Stephen Hawking on transhumanism

Tom James @ 03-07-2009

curved_lawnPhysicist Stephen Hawking has commented on transhumanism and the future direction of humanity:

Hawking says that we have entered a new phase of evolution. “At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information.”

But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred.

“I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race,” Hawking said.

This point has echos of Jack Cohen and Ian Stewarts ideas of extelligence, Richard Dawkins‘ notion of the meme, and Kevin Kelly‘s concept of the Technium. What is special about humans is as much about what happens outside and between our minds as any other intrinsic properties of homo sapiens sapiens

[via George Dvorsky, from The Daily Galaxy][image from Peter Kaminski on flickr]

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4 Responses to “Stephen Hawking on transhumanism”

  1. Sterling Camden says:

    Which I think also goes a long way towards describing the role of kindness and caring for the unfortunate within our recent evolution.

  2. Jetse says:

    I am also optimistic about the future of humanity, but in the “About” column of the
    Shine anthology blog
    I don’t feature a promo for Scientology.

    Yes, I do add links that I think are appropriate for the near future, optimistic SF that I’m looking for, for Shine, on the SHINE website. Anything associated with Scientology does not apply, though, so neither does the ‘humansfuture’ website from ‘transhumanist’, above.

  3. Paul Raven says:

    Serves me right for not checking the link; thanks for the call-out, Jetse. Shilling for religions, companies or ideologies is a no-no according to the Futurismic comments policy, and as such the comment in question is now so many erased bits.

  4. elissa grace says:

    first, you will never transcend the singularity of the individual life experience. The highest authority is that of self. It is impossible to transcend individual experience to become another and obtain authority greater than that of the individual as wielded over self alone-

    no matter how close you come to realizing, joining- harmonizing- uniting with anothers- one man can know only himself enough to be suited with authority. No man can assume, acquire, or achieve the precision born of another’s cumulative experience. Therefore the will or claim or pursuit of matters imposing one man’s will onto another is merely a charade concealing the primal hunt of carnivores. It is impossible to justify superiority of authority extending beyond the self- it is predatory to claim otherwise when devoid of any scientifically measurable precision of purpose (let alone pretend certitude of validity). that one man can or should, for any reason, exact limits upon the will of another is the crime against life and hypocritically devaluing the experience of the individual at the expense of the self. You are no more than 1 single voice reflecting your unique individual experience desires perspective- 1 alone -no more or less. Autonomous by design. You may strive toward a perfected understanding of another but the limit is your singular experience will forever deny one man’s autonomy from trumping, merging, blending, synching with another. The closest man can be to another is empathy, the furthest is complete rejection; a single individual is empowered only to be, choose, speak, and act on behalf of one self alone.

    Second, because man can be but himself alone, is authorized by his cumulative experience to decide in all matters pertaining to his best interest, with the highest degree of certainty and precision- it is merely 1 step beyond primal instinct to recognize his action need be self-contained (the reciprocal obligation to be of autonomous authority). This means in action man must self-govern to bring no harm or adverse consequence to another.

    What might be right for you may be intolerable for another- the benefit to one can not exceed the consent threshold for the expense of another without necessarily decreasing the value of the benefit- both experiences must be assumed equal in value to justify the exchange and the value of each man’s existence.

    There is no certainty or even implied possibility that masteries over any of the current external variables acting to influence today’s experience will apply or even exist tomorrow. It is foolish and grandiose to think we possess such insight and wisdom that we have somehow captured today what will escape men in the future. It is demonic to extoll such a claim to disguise man’s predatory nature and animal instincts to dominate his environment- transhumanist? hah! regressivism.

    Preserve to share the experience for the consideration of whatever value it may bring under whatever experiences exist in the future.

    Limit yourself no more or less than you would be limited by another.
    Do not assume the wisdom to judge the gait of another before traversing his unique journey’s obstacles, in is his shoes, under his weight as he has so done in your ignorant absence.
    First do no harm- then take from your opportunity that which bears to no other a consequence without consent.
    Impose self-regulating limits, to which you abide, restrict others solely to prevent a deprivation of life.