David Marusek on posthumanism and a soft singularity

Mind Over Ship by David MarusekWe’ve had it straight from the horse’s mouth that Charlie Stross isn’t an ideologue for the a posthuman future, but it appears (allowing for a little authorial hyperbole) that David Marusek is a little more bullish on the matter, due to his own reconception of what a singularity might really mean:

I sincerely believe that our near future includes the existence of posthumans. That is, if secular civilization survives and science advances, our subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens will branch out. Whether through purely biological means or in combination with some sort of inheritable machinery or machine interface, a new subspecies of human will coexist alongside us. Nothing like this has occurred for 30,000 years when our hominid cousin, the Neanderthal, was still around, or 200,000 years when we shared the planet with possibly three other human species. But this time we’ll be the obsolete species.

The idea of humans creating their own successors has been around for a long time and provides rich material for storytelling. The thing is, in most sf tales, you have to go through a Vingean Singularity to get to the Posthuman Future. We old model humans do poorly in singularities; by definition we are the past. Thus posthuman stories tend to be about trying to fight off the posthumans, especially if they’re machines. Brave humans strive to prevent their rise and maintain our biological supremacy. And this is where I try to break new trail in Mind Over Ship. I’m proposing a singularity that does not deny the importance of the human body but instead relies upon it.

The loathing of the body is one of the many detractions used against Singularitarian thinkers, and it’s easy enough to understand why (although, on some mornings, I’d gladly upload myself out of this damage-prone meat-machine). Perhaps Marusek’s new take on the trope will inspire another schism in post-human philosophy – a ‘soft’ singularity, perhaps?

And while we’re on the subject, Marusek’s new novel Mind Over Ship is a brilliant read, and comes heartily recommended to anyone who likes their sf to come packed to the brim with brain-bending ideas and complex plotting. Go buy it.

3 thoughts on “David Marusek on posthumanism and a soft singularity”

  1. “…on some mornings, I’d gladly upload myself out of this damage-prone meat-machine…” Well, now there’s something we can agree on.

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