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H+ Ezine (Electronic Magazine) – first edition

Monday, 20 October, 2008

The World Transhumanist Association (now known as Humanity Plus, for some stupid reason) has a new magazine called h+. The table of contents, and a freely downloadable copy of the first edition, are located on their website.

I’m not going to blog about any of it in particular, because nothing strikes me as either ridiculously awesome nor is anything notably incorrect (although, the article on open-source robotics doesn’t seem directly related to human enhancement, but it might be close enough).

I do need to give a little bit of praise to James Kent for his article on Overclocking the Human CPU, for he concludes (correctly, in my opinion) that genetic enhancement of intelligence is more promising than cybernetic enhancement. He does so for the wrong reasons, assuming that brain-computer interfaces will fall due to ethical problems, whereas their true weakness is in the size and penetration required of the electrodes. And, he is far too optimistic in predicting increases of an order of magnitude in IQ from genetic enhancement.

Another pertinent part, given the economic crisis, is the little mini-interview with Cory Doctorow, titled The Sheep Shit Grass, where he discusses the end of scarcity. It’s short, so I won’t quote part of it (I’d need to quote all of it), but it does seem to me that without some amazingly restrictive policies on property rights, the end of capitalism will appear as soon as all essential goods can be copied (such that using them only makes more copies – where the more the sheep graze, the more grass remains).

Finally, there was one other part that made me chuckle, where Joe Quirk takes on the nay-sayers, in piece The Meaning of Life Lies in Its Suckiness:

I’ve been converted. Frances [sic] Fukuyama, Leon Kass, and Bill McKibben have shown me the folly of all you silly transhumanists. Life has it’s meaning in direct proportion to how royally it sucks.

It’s an accurate summary, but Mr Quirk unfortunately ruins his accuracy by concluding that those fellows are religious, and therefore wrong. Well, I’ve read works by all three of those, and Leon Kass is the only one that even in passing uses religious arguments. And, he can’t even spare a moment to Google Fukuyama’s name to remind himself how it should be spelled – he’s got a memory enhancement and won’t use it.

So, I think it is an … adequate publication (the cover art is especially nice). We’ll see if it gets better once a more varied group start to contribute.

3 comments

  1. Actually, Fukuyama does make some religious references in his discussion of human dignity in Our Posthuman Future. I haven’t read any McKibben.

    I’ve met some of the WHA folk including Nic Bostrom and a couple others at a CBC Technosapiens conference a couple years back, but I’ve been reluctant to affiliate myself with them for reasons similar to yours.

    Good Blog.


  2. Fukuyama may mention some religious arguments, but he makes a conscious effort not to rest his case on them. As he says, in chapter six of Our Posthuman Future:

    [T]here are many grounds to be skeptical about both the practical and ethical benefits of biotechnology that have nothing to do with religion, as Part II of this book will seek to demonstrate. […] While religion provides the most clear-cut grounds for opposing certain types of biotechnology, religious arguments will not be persuasive to many who do not accept religion’s starting premises.

    For that reason, I don’t count Fukuyama as arguing from religious premises as Kass seems to.


  3. H+ has degenerated at this point in time to nothing more than an embarrassing pile on shit, with Ken Goffman fleeing the scene and only witless “fetish models” remaining to post garbled word salad about otherkin and “violent transhuman militia” and “transhumanist soverignty by revolution.” Also, the new editorial staff are strong arming the comments sections, and deleting about half the comments to any given thread. Few of the current articles would be impressive to even a Junior High School teacher. H+ is garbage.



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