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Comment Re:I really don't my vital body parts to be on wif (Score 1) 183

If I sell someone a kitchen knife, and they use it to stab themselves, am I guilty of murder?

If I sell someone tobacco and tell them "smoking this causes cancer and other health problems," and they smoke it anyway, how am I guilty?

If I stop selling tobacco, someone else will. If we make it illegal to sell tobacco, then all the money (real-world economic power) will flow into the hands of the criminals who sell it anyway. And these criminals have no qualms about directly murdering people to get their way.

If selling tobacco makes you complicit in the death of those who use it, then making a highly-desired commodity illegal makes you complicit in all the deaths caused by the black market that your laws create.

Comment Because intelligence is non-atomic. (Score 1) 183

The goals of transhumanism require networking. Intelligence itself requires networking.

Consider: a single neuron cannot think. Thinking is the activity of a network of neurons. And furthermore, the limits on the expressive power of your thoughts are determined, in part, by the number of processing nodes (neurons) available. There are some problems that you will never be able to solve, or even visualize, with a single brain.

Yes, putting one's toaster on the internet seems to be a far cry from collaboratively researching a compelling scientific enigma. But ultimately they are two different instances of the same phenomenon, and this phenomenon is the basic defining attribute of intelligence as it manifests in the real world.

Rant all you like, people will gleefully throw themselves ever-deeper into such methods of interconnectivity, because doing so has a net effect of increasing their capacities and deepening their experiences. And this interconnectivity will not stop at our toasters, nor at our artificial hearts. The currently-in-development mind-machine-interface will allow us to put our brains on the Internet, without needing cell phones as intermediaries. Then, the singularity will be attained.

Just you wait. The Borg are coming. We will create them, and not by accident. We will rush to that future with reckless abandon.

Comment Re:DUAL CORE, BEEOTCHES! (Score 2, Insightful) 183

There is a basic human inclination to selfishness that is caused by instinct and reinforced by our habit of perceiving ourselves as fundamentally separated from others (Me here with World out there). There is also a basic human inclination towards generosity that comes mostly from our pack instincts and is reinforced by cultural values. Most of the arguments around enlightened self interest are motivated from these two inclinations.

I am inclined to reflect, however, that if each neuron in my brain operated as independently as each amoeba in a pond, my mind would not exist. There would be no thoughts at all, nor any concept of self. In order for something as complicated as me to exist, individual organisms (my brain cells) must sacrifice their independence and accept their role as subservient to a larger collective. This surrender must be complete; the neurons do not (and must not) act on selfish motivations.

It is easy for us to say that individual existence is not part of the nature of a neuron. A neuron fundamentally *is* part of a greater whole. But if you trace back our evolutionary history far enough, you will see this was not always true of the neuron (or of any kind of cell).

In order for humanity to progress beyond the problems of our day, a similar transition will be necessary. The more people understand themselves as part of a group, rather than as individuals at odds with their neighbors, the more we will be able to cooperatively overcome whatever ails us.

Zoom out far enough, and the human race looks like just another cell colony on its slow journey towards ever more complex forms of integration.

Comment Re:DUAL CORE, BEEOTCHES! (Score 2) 183

We can reduce the ethical problems if we neglect to clone all of the cerebral cortex and at least most of the lymbic system. The clone would then be a mindless vegetable, capable of breathing and excreting, and nothing else. There is no evil in killing a zombie, and there is no evil in making a clone start out as a zombie (whereas there would be evil in making a normal person become a zombie).

Comment Study Philosophy before you say that. (Score 1) 528

The heart of philosophy is critical thinking. Asking "what is true" necessarily involves asking "how do we know if these methods of acquiring truth are good ones?" and so on. The various ramblings of historical philosophers are a side-effect of this. Misunderstanding of that tends to give the discipline a bad name.

Philosophy is not "founded on the scientific method." Quite the opposite. The scientific method is an example of critical thinking at work.

Historically speaking, the scientific method, as we know it today, was refined over many decades by various famous philosophers. The scientific method was born from philosophy, and that is an historical fact.

Lastly, the scientific method remains an axiomatic system founded upon a small set of metaphysical assumptions about the universe....but an analysis that deep is reserved for people who have studied enough philosophy do discuss it intelligently (and without anger).

Comment O rlly? (Score 1) 120

Living like this won't necessarily make you grumpy. Check out Happy. Long-term happiness is attained by a combination of these three things: 1) participation in a community, 2) having a self-cultivating hobby, 3) engaging in altruistic behavior. Also, time spent in flow-state helps.

One need not marry, have kids, or live opulently in order to have these things.

Comment Re:Assuming you are Christian (Score 1) 139

About me? Matthew 25:34 - 36: "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’"

This is what Jesus said about humanitarians and philanthropists (like me, and like many non-Christians). Nothing in this parable is specific to those who follow Jesus or Judiasm or any religion.

Comment Assuming you are Christian (Score 1) 139

I timothy 2:3-4: "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

(see also 2 Peter 3:9)

So...God wants us to be saved, but you don't? You have in your hands an irrefutable test that will bring us all to knowledge of the truth (and hence salvation) and yet you are refusing to give it to us? Don't you want to please God by furthering his desires (that we all might be saved)? Are you not humble enough to think that God gave you this test to make you an instrument for His purposes (saving us)?

How about 1 Corinthians 13:2 "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

You don't love us enough to share your proof of God with us and save us? According to Paul, then, you are nothing, even though you can "fathom all mysteries."

Methinks your statements betray spite and arrogance. Jesus did not say very nice things about people like you.

Comment Re:Dang... (Score 1) 139

That is interesting. Could you provide more details about this test you performed, and precisely the results?

If the test can be recreated, and the results demonstrated to logically support the conclusion, then you will have just revolutionized the foundations of the modern scientific world view. You stand to become quite wealthy and famous, and to win a Nobel prize.

Comment Re:unfiltered information will make people THINK! (Score 4, Interesting) 1037

It is easy to present solid arguments against fundamentalist christian hermeneutics, because the system of thought is wildly self-contradictory and full of philosophical holes. The fundamentalists who ardently deny this and try to defend their faith are in two categories: those who are capable of critical thinking and those who are not. Members of the former category will eventually see the merits of the arguments the atheists present, whereas members of the latter category never will.

One point worthy of note is that many fundamentalists, when they experience their philosophical enlightenment, will abandon Christianity completely. They mistakenly believe that all Christian denominations share the philosophical problems (and moral problems such as oppression of homosexuals) as fundamentalism. This is very untrue.

"Mainline" Christianity (including some Lutheran groups, Episcopalians, and others) take a much more educated approach to interpreting the Bible, recognizing it as a human work which contains human errors and contradictions, as well as being steeped in the culture of its day. The Bible is seen not so much as a framework in which one must remain, but a vector which should be re-assessed in the light of modern knowledge (scientific and moral). The emphasis is not on a literal afterlife, or an offended God that provides a proscription which must be strictly followed to assuage his wrath. Rather, in the recognition that most of this language serves as metaphors for states of mind that can be achieved in this life, the practice becomes much more about living in humility and love in this life, and receiving the benefits of that here and now.

Of course, they still believe in God, which is an impossible-to-prove point. But notions like "God hates atheists and other religions and will send them to hell" and "god hates homosexuals" and "women should be silent in church" are seen as outdated beliefs held by those who did not have the benefit of modern knowledge, and a painful part of our own history which must not be forgotten in order to ensure that they are not repeated.


Comment Re:Knowledge (Score 2) 1037

"Lucifer" is a Latin word. The texts were written in Hebrew and Greek. If you read any modern translation of the Bible, the word "Lucifer" doesn't appear in it anywhere. "Lucifer" is just a remnant of the Vulgate.

The singular reference in the Old Testament (Isaiah 14:12) was as a translation from the title "morning star," one of several titles being applied to a very human king (as a prophesy of his downfall). The reference in the New Testament is in the book of Revelations (22:16), when Jesus simply states "I am the morning star." Interestingly, that one was not rendered "Lucifer" in the King James Version.

The gross misreading of the Bible on this point has a very long history, and is very typical of Fundamentalist thinking (literal interpretation of the end-result, with barely any understanding of the history, and always twisted to suit a set of forgone conclusions).

There are Christian denominations that take an educated and critical-thinking-based reading of the Bible, though they are in the minority these days. The problem here is not the Bible itself, however, but the widespread tradition of reading it in a very uneducated and uncritical way.

Comment Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 4, Insightful) 1174

A bit off topic but this troubles me and I never manage to get really good answers to this one.

Supposing that "All citizens have the legal right to marry a member of the opposite sex" is both the letter and spirit of the current law...how does one resolve the following edge cases:

1) A naturally-born hermaphrodite who can pass equally well for either gender based upon dress. Can such a person marry someone of either gender, thus being a direct contradiction to the spirit of the law? Or can such a person just not get married, thus suffering a grave injustice? Must the person choose a gender and stick with it for his/her entire life (which seems a bit arbitrary), and will the person be forced to get a divorce, by the state, if (s)he changes his/her gender-facade after getting married?

2) If a man has a gender-changing surgery and becomes a woman, what gender can she then marry? Can she marry a man now that she is a woman? Or must she marry another woman and have an ostensibly homosexual relationship due to being genetically heterosexual?

Reflection upon these edge cases makes it seem to me that the distinction between men and women isn't quite as absolute as the law would make it out to be. Since these things can be a bit ambiguous or even change, it seems like the law should just not take gender into account (at least for the issue of marriage).

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