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Anthropocentrism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Nick
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Anthropocentrism

#101 Post by Nick » February 5th, 2011, 2:05 am

Latest post of the previous page:

...or shooting your mouth off....

Radius
Posts: 133
Joined: January 25th, 2011, 5:54 am

Re: Anthropocentrism

#102 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 2:14 am

Nick wrote:...or shooting your mouth off....
Hi Nick

I think you should take the following into consideration before further development of this thread:

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacie ... minem.html

and n.b. being unpleasant doesn't make me wrong

Cheers,
Radius

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#103 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 3:02 am

Radius wrote: you didn't get what I said

if you want to have X possibly destructive technology, you've got to use it smartly (in the deontic rather than epistemic sense)

i.e. not shooting your own foot
Yes. Sorry Radius, I completely got you wrong there. And I went off on a bit of a tangent about the dumber-than-us animals. I withdraw all of that.
There was a point, I just over-stated it; We have survived very well by growing our brains. Whatever series of events pushed that particular branch of simian life out of the forests and onto the savannah, or onto the banks of the great rivers and thence to the estuaries, they survived not by getting faster (the ones who tried outrunning the big cats probably got eaten) nor by getting tougher (the ones who tries slugging it out with them probably became cat-food too); the ones that survived were the smart ones.
And I have sometimes thought, as you seem to, that we have developed our technology way beyond the point where we know how to use it without screwing ourselves and everything living around us. But, if I can try to express where I think you and I differ; you seem to think he way forward is to build more intelligence; i think it's probably better to get more wisdom.
It's an unclear distinction; Wisdom is an even less well-defined word than intelligence. But I suspect you probably know, to some extent, what I mean.
I think we're already just about intelligent enough; it's just that we;re sometimes not very wise.

Radius
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Joined: January 25th, 2011, 5:54 am

Re: Anthropocentrism

#104 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 3:10 am

Whatever you'd care to call wisdom almost certainly has some heritable neural basis

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#105 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 3:18 am

Radius wrote:Whatever you'd care to call wisdom almost certainly has some heritable neural basis
For sure. Can't think how else we could have got even the little bit we have. :wink:

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#106 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 3:19 am

Well you might have already guessed what point I'm about to make

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#107 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 3:21 am

Surprise me. :)

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#108 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 3:42 am

thundril wrote:Surprise me. :)
I was hoping you would understand conversational implicature but I what I was suggesting was that perhaps the physical structure of the brain could be "nudged" in such and such a direction if it could be shown that doing so would lead to an increase in wisdom

This does appear to happen here and there now, in some sense: the use of ayahuasca is said to lead to more responsible, mindful, neighborly behavior in certain parts of Brazil

thundril
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#109 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 3:53 am

Radius wrote: perhaps the physical structure of the brain could be "nudged" in such and such a direction if it could be shown that doing so would lead to an increase in wisdom
Perhaps so. We already have ways, differing from one culture to another, of developing whatever the particular culture considers 'wisdom' to be. I cannot reject the idea that some form of neural implant might achieve whatever chewing hallucinogens or chanting mantras achieves already. I cannot reject the suggestion that such technologies might even do it more effectively. But it doesn't seem necessary to me. I admit my distinction between intelligence and wisdom is unclear; but it's something like saying we already have enough intelligence, (just about): what we're not doing it using it properly. If someone can't make good use of an iBook, there's no point giving them a Kray..

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animist
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#110 Post by animist » February 5th, 2011, 10:20 am

Radius wrote: According to certain consequentialist systems of ethics, yes, not much difference. cf.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omission_bias I'm still on the fence about this idea of "omission bias" though.
I wonder why this is described as a cognitive bias. It seems an important aspect of descriptive ethics, viz that people do in fact distinguish between different degrees of responsibility for adverse outcomes.

Nick
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#111 Post by Nick » February 5th, 2011, 1:40 pm

Radius wrote:
Nick wrote:...or shooting your mouth off....
Hi Nick

I think you should take the following into consideration before further development of this thread:

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacie ... minem.html

and n.b. being unpleasant doesn't make me wrong

Cheers,
Radius
My argument was not fallacious. I was not trying to address your supposed argument. I just think you are shooting your mouth off, and, as you yourself have said above, being rather unpleasant. I also happen to think you are wrong, but for the moment can't really be bothered to argue the toss.

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#112 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 1:59 pm

Nick wrote:My argument was not fallacious.
ehm?
Nick wrote:I just think you are shooting your mouth off, and, as you yourself have said above, being rather unpleasant.
shooting one's mouth off is no bar to validity or soundness
Nick wrote:I also happen to think you are wrong, but for the moment can't really be bothered to argue the toss.
oh right, of course, silly me

Nick
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#113 Post by Nick » February 5th, 2011, 2:20 pm

Radius wrote:
Nick wrote:My argument was not fallacious.
ehm?
Oh dear. You accused me of an ad hominem attack. In other words that I was attacking you as a distraction from your argument or because I had no argument myself. I was merely pointing out that my comment had nothing to do with your argument.
Nick wrote:I just think you are shooting your mouth off, and, as you yourself have said above, being rather unpleasant.
shooting one's mouth off is no bar to validity or soundness
I didn't say it was, did I?
Nick wrote:I also happen to think you are wrong, but for the moment can't really be bothered to argue the toss.
oh right, of course, silly me
Quite so.

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#114 Post by Radius » February 5th, 2011, 2:22 pm

Nick wrote:
Radius wrote:
Nick wrote:My argument was not fallacious.
ehm?
Oh dear. You accused me of an ad hominem attack. In other words that I was attacking you as a distraction from your argument or because I had no argument myself. I was merely pointing out that my comment had nothing to do with your argument.
Nick wrote:I just think you are shooting your mouth off, and, as you yourself have said above, being rather unpleasant.
shooting one's mouth off is no bar to validity or soundness
I didn't say it was, did I?
Nick wrote:I also happen to think you are wrong, but for the moment can't really be bothered to argue the toss.
oh right, of course, silly me
Quite so.
so basically your contribution to this dialogue is:

"ur a meanie and a poopybutt"

ok

question: do you think the thermodynamic and ecological realities are defeasible in light of humanitarian crises?

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robzed
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#115 Post by robzed » February 5th, 2011, 7:56 pm

Radius,

Your exact argument on this thread seems a little unclear. Assuming your argument is something like:
"Post-humans are the best method of addressing the [energy, raw material and pollution] problems of a post-industrial world whilst maintaining a civilisation/society in a reasonable timescale (say less than 100 years)."
I think this specific argument is obviously false with obviously better and more likely solutions possible.

I don't want to set up a straw man, however - you need to confirm your argument is as stated.

LnK
Rob

P.S.: I don't have anything against investigation, scientific research and engineering of something more intelligent (or other characteristics) than humans, per se. (Although I might have moral issues with specific implementations).

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#116 Post by Radius » February 6th, 2011, 1:32 am

robzed wrote:Radius,

Your exact argument on this thread seems a little unclear. Assuming your argument is something like:
"Post-humans are the best method of addressing the [energy, raw material and pollution] problems of a post-industrial world whilst maintaining a civilisation/society in a reasonable timescale (say less than 100 years)."
I think this specific argument is obviously false with obviously better and more likely solutions possible.
the falsity is obviously obvious

you might even go as far as to say it's "clearly self-evident"

well thank you for that terrific insight robzed

I wish I had your intuition

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#117 Post by Radius » February 6th, 2011, 6:32 am

more seriously though does anyone have any real objections?

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robzed
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#118 Post by robzed » February 6th, 2011, 9:17 am

Radius wrote: the falsity is obviously obvious
LOL. I did enjoy writing obviously. Perhaps a little inflammatory. But to me it appears obvious. Longer term (> several hundred years) might be a different matter. But short term ....?

Technical solutions that directly address the problems directly [energy, raw material and pollution] are much more likely to succeed. Hence Post-humans are not the best method. QED.

There are many, many problems with that Post-humans you propose to solve those problems. A few examples:
  • The goals of the governments and companies with the power and money to develop post humans are unlikely to be 'generate a more virtuous civilisation' (e.g. focus on super-solders)
  • We have no evidence that these enhanced beings will not make the problem worst rather than better
  • We have no evidence that intelligence can be increased greatly by any method
  • We don't know what method will increase intelligence
  • We have no evidence that behaviours can be manipulated to make them more 'eco-friendly' / sustainable / 'virtuous'
  • We have no evidence that we will be able to decide on what behaviours are more 'virtuous'
  • We have no evidence that these post humans won't be outperformed by normal humans because of these changes (e.g. a high focus on reason based logic by everyone beyond a certain level might be problematic in a universe with the high cost in obtaining them)
  • The funding for this is unlikely to be matched by government and corporate investment in technologies that are seen to be more likely to work and maintain our current expectations of a 'good life'
  • There is no evidence we could significantly reduce energy use per person or globally without a collapse of civilisation
  • Long term aims are difficult to maintain for science and engineering - especially when you get close to the timescales in the working life of a single human.
I'm sure there are more. That's not to say they cannot be overcome with time. But some of these problems are not trivial and will take AT LEAST decades - assuming we can keep focus on them.


Conversely, we know how to tackle most of the individual problems, and have several likely solutions for each. Some of these will require behaviour changes long term, but mostly are driven by better technology. Take energy: although transitioning to a sustainable version will take a while, we have good solutions today and people are working on multiple good solutions for the future (enhanced fission, fusion, tidal, etc.) - and these are being funded by both government and private enterprise. A simillar situation applies to pollution and other areas.

"Current levels of consumption are unsustainable"

This statement , which people have bandied about here, is not an absolute truth. (Some would debate whether it's even true today, but I'll ignore that argument.)

Specifically, I'd also like to point out, that we might easier make the statement 'current levels of consumption are unsustainable' false by using technology directly (assuming people mean energy, raw materials and pollution when they say 'consumption').

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animist
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#119 Post by animist » February 6th, 2011, 9:28 am

in supporting most of Robzed said in his last post, it seems to me, Radius, that you are trying too hard to unite three big ideas in your head. The first is a concern (and I would say disgust ) with overpopulation, pollution, waste and general stupidity which many of us share. The second is this SF idea of transforming the race by some means, and Robzed has indicated the problems with this as a practical solution for the moment. The third seems to be, I have to say, a rather egotistic concern with the type of individual performance-enhancement which (as your DARPA references indicate) may be more feasible than the far-off transhuman ideas but is basically militaristic and therefore not, IMO, of great relevance to solving non-military problems like global warming.

Radius
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#120 Post by Radius » February 6th, 2011, 9:29 am

robzed wrote:The goals of the governments and companies with the power and money to develop post humans are unlike to be 'generate a more virtuous civilisation' (e.g. focus on super-solders)
and the internet was made to ride out nuclear war

do you like it?
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that these enhanced beings will not make the problem worst rather than better?
then you didn't read the article: as of now, our destructive capacity cannot be topped for all practical intents and purposes
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that intelligence can be increased greatly by any method
lol
robzed wrote:We don't know what method will increase intelligence
appropriate configuration of neural anatomy and dynamics

let's not pretend there are no data about this already
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that behaviours can be manipulated to make them more 'eco-friendly' / sustainable / 'virtuous'
personality traits can most certainly be linked to the brain
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that we will be able to decide on what behaviours are more 'virtuous'
no ethical system doesn't have this issue

you might as well become a postmodernist
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that these post humans won't be outperformed by normal humans because of these changes (e.g. a high focus on reason based logic by everyone beyond a certain level might be problematic in a universe with the high cost in obtaining them)
what
robzed wrote:The funding for this is unlikely to be matched by government and corporate investment in technologies that are seen to be more likely to work and maintain our current expectations of a 'good life'
see above
robzed wrote:There is no evidence we could significantly reduce energy use per person or globally without a collapse of civilisation
thanks for admitting how bad things are now
animist wrote:in supporting most of Robzed said in his last post, it seems to me, Radius, that you are trying too hard to unite three big ideas in your head. The first is a concern (and I would say disgust ) with overpopulation, pollution, waste and general stupidity which many of us share.
Odi profanum vulgus et arceo.
animist wrote:The second is this SF idea of transforming the race by some means, and Robzed has indicated the problems with this as a practical solution for the moment.
he's done fuck all
animist wrote:The third seems to be, I have to say, a rather egotistic concern with the type of individual performance-enhancement which (as your DARPA references indicate) may be more feasible than the far-off transhuman ideas but is basically militaristic and therefore not, IMO, of great relevance to solving non-military problems like global warming.
I don't see how the idea of improving yourself is egotistical

an egotist tends to think of themselves as perfect

but desiring to improve yourself and thinking you are perfect are contradictory attitudes

not that having such an unpleasant view is relevant to its merits: indeed, anyone who wants to see real improvements in the world must become fairly callous to see them through

and in any case, military research, as I've pointed out several times here, has had huge positive externalities on numerous occasions in the past: you are in fact using it right now

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robzed
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Re: Anthropocentrism

#121 Post by robzed » February 6th, 2011, 10:30 am

Radius wrote: and the internet was made to ride out nuclear war
do you like it?
That's false. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET#Mi ... sign_goals
Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that these enhanced beings will not make the problem worst rather than better?
then you didn't read the article: as of now, our destructive capacity cannot be topped for all practical intents and purposes
I did. I just don't agree.
Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that intelligence can be increased greatly by any method
lol
But we don't do we. There might be a good reason why general intelligence has a limit, such as an information theory limit we haven't discovered yet. The science isn't there yet.

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We don't know what method will increase intelligence
appropriate configuration of neural anatomy and dynamics

let's not pretend there are no data about this already
'appropriate' - yeah, easy to say. But whilst there are avenues of investigation, that's a far cry from actually ENGINEERING such a solution. The science isn't there yet, let alone the engineering.

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that behaviours can be manipulated to make them more 'eco-friendly' / sustainable / 'virtuous'
personality traits can most certainly be linked to the brain
Sure. But again, we don't actually know the practical limits of manipulation or whether certain characteristics are impossible to have together, i.e. are not independent. The science isn't there yet, let alone the engineering.

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that we will be able to decide on what behaviours are more 'virtuous'
no ethical system doesn't have this issue

you might as well become a postmodernist
Thanks, but that was not my intention. I was simply pointing out what should know what we are to engineer before we do it. To do this will take time. In which time better solution might have been implemented to solve the problems in the argument.
Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:We have no evidence that these post humans won't be outperformed by normal humans because of these changes (e.g. a high focus on reason based logic by everyone beyond a certain level might be problematic in a universe with the high cost in obtaining them)
what
It is impossible to predict all the implications sort of changes we are talking about here will have.
With any advancement in any technology you always lose something. So what are you doing to lose? It's naïve to assume otherwise.
The question is, do the advancements you have suggested end up resulting in changes that end up being less well adapted?
This isn't a reason not to attempt what you suggest, but we must consider that the unknowns are likely to significantly delay progress towards this goal.

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:There is no evidence we could significantly reduce energy use per person or globally without a collapse of civilisation
thanks for admitting how bad things are now
Well, if we ignore Africa and most of India, most things have never been better. I thought the problem was that we couldn't sustain this - there were difficult problems globally than the human race was poorly equipped to deal with?
Radius wrote: he's done fuck all
Obviously we are failing to communicate.

Our perspectives are different: you want to be a philosopher, I believe. They don't answer questions or make solutions. Usually they just generate more questions. Occasionally they point out things like falsification.

Scientists investigate and provide models that try to match how the world works.

I am, for the most part, an engineer. Engineers use science, maths and technology to make solutions such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.

You argument, as I stated it, is false. It's not the best method to solve the highlighted problems in the short term.
Radius wrote: and in any case, military research, as I've pointed out several times here, has had huge positive externalities on numerous occasions in the past: you are in fact using it right now
Military research is a double edged sword (if you pardon the pun). It has accelerated science in certain cases. But it's also lead to more people dying and stopped changes in society that might have been beneficial. Commercial enterprises have lead to more advancements in human ability overall. Very close to 100% of the Internet was developed by educational establishments and commercial enterprises.

I'd also like to point out, again, I'm not against enhanced humans: we have been doing that in one form or another for thousands of years - and no more so in than in the last 200 years.

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