Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Paradise engineering.

This page is in response to...

http://www.hedweb.com/huxley/

Which is possibly imo the most articulate, pressing, relevant, and hope inspiring texts ever constructed.

Ironically given some topics covered, I cannot express clearly the subjective value this work has for me.

I have only one primary complaint, and it is below.

Each paragraph is lifted from the original work located here.

Potentially, transhumans will be endowed with a greater capacity for love, empathy and emotional depth than anything neurochemically accessible today. Our selfish-gene-driven ancestors - in common with the cartoonish brave new worlders - will strike posterity as functional psychopaths by comparison; and posterity will be right.


Just as those like me are considered psychopathic by today's standards. I'm not crazy, I just see different things and that perception for better or worse has fundamentally altered who I am.

Scare-mongering prophets of doom notwithstanding, a life of unremitting bliss isn't nearly as bad as it sounds.


Obvious but it needs to be reiterated over and over.

Thus mescaline, and certainly LSD and its congeners, are not fail-safe euphoriants. The possibility of nightmarish bad trips and total emotional Armageddon is latent in the way our brains are constructed under a regime of selfish-DNA.


There's a lesson pertaining to the drug war in here.

In any case, our descendants are likely to automate menial drudgery out of existence; that's what robots are for.


This will be the first visible step of humanity away from its infancy. And the first step towards my final solution. They will clean our home,s dig our gardens and prepare our meals long before they love us and elevate us past suffering.

The impregnable well-being of our transhuman descendants is more likely to promote greater diversity, both personal and societal, not stagnation. This is because greater happiness, and in particular enhanced dopamine function, doesn't merely extend the depth of one's motivation to act: the hyper-dopaminergic sense of things to be done. It also broadens the range of stimuli an organism finds rewarding. By expanding the range of potential activities we enjoy, enhanced dopamine function will ensure we will be less likely to get stuck in a depressive rut. This rut leads to the kind of learned helplessness that says nothing will do any good, Nature will take its revenge, and utopias will always go wrong.


Like many of these quotes, this was just reproduced because I liked it.

Unfortunately, the true altruists among our (non-)ancestors got eaten or outbred. Their genes perished with them.


Which trend and concept is why I constantly rail against mat selection issues. Not because I myself am generally excluded for whatever reasons, as painful as that is, but because, selection pressure is the fundamental force acting on our species. This is also why my final solution takes the form it does. It is designed expressly to shortcut the system for our collective and individual benefit.

Hopefully, the need for manifestos and ideological propaganda will pass.


And like the honest cancer researcher, I too hope to one day, hopefully in the next 12 hours, be completely out of a job.

The contrast between true and false happiness, however, is itself problematic. Even if the notion is both intelligible and potentially referential, it's not clear that "natural", selfish-DNA-sculpted minds offer a more authentic consciousness than precision-engineered euphoria. Highly selective and site-specific designer drugs [and, ultimately, genetic engineering] won't make things seem weird or alien. On the contrary, they can deliver a greater sense of realism, verisimilitude and emotional depth to raw states of biochemical bliss than today's parochial conception of Real Life.


Again, just a really valid point I liked.

Post-humans are not going to get drunk and stoned. Their well-being will infuse ideas, modes of introspection, varieties of selfhood, structures of mentalese, and whole new sense modalities that haven't even been dreamt of today.


Again, just really cool.

Citizens must not fall in love, marry, or have their own kids. This would seduce their allegiance away from the community as a whole by providing a rival focus of affection.


Sadly, while this was meant to be an indictment of the brave new world fictional society, I see it as a reality here today in the real world. Sure we are allowed to love marry and have children but the process at every level is so unimaginably constrained that it might as well be disallowed. The big three tell us effectively in this context "You can have anything you want, so long as you want what we say you should want."

And above all, when suffering becomes truly optional, we shouldn't force our toxic legacy wetware on others.


As we do today on both a genetic and memetic level. Our effort to insure that our children are like us is the most cruel thing we can do to them.

Enhancing serotonin function - other things being equal - is likely to leave an individual less likely to submit to authority, not docile and emasculated.


And that is another reason why the pill must be given in food, not merely to passivity the patient, but the patient's ever watchful but dimwitted jailer.

Animal suffering is just savage, empty and pointless. So we'll probably scrap it when it becomes easy enough to do so.


In vitro meat. It funny how recently all the things I've spoken and written about are becoming realities, or at least far more widely discussed.

Down on the farm, tasty, genetically-engineered ambrosia will replace abused sentience. For paradise-engineering entails global veganism. Utopia cannot be built on top of an ecosystem of pain and fear.


Good point.

But as science progressively gives us the power to remould matter and energy to suit our desires - or whims - it would take an extraordinary degree of malice for us to sustain the painfulness of Darwinian life indefinitely. For as our power increases, so does our complicity in its persistence.


Power = Responsibility. If you can help at reasonable cost or below, you have an ethical responsibility to do so. This is related to sex, monogamy, and the term 'slut'.

Even unregenerate humans don't tend to be sustainably ill-natured. So when genetically-engineered vat-food tastes as good as dead meat, we may muster enough moral courage to bring the animal holocaust to an end.


Again.

Selfishness, whether in the technical or overlapping popular sense, is a spectacularly awful principle on which to base any civilization. Sooner or later, simple means-ends-analysis, if nothing else, will dictate the use of genetic engineering to manufacture constitutionally happy mind/brains.


But that logic will not convince anyone unless they already were in a position to agree as a result of complex nature-nurture interaction and requisite ancestral genetic pressures. Again, the final solution.

But the attributes of power, status and money, for instance, however obviously nice they seem today, aren't inherently pleasurable. They yield only a derivative kick that can be chemically edited out of existence.


Means to an end. People generally miss this whole idea. A fun game is asking people what they want with this in mind. Ultimately everyone wants to be happy, what they think they want are merely tools they think will get them there. In this context i find it amusing thinking back on all the answers I've ever gotten which related to drugs. Since they were closest to a real answer.

Likewise, intense and unpleasant social anxiety was sometimes adaptive too. So was an involuntary capacity for the torments of sexual jealousy, fear, terror, hunger, thirst and disgust. Our notions of dominance and subordination are embedded within this stew of emotions.


That explains me nicely. I often wondered how someone like me got here, in a purely Darwinian sense.

Sado-masochistic images of domination-and-submission loom large in a lot of our fantasies too. The categories of experience they reflect were of potent significance on the African savannah, where they bore on the ability to get the "best" mates and leave most copies of one's genes. But they won't persist for ever.


God willing.

Allegedly "immutable" human nature will change as well when the genetic-rewrite gathers momentum and the reproductive revolution matures. The classical Darwinian Era is drawing to a close.


Again.

Unfortunately, its death agonies may be prolonged. Knee-jerk pessimism and outright cynicism abound among humanistic pundits in the press. They are common in literary academia. And of course any competent doom-monger can glibly extrapolate the trends of the past into the future.


Not if you trick them into thinking it was their idea or they can profit by some element of it. Slippery slope them. Make them think they're getting away with something.

Yet perhaps asking whether we would appreciate ecstatic art of 500 or 5000 years hence is futile in the first place. We simply can't know what we're talking about. For we are unhappy pigs, and our own arts are mood-congruent perversions.


And that's why I hate the vast majority of art television movies and music because all I see is erotic capitol and antler bashing, and those who profit from it. Our art as it stands now is disgusting and shallow and worthless on the whole. Which is why to me arguments about how great we are based on our art fall on incredulous ears. I mean really, a can of soup, some naked girls, a guy with his eye in the wrong place, a melted clock? And that's not even starting on the trillions of examples of 'art' that boil down to "I desperately want to fuck all hotties and kill all other males." or "Compete for the privilege of fucking me." Come on, we can SO do better.

One hopes, on rather limited evidence, that the birth-pangs of the new genetic order will be less traumatic.


If the right people hear and listen to me, it will actually be enjoyable.

Windfalls and spending-sprees do typically bring short-term highs. Yet they don't subvert the hedonic treadmill of inhibitory feedback mechanisms in the brain. Each of us tends to have a hedonic set-point about which our "well"-being fluctuates.


Again.

The endless cycle of ups and downs - our own private re-enactment of the myth of Sisyphus - is an "adaptation" that helps selfish genes to leave more copies of themselves; in Nature, alas, the restless malcontents genetically out-compete happy lotus-eaters. It's an adaptation that won't go away just by messing around with our external environment.


And here is where science needs philosophy and the concept that inspired Einstein's famous quote about science being lame.

A few centuries hence, we may rapidly take [im]material opulence for granted. And this virtual cornucopia won't be the prerogative of a tiny elite. Information isn't like that. Nor will it depend on masses of toiling workers. Information isn't like that either. If we want it, nanotechnology promises old-fashioned abundance all round, both inside and outside synthetic VR.


Yup.

The experience of this-is-real - like all our waking- or dreaming consciousness - comprises a series of neurochemical events in the CNS like any other. It can be amped-up or toned-down. Reality does not admit of degrees; but our sense of it certainly does.


Yup.

Thus Huxley doesn't offer a sympathetic exploration of the possibility that prudery and sexual guilt has soured more lives than sex. In a true utopia, the counterparts of John and Lenina will enjoy fantastic love-making, undying mutual admiration, and live together happily ever after.


Yup.

If suffering has been medically eradicated, does happiness have to be justified any more than the colour green or the taste of peppermint? Is there some deep metaphysical sense in which we ought to be weighed down by the momentous gravity of the human predicament? - Only if it will do anyone any good. The evidence is lacking.


Yup.

Moreover this transformation of the living world, and eventually of the whole cosmos, into a heavenly meaning-steeped nirvana will in no way be "unnatural". It is simply a disguised consequence of the laws of physics playing themselves out.


And the point of the path is revealed.

Until now, selection pressure has ensured we're cursed with a genome that leaves us mostly as callous brutes, albeit brutes with intermittently honourable intentions.


Again, why I'm always on monogamy's ass. It's not just me people.

This isn't to deny that love is real. But its contemporary wellsprings have been poisoned from the outset. Only the sort of love that helps selfish DNA to leave more copies of itself - which enable it to "maximize its inclusive fitness" - can presently flourish. It is fleeting, inconstant, and shaped by cruelly arbitrary criteria of physical appearance which serve as badges of reproductive potential. If we value it, love should be rescued from the genes that have recruited and perverted the states which mediate its expression in blind pursuit of reproductive success.


Love through the lens of the meat.

When sexual guilt and jealousy - a pervasive disorder of serotonin function - are cured, then bed-hopping will no longer be as morally reckless as it is today.


Again with the term slut, and the profit the big three get from us fighting each other for sex.

And just as during much of the Twentieth Century, any plea for greater social justice could be successfully damned as Communist, likewise today, any strategy to eradicate suffering is likely to be condemned in similar reactionary terms: either wirehead hedonism or revamped Brave New World. This response is not just facile and simplistic. If it gains currency, the result is morally catastrophic.


Again, final solution.

But one does one's best. The ideological obstacles to genetically pre-programmed mental super-health are actually more daunting than the technical challenges.


Hence my life's work.

Hence my approach, which may be self defeating as I'm about to explain it, but honor demands that i do so. I've always aid that if you can't trick a child into doing what you want you shouldn't bred, this is an indictment of brutality and dominance through fear. The relevant point here is that humanity must be tricked into this, it must be delivered in candy as surly as one must had medicine int he dogs food. We will never eat this as it is, as we are. The hedonic engineered populace may be swayed by logic and clarity but normal humans simply are not. they are too thoroughly owned by their dopamine addiction, and social masters.

It has been suggested quite astonishingly well that the solution is to edit the species in such a manner as to preserve our humanity and eliminate suffering as an option.

Some may see my solution and dismiss it out of hand as a result seeing the direct edit preferable. I am aware of this argument.

Which is more likely to be accepted by a given individual. A syringe of retrovirus which will forever make them happy and different? Or a delicious little slave thing that adores the very idea of their pleasure and makes its life goal the enhancement of it's host's enjoyment and general well being?

The end goals of genetic hedonism and my slave species solution are one in the same. I'm simply suggesting a different more palatable way of getting there. Creation of this servant race of neo humans who actually enjoy helping will lead to interbreeding, and eventually the traits of suffering et all, will be quietly annihilated. Our species as it is will NEVER accept the hedonic genetic option no matter how technically feasible or desirable logically it my be.

One fact is always overlooked by the writers of these essays, a fact I've personally discovered again and again, and hopefully learned from. Logic does not dictate emotion. In order to affect change, one must use emotion creatively and responsibly.

So my final solution stands.

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About

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I'm a politically and culturally subversive author with obsessive tendencies and a lot of free time. I feel a sense of personal responsibility for the fate of my species. My writing is the result.

My primary blog is at http://underlore.com but this G+ profile is a far more active representation of my viewpoint.

Generally I feel the answer to society's ills are technological in nature not political or cultural.

Having said that, I do have political positions of course and I strongly feel that we need to embrace nuclear power and deploy a universal basic income.