The past few months I’ve contemplated somewhat the geek culture and some of the mental characteristics that make a software engineer great or the qualities that make the best technologist and a lot of those things that bring greatness seem to also be clinical diagnosis as mental disorders according to the DSM IV or 5 or whatever is current (ok to be clear I’m not a shrink but my wife is? if that counts); but my point is that instead of classifying these people (like me) as off target maybe a new norm might be articulated around a new approach to things one that devalues emotions to a large degree or at least encourages control and logic in all things; but that does goes down a slippery road of empirical logic and science leading to a spot where one might need to come up with an equivalent of morals and ethics to use as guides allow integration into the larger current society… enter (to draw on Sci-Fi a bit) the Vulcan or the new emergent philosophy (that I made up this morning) called Vulcanism… so let me back up with what started this line of thinking… my new twitter friend Olivia…
In response to @OliviaMapue; who took the time to really answer a question well;
You really did a great job articulating our point, it was researched, documented, footnoted and the like. I appreciate the fact that you spent the time to do that in response to my question, given my limited time I’m not sure I can respond as detailed as your response deservers and for that I apologize. Clearly you have a reasoned position and much of the article response you posted I agree with to a point.
Olivia’s post is here: http://inanginaanak.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/on-purpose-in-response-to-transhumanism/
So for other reader’s let say that Olivia posted something about transhumanism and limiting our advancement around brain enhancement or something to that effect [I’m trying to paraphrase as I’m too lazy to go look up the exact tweet again] and at a certain level we are clearly FAR apart but it was interesting to me the logic that would bring her to that conclusion as I had thus far came to a far different conclusion. Further I’m particularly interested if there is new information that would bring me to a better conclusion. If there is additional information that allows for stronger logic for some other opinion that it is only logical that I change mine to be in line with the data. And Olivia was kind enough to reply, possibly helping to provide such data.
Ok back to my response to her response to my tweet responding to her tweet to my tweet to her tweet? Or something like that…
(Side note… I’ll do my best to be even, fair and logical not attacking any position I disagree with etc. I certainly don’t want to offend but hopefully learn something myself)
The first point… “… two individually coherent, but incompatible, aspects of the world.’ in reference to the two half’s of the brain.
Based on the data it seems that I would not come to the same conclusion regarding the two halves of the brain. Clearly they work together and based on available information I would say “these are two coherent, different but compatible components of an electro biochemical computer we call a brain”. There is no evidence to support that it is anything more then an extremely advanced machine therefore upgrading both equally seems a good thing since the most important thing above all else(at least my own little world of ‘Vulcanism’) is intelligence. I would go so far as to say I place value judgments based on a things potential to be sapient and sentient and that includes people and animals and computers etc. The greater the potential for sapience’s and sentient’s the more value I place on it.
Granted caution is warranted only in so much as we don’t sign everyone up that is not willing and before its been tested. Therefore as soon as its possible we should test it on someone and see what happens.
Getting back to the statement Olivia had mentioned about us being careful about to much (I’m paraphrasing) enhancement, I will concede that not doing such enhancement in parallel seems like it could create a mental imbalance that could have un-predictable, given the lack of data, results which could be bad… So we should try it and see…
Given the really far far different view of the brain we have I guess I can see the point from the other perspective which certainly is setting a different base line in terms of value judgments on things.
Next randomly selected content point…
“it is the only kind of knowledge permitted by science” which when you read in context seems to imply that information on both half’s of the brain can’t be quantified down to absolute facts. I would argue that there is no information on either side of the brain that can’t be absolutely quantified. Every emotion or feeling or any other bit of creativity can be quantified in terms of mathematics and facts. I would say ‘music’ is a good example of quantified emotions that is arguably standardized and universally understandable but is absolutely a dance of mathematically facts. To be fair to all the people that might say I don’t’ know enough about music or math to say that as an expert… ok let me qualify ability to have a professional opinion to that end. To start please review my LinkedIn profile (here:www.linkedin.com/in/hackingsilverlight/) which will clearly qualify my minimal math experience… but I also have 12 years of music training including music theory and have performed professionally playing the clarinet [B# specifically] in the US Navy Marching Band). Truth be told, ‘music’ helped me overcome some border line autistic (ASD specifically, a little OCD etc.) sort of issues as to not being able to relate to people and or understand more then just simple emotions. Music allowed me to learn to ‘feel’ granted that also implies I’m not normal, my wife (a shrink) can be quoted as saying I’m only half a person which may be true but this also opens the door to this new form of normal as I think that there is nothing wrong with creating a new normal around a new less emotional, more logical mental framework that puts emotions in their place?
To me information, data, mathematics, logic and my computer code is like music. There is beauty in the dance of complex logic, comfort in the cold heart of the machine and it is here I take emotional solace.
To be fair to Olivia, she has a rock solid perspective, I might think it’s wrong and I didn’t see enough new information to change my mind but rather I think it helped me solidify my path towards this idea of a new real life sort of philosophy around logic but I guess I need to start with that framework for morals and ethics that sort of needs to start from scratch.
This is what I came up with…
First I need to start with the most fundamental question and along the way I’m going to co-op a few terms, for example ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’. since the question of a god cannot be scientifically addressed I think the word is better used as follows but is not meant religiously but meant to imply the critical importance to that which it will be used to refer by co-opting the mental ‘baggage’ that society has given the words.
What is the most important thing in existence?
On the surface this seems a very existential question but in truth there is a simple and elegant answer; that is to say intelligence, and like unto it knowledge, are the most important things in existence. But you might ask why? Why is intelligence and knowledge so important as to be the most important thing in existence?
First, let us acquire some context by defining what intelligence is in this context. There are, in fact, a lot of definitions for intelligence as can be seen by its definition on wiki:
“Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including, but not limited to, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, reasoning, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving.”
As you can see there are a lot of the ways the term can be understood but here ‘Intelligence’ is defined as the measured ability to understand, use and generate knowledge, or information, independently.
It is important to note that this definition is different from the meaning we are assigning to Sapience, which is what a lot of people really mean when they use the often misunderstood term sentience. Sapience (from wiki):
“Wisdom (Sapience) is the judicious application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions“) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight.”
As opposed to Sentience which is (wiki):
“Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (“reason”) from the ability to feel (“sentience”). In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences (described by some thinkers as “qualia”). For Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care. The concept is central to the philosophy of animal rights, because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, which is held to entail certain rights.”
Which based on this definition we in fact see the difference with the term Sapience which is more closely aligned with the intent of what we are driving at here..
In our case, we will apply Sapience to refer specifically to the ability to understand one’s self in every aspect; through the application of knowledge, information and independent analysis, and to have subjective experiences. Although Sapience is dependent on intelligence, or rather the degree of Sapience is dependent on the degree of intelligence, they are in fact different. The premise that intelligence is important, and in fact the most important thing in existence, is better stated as sapient intelligence is of primary importance but intelligence less than truly sentient intelligence is relatively unimportant in comparison. For it can’t progress independently.
This brings us back to the point about “Why?” Why is intelligence so important? The reason is: without intelligence there would be no witness to creation, no appreciation for anything of beauty, no love, no kindness and for all intents and purposes no creation. Without an “Intelligence” there would be no point to anything; therefore, intelligence is not just the most important thing but the most sacred quality. If there is a God, this is his chief quality: intelligence and knowledge.
Certainly this is no proof of God, but it is proof of the sacredness of intelligence; and if this is true we can say, “Intelligence is the Glory of God” whether we believe or not. Because of this, I believe Intelligence and knowledge are sacred and that we should make every effort to preserve both.
Through this line of thought we also conclude that intelligence being important is not connected with being Human nor is it related to biology; which itself is to a degree sacred, but the main point is intelligence, regardless of form, is sacred.
What about Knowledge? Why is knowledge sacred? If you go back to the definition of intelligence we see that intelligence, which is sacred, is the measured ability to understand, use, and generate knowledge; therefore, since intelligence is sacred, and intelligence requires knowledge to be truly intelligent, then knowledge is sacred also. These two things that I seek to preserve and extend through all of existence.
On Right and Wrong
Given the sacredness of intelligence and knowledge what then of being ‘wrong’ or even the term ‘sin’?
Traditionally, ‘sin’ was an offense against ‘God’ (to which we know neither that he does or does not exist) and therefore wrong; where with the myself, ‘sin’ or wrongness is an offense against any other sapient or potentially fully sapient being. The reason is that all fully sapient beings, organic or not, deserve or have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Any act that harms or limits the freedom of another is therefore a sin.
What of potentially sapient beings such as a baby? This is where any harm or sin is as grievous and if you create such a being it is your responsibility to care for and help develop it until it is independently fully sapient. If there is a conflict between the rights of an existing sapient intelligence and the rights of a potential fully sapient intelligence, the existing sapient intelligence must be considered of greater value than potential sapient as it is already a real entity. Additionally we have no right dictate that which any fully sapient being does within the limits of its self. Why then is it wrong or a ‘sin’ to interfere with the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of another fully sapient being?
If you believe in Order, or that existence is better than not, and Chaos is not the way; then to each other you should choose to do one to another as you would have them do unto you as a fully sapient being. Without this there can be no Order and no escape from Chaos, either we all work together or none of us succeeds, and in Order we find kindness and happiness for all fully sapient beings.
On Religion (we are not a religion)
The history of man is fraught with religion. Religion has brought much chaos, pain and suffering but it also has done much to bring good, order, love and kindness. What so ever religion teaches equality, love and kindness, where no harm should come to anyone with no limitations enforced on heathen or believer, at its heart is good and these should be kept and respected as individual’s desire. On the other hand any religion or church that rejects good or endorses violence for any reason other than protection of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness for all should be rejected.
Let us forgive the past, learn from it and let it help us guide our future.
In addition, is this a religion, you might ask? Maybe, at least it’s mine or maybe a brotherhood dedicated to the preservation of knowledge.
On Artificial Intelligence
What so ever entity that achieves fully sapient intelligence as defined above is therefore intelligent and sacred. Artificial Intelligence referring to soft A.I. or even the programmed behavior of an ant colony is not important in the since of being sacred but the idea of Strong AI that is truly sapient intelligence is holy potentially more so then humans are currently.
So there my new moral and ethical code or the basis for it entirely based on logic… and therefore Transhumanism is more a sacred duty to increase our intelligence infinitely as soon and as fast as possible and also to achieve immortality through any means possible. These priorities should take precedence over virtually everything else. AND there you go, the new Vulcanism I invented this morning…
wiki: intelligence (01/24/2013) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence
wiki: sapience (sapient) (01/24/2013) (auto refers to) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapience
wiki: sentient (01/25/2013) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience