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Wealth and power can not only make the present considerably more palatable; acquiring them is nothing short of a logical imperative for those who are serious about realizing their Transhuman hopes and dreams. It is, after all, nearly always the rich & powerful who have first access to new technologies. Unlike, for example, cars, TV sets, and cell phones, the technologies that will enable people to become/create our evolutionary successors aren't likely to eventually trickle down to the general public. Superintelligence won't be for sale at your local supermarket 20-50 years from now for pretty much the same reasons why one can't buy nukes in gunshops, even though the basic design is now more than half a century old (indeed, one can't even legally purchase a simple machine gun, let alone more advanced military hardware, in most countries). Bottom line: the really powerful, dangerous technologies are always hoarded and jealously guarded by (self-proclaimed) elite groups, and nothing is more powerful and potentially dangerous than Superintelligence. Even all-out WW3 would be trivial compared to the damage that a SI (with its arsenal of advanced nanoweapons and who knows what else) could inflict. By "ascending" you don't just obtain the ultimate weapon -- you become it. It doesn't seem very likely, or indeed sane, that SIs will freely hand out such power to anyone who asks for it. Also, even if they wouldn't object to sharing their power in principle, why would they bother? Just because something can be done doesn't automatically mean that it will be done, or "has" to be done. Would we start mass-upgrading ("uplifting") ants or mice if we had the technology? Probably not. Insignificance can be a real killer... |
Thus, it logically follows that we should put considerable effort into acquiring a good starting position for the Singularity, which includes things like gathering as much wealth as possible, keeping abreast of the latest technological developments, and implementing them to become more efficient and powerful individuals. Our primary interim subgoal is (must be) becoming part of the economic & technological elite. The Players. Our primary interim supergoal is (obviously) to become uploads -inorganic, "digital" beings- which will open the door to virtually unlimited additional enhancements, and ultimately godhood itself.
"He who sits in the heavens shall laugh."
-- Psalm 2:4
This is a tall order indeed, and to increase one's chances of success, cooperation with like-minded individuals is essential (unless, perhaps, you happen to be some kind of tech-savvy billionaire). Hence the Transtopian movement and its Singularity Club, an "elite" mutual aid association for those who want to fully enjoy the present while effectively preparing for the radical future. Our radical future. This is the only such (known) group in existence. The WTA, Extropy Institute, and the various national/regional Transhumanist groups have a social and meme-spreading function. Useful? Certainly. Adequate? Not al all. They do not specifically aim to improve their members' social, mental, physical, financial etc. situation (true, occasionally it does happen, but the effect is usually very limited, short-lived, and not part of a clear strategy). Their vision of a prosperous, peaceful Trans- & Posthuman society largely depends on the wisdom and cooperation of the Establishment and/or "the masses" -- neither of which has a particularly good track record when it comes to rational behavior.
To each his own. We salute the Transhuman, Extropian, and Singularitarian giants on whose shoulders we stand, but we have seen further and now it's time to move on. Transtopians don't like to depend on the whims of society, governments, fate, or luck for their current and future well-being; they want to take control of their destiny, make their own rules, their own "luck". Of course, the chances of success may be slim, but since there's nothing to lose (we're all on death row anyway) and a universe to gain, why not give it a try? Given the circumstances, it is the rational thing to do. As the saying goes: shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars (well, maybe it will just be your disassembled molecules that will land among the stars, but you get the idea; it never hurts to try). When crossing uncharted territory, it is wiser to travel in groups, and even if the road ultimately leads to a dead-end, the journey itself might still be well worth the effort. Are you game?
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."
-- Sir Winston S. Churchill, May 13, 1940