Oct 04 2011

Posthuman Godhead

""){ ?> By Woody Evans


Consider transhumanism as a monotheistic religion.  Religion? Transhumanists share a belief in a coming eschatological event — their belief transcends rational conjecture about the advance of technology and posits wild and miraculous progress.  It does so without bothering to worry with the “mere engineering” that would lead to such radical transformations in individuals or societies.  There is an abiding faith that whatever needs to happen to fulfill the singular moment of deliberate evolutionary uplift will happen… somehow.

Monotheistic?  The Singularity is a singular event — but it isn’t simply an event or a phenomenon.  It is a meta-phenomenon in that it is imagined to be able to generate any number of future (post-singular) phenomena.  This is usually imagined to be done by the active will and imagination of the posthuman Singulatarian consciousness.

When we are all “postsingular”, we will also be post-plural: identities will flow into and out of each other with such speed and vicissitude that it will no longer be useful (or possible) to talk about individual beings.  All will be a swirl — a very powerful (organized?) storm of reality-bending consciousness.

That thing — that postsingularity storm — is what we may say transhumanism believes in and aspires to. That storm is effectively all-powerful and arguably supranatural in its ability to rewrite nature according to its own needs, desires, or whims.

Accepting transhumanism as a monotheistic religion gives us room to consider what any nascent priesthood or brahmin class will gain in the run up to Singularity.  Obviously, other parallels may follow: is it a pantheistic or panentheistic monotheism?  What rites are beginning to accrete around the discussion of the postsingular “storm”?  A whole theology of the Singularity may be emerging.

Arguments against this view of transhumanism (as a religion) may be many, varied, and compelling.  But so long as it is possible to see the urge toward posthuman culture as an emotionally driven system of belief, consideration and criticism of the movement may be possible in previously underexplored dimensions.

So to transhumanist friends: how do your original operating systems (or belief systems) affect the type of Singularity that’s “destined” to emerge?

Do you really want to live in the kind of paradise you’re building?

  • By Lincoln Cannon, October 4, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

    Hi Woody. The possibility space appears broader than you’ve described. Here are some related thoughts:

  • By D., October 5, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    What if there are two or three post human storm things? Would there be a pantheon? And without any humans outside of the storms there would be no worshipers for whom they would be gods.

  • By Kent, October 6, 2011 @ 7:14 am

    Bunch of prattle. Fear of technocracy, same old shit we have heard since George Ludd. But he is right to say we can build it the way we want it to be. I want mine to feel good all the time. I want taco-bell/orgasm receptors tripping without cease.

  • By Joe, October 6, 2011 @ 8:50 am

    Right, Kent. Speculations about what we might achieve are just that. I don’t take it on faith, I just see as a goal to create and use the best tools we can to make the best lives we can.

  • By Anon, October 10, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    Kent – the Luddites stuck up for worker’s rights a generation before Marx was born. It IS reasonable to question the role of a ‘superhuman superstorm sentient technology’ in light of the transformation of the world’s democracies into outright oligarchy again and again. #Occupywallstreet isn’t going away, and when/if a Singularity comes, it will be the welders and pipe-fitters who serve their technocratic overlords, as usual, unless we build resistance to such into transhumanism Now.

  • By Woody, October 11, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    Hey Lincoln — thanks for the Bostrom — I usually find him to be right on.

Other Links to this Post