Dale Carrico writes: “I updated and extended a golden oldie in response to a report posted at the World Future Society by transhumanoid Hank Pellesier about how Robot Cultists want expect demand technno-immortality. I must say it probably qualifies as one of my grumpier columns.” Not surprisingly, he doesn’t even bother to spell Hank Pellissier‘s name right.
Hank’s report is here. Dale’s rant is titled “All Humans Are Mortal. Socrates Is Human. Therefore, Socrates Is Mortal.” His main point: “Everybody who has ever lived has died. Everybody dies. You are going to die. That you are going to die is part of what it has always meant to be human. If you didn’t die, you wouldn’t be living a legibly human life. But of course you are going to die so there is no reason to belabor the point, and to do so is probably just to indulge in panic-stricken distraction or denialism about it anyway.”
As usual, Carrico seems to believe that very strong histrionics can compensate for very weak logic. According to Carrico’s flaky “logic” Armstrong didn’t walk on the Moon, since nobody had ever walked on the Moon before 1969. Women cannot vote in the U.S. today, since they could not vote until the late 19th century. People with poor eyesight cannot read, since they could not read before eyeglasses were invented. Forget your politically incorrect dreams to make the world a better place, things will always stay the way they were, because that’s the way things are, and Carrico proves it with a syllogism!!! I wonder how poor Socrates would feel seeing his name used to justify similar crap.
I believe death is a very ugly thing, and I believe science and technology will make death a thing of the past, before the end of this century. Carrico’s “That you are going to die is part of what it has always meant to be human” is total bullshit. What it has always meant to be human, is to fix what we don’t like, explore new places, and do our best to overcome all limitations. Aubrey de Grey‘s work shows that medical science may be able to very radically extend the lifespan of our meat cages, and Mind Uploading research shows that we may be able to leave biology behind and become cyber angels. Ken Hayworth sees mind uploading research as a cure for death: in a new paper in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, he argues that mind uploading is an “enormous engineering challenge” but one that can be accomplished without “radically new science and technologies.”
Of course, those who worship aging, disease and death as holy symbols of their precious human vulnerability, should feel free to die if that is what they want. I hope they will also accept that others may have different ideas and aspirations, and accept that they try to do their best to escape death. But sometimes I fear that things will not be so simple.
Last year, in reply to a similar rant with the same title, I wrote this:
Initially published as a comment to Mike Treder’s excellent article Will you die? @ IEET.
I just found this gem of our old friend Carrico. He criticises this article because “That you are going to die is part of what it has always meant to be human…”
Inspired by previous debates (see below) I have taken the liberty to re-write his apology of death, changing a couple of words:
“Everybody who has ever lived has suffered from haemorrhoids and diarrhea. Everybody has haemorrhoids and diarrhea. You have haemorrhoids and diarrhea. That you have haemorrhoids and diarrhea is part of what it has always meant to be human. If you didn’t have haemorrhoids and diarrhea, you wouldn’t be living a legibly human life. But of course you have haemorrhoids and diarrhea so there is no reason to belabor the point, and to do so is probably just to indulge in pathetic panic-stricken distraction or denialism about it anyway.
Mike Treder, Managing Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (long-time readers may recall that I tend to call it “stealth Robot Cult outfit, IEET” and tend to call its high level muckety mucks as “Very Serious Futurologists” or, alternatively, “White Guys of ‘The Future’”), asked the question in a post yesterday, Will You Continue to Have Haemorrhoids and Diarrhea? (The answer, for you kids keeping score at home, is: “Yes, Mike, yes, you will continue to have haemorrhoids and diarrhea, as will every single person who reads these words.”)
It doesn’t seem right to make fun of people this desperate and deluded and dumb, but, well, I say, go ahead. Especially rich for regular readers will be the robotic predictability with which the Robot Cultists and the industrial-militarist complex continue to announce the arrival of a Cure For Haemorrhoids and Diarrhea, Artificial Intelligence, Drexlerian Nanotech, Designer Babies, Clone Armies, Immersive VR, the Paperless Office, Energy Too Cheap to Meter, Orbital Space Hotels, the Cure for [insert disease], and the history-shattering Singularity when the Robot God inaugurates Tech-Heaven or eats the world for lunch (you decide). No less enjoyable is the accompanying illustration for the piece of drawing-board nanobots on graph paper backgrounds just like real engineers use and with orange arrows indicating the immortalization action, and also, too, the reference to cyber-immortalization via “uploading” presumably involving something called your “essence.” Science!”
It is interesting to note that in previous debates Carrico has, instead, considered haemorrhoids, diarrhea and similar things related to what he considers as the noblest parts of the sacred human anatomy and the holy human biology as better examples of your “essence.” See for example:
Cyborg Angels Live Forever and Never Ever Have to Poop
The Power of Poop; or, Prisco Responds
Dale, my boy, please feel free to live a legibly human life and to pursue happiness and meaning your own way. If this means continuing to suffer from haemorrhoids, diarrhea and death, so be it. I would not wish these things upon my worse enemy, but you are the best judge of what is good for you and makes you happy.
But I hope you will forgive me for choosing to do my best to avoid haemorrhoids and diarrhea. And death. If these things must remain part of legibly human lives, then fuck legibly human lives.
I think the last sentence should be capitalized and emphasized:
IF THESE THINGS MUST REMAIN PART OF LEGIBLY HUMAN LIVES, THEN FUCK LEGIBLY HUMAN LIVES.
Carrico seems to consider mortality and other aspects of “human finitude” as beautiful things to revere (hence “holy”), whereas I consider them as ugly things to eliminate like haemorrhoids and diarrhea.
Of course I know that I will probably die. I am almost 55, and I have never bothered to adopt a “healthy lifestyle.” I may be able to escape death via cryonics or chemical brain preservation, or I may not because there are so many things that can go wrong. I will give it a try though, and it is my own fucking body to try with.
I will probably go into that good night, but be assured that I will not go gentle. I will rage against the dying of the light and say “FUCK DEATH“. Not because saying so renders me immortal, but because it is the right attitude.
I hope future generations will be able to escape death, and I feel happy for them. On the basis of my understanding of the related science facts, I am optimist.
Don’t worry for your precious “human finitude.” Even if we as a species leave mortality and biology behind there will still be obstacles to overcome (or, of you prefer, holy limitations to revere), and then others, and so forth. Any finite quantity is infinitely small compared to infinity.
Wall painting at a house depicting Socrates, 1st-5th century CE. Museum of Ephesus, Efes, Turkey.
Picture: Wikimedia Commons