Transhumanism and Immortality – 21st Century Snake Oil

Before I start my rant, I recognize that the Transhumanism movement is chock full of cool ideas, many of which make complete sense, even though they are perhaps obvious and inevitable.  The application of science and technology to the betterment of the human body ranges from current practices like prosthetics and Lasik to genetic modification and curing diseases through nanotech.  It is happening and there’s nothing anyone can to to stop it, so enjoy the ride as you uplift your biology to posthumanism.

However, part of the Transhumanist dogma is the idea that we can “live long enough to live forever.”  Live long enough to be able to take advantage of future technologies like genetic manipulation  which could end the aging process and YOU TOO can be immortal!

The problem with this mentality is that we are already immortal!  And there is a reason why our corporeal bodies die.  Simply put, we live our lives in this reality in order to evolve our consciousness, one life instance at a time.  If we didn’t die, our consciousness evolution would come to a grinding halt, as we spend the rest of eternity playing solitaire and standing in line at the buffet.  The “Universe” or “All That There Is” appears to evolve through our collective individuated consciousnesses.  Therefore, deciding to be physically immortal could be the end of the evolution of the Universe itself.  Underlying this unfortunate and misguided direction of Transhumanism is the belief (and, I can’t stress this enough, it is ONLY that – a belief) that it is lights out when we die.  Following the train of logic, if this were true, consciousness only emerges from brain function, we have zero free will, the entire universe is a deterministic machine, and even investigative science doesn’t make sense any more.  So why even bother with Transhumanism if everything is predetermined?  It is logically inconsistent.  Materialism, the denial of the duality of mind and body, is a dogmatic Religion.  Its more vocal adherents (just head on over to the JREF Forum to find these knuckleheads) are as ignorant to the evidence and as blind to what true science is as the most bass-ackward fundamentalist religious zealots.

OK, to be fair, no one can be 100% certain of anything.  But, there is FAR more evidence for consciousness driven reality than for deterministic materialism.  This blog contains a lot of it, as does my first book, “The Universe-Solved!“, with much more in my upcoming book.

The spokesman for transhumanistic immortality is the self-professed “Transcendent Man“, Ray Kurzweil.  Really Ray?  Did you seriously NOT fight the producers of this movie about you to change the title to something a little less self-aggrandizing, like “Modern Messiah”? #LRonHubbard

So I came across this article about the 77 supplements that Ray takes every day.  From the accompanying video clip, he believes that they are already reversing his aging process: “I’m 65. On many biological aging tests I come out a lot younger. I expect to be in my 40s 15 years from now.”

He has been on this regimen for years.  So let’s see how well those supplements are doing.  Picking an objective tool from one of Ray’s own favorite technologies – Artificial Intelligence – the website how-old.net has an AI bot that automatically estimates your age from an uploaded photo.  I took a screen shot from the video clip (Ray is 65 in the clip) and uploaded it:

Ray Kurzweil Age

85!  Uh oh.  Hmmm, maybe the bot overestimates everyone’s age. I’m 10 years younger than Ray.  Let’s see how I fare, using a shot taken the same year at a ski resort – you know, one of those sports Ray says to avoid (Ray also claims that his kids will probably be immortal as long as they don’t take up extreme sports):

JimHowOld

I don’t know if it is the supplements that make Ray look 20 years older than he is, or the extreme skiing that makes me look 13 years younger than I am.  But I’m thinking maybe I’m onto something. [Note: I do realize that the choice of pictures could result in different outcomes.  I just thought it was ironic that the first two that I tried had these results]

Yes, I’m fairly confident that these supplements have some value in improving the function of various organs and benefiting a person’s overall health and well being.  I’m also fairly certain that much of traditional medical community would disagree and point to the lack of rigorous scientific studies supporting these supposed benefits as they always do.  On the whole, I suspect that, on the average, supplements might extend one’s lifetime somewhat.  But I doubt that they will reverse aging.  The human body is far too complex to hope that adding a few organic compounds would be sufficient to modify and synchronize all of the complex cellular and systemic metabolic chemical reactions toward a reversal of the aging process.  Kurzweil is obviously a very bright man who has had a significant entrepreneurial legacy in the high tech world.  However I think he and the rest of the materialist transhumanists are way over their heads on the topic of immortality and our place and purpose in the Universe.

My suggestion, Ray… skip the supplements, skip the self-promotion, skip the Google plugs, drive your goddamn car, and don’t be afraid to be active.  Stick with high tech, leave the evolution of the universe to its own devices, and enjoy the rest of this life.

4 Responses to Transhumanism and Immortality – 21st Century Snake Oil

  1. Dan Hawes says:

    Hi Jim,

    Everything you say makes perfect sense … I subscribe to your philosophy and its the first “worldview” that seems to accommodate the anomalies of science and intelligent design/spirituality. Very fresh take. That said, gotta say you were a bit hard on Ray.

    I love the guy. He’s a quirky genius, exudes kindness and has a goofy kind of innocence. I did watch Transcendent Man and agree that it shared a lot of great ideas but does go a bit to far … not doubt in an attempt to provoke a bit of controversy. I thought the exchange with William Shatner and his chuckle as Ray told him about his commercial venture was priceless. Also, his wife’s acknowledgement about how good he is at “taking pills”.

    I also did look at Ray’s Regimen and proposed plan and the essence of what he was selling is completely ridiculous … advocating essentially caloric restriction and a combination of good eating and vitamins … The “No shit Sherlock diet” … complete waste of time really … and it is snake oil.

    But comparing yourself to Ray is not fair. First of all the app is poor at best and the playing field is not level. It is possible that without Ray’s regimen he could be dead or look 105. On the other hand, who knows … ramping up on high potency resveratrol and reducing your calorie intake could make you look 35.

    Point is, you’re working from completely different baselines so not fair to compare the app photos to discredit what he’s schilling. I’m no psychologist but Ray is dealing with a serious case of “fear of death/abandonement”, perhaps from his dad passing … and maybe not so elegantly.

    For some of us, extending the quality of life much longer could in fact be more than just an extended game of shuffleboard or solitaire but provide better context to figure things out and maybe reduce the number of incarnations required … reducing the number of akashic records needed. Maybe its just more efficient programming 🙂 …. but yes, the immortality thing is a bit much.

    Since Ray took over “bringing voice to Google”, I’ve noted a phenomenal improvement in Google’s voice offering and Ray’s influence is no doubt making positive change. He’s super smart and has a good heart so give him a break.

    Some of us just take a little longer. I know I do.

    Best

    Dan

    • jim says:

      Hey Dan,

      Thanks very much for your feedback. I do appreciate it and agree with your points. In fact, I made a slight adjustment to the blog to emphasize the intended message of the blog and de-emphasize the rather arbitrary AI-bot age estimates (as I mentioned I just thought it was humorous to get the results that I did on the first pictures that I tried). On the personal side, I guess I just see a lack of humility overshadowing any good natured quirkiness, and feel that anyone who thinks they can and should become immortal and who approves a messianic title on a film about their life opens themselves up to a bit of criticism. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Jim

  2. I like the approach of Eliezer Yudkowsky, who says not that he wants to live forever, but rather that he wants to live one more day. Today, anyway. And probably will tomorrow.

    From a pure materialist standpoint, death is not something to be particularly afraid of. (Although many materialists do seem to be very afraid of death.) Subjectively, being dead would be no different from not existing before you were born. Dying might suck, but being dead is a piece of cake!

    Still, I think it’s okay not to want to die, even if you believe in an afterlife. The notion that we can learn and evolve only via death and rebirth feels kind of clunky to me. (How many times have I been through potty training by now?) It also feels like religious dogma. Anyhow, if it is true, surely I will figure that out after three or four centuries. I promise I will not just be playing solitaire the whole time!

    Assuming reincarnation is real, a 75-year lifespan might be optimal. But maybe not. Maybe 175 is better. Or maybe anything over 60 is wasted. In which case, do we recommend smoking and overeating as a way of keeping evolution optimal? Alternatively, what if people who live on for millennia have a completely different and important role to play in our evolution?

    It seems to me that you are making a leap from “this is how things have worked up to now” to “this is how things should work.” Technological progress consistently challenges the way things have always worked. Extended lifespan may, in fact, be an evolutionary dead-end, or it may be an important aspect of the life of our posthuman descendants who implement the next iteration of digital reality. How do we know unless we try?

    • jim says:

      Hi Phil,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. And great to hear from you!
      I do agree that it’s certainly ok to not want to die, regardless of your belief in an afterlife. But I do think there is a drastic difference between the average person’s fear of death in a “lights out” scenario versus a rebirth one. And that fear can certainly lead to different behaviors and practices.

      I also agree that it may be true that 75 years isn’t an optimal amount of time for a reincarnation cycle. To the extent that we are able to stay on the steep part of the learning cycle longer, then it would be an argument for moderate life extension. So, no, smoking and overeating is not a recommendation at all – if you think that is what I am suggesting, I may not be explaining this well. Live your life to the fullest. Be healthy, because that will contribute to a positive quality of life. Unless you like being an Eeyore, or idolize people who burn out fast and brightly, then do what you want to do. Be aware of the consequences and the impacts on others. In your afterlife, you’ll end up learning your lesson anyway.

      Here is where I take issue…
      There is no religious dogma to this idea at all. It is just a theory, but one based on a tremendous amount of consistent evidence. Words are just models for concepts anyway, but let’s take an inflammatory one – “religion”. To me, religion is a set of beliefs and rules based on little or no empirical evidence. Based on that definition, Materialism is a religion through and through. There is ZERO evidence for Objective Materialism, other than that things “look that way” (which doesn’t make it any better of a philosophy than “flat earth.”) The basis for Transhumanism/H+ is Materialism, which makes Transhumanism also a religion. That isn’t to say that we should stop researching cures for diseases, just that focusing on uploading a consciousness to silicon to attain immortality is a dogma of a belief system with no foundation. On the other hand, empirical scientific evidence does include aggregated and subjective experiences (otherwise, behavioral sciences would not be science), especially when they are statistically significant, or supported by independent corroborating evidence. To that end, reincarnation far more meets the criteria of science than Materialism or Transhumanism. And if you add to it the quantum mechanics experimental research which strongly argue against Materialism, plus the other dozen or so categories of logic and evidence, digital consciousness is excellent science.

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