Jul 18, 2022Liked by Elliot Hershberg

"I’m calling for a transition away from the view that we are simply *survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes*"

Well-said. The related threads to this is often underexplored in society - what are our other base instincts beyond survival? I think of self-expression as another natural and powerful instinct and it seems to play a more important role in feelings similar to this.

I see so much overlap in which this natural desire for "self-expression" coincides with a world that is greener, wetter, and is fundamentally rooted in biological life. I think it's something about the natural chaos or serendipity that complex bio-systems can provide that seems to encourage and facilitate this losse "self-expressive" parts of ourself.

Wish there was more research on the subject!

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Jul 17, 2022Liked by Elliot Hershberg

Excellent post. There is so much potential will the combined impact of increased computing power, lower energy costs and improvements in biological sciences.

Do you have any thoughts on how the current funding structure of our institutions helps/inhibits work towards your stated goals? Do you see any significant blocks or inflection points that philanthropies or other groups should be funding beyond the typical funding mechanisms?

See: https://newscience.org/

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Jul 17, 2022Liked by Elliot Hershberg

Welcome back, Elliot!

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Jul 17, 2022Liked by Elliot Hershberg

Hey, I thought this was really clear writing. I’m not really convinced by these reasons to focus on biological life though; are there reasons to prefer biological life that aren’t aesthetic and axiomatic? A focus on biotech would definitely open up avenues to combat scarcity, but so would benevolent AGI or smart digital minds.

My view is that traditional transhumanism is mostly good and correct, but that doesn’t mean we should all drop what we’re doing and work on AGI. There’s useful work to do in other sciences in the medium term that would help improve life a great deal.

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I think biological progress is really enticing and valuable, and there are so many forms and functions that we could be reaching for. But for whatever reason AI has captured everyone's imagination, even to the point of exclusion. That is, by thinking about and being fascinated by AI, we are somehow as a society incapable of admitting that biological progress is also interesting. Maybe this is partly because the internet is made by programmers and we programmers are thrilled by the prospect that our skills could be so directly applicable to the future (AI) and less something that we're not skilled on (biology). I am curious if you have any insight into this cultural attention block.

One thing that we could be doing is more human enhancement via the germline:


Join us (or don't):


You may also be interested in the Bison Sphere Manifesto ( https://www.palladiummag.com/2020/04/01/the-bison-sphere-manifesto/ ).

I found your post from https://stephenmalina.com/post/2023-01-11-viriditas-dialogue/

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Leaving aside the merits of meat vs machine, this seems like a strange perspective of the evolutionary process to me. As Nick Land put it:

"It is only due to a predominance of influences that are not only entirely morally indifferent, but indeed — from a human perspective — indescribably cruel, that nature has been capable of constructive action. Specifically, it is solely by way of the relentless, brutal culling of populations that any complex or adaptive traits have been sieved — with torturous inefficiency — from the chaos of natural existence. All health, beauty, intelligence, and social grace has been teased from a vast butcher’s yard of unbounded carnage, requiring incalculable eons of massacre to draw forth even the subtlest of advantages. This is not only a matter of the bloody grinding mills of selection, either, but also of the innumerable mutational abominations thrown up by the madness of chance, as it pursues its directionless path to some negligible preservable trait, and then — still further — of the unavowable horrors that ‘fitness’ (or sheer survival) itself predominantly entails. We are a minuscule sample of agonized matter, comprising genetic survival monsters, fished from a cosmic ocean of vile mutants, by a pitiless killing machine of infinite appetite. (This is still, perhaps, to put an irresponsibly positive spin on the story, but it should suffice for our purposes here.)"

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