Re: [sl4] Aubrey de Grey on BBC 'comedy' show.

From: Amon Zero (
Date: Tue Oct 13 2009 - 09:40:30 MDT

> doesn't apply to the kids raised on games like Metal Gear Solid, which I'm
> told contains a number singularity-related themes. I introduced these
> concepts to a class of 15-16 year old school kids to whom I teach creative
> arts/philosophy, and they were entranced. They love Dresden Codak, and are
> more than happy discussing grey goo, Jupiter brains and destructive uploads.
> They're even starting to introduce transhumanist/singularitarian ideals to
> their friends, which perhaps goes to show that if we want to give these
> concepts a wider circulation we should copy the Jesuits and get 'em while
> they're young.

That's very cool, and I agree completely. Pretty much every
transhumanist I know got hooked on the core memes when they were
young, and have been building a more complex worldview to "fill in the
gaps" ever since.

This is the point at which I should admit I'd never heard of Dresden
Codak. Too cool! Thanks for the heads-up!

> Agree, it'd be very interesting to see how someone like Derren Brown would
> handle communicating such concepts. Maybe he could use his methods as a
> short-cut to get around that initial establishing of context, but I still
> think that the best way to do it is to discuss things long-term. Of course
> there's not always that option, so perhaps the methods you mention warrant
> exploring.

Yes, it does rather boil down to whether you'd want to directly
manipulate a person's beliefs if measured & rational debate wasn't
going to have the desired effect. Of course, if certain H+
technologies were to come online then such a willingness to manipulate
others would be the first step on a very slippery slope.

Another relevant point here is that effects like Mere Exposure only
really work in the absence of explicit ('conscious') focus on the
stimuli, so that rules out rational debate in the first instance if
one wants to go down that road.

> But regarding the esteemed Aubrey himself, I'm afraid I came to the opposite
> conclusion. There are so many barriers to break down when introducing these
> concepts to fresh ears, and - brilliant man though he is - Aubrey does look
> a bit like a stereotypical mad scientist, and that's going to turn some
> people off before he starts speaking.

Good point - I'm obviously just a sucker for a grandiose beard. Or
anything else that says "mad scientist", most likely ;-)

> Not saying, of course, that someone like Aubrey shouldn't promote his ideas
> whenever he has the chance... but maybe the lesson we can take from this is
> that if we're serious about transhumanism/singularitarianism being something
> other than an lightly-regarded sect, we have to pay attention to how the
> concepts we deal with are presented.

I agree wholeheartedly. I believe that, to a degree, such ideas have
been taken to heart by the likes of the WTA (sorry, Humanity+)... it's
really just a question of whether H+ists should go beyond traditional
PR methods and get *really* machiavellian about spreading the word.
Perhaps such activity is not even necessary in the long run (although
I'm inclined to believe it is), and I do sometimes have misgivings
about a "popularization" approach which leads to people shying away
from discussing the kind of 'long'-term issues which got me hooked in
the first place, and are the focus of lists such as SL4.

- A

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