Transvision Review – update Jan 11

Transvision review: the social angle to transhumanism

David Wood’s exceptional report on the November 2014 Paris Transvision meeting

Enjoyed the presentation.

At 1:52:18 one of the participants made the statement that “There is nothing wrong with the market”.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

I agree with him in so far as he claims that the problem is not inequality.
People are different, we don’t all want the same.
The issue isn’t inequality per se.

We do all need a base level of resources, air, water, food, transportation, communication, education, healthcare, freedom, tools.

The issue is not inequality, it is a lack of basic freedoms and basic justice.

And markets are definitely a major threat.

Markets cannot do anything with universal abundance except value it at zero. If you doubt that – consider what a breath of air is worth in a market – nothing. Arguably the most valuable thing to any human, yet zero market value because of its abundance.

Markets were very useful tools in times of true scarcity.

We are now developing technology that can actually deliver universal abundance of a growing set of goods and services.

Any market contains an infinite set of meta-incentives to destroy any universal abundance and turn it into a marketable scarcity.

So markets are exactly the problem.

Markets, and market based values (money) are precisely the single greatest threat to universal abundance and thence to the liberty and security of all of us.

Markets are incentivised to reduce costs (and wages are the biggest cost to most businesses).

We can relatively easily develop universal abundance, and any market based system is incentivised to destroy any universal abundance that does exist.

So it is logically inescapable conclusion that markets are the greatest threat to delivering universal abundance, and the security that is implicit in that.

How we transition from a market based system to an abundance based system of freedom and security is (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) the big question of our age.

[followed by]

Hi Calum
I acknowledge the very useful role of markets in history.
All I am doing is pointing out that markets are based on exchange value, not human value.
Thus there is no market value in making anything universally abundant.
Thus no market based system can ever (consistent with its internal incentive structure) deliver universal abundance.

I am one of the 1%.
I own my own home, a software business, a farm – all free hold.
I know how markets work.
It became clear to me in 1974 that indefinite life extension was possible. Since then I have been thinking about how to create the sort of security required to let people live a very long time.

If you want to categorise me, call me techno-humanist-geek-universalist who believes in freedom and diversity – which necessitates inequality, and also necessitates an abundance of all necessities.

Yes markets have had a role in our past, and if we hold on to markets we cannot have universal abundance – that is simply a logical fact.

[followed by]

Markets have gotten us here, and now they are introducing more drag than impetus to the process. So much of what we do now is in the interests of the monetary system, rather than actually maximising technical development.

If we, as a society, decided to develop the automated technology to deliver universal abundance, it would not take long to do so – well less than a decade.

Markets will never do it – ever.

They will go some way towards it, and then when the price point in a market gets to zero, production stops. That’s how markets work.

In the past that made sense.
Today – not so much so.

Right now – it is markets that are stopping us getting there.

[followed by]

@Oxana
Human nature is a fascinating enquiry. Robert Axelrod recently received the National Medal of Science for his ground breaking work in games theory. I first encountered that work in 1978, and it has been central to my thinking and interpretation of investigations ever since. The work of John Maynard-Smith added some dimensions to it, and the work of Stephen Wolfram has exposed the infinitely recursive dimensionality of the subject.

One outcome of Axelrod’s work that few are aware of was exposing the crucial role of cooperation in evolution.
It is possible to characterise all major advances in complexity of evolved systems as new levels of cooperation (stabilised by attendant strategies that effectively prevent cheats taking over). Our current economic and political systems have in fact been taken over by cheating strategies, and people are becoming aware of that fact.

Humans as a species are highly evolved for cooperative behaviour at many levels. We are highly evolved to detect and remove cheating strategies. It can be simply a matter of making the context sufficiently clear.

So rather than a top down approach, this is more of a bottom up approach.
When it comes to phenotypic human behaviour, context is king.

@Patrick
I think we are very closely aligned.

Rather than “fearless”, I would say “possessed of the conscious capacity to override any fear”.
Fear can be very useful, as an indicator of danger. It is when fear dominates to the point of paralysis that it become dangerous.
Curiosity certainly.
A willingness to test any and all hypotheses against current context.
A willingness to consider any new evidence or interpretive schema.
These are important.
And after applying these meta methods for a few decades, communication with those still resident in the dominant cultural paradigm can be problematic, analogies and parables can be few and far between.

@Oxana
The decision making is only automated with respect to the production and delivery of a certain set of goods and services – those required for life and liberty.

Beyond that, decision making is democratic on a community by community basis – within the context of respect for the life and liberty of all sapient life.

[followed by]

It seems to me that it is possible to say that humanity was born in transhumanism in a sense.

It is our ability to use tools and language to modify ourselves and our environment that distinguishes us.

In this sense, it is our ability to model the world in which we live, to project those models into possible futures, and select some subset as preferred outcomes.

Then to select actions that direct the probabilities of the present preferentially towards some chosen subset of possible futures.

In this sense, transhumanism is built into the definition of humanity – we are the species that consciously chooses and shapes ourselves and our environment – to the degree that we do. We are always what we are in the present, and we are always a becoming in as much as we model and choose amongst perceived options.

[followed by]

Hi Patrick
I have been considering the notions of emotion and preference at some depth lately – wondering what existence might be beyond their influence.

When I was fighting terminal cancer, I chose to consciously override all my preferences of “taste” and adopt a diet that my neural network did not approve of. It’s getting close to five years since being told “you have terminal cancer. There is nothing known to medical science that can help you. You could be dead in 6 weeks. Go home and get your affairs in order.” Needless to say I didn’t entirely believe that expert, and nor did I entirely ignore him. I did my own research – and my training as a biochemist came in handy in interpreting and assessing what I read.

I have been free of cancer tumours for nearly 4 years.

Choice took me beyond preference in that limited subset – of choice of food.
Lately I have been considering going beyond all preference. Still considering. Not planning on doing it in the immediate future, and I have been exploring some aspects of that possibility space.

Given that context:
What is this thing you call “funxion”?

[followed by]

Hi Henry,

While I agree with you to a degree, there is some commonality.

Certainly there are potentially billions of ways to interfere with the contact growth inhibition mechanism that cause unrestricted growth of particular cell lines.

Certainly there are specific drugs that can interfere with those specific pathologies at the intra-cellular metabolism level.

And there is the approach that I took, which is that our immune systems have evolved to deal with this sort of thing, and for the most part do so quite effectively.

It seems that vitamin C is a simple molecule that is used in many metabolic pathways that are critical to high level immune system function.

A 70Kg goat produces close to 100g per day of L ascorbic acid, and it is used very quickly, with a half life of about 20 minutes.

It seems that when our immune systems are fighting something (anything) we need a lot more than the RDA of 60 or 120mg per day. It seems that in extreme cases we can use amounts up to 100g per day, and that is not normally required. Though it seems that doses of around 15g per day may be useful for extended periods when fighting something like cancer or persistent virus.

On a related note, it seems that almost half of our genome may be derived from viruses – so there are likely to be far more things to learn about how our genetic systems function – even at the primary level (without looking at secondary, tertiary, …. effects) than we yet have any glimmering of an understanding of. The numeric complexity of what it is to be human is hard to get a feel for.

So it is a yes and no.

Yes all cancers are different.

And boosting immune function can increase survival probability in all cases.

And to be absolutely clear – I followed the medical model until the medical system rejected me – I had 5 sets of operations – the longest 6.5 hours which opened me up from ear to shoulder, and removed much of the left side of my salivary glands and all of the SCM complex of muscles, and cut quite a few nerves along the way. My left side doesn’t work so well as a result, and I have adapted, my golf handicap is falling again – got down to 16 before I broke my collarbone, and then went out, and is now at 18 and should be back to 16 by the end of Jan. Would like to get it lower and probabilities are not on my side.

So I am not saying ignore the medical model, and I am saying be prepared to go beyond medical authodoxy.

@Calum

I am sorry to hear of your niece’s case.

I have not read her medical record, and nor do I know the details of her diet. My own medical records are online for all to see in the about section of my blog (tedhowardnz.wordpress.com) and what I did is in the cancer-treatment section. Freely available for all to read and make their own informed decision on.

And nothing in biology is certain – it seems to me that probabilities play a very important role. We are so complex that we can never consciously understand all of the complexity involved. We may get some sort of general feel for the sorts of classes of activities present, and the details will be forever beyond our comprehension.

To put that in context, if we could somehow take a snapshot of all the molecules in our body, and if we had started looking at that single snapshot when the universe began, and had been looking at 100 molecules per second ever since, we would be about 1% of the way through that single snapshot.

[followed by]

Hi Oxana,

I am not saying that diet is the only influence.

We are entities of mind (spirit). What we believe, the model of the world we have, and the values we hold (about ourselves and about others) are just as important as what we feed ourselves with.

And it is worth looking closely at what actually fills the shelves of our supermarkets.
Most of the food is processed, long life (more predictable profit margins). Most has added sugars and fats. So we are getting less non-calorific nutrients per calorie than we used to. The more economically advanced the culture, the more noticeable the trend.

No simple answers, and lots of overlapping probability functions.

[followed by]

Yeah – Stress has major immune system effects – none of them positive for immune function.

[Shift]-[Enter] to get a linefeed character (there are some advantages to having started programming computers in the early 70s 😉 ).

I’m not afraid of death – I had to accept the possibility – and I plan on keeping it a possibility for as long as I can – a few billion years would be useful. Would like to come visit earth occasionally and be able to notice the tectonic changes in my absence 😉

[followed by]

“Adult” seems far more common here in NZ than in the USA – perhaps a full order of magnitude so. And perhaps I am biased, and I have not seriously scientifically measured it, just a personal assessment.

Anonymity is almost always illusion. It is almost always possible to localise to a very small subset of humanity very quickly and easily with anything on the internet – by meta level analysis of patterns over time – the only way to avoid that is to introduce so much lag as to make things a real pain in the A to use.

So it is advisable to be aware of this.

[followed by]

The only way to get some reasonable level of security about anonymity is to have some very secure servers that randomise both requests and responses both to address and time, and have them heavily used. The way it works is to randomise the relationship of requests coming in to requests going out, as much as possible – with respect to time and frequency. Even when using redirection and randomisation servers it is usually possible to analyse traffic patterns over time to give reasonable probability of linking an incoming IP address to the site visited. The only way to break that temporal connection is to introduce lag – by introducing random delays to break the pattern. The more such servers one uses to try and hide identity, the greater the lag involved. And the very fact that one is using such servers can bring you to the attention of those with sufficient resources to monitor switches and routers.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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