Re: Why do we seek to transcend ourselves?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 02:38:38 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Someone just asked me this question in a private e-mail:
> ***
> P.S, I have always wondered one thing, if i may ask you this?
> Why do we as humans, feel the need to create something with the possibility
> of being much greater than us? interms of Intelligence and awareness (And
> even possibly, in Physical Strength.) I figured I would ask you this,
> because you are a scientist
> ***
> My answer was as follows.
> I think the motivation is a combination of a number of factors, including
> but not limited to:
> 1) We are evolutionarily programmed to seek greater intelligence. This is
> not an odd assertion, it probably goes along with the trajectory of
> increasing intelligence that has resulted in the creation of humans from
> primates...

I think this comes close to the widely discredited notion of
evolution being directional.

> 2) Perhaps there is some kind of trans-human force in the universe that
> pushes toward the creation of greater intelligence, and humanity itself is
> just a manifestation of this (this is a "self-organizational" rather than
> strictly "evolutionary" answer)

No evidence.

> 3) There is a kind of existential/emotional lack most humans feel
> internally, which causes them to reach out for something greater than
> themselves, be it a God or a future superintelligent being

> Anyone have any additional answers to add?

Perhaps as we all feel mortality and seek for something beyond
it or to somehow "make sense of it all".

However, I think the best reason for the desire to increase
intelligence and to transcend is because our
intelligence/knowledge/rationality is our characteristic means
of survival and well-being. For the sake of our own survival
and well-being we seek to increase our intelligence. We also
see the creation of more intelligence than we can aspire to even
in seriously augmented form as being a womderful thing for much
the same reasons.

The phrasing is a bit off I think. We feel the need to
transcend our own condition whether or not it is we ourselves or
others like us or deriving from us directly who most transcend
our limitations and most acheive what we idealize.

- samantha

> ben g

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