"If immortality should not be a goal, indefinitely long lifespan can be. If, one day we find ourselves drained, if we can think of nothing more to do and our current activities seem pointless, we will have the option of ending our lives. Alternatively, we might change ourselves so radically that, although someone continues to live, it’s unclear that it’s us. But we cannot know in advance when we will reach that point. To throw away what may be a vastly long stretch of joyful living on the basis that forever must bring boredom and stagnation would be a terrible error."--Max Moore, from The Myth of Stagnation
America's leading transhumanists gathered this month in San Francisco. Speakers at Humanity+ included gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, designer and theorist Natasha Vita-More, futurist Jamais Cascio, science fiction author David Brin, philosopher and proactionary principle advocate Max More, artificial general intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel.
The theme of this year's conference was "Writing the Future". Its focus was communicating transhumanist ideas -- advances in robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, human enhancement, brain-computer integration, regenerative medicine, and radical life extension - so that the public is prepared for the future.
Here are a few highlights culled from live-blogging posts at the conference by Kris Notaro of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:
James Hughes, Executive Director of the IEET: People are a bit afraid of living forever, so we need to encourage people to accept the awesome future of living long lives.
David Orban: hackers are very important to help implement the system of a society for the human, not for the State or a corporation.
Max More: mind uploading is mainly a philosophical idea but it is possible. The best option for immortality is cryopreservation.
George Dvorsky: With moral and intellectual enhancement on the horizon, people are referring to it as "the rapture of the nerds".
Ben Goertzel: The future will bring mind reading. If there is no filter and you can have access to another's emotions and information you can feel what they feel, then learn what it was like for them to experience it.
David Dalrymple: "uploading": means transferring a mind from a biological implementation to a digital one. This is difficult in humans at the moment; let's try with the nematode worm C. elegans.
David Pearce: the coming evolutionary transition could have three stages. In the first biological humans will rewrite their genetic source code and bootstrap their way to super-intelligence. In the second, cybernetic brain implants will allow us to fuse our minds with artificial intelligence and to "upload" ourselves onto less perishable substrates. In digital nirvana, the distinction between biological and non-biological machines will effectively disappear. In the third there will be an ultra-rapid "Intelligence Explosion" and an era of non-biological super-intelligence. Post-human super-intelligence may or may not be human-friendly.
Randal Koene: Substrate independent minds (SIN) assume that the brain is a physical system that can be uploaded and manipulated on a computer.