From: Metaqualia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jan 07 2004 - 10:05:46 MST
> This begs the question of what it means to be "human", doesn't it?
What part of it did? :)
> It may be the nature of the *human* mind that, if it is openly and
> emotionally engaged with the world, it is going to experience a certain
It is the nature of evolved biological systems, a nature I'd gladly dispense
If you say, being human involves experiencing negative emotions, ok that is
what it involves _today_. Being human 1 million years ago involved seeing
your children eaten by beasts during the night, 1 thousand years ago it
involved having to lift bricks of stones for a lifetime so that some jerk
could look cool in front of the gods, 1 hundred years ago (not sure) it
involved operation without anaesthesia. I hope in 100 years it won't involve
the painful things that it still involves today.
But this is a philosophical issue that seems to assume that the scope of our
conversation is "do we higher income geeks on sl4 want to get rid of pain or
not". Of course I've got a bunch of worries I'd rather live without, but I
think the first who deserve a hand are people living in crap countries
getting slaughtered, without medical attention, people exploited because
they are poor and uneducated, people who see their family in trouble, all
the miserable people that are in the world. Or anyone who, for lesser
causes, is experiencing just as powerful negative qualia. On this I kind of
go with Elizier's staring into the singularity where he talks about the
singularity in a humanitarian perspective.
Aside from philosophical debate, I think the productive way of facing these
issues is to first get rid of the big evils everyone agrees on, and then
once we are a more relaxed species without constant thorns in our butts and
we can actually sit down still and think about problems with a more
altruistic perspective, then we will decide who wants to keep the mouth
sores and who doesn't.
What it means to be human... I don't think this is out of topic on sl4. For
us, the question is what does it mean to be human to someone who has gone
through shock level 4? What is left of "me" once everything that can be
deterministically recreated has been recreated and broken down?
Human beings need to cling to something to give their life meaning; it can
be being god's favorite people, or having a large brain, etc. - finding an
excuse gets increasingly harder once you know about technology (which seems
to discredit animism and so on) but in the end I think these are only
circumstances, details, things that happened in a certain way but would have
happened differently if we threw the dice again. If there is something that
we, as spontaneously generated patterns at the edge of order and chaos, can
claim to be unique about us it is the fact that we experience stuff
(qualia). Not that we experience some particular ones, but that we are able
to experience them as opposed to not experiencing anything at all.
So I don't think being brainier, or stupider, or fatter, or having a shared
consciousness, or uploading ourselves into a strontium titanate substrate
would lessen our humanity. Not even becoming a dog would, provided there is
something it feels like for it to exist and do its thing. The only way of
losing one's humanity is to cease feeling anything at all. That happens when
you die or enter a japanese company. :)
> That's why, as discussed in some long-prior SL4 threads, I don't just want
> to upload myself ---- I want a series of copies of future-Ben, one of them
> staying human (though with minor fixes like removal of physical aches and
> pains), one of them ascending to ultra-trans-humanity, etc. etc. etc.
These are personal preferences you're certainly entitled to - I myself, as a
monkey, wouldn't mind living in a banana forest for a couple hundred years
before I became human and started listening to bach and eating banana
icecream (read: wouldn't mind spending the next couple hundred years in
virtual reality doing all kinds of crazy stuff before I got augmented and
started exploring the "possibilities of existence").
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