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Madness

Neuroscience, Humanity & Some Occasional Bakker

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I'm sorry, I've been trying to follow along but missed what Madness's initial point was. Now I'm just seeing Madness and Kal sniping over tangentially related topics in essay length posts. I recall there was something about whether or not brain tampering in Neuropath is a good thing and that Madness seems to be espousing some sort of naturalistic transhumanism while Kal is championing artificial(?) transhumanism?

It's a little difficult to follow but . . .

I think Madness is with Socrates in thinking that this writing sh*+ down on paper is a bad innovation that's just gonna [email protected]# with our heads. It just ain't natural.

Meanwhile, Kal is all "shark cartilage tits and prosthetic foreheads for everyone!"

Or something like that.

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Yeah, it's getting pretty long for me as well. But that's how you game ambiguity.

I will say often what happens is both sides assume the other follows the same paradigm as them and it's just that the other guy is following that paradigm wrong. When often it's that both sides are following another paradigm entirely.

Generally I try to figure the other guys paradigm and then simply find where it contradicts itself. And if your wondering 'What if their paradigm is that it's okay to contradict their own paradigm and any sort of correction isn't necessary', well then from the paradigm I work from, that person has sucumbed to madness. No, not the poster!

Anyway, I'll say the idea that if your a luddite if you don't immeditately adopt unproven technology, that seems a bit surprising. I'm trying to find an entry on Bakkers blog about cultural groups starting to define themselves not by religion, but by how early an adopter they are.

Questions for Kal,

What is so precious about our minds and our souls?

Do you go to art galleries and pull out a black texta, streaking marks across the paintings as you will? Or take a pick to the statues, rending your own arc?

If you do, or wish you could but for how the gang in blue would react, okay, starting to get your paradigm.

If not, why the protectiveness? These paintings have no souls? Why so precious? Why so serious? *okay, couldn't resist adding the last question for pop references sake...*

I seek understanding. I'd love to know how the mind works

How can you seek to understand something while overwriting it?

"But it's always changing itself"

Yes, it changes itself in reference to the method it changes itself. But if you want to understand it but your reaching in and modifying it in way that if left to it's own pattern, it's reference would not have permitted, then that's like a scientist contaminating his own study - externally firing a rats synapses to make it go left even though, by its own self reference, it would have scurried right. How is that understanding? Really it's a kind of narcissism - everything turns out to be a reflection of that which beholds. All of the things it would have become if it scurried right are lost, never to be understood for tampering.

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Do you go to art galeries and pull out a black texta, streaking marks across the paintings as you will? Or take a pick to the statues, rending your own arc?

If you do, or wish you could but for how the gang in blue would react, okay, starting to get your paradigm.

If not, why the protectiveness? These paintings have no souls? Why so precious? Why so serious? *okay, couldn't resist adding the last question for pop references sake...*

How can you seek to understand something while overwriting it?

I don't think the art analogy fits, because the art and sculptures have no feelings. If the painting was thinking of killing itself everyday, fighting that feeling every day, and I knew I could stop those thoughts with my texta -> I would ask it for permission.

If the painting had its own texta, and modified itself to be smarter, I'd be more wary of that. The problem is that sovereignty over one's own body is taking precedence over societal structures. Of course, our educational institutions are producers for corporations, who might be all too happy to have people who are willing to risk death to become finance master minds.

But even here Kalbear has a point - perhaps this is just the next stage in humanity. It scares me in some measure, but I can see the potential for less suffering in the world as a result of heightened minds with lessened agression. It might be the end of humanity a la 28 days later, but I am wary of stopping people from making the choice of neurological adjustment for themselves.

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What is so precious about our minds and our souls?

I simply wrote this to honour the thoughts of others. I’ve not yet decided on the nature of the soul and, for my money, would otherwise remove it from my above statements. But I wouldn’t say there is no soul and so, to be balanced, the word finds itself in my statement.

What’s so precious about our minds?

For me, for the moment, it ties us back to our species, it is something we, so far, share. We experience more or less the same reality, despite our interpretive differences.

Why is this so specifically precious to you?

Humans alter themselves routinely. Humans have been affecting their genome for thousands of years, and never more than now. The amount of drugs, chemicals, and the changes in the environment alone have irrevocably altered the way humans have grown and the way genes have expressed themselves - and that assumes that the evolution of viral and bacterial vectors of genomic expression haven't been blown to hell too.

Heck, neuroscience implies there is no soul and our mind is a carefully crafted gestalt illusion. Would you rather lie to yourself so that you still believe that you have a soul instead of knowing the truth of how the mind actually functions?

Again, soul might have been a pour choice of word but I was trying not to alienate the beliefs of others.

These things aren’t comparable to say, the memory article I posted earlier, which is exactly the realm of Neuroscience. Switches, Kalbear, as soon as we understand how to more effectively map cortical representation. Not subtle altering and dramatic damages.

We’re talking neuroscientific change different. Dramatic altering and subtle damages. Immediate.

I seek understanding. I'd love to know how the mind works. My suspicion is that it's pretty well a giant clusterfuck of random bits thrown on each other that happen to work. That things like the argumentative reasoning philosophy dictate that evolution says that we're meant to be self-delusional because it was a useful tool in defeating each other in the debate wars of prehistory.

You also say that we should do these things yet lament the fact that we are in the 'worst possible civilization'. So, pray tell - outside of tool using and the like how do we get out of this? Do you reasonably believe that 7 billion people are going to desire to go through biofeedback, meditation and juggling in order to solve their problems? Do you honestly believe that all 7 billion people on the planet are even capable of such?

Possibly? In the Western Empire we certainly have an education system to pump out an average population, don’t we?

If you really seek understanding, Kalbear, then why simply toss my perspective out the window? Why does evolution have to be a crapshoot? What if we’re merely repeating memetic patterns – which because of the nature of our minds are physical cortical representations – that then trap us in these cognitive biases, which are memetic creations rather then genetic creations?

I certainly wasn't the only one that picked up on that. You're the one that states repeatedly things like 'your body, which is not fully understood' and the whole divide between 'natural' and 'created'. Perhaps you should revisit what you mean then.

No need. Just didn’t realize I was so articulate.

Ah, the conspiracy theorist. Between this and the prozac in the water, you're quite the interesting person.

To derail this a bit - let's say Rome decayed because of lead aqueduct lining. They also lasted 1000 years because of aqueducts, built a way that worked as far as they could understand for hundreds of years without major repair. Should they have not made aqueducts until they invented the chemical analysis needed to determine that lead was bad for their brain?

Because that's the sort of thing you're proposing with neuroscience.

Except we’re not discussing aqueducts. We’re using it as an analogy for discussing your apparent condescension, my apparent pride, our biological and mental imperatives, which necessitated those aqueducts.

Your mind, here and now, man.

Actually I'm surprised that you'd state this given that you say you meditate and whatnot.

Biofeedback - personally controlled biofeedback - has been demonstrated to allow people to go far beyond what their body or brain's limitations would otherwise go. Being able to do things like control your heartrate, rip your muscles to shreds to lift heavy objects, endure massive amounts of pain and lacerations and consciously stopping bleeding. And yes, fucking your shit up so that you're in a coma. All of these things have been documented as occurring via meditation.

Right.

You know, I actually came to many of these ideas because I initially wanted to utilize neuroscientific findings to accomplish changes in the brain without relying on anything that needed power.

To me, what stands out about these examples is that they are human feats rather than technological ones. Even despite the biofeedback machines.

Read what I said again. This is part and parcel of being humans. If you overcome this you are changing humanity just as much as your vaunted genomic project does. Humans are wired to not see other people's views because this is specifically advantageous; this is part of your gloried evolution.

Lol, my gloried evolution?

Again, perhaps, cognitive biases aren’t simply genetic inheritances but memetic inheritances.

This is why I mock the evolution argument - because evolution is so much responsible for all the stupid, animalistic crap that humans do and humans are. All this cruft that makes no sense in a reasonable world is there. All this appealing to a religion or fighting over a color on a jersey - it's all built in. That is who we, all of us, are.And the sooner we can make rational decisions to get rid of some of this stupidity the sooner the world will be better off.

I’m sorry until you can prove to me, Kalbear, that you can’t possibly choose to be a better person because of these things then I will believe that humans can choose to embody the better half of our natures.

You've not read much about the effects of mushrooms, then. Schizophrenia, homicidal urges, suicides...these are okay but harming the brain chemically is not? I just don't get you. I don't see why it's bad to alter a brain but it's fine to cause a person to go on a murderous (but temporary) rampage and then kill themselves.

I’m sure that any of those studies you were exposed to also highlight that it’s just as possible that mushrooms bring out underlying chemical issues, which may simply have later become apparent because of other environmental or stress related factors.

Ah, you're pussying out. K.

Perhaps instead of explaining my points of view I should just go that way too. "Sorry, Madness, but it's clear to me that you're incapable of understanding the beauty of neuroscience and what it can create. I do understand it better than you and have thought about the wondrous majesty of the world it will bring. I'm not going to share that with you; I'm writing a short story about it, and you can read it some other time. But it's definitely clear that you haven't thought about it nearly as much as I have, because if you had you'd agree with me. "

This goes well with the earlier conceit - that 'you haven't read the same books I have and I'm not going to bother explaining it to you'.

Lol, well, I’m not sure exactly how much you are tuning out in your search for specific words and statements to drill me over but I spent two posts, one almost entirely of quotations, to explain the book reference fionwe had referred when he called me out on the same idea.

Rather than wrack my brain for specific, imaginative example, I decided to write a, probably bad and tacky, biased, short story to highlight some of my points. I’d promised myself due to the circumstances of my summer that I was going to use it to facilitate creativity more than academic philosophizing.

The two paths can converge in my experience this way. As I said, you are welcome to demand more examples if the story doesn’t throw you at least one curveball.

You aren't just those things - but you're largely those things. Neuroscience is increasingly sure that humans have pretty close to the same template, and then everything gets molded based on the environment and the actions you take. So sure, you're not just those things - but it's not like my brain is particularly different than yours or anyone else's. They're very similar in the template and largely differ in how the environment shaped it.

If you're fascinated by the ways the brain can adapt, great! It's a pretty fascinating organ. But it doesn't mean that it's particularly special compared to others.

You hit upon some good points here.

Let’s say we’re all born with the same basic template. This seems to be determined genetically. Then each instance of sensory experience and abstract conceptual understanding, perhaps engraves is the right word, itself as cortical representation.

They say that without sensory stimuli there is no brain map. Merzenich and crew used this idea and decided to stimulate the fingers of a monkey all at once, eliminating the cortical representation for individual fingers and laid one for this amalgamated four in one finger so that the monkey no longer experienced differentiated sensation because it no longer had a neurological representation for individual fingers. V.S. Ramachandran – dude is like the Sherlock Holmes of Neuroscience - used these same ideas to trick the brain’s of amputees visually to relieve various phantom limb pains and ailments.

One of the primary brain maps we seem to activate, as a society, in our lifetimes is the right hand. This is the limb that we have by and large the most cortical representation for.

Now I’m not sure what aspects, or modules, of the brain this helps shape but we can assume that we, again, on average, lack this complex cortical representation for our other limbs. Also, that the cortical representation for our dominate limb ability has to be, in part, responsible for our cognitive function.

There are entire psychological and sociological schools of thought devoted to the idea that language provides us with our entire interpretive experience, which accounts for most of our ability to experience the world. So a single language is another primary cortical representation that we activate in our, average, human lifetimes. I’m not sure what cognitive functions these brains modules might be wired to either because we simply have not archived enough different brain maps.

Same idea with eyesight over the other four, proven, kinds of sensory perception.

Merzenich and crew did an experiment with monkeys where they got the monkeys to pay attention to the vibrations through their fingers touching a speaker. The monkeys were trained to indicate with a button when they noticed a change in frequency. At first they could only detect a change when frequencies from 20-hertz by 6 to 8 hertz. Eventually, the monkeys learned to discriminate differences as small as 1 or 2 hertz. Obviously, this translated into increased brain volume, more complex cortical representation.

"The cortical representations of the trained hands were substantially more complex in topographical detail than the representations of unstimulated hands," concluded the team.

This wasn't even a particularly effective practice. Imagine if we could imbue ourselves with more sensory awareness with simple practices like this instead of neurosurgery.

And yet, you should. If you care about diversity of brains, it's hugely important about how they got that way. And things like cultural orientations are a huge way of changing diversity. Heck, you believe that yourself; why would learning a language change the way you think?

We haven’t even begun to explore philosophic neuroculture or neurosociety.

Yeah, that's not a common definition. Though it still is odd that you emphasize religious. Do you think that with neuroscience we can kill God or something?

Or are you worried that with neuroscience we can kill our connection with God?

Wow. Those are good ideas, Kalbear. I once thought about a short story about the first one in a way. The latter statement is genius.

I once read a book called Rational Mysticism. In it there was mention of a man who after an accident had claimed to have an unstoppable connection to the divine, that the back of his skull opened on the infinite. He was perfectly content and “enlightened” until the end of his life, apparently. I wish I had my library with me.

Hell though. A Godtweaker is already a component of my short story. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll post it in a writing subforum (if there’s one of those around here?) or here if none exists.

Get it right; I'd be Dunyain.

Of COURSE I think we can understand evolution. It's not a hard thing to understand! You think we can't get it possibly right, that we'll fuck something up about mammalian life so profoundly that it'll be irreversible and ultimately apocalyptic. I think I finally get that now; you fear the Children of Men scenario more than you fear a million chiropractors.

And sure, it's a conceit. Just as your conceit is that somehow pushing yourself via meditation is somehow different or better, or that humans have souls. At least the concept of evolution is scientifically backed and documented; where is your soul now?

Lol, I’m perfectly happy to celebrate humanity, whatever we are, and the universe, whatever it is. I don’t need to do anything more then explore.

So was the internet, most modern medicine, air power, sea power, spaceflight, satellites, GPS, many recreational drugs, cybernetic limbs and tang.

History doesn't support you on this one.

So Mengele it is then? Neil, again, if you’d prefer?

Are these reasons, or excuses, to continue our unadulterated, relentless progress? Why not save all the lives?

Or maybe the 28 days later concept. Gotcha.

What is wrong with being vastly different? Didn't you just say you wanted to celebrate the ways that the brain can be different, diverse? Einstein's brain was vastly different too; would you lament if he had been a product of neuroscience instead of water poisoning?

Nothing is wrong with being different.

Are we mature enough, as a species, to handle these decisions when their only limitations might be economic ones? When one by one, everyone might get some kind of tweak? What would you change? Would you regret? Maybe you’d create some kind of aporic contradiction?

Actually it'd be not removing the moral compass but removing the cortisol that we get when we follow social groups in agreement. This is pretty well understood already in brains, IIRC. We don't have a moral compass any more than we have a soul.

I don't think morality stops being morality when it's not similar to what we have. Human cultures for millenia have had extraordinarily different moral values that are downright unrecognizable to us now. Heck, people 100 years ago had these, and I'm sure that in 100 years people will look at us as immoral heathen idiots. The notion that most people aren't godfearing is a new one, for crying out loud. Do you think that someone from the revolutionary war era of the US would recognize a current person as anything other than abomination? How about someone from China? There are very few moral universal truths, and you can find examples in one culture or another where any of them are violated.

I’m not even sure that some of the historical examples you invoke would have the conceptual capacity to be horrified by our cultural divides. So many foreigners were simply greeted with the sword and gun in the past.

It stops being morality when no one longer knows what morality was, for one.

But you dislike everything they've done! You've declared this the worst possible civilization we could create. Yet you think they're capable of more?

Why?

Put it another way: what makes you think that human's potential can be reached while being human?

I don’t think I declared any such thing. We could create much, much worse. I did say that our civilization has set a historical precedent for limiting human nature good or bad – our extensive codes of social and cultural rules.

The plethora of amazing historical and present-day human examples of our better human nature and capability make me think our potential can be reached while remaining human.

I'm sorry, I've been trying to follow along but missed what Madness's initial point was. Now I'm just seeing Madness and Kal sniping over tangentially related topics in essay length posts. I recall there was something about whether or not brain tampering in Neuropath is a good thing and that Madness seems to be espousing some sort of naturalistic transhumanism while Kal is championing artificial(?) transhumanism?

Though Kalbear’s clearly an intelligent person, I feel like he may have missed any initial points I may have had. I’m not sure I even had one as this thread of conversation has its basis in the White-Luck Warrior IV thread with two or three pages of posts like this, and for the most part, Kalbear’s simply to attempted to derail the parts of my posts he doesn’t agree with.

Honestly, though, a wealth of quality and enlightening perspective from Kalbear, Fionwe, Sciborg, and others. Keep reading, jump in, hopefully, the discussion keeps going.

Anyway, since I've this argument with a hippies a bunch of times, I just wanted interject that LSD does not put holes in your brain and is no more dangerous than psylocybin and in fact is probably safer than ayahuasca or peyote. I don't get the point of naturalism when it comes to psychedelic drugs anyway, when psylocin, the psychoactive chemical that psylocybin is metabolized into can be produced in labs and has the exact same effects (minus the initial nausea) as eating a handful of shrooms.

Apologies for propagating a seemingly bad cultural myth.

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Thanks, again, Bakker for the words. Obviously, I don't know but I get the feeling Bakker's reading this ongoing thread.

What is the Semantic Apocalypse?

Here’s the comic book version (the only version, given the kinds of complexities these issues generalize over):

In social terms, you could suggest that the Semantic Apocalypse has already happened. Consumer society is a society where liberal democratic states have retreated from the ‘meaning game,’ leaving the intractable issue to its constituents. Given the interpretative ambiguity that permeates the Question of Meaning, there is no discursive or evidential way of commanding any kind of consensus: this is why states past and present had to resort to coercion to promote meaning solidarity. Absent coercion, people pretty much climb on whatever dogmatic bandwagon that appeals to them, typically the ones that most resonate with their childhood socialization, or as we like to call it, their ‘heart.’

The result of this heterogeniety is a society lacking any universal meaning-based imperatives: all the ‘shoulds’ of a meaningful life are either individual or subcultural. As a result, the only universal imperatives that remain are those arising out of our shared biology: our fears and hungers. Thus, consumer society, the efficient organization of humans around the facts of their shared animality.

In biological terms, my fear is that the Semantic Apocalypse is about to happen. Despite the florid diversity of answers to the Question of Meaning, they tend to display a remarkable degree of structural convergence. This is what you would expect, given that we are neurologically wired for meaning, to look at the world in terms of intent, purpose, and propriety. Research in this last, the biology of morality, has found striking convergences in moral thought across what otherwise seem vast cultural chasms.

Even though we cannot agree on the answer, we all agree on the importance of the question, and the shapes that answers should take – even apparently radical departures from traditional thought, such as Buddhism. No matter how diverse the answers seem to be, they all remain anchored in the facts of our shared neurophysiology.

So what happens when we inevitably leave that shared neurophysiology behind?

The breakdown of traditional solidarity under the reflective scrutiny of the Enlightenment was recouped by the existence of what might be called a bigger box: the imperatives we share by virtue of our common neurophysiology. We could do without shared pictures of meaning (as traditionally defined) because we could manage quite nicely – flourish even – relying on our common instincts and desires.

The million dollar question is really one of what happens once that shared neurophysiology begins to fragment, and sharing imperatives becomes a matter of coincidence. It has to be madness, one that will creep upon us by technological degrees.

Why does it have to be madness? Because we define madness according what our brains normally do. Once we begin personalizing our brains, ‘normally do’ will become less and less meaningful. ‘Insanity’ will simply be what one tribe calls another, and from our antiquated perspective, it will all look like insanity.

It’s hard to imagine, I admit, but you have to look at all the biologically fixed aspects of your conscious experience like distinct paints on a palette. Once the human brain falls into our manipulative purview, anything becomes possible. Certain colours, like suffering and fear, will likely be wiped away. Other colours, like carnal pleasure or epiphany, will be smeared across everything. And this is just the easy stuff: willing might be mixed with hearing, so that everytime a dog barks, you have the senstation of willing all creation into existence. Love might be mutated, pressed in experiential directions we cannot fathom, until it becomes something indistinguishable from cruelty. Reason could be married to vision, so that everything you see resounds with Truth. The combinatorial possibilities are as infinite as are the possibilities for creating some genuinely new…

And where does the slow and static ’human’ fit into all this? Nowhere I can see.

And why should any human want to embrace this, when they are the ladder that will be kicked away? How could reasons be offered, when rationality finds itself on the chopping block with everything else. How do you argue for madness?

Perhaps our only recourse will be some kind of return to State coercion, this time with a toybox filled with new tools for omnipresent surveillance and utter oppression. A world where a given neurophysiology is the State Religion, and super-intelligent tweakers are hunted like animals in the streets.

Maybe that should be my next standalone: a novel called Semantica… I could set it up as a standard freedom-fighter tale, then let the sideways norms slowly trickle in, until the reader begins rooting for totalitarian oppression.

Appreciated, as always. Awesome to behold.

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Thanks, again, Bakker for the words. Obviously, I don't know but I get the feeling Bakker's reading this ongoing thread.

Appreciated, as always. Awesome to behold.

That does articulate the dangers pretty well. But it feels like an extreme scenario - people who create an island of perception/meaning may end up suffering, but unless there is a mass simultaneous change into random semantic universes society won't suffer such massive collapse.

I'm still strongly in favor of therapeutic use for the tech described in Neuropath, but yes this does give pause and deserve consideration.

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Heh. I actually took the opposite view. The part that rung most true to me was this:

And where does the slow and static ’human’ fit into all this? Nowhere I can see.

Another word for madness would be diversity. Here's a thought for you: without any shared neurological preconceptions of what humans are, why would you think anyone else was 'mad'? The only people that would think anyone was mad are the pre-tweaked humans who cling to their realm of normalcy like an infant clings to a blanket.

Whereas the mad? They can do what they actually want to do, confined only by rules that are likely fairly light on argument (something like 'anything you want to do to yourself is fine, anything that you want to do to someone else must be agreed upon stringently', and they aren't confined by the semantic values of a prehistoric tribal monkeyrace.

Consensus in this case isn't reached because of similar values; it's reached via a far more rational system, which is similar goals.

Mostly, the notion that the 'slow, static human' is something to be revered is the one that I rail against Madness and Bakker with. What is so good about a human that a posthuman would lose? What is so good about a human that is worth saving? Why should we keep neanderthals around?

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It describes both the Inchoroi and the Dunyain. Both have used neuroscience and genetics to become something more than human, both are essentially monsters to our pre-tweaked system with entirely alien moralities and methods of thinking. The inchies obviously smeared everything with pleasure (save, apparently, creation of new things) and the Dunyain removed all inklings of passion and added massive amounts of reason and intelligence.

But they're both creations of the new.

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I don't think the art analogy fits, because the art and sculptures have no feelings. If the painting was thinking of killing itself everyday, fighting that feeling every day, and I knew I could stop those thoughts with my texta -> I would ask it for permission.

Hi, Sci! The question was more based on questioning Kal's own preservation of static art in real life (assuming he does) and why he does that yet sees nothing in the preservation of static humans.

If the painting had its own texta, and modified itself to be smarter, I'd be more wary of that.

Because when you whip out the texta, it must be the right thing ;) Sorry, couldn't resist - mostly off topic of me.

But even here Kalbear has a point - perhaps this is just the next stage in humanity.

I think it would be worth defining not what IS humanity, but instead what wouldn't be.

What would it take, in your own evaluation, for something to have two legs, two arms, face, etc, yet not actually be human and instead some other species? How dramatic a difference would it have to be from a human for it to not be the next stage in humanity, but instead something not human?

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Kalbear,

confined only by rules that are likely fairly light on argument (something like 'anything you want to do to yourself is fine, anything that you want to do to someone else must be agreed upon stringently',

Why on earth would a tweaked individual somehow retain this personal principle?

Never mind if their idea of 'self' is tweaked, so they think of others as themselves, or such.

I think there is a certain part of the human mind that cannot believe it's base principles could ever not be passed on. I know mine does, anyway. It even believes that you'll agree with this, because you simply must be sharing my own base values and so would come to the same conclusion as me. Lol.

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Hi, Sci! The question was more based on questioning Kal's own preservation of static art in real life (assuming he does) and why he does that yet sees nothing in the preservation of static humans.

Because when you whip out the texta, it must be the right thing ;) Sorry, couldn't resist - mostly off topic of me.

I think it would be worth defining not what IS humanity, but instead what wouldn't be.

What would it take, in your own evaluation, for something to have two legs, two arms, face, etc, yet not actually be human and instead some other species? How dramatic a difference would it have to be from a human for it to not be the next stage in humanity, but instead something not human?

Heh, sorry, don't get the "whip out the texta" reference.

I think you have a good point in defining what is and what is not human - but sadly the answer, for me, is I'm just not sure. How would answer your own question?

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The texta was about

I don't think the art analogy fits, because the art and sculptures have no feelings. If the painting was thinking of killing itself everyday, fighting that feeling every day, and I knew I could stop those thoughts with my texta -> I would ask it for permission.

If the painting had its own texta, and modified itself to be smarter, I'd be more wary of that.

Basically pitching the idea, why do you only become wary when the picture starts to do that? :) Why aren't you wary when the texta is in your hand?

I think you have a good point in defining what is and what is not human - but sadly the answer, for me, is I'm just not sure. How would answer your own question?

How would I answer for you? Not gunna.

I suppose what's important to me is that another person has some metric by which they will admit they failed or were wrong. That's not my definition of human. It's instead the idea that atleast even if their own defintion of human is radically different from mine, they atleast have a failpoint (This is somewhat like Bakkers mention of a fitness test, which was a pleasing coincidence to see). Anyone else who has no point at which something is not human is basically a complicated font of bubbling madness. The madness squeaks and squarks that it knows what's right - but since it's defined nothing as wrong, that makes everything right, doesn't it? And can that be right? Maybe such a state of mind is some magical trancendence I am left out of (thus defining my own possible fail state), but from here observing such a person without a fail condition is like observing an extended epileptic fit. Speaking in tongues.

I guess I'm pretty dislocated, in that way, from defining for someone else what is human.

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The texta was about

Basically pitching the idea, why do you only become wary when the picture starts to do that? :) Why aren't you wary when the texta is in your hand?

How would I answer for you? Not gunna.

I suppose what's important to me is that another person has some metric by which they will admit they failed or were wrong. That's not my definition of human. It's instead the idea that atleast even if their own defintion of human is radically different from mine, they atleast have a failpoint (This is somewhat like Bakkers mention of a fitness test, which was a pleasing coincidence to see). Anyone else who has no point at which something is not human is basically a complicated font of bubbling madness. The madness squeaks and squarks that it knows what's right - but since it's defined nothing as wrong, that makes everything right, doesn't it? And can that be right? Maybe such a state of mind is some magical trancendence I am left out of (thus defining my own possible fail state), but from here observing such a person without a fail condition is like observing an extended epileptic fit. Speaking in tongues.

I guess I'm pretty dislocated, in that way, from defining for someone else what is human.

Oh I meant answer for yourself. I think the failpoint answer is interesting, and there I wonder if this means radically different failpoints is a good way to divide humans into herds now. I mean date rapists walk among us, as do adulterers and tax-cheaters and people whose only way to deal with insecurity is to belittle others. I'd rather take the guy who sees Truth everywhere he sees Red out.

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Certain colours, like suffering and fear, will likely be wiped away. Other colours, like carnal pleasure or epiphany, will be smeared across everything. And this is just the easy stuff: willing might be mixed with hearing, so that everytime a dog barks, you have the senstation of willing all creation into existence. Love might be mutated, pressed in experiential directions we cannot fathom, until it becomes something indistinguishable from cruelty. Reason could be married to vision, so that everything you see resounds with Truth. The combinatorial possibilities are as infinite as are the possibilities for creating some genuinely new…

See, these posibilities really just sound like other people to me. Just different 'illusionary' frames of reference.

There are already six billion different paintings mixed from the same colours.

Conciousness is a delicate balance of insane impulses that serve to sustain a biochemical explosion in the face of entropy. Remove fear and lose self preservation. Remove suffering and what meaning does joy have? Love mutated into cruelty... well, I think we have all felt and experienced this to some extent. Reason married to vision so that all resounds with Truth? I lived down the road from this guy - started his own cult and everything - but was incabable of learning.

Dead ends for the human experience abound, but the gestalt yet lurches forward, we are dancers at the end of time.

I really have a problem believing that neuroscience can engender the 'genuinely new' that Bakker envisions. And should it do so, then we shall be capable of birthing a new race.

The fear of losing our collective 'humanity' is understandable - but as likely as Skynet or 1984 imo.

Ignoring that kind of luddite worst case scenario, I believe that what we would recognize as humanity would survive. Protected by the fact that we can't agree, a large portion of people would refuse or avoid the social trend or government programme that might wreak broad change or damage to our current society.

And really, the 'shared values' that Bakker seems to treasure are as much an illusion as any other cognitive bias.

In the end, stagnation and conservatism are the enemies that may one day herald extinction, change has ever been the instrument of evolution.

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Out of curiosity, would anyone reading this thread undergo the procedure? This is something I would only consider once I was well into retirement or if I was faced with crippling depression that had no other work arounds.

In other news, I found this interview of Pinchbeck somewhat relevant: http://www.dailygrail.com/2004/4/Speaking-Shamanic-Daniel-Pinchbeck

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Out of curiosity, would anyone reading this thread undergo the procedure?

Good question.

Unlikely, but I'd reserve judgement until I saw how the early uptakers faired - same as with any other technology.

Perhaps as a quick fix for irritating compulsive behaviours (e.g. smoking) or other neural tweaks e.g. improve failing eyesight, treat parkinsons or motor neuron disease).

But I'm generally fairly happy with myself. My desires for self improvement are mostly related to learning, experience and good health.

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Oh I meant answer for yourself. I think the failpoint answer is interesting, and there I wonder if this means radically different failpoints is a good way to divide humans into herds now. I mean date rapists walk among us, as do adulterers and tax-cheaters and people whose only way to deal with insecurity is to belittle others. I'd rather take the guy who sees Truth everywhere he sees Red out.

Well, I didn't raise the idea of humanity. As I said, I try and figure out the other guys paradigm. And by crom I know that sounds pompous of me to say somehow, I know, I know.

Maybe in the old fashioned method of tweaking which is book learnin', I'm tweaked already? I feel an absence in having some definition for humanity, but I don't have one. Or atleast anything I'd knowingly implement. I see alot of people stride forward with causes (even Bakker himself, from recent blog entries). Maybe they know better than me? I just check that their cause has a failpoint.

It depends - what are the practical elements of the notion of humanity? Like towards the practicality of food and shelter? Here I'll admit engaging with others raised notions of 'human' simply out of practical concerns for various types of new monsters being generated. Is the idea of 'humanity' practical, or does it have the notion of being above the earthly plane? If practical, perhaps it's qualities would match up with my own practical concerns somehow and I could note that, instead of dancing around the subject with nothing concrete to say?

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In the end' date=' stagnation and conservatism are the enemies that may one day herald extinction, change has ever been the instrument of evolution. [/quote']

Well, I'd say conservatism is change, in that it resists what whether and other things would change it.

And stagnation is the result of change that is an evolutionary dead end. Stagnation isn't the enemy, it's simply the messenger. There's no point shooting that messenger.

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first off, I'd totally change myself or be at least interested in the procedure depending on what was being offered.

Why on earth would a tweaked individual somehow retain this personal principle?
It's not a personal principle; it's a principle for coordinating multiple people with very disparate views on the world and creating a society that allows for them to interact without being completely fucked up. In a world where thinking abilities are very different and thinking paradigms are very different, rational views based on consent is a very basic place to stop. You don't have to think about whether something is right or wrong, or if someone didn't sign a contract. It's very simple and objective.

Never mind if their idea of 'self' is tweaked, so they think of others as themselves, or such.
Easily defined away. Not particularly a big deal.

I think there is a certain part of the human mind that cannot believe it's base principles could ever not be passed on.

Since we're not dealing with human minds, I don't see how this comes into play. The point here is that you have to assume in a world where anyone can have very different thinking systems and semantic backgrounds from you that there is no basic common ground other than self-interest. If anything, this is a huge flaw in today's world between the US and other western cultures and extremist Islam (which does not have self-interest as a goal) or Eastern cultures (which doesn't care about specific individuals as much).

I guess that's the problem I have with Bakker's notions that neuroscience would change us to not have this shared semantics. The thing is that we already don't have this. We barely have it with Western cultures nowadays; there were huge differences in thought between the US and the Soviets that led us close to catastrophe, and those are pretty close to each other. But things like China, or Indonesia? Countries like Afghanistan? Vietnam? These are alien cultures with a semantic background that doesn't match US views in any reasonable way, and certainly alienates more than unites.

Yet somehow we manage to figure out how to deal with them, mostly. And not because of shared interests or views, but because of respect of power and negotiation for shared value. I guess that would be something that could be removed; if there was a culture of beings that had no desire for anything and was powerful enough to not be threatened by force, it would be harder to deal with them.

But likely not impossible.

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