Transhumanism philosophy & book reviews

Earlier this year I had a series of panic attacks over a couple of weeks.  Makes you think more about your own mortality. Given this unexpected nudge I have taken some time out to read on the topic of transhumanism. Living in the geek ecosystem / culture you hear the word from time to time along with the technological singularity and even talk on post human beings.  There is much to read, listen or code to review online but my online searches got to me to two books.

The first by Ben Geotzel, A Cosmist Manifesto. Ben is the founder of the open source AGI (artificial general intelligence) project, OpenCog .  Written with many headings and quick burst of thoughts, explanations and philosophy history or own opinions.  The second book was authored by an Economist, Ted Chu, Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential. This was a more demanding read with the breadth and depth of content, thinking and reasoning and sheer range of topics, including putting religion equally at the heart of the book.

Religion and especially religious history would not normally be my choice of reading but I found Ted’s global vantage point, from East to West, believer to atheist, he covered it all and beyond.  The rigor of research and references is impressive although I have not had the time to follow any of it to source yet. Before expanding on the main thrust of the topics of both books, I found myself seeing part of my own personal path through the Universe or cosmos being described.  How pioneers or those providing a different view point and thinking are not always embraced and often the opposite of encouragement put in the way.  Both achieved a person connection along with the big future looking visions.

Both books are putting the case for a post human future, as Ted puts it, Cosmic Evolution.  A Universe full of CoBe’s (cosmic beings).  AGI could well be one of the technologies that takes us to this state of being.  Ted, builds on the thinking of Darwinsm in the context of biological evolution, cultural evolution (which if I understand right includes technology, religion and social forces) and conscious evolution or consciousness 2.0 which will take the the lead in evolution and us humans will ‘give birth to it’. Ted ties all these stands together into a coherent argument to describe the future.

A future not with out many risks.  The risks discussion takes up large parts of both books. Morality, playing god or human extinction are all big hitting subjects that both authors rationally discuss from various stance points.

Both authors bring much to think on about the future.  By sharing their knowledge, more general awareness is brought to us new or newer to the topic.  What gets me is the time scales are not eons away.  The most optimistic predictions are a 10% change of transhumans in the next 10 years, 50% chance in the next 20 years.  Time will produce the date if ever.  Finally, the personal role we each can and do play in the future is brought up by both authors and I found renewed focus and commitment to the part I want to play in the future.

Both books have all or a couple of chapters open sourced and free to read.  Invest your attention and mind in one or both.



The Power of Pull – book review

The Power of Pull is the latest book I have read.  I would not normally buy and read a business book but this book was recommend by a close friend, a fellow participant in the movement contributing to the Attention Economy.  The three Authors have a long history of authoring influential books focusing on the impact the Internet has on business.  Straight of the bat, this book does not read like a business book, it would be equally happy sitting on the self help guide shelf in a library.  This is not a criticism, it is very much to its credit.  The future is all about the individual, most chapters of the book are devoted to guiding individual to get a “return on their attention.”

Two chapters can be described as self help guides for business and organisations but 80% of the volume of that content is on the individual.  The authors conclude they don’t see the end of business, changed yes but still there.  I would liked to have seen them be bold enough to conclude this will be outcome.  All their evidence and models point clearly to this conclusion.

The BIG SHIFT sets the scene, a digital, internet based attention economy resulting in sustained innovation, not a one of structural shift, a permanent state of uncertainty.  This in itself is not a bad thing, but it is for the current way the economy does business.  What about the topics explored?  Well, many of those familiar to myself, I’ve written about them on my blog. Collaboration and the concept of a collaboration curve is central to geting a return on attention.  The book is very practical on how to achieve this.  Often this is missing but as best the authors can show pre this being ‘the future norm’ then the examples and observation support their three stage process for individuals to manage their attention.

The examples given come from people following their passions.  Those already equipped to live in an Attention Economy.  I would have liked to see the authors take some future white space and devote a few pages to world they see tomorrow but not being done today.  They allude to this by noted most human effort goes into none standard changes to products and services.  This is the soil, in my view, for creating a mass product personalization capability for everything.  In old school words, mass economies of scale but for non-homogeneous products and services.

The book articulates where we are now and were we are heading at a fast and increasing pace.  Personally the book has provided me with great material to show the seamless join from an economy based on a monetary currency to one based on Attention.  I’d recommend you read it, that is every individual.