Zero Sum Superheroes V3


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How 3500 years of mythology - and bad press - have made radical human enhancement (aka transhumanism) a tough sell.

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Zero Sum Superheroes V3

  1. 1. Zero-Sum Superheroes Can Transhumanism Overcome 25 Centuries of Bad PR? Richard (RJ) Eskow
  2. 2. Allow me to present my credentials …
  3. 4. Disclaimer: This Presentation <ul><li>Will be a high-speed data burst </li></ul><ul><li>Will use terms imprecisely, of necessity </li></ul><ul><li>Is meant as food for thought & discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Will address the roots of Transhumanism’s PR problem </li></ul><ul><li>Will propose some semi-serious solutions </li></ul><ul><li>We’ll be “admen (or Mad Men) of the future” </li></ul>
  4. 5. Proposition <ul><li>Transhumanism (advocacy for radical enhancement) is not a widely held position. </li></ul><ul><li>Ditto for related ideas, like “the Singularity,” the general idea of humanity merging with technology, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>There are deeply held, ancient folkways in our culture that create resistance to these ideas </li></ul><ul><li>A marketing problem – what about a marketing-style solution? </li></ul>
  5. 6. There Is A Message <ul><li>. </li></ul>
  6. 7. The Message <ul><li>… is everywhere. </li></ul>
  7. 8. The Message <ul><li>… is invisible. </li></ul>
  8. 9. The Message <ul><li>… is at least 2500 years old. </li></ul>
  9. 10. The Message Is …
  10. 11. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS LONELINESS </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS OTHERNESS </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS UGLINESS </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS SACRIFICE </li></ul>
  14. 15. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS FORBIDDEN </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS ADDICTION </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS PAIN </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>TRANSHUMANISM IS DEATH </li></ul>
  18. 20. The Zero-Sum Game <ul><li>Our current limited physical/mental abilities are the Natural Order/God’s Will </li></ul><ul><li>Every time you win more than your share, you lose a proportional amount </li></ul><ul><li>You gain much, you lose much </li></ul><ul><li>“ For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” </li></ul><ul><li>- Matthew 16:26 </li></ul>
  19. 21. Nemesis
  20. 22. M. Treder: A “fear” problem: Transhumans = Supervillians <ul><li>Frankenstein </li></ul><ul><li>Island of Dr. Moreau </li></ul><ul><li>Terminator and Unfriendly AIs </li></ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul><ul><li>… Enhanced humans have been promoted as “supervillains.” But, worse yet, they’ve been labeled … </li></ul>
  21. 23. Super losers
  22. 24. Icarus
  23. 29. Book of Genesis <ul><li>Believed to have been written between the 10 th and 5 th centuries BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Believed completed by 5 th Century BCE 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Time elapsed since “Tower of Babel” story first written: 25-30 centuries </li></ul><ul><li>1 Youngblood (ed), Speiser, Roberts, etc. </li></ul>
  24. 30. TOWER OF BABEL Knowledge
  25. 31. TOWER OF BABEL Community
  26. 32. Babel: Book of Genesis <ul><li>And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech … And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower , whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name , lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. </li></ul><ul><li>And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: </li></ul><ul><li>Sin #1: The name/common identity </li></ul><ul><li>Sin #2: Unification/Hive Mind </li></ul><ul><li>Sin #3: Unlimited power </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet, leading to the Singularity … </li></ul>
  27. 33. The Singularity Will Not Be Televised <ul><li>… not be televised </li></ul><ul><li>… not be televised </li></ul><ul><li>… not be televised </li></ul><ul><li>… not be televised </li></ul>
  28. 34. Architect’s rendition, proposed housing megacomplex in Tokyo Bay
  29. 35. Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 65 <ul><li>“ Our Rabbis taught: There shall not be found among … a charmer . 15   This applies to one who charms large objects, and to one who charms small ones, 16   even snakes and scorpions. Abaye said: Therefore even to imprison wasps or scorpions [by charms], though the intention is to prevent them from doing harm, is forbidden. “ </li></ul><ul><li>That is, no science but God’s science. Even when used for good – just a little good - it’s evil. </li></ul>
  30. 36. Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 65 <ul><li>“     He who enquireth of an ob (shaman) — is that not the same as one that consulteth the dead? 18   — … this means one who starves himself and spends the night in a cemetery, so that an unclean spirit [of a demon] may rest upon him [to enable him to foretell the future].” </li></ul><ul><li>Ungodly Science is the Science of the Dead. It’s forbidden … and scientists do icky things </li></ul>
  31. 37. Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 65 <ul><li>R. Hanina and R. Oshaia spent every Sabbath eve in studying the 'Book of Creation',   by means of which they created a third-grown calf  and ate it. </li></ul>
  32. 38. Golem of Prague
  33. 39. Golem of Prague <ul><li>Created from clay, with ‘emet’ (life) on his forehead </li></ul><ul><li>Became too powerful and went out of control </li></ul><ul><li>Rabbi changed ‘emet’ to ‘met’ (death) and stopped it </li></ul><ul><li>NOTE: The Golem folktale in Eastern Europe arose at the same time as the Frankenstein story (18 th Century) </li></ul>
  34. 40. Origin of the Golem Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 65 <ul><li>“     Rabbah created a man, 23   and sent him to R. Zera. R. Zera spoke to him, but received no answer. Thereupon he said unto him: 'Thou art a creature of the magicians. Return to thy dust.' </li></ul><ul><li>Ungodly Creations cannot speak . </li></ul>
  35. 41. Transhumanist Death Trip <ul><li>Shelley’s Alastor: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have made my bed In charnels and on coffins, where black death Keeps record of the trophies won from thee, Hoping to still these obstinate questionings Of thee and thine, by forcing some lone ghost, Thy messenger, to render up the tale Of what we are.” </li></ul><ul><li>Shelley says: “His mind is at length suddenly awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence similar to itself.” </li></ul>
  36. 42. &quot;he laid the Holy Scriptures behind the door and under the bench, refused to be called doctor of Theology , but preferred to be styled doctor of Medicine.&quot; FAUST
  37. 43. The Voice to the right cries: &quot;Faust! Faust! desist from this proposal! Go on with the study of Theology, and you will be the happiest of mortals.&quot; The Voice to the left answers: &quot;Faust! Faust! leave the study of Theology. Betake you to Necromancy , and you will be the happiest of mortals!&quot; FAUST
  38. 44. “ Communication with the Dead” – A form of immortality/longevity science NECROMANCY
  39. 46. Individuality and Freedom THE BORG
  40. 47. The Borg Queen
  41. 48. Question: Do women fare better than men in ancient Transhuman narratives? And why would the Borg need a ‘queen’ if they are a collective (parallel-processed) intelligence?
  42. 49. Lovelessness/ Loneliness
  43. 50. “ 2000 Man” <ul><li>Stones song from 1968 (“Satanic Majesties”) </li></ul><ul><li>“ My name is a number, a piece of plastic film” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, Daddy” – generation gap </li></ul><ul><li>“ My wife doesn’t understand me at all” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I really misuse her” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I am having an affair with a random computer”* </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, the same old futureshock alienation. </li></ul><ul><li>* (Note: Dynamic Random Access Memory was patented in 1968) </li></ul>
  44. 51. Exile and Separation
  45. 52. The Outer Limits: “Demon With a Glass Hand” See also “Blade Runner” and others in what I call the “Lonely Android” genre
  46. 58. Yet another enhanced dude who will never get to be with his wife again. What is it with these people?
  47. 59. QUESTION: Are Transhumans ever lucky in love?
  50. 65. Mutilation
  51. 70. Frankenstein’s Monster
  52. 71. Frankenstein’s Monster <ul><li>“ His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! – Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid constrast with his watery eyes , that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips” </li></ul>
  53. 72. Digression: In Other Words … <ul><li>The Monster lived in the Uncanny Valley . </li></ul>
  54. 73. Transhumanism as Uncanny Valley <ul><li>Fear of the near-human is greater than fear of the nonhuman </li></ul><ul><li>“ Transhuman” sounds human- like , but not human </li></ul><ul><li>When we receive cues that a being is human – then discover it is not – we feel frightened and betrayed </li></ul>
  55. 75. 2500 Bad Years
  56. 76. But there IS a way out …
  57. 77. Video Break
  58. 78. Male Potency Drugs = Hubris! <ul><li>A violation of the natural order - loss of elderly sexuality could be an evolutionary adaptation </li></ul><ul><li>Or “God’s will” </li></ul><ul><li>Viagra and Cialis are “Transhumanist” drugs </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>-- but they didn’t sell them that way. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Where’s Nemesis now? </li></ul>
  59. 79. The “ED” Marketing Model <ul><li>Non-threatening, familiar </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual </li></ul><ul><li>Buddies, manly men, neighborhood folks </li></ul><ul><li>Not impotent – “guys with ‘ED’” </li></ul><ul><li>Not hubris, or a violation of nature </li></ul><ul><li>Medical-sounding terminology: “Erectile Dysfunction” </li></ul>
  60. 80. “ Miss Plastic Hungary”
  61. 81. “ Miss Plastic Hungary” … a contest designed to encourage plastic surgery.
  62. 82. Plastic surgeon Dr. Tamas Rozsos said the pageant also meant to show that cosmetic corrections did not necessarily have to be about oversized breasts, bulbous lips and skin stretched to near tearing point. “ This about restoring harmony … eliminating asymmetries and giving women the opportunity to have normal features,” Rozsos said. “Plastic surgery has a bad reputation in Hungary but its mostly due to the exaggerations .” Associated Press
  63. 83. “Harmony” Contest rules said that Miss Plastic Hungary had to demonstrate “perfect harmony of body and soul.” Discuss.
  64. 84. Winners Also, per the Associated Press : “The winners' plastic surgeons also received awards.” What is being celebrated?
  65. 85. The Power of Words <ul><li>Positive words: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Chrysalis” – what we are now (not recommended: “meat puppets”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What we will be: free, safe, healthy, strong, secure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there a better word than “transhuman”? </li></ul></ul>
  66. 86. Selling “Transhumanism” <ul><ul><li>Nietzsche: “Being human is the art of becoming more fully that which you already are.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concepts: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Completion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Refinement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fulfillment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Harmony </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Justice </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Freedom </li></ul></ul></ul>
  67. 87. Another Model
  68. 88. If you can’t beat ‘em …
  69. 89. Another Model
  70. 90. “ Singularity” sounds lonely <ul><li>Could “Multiplicities” be more appropriate? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a better phrase? </li></ul><ul><li>Concepts include “inclusiveness” – greater knowledge, greater interconnectedness with all things, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Old marketing approach: Use different strategies with different demographic groups </li></ul>
  71. 91. Other Issues to Consider <ul><li>Future Love </li></ul><ul><li>Future Sex </li></ul><ul><li>Future Patriotism </li></ul><ul><li>Future Worship </li></ul><ul><li>Future Family </li></ul><ul><li>These are concepts people will be reluctant to abandon. </li></ul>
  72. 92. What if we used the “ED” marketing model for … <ul><li>Aging </li></ul><ul><li>Normal-Range Intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to Link With Digital Devices </li></ul><ul><li>Death </li></ul>
  73. 93. … gives us something like this: <ul><li>Do you suffer from: </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to MentallyLink With Digital Devices: “Wireless Inability to Maximize Potential” </li></ul><ul><li>Aging: “Cumulative Reduction of Advanced Potentiality” </li></ul><ul><li>Normal-Range Intelligence: “Finite Use of Cognition and Knowledge” </li></ul><ul><li>Death: “Organ Liquefaction Disorder” </li></ul>
  74. 94. Conclusion <ul><li>Transhumanism has a marketing problem </li></ul><ul><li>The concept needs a new campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancement is not a ‘zero-sum’ game: Something great need not be lost when something great is gained </li></ul><ul><li>The key is not to transcend the “human” – but to complete it: “fulfillment of our destiny?” </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe Transhumanism just needs a great TV commercial </li></ul>