Artificially Intelligent Transhumanism Versus Naturally Intellectual Humanism
What would a transhumanist society look like — a society in which the brains of transhuman beings were merged with artificial intelligence? Would it exclude the existence of humans? What kind of political system could we expect to find there? Could traditional sociological and political terminology even be applied to describe such a society? In the future, the terms “capitalism,” “socialism,” and “communism” will be rendered obsolete. The very concept of “class” will be redefined, or replaced with a new one.
Technocratic transhumanism requires various categories within a hierarchical society that will at first be established through the various classes or groups based on their capacity for intelligence and insight, depending on the profession for which each bio-technically designed group is predestined. This hierarchy will be closely tied to a precisely staggered income system, based on the life expectancy of each particular group, on participation in public life, and on various forms of mobility.
Participation in public decision-making bodies, space tourism, and the finest medical/technical care, not to mention an extremely long life expectancy, will be restricted to the top class or group. Without doubt, those promoting transhumanism lay an absolute claim on authority, despite the pretense that each bio-designed group has the right to develop freely — albeit within the limited possibilities of the existence designed for them; this much is clear from their „Transhumanist Bill of Rights“ (see the January 31, 2020 article „The Transhuman Bill of Wrongs“ at translucidmind.com, under News, Spirituality). The absolute claim for authority and the inevitable disappearance of the more vulnerable human species lies in the demand that each member of transhuman society be obliged to apply all technology for highest standards of health to oneself for the benefit of all.
Already today, the tiered allocation of education and the control of access to information are serving to create these groups. The planned disinformation through mass media and the staggered education system, providing different levels of knowledge, are systematic in nature. Theodor Geiger, a German-Danish sociologist and lawyer, pointed out this system as early as the mid-20th century, but could hardly have conceived the extent to which this system would be developed technologically. Among other things, Geiger’s writings promoted a program of „Intellectual Humanism“:
„I refuse to view human intellectual development as finished, as having reached its peak. Rather, it seems to me that the greatest mistake of society today is that it has, to this point, prevented people’s intellectual development from keeping pace with the rationalization of society and its apparatus of existence. […]
„Objective civilization has far outstripped subjective civilization. In terms of their objective culture and civilization, people are social dimwits. […]
„Both the technical apparatus of civilization and the structure of society demand that our focus be turned to the powers of the intellect, to a planned intellectualization of humankind, and to its training in emotional asceticism. […] We must usher in a more intellectual, less emotional attitude toward existence in society“ (as cited in Thomas Meyer, The Sociology of Theodor Geiger, Wiesbaden 2001, pages 220-222).
The deliberate non-intellectualization of the masses allows the power-wielding elites within each social system to more easily take and maintain power. Today these elites are techno-oligarchic in nature (to use a term coined by Foucault, as Wayne Gabardi points out in his book Negotiating Postmodernism, Minnesota 2001, page 99); they are above all the elites in charge of Silicon Valley. It is well known that these elites, along with those of Hollywood‘s massive opinion-making film industry, send their children to exclusive private schools, including Waldorf schools where holistic and self-aware intellects are shaped to promote soul-realization in accordance with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. It is also known that they do not allow their children to use electronic communication devices like cell phones and i-Pads, or even video games, until their teenage years.
The category, or group, or class (an old concept, bearing the dust of Marxist socialist literature) of the owners, executives, administrators, and programmers of transhuman technology, along with their descendants, are allowed access to the highest level of education, one that molds a free and self-aware individual capable of soul-realization — but this door is closed to all others. The others are manipulated or programmed, with varying degrees of intensity, to be capable of performing, problem-free, the jobs and tasks assigned to their particular category.
The Utopian society in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has now, very dramatically, proven feasible in terms of biotechnology, genetic engineering, and neurotechnology, and is being systematically turned in to reality by the techno-oligarchic elites. Writings that seek to expose this phenomenon are widely available in European and English-speaking countries, from Foucault, Baudrillard, and Virilio in the 20th century, to younger thinkers of the 21st century whose pens can barely keep pace with the development of new technological and neurobiological means of manipulation.
Access to the innermost structure of human thoughts, emotions and feelings is no longer possibly solely from the outside, using such devices as cell phones and computers, and their software, but directly, within the human brain, by linking up biological neural networks to computer networks. These neurotechnologies, along with genetic engineering, are already being heralded as a medical revolution for eradicating mental illnesses or dysfunctions of the central nervous system.
It would be a boon for humanity if these technologies were indeed limited to treating strictly defined medical conditions — if their application were restricted according to rigorous guidelines. But the adjectives “noble, helpful and good“ (to cite Goethe) certainly do not apply to all the individuals who are feverishly developing these technologies — especially not to those who can find no further application of their intelligence than an attempt to grab money and power for themselves and their offspring, and to create a basis for asserting their own superiority over the rest of humanity.
For these reasons, today’s intellectual elites — highly intelligent, empathetic, and socially responsible intellectuals, scientists, artists, poets, thinkers and philosophers — should increasingly educate the public about what transhumanism really means. Scientific education and information campaigns — that is, a thoroughgoing intellectualization of the public — must be spread to a wide audience. An excellent model for such public engagement is Brian Greene’s WorldScienceFestival, distributed on YouTube (translucidmind.com, Highlight of the Week, August 2, 2019).
The sociologist Theodor Geiger, already cited above, wished to create broad social foundations for this effort. He coined the term “intellectual humanism“ based on his awareness that the group of highly intelligent individuals must contain a sub-group, sufficient in number (roughly 0.4% of the population), of individuals in whom evolutionary strides in brain development has combined high intelligence with a high capacity for sensitivity and empathy, prepared to commit to the worldwide intellectualization of humanity.
Based on the experience of the Nazism in Germany, he foresaw the danger posed to democracies by populism, which today — through a mixture of systematic ignorance, media-fed disinformation, and misleading election propaganda — makes the wrongly informed, if not completely uniformed, masses the decision-makers in what merely appear to be democracies.
The disinformation of the masses has not merely endangered the fundamental ethical idea of democracy, in terms of its philosophical origins and humanistic tradition; indeed, democracy itself, in its very humanistic ideals, has been all but abolished. The origin of modern democracies was based on the notion of enlightenment, as described by Immanuel Kant in his essay What is Enlightenment? (first appearing, under the title In Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?, in the Berlin Monthly, December of 1784, pp. 481-494):
Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s reason without another’s guidance. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause is not a lack of reason, but rather a lack of resolve and courage to use reason without another’s guidance. Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own reason! This, then, is the rallying cry of enlightenment.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large portion of humanity, even long after nature has proclaimed them free from being led by others (naturaliter maiorennes), nevertheless willingly remain immature their entire lives — and why it remains so easy for others to claim the role of their guardians. It is quite comfortable indeed to be immature.
A democracy needs educated, well-informed and responsible people who cast their ballots with a sense of purpose. The systematic restriction of the majority of people to low levels of education, their systematic misinformation and manipulation by the media — ever more widespread thanks to social networks on the Internet — encourages the election of demagogic populists, despite their inhumane policies. The massive efforts by transhumanists to propagandize their medical and technical achievements, whose most prominent advocates and sponsors are the owners of big tech companies and Internet social network providers, is already omnipresent.
It is frightening that the global public remains almost completely ignorant of this effort to abolish humanity and replace it with a transhumanity of biotechnical brains, hooked up to gigantic computers and in thrall to their programming. One hears constantly about climate change and the mass extinction of species; thus, it may strike us as inconceivable that soul-possessing humanity as we know it might be abolished in the meantime.
“Soul-possessing humanity“ — why do we think of ourselves as having souls, how do we realize that we have a soul? I employed the term “soul-realization” earlier in this text, as opposed to the “self-realization” — a term that is very popular in spirituality. Where does the idea of “soul“ come from? Regardless of what thoughts the concept of “soul“ may conjure up, essential to it is the idea of a „self,“ of a self-aware existence, a spiritual and intellectual consciousness of self that extends beyond the immediate corporeal experience of the „I“ in the here and now. “Know thyself!“ This maxim from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi runs through the entirety of European intellectual history – and it might be said that it goes hand in hand with the idea of realizing one’s soul: Know thyself and realize thy soul. Knowing ourselves means to know the conglomerate of identities and beliefs and behavioral patterns that makes us ourselves, in order to finally get to the essence of our being, to the realization of the soul that lies beyond the self. European Idealism and transcendent philosophies are based on this idea. The idea of democracy is built upon it; it is also a widely known maxim in Buddhism, and is firmly established in other great cultures of the world — to such an extent in Europe that such proverbs as the German „Self-knowledge is the first step toward improvement“ are commonly heard in popular usage.
Immaturity, as Kant understands it, is self-imposed if one declines to follow the path of self-knowledge, if one lacks the courage to use one’s intellect in pursuit of knowledge. No one has ever doubted the reality of the existence of the human self; one must simply become aware of it, and thus realize it. But when no intellectual means for developing self-awareness remains, one can no longer consider immaturity self-imposed.
Under transhumanism, there will no longer be a distinct self, endowed with intellectual self-awareness — no primordial soul that achieves realization through higher self-awareness. There will instead be constantly new programming, controlled entirely from without, of transitory identity-creating and ego-satisfying model of the „I.“ It is no secret that this process is already well underway, achieved through the machinations of cyber-manipulation, and through our own mental dependence on social media, Internet gaming, and the mobile phone — a constant companion that we must never be without.
We are being programmed with absolute immaturity that no longer allows us to speak confidently and humanely, with Kant, of self-imposedness, since our very awareness of self is already fading in the distance. Whoever follows the trends and role models spread by computer games and social media will soon lack any sense of their own self.
The rational maturity that Immanuel Kant formulated — the self-aware, enlightened human being — was powerful and hopeful enough to bring forth the idea of equal rights for all, and the idealism of humanistically inspired democracy. But if elections are decided by people who are irrational, who have been perversely manipulated by the media and whose sense of self has been severely stunted, then the humanistic idea of the free human soul and of democracy is lost. The idea of freedom and equality becomes nothing more than another tool of manipulation — a fiction that can be fed with ideological content, or with an addiction to consumerism (as the freedom to buy whatever one wants), or with any other bit of nonsense that lends itself to demagoguery.
In a transhumanist society, such manipulation will no longer even be necessary. All desired behavior, not to mention desires themselves, will be systematically pre-programmed into the computer-driven neuronal switching paths of the transhuman-being. A human slave can gain awareness of his enslavement; a transhuman one cannot.
In the spirit of intellectual humanism, today’s most outstanding intellects — those evolutionary forerunners graced with the highly developed brains that one day all of humanity might have developed — must forge and refine strategies to educate humanity about its looming extermination, and to cultivate a preference for the natural, spontaneous evolutionary path of brain development.
Those forerunners of the future human brain must devise a strategy for enabling the majority of people to join them on the path toward the utmost evolution of the human brain. Certainly, these outstanding intellects should be intelligent and empathetic enough to develop appealing strategies to stoke widespread interest in education of self-knowledge and soul-realization. Knowledge, and self-knowledge, should be shown to be sexy — as indeed they are.
It is well known that self-aware, self-confident people, free souls — like those found, for exemple, among yogis, dancers, artists, musicians, poets, and leading scientists — have a certain sex appeal. Displays of supreme intelligence and sensitivity are highly attractive, due, most likely, to the evolutionary drive within the human species toward ever greater refinement of the intelligence and perceptive abilities of the brain. Read the short blogs and long books of the French scientist and Buddhist Matthieu Richards (see translucidmind.com, under Books and under News, Spiritual/Psychological). Or see the unflagging commitment of cosmophysicist Brian Greene as he explains String Theory (see translucidmind.com, Highlight of the Week, August 2, 2019, What is String Theorie). Watch Herbert von Karajan’s hands as he conducts the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (translucidmind.com, Song of the Week, February 28, 2020), and listen to the voice and smile of the HBVO singer as she conveys a new form of music and singing (translucidmind.com, Song of the Week, February, 13, 2020). Or enjoy, in these weeks of time spent at home the passionate dedication and sensitivity of Pianist Alice-Sara Ott, (This Week‘s Song of the Week, translucidmind.com, Song of the Week, March, 13, 2020).
A translucid human mind is much sexier – and not only in an evolutionary sense — than a Silicon valley tech-brain or a silicon cosmetic breast. This should make it easy to encourage humanity to reject transhumanist propaganda.
04.03.2020 copyright Susanne Steines, translated by Mark R. Pettus, PhD Princeton University