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Everything posted by nanite1018

  1. I've heard it estimated, at the extreme edge (assuming no Alzheimer's and that) at maybe 1000 years. Then you'd have to start deleting things or expand your memory or something. As for Grames' arguments, I understand them, but I don't think they are particularly important. Living longer is a value only if I value my life - that is, if I am enjoying living it. I could be fitness crazy and eat only 1200 calories a day because that seems to prolong lifespan in animals by 30-50%, but I don't want to do that because it isn't worth it. But other than that, striving for prolonged life is clearly a rational thing. Perhaps the use of "immortality" in the description is throwing things off. The correct term used by transhumanists is "indefinite life span" - there is no biological reason you will die at any point in the future, barring accidents. While you're living out for few centuries, we'll develop technologies to make the world safer, make more types of damage to the body repairable, and even boost our intellectual abilities (like improved memories and the like). Get rid of ageing (or repair the damage caused by ageing- kind of the same thing in terms of results) and you'll currently live for ~500 years or more before you die from an accident. How was life 500 years before you were born? I was born in 1990, so Columbus hadn't even sailed the ocean blue yet. I think it is pretty safe to say, given all the change in technology in just the last 50 years, let alone the last 500, that finite memory isn't going to be a problem (nor dying for any normal sort of accident- we'll probably figure out how to make backup copies of ourselves and place them all over to ensure we always have one- barring a civilization crushing event). I don't know about it being a primary goal, but long life certainly should be a major value for people who love living (obviously, within the context of all the values that make that life worth living).
  2. I don't see why. Guy killed a bunch of innocent people because he was crazy/consistently religious (which are basically the same thing). He despised Western civilization as such, and everything that comes with it, and he killed thousands as one battle in his war on civilization. He was one of the most vile and evil human beings on the face of the Earth. He shouldn't have been killed and buried at sea, he should have gotten a lot worse (and publicly too, so everyone can see what happens to evil mass murderers). The destruction of evil is the defense of the good, the defense of the good is part and parcel with its pursuit. Killing bin Laden was a great act of justice, a huge moral victory over the enemies of civilization. That is what people are celebrating. They're celebrating, in a sense, all the good in civilization and modernity. They're celebrating life by celebrating a symbol of death's own slaying. I don't see why that should be frowned upon or disturbing in any way. Why should it be? What basis could there be for such an emotion? Some form of compassion or sympathy for the slain? Bin Laden was a subhuman monster who would have killed you if he had the chance, why would ANYONE feel sympathy for him? Loathing and contempt are the appropriate emotions to have to such a creature, and joy at his long overdue departure from existence.
  3. I personally think its very sad that we "buried" him at sea. He should have been placed on display at the WTC. At least put his head on a pike or something, it's not like he doesn't deserve it (somewhat joking). His body should have been displayed, both to eliminate conspiracy rumors and to piss off his friends. If only it had been 9 years ago, it would have sent a stronger message. Now its more like "well you were going to get him eventually, I mean come on". Oh well, least he's dead, and he got shot in the face by Navy SEALs rather than of old age or a drone attack. You've gotta think that that SEAL must be pretty pumped right now. Seriously, that's gotta be the most important kill in decades.
  4. same here, CapitalistSwine. I think Johnson is more electable, more appealing to your average person, etc. but that Ron Paul is more principled, consistent, and would be less willing to compromise when dismantling the welfare/warfare state. I think Johnson might really have a chance to win, if Paul wasn't in the race. I think Paul has at least as good a chance as Johnson in getting the nomination (due to his huge backing from the last election, and being the Father of the Tea Party). Both of them, running against each other? I think each will be the other's spoiler. Here's hoping one of them drops out soon (though I kind of hope its Johnson). Other than them, at this point, the Republicans have nothing to offer. I'll vote for whoever they pick (as long as it isn't Palin, pretty much) just to get Obama out, but I certainly wouldn't like it. I'd be skipping to the voting both to vote for Paul or Johnson.
  5. I saw the movie last night, and again today. Last night, I thought it was just alright to goodish, and today I thought it was great. I think a lot of the difference in my interpretation was that yesterday the theater was packed full and hot, and today it seemed like the AC worked better and I had room to spread out a bit and really relax when watching it. Go figure. I think the acting was quite good all around, though the Rearden family deserves commendation for pretty much nailing it on every single point. Schilling's presentation of Dagny was really good I thought, though not quite as spot-on as the portrayal of Rearden. My only nits to pick are the "missing" slides (I thought a report overheard on the news would have been better), and the scenes with Galt weren't great (I didn't like them at all first time through, thought they were fairly good second time through). Overall, I thought it was a very good portrayal of Part One of the novel. I think I am going to try to see it with a friend of mine who has never read the book, to see what they think. I also went with a few Objectivist(ish) friends of mine last night, and they thought it was alright (as I did, last night). I think being physically more comfortable, and not being hyper-tense about the movie, made the experience far more enjoyable. I'm interested in seeing what the response of non-Objectivist, non-Rand-haters is.
  6. A war with a civilization from another star system is pretty absurd, at least so long as we are confined to our lil' ole planet. Major civilization stretching across hundreds or thousands of light-years? Yeah. One backwater planet? I think not. After all, there are better places to go for resources that Earth. The Main Asteroid Belt, for example. The various moons of the outer solar system. The atmospheres of the gas giants. Mercury is basically a giant iron ball with a little dust on top, so if you want metals that is where you would probably want to go. Heck, even Mars would be better for mining and the like, as it has a shallower gravitational field than Earth. Indeed, the only thing we have that isn't more readily available elsewhere is an atmosphere and liquid water. But if you have energy (which the Sun or nuclear fusion or whatever energy source they used to get here would provide in abundance), there are more reasonable ways to get those. It has been estimated that the resources in the asteroid belt alone would be enough to support ten trillion human beings without any sort of resource crunch. Why bother with a planet, which is the most inefficient use of material anyone could possible imagine if one is trying to gain access to resources or use them for living space, when there are giant mountains of resources just floating around? The only thing I would be worried about, honestly, is an accident of some kind. Perhaps they have drones that go ahead of them and build large antenna arrays and the like for them. Those drones may just release a self-replicating nanobot and it just goes about its business, building arrays, power stations, etc., and accidentally wipe out everything on Earth. Something like that seems infinitely more likely that "We are coming to steal your resources, and we will shoot you with laser guns" as seen in so many science fiction movies.
  7. I'm going to have to second (or third?) "Chocolat". It obviously isn't Objectivist, but it definitely has the right sense of life. No speeches about how great being selfish is, but really shows the problems with duty-based morality vs. egoism. I think it has moved up to be one of my favorite's now (not sure how often I will want to re-watch it, but it is a really really good film). I just finished it, like ten minutes ago. Haha. Great movie. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it is probably the best movie displaying rational egoism (not politics) I've ever seen. Tony Stark does a pretty good job, but even that is more of a political-type message than the more directly personal "you're life would be better if you actually worked with the aim of living a good/joyful life" message of "Chocolat". It isn't about superheroes, or billionaire's, or a magic island, or people in ancient times, but about "normal" people and living their lives in (effectively) the modern day. Not to say I don't love 300, Watchmen, The Incredibles, Iron Man, etc. All great. I also recently saw "Agora", and I'll second that one too. Quite a powerful film, and really highlights what is wrong with religion, and why science and reason are so wonderful. Nevertheless, in terms of portraying the proper selfishness of Objectivism, "Chocolat" all the way. You want reason, or adherence to principle, or great political struggles, there are other movies. But since selfishness gets short shrift in movies, "Chocolat" definitely deserves to be near the top of the "Movies that reflect Objectivism" list.
  8. This talk of the government being able to set up procedural rules for any but the most extreme cases (for example, if I were to want to build a nuke to detonate on my 100 million acres of property just for kicks, as that would be an extremely dangerous situation that would, at best, have to be monitored extremely closely) to be a very slippery slope indeed. If government can tell me what the traffic rules must be on my road, why can't it tell me how I have to keep my financial records? Why can't it tell me what sorts of ads I can and cannot display? Why can't it tell me what the rules must be for me to hire and fire people? Why can't it tell me how to mow my lawn, or how to educate my children, (or run my school, if I am educating many children)? Why does the government get to order me to do some things (that do not violate other people's rights) but now others? Either property rights are held inviolate (except in very very clearly delimited emergency circumstances, and even then full compensation with interest should be provided after the end of the emergency), or we have no principle upon which to defend and condemn some actions over others except mere utilitarianism or pragmatism. I don't see a difference in kind between the dictation of procedural rules and the seizure of property- only a difference in degree of interference.
  9. I do not know that a parked car is in total rest in comparison with the lamppost and a nearby building. I only know that it is very very nearly at rest. It is constantly being bombarded with energy (light for example, air molecules hitting it, etc.), so I in fact do not expect it to be in absolute rest, but rather only in average rest. That is, I expect its average velocity, even over short times, to be zero.
  10. @ _wh_ I'll have to think about your spin example. It seems to run counter to everything I've encountered (every state I've ever seen for such systems collapses to where the system has a single well-defined classical-type state), but I'll look into it. As for the "particles moving in opposite directions but getting closer together, I haven't seen/heard that. Do you have a reference of some kind, a textbook say (my university's library is quite extensive). As for "zero-point energy" and "non-locality": Non-locality, as Grames has said, is simply a fact. It won't be overturned any time soon. The world is far stranger than it seems to us way up here at the meter-scale level, but that does not mean that non-locality is nonphysical or a dead end. Indeed, the whole idea that effects can only propagate at the speed of light is relatively new- only since the turn of the 20th century. As for your contention that "zero-point energy" is unphysical, I don't see why. There will always be some minimum amount of energy left over, perfect rest is the non-physical view (there will always be some forces on a particle, and given non-locality this is more true then ever).
  11. _wh_, first welcome to the forum. I am not sure what you mean by your statement that the eigenvectors are at times unphysical. I've never seen such a case in my classes. That isn't to say they can't exist, but I have never seen or heard of them. The only "non-physical" things I've ever seen are the types of paradoxes that occur with, say, Bell's inequalities, or Dr. Schroedinger's cat. Can you give me an example of what you are talking about?
  12. I would like to second Marc K.'s point here (maybe that's a first). Private roads do not imply anarchism in any way whatsoever. Having all property be private property does not threaten the continued existence of a civilized society with a prospering economy. There have been private roads before (for example England in the 1600s), or private waterways (New England in the early 1800s). Railroads are another example of a similar industry. All of them were, initially, privately owned. And from experience we know that they had two qualities that resulted: 1) Standardization- Railroads instituted time zones to enable consistent time schedules, and their influence in the economy helped eliminate many of the anomalies in time measurement in cities and towns across the United States. 2) They also tend to work together, allowing other companies to use their own rails in exchange for the opportunity to do the same on their competitors rails. So far from leading to a closing off of travel, they cooperated for mutual benefit and in the process created a continent-spanning economy. There is a natural pressure in shipping/transportation industries for the creation of industry-wide standards and practices (not enforced by law, but enforced by market pressures), and for cooperation in day-to-day business. I see no reason why this would not continue to be the case for a private road system. Also, economics (particularly Austrian economics) as well as Objectivist ethics point to the fact that low time-preferences (i.e. thinking and planning long term) and rationality lead to an increase in capital (i.e. wealth) and an increase in the achievement of values. Economics and ethics imply that rational people will end up being wealthier than irrational people, ceteris paribus. So one would expect that the large and wealthy transportation industry executives will generally be rational, and certainly not bent on destroying their companies by acting in a way that restricts trade and makes owning a business on their lines (or traveling them) undesirable. I find it interesting that an Objectivist would be against making all roads private (probably as the last step in the achievement of the privatization of the various illegitimate services the government currently provides, as it is the one that will be the most thorny problem due to how big a role public roads currently play in our society). As Marc said, it is clearly in direct contradiction to the principle of a "wall of separation" between Economy and State.
  13. The point of free will is readily addressed via the search function, there are a bazillion threads on it in the Questions, Metaphysics/Epistemology, and Ethics sections (and probably a few dotted around other places too). So I won't be getting into that. You asked "Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?" You are asking for a logical argument for why one should listen to logical arguments. This means that you already believe that one should listen to/adhere to logic and reason. Therefore no such demonstration is necessary. The very act of asking for a "reason" means you accept Reason as the criterion for judgment. It is implicit in the very act. No arguments can be posed which do not implicitly assume the adherence of all those engaged to the dictum "Be rational." So asking "why be rational/logical?" is pointless, as one cannot form an argument against logic/reason, nor can any argument have any force for one who renounces logic/reason. Objectivism's metaphysical axioms are "axiomatic" in this sense: No argument may be formulated which does not assume them implicitly, and so any argument purporting to disprove them will necessarily suffer from self-contradiction. And by asking "why do you believe what you believe?" one has already conceded that one needs reasons, i.e. needs to form arguments for one's beliefs, and so must reject any notion which is self-refuting/self-contradictory. Basic breakdown: A is A: Reject this claim- "A can be not A." Then this means that under certain conditions the statement "A is not A" is true. But this requires, to be true or conversely that the statement "A is A" is false under certain conditions. But this means that the statements "A is not A" and "A is A" cannot both be true at the same time, therefore A and not A can never be equivalent, so A is not not A and so A is A. Also, if you reject the law of non-contradiction/law of identity, then one can form no arguments as one can reach any conclusion one desires. Existence exists: Reject this claim- "Existence does not exist." Reply-"At the very least, the statement "existence does not exist" then exists, and in order for anything to exist, existence must exist. QED". Or if you feel snarky, just reply "Who said that?" Axiom of Consciousness: To be conscious is to be conscious of something. If I am not aware of anything except myself, I have nothing to compare to, so I cannot even be aware of myself. Therefore if I am not aware of an outside world, I am aware of nothing, and so am not conscious. Therefore I am conscious of an external world. That's basically it. Hope that helps, and hope you get over that nasty religion thing that's been going around these last few millenia, it gives people tummy aches. Also, welcome to OO.net!
  14. But then who checks the monopoly? I haven't made up my mind on this subject ("anarchy" a la anarcho-capitalist-types vs. a no taxes minarchist state a la Objectivism), as I find it quite complex. I think the biggest problem is that the government does not have a check on it as a whole (see America's growth in statism over the last two hundred years), and so it will tend to expand if at all possible. What is the remedy of minarchists and Objectivists for this? A vigilant populace with a good philosophy. Indeed, a society filled with people with a proper philosophy is the only real check on government, for if people suddenly all changed their mind, the government would quickly follow along. As a result of this, I don't see why the situation would be significantly different in the case of "anarchy"- a bunch of defense agencies competing for business. Who will check them to ensure that the criminal element- those who use force illegitimately (i.e. initiate force against those who have not violated the rights of others)- is a tiny portion of the population, held at bay and unable to interfere in everyday life? The populace will. If you have a society of criminals, then you are going to have a bunch of crime. If you have a society of people where the vast majority have an Objectivist morality and believe in absolute private property and personal sovereignty, etc., then you will have relatively little crime and people will be able to hold it at bay. This is the same sort of argument that people give for the possibility of funding government via donations- in order to get to that point you'd need to have a society of Objectivist-ish people and they would see the need to donate to the government so their rights are protected. So I do not see what the difference is in principle between the two. However, I can see how perhaps having a monopoly-type government would be more efficient and effective then a non-monopoly system. As of right now, I don't see the difference as one of principle, but a pragmatic one about what is the most effective strategy of protecting individual rights (and that a non-monopoly system would be able to protect individual rights, only it might not be able to do it as well or as efficiently).
  15. To the OP, I was (and in a way still am) in the same position. I too was a secular person ever since I was young. I love(d) science and reason, and hate(d) irrationality. I bought into the idea that reason and emotion are opposed, that I was a being split in two: a Man, and an Animal. The Man was the reasoner, the scientist, etc. The Animal was my emotions, sex, even physical activity like sports or exercise (or even being outside and enjoying it in any way). And so, ever since I was in elementary school, all the way up until my senior year of high school (I loosened up a bit my sophomore and junior years but really didn't shake it in any meaningful way until senior year), I suppressed laughter or smiles, I stamped down any sexual urges, intentionally avoided interacting with anyone outside of school, intellectualized almost all of my activities so they had little emotional impact, etc. I also became very overweight, but suppressed even my shame of that as it too would be a concession to the idea that my body mattered, which to me was a sin against reason. Well, in terms of my conscious statements, I believe none of that crap now. And I've made some progress in various areas. For example now I laugh and joke and smile. I don't intentionally stamp down my emotions. I don't suppress sexual feelings and shun them as if they're dirty. I've even started eating a lot better and have lost 20 pounds in less than thirty days. However, the after effects still linger. Even though I don't try to be, I still project the image that I am a brain in a jar. I don't have strong emotions, they tend to be more superficial. I find it hard to be motivated to do things (as my ability to value things, and feel that, is limited at this point from years of repression. My emotions about sex are messed up too, as a direct result. However, I have made improvements, and continue to do so. How? By understanding that sex isn't (or doesn't have to be) "lower", it can be great. That I am not a Man and an Animal, I am a Man (and men are also animals). I have emotions, and reason, and they can and should work together to make my life better, rather than at cross purposes. I am a union of mind and body, and the needs of both must be met (though I still haven't been able to bring myself to exercise, that one is difficult for me). It is both good and bad to here that someone has had a similar experience as me- a secular type person who has problems with sex because it's too "animalistic" or "impure". Good, because I'm not alone in that, bad, because that means there are others that are also in a bad way. Here's hoping we both get our s*** straight.
  16. We could definitely go back to the moon. I know several aerospace engineering students at Georgia Tech (best or second best AE department in the country), and that's what they've told me. Hell, you could probably do it using a dozen or so Falcon 9 launches. We have designs for super-heavy lift boosters, like the Sea Dragon, which could lift 550 tons to LEO, which could easily handle a massive mission to the Moon, or Mars, or many other places. There is no reason to think it impossible, or even exceedingly difficult. Honestly, if we dumped the space station and the shuttle, NASA would have more than enough money, right know, to launch a return to the moon and a mission to Mars by 2020 or 2025. We just don't feel like it. As for why, I think because it is there is a good reason. However, NASA is government funded, so that's not good. But I certainly think that a large private program would be possible (and estimates suggest cost about 20% as much as a government program to accomplish the same thing). One of these days some rich-as-hell billionaire who always liked space is going to decide "You know what, I wanna go to Mars." That, or something like it, is my bet for how the first manned mission to Mars will be funded.
  17. The Stanford Prison Experiment shows is that many people are cowards, that people often don't stand up for what they believe is right, etc. Not all people are susceptible to the influence of the behavior of the people around them, and these are the people of a more upstanding character than those who fall into depravity at the first excuse. The way to guard against such behavior is merely to develop a good character, and have your ethical principles understood fully and explicitly.
  18. Why can't it be the case that there is a 3N-dimensional wavefunction, which pushes all the particles around? I don't see a conceptual problem there, at least not necessarily. No one is saying it is a physical wave in space, but rather that it is a representation of a real interaction among all the particles (like a path through a 3N+1 dimensional phase space in Hamiltonian mechanics - something I'm learning about in my Classical Mechanics II course right now). As for Lorentz Aether Theory- don't knock it. It does NOT say that space or time actually contracts. What it says is that we measure everything, ultimately, with massless particles (like photons and the like), and that all massless particles travel at a single constant speed in the absolute rest frame- the speed of light in a vacuum. Since all measurements are ultimately based on massless particles (even yardsticks are made of atoms, which are held together by electromagnetism- i.e. photons), then when you are moving all your measurements are going to be different then before. Do a little simple algebra and out pops time dilation and length contraction and the increase in apparent mass (i.e. that it takes more of a momentum change in order to produce the same change in velocity), etc., as well as all the usual translational relations between any two reference frames. And it turns out that the absolute rest frame can never be observed, and any inertial frame is just as good as any other inertia frame. In short, you get all the results of special relativity, with no room for wishy-washiness about space or time contracting. Properly understood however, space and time are relational, and since the relations can change, so can space and time. If our measuring stick is light, and light travels in a curved path, then the fastest possible path between the two points is a curve. But the fastest path is a "straight-line", therefore space is curved. The two views are basically identical.
  19. Grames, I'm interested in your thoughts on Binswanger's position, which according Dr. Diana Hsieh's paper "Mind in Objectivism", is apparently a dualist one in which the mind is not physical nor extended, nor simply a different way of looking at the actions of the brain, but a fundamentally different type of stuff/thing which somehow can interact with the brain. That, to me, sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but also a lot like the position it seems that Jacob86 was trying to get across. In Binswanger's view, volition lies in this "mind" that is different than the body and which interacts with it and is dependent upon it for its existence. I myself have a hard time really finding anything that identifies the mind as anything other than some sort of introspective view of the brain (that is, just some other way of looking at the physical goings-on) to be a little mumbo-jumbo-ey, but I think it is in part a holdover from my many years of hard nosed materialism and scientism (many, here, being like 8, which is a good third of my life at this point, and since it was from about 9-17 or so, it had a big impact on my psycho-epistemology).
  20. The "God" of Spinoza, for example, so far as I can understand, is simply the universe, nothing more, nothing less. Some have called him a "pantheist". The only place where it is helpful, in any way, to describe the Universe or the Laws of Nature, or what-have-you as "God" is for a sort of poetical sense. This is what Einstein met in all his references to God, including his famous quip "God does not play dice with the Universe." What he meant was simply that the Universe isn't, at bottom, random in its workings, that physics cannot be fundamentally statistical in character, and he referenced common notions of God as a sort of allusion - that it is simply inconceivable that the Universe is set up that way (or as religious folks might say, there is no way God would set up the Universe to be like that). The "God" or Einstein and many physicists and other scientists (but by no means all, or even perhaps the majority),is at best a literary fiction or a bit of poetic license. It isn't anything at all like the deities of the world's various religions, or even the God of a diest. I'm not really sure if it is legitimate to use the notion of "god" in that way, but I can't see anything more than that as being a legitimate manner of speaking (that is, simply deism is not valid, nor anything which attempts to ascribe any qualities of personhood to Nature).
  21. Yeah, the line at the beginning is a little clunky, would have been better to say "I am the man who loves his life" or something like that. I thought the trailer looked pretty good, better then expected. I didn't notice the portrayal of Dagny as bad at all (I'm neutral), but I thought Rearden was quite well done (if perhaps a bit too happy, but I liked it nevertheless). As for Wyatt- he's a little old, but I always got the sense he was an intense sort of man in the book (so while perhaps he didn't yell in the book, I thought it sort of suited him- he did blow up his oil field after all). And finally, for that "take down Rearden from the inside", I don't see why it's bad really (indeed, if they play it right, with no one actually referring to Mouch directly, like they kind of did in the book there, it could be good). Indeed, the only thing I could possibly see that might be a problem is the feel of it. However, things did get progressively worse as the book went on. Things weren't horrible in Part 1, not really (and they could give little hints that aren't really addressed specifically in dialogue about the world's problems in Part 1, which from what I've read is what they plan to do). Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about how this movie will turn out. I just wish/hope it could get a nationwide distribution (maybe for September 2nd after its April 15 limited release?, idk) so they could make enough money to make the rest of them (which will definitely need larger budgets than part 1).
  22. I'm not against it in principle, but I would need to be able to know that it actually works: that I would have the same memories, that I would have volition, etc. That sort of thing could only come from interacting with such artificial intelligences (or uploaded natural intelligences) and seeing if they appear the same- as well as, of course, looking at the science involved. The truth is, we simply don't know if it is possible or not (I think that it probably is, but is going to tremendously difficult and we won't be able to do it for at minimum another hundred years, possibly a thousand). I haven't seen "AI: Artificial Intelligence", so I am unsure as to what you are referring to.
  23. Well, no one said you would turn yourself into a machine/rock. So long as you still have a characteristically human consciousness with volition, memories, the ability to reason, etc. then you are alive still, even if all your organs have been replaced with artificial ones, or if you have somehow (don't know if its possible, but it might be one day) changed the substrate for your consciousness to something other than a biological brain. By the way, is there something ineffable about life, in your view? Like, some extra stuff that gets thrown in there somehow to distinguish living things from nonliving things? If not, then why can't I change the structure of my body in various ways to make it more rugged? Say, replace my blood cells with little nanomachines that are way more efficient at carrying oxygen around. Redesign some of my genome to make the proteins more efficient and capable of doing their jobs. People are made up of a bunch of nonliving things (proteins, mostly), so I don't see why we couldn't have something made out of a bunch of other nonliving things (nanomachines designed by man) and have the whole be a living thing as well. Obviously it seems almost impossibly difficult from our perspective now, but eventually we might be able to do such a thing. I don't see why we couldn't in principle. Point is, changing ourselves in various ways (changing our blood, our genes, our proteins, most of our organs, etc.) should not necessarily have any negative effects - that is, it shouldn't make us "not alive" anymore. In principle, I see a big difference between a rock and a tree (as the tree is alive, it goes through a process of constant action to stay that way and the rock doesn't). But nevertheless both are made out of inanimate things, just put together in different ways that result in different characteristics of the whole. I don't see why we could not, in principle, change little parts of the tree over time, and have it still be the same tree but made out of different stuff. By the way, what exactly is the difference between making my immune system immensely stronger and not needing so much medical care? Or making myself physically stronger and needing less technological help to lift stuff? Or making my metabolism more efficient and needing less food? Making my blood better at carrying oxygen, and needing fewer breaths? Each of these things, each useful and valuable in different context, comes with a reduced dependence on the environment. Increased resilience and innate capacity to survive goes hand in hand with reduced needs. So, are those things bad, as they mean you need less from your environment? It means you don't need to take as much action to stay alive anymore as you once did. However, that doesn't mean you can't have other values to replace the ones you "lost", you could then go climb Mount Everest without a sherpa or oxygen tank, or go exploring in the rain forest without fear of disease and with a minimal amount of supplies. Oh, and thank you Dante for your post, I thought it was quite good, and I pretty much agree completely.
  24. Well, my star-making comment was an example of the sort of thing wihch is theoretically possible (there is no reason one could not manipulate a gas cloud using a number of means from nuclear detonations to large mirror-type structures or miniature black holes generated in ultra-high energy particle accelerators, in order to cause it to collapse under gravity. For instance, one might be able to artificially ignite Jupiter using a set of infrared mirrors that could be built out of asteroidal material. It wouldn't be self-sustaining (the mirror system would have to be maintained), but one could do so if one desired for a number of reasons (including providing a nice energy source for space colonies in the area). When you master something, do something harder. And mega-scale projects, while outside of our reach for now, aren't impossible from a physics standpoint, and so I see no reason why humans won't one day undertake such activities (if they decide it suits them). I find the idea of living for billions of years perhaps quite exciting, all the things I could see (the center of the galaxy for instance, the death of the Sun, other planets, perhaps meeting other intelligent species) and do (ignite stars, seed planets with life, produce energy from black holes, really probe the highest energies attainable and figure out the physics there, etc.). I look at the prospect with glee. You spoke of your emotional reaction to reading his statement. Well my reaction when I think about death and disease is a deep revulsion. I view man as essentially unlimited in his power to change the world (obviously, he can't change the laws of physics, things like that) to suit his needs or desires. Death from disease or aging are problems, nothing more, and all problems can be solved. Any and all threats to the lives of humans are problems which may be solved under the application of reason. Nothing physically possible is beyond the range of the reasoning mind. In the service of his own life, man can and should, through the use of his intellect, command all the Universe into a form which suits him. Is there a disease? Cure it. Is there an asteroid coming to the Earth? Move it, or leave Earth. Overpopulation? Move into space. Not enough resources? Move into space. Need more energy than one star can give? Move to others. Are the stars all dying (roughly 100 trillion years from now)? Take energy from black holes. There is no problem that is in principle insurmountable. It might not be doable within some timeline, or doable by you. But every problem can be solved (so long as your not breaking the laws of physics to do so). Got a little passionate there. But that is how I view the world. It seems to view man as pretty heroic to me, and is definitely a benevolent view. We will always have existence needs. We will always need energy in order to survive, and any source of energy can eventually be exhausted. Nothing is indestructible. There is always a risk that your backup was corrupted (really, backups are the only challenging thing in there). But let's look at what you are saying for a moment: You are basically saying, that the more able you are to survive, the fewer values you can have and the less they can mean to you. So the rich man can't have very many values at all, right? After all, if he is as rich as Bill Gates, it is basically unimaginable that (if he had all that wealth in cash of some form or another) he could use it all in his pursuit of life before his maybe 100 years of life are up. All his values would have to be things like medical care and safe appliances or whatever, as they're the only things which pose a risk. No need to be productive, he already has met his needs. The whole point of the virtue of productivity is that one can NEVER have too many values, too much in the way of cushion for themselves. It is literally impossible to become indestructible, it is literally impossible to be "can't die ever due to any cause" immortal. You will ALWAYS have to pursue some course of action to continue living, so Rand's indestructible robot does not apply. Your proposed continuum is invalid, because the reason it could not have values is because it absolutely could never be destroyed. If you can be destroyed, you can have values. And indeed, you can have many values.
  25. Well most extropians (a subset of transhumanists) are laissez-faire capitalists. I do not know much about "extropists" and I will have to look into it further. I am on the "extropy chat" mailing list, which caters to extropians, and I never heard of this extropism thing. The desire to get rid of property isn't a part of transhumanism as such. As for utopianism, except for "extropism", no yranshumanist I have ever heard of thinks that there won't be any problems in the future. Rather, like Objectivists, they think that any problem can in principle be solved by the application of reason. I think that goes along with a benevolent sense of life. At last a new topic to discuss! See, what you describe is a real objection, thank you. My reply is that if you master something, or it is no longer risky for you, then you can do bigger and better things. If fighting normal crime is boring because its too easy, fight supervillains instead. Designing little airplanes not a challenge? Design a jumbo jet, or start a new career. Maybe you'll be able to one day go into the star-making business (literally). Being more able shouldn't reduce one's ability to achieve values, but rather increase the size and scope of the values one can achieve.
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