milano, esplorerà le tendenze scientifiche, tecnologiche, culturali, artistiche e sociali che promettono di cambiare il nostro mondo al di là di ogni aspettativa e potrebbero risultare in una “Singolarità” in solo poche decine di anni.

Iscriviti adesso!

Ti invitiamo inoltre afare segnalazioni a Twitter, i tuoi blog e siti web, e aggiungere il tuo nome alla pagina TransVision 2010 su Facebook.

PERCHE’ IL TRANSUMANESIMO NON PUO’ NON DIRSI NIETZSCHEANO

La definizione di transumanesimo che trovo più interessante è quella data da Robin Hanson. Recita così:
“Il Transumanesimo è l’idea secondo cui le nuove tecnologie probabilmente cambieranno il mondo nel prossimo secolo o due a tal punto che i nostri discendenti non saranno per molti aspetti ‘umani’”.
Tuttavia i debiti che il transumanesimo ha con altre correnti di pensiero sono di tutt’altro genere.
Il transumanesimo, come tutti ben sapete, è un’ideologia progressista. Il progressismo, scusate la banalità, è quel grande alveo ideologico che crede nella possibilità di un miglioramento continuo dell’umanità mediante l’uso di quella facoltà che è ritenuta tipica dell’uomo: la ragione. Questa è, come sapete, un’idea illuminista.
In quanto figlia dell’illuminismo, l’ideologia transumanista pare profondamente moderna. Se il padre del transumanesimo è l’illuminismo, la madre è la rivoluzione scientifica, anche essa moderna. Si tratta di una derivazione molto importante e potente: il transumanesimo crede che attraverso l’uso delle tecnologie contemporanee (la famosa rivoluzione GNR) – create quindi dalla scienza, a sua volta guidata dalla ragione – sia possibile un miglioramento indefinito dell’umanità.
Detto in questo modo, il transumanesimo sarebbe profondamente passatista, utopico e ingenuo. A mio avviso il transumanesimo si stacca nettamente dal progressismo nel momento in cui non accetta l’idea di un miglioramento progressivo, ma fa sua una speculazione molto più ardita: l’evoluzione autodiretta.
Come sostiene Riccardo Campa “l’idea cardine del transumanesimo può essere riassunta in una formula: è possibile ed è auspicabile passare da una fase di evoluzione cieca ad una fase di evoluzione autodiretta consapevole. Noi siamo pronti a fare ciò che la scienza rende oggi possibile, ovvero prendere in mano il nostro destino di specie. Siamo pronti ad accettare la sfida che proviene dai risultati delle biotecnologie, delle scienze cognitive, della robotica, della nanotecnologia e dell’intelligenza artificiale, portando detta sfida su un piano politico e filosofico, al fine di dare al nostro percorso un senso e una direzione”
In qualche modo il transumanesimo non fa che rendere esplicito un tipico tratto della nostra specie: supplire alle nostre carenze biologiche modificando l’ambiente circostante, arrivando fino alla modifica radicale di noi stessi. In qualche modo usando le nuove tecnologie modificheremo a tal punto noi stessi che il cambiamento sarà di tipo qualitativo, ci sarà cioè un’irriducibilità tra il prima e il dopo certi cambiamenti x, y e z. Niente a che vedere quindi con il progessismo americano del tardo XIX secolo, che propugnava cambiamenti progressivi tesi a migliorare ma senza rivoluzionare. L’evoluzione auto-diretta è anche contro l’evoluzionismo cieco, lento e senza progettualità.
In questo senso il transumanesimo è molto poco moderno. Questa ideologia ha un debito notevole con l’Umanesimo concepito come “rivalutazione della dimensione umana e terrestre dell’esistenza”. Il Transumanesimo ha lo spirito dei grandi navigatori, delle grandi fondazioni, dei grandi portatori di civiltà quali Roma e la Grecia Classica. La mia idea è quindi che ci sia una derivazione storica ma accidentale con l’illuminismo, una derivazione necessaria rispetto alla rivoluzione scientifica e una parentela spirituale con un’attitudine ben più antica, ma ripresa e adattata ai tempi da un filosofo molto famoso nella seconda metà del XIX secolo.
Tuttavia uno dei fondatori del transumanesimo oltre ad altri personaggi di spicco tra cui Riccardo Campa, insistono molto sulla stretta affinità attitudinale con l’illuminismo e in generale con la modernità. Lo scopo di questo breve intervento è di far vedere che il transumanesimo ridotto alla mera filiazione moderna risulta essere molto poco rivoluzionario, e quindi un’ideologia destinata a breve vita.

———

Il transumanesimo ha molti nemici: nel momento in cui un nemico è valido risulta essere molto utile. Per dirla con Nietzsche, il nemico è in un certo modo anche mio amico, perchè mi permette di capire chi sono.
Uno dei nemici più validi, forse il meglio equipaggiato, è rappresentato dalla Santa Chiesa Romana.
Mi sono sempre chiesto come fosse possibile che un’istituzione portatrice di un messaggio così reazionario, così avversa a ogni forma di progresso, con un passato così compromettente, potesse avere voce in capitolo in tematiche così delicate quali lo sviluppo della scienza e delle tecnologie emergenti. Forse perchè gode di un grande numero di fedeli? La ragione non è sicuramente questa. La verità è che la Chiesa Romana è sempre stata retta da una classe dirigente molto capace, e a partire dall’inizio della modernità, pur con momenti bui e agonizzanti, è riuscita a diventare moderna. In altre parole, la Chiesa si è adattata al nuovo ambiente. Se un tempo vietava addirittura le autopsie, oggi ha dei grandi laboratori che fanno della gran ricerca, pur con tutti i paletti etici del caso. Addirittura non mancano i casi in cui questi paletti sono del tutto inesistenti (si pensi al San Raffaele di Don Verzè). Al giorno d’oggi la Chiesa può portare avanti la sua philosophia perennis nel grande caos della transizione tra secondo e terzo millennio, e può farlo sapendo anche di cosa sta parlando, essendo armato di scienziati, filosofi e mezzi economici/editoriali notevoli. C’è flessibilità a tal punto che qualcuno addirittura crede che sia possibile un ponte tra cattolicesimo e transumanesimo, così come qualche millennio fa qualcuno pensò che fosse possibile un ponte tra cristianesimo delle origini e grecità, con tutti gli abominii del caso.
L’identità moderna della Chiesa ci può aiutare a capire come il transumanesimo non deve essere, pena il suo depotenziamento.

—–

A questo punto mi voglio servire – seppur a livello molto sommario – di alcune ricerche del grande filosofo francese Michel Foucault, poi approfondite dal professor Roberto Esposito, in particolare nel suo libro Bìos .
In questo breve excursus userò il termine ‘politica’ non tanto nel senso anglosassone di politics (dinamiche partitiche) quanto in un senso nietzscheano più originario: politica come modalità in cui il vivente è e vive. Questa è un’accezione meno strana di quanto si possa pensare: in una società come la nostra che va sempre più inesorabilmente verso una assenza di coscienza politica, permangono certe categorie (il fascista, il comunista, il democratico) che automaticamente per il senso comune rimandano ad un certo modo di essere, di comportarsi, di concepire i valori fondanti della società.

Secondo Esposito, l’imperativo della conservatio vitae è l’essenza della politica nella modernità.
Ma andiamo con ordine: Foucault chiama ‘bio-storia’ l’intrecciarsi dei movimenti della vita e della storia, il loro interferire, accordarsi e disarmonizzarsi. Per ‘bio-politica’ intende ciò che fa “entrare la vita e i suoi meccanismi nel campo dei calcoli espliciti e fa del potere-sapere un agente di trasformazione della vita umana” . Per il filosofo francese vita e politica sono sempre in lotta: ad un tempo la vita è matrice e la politica è esito, ad un tempo accade il contrario, ma è una lotta che assume contorni poco chiari, in quanto non ha uno sbocco preciso.
Esposito ritiene che questo intreccio tra politica e vita assuma dei contorni inediti e particolari nella modernità, e in particolare parla di ‘paradigma dell’immunità’: il potere assume il compito particolare di conservare la vita. Per quale motivo questo ‘paradigma’ sarebbe inedito? Nell’antichità non si parlava di immunità? Ovviamente si, ma la vita umana che veniva trasformata era quella comunitaria, e non c’era pianificazione e calcolo esplicito della vita dell’individuo. Consideriamo Hobbes: per questo grande filosofo la vita va incontro all’autodistruzione se lasciata alle sue dinamiche naturali. Così l’individuo per conservare la sua vita deve farla – per così dire – uscire da sé stessa (cioè si deve negare). La vita deve rinunciare alla sua volontà di acquisizione e di potenziamento sfrenato per potersi conservare: la libertà moderna è la rinuncia alla propria bio-potenza in cambio della difesa dagli arbitrii che insidiano la vita del singolo individuo. Questo avviene, per l’appunto, attraverso la subordinazione ad un ordine più grande – la società. Dice bene Esposito che Hobbes è, paradossalmente, il filosofo della pace più che della guerra e del caos. Notiamo en passant che questo è per Foucault anche l’essenza del liberalismo, sottolineando che “da un lato, dunque, occorre produrre la libertà, ma questo stesso gesto implica, dall’altro, che si stabiliscano delle limitazioni, dei controllli, delle coercizioni, delle obbligazioni sostenute da minacce, e così via” . Senza entrare nel merito, le nostre democrazie sono modernissime in questo: c’è un eccesso di leggi che più che aumentare la libertà dell’individuo, la soffoca.
Con la politica all’insegna della conservatio vitae viene totalmente perso il senso ‘comunitario’ del vivere tra i propri simili e, a parte poche esperienze politiche (peraltro maledette e proibite), l’individuo si è ritrovato totalmente atomizzato e isolato. L’individuo moderno per difendere i propri interessi particolari si consegna nelle mani del primo padrone che passa per la strada.
Quindi la politica moderna per il modo in cui nasce può aspirare a diventare progressista ma non sarà mai rivoluzionaria. La politica della conservatio vitae può costruire scuole decenti per i nostri figli, offrirci una buona assistenza sanitaria, ma blocca sul nascere ogni tentativo di potenziamento eccessivo di una parte della società. ‘Quieta non movere’ potrebbe essere uno dei motti per questo tipo di politica: la vita va conservata – ma va conservata così com’è, non bisogna spingerla ad essere più di quello che è ora. Possiamo migliorare alcuni parametri a poco a poco, ma non bisogna spingersi molto in là. Si corre il rischio quindi di identificare il progressismo con un reazionarismo.
Se nella grande Roma repubblicana esisteva una forte spinta pedagogica alla performance individuale (anche se in un’ottica comunitaria) oggi si spingono i giovani a trovare un buco all’interno della società in cui potersi riparare e vivere senza far troppo chiasso.
Il transumanesimo, volendosi presentare come un movimento rivoluzionario, non può che avere una parentela accidentale con tanto conservatorismo. La modernità è sfociata nel pensiero della ‘fine della storia’: la specie umana è data una volta per tutte e non può cambiare – quieta non movere! Il transumanesimo dice l’esatto opposto. Il sogno della modernità era quello di un approdo ad un’epoca di pacificazione di ogni conflitto. Il transumanesimo vuole che l’attitudine umana non smetta mai di mettersi in discussione.
La modernità, almeno nei suoi intenti, è volontà di depotenziamento. Il transumanesimo non può non essere volontà di potenza. Ma cosa si intende per ‘volontà di potenza’? Forse che la vita vuole la potenza? Che la potenza sviluppa la vita biologica? Ovviamente no. Questo concetto profondamente nietzscheano si riferisce al fatto che la vita non conosce altri modi di essere se non quello di un continuo potenziamento. Questo modo originario di essere certamente presuppone un minimo di conservazione della vita – la vita per potersi potenziare deve essere ‘viva’. Tuttavia la conservazione è solo l’inizio, e a volte è necessario anche il sacrificio di questa ‘auto-conservazione’. Lo sviluppo deve subordinare qualsiasi cosa.
Il transumanesimo deve stare molto attento alle sue parentele moderne: il rischio di depotenziamento del movimento è sempre presente.

——
Quando prima dicevo che la chiesa cattolica si è modernizzata intendevo ‘modernità’ esattamente come ne ho parlato poco sopra: ha fatto sua questa tematica moderna riadattandola alle sue esigenze, e non è un caso che cattolici, intellettuali di sinistra, conservatori di destra siano molto spesso d’accordo sui temi caldi della nostra epoca quali intelligenza artificiale, nanotecnologie, biotecnologie, ogm ecc: c’è questo spirito di conservazione che è molto marcato. Certo, mi si potrebbe dire che le premesse dei movimenti che si oppongono alla volontà di potenza sono molto diverse, ma all’atto pratico cambia poco: le premesse sono diventate ormai delle formalità per un mondo culturale che pensa nello stesso modo da sinistra a destra.
Giusto per fare un esempio dei rischi che corre il nostro movimento, c’è anche una tematica transumanista che potrebbe essere tranquillamente fatta propria dalla Santa Chiesa Romana: il longevismo.
La dottrina cattolica è riuscita a passare da un disprezzo totale della vita a un attaccamento ad essa quasi maniacale. Le campagne mediatiche e culturali contro una pratica così dotata di buon senso come l’eutanasia sono all’ordine del giorno. La vita è di Dio, non dell’uomo: guai a porvi fine con la propria volontà. Ma come! Una vita tenuta viva dalle macchine è volontà di Dio? Certo è proprio un dio tecnologico. Capite dunque che quando le pratiche longevistiche se buttate fuori dalla porta oggi, rientreranno comodamente dalla finestra nell’agenda mediatica del cattolicesimo.
Non bisogna quindi insistere troppo su questi temi sensazionalistici e un pò messianici: il transumanesimo deve negare ogni appiglio al proprio nemico e puntare sull’evoluzione autodiretta e la volontà di potenza. Questi due temi devono avere la precedenza se vogliamo rendere veramente rivoluzionario il nostro movimento. Dobbiamo trovare il modo di rendere più esplicito questo concetto di volontà di potenza affinchè i nostri discendenti non siano per molti aspetti umani, così come auspica Robin Hanson.

1 Campa, Riccardo, Mutare o perire – La sfida del transumanesimo, pp 240-241, Sestante Edizioni, 2010
2 Esposito, Roberto, Bìos – Biopolitica e filosofia, Einaudi, Torino, 2004
3 Foucault, Michel, La volontà di sapere, p 126
4 Foucaul, Michel, Nascita della biopolitica, p 66, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2009

WHY TRANSHUMANISM MUST BE NIETZSCHEAN

The definition of transhumanism I enjoy more is the following:
“Transhumanism is the idea that new technologies are likely to change the world so much in the next century or two that our descendants will in many ways no longer be ‘human’” (Dr Robin Hanson).
For a new idea it is very important to understand its ideological ancestors, and it is a very hard problem when we consider transhumanism.
As you know, transhumanism is a progessive idea. Progressism is a vast ideology, and its idea is that it is possible to improve humankind through the characteristic faculty of humankind itself: Reason. Again, it is a feature of Enlightenment. If transhumanism is a ‘son’ of enlightenment, we can affirm that it is a modern ideology.
Enlightenment is the father of transhumanism, and scientific revolution is likely to be its mother. This second and modern derivation is very important: the very idea of transhumanism is that we can improve humankind with emerging technology (the GNR revolution). As Sandberg said, “transhumanism is the philosophy that we can and should develop to higher levels, both physically, mentally and socially using rational methods”.
So, where is the innovation of transhumanism? It seems very traditionalist in the world of scientists and philosophers. In my opinion, the very idea of transhumanism is self-managed evolution – a very anti-progressist idea.
As Riccardo Campa writes, “it is possible to sum up the main idea of transhumanism with a ‘slogan’: it is possible and it is desirable to go beyond a stage of blind evolution, encouraging a self-managed evolution. We are ready to do what science nowadays makes possible, taking on our hands our destiny as species. We are ready to accept all the results of biotechnologies, cognitive sciences, robotics, nanotechnologies and artificial intelligence, and we want to analyze these outcomes from a political and philosophical point of view”
Transhumanism makes explicit a particular feature of human beings: we need to modify our environment to make up our biological lacks, and we are now in the situation that we are modifying radically our biology and ourselves. Due to their increasing quantity, all the discoveries and innovations will pass in quality improvement, where by quality we mean a change that cause an irreducibility between before and after some changes x, y and z. This is very different and far from the american progressism of XIX century, that advocated progressive modification to improve without revoultionize.
According to this view, transhumanism is not very modern: it is in debt to Humanism considered as ‘revaluation of human and terrestrial dimension of existence’. Transhumanism has the spirit of great navigators, the spirit of great foundation, the spirit of great civilization as Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. So the idea of this speech is that transhumanism has an historical – but accessory – derivation from enlightenment, an important and necessary derivation from scientific revolution, and a spiritual affinity with an ancient attitude, re-interpreted by a famous philosopher in the second half of XIX century.
However, one of the founder of transhumanism – together with other important member of H+ – insists on the stricht affinity with enlightenment and modernity. The aim of this speech is to show how transhumanism risks to be waken in its revolutionary purpose, if reduced to a mere modern filiation.

—–

Transhumanism has many enemies, but a great enemy is useful. According to Nietzsche, the enemy is a sort of friend, because he lets me understand who I am.

One of the most important enemy – if not the greatest – of transhumanism is the Roman Catholic Church.
I often wonder how it could be possible that a so reactionary institution, against any forms of progress, was in the ‘front line’ in topics as the development of science and emerging technologies. Maybe because it has an high number of faithful people? No, it does not. The fact is that Catholic Church is driven, from its birth, by a great managerial staff and in the modern age – of course with hard periods – and it became modern. In other words, the Catholic Church was able to adapt to a new environment. There were times in which it forbid autopsies, but nowadays it has many great laboratories. There are also catholic laboratories without the traditional catholic limits in ethics, as the San Raffaele University in Milan. Nowadays Catholic Church carries its philosophia perennis beyond any others ideology, in the chaotic transition between the second and the third millennium with many worshipper scientists and philosophers. There is so much flexibility that someone considered the possibility of a bridge between transhumanism and catholicism, as thousands years ago someone had considered the possibility of a bridge between christianity and greek culture.
The modern identity of catholic church let us understand how transhumanism must not be if we want to develop its revolutionary potential.

—–

For the purpose of this speech, I need to introduce – just introduce – some researches of the great philosopher Michel Foucault, and well deepened by the italian philosopher professor Roberto Esposito in his book Bìos .
In this short excursus, I will be using the word ‘politics’ not in the anglo-saxons meaning (parties dynamics). With ‘politics’ I mean the way in which livings are and live: as you all know, it is a use of the word ‘politics’ taken from Nietzsche. This is a meaning that common sense considers: in our society we are going towards a total absence of political consciousness, but there are certain categories (the communist, the fascist, the democrat) that refer automatically to a particular way of being, behave and live.
According to Esposito, the essence of politics in the modern age is the so called conservatio vitae.
Consider Foucault: the french philosopher calls bio-history the crossing of dynamics of life and history. He means their interferences, their arranges and their discords – each others. With bio-politics Foucault means “what lets enter ‘life’ and its dynamics in explicit estimates. Biopolitics uses power-knowledge as a means of transformation of human’s life ”. Life and politics fight without any resolution: sometimes life is the ‘matrix’ and politics is the outcome, sometimes it happens the opposite: there is not a winner in the war between politics and life.
According to Esposito, the struggle between life and politics has particular features in the modern age: he talks about what he calls ‘paradigma immunitario’ that I’d like to translate as ‘immunity paradigm’: in the modern age political power has the duty of preserving life (conservatio vitae). Why the immunity paradigm should be fresh? Did political powers in the ancient age consider conservatio vitae a problem? Of course they did but, for example, in the Ancient Rome human life was considered only as community life. In the modern age human life is only individual life. According to the great philosopher Hobbes, life anytime risks the self-destruction if it is left to its natural way. If the individual wants to preserve his life, he has to deny it. I mean that life needs to renounce to its will of ownership/possession on anything and its will of wild development just to preserve itself: freedom in the modern age is the renounce to its own bio-power, just to let an higher order – the society – to preserve the individual from the risks of life itself. In fact, Hobbes is more the philosopher of peace than the philosopher of war. In the modern age, the modern individual gives himself up to any master just to preserve his life – it is a typical case of our democracies.

The politics in the modern age could aim to become progressist, but it has no mean to become revolutionary. Modern politics can build better schools, hospitals, but according to its nature, it stops any attempt to an excessive strenghtening. ‘Quieta non movere’ may be the ‘slogan’ of the modern age: political powers must preserve life – but they cannot let it to be more than it is now. Political power could enhance some of features of life, but no more: does progressism become a reactionarism?
So the question is: how transhumanism derives from that conservatism? Transhumanism is revolutionary. Modern age is ending with the thought of “end of history”: humanity cannot change, it is as we once see and for all – quieta non movere! Transhumanism is in the opposite side. The dream of modern age is a landing in an era of peace. Transhumanism thinks that human attitude cannot stop to question itself.
In its aim Modern age is will of reduction – transhumanism is will of power. But what is will of power? Does it mean that life wants power or that power develops biological life? Neither of them. Maybe ‘will of power’ means that life does not know any way of being except for a continous development. Will of power needs a little conservatio vitae – life needs to start. However, conservatio vitae is just the beginning, and sometimes there is the necessity of sacrificing it. Development and power have to subordinate anything.

—-

As I said above, Catholic Church became modern, not only from a technological point of view, but also ‘modern’ as I explained. Consider that catholics, left-winged intellectuals, right-winged conservatives often agree in important topics as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, ogm etc: there is a conservative spirit from left to right. Yes, the premises of left-winged and right-winged are different, but I don’t give much importance to them: premises are become something ‘conventional’ without any importance in a cultural world that is the same from left to right.
Our movement runs many risks. Consider one of the most important topic of transhumanism: longevism. I think that in the near future Catholic Church will take possession of it.
Catholic doctrine makes a jump from a total despise of life, to a maniacal attachment to it. There are many press and cultural campaigns against eutanasia. Life belongs to God: you must not end it by your will. There is something strange with it! A life that is kept alive by machines, is will of God? Catholics do not consider all these inconsistency: they just become more and more maniacal. So I think that longevism – despite nowadays is condemned by priests – could become one of their most important topics.
We must pay attention to insist on these ‘sensational’ and ‘messianic’ themes: I think that transhumanism needs to think better about self-managed evolution and will of power. We need to make more explicit the concept of will of power to make our descendants in many ways no longer ‘human’.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

- Campa, Riccardo, Mutare o perire – La sfida del transumanesimo, pp 240-241, Sestante Edizioni, 2010
– Esposito, Roberto, Bìos – Biopolitica e filosofia, Einaudi, Torino, 2004
– Foucaul, Michel, Nascita della biopolitica, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2009

TransVision 2010 – New confirmed speakers

The following speakers will give talks at TransVision 2010, which brings the number of confirmed speakers to 30. Other speakers will be announced in a few days.

Francesco Monico Francesco Monico has worked for ten years as a director, screenwriter and program chief in Italian broadcast, sperimental and interactive TV, is both a Technoetic Technoetic researcher and artist, today mainly engaged in directing the Media Design and New Media Art Department he founded at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano – NABA in Milan. He is a professor of Theory and Method of Mass Media at the same institution, as well as director of the PhD program M-Node[1], Planetary Collegium and a Senior Fellow of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology in Toronto. He is an alumnus of Derrick de Kerckhove, and is currently researching under Roy Ascott as part of the PhD CAiiA in the Planetary Collegium. A former member of the Scientific Committee of the Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum in Milan, with Giulio Giorello, Emanuele Severino, Enrico Bellone, he is currently a member of the Scientific Committee of Milano in Digitale [2], with Antonio Caronia, Paolo Rosa, Pier Luigi Capucci, Franco Torrani.
Fiorella Terenzi Internationally renowned astrophysicist, author and recording artist, Dr. Fiorella Terenzi has a doctorate in physics from the University of Milan. In research at the Computer Audio Research Laboratory, University of California, San Diego, she pionereed techniques to convert radio waves from galaxies into sound – released by Island Records on her acclaimed CD “Music from the Galaxies”. Her award-winning CD-ROM “Invisible Universe” and best-selling books “Heavenly Knowledge”, “Musica Dalle Stelle”, “Der Kosmos ist weiblich” weaves astronomy and music, science and art into a tapestry for the senses. She has appeared on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, People, Time, Glamour and lectured at UCSD, Stanford, MIT.
Mike Treder Mike Treder, managing director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a prolific writer, speaker, and activist with a background in media and communications. He has published dozens of articles and papers and been interviewed numerous times by the media. As an accomplished presenter on the societal implications of emerging technologies, Mr. Treder has addressed conferences and groups around the world, including in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. In addition to his work with the IEET, Mr. Treder is a consultant to the Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University, serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, a consultant to the Future Technologies Advisory Group, and a member of the World Future Society.

TransVision 2010 is a global transhumanist conference and community convention, organized by several transhumanist activists, groups and organizations, under the executive leadership of the Italian Transhumanist Association (AIT) and with the collaboration of an Advisory Board. The event will take place on October 22, 23 and 24, 2010 in Milan, Italy with many options for remote online access.

Register now

post links to Twitter, your blogs and websites, and add your name to the TransVision 2010 Facebook page.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.