Notes from the Religion and Transhumanism conference, 10 May 2014

May 24, 2014

A couple of weekends ago I attended one of the IEET's conferences in California on the topic of Religion and Transhumanism. While I was there I took notes during the speakers' presentations, and I promised some people that I'd put them online at my earliest convenience. Here they are, in the best order I can conceive of and with whatever links I can dig up to elucidate my somewhat cryptic chickenscratch. Please note that I took notes on things I don't necessarily agree with, and that I advise you to follow some of the links before jumping to conclusions. Some of the ideas in there are my own and aren't from any of the speakers. There are keywords in this text that no doubt draw the attention of the NSA, DHS, and FBI. As always, take everything with a grain of salt and don't be afraid to ask questions or do your own research. You're responsible for your own mind.
  • Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences - GVU
  • Ted Chu's book comes highly recommended
  • Evolution as a fundamental power. Almost mystic in nature.
  • A call to serve evolution in a self-sacrificial way.
  • Transhumanism has no axis mundi - no single identity that bridges Here and There.
  • Progress is not a measurable scientific concept. Not in evolution.
  • Incompatible with the reproductive fitness aspect of evolution.
  • Futurum vs. adventus.
  • Interesting that Urantia is openly non-PC.
  • Has a "weird factor" which could be used for publicity.
  • Thinking as a route to the divine.
  • From an editorial perspective it's gramatically quite good ("sparkling").
  • Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia were fans of the Urantia Book. Carlos Santana. Bill Clinton.
  • Interestingly, some science seems to support some of the claims made in the Urantia Book, though it was written in 1955.ev.
  • There is no single way to express transhumanism. No hook.
  • Need for religious expression in transhumanism - Terasem.
  • Recently covered in Time.
  • Rather than people adhering to the maxims of their faith, Mormonism reflects faith in adhering to their maxims. Interesting!
  • Substance materialism, naturalistic. Embodied.
  • Grace, but works are encouraged.
  • Covertly Gnostic theology.
  • Optimize for the potential to thrive/optimize to minimize the potential for suffering.
  • One perspective on Eschatological prophecy is that we are supposed to work against bad ends.
  • Interactive perspective of prophecy.
  • Prophecy failing to come true is largely acceptible.
  • Diversity of heavens.
  • Acceleration of change is explicitly assumed - "God's works increase."
  • "Why can't (the) Christ return as an AI?"
  • Christ consciousness.
  • Derrida modeling through geneological reconstruction?
  • Creation myth == generalization of the simulation argument.
  • Endorsed by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?!
  • Mormon atheists?!?
  • Mormonism: Everything is material and embodied.
  • Moderate stance on bioethics for being so conservative.
  • Government control of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence and life extension.
  • Cooperation between disparate, divided groups will be essential for success.
  • Satisficing - consdiering alternatives until a threshold of acceptibility is reached.
  • Meliorism - progress leading to an improved world through human effort.
  • Relative truth/absolute truth - Buddhist Two Truths.
  • Paradise an experience of enhanced experience. Messed up that sentence, I guess.
  • Pepper Lewis
  • Deep History
  • Lojban
  • Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential by Ted Chu
  • "Caligastia"
  • terasemfaith.net
  • terasem.org
  • Beliefs are suggestions. Just about everything is optional.
  • Wesley Smith is writing about this conference. Find his article.
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute
  • "Rough binary"
  • Mormon Transhumanist Association's (Wikipedia) online resources. Especially their Youtube channel.
  • Avatar Adi Da Samraj
  • White Tam Living.
  • Abraham Hicks
  • The Hispanic Paradox
  • Religion == "relinking"
  • When wasn't it ever unlinked?
  • Pramad K. Nayar - Posthumanism
  • The understanding and awe of technology has been lost.
  • Rather than talk, the Raelians showed us videos.
  • Admitted no evidence, no intention to convince.
  • Message is important. Messenger is not important.
  • Understanding and belief are two different things.
  • Organelles are highly sophisticated molecular machines.
  • Raelian model of intelligent (extra-terrestrial) design.
  • PR op. Honestly so, which is refreshing.
  • The role of science is to demystify.
  • Very altruistic about access to technology.
  • Transhumanists as a group are not very philanthropically minded or generous. No charity.
  • Social justice and equality are not priorities and are not seen as interesting.
  • Mika LaTorra, assistant professor of English at NMU
  • Transhumanism seems very elitist. No suggestions for justice, equality, democritization of access or ability. I argue that it's not the role of the group but of the constituent individuals acting upon it. The whole works to develop it in concert but the individuals must bring it back to the people.
  • Ceremonial Magick 101
  • Different, efficient strategies for different levels of complexity of the system.
  • Decentralization - technology to empower, not opporess. Giving the people the power and the choice, and not somone who wants to exert control.
  • The Transhumanist Wager - turning it up to eleven and slipping the memes in, in the hope that people would read and internalize them, but make the conscious choice to not be such an asshole about it. Subverting the cognitive mechanisms that objectivists employ most prominently.
  • Awareness and mindfulness (Buddhist) (psychology) of technology is very important. Can't take it for granted.
  • "Common sense is a collection of prejudicces acquired by age 18." --Albert Einstein (1, 2)
  • Anthropotence - Power relative to others of one's clade.
  • Wealth, political influence, access, intelligence, ability, ...
  • Get post-Kardashev type 0 first!
  • Infinite good can justify infinite evil.
  • Utopia can be used to imply that our current state is so bad that three is no sense in trying to make anything better.
  • Ruthless transhumanism will probably never catch on.
  • If you want to become gods, talk to theologists. They study this sort of thing.
  • risk == harm * probability
  • When is the risk too high? Are there acceptible levels of harm?
  • Ethical stewardship of Creation.
  • Haraway says that 90% of the DNA in humans is not actually human - bacteria, fungi, Neanderthal, etc.
  • Of the remaining 10%, 8% is Neanderthal in origin.
  • The Quran speaks of exploring the natural world as essential for coming to know Allah.
  • Symbolic interpretation of the cosmos.
  • Semiotic exploration of the cosmos.
  • Earliest tools dated 2.5 million years old
  • Interestingly, our physical abilities seem to have degraded in lockstep with the creation of tools.
  • Transhumanism - the amplification of Humanist ideals.
  • Working with technology will not bring about changes in the human condition.
  • The identity of humanity is not confined to the human organism alone.
  • What has to be done to change the human condition? (Stop being human.)
  • The allegorical being - describing who and what we are, and our influence in and upon the universe.
  • Theology has traditionally been good at this.
  • Islam values diversity but does not preach religious pluralism. Something of an overgeneralization. Dubai is not like that.
  • Some Islamic places (like the UAE) are very young and are still figuring out this whole pluralism thing.
  • Mediation of experience through technology.
  • Allah taught Adam by teaching him to write with a pen.
  • The pluralism of Dubai is inspired by the Quran - Allah's ability to create and proliferate all things. It's now being talked about openly, bad press to the contrary. Still learning how to make it work.