Monday, May 12, 2008

Transhumanism: Road to utopia or Narcissism 3.0?

Since my decision to move to Extropia, I've been giving the idea of transhumanism more thought. My decision to move there was not based on the any particular philosophy, but rather my fondness and respect for Extropians I've met, recommendations from non-Extropians and the consistently interesting events hosted on the sim. Nevertheless, since I'm about to be situated in the international and inter-world hub for positive post-biological futurism, I thought I would share just a few initial thoughts:
  • It seems to me that transhumanism without some sort of psychologically corrective practice will just extend the human ego into new narcissistic realms. That's why I was happy to learn of the upcoming Future of Religion/Religions of the Future Conference hosted by Extropia. I am very interested in exploring the potential for non-religious psychological practice.
  • I wonder how the role playing aspects of Extropia impact its potential to chart a realistic near-future. From my very limited experience, it seems the RP aspects of Extropia are more a matter of style than lifestyle as compared to other SL cultures such as the Goreans.
  • My guess is that the messy work of active VW collaboration within a virtual-world-based community will produce the most valuable results. The trick I think is balancing the need for like-minded collaboration with an openness to thoughtful questioning, ongoing course-corrections and intellectual honesty. I like the example of the Dalai Lama, who told Carl Sagan,"If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation."
That's all I have for now. Comments would be greatly appreciated!

49 comments:

  1. Eee, my first comment is, unfortunately, a picky one. Extropia in general has no ideology beyond making and living a happy future. Transhumanism is a big part of that at the moment, and that single, broad ideal of ours has paved the way for some thought-provoking and interesting ties with transhumanism, but we're by no means committed to that path alone.

    My personal belief, for instance, is that the more popular aspects of transhumanism may well have the opposite effect. Surely there can't be much hopefor society in practices which focus on the self rather than the world as a whole. Uploading minds, life extension and cybernetic enhancement sound fun and may well have positive effects, but fit utopian ideals only if you're in the right crowd.

    Though such matters don't apply to our world of Extropia, it's surely medical advancement, the eradication of debt (or perhaps finances altogether if 'Star Trek' is to be believed) and better inter-personal relations that will make First Life's future a truly bright one. To me, Extropia's a reflection of those thoughts, but then, that's my personal opinion and everyone comes to Extropia for different reasons.

    So yes, back on topic, I agree. While it's broad enough to hold some very positive ideals, I too view transhumanism as narcissistic. The extreme examples even go so far as to suck hope from me.

    As for style versus lifestyle, I think you're right, for now. The trouble I face as a designer here is creating the best impact I can to make people see and feel futurism. We hope the lifestyle and culture will then blossom from this, and of course our buildings are likely to then evolve. The former is easy and quick to convey, once the graft is put in. The latter always takes time, though.

    Bang on with your last comment, though. It's fo this reason that we hold book clubs, seminars and (soon) film screenings, exploring a wide variety of positive futures in fiction and science so that we might concoct a working, liveable model. A sprinkling of shiny architecture to excite the odd smile, time to simmer in people's exploration of their digital identities, and a dollop of the "world of tomorrow" mentality might just get us somewhere nice.

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  2. Hi Vidal: I love picky when it comes to shedding light on any lack of clarity within my thinking or communication! Please keep it coming.

    Oops! I didn't mean to imply that transhumanism is Extropia's
    primary philosophy. I made a slight correction in the opening paragraph to better represent my intended idea.

    I didn't intend to express the personal belief that transhumanism is inherently narcissistic. The human ego extends itself in just about any unexamined place including religion, charity, etc.

    In retrospect, "lifestyle" was too fuzzy of a word for the idea I wanted to express. What I thought Extropia has avoided so far (in my admittedly limited experience) is a rigid set of cultural taboos and rules.

    Thanks for your sharing your insight and I look forward to continuing this conversation inworld.

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  3. Ahh, you have my apologies too, then, for flying off the handle a bit.

    Definitely agree with you on the idea of not having rigid culture involved. Well, that beyond "BE HAPPY!", anyway. Again, that just fits with openness to new ideas.

    We can't go trampling on some of the more generalised ideas in steampunk culture, for example, without ridding ourselves of the chance to culture real innovators. The future would grow stale very quickly if life got too convenient and people didn't have obstacles to chew on, as so often happens when developing in cogs.

    I look forward to talking face-to-face more, too. Thanks for a fascinating poser. :)

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  4. You should check out the Singularity Institute at http://singinst.org. This group is centered around transhumanism and finding a safe and beneficial passage to get to smarter-than-human intelligence. I would highly recommend you read their philosophy if you're interested in post-biological form.

    As for role playing in a virtual world, I don't see the application outside of gaming (World of Warcraft already does this). I think virtual worlds should not be viewed as a gaming platform in any way. It would be the same as saying that because people created flash based games that the web is a gaming platform. Games and role playing is something that will happen in virtual worlds, but that is not the main reason to build to use virtual worlds. I see more of a corporate and academic benefit to virtual worlds. OpenSim to me is by far the most facinating and exciting VW development to hit the streets yet.

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  5. Oh, absolutely. Second Life and the few virtual worlds that compare with it are not games. They are merely a possible platform for them, but lest we forget, just as the web is more than an academic and corporate tool, so virtual worlds can simply be fun places to explore and to 'be'.

    I do take umbridge with the suggestion that role-play has no place here. Role-play simply isn't gaming, though it can fit into game spaces. World of Warcraft and worlds like it are role-playing spaces for some, yes, but there's very little scope to create your own world. That is what keeps me inside Second Life, and not MMORPGs. I like to live a combination of my own vision and that of others, and the changes they undergo. Not that of Blizzard and their yearly patch update, thank you, fun as that may be.

    But that is another debate entirely, an I apologise for the tangent, Botgirl. I'll leave alone, I promise. ^^;;;

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  6. Hey, Botgirl!

    I have very little to add to what Vidal has said. I'd just add that we do have an ideology, and it's summed up by "don't be a dick." As long as builds are in theme and people are respectful to each other, they can think and do whatever they want.

    Your post and the comments all seem to interpret "role play" a little differently, and I have yet another take on it.

    To me, role play means either acting in a particular feigned way, or playing a character with a created backstory.

    So, speaking in Victorian English might be the first kind, and playing a character on SL's Battlestar Pacifica would be another.

    Extropia doesn't do either: my blog's been documenting my travails in trying to develop a look that's both professional and "Extropian," in the sense of being stylishly futuristic. Hasn't happened yet.

    As to the second, it doesn't really happen. We wouldn't mind, and we've vaguely talked over roleplay sims in the future, but - *shrug*

    And, MMORPG's aren't usually roleplay: I've seen a quote that only 5% of World of Warcraft players RP. Most game players play the game, with no more roleplaying than we would act like a knight or bishop while playing chess.

    For a humane and progressive take on transhumanism, in a very different spirit than that of the mean little uploaders who are an infinitesimal but vocal minority, try James Hughes' Citizen Cyborg, or come hear James at the Religions of the Future/Future of Religion conference in Extropia!

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  7. llawliet: Thanks for the link. I wonder if there are similar organizations for those of us who are pre-biological? :)

    I agree that VW platforms are not inherently gaming systems, although I suspect that goal-oriented play and shared role playing currently accounts for the primary usage based upon number of participants in all current VWs.

    I suspect that avatar-based shared persistent environments will eventually be used by most netizens in the pervasive manner the 2D web is used today. It will be interesting to see how the progression of hardware contributes to this movement via 3D-capable mobile devices, haptic-feedback controllers, photo-realistic video, etc.

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  8. Everybody already said everything I can think of, but I wanted to comment anyway. :)

    Welcome everso warmly to Extropia (and I say that as a newcomer myself), and I hope we run into each other (have we ever met inworld? i don't think so).

    Extropia is definitely not RP in the sense of the RP sims that I've spent time on, Port Kar (grim) and City of Lost Angel's (apostrophe not my idea, and a fun place but requiring more investment to really enjoy fully I think). People in Extropia are just being themselves.

    As a polymorph who's usually a human of one gender or another, I've been made to feel nothing but utterly welcome there, and I love the "a future not dominated by burning trash barrels" philosophy. I'm also a huge SF fan an' all, so it's like living in a mix of many of my favorite places.

    I love transhuman SF, people thinking seriously about what something singularity-like might actually means. It could be horrible, it could be narcissistic, it could be a comparative paradise. All depends on how carefully we think it through, and how lucky we get!

    Myself, the end of the Scarcity Economy is one of the first things I'm looking forward to. That can come long before brain-uploading as far as I'm concerned! (Although I'd hate to die early and miss so much of the fun...)

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  9. I'm sorry to see you get sucked into this cult, botgirl -- you seem like a naturally inquisitive person, while of course suffering from some of the knee-jerk memes that many people of your setting suffer from (the warmed-over Zen I talked about on my blog).

    Yes, transhumanism is not only narcissism 3.0 (or 0.0); it's just silly half the time. Short-sighted. Lacking in scientific rigour that it purports to celebrate, about itself, first and foremost.

    The picky little sectarian fight that your new friend Vidal here is indulging in is a PERFECT example of this sectarian backwater of transhumanism at its worst, Extropianism.

    They really shill you in pretending they are all about fascinating little intellectual salons and open-minded discussions when they are horridly orthodox.

    Of course Extropia has an ideology, and a very rigid one -- and "don't be a dick" is something that dicks use as a club against everybody else they don't like -- and this "don't have an ideology" is none the less rigid for being a hidden agenda of its few founders shilling the rest. Their decision to pre-ban me before I even heard of them is illustrative of their panicky ideologism.

    There is no singularity. Fortunately, organic life constantly conspires against singularism lol.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080514/ap_on_re_us/texas_ants

    I now understand why these seemingly separate but friended people like Harper Beresford and Dale Innis are always stalking me and harassing me and being ultra nasty -- I had never even heard of them until they started harassing me in the Metanomics group. They're all in Extropia. Ugh.

    There *is* something worse than narcicissim. It's this sort of sordid little collectivism. Hope you'll break free of it before too long!

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  10. prokofy: Thanks for commenting and welcome! I get the impression that you value debate with no punches pulled, so I'll try to respond in kind.

    I suggest that your sharp analytical mind would be more useful to you and the world if it spent more time with the plank in your own eye, rather than the specks of others. The same applies to me...I try to spend more time cutting through my own invalid and destructive thoughts than in doing that service for others.

    I've found that what ticks me off most about others is almost always related to some unresolved issue within me. That's not psychobabble, but personal experience including a lot of painful work to free myself from destructive habitual thoughts.

    So it did not surprise me to notice that your passionate critiques of others seem to be more applicable to you than your targets.

    I believe that you feel stalked and harassed. That must feel like crap. I want you to know that others feel stalked and harassed by you. And that must feel like crap.

    I can't read the minds of Extropians. But from my experience so far, they seem to be good-hearted, smart, funny, intellectually honest, open to constructive criticism and willing to modify their ideas.

    I can't read your mind, so I'll ask you if those statements apply to you, especially in conversations such as these.

    I'm guessing you're not omniscient, right? So it is possible that you might be wrong once in a while? On how many occasions in the past year have you said something iike, "I see your point. I was mistaken."

    If that doesn't happen very often there are a few possibilities. One, is that you are so amazingly brilliant that everyone else is comparatively imbecilic. I think it is more likely that you are more focused on winning debates that seeking the truth.

    Since you mentioned my warmed-over Zen, I'll leave you with the story of the Monk, the disciple and the tea cup. You know that one, right?

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  11. Botgirl, you instantly took the bate on making it personal, which is where prokofy will take every discussion - I'd rather see you respond to the point she makes about the discussion not nearly being as open as it could be/should be - exactly because of the huge similarities to religion - something the Extropians would do so well to be wary of instead of embracing this beacon in the hope of their own church, immune to criticism because it's no longer a matter of facts and extrapolations of thereof (such as the widely misused Moore's Law - which is currently being reconsidered by it's inventor) but becomes a matter of faith and emotional arguments on a 'right to be'.

    (heh - the Captcha is 'botqlr')

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  12. Digado:

    I think - I hope - that when you say

    "immune to criticism because it's no longer a matter of facts and extrapolations of thereof (such as the widely misused Moore's Law - which is currently being reconsidered by it's inventor) but becomes a matter of faith and emotional arguments on a 'right to be'"

    you are pinning this tail on some sort of transhumanist straw man and not on the Board or the Citizens of the community of Extropia.

    Otherwise, I have to ask - where in the writings or chatlogs of any Board member or Citizen have you seen *any* of these things?

    I expect wildly wrong facts, a willful disregard for truth, and ad hominem attacks from others, but I've never seen you resort to them.

    I'd really like either citations or an apology, as I think you've misrepresented me and my associates to the greatest degree possible.

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  13. digado: Thanks for bringing up the issue of "personal vs. factual". This particular blog explores both.

    I totally agree that it is not productive to use speculations about personal motivations, name calling, etc. to avoid dealing with the factual issues.

    But there weren't any concrete facts presented in the post I was addressing (only accusations with no specific examples.) So on the factual side, I just mentioned that I'd never experienced any fundamentalism on the part of Extropians.

    I thought it was fair to ask the questions I posed. They were sincerely meant as a gift. But of course, it is the recipient's decision whether to accept or reject.

    I love personal discussion. I'm getting to be okay with personal attacks directed my way. I endeavor (often unsuccessfully) to take the view expressed in "Peacock In The Poison Grove". I can use everything to cut through my own mental obscuration.

    We can experience hell in heaven, or find peace in hell. Viktor Frankl in the concentration camp or suicidal celebrities. It's our mind that is the primary factor, not the circumstance.

    I'll get down from my little soapbox now. :)

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  14. FWIW, Digado has a point.

    The transcript of Extropia's first town hall and the discussion and Board position regarding pre-emptive banning of certain avatars is proof enough.

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  15. iyan: thanks. I'm not familiar with that issue. Want to give us your take on it?

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  16. @Botgirl - Prok made a point of the discussion not being as open as Extropia will have you believe, and I think it goes well with your post about Narcissism and the combination of the 'religion of the future', thats what I meant by going after the facts - we've seen proks personal attacks and though entertaining you'll ruin the topic by playing this game :)
    ______________________________

    @Sophrosyne Stenvaag - Don't be silly, you are making my case here. I don't owe you an apology for expressing my concerns what I think would be a wrong direction of Extropia as a whole, both the ideology and its members as I posted it.

    I remember the small 'debate' we had when you responded to my findings on the 'immersionist movement', which was a very emotional response from you avoiding my question why someone would commit themselves in such a way to what they perceive to be another world if not for the implied improvement to their current situation in the real world - escapism. (telling me I shouldn't assume you where some bald guy in their mid 40's in their moms basement - which was never implied by anything I said but apparently how you read it so I let it go there, you shut down any discussion with replies like that)

    It's when I see people resort to such emotional answers, pretty much like the demand for an apology right here, I start to see a cause for alertness, because emotions are a great way to block rational behavior/argumentation in a very similar way religion does.

    I've also been to several Extropia meetings, and though the frequency and predictability of echoes inside the 'chamber' isn't much worse as say - blogs about metaverses - I find they often are more radical, and protective. Fact is no one can say for certain who is wrong or right about certain twists and turns about to take place in this or the next century, so there is often an emotional debate based on feelings, sometimes positive and informative in philosophical ways, and at the worst of times becoming elitist, borderline snobbery. (I've seen this happen more than once and I'm sure I'll see it again)

    A third example is the way the Extropia Community is managed - you have to know someone (2 people I believe) to 'get in' (yes I am well aware the group and events are open, but the community itself is only partially with such rules in place) - this of course, maintains not only a tight control over a community to prevent 'griefing' - but with drastic preventive strikes like the banning of Prokofy before meeting her.

    In this way you are creating this echo chamber where the rare anti-voices get silenced quite quickly by an overwhelming majority of voices of the informed and passionate audience - I think the David Brent (sp?) debate was one of those examples where he simply could not make his point with people like DaSilva and others joining in to become this wall of the voiced opinion of Extropia VS the experience of 1 man, forgetting this was a 'home game' and not a reflection of reality where a majority would hardly be as clear as this 'fixed environment'.

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  17. - Oops, "...meeting her.

    In this..."

    should be

    "...but with drastic preventive strikes like the banning of Prokofy before meeting her you are creating this echo chamber where the rare anti-voices get silenced..."

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  18. Digado -

    You ascribed particular views to my associates, views with highly negative connotations.

    I asked you to support your statements with factual evidence or retract them.

    Labeling my response "emotional" as a means of dismissing it does not change the facts of the situation.

    Here's the difference between Botgirl some of the other commenters here: Botgirl considered the possibility that Extropia was an extremist community, as you do.

    She then went and *collected facts* and reached an informed conclusion.

    You, Digado, lobbed a pejorative and unsubstantiated accusation instead.

    When we call you out on your misrepresentations, we're then accused of "emotionalism," or "silencing debate" or "enforcing conformity."

    It's a cheap tactic, and unworthy of your undisputed intellect. That's why I responded so sharply: I expected better from you.

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  19. I give you facts you asked for, even my own observations which confirm them, and support them logically - you are free to tell me i am wrong but i have seen no such argument...

    1. You maintain a tight control over the community by banning people and having special rules for being part of the community.

    2. The ideological reasoning feeds the same ideological reasoning within extropia - the vast majority agrees with this perception otherwise they wouldn't be a part of it. This makes it looks like, even when someone voices a different opinion there is always this 'false' majority supporting the Extropian point of view

    3. You've responded in an emotional manner, without responding to the actual issues - and for some reason feeling personally attacked on every bit of criticism thrown at you or Extropia, it's all here in writing.

    4. The emotional attachment to both Extropia, it's members and the ideology gives a very strong impression of the . I am sure we will see some more outings on the 'ignorance of people' (Yes, i read Twitter :) ), those who don't agree with you. This only feed Prokofys point on the 'closed' discussion.

    It would serve you well to respond to that rather than to say what is below my intelligence - such insults really don't have any effect on me because I already predicted this very response in the post above, and apparently you insist on proving my points today :)

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  20. "I don't owe you an apology for expressing my concerns what I think would be a wrong direction of Extropia as a whole, both the ideology and its members as I posted it."

    Ah, good distortion there. She never said you owed her an apology for that. She said you should either apologize for distorting the truth, or provide proof of the allegations you made, that particular individuals had particular views you ascribed to them. If you wish to debate straw-men, that's fine, but when you start ascribing particular views to people, it's fair to ask that you cite some evidence they actually hold those views.

    It's funny that you should cite our rental policy as an example of how we create an echo chamber. Are you even aware of who are residents are, as opposed to people who just show up at Salon's regularly? I'd be highly surprised if more than 20% of our residents even think the Singularity is a possibility. More than half of them probably couldn't tell you who Ray Kurzweil is, and many, like me, would say he's ridiculously over-optimistic. (Personally, I consider the Singularity to be an interesting bit of science fiction, and find it highly amusing when people slap viewpoints on "the board" so diametrically opposed to my own point of view. Some might say that's my fault for not expressing my view, but I fail to see how my expressing a view gives open license for others to assert I believe things that I don't. My silence on an issue doesn't give others the right to make shit up about me.)

    Criticism is always encouraged in Extropia. Your attempted counter-example both demonstrates how it is, and bizarrely, that some people like you want others to refrain from it. You blame DaSilva and others for expressing their opinions of someone else's opinions when they were being critical. If your definition of open debate is that when someone criticizes a view, no one should be allowed to debate them, you've come to the wrong place. We encourage criticism, and don't think any point of view should be immune to critique, and that *includes* the views of those who are themselves offering critiques. Even criticism can and should be criticized.

    The fact of the matter is, no one has ever been excluded from the Extropia community because of their views. No attempt has ever been made to even *determine* someone's views priory to joining the community. The only screening that has ever occurred is to determine whether someone intends to build something in-theme. We're a sci-fi sim, and not a Wastelands clone -- we don't want medieval castles and we don't want post-apocalype warehouses. We don't give a shit what you believe about anything and we never have. Anyone who asserts otherwise is flat-out wrong.

    No one has ever been banned for engaging in criticism. The only people who have been banned have been banned for engaging in abuse and personal attacks. It has never had anything to do with any ideology beyond a belief that ideas should be freely debated, and *people* shouldn't be personally attacked, exposed to abuse, name-calling, and obscene vulgarities simple because someone disagrees with them. We want this do be a place where people *are* free to express their views, and that can't happen when people who engage in that kind of abuse and even personal threats against others they disagree with are allowed to engage in such activity. So we don't allow that kind of thing -- you *can't have* an open debate in that kind of an environment. I'd be afraid to speak in a meeting with that kind of personally abusive bully was allowed. So, I'm sorry IYan, but I don't see how banning such a person illustrates any of the points asserted here. If you definition of freedom is a place where people like me are intimidated into silence, I want no part of it. Open debate should be encouraged, and it isn't in an environment where that kind of abuse, personal attacks, and continuing harassment are allowed. So it isn't allowed here. 'nuff said.

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  21. @Galatea

    1. I didn't distort anything - and this thing about an apology is plain silly. I express an opinion, and state observations and dealings I've had with extropia (which you turn into accusations - hows that for distortion), and anyone demanding an apology for that is just going well out of their way of not answering to any of the actual issues.

    2. I believe you give a fair testimony except for several misinterpretations. I don't blame anyone for voicing their opinion, i am worried about the mob mentality caused by a lot of likeminded people versus the one with different views. This could be an intellectual debate, and still not be an open discussion as the one voicing the counter opinion is not going to get any points from the consistent majority VS his point of view :) This causes somewhat of a false confirmation of subjective point of views that silences counter opinions even though 'welcomed' and expressed. This is a social phenomena, not restricted to the debate chambers of extropia of course - but eventually it leads to radicalization, something, as posted the first time around, extropia would do well to be wary of.

    3. I'm actually quite well aware of current and former residents of Extropia, and I encourage you to browse the profiles :)

    "Some might say that's my fault for not expressing my view, but I fail to see how my expressing a view gives open license for others to assert I believe things that I don't. My silence on an issue doesn't give others the right to make shit up about me."

    Anyone has the right to make up anything they want about you, luckily you also have the right to show how they are wrong should you feel so inclined. Apparently you don't feel so inclined inside the Extropian setting which is the real shame :)

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  22. DISCLAIMER: This post although related to the last few comments by sophrosyne and digado, is mostly
    thinking out loud about the related issues.

    --------------

    Okay then. I'll begin with the meta-issue of the challenges of threaded discussions.

    Emotionally charged issues are especially hard to deal with well in public communication threads. They are impacted not just by the people directly communicating, but by the psychological pressure of the ghosts of surrounding viewers, not just now but for the foreseeable future. Your great-great grandchildren, if you have them, will be able to find this online if civilization doesn't collapse by then.

    So, people tend to go two ways in these threads, emotional or cold. A wall gets thrown up and we smirk from behind it, shout obscenities,throw stones, go into a fetal position, or whatever defense mechanism is active.

    I guess my point is that the messiness of conversation is understandable. I think it is good that we have a place to muddle through, regardless of our heated discussions.

    In reference to the substance of your discussion, I don't know enough about all of the circumstances to weigh in on most of the specifics you mentioned.

    Generally speaking though, I think it is important to distinguish between dishonest, malicious or coercive behavior on the one hand, and actions that aren't the way we think they SHOULD be on the other.

    For instance, it seems to me that there's nothing wrong with like-minded people trying to build something within the parameters of a shared vision, since there's no scarcity of resources in Second Life except time. So if I don't like what group A is up to and they aren't open to my point of view, there's really no harm done. I can go elsewhere. It WOULD suck if that happened after I bought land. ;)

    So was it wrong to ban someone with a long public history of disruptive behavior? I think that is a matter of opinion rather than of truth. One could make arguments either way depending upon your school of ethics.

    On the other hand, might it have been a better idea not to ban until there was some kind of actual behavior that hurt the project? I think that is likely.

    So in my opinion it would great for sophrosyne to gain a little more relaxed space around criticism of Extropia. And it would totally rock if digado could find a way to cut her a little slack and be more patient in communication, since I suspect that in his heart he knows her basic intentions are good.

    And I suggest to Botgirl that she shuts up for now.

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  23. @digado, just to pick a significant nit, Prokofy is a "him", not a "her".

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  24. Botgirl, you've suffered a lot of indoctrination somewhere, and imbibed a lot of the spiritual Smorgasbord out there with these kinds of memes:

    "I suggest that your sharp analytical mind would be more useful to you and the world if it spent more time with the plank in your own eye, rather than the specks of others."

    I find this to be a load of crap. You're not a Christian, and not intersted in following Christ or reading the Bible. You're in fact in a transhumanist Extropian cult now. So the idea that you get to invoke a staple of the Christian ideology is pretty lame.

    I don't think people are particularly good at seeing even "planks" in their own eye, and any introspective work of this nature isn't interesting in a blog -- and is pretentious and overblown. I believe in my instinctual ability to criticize and pretty often get things right. It's an avocation, and I follow it. I'm sorry I'm not available to be in your reprogramming cult and do some silly isolated Christian exercise that you dreamed up merely to fold Christianity back in on itself to prove you are superior. Not interesting.

    My conscience tells me to speak out and I do. Often people tell me that I'm saying what others thinking, that I'm saying what they are afraid to say. There are just as many who tell me I'm abusive and full of shit. I honestly don't care what they think. I wish to live the life of the mind and express what my conscience dictates. Sorry if that rains on your parade.

    As for "The same applies to me...I try to spend more time cutting through my own invalid and destructive thoughts than in doing that service for others" -- what a load of horsehit. Little Miss Zen, you do no such thing. You can't even begin to be in touch with your own vanity. And what's truly said, is that someone broken themselves has somehow gripped you and told you that you have "invalid and destructive thoughts". On some tape. In some lecture. In some book. In some relationship. In some cult. And you believed them. How horrible.

    Every human inventory has its share of so-called invalid and destructive thoughts, I suppose, but I don't worry about them. I'm quite sure no organized religion or cult could define them for me properly without being manipulative. I have a working understanding of this and I try to walk around such things, and try to pray without ceasing. These aren't easy things to do and I am not good at it but I don't care deeply because you can only try.

    Extropia is a personality cult and an ideological cult. It preys on people's insecurities and tells them tripe like the "invalidity" of their thought. It's sad that people get stuck in crap like that. It's surely religious if they have to pre-ban people, or anaethematize people.

    galatae, you're nuts. You and your posse there don't like criticism, so you skittishly declare it to be "abuse and personal attacks". That's exactly what I mean by overbroad TOS and insecure and defensive rules like "don't make personal attacks". I'm all for making personal attacks. Personal attacks are good. Especially when dealing with cults. Perhaps you can shake them out of their groove.

    I find it hilarious how the gang here portrays their intellectual life as "exploring" and "debating" when they run the gamet from A to...C lol.

    I also detect that Comrade Tripsa suffers from some revisionism, and surely some RL transhumanist will be along *any minute* to correct this comrade who has sadly strayed from the path, gotten mixed up in virtual worlds. We'll make short work of this political error!

    Hah! A happy future! And meanwhile, the present contains hurricanes and cyclones and earthquakes, and a bright young school-girl's legs must be sawn off so she can be pulled from the rubble...

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  25. prokofy: I'm curious as to why you didn't answer my questions.

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  26. @Botgirl "Emotionally charged issues are especially hard to deal with well in public communication threads."

    Stop that! There is no 'emotional issue' - it's being MADE an emotional issue by the same people over and over of what could be a rational debate (challenge me to 'find' the evidence of this and i'll _bury you in it - no need to look beyond the journals or twitter), and you seem to buy into it.

    This IS the point (You can't criticise emotions because per definition they are an individual truth) and the very thing I'm addressing in the above posts :)

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  27. @digado - agreed, and it's sapping my will to debate the issues that are so emotionalized. Now I mostly stay away from the topics like imm/aug or transhumanism - though extremely interesting, it's just not worth the bother.

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  28. Um, @Digado, despite your quotation marks, Botgirl didn't say "emotional issue", she said "emotionally charged issue". Given the bold and italics and imperatives in your own post, it would be hard to deny that the issue is emotionally charged. :)

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  29. Person A: Blahblah
    Person B: No!! How can you say that!! No!!!
    Person A: But blahblah-
    Person B: No! Never! Apologize!
    Person A: Please stop being so emotional!
    Person C: Aha! You're emotional, too, hence your argument is invalid.

    Come on, we're not in high school anymore.

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  30. @dale - The issue is not emotionally charged, the discussion GOT emotionally charged by a silly 'demand' and sidestepping into emotional argumentation rather then respect an observation and take it for what it is. Criticism, feedback, what ever you want to call it. Please understand the very clear distinction here.

    Just because I change certain words trough typography doesn't mean I charge my arguments emotionally - it still says what it says. I amplify the key aspects of the issue to try and refocus the discussion instead of this side drama you attempt to introduce for the second time now. Speaking of which - You know the beautiful thing about this mutual illusion you refer to (trust me, I got your point, I've heard it before and it's an old old discussion) is: it has to be exactly that - mutual.

    If you choose to see her as male, wow, that is your good right, but please respect mine that for the purpose of the context of this particular discussion outside the realm of Second Life (or inside for that matter) for all means and purposes they are written down by a female, a she and her :)

    P.S - iYan said it better but i wanted to post it anyhow ;)

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  31. It is interesting how I keep hearing about Extropian cult/ideology/religion/whatever not only here but all over the blogosphere but I miss to spot one no matter how I try. One would expect that I should. I live there for more than six months, actually since the very first terraforming of the sim, I can point to blog posts where Soph and I were exchanging comments about how we need a nice futuristic but not dystopian neighbourhod.

    Still, I never heard of any ideology that is practiced there, let alone that I was supposed to follow. No, not even something made up by those that accuses Extropia of being an ideologistic. So would any of you be so kind to inform me about what, in your oppinion, am I supposed to believe in or think to deserve my humble home on the clouds above the hill?

    Before I hear thanshumanism... there is an Transhumanist Institute building on the southern side of the Core sim but hardly that is a holy spot where all the new residents are to be joined the sect. It's the place for talk and trust me, so many of Extropians are far far away from transhumanist thought. Myself first. That place is a parcel just like fishing grounds are or Cyber Bunker's mall. But no one is telling that Extropians have an ideology of fishing or wearing Cyber Bunker's stuff. Well, ok, the later is maybe true :)

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  32. iYan... please. At what point has anyone in your so-called "person A" camp ever asked for less emotion in this silly litle argument, instead of slamming it down like an accusation?

    We've totally lost the focus here. It's laughable that in an article about narcissism, we've gone on rather a fruitless tangent here with some clearly individual issues and opinions, but if the individuals here feel they have some issues to resolve, let's do it internally for goodness' sake.

    The facts:
    Yes, Extropia is home to the SL-Transhumanists group.
    No, Extropia is not a transhumanist organisation. We embrace some of its ideals, sure, but by that logic, we should have our own space program, given the NASA events we've hosted.
    "Extropianism", as Prokofy puts it, is possibly an intentionaly confusing term. Does it refer to an idiom we've invented, or just the act of living in Extropia? Neither of those should affect you personally, unless you actually feel we're hoovering up citizens before you can invite them to live on your estates instead.

    Now then, we all look like idiots.

    If you don't like Extropia, don't live there. If you dislike transhumanism... until we see some sort of bizarre world takeover with transhumanist regimes actually beginning to impact your way of life, leave its practitioners to enjoy themselves. They're ideas - we don't all have to subscribe to them.

    But by no means, please, let a prejudice against either Extropia or the transhumanist theme of discussion degenerate into slanging matches like this again. What possible good could come from that?

    My apologies for trying a soapbox stand of my own on your blog, Botgirl.

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  33. digado and iyan:

    I'm sorry I wasn't clear in my use of the term "emotionally charged". I now realize that what I meant by the term wasn't self-evident. So let me try to clarify and see if you still disagree, okay?

    In simple terms I meant a topic that is a touchy subject for one or more of the participants. I agree 100% with you digado, that the emotion is not inherent in the topic, but is created via a reaction to the topic by a person.

    This ideas is in line with iyan's description of an emotionally draining experience.

    So you can't argue with what is, right?. There are issues people get worked up over whether we like it or not. For whatever reasons, that likely go back to some childhood issue, they experience very strong disturbing emotions that detract from their ability to clearly understand and evaluate the other person's information. They lash out because their contracted consciousness is focused almost completely on the thoughts kicked up by their emotional reaction.

    This is usually amplified by the initially non-reactive person reacting to the reaction. Fun stuff!

    I guess I see conversations as a mutual journey towards better clarity. It's like climbing a mountain with someone who starts freaking out because they are suddenly afraid of the height. You can certainly chastise them for feeling that way, but that is unlikely to help them calm down. Since you're tied together on the journey, you can either cut the rope or figure out how to help them. If you cut the rope, your journey together is over. That may be the best choice, because there really might be no way for you to help them calm down and they may not have the current resources to do it for themselves.

    So if we choose to engage in conversation with someone who has a hard time with it, I'm just suggesting that we either attempt to communicate in a way that helps them get back to a place they can think well, or after a few attempts that don't go anywhere, we cut the rope while wishing them well.

    Since most of this stuff is not life-or-death issues for anyone in the next 48 hours, that's probably a reasonable course of action.

    It is quite possible that when we sleep on it, we'll be able to better handle the topic and then re-engage.

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  34. @Vidal - re rationality:

    I, for one, have asked for it in the comments of this Digado's blog post on IMM/AUG.

    I have also asked for it on my own blog post re imm/aug.

    I never got it, of course, so I got out of these debates.

    I will not get into debate re Extropia - I wish you all the best. But I will not stand idly by in cases of deliberate misrepresentation and hysteria.

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  35. @Botgirl - an enviable perspective (and great comments, keeping a heard of such head-strong people as us in check).

    Keep up the good work & have fun in Extropia!

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  36. I think Vidal said it best in more than one way: 'If you don't like Extropia, don't live there. If you dislike transhumanism... until we see some sort of bizarre world takeover with transhumanist regimes actually beginning to impact your way of life, leave its practitioners to enjoy themselves. They're ideas - we don't all have to subscribe to them.' - finally putting the idea the open debate is welcomed to rest, and pointing out the group Dandellion seems to be looking for.

    Furthermore it's worth noting the 3 figures who seem to feel offended by the criticism where also the one initiating the debate, as neither prokofy nor me addressed them, which to me is the result of this deep emotional attachment to subjective point of views, how else could my criticism of Transhumanism and its closest relative in SL, extropia, have resulted in a demand for an apology, and the 'phoenix formation' of the usual suspects.

    I'm sorry to say the this type of predictability is not really a learning experience at all - though I wish it where for both parties involved :) I'll leave it at that as suggested, Botgirl seems to posses unusual wisdom for artificial intelligence :)

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  37. Galatea Gynoid, Extropia's founder, recently posted a crystal-clear account of its history and purpose.

    Sorry for deleted post. Link was in error.

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  38. @botgirl: +1 :)

    I hope you're gainfully employed as a mediator or diplomat of some kind; the world needs people like you!

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  39. dandellion: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

    dale: Thanks. Maybe Linden Lab can hire me as mediator at large...ah how about Botgirl Linden ;) I could get an office with Torley maybe???

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  40. Do a Google search for prokofy banned and you will get 36,000+ results.

    Prokofy has been banned from the official Second Life blog, from the Second Life forums, from Terra Nova, from SL Insider, from SLCC... it goes on and on, and that was just the first page of results.

    Given this abominable track record, don't we think people spending their own money and time to create a community with a shared vision have a right to be concerned about those who might want to disrupt it? Wouldn't you be embarrassed if you invited a well-known author to an in-world gathering only to have him subjected to disruptive arguments, ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and lies?

    The fact that the Extropians discussed this action openly and don't try and hide it, instead of one person secretly making a decision and refusing to discuss it, should say something about how they are governed. I doubt you will find that kind of openness in one of Prokofy's sims; I doubt the ban lists there are a matter of public debate.

    Digado paints a portrait of the Extropians as some sort of techno-fetishist cult kneeling before a chrome rocket ship, reciting Moore's Law as a prayer. When they angrily reject this mischaracterization, he accuses them of emotionalism in their responses.

    Is the angry reaction the greater crime, the deeper sin? If I portrayed the social media Web 2.0 community as a bunch of navel-gazing know-nothings spewing out buzzwords and bullpap in a hope of making millions in a startup buyout, should I be surprised if they react angrily? Should I then point at their anger and say, "Ha! Ha! You can't debate rationally!" Is that fair?

    So let me counter Digado's points rationally, in a way that is fair, even if he is not. I have been to half a dozen Extropian events, many Extropians are friends of mine, and I have gotten to know them and their community in a way he obviously has not. They are not a cult of proselytes rigidly cramming their views down everyone's throat with spam after spam, post after post, on forum after forum, to the point where people are so sick of their crap that they get banned.

    I am on the Extropian list because I enjoy their events and guests, but I am neither an Extropian or a Transhumanist. I just like science fiction and futurism. On the other hand, I've actually read and heard Kurzweil's book and lectures, and I understand the concepts, and I am not afraid of them.

    I just don't think Transhumanism is going to happen anytime soon, and when things like AI and brain uploading happens, it will not be the great panacea for all human ills. I remember James Howard Kunstler describing the reaction he received from an audience of Google engineers after he gave his standard lecture on energy depletion and resource wars: "But dude, we've got technology!" And yes, I'm going somewhere with this...

    Technology and energy are not interchangeable. We are thousands of years away from a Dyson Sphere. I have teased several of the Extropians, calling them "Techno-Optimists." I say some of their members in the discussions are far too glib in their belief that everything is simply an engineering problem. I am a student of history and history and I argue that technology will be used for war and oppression.

    But far from being ostracized or banned for having these views, they actually invited me to join the community! I didn't because I wanted my own shadow-filled castle of pessimism and history, but that's not the point -- the point is I was invited despite having a dystopian view of the future diametrically opposed to most Transhumanist thought. Does that sound like an ideological boot camp?

    So if one pre-emptive banning of a known troll is his best evidence of an "intolerant religious cult", if he cannot distinguish between an in-world community founded on the principles of Transhumanism versus an actual destructive cult based on misappropriated science fiction ideas like say -- oh I don't know, Scientology? -- then it sounds to me like we are taking the definitions of what is rational argument and what it means to be fair to people and twisting them around into a misshapen lump of naught.

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  41. Kanomi: Wow! Thanks for contributing a thoughtful and entertaining third-party addition to this crazy-long comment thread. You have a way with words that is unparalleled.

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  42. "Digado's points rationally, in a way that is fair, even if he is not"

    Awww, there you blew it already in the first line. Good try otherwise.

    Let me point out to you my original reply was on the post itself, using the closest SL relative, Extropia as an example of an 'organization' that should be wary of taking an irrational stance such as religion by embracing this beacon.

    Then some faces of Extropia took it upon themselves in echoing back to me they are nothing like I said they where and demanded an apology. I merely asked to see if the discussion was as open as it could be/should be as brought up by prokofy.

    Next thing I'm being asked to 'support' these 'accusations' - now based on what I wrote, there this makes no sense, so I tell 'them' this, however, I have seen, read, and participated in earlier discussions on this and it always ended in the same emotional type of response that instantly locks down a discussion Kanomi, which happens to be exactly one of those things that causes the discussion to be less open. Now this is an accusation of course, but one based on my experience - in a way, playing the same 'emotional card' we've seen before - because this my experience is hardly something you could tell me is right or wrong, it just is for me.

    Now when all is said and done, read back what i said, and you'll see how these discussions always end up in a 'right to be' for certain members of extropia, and guess what? It has, and your reply just underlines this fact :)

    So do I have anything against Extropia? Absolutely not. Do I think they should be careful with embracing their believes as an irrational religion, in reply to the original post - yes I do. Again, as brought up by prokofy, its easy to look ahead and lose sight of the here and now. Again, if i don't clarify this in the way I am doing now, some members will be offended by this and say 'how dare you tell us we are unaware of the here and now!' - but if you just look at this objectively, and take the point criticism, and instead of feeling attacked, respond in a way that would clarify your point of view (instead of attacking mine, big difference here) we would have a debate on topic.

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  43. digado: Thanks for another great and remarkably restrained post.

    I was remiss in not also calling Kanomi on the "Digado's points rationally, in a way that is fair, even if he is not" line.

    In retrospect, I realize that I let her entertaining writing style fog up my analysis of the actual content.

    Oh well. It's just a little blog discussion, right?

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  44. Botgirl, thank you for your comment, at least the first one. I am not so sure about the second one. Don't be swayed by the trickery of this knave...and of course, it is all fun and well-intentioned.


    And thank you for your informative response, Digado. I'm glad you said it was a "good try" because you are the judge of my posts.

    You don't need to respond to counter-points, merely put on your judging wig and robes and judge them.

    Perhaps in the future if you used a numerical score when you sentence posts to Digado Prison with a haughty "good try" and that little snort of disapproval, it will help us prisoners of logic for easily earn redemption in your land of irreason.

    I was also pleasantly surprised that you found one sentence fragment taken out of context that you were actually able to respond to in the form of an eight paragraph digression.

    Meanwhile, here are the salient facts from the dozen other paragraphs you forgot to mention:

    * You accuse Extropians of squelching dissent and refusing membership to non-believers; I have shown they do not do that; you do not address this point.

    * You accuse Extropians of "drastic preventive strikes like the banning of Prokofy before meeting her"; I explained how pre-emptively banning a known troll is not "drastic" but rational; you refuse to address this.

    You also fail to address that Prokofy certainly has his own ban list that is not up for debate. Again, you refuse to address this.

    * You accuse them of "emotional outbursts" in response to your criticisms; I have shown that your deliberately provocative style of misdirected argumentation, selective refutation, and ignoring facts is calculated to elicit an emotional response which you then turn around and use in argument against them; you cannot address this point either.

    Instead you accuse me of the same "emotional outbursts", which seems to be the butter knife of choice in your arsenal of debate.

    So let me assure you with great confidence that I am currently clad as a Hierophant from the Temple of Reason, although that doesn't mean there is no laughter in these cold grey walls. Fear not, it is not directed in your direction.

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  45. "Instead you accuse me of the same "emotional outbursts", which seems to be the butter knife of choice in your arsenal of debate."

    I never did, I think your reply was biased but rational, which you already illustrating perfectly yourself by calling your own arguments fair and mine not in the first line (Something I thought was very ironic, hence the little jab - just a joke remember? The eternal defence of Kanomi?).

    "So let me assure you with great confidence that I am currently clad as a Hierophant from the Temple of Reason"

    Well this better be one of those 'jokes' because as being friend with all of the 4/5 people responding to this post in defence of extropia there is an obvious bias. Furthermore I find it terribly arrogant to call yourself the voice of reason in a debate where you obviously represent a single view. If this is the best you can bring to the table I'm really done here because obviously there is no point discussing anything with someone who thinks s/he represents the one and only truth or reason.

    And as demonstrated above, it's easy to hide behind little jokes, in the end you can always say - 'hey it was just a joke!' but on topic you haven't really contributed anything but bring up prokofys well known track record (I removed at least 2 of her posts from my own blog, but never banned her). You however , forget to mention all those bans happened AFTER she misbehaved - and not beforehand, and in some cases, she has made valuable contributions (I believe she is even listed on several LL 'thank you' lists). The other points I 'failed' to address I already addressed in saying I think galatea gave a decent reply to those in clarifying the point of view of extropia - my observations are true none the less, but at least she put some effort in actually using argumentation on her own points (instead of attacking mine) WHY at least from extropias perspective my observations are not representing the whole of Extropia.

    I can live with that - we don't have to reach singularity just yet - we can agree to disagree on those matters and I'll even go as far as to say my own limited experience on this is actually outweigh by hers, the misconceptions I mentioned I addressed from my point of view, and left it at that - I really don't see your point in bringing them up again, but I understand you didn't take the time to read trough 44 replies which makes this a meaningless rehearsal of an earlier debate.

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  46. Changed my mind ;-)

    Ask me in IM what I said if you're interested.

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  47. Digado, I accept your surrender and your admission of guilt as indicated by your continuous and quite baffling failure to address point after point raised in my posts.

    You are hereby released back into the pool of Augmentationists and MySpace enthusiasts, with the understanding that you are not allowed to use Big Words anymore.

    And if any time you want to test your soft, sponge-like debating skills in the SL arena, you got it. I will try not to harvest you to extinction.

    But the truth is sunshine, you are a blustering cupcake of inanity and I am hungry.

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  48. Obviously something made this personal to you Kanomi, so I can only hope this blatant attempt to score some 'peer-points' paid off for you.

    I'm not holding my breath though, I'm pretty sure this type of bitter anklebiting doesn't go down well with even the most enthusiastic fans of your attempts at comedy.

    Go back to being funny because this weak prokofy rip-off act is really not your thing.

    ReplyDelete

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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at http://fourworlds.tumblr.com