A link on Deb’s facebook page to
WORLDVIEW PIONEER SERIES: Health Freedom Part III: Transhumanism and the Science of Self-Empowerment
[ 22/May/21 ]
Sorry Deb – I’m having real difficulty listening to Gregg Braden – He is so clearly a conman. And like all good conmen, most of what he says is accurate. His opening comment about human cells and batteries makes that obvious. Yes each cell does maintain a membrane potential, but that is across the membrane – between the inside and the outside of the cell.
If you think of batteries, to increase the voltage you need to put cells in series. To get 12V from 1.5V cells, you need 8 of them, and you need to put the positive of one of them to the negative of the next.
To get the voltage he talked about from human cells you would need to connect the inside of one cell, to the outside of the next one, and daisy chain them in that way.
That is not possible.
That is not how cells work.
Insides and outsides are separated by cell membranes, which is how the cells manage to generate that potential. If you connect the inside of one to the outside of its neighbour, then the potential short circuits to zero by definition.
So saying what he said is 100% con.
It is 100% psuedo-science designed to deceive.
Of course we are complex, complex in terms of number that no human mind can deal with in detail. In a sense, that is necessary.
If you think of counting systems, number, we use decimal – we have 10 fingers, decimal is a convenient way for us to learn to count. Computers use binary – 0 & 1. Ten in binary is 1010, (18 + 04 + 12 + 01) in decimal 10 (110 + 01).
Molecules like RNA and DNA have 4 different possible constituents, so as they get longer, the possible variations on sequence increase by a factor of 4 with each step. We have over a billion nucleotides in our genome (closer to 3 billion) which is like a decimal number with over a billion zeros.
That is just an impossibly large number to make any meaningful sense of. If you do the math for how many quantum states could possibly have existed in the universe to date, given all the mass present, and using plank time and having about 10^42 ticks per second, then the number only has about 220 digits in it (+/- 10 depending on various assumptions used). The numbers encoded in our genome are just so much vaster than anything that could possibly have been tested in detail, that the difference is hard to conceive of. We are in a very real sense multiple levels of embodiment of random search that was sufficiently useful approximations to whatever optimality was in the history of our ancestors that we have managed to survive.
So we are not entirely random, we are sorted random over deep time, and we contain multiple levels of structure, and we also contain a great deal that is random and far from any sort of optimal anything.
That is what it is to be human.
And much of the structure we do embody is deeply complex and beautiful and amazing.
And we can do some things to it that seem clearly to me to be very useful, like reversing the tendencies to degrade over time that were necessary to get us to this point, but do not actually allow us to get much further unless we change them.
So in that sense, of adding capacities to what we have, extending health span, improving resistance to various forms of disease, then I am all for transhumanism. To those (like Ray Kurzweil) who think that we can easily have our essence embodied in a computer system, I think Ray vastly underestimates just how much of the experience of being human is encoded in the specific embodiment that we are. I suspect that attempts to do digital humans are going to result in very low resolution models of many aspects of being human that are in fact very important. So I am not a fan of the idea of Emulated humans (Ems) that many like Robin Hanson seem to champion (and I enjoy arguing with Robin, he is no slouch – and I am never quite sure what level I am arguing with in the conversations we have had).
So I don’t trust anything that Braden says, even as most of it is actually quite accurate, he is clearly very willing to falsify concepts for effect, and clearly does so very effectively.
He has found a market in which that works, and in which he is highly unlikely to encounter anyone like me to challenge him.
His entire purpose seems to be to exploit biases and ignorance to sell books – and he seems to be very good at it and to do it very consciously and devoid of any integrity. That is antithetical to my value sets and I am not interested in wasting any further time on him.
I’ve never been a great fan of Uploads, though I am very interested in a lot of what Ray Kurzweil does, and he is a fan of the idea.
To me his interest in the idea comes from his lack of a detailed understanding of biology.
I trained as a biologist (biochemist) first and foremost. My interest in computers came later.
I have been fascinated by evolution and life and how it works for almost 60 years.
I am autistic.
Math is as easy to me as breathing.
So in can investigate things in a few seconds that would take me weeks to explain to someone in a step by step fashion.
I’ve been like that as long as I can remember.
As a result, I am a very long way from any sort of social agreement, even in circles of specialists devoted to such things.
Any way you look at it, I am an outlier.
And I remain committed to maximising the probability of life and liberty across all dimensions of the expressions of humanity and intelligence more widely.
And that is a deeply complex space of issues with multiple levels of complexity and responsibility essential for existence.
So while I understand the existence and emergence of people like Braden, I find them viscerally offensive and annoying. That our legal systems do not have severe penalties for deceit at that level is a deep failure of those systems. Ignorance is one thing, and must be accepted, deceit at that level is entirely something else, and needs to be seriously discouraged.