Transhumanism & Humanity’s Future

Transhumanism & Humanity’s Future

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In the future humanity might settle  and create countless new worlds,   but will we also create new types of humans?   Today we are going to be discussing Transhumanism  and Post-Humans, and whether this is an inevitable   path for humanity, or something we should  actively avoid or willingly embrace.   The first point to acknowledge though, is that  Transhumanism isn’t a specific single agreed   on path, and indeed isn’t even an agreed on  definition. It tends to be rather big-tent   and so can only be loosely defined. Generally,  Transhumanism is the notion that use of technology   to extend human lifespan, intelligence, and  physical ability would enhance the quality   of the human life and should be actively pursued.  In this context a transhuman would be someone who   has had some of those changes, what we will  call augmentations for today’s purposes.  

There’s a lot of great thinkers and arguments  on the topic, for and against and in between,   from philosopher Nick Bostrom, who is probably one  of the most well-known advocates of transhumanism,   to Leon Kass, who believes these technologies  will dehumanise us in a negative way. We’ll   try to give a balanced view but I should say from  the outset that I tend to feel cautious usage of   augmentation can be a good thing, and strongly  favor usage to help those who are disabled   in some fashion, but not limited to that. In contrast, while there are those who would   object to using technology to fix impairments or  deficits, relatively few folks are opposed to that   basic principle even when it often gives them and  many of us a feeling of unease. And someone who   objects to giving a blind person mechanical  eyeballs might not object to giving them a   pacemaker or hearing aid, or prosthetic arm if  they needed one. So too, the reason enhancements  

are done matters a lot. I think few folks would  support banning hair dye or hair plugs or makeup,   even though some consider their use a bit vain and  unhealthy, and they would likely not object to a   cancer patient wearing a wig or someone getting  cosmetic surgery for facial scarring or damage.   And those are moving goalposts too, if you go  back and read material from several decades ago,   fiction and non-fiction, you would have worries  about this or that procedure dehumanizing people,   like a mechanical heart or prosthetic hand,  and yet these worries are far less common now,   and so we also want to keep in mind that  natural and often healthy human caution at   the strange and new is not necessarily bad,  but it might be a poor gauge for how folks   will feel about something a generation later.  Indeed, sometimes reality turns out bad and   opinion grows less accepting, not more. So, we are sticking today with the term   augmentation as meaning the use of technology to  alter a human away from that person’s perceived   natural state or away from the normal human bell  curve. That leaves a lot of gray area, like if   altering someone to be taller is transhumanism,  particularly if they’re aiming to go from outside   the normal range into the normal range, such as  someone who is 4 foot tall seeking to be 5’9”,   a very average height, in contrast to someone  who is 5’9” seeking to be 6’4”, on the high   end of normal, let alone 8’11”, the height of  Robert Wadlow, the tallest recorded person.  

Augmentation could also be genetically changing  someone’s natural hair to one already in the   standard human template. Transhumanism could  also include the ability to change skin color,   or gender, and each of those is variously  controversial, but mostly we are interested   in its use today in either how it improves the  overall human condition or in how it's seen as   moving outside the normal human template, for good  or ill. Obviously changing gender or skin colors,   say a black male changing to an Asian female, is  inside the normal human template and your mileage   may vary on how that option is beneficial to the  human condition and both represent topics that   are pretty charged at the moment. I’d rather  not dig into those today, so much as use them   as examples of both how complex the matter can  get and how viewpoints can shift with time.   We will for simplicity’s sake assume  anything already considered acceptable   to most people is not in the transhuman  range, like pacemakers or the typical   limb prosthetic. In that case a prosthetic arm  that had heat sensation and touch equal to the  

typical human arm would not seem likely to  be controversial, though that could change.   Not that if something is or isn’t controversial  should be the standard for transhumanism either,   but much as we don’t call people with pacemakers,  hearing aids, and eyeglasses cyborgs, we don’t   really need to include those in transhuman  discussions either. We will be trying to   keep morally neutral on the various topics today  too, so we’re not really interested if someone   has the right to become smarter than normal by  technology so much as the technological means   to do so and possible positive and negative  consequences. And we deep-dived the specific  

means of Brain enhancement in our episode  Mind Augmentation, a couple years back.   We also have concerns about transhuman or life  extension technologies adding social inequality,   which we discussed in more detail in our recent  episode on Automated Economies and Unemployment,   where there’s concerns folks who own robots  will own everything, or in this case,   that only the rich or powerful would get the best  augmentation or life extension, and be able to   keep and grow any advantages over others. Concerns  over that are hard for us to discuss or address,   especially as this show tries to stay away from  political or ideological discussions, but those   concerns can’t be ignored or easily dismissed  either, we’re just bypassing them today.   Lastly, before we jump in, we need to be mindful  that there is both the change that occurs and   the means by which it is done, for us to consider.  Loosely speaking, we are okay with people becoming  

smarter by study and good health habits and  exercise, but drugs or brain chips might   achieve the exact same thing and be considered  bad. Four people might bench lift 400 pounds,   one from having a nice genetic package and  shape plus some hard work, one from vast effort,   one from heavy steroid use, and lots of effort  too, and one with a bionic arm. Our view of   all four of these people is different, and  our reactions can be knee jerk sometimes.  

And speaking of knee jerk reactions, we have  to be mindful of unexpected consequences to   an enhancement. The man able to use his bionic  arm to lift a car is likely to hurt his knee,   or rip out his spine, if those aren’t enhanced  too. This is a common joke with comic books,   and includes other examples like superman grabbing  a plane that’s crashing and the thing ripping in   half because the Man of Steel’s indestructible  fist just hit two palm-sized bits of the thin   air frame, or he caught it on the ground and  landed and ripped the road apart with his feet.   Having eyeballs able to shoot laser beams, but  being otherwise human, like Cyclops from the   X-Men, ought to dissolve his head. We have no  100% reflective materials so his head has to be   absorbing all that destructive energy and heat.  And for that matter a society that’s not too  

fond of mutants ought to find an excuse to drag  him in for tissue samples to find out what this   miracle material is that reflects light, so we can  grow it and use it for a million amazing things.   Transhumanism tends to draw parallels to comic  books a lot and there’s the other big thing to   remember: In a society able to make a superpower,  be it by genetic alteration, random mutation,   or something like Iron Man’s suit, other people  will have it too. It might not be something so   common you can pick it up at the Dollar Store  or have it covered by your insurance. These   alterations might be rare, but so are tanks  and jet fighters and rockets and nukes and   racecars and there are still tons of them. Spiderman and Batman and Ironman and Superman   are mostly shown working in their home city,  and that begs the question of why all these   major crimes and world-shaking plots get planned  under their nose rather than some other place,   as well as what happens to every other city that  presumably gets just as many accidents and issues,   but has no superhero. In a transhuman world  though, even if not everyone has some special  

ability, every town likely has its Batman or  Spiderman, and they are probably wearing a uniform   and complaining about getting stuck with the night  shift this week, like so many police, fire, EMS,   hospital workers, and other first responders. In  this kind of a world, getting saved from falling   off a tall building becomes normal, as do the  superhuman abilities of people who do the saving.   This does not mean things stay the same, just  that they renormalize. It’s not a zero-sum game.   A world full of folks with superhuman abilities  or magic or giant brains is very changed, see our   Superpowers episode for more discussion  of that. Incidentally I tend to think a   pill or treatment that enhances everyone’s IQ  by 20 points or strength by 20% is unlikely,   it’s more likely it would tend to change the  shape of the bell curve, not just its center.  

The effects aren’t likely to be uniform and of  course many might refuse it entirely or take   different versions, but the impact on society  will be huge and in unpredictable ways.   A society where everyone sleeps 6 hours a night  on average and wakes fully refreshed is a very   different society than one where people often  find themselves awake till nearly dawn trying   to get to bed and feel exhausted after the full  8 or 9 hours of sleep. This is a reminder that   transhumanism is not limited to superpowers or  superintelligence or even to various cybernetic   or genetic enhancements, and that little things,  when global, can be enormous. A society in which   diabetes or Alzhiemer’s is simply eliminated  is a very different one in so many ways, and   while that’s not something that we traditionally  think of in the realm of Transhumanism, so many   of the more near term goals of Transhumanism  are those less flashy but very real outcomes,   not just the big bionic arms and brain implants. Consider this: You don’t get sick,   don’t get tired, never feel low on energy.  You can still experience normal emotions but   the brutal strikes of depression or other more  hormonal or chemically imbalanced overwhelming   emotions go away. Not involuntarily, I might add.  You can choose to experience it or not and to the  

degree or circumstance you want, but it removes  the crippling aspect. That’s a hyper-productive   world and one where people still presumably  get mean and sour but less from chronic aches   and pains or exhaustion and emotional fatigue. That’s also a very attractive world to a lot of   folks, and I think a point needs to be restated  that there is the method and the result, and we   want to be careful not to assume we’re fighting  old battles again. For instance, a person can   certainly make a case that genetically enhancing a  child in the womb is immoral, but we must remember   that people have been engaging in selective  breeding with the intent of producing superior   kids for a very long time. Emphasis on “Intent”,  because they did know all about breeding for   traits and routinely did it with animals. Also,  Intent matters more than effectiveness, because  

some lady drinking a bizarre brew from a local  witch or herbalist that she believed was going to   make her child be born handsome or healthy differs  from some advanced technology doing it only by   our assumption that the latter is effective  and the former was as useful as a placebo.   While we have often banned procedures, like  witchcraft or potions, we’ve never banned   people seeking to have their kids come out  better, and I’d have a hard time imagining we   would. So we probably need to take for granted  that as genetic engineering becomes available,   it is going to happen. I think we’ll skim over  the concept of designer babies, and the challenges  

ethical and technical involved, in favor of  giving that its own episode down the road,   but we probably need to ask How would you  stop it? All you need is one country willing   to let the science and procedures be conducted, or  even just decriminalized, and suddenly it becomes   a tourist stop. Ban travel there and suddenly  their neighbor becomes a tourist stop,   especially the border towns, and they figure  they might as well help because there’s money   to be made and if they don’t make it, another  neighbor will, but with the same result.   I think the legal justification for banning travel  to a country solely based on medical procedures   they perform there would be pretty iffy. After  that, well, if someone travels to some resort   island, by themselves or with their partner, and  comes back pregnant, what could be said or done?   Assuming folks even know about the trip, what  next? Mandatory genetic screening of fetuses?   That’s a hard one to sell, but if so, then what.  Mandatory abortions or euthanasia for genetically   enhanced children? I’d imagine the lifespan of the  career of any politician who suggested that would   be measured in hours, same as if they suggested  it for children with genetic disorders.  

This all assumes there’s any need for folks to  travel to anywhere to get a procedure done by   someone else. It might be a pill you can  order in the mail or just the encrypted   data for a 3D printer available by  crypto currency on the dark web.   Anyway, that leaves you a child who, through no  fault of their own, is genetically enhanced – or   cybernetically for that matter - who society  now needs to deal with. Star Trek dealt with  

this plot, and badly, though I enjoyed the  episode, in “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”, where   the federation is stated to not allow genetically  engineered children into Starfleet and is kind   enough in the end to let the Dr Bashir, who was  genetically altered by his parents as young child,   to remain in Starfleet, saving lives, so  long as his father took a plea bargain to   spend a couple years in prison, for his crime  of producing a heroic and magnificent doctor.   Their reasoning is that back in the 20th century,  in Trek Canon, some genetically engineered people   tried to take over the world. I find that absurd  as a reason but plausible as something people   might argue for, your mileage may vary. But I’m  really not expecting modern courts to be kind to   laws or rules preventing a kid with a genetically  enhanced IQ from attending school or having to   have a proverbial scarlet letter on their head  or being banned from employment or forcibly   sterilized. At least going forward, we have had  some tragic historical cases. That is essentially   the path civilizations need to be willing to go  down to prevent such engineering being done once   such technology gets discovered, and I don’t  think most will choose to embrace such bans,   which is why I tend to assume it will get normal  fast. Kids smarter, healthier, stronger, faster  

than prior generations, probably just a little  bit, incrementally, many of us would argue that’s   been our open goal for countless generations. Fortunately, genetic engineering in the womb isn’t   the only route to such things, so we do have  other options. Nanotechnology or options like   gene-editing and CRISPR might make it possible  to alter every cell’s DNA in an adult organism,   not just an embryo, and enhancements which adults  can choose for themselves or which can be reversed   alter things immensely. Technology can bring  problems – nanotech brings many itself – but   it also offers solutions. Many of the concerns  of altering ourselves are about people doing it   both irreversibly and when the subject is not  an adult of sound mind. Obviously that excludes   children but we often worry if someone wanting a  radical change to themselves is mentally healthy,   and being able to both make and reverse changes  cheaply and safely alters things a lot.  

So what does the transhuman landscape  look like in the coming century or two?   And of course, is everyone going to become one? The second is easier than the first to answer,   but it still has to be vague. I don’t really  expect humanity thousands of years from now to   be identical to now. ‘Human’ is more likely to be  a family rather than a species in the taxonomic   ranks, maybe even an order or class, like Mammals.  That’s likely to include artificial intelligences  

that never had DNA, uploaded human minds,  uplifted animals, and ten million flavors of   genetically and cybernetically altered humans. I’d  imagine that would include a lot of people who are   identical to modern humans and what we normally  call ‘baseline humans’ in these discussions,   which would be you or I, those folks  some centuries back might disagree.   For my part, I’m not really expecting some sci fi  style clash of the supermen and baseline humans,   especially as it’s likely to be very much  a spectrum kind of thing, a sliding scale   of what qualifies as baseline or post-human  rather than a binary state. That broad range is   probably including people who some might view  as augmented yet are the loudest opponents of   some other change, then get angry when folks  from their own side call them augmented too.   But what does this look like? Well implantation  is already here, it’s just limited in options. We   essentially have artificial eyeball technology  for instance, and I don’t mean cameras,   but artificial eyeballs constructed along human  eye conventions. Our problem is getting them  

wired in and it’s the issue we have with brain  implants on mice and apes too. We essentially   have to build a robot surgeon who can work at the  microscale to accurately connect huge numbers of   nerves. That is not just on-the-horizon tech these  days but close enough we’re knocking on the door,   and eyes are probably the hardest organ to  attach to the brain with a replaced prosthetic.   Just giving someone telescopic sight or infrared  vision though is likely, for a long while to come,   to be about having either a pair of goggles  with you, possibly carried by a drone,   or just to have computer software ship  the image to those nerves rather than to   the eyeball, but again from some other camera. A thing to remember on transhumanism is that not   many of us really relish the notion of getting  our arm cut off even to be replaced by a better   one or our eyes gouged out, even for corrective  surgery. Medical technology advancements that   help folks who have suffered such a loss will  go on and probably with the open and approving   support of the public. Down the road when it's  gotten mundane and safe, folks will incorporate  

some cool new features into themselves, as  a blind person with an artificial eyeball is   just as likely to want the ability to see in the  infrared as someone normally-sighted. Cool color   changing abilities or zoom features and of course  camera snapshots would be common. Eventually this   might get to be a common minor change for people  like getting an ear piercing, especially if we   have regenerative technologies to replace the  original organ with a cloned or grown one too.   For the rest of us though, that drone option is  an example of how technologies might be adapted   for baseline humans, to run them parallel to  directly augmented ones. You just have peripherals   rather than implants, much as we carry gear in  our pockets, or wear them around our wrists,   rather than swallowing them. But we’re  limited in what we can carry and hold,  

so anything light we can carry is great, but  so is a posse of robots that carries our gear,   and follows us around. Or so  could an exoskeleton instead.   We have this impression technology like this must  involve penetrating your body, at least a little,   with some sort of brain jack but there’s  no particular reason you can’t go wifi,   or even brain-scanner in a hat. Generally  speaking it’s going to be a lot easier if   you’re fine with adding a few strains of nanobots  to the countless thousands of bacteria and viruses   already hanging out in your body doing work, some  vital to you living, without sharing your DNA.   You are not just your DNA, you’re an ecosystem,  and adding some bits and pieces which aren’t   classically organic could be viewed as adding  some fire detectors and cameras to a wilderness,   it’s not totally unchanged but the  addition benefits that wilderness,   as we can now intercede against disasters. The obvious analogy, or rebuttal, is that  

some people might pave that ecosystem  over and put in a city or a strip mall,   the equivalent of going very cyborg with  extensive and visibly metallic body parts.   For that matter though, we can probably tailor  some existing organisms to serve as nanobots. We   tend to assume organic is inferior to machinery  but that’s a very binary and limited point of   view, especially in the classic sci fi context of  what Isaac Asimov, in his robot novels, called a   C/Fe civilization, with carbon based humans and  iron based robots. He wrote those in an era of   vacuum switches before we had semiconductors,  since then we tend to think of computers as   silicon, but humans contain a lot of iron and  steel robots would include carbon among the iron,   so even then the notion of blending was there.  Carbon fiber is very strong, as is diamond. Both  

are made of carbon and indeed the miracle material  of the last decade, graphene, is made entirely of   carbon. So don’t think organic and think ‘weak’. Instead, think that there are around   a hundred elements in this Universe and only a  fraction are involved in life. By mass you’re 65%   oxygen, 18% carbon, 9.5% Hydrogen, 3.2% Nitrogen,  1.5% Calcium, 1.2% Phosphorus. 0.4% Potassium,   0.2% Sulfur, Sodium, and Chlorine each, 0.1%  Magnesium and every other element in nature   makes up less than a thousandth of your mass, and  most of that being iron, fluorine, and zinc. Would  

it be a bad thing for your body to contain some  additional elements? It already does, including   radioactive bits like Uranium and precious ones  like Gold and ultra strong ones like Titanium   and Tungsten, just from our natural environment.  So would an engineered or artificial nanobot or   microbe that was a bit heavier on those really  change anything to the ecosystem that is you?   The answer of course is yes, we’re not pumping you  full of little machines or microbes for no reason   after all. What is or isn’t natural is a question  folks raise a lot but one which always seems   peculiar to me. Artificial is generally defined as  man-made and that essentially includes humans too.   Oh, I don’t mean in the trivial sense that your  parents gave birth to you and were presumably   both human. Rather, they raised you and did so  with at least one of several entirely made up   languages we created that influences all of your  thinking, placed in your entirely artificial crib   with your artificial walls and pictures and  bottle and clothes constantly surrounding you   in the literal physical sense while they  poured a culture into you that we made.   You’re about as ‘natural’ as a wooden chair and  part of your current ecosystem involves a vast   artificial dataweb in which you live and breathe.  We joke about unplugging ourselves from the world,  

or world wide web, on vacation or downtime,  but we’re only half joking… and it's too   late anyway, because we’ve got wifi. I generally tend to feel that trying to   draw an official line between what’s not  natural but acceptable, and what is not,   gets kind of weird, with no generally agreed  on definitions. My glasses, my belt, my watch,   these are fine. Okay those don’t pierce the  skin, but piercings certainly do, so do tattoos,   which I suspect will start including circuitry and  electronics sooner than not, so does a pacemaker.   And these things are part of you. I think though  that everyone will draw the lines in different   places, not just on how much tech but of what type  and so on. I myself would feel really weird at the  

idea of being uploaded entirely to a computer  somewhere but wouldn’t have an issue with being   composed of a trillion tiny machines that happened  to be artificial as opposed to the trillions I’m   already composed of that are evolved, which  is to say, a product of trial and error,   especially if that was a gradual shift. But when it comes to shifting your entire   mind around, just uploading it to a computer for  instance, it's not really a cut and paste thing.   You’ve got your brain stored on cells and you can  presumably copy that onto a harddrive then emulate   those. Your brain is still there with “you”  still in it. This tends to favor the gradual   approach then of replacing failed neurons with  something artificial but that level of nanotech   also just lets you replace that neuron with  another identical neuron or just repair it,   all while keeping a copy of the stage it was in  for restoration if you get gross brain damage,   like being shot in the head. And people do survive  and recover from that sometimes so the fact that  

machines are stitching you back together rather  than the classic repair technique wouldn’t seem   any different then sewing you up with a needle and  thread rather than letting it scab over. I freely   acknowledge though that we are bringing up a lot  of slippery slopes and stretching some analogies.   This is generally why I don’t like the term  post-biological anymore than I like the term   transhuman, because it implies that there’s  some real line or space between human and   post-human or biological and artificial.  I don’t have good replacements for either,   mind you, but then I don’t really ever expect many  folks to regard themselves as transhuman anyway,   any more than a cyborg. Personally I rather  expect the first real human-intelligent AI   will prefer to think of itself as a human too, and  my hunch is we would be wise to encourage that.   So what is life like in a transhuman society? You don’t get sick anymore, you might not age in   any meaningful sense. You’re probably as strong  as a horse and able to jog or run all day long  

and maybe don’t need to sleep. You might  have carpentry as a hobby, but your garage   is missing a lot of tools like measuring tapes,  because you’ve never needed one, you just know   distance and angles. Your hand wields a knife or  chisel with a steadiness any surgeon or sculptor   would envy. You aren’t really capable of panic  or terror or deep depression beyond when you   choose to experience these things intentionally.  And some might question if you’re really human  

anymore without these, or already post-human. Your mind might be able to speed up, what we   call framejacking, so that you could watch a  hummingbird’s wings flap, or watch a backlog   of movies one day by just leaning back against a  tree and closing your eyes. Or leaving them open,   and you might be able to see out the back of your  head or from a dozen cameras around your body,   and in infrared and ultraviolet. You don’t know  how to do arithmetic really, you know higher math   and could work it out, but you just never had to  think about any problem because you no sooner see   two numbers and think add or multiply before you  know the answer. You can choose to remember any  

moment of your life in crystal clear detail, and  anytime you look at an object and feel puzzled,   the whole basic entry on whatever it is comes up  in your mind. You’ve never played darts because   it’s like tic-tac-toe, nobody ever wins or  loses because none of you ever miss except   by random fate, so you might as well toss  dice. Not that any of you do that either   since you can make them land as you want. And that’s not really particularly superhuman  

either, except Speed Superintelligence, one  of the three types we contemplate along with   Networked Intelligence, like a Hive Mind,  and Quality Intelligence, which is a bit   vague but the difference between a human brain  and ten chimps with more total brain power.   See our cyborgs episode or superpowers episode  for more extreme versions or a deeper dive on   these possible abilities, but I want to close  for today by emphasizing that none of those   aforementioned abilities is necessarily  outside our current lifetime, none really   are very high-tech and most wouldn’t even require  putting machines inside you, there’s almost always   a work around to grant a given ‘ability’ without  getting invasive, except to modify the brain.   And even that would have non-invasive exceptions,  like transcranial stimulators or some peripheral   brain augmentation that was scanning your mind  and doing lots of the extra work. It recognizes   you contemplating a math problem and displays  the answer or stimulates it back into your head.   I sometimes refer to mind augmentation as  something akin to a shadow assistant or a third   lobe of your brain, just computerized, even though  we’d expect it to be distributed throughout your   head, but an external computer tied into your mind  by non-invasive scanning might qualify as that.  

One could argue that we already do brain  augmentation through language, relating problems   to others to bring their mind in on it, and that  having an assistant or secretary or accountant or   even a specialist you visit like your doctor  is already brain augmentation, a networked   mind but done simplistically and low bandwidth by  speech and writing rather than wiring, and a basic   model we can expand and improve on with computers  wired into or scanning or stimulating your brain,   rather than wholesale altering it. And that’s a good point to close out on,   because while we often discuss brain augmentation  and how it might make you so far beyond human as   to view each other nowadays like insects, I’ve  noticed that by and large folks don’t really work   that hard to improve their intelligence even using  known techniques, so I’m not thinking folks will   race out to do that. Especially as you probably  need to ask if you can actually radically increase   your own intelligence. Are you even you anymore if  your mind is so far beyond human that it no longer   relates to what you used to be? I’d imagine not,  maybe gradually over time you might make minimal   improvements and relate to a baseline human like  we do kids, but I’m also not sure folks would feel   much need to. Greg Egan’s 1994 novel Permutation  City gives some interesting examples of this.   So, the fastest scenario for us to colonize  the galaxy would be essentially 100,000   years, with a new planet being colonized  roughly every second on average, and we’ll   be talking about that more next week. That means  a lot of elbow room for those wanting to go play   God to head off and grab a whole solar system  and build a massive supercomputer around it,   what we call a Matryoshka Brain. But outside of  a specific Technological Singularity Scenario,  

which grows ever less likely, see that episode  for details, you always have a wide landscape of   various massive AI and post-human and transhuman  minds of various types who are probably not   big fans of genocide or wiping out the other  clades of humanity, including baseline humans,   anymore than we feel like wiping out other  primates or mammals. It probably doesn’t pay   to have your other neighbors see you picking on  and stealing from the less augmented folks and   there’s a big question of why you would need to. Neither you nor any human, even a baseline human,   living in a transhuman era, is desperate  for resources or starved. What exactly do   you need the bigger brain for? Of course, I can  think of plenty of reasons I wouldn’t mind one,   but none that I’d risk my own identity to get, or  for lack of a better word, my humanity. That might   be my optimism talking but I’m just not seeing a  world where most people alive now, or at whatever   point we figure out radical life extension, are  going to feel like they need to seriously alter   their own mind outside their comfort zone in order  to survive comfortably. More brains is only a  

survival advantage in a very technological society  when not having them means folks try to hurt you   or steal from you, and I’m guessing a lot of  people won’t want to make that exchange, at least   not quickly, maybe incrementally over millennia. It’s an interesting aspect of Transhumanism   and posthumanism, that it’s mostly focused on  improving the human condition, and so I think   for many folks, the transhumanist future, for  them at least, will be about embracing their   humanity better through technology, rather than  trying to move beyond, alter, or abandon it.   As a reminder, this is our last episode  for the year but we will still be having   our Monthly Livestream Q&A, this Saturday  Afternoon, December 31st, at 4 pm Eastern,   to answer all your questions about the show and  our episodes before we head into the New Years.   Today’s episode on humanity’s future was about  ways we might become smarter or longer lived but   hopefully we’re also be becoming kinder,  wiser, and more generous too. Many of us   open our hearts and make donations during  the holiday season. But when you donate,  

how can you feel confident that your donations  are really making a big impact? You could do   weeks of research to find charities, figure  out what they do, how effective they are,   and how the charity might use additional  money. Or you could visit there,   you’ll find free research and recommendations  about the charities that can save or improve lives   the most per dollar. Let your brain and data help  do what your heart wants, for instance they worked   out that it cost about a dollar to give a child  vitamin A supplements while vitamin A deficiencies   have a drastic impact on mortality rates, making  it one of the most efficient ways to save lives.   GiveWell spends over 40,000 hours each year  researching charitable organizations and only   directs funding to a few of the HIGHEST-IMPACT,  EVIDENCE-BACKED opportunities they’ve found.   Over 100,000 donors have used GiveWell to donate  more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Rigorous evidence  

suggests that these donations will save over ONE  HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND lives AND improve the   lives of MILLIONS more. And using GiveWell’s  research is free! GiveWell wants as many donors   as possible to make informed decisions about  high-impact giving. They publish all of their   research and recommendations on their site  FOR FREE, no signup required. They allocate   your tax deductible donation to the charity  or fund you choose without taking a cut.   If you’ve never donated to GiveWell’s recommended  charities before, you can have your donation   matched up to ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS before the end  of the year or as long as matching funds last.   To claim the matching funds, just click in on  the link in the episode,,  

or on the donate page, when asked where you heard  about Givewell, select Youtube and Isaac Arthur,   to make sure your donation gets matched, or again,  just click on the link,   So today is the last episode of our eighth  season here on SFIA, and as mentioned,   we have a livestream coming up Saturday December  31st at 4pm Eastern to finish up 2022. But we’ll   leap right into 2023 next week by returning to one  of our favorite topics, interstellar colonization   and the strategies for claiming the stars. The  week after that we’ll ask what happens if all  

our dreams of a post-scarcity era of abundance  never comes to pass, and what options humanity has   in such a future. Then it is on to Scifi Sunday  on January 15th to explore the possibility that   we might live in a hostile galaxy and some of  the fermi paradox scenarios that discuss that   like Dark Forest Theory or Berserker Probes. As always if you want reminders and notifications   when those and other episodes come out,  make sure to hit the subscribe button and   notifications bell. And if you would like to help  support the channel, just head to our website,   Isaac for all the ways to help, like  supporting us on Patreon or joining us on Nebula.  

Hopefully you’re enjoying our new episodes  in Ultra HD 4k resolution, but you can also   catch all of SFIA’s episodes in audio only podcast  form, for free, on all the major podcasts hosts,   from itunes to spotify and audible. As always, thanks for watching,   thanks for another wonderful year hosting  this show, and have a Happy New Year!

2023-01-05 20:58

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