more on transhumanism

Some more thoughts on transhumanism.

I’ve already expressed my view that an increase in the number of high IQ people would be a disadvantage to society. The manipulation of human genetics could pose other dangers also.

Intelligence appears to be a quality that is controlled not by a handful of genes but by huge numbers. If you want to create transhumans with incredibly high intelligence you’re going to have to manipulate thousands of genes.

The problem with this is that if you manipulate thousands of genes then how can you be sure that intelligence is the only thing you’re going to be changing? Human behaviour is incredibly complex. If you fiddle around with genes that alter the workings of the mind then you might end up with some unanticipated and very unpleasant behavioural changes.

You might end up with people with very high IQs and major psychological and behavioural problems. A high IQ person with severe psychological issues might be more of a liability than an asset to society. We have no way of knowing exactly what form such psychological disturbances might take.

It’s unfortunate that many people seem to be inclined to ignore such risks. These risks are entirely unpredictable and unquantifiable. Rather than being a magical shortcut to power and prosperity it might be more like playing Russian roulette.

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IQ fetishism and transhumanism

There’s much concern at the moment that some Chinese scientist may have already created the first genetically modified human babies.

Much of the hand-wringing concerns the possibility that China will use this technology to breed lots of high-IQ babies, this giving China an immense economic advantage over all its competitors.

This seems to me to be a bit unlikely. The Chinese already have tens of millions of very high IQ people. Why would they need, or want, more?

This comes back to the IQ fetishism that I find to be so amusing. The idea that the more high IQ people a nation has the more powerful that nation will become. This really is nonsense. You actually need only a very very small number of high IQ people. If you have more high IQ people than you need you will have major social problems. You will end up with lots of very smart people chasing a fairly small number of suitable jobs. The ones who miss out will become angry and disillusioned. They are likely to gravitate toward political extremism. You will have more SJW/globalist political activists expressing their frustrations at their own uselessness by lashing out at society.

This is what has already happened in the West as we have expanded university education far beyond our actual needs. We have already created a massive entirely unnecessary pool of university-educated intellectuals who serve no useful purpose whatsoever.

It’s not really all that likely that any of the major developed nations is suffering from a shortage of high IQ people.

If a nation did want to gain a significant advantage by manipulating the genetic attributes of its population IQ might not be the attribute to choose. A smarter population is likely to cause more headaches. But how about a more docile population? A population not just indoctrinated into docility, by genetically engineered into passive obedience. Ot perhaps it might be useful to have some segments of the population more docile, and others more aggressive? Changes in behavioural traits that could be hardwired into the population’s generic code might be attractive not just to nations like China but also to the large corporations that control the West, and to the western elites that serve those corporations.

So personally I’d be more worried about behavioural modifications than the creation of super-high IQ nations.

actual science and pseudoscience

The inability to distinguish between actual science and pseudoscience is one of the major problems we face. It’s not just ordinary people who find it difficult to distinguish between the two. Intellectuals seem to have even greater difficulty with the concept.

It’s really pretty simple. If you can prove it by experiment it’s definitely real science. If you can’t prove it by experiment but you can point to actual evidence, as is the case with historical sciences like geology and evolutionary biology, then it’s real science but you can’t feel quite so confident that all the details will be correct. If it’s based on a mixture of wishful thinking and deliberately dubious methodology, like climate science, then it’s probably pseudoscience. If it’s based purely on subjective value judgments, as is the case with sorcery and psychiatry, then it ain’t science at all.

space exploration and the awesomeness of patriarchy

Just a couple of weeks after my post on the end of the Space Age comes this article by Marcie Bianco whining that space exploration is patriarchal.

Well of course it is Marcie. Space exploration is patriarchal, just as the whole of science and technology is patriarchal. It’s all part of the awesomeness of patriarchy.

These are essentially masculine pursuits. The urge to explore, to invent, to understand the physical world, to conquer new frontiers, these are masculine imperatives. That’s how civilisation has progressed from living in caves and chasing mammoths with pointy sticks to living in nice houses with lots of appliances (like the one Marcie lives in) and being able to drive to the supermarket to buy everything we need. That’s why Marcie doesn’t have to spend her day gathering nuts and berries and can sit in air-conditioned comfort reading up on the latest advances in Women’s Studies.

Had it not been for the patriarchy Marcie could never have had a career teaching social justice in American universities because there would not have been any American universities. America would never have been colonised. There’s a reason that it was Christopher Columbus who reached America in 1492, and not Christine Columbus. Exploring is what men do.

There’s also a reason why the first successful aircraft was built by the Wright Brothers, and not the Wright Sisters. And why the first successful locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson, not Roberta Stephenson. There’s a reason why electric lighting, cars, aircraft, radio, photography, motion pictures, television, refrigerators, steamships, railways and computers were invented by men. Even the inventions that have done so much to make life easier for women like Marcie, like the vacuum cleaner, microwave ovens and automatic washing machines, were invented by men.

The scientific discoveries that made such inventions possible were made overwhelmingly by men.

This is how the male brain works. Men like to figure out how stuff works, how things that are impossible today can be made possible tomorrow, they like to discover things and to explore, they like to find new frontiers. Women’s brains don’t work that way. Which is OK, women’s brains are not supposed to work that way because women are supposed to be at home looking after the kids and getting dinner ready while their husbands confront the world.

Of course it’s possible that women like Marcie do understand all this at some level. They do understand that the contribution of women to science and technology has been minuscule. That’s why they’re angry. Men are so much better at this stuff and it’s not fair. Men get real degrees in real subjects, not degrees in Women’s Studies.

If Marcie had been around in 1492 I’m sure she would have been lobbying Ferdinand and Isabella to cut off funding to Columbus for his silly patriarchal plan to reach the Indies and instead use the money to fund Women’s Studies workshops.

We should go to Mars because if we don’t it’s another sign that we’ve given up, that we’ve surrendered to women like Marcie.

the end of the Space Age

I’m not old enough to remember the beginning of the space race but I do have vivid memories of its later stages. It was, undeniably, exciting.

Of course looking back now I can see that the motivations of the space race were a bit questionable. It was very much a Cold War propaganda thing. But it was still kind of inspiring. It was perhaps the last pure expression of western cultural confidence. The confidence was at almost 19th century levels – the idea that science and technology were unstoppable and that there was nothing our civilisation couldn’t do.

Even at the time it was difficult to see any practical value in it. That was what made it rather magnificent. Perhaps that’s what cultural confidence is all about – doing things just to prove you can do them.

Maybe the money could have been better spent on other things, but then when you look at the way governments happily pour billions of dollars down the toilet on equally futile things it’s probable that the money never was going to be better spent anyway.

And I do feel considerable regret that it all came to such an ignominious end. I can’t honestly think of any practical reason why anyone would want to send a manned mission to Mars but I’m rather sad that we haven’t done it and possibly never will.

The end of the Space Age also appeared to coincide with the end of the great age of science and technology. There was a period in history when major scientific advances just seemed to come one after another. That era seemed to come to an end in the mid-20th century. Have there been any truly breathtaking scientific advances since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA in 1953?

The age of stunning technological progress arguably ended about the same time. The first aircraft flew in 1903. In 1969 men walked on the Moon and Concorde made its first test flight. What have we done since them? Computers? They’re basically a 1940s concept. OK, we have the internet. And what do we use it for? Downloading porn, uploading cute kitten photos, checking up on the latest celebrity gossip.

I’m inclined to think that it’s a worrying symptom of our cultural malaise that we don’t want to do things like go to Mars any more. And we don’t want heroes like Neil Armstrong any more (just as it was probably a bad symptom for the Soviet Union when they didn’t want heroes like Yuri Gagarin any more). Our heroes today are airhead celebrities.

Civilisations need heroes and they need confidence. The Space Age was an expression of boundless confidence in the future. I miss that confidence.