This post was edited by A.I. at 2012-2-28 15:12|
One has to understand reality in order to effectively control it. Personal empowerment requires a sustained, skeptical yet open-minded search for knowledge, and a careful avoidance of superstition, dogmatism, taboos, and other such cognitive pitfalls. Those who seek enlightenment fear no truth, for they know that ultimately the truth will help set them free. II. TECHNOLOGY
Technology is the bridge between truth and transcendence; knowledge alone can't eliminate our many mental and physical shortcomings, but technology can. Without it, our lives would be as short, bleak, and miserable as those of our primitive ancestors. With it, we can become like our finest imaginary gods: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent. The difference is like night and day, and literally a matter of life and death. The human condition is a fatal disease, and technology is the cure.III. TRANSCENDENCE
The true essence of self is not the body, but the mind, and its potential far exceeds that of its frail organic shell. Only when it is freed from its doomed, rotting prison and transferred to a more robust, versatile substrate can the mind truly spread its wings and assume its rightful place among the stars. The flesh, like man, is something to be overcome.IV. Pragmatic Morality
Ethics and morals must serve, or at least not stand in the way of, boundless self-actualization. They should be tools and guidelines for successful living, not instruments of senseless repression. Like the flesh, traditional morality is something to be overcome. There is no 'Good' and 'Evil'; just efficiency and inefficiency; intelligence and stupidity; winners and losers. There is only rational self-interest, and those too timid and ignorant to pursue it. This simple yet profound realization forms the bedrock of an empowered worldview, and is a key step towards achieving enlightenment and transcendence.V. Intelligent Hedonism
Like everything else, the true --or rather the least arbitrary-- 'meaning of life' can and should be determined through reason and logic. If one removes all unnecessary philosophical complications, strips away all the layers of sanctimoniousness, naiveté, self-delusion, and false guilt, the answer to one of mankind's oldest and most profound existential questions becomes blindingly obvious: ultimately, it's all about pleasure and pain. Without pleasant emotions and sensations life would be empty and meaningless, if not outright unbearable. There would be no hope, no rewards to look forward to; there would be only monotonous blandness interspersed with various forms of mental and physical suffering. It would truly be a fate worse than death.VI. Rational Religion
Pleasure and happiness aren't merely 'desirable'; they are intrinsically desirable, and their pursuit and maximization is nothing less than a moral and logical imperative. We are very fortunate to live in these technologically advanced times, for science may soon give us the means to actually fulfill this imperative; to take hedonism to its logical conclusion and create what so far has only been a desperate fantasy -- heaven. A mechanized heaven where we ourselves will be the gods, masters of our own minds, bodies, and environment. Pain will be optional, and pleasure guaranteed.
At the moment, however, we are anything but gods. Our biological bodies are weak, as are our minds. They get damaged easily, often beyond repair. In this dangerous and primitive world, mere survival --let alone transcendence of the flesh-- requires a great deal of sacrifice and discipline. We must curb our more impractical hedonistic impulses, avoid or limit potentially harmful activities, and keep our eyes on the prize: the technological paradise that may lie just beyond the horizon. At the same time we should also live intensely and try to seize the day as often as possible, for there may be no tomorrow. This balancing act is the gist of Intelligent Hedonism.
Though potentially useful and empowering, more often than not religion it is a force diametrically opposed to one's freedom, well-being, and even survival. Its fanciful lies, rigid dogmas, and insidious guilt trips enslave and atrophy the mind, stimulate self-destructive behavior, and hamper vital technological progress. The world's countless religions promise a lot, but fail to deliver. They offer no practical solutions to basic problems, no satisfactory answers to fundamental questions. They can't stop death, abolish suffering, or reveal the true nature of reality. Genuine enlightenment and transcendence can only be attained by the clear-minded, not by those living in a blissful daze of self-delusion, or a state of numb conformism. Only through reason, science, and technology can we hope to overcome the weakness of the flesh, and realize our full potential. VII. Singularitarianism
Blind faith, superstition, and dogmatism are antithetical to self-actualization, but so is the bitter, mindless rejection of all things religious that is so common among atheists and freethinkers. Religion without reason is impotent, but so is reason without religious zeal and ambition. Those who exclusively focus on the mundane, on the here and now, and don't strive for immortality and transcendence, are little better than those who devote their lives to religious fantasies. Both lifestyles are based on ignorance, and the wages of ignorance is death.
Instead of meekly worshipping fictional gods, or blindly dismissing the ideals they represent, we should seek to become godlike ourselves. The body is weak, but the mind can be forever. People may die, but they can be preserved and resurrected. This world may in many ways resemble hell, but we can create heaven on earth. The universe may be a place of chaos and entropy, but we can fill it with order and intelligence. Guided by reason and empowered by technology, we can bend reality to our will, and make the impossible possible.
Barring extinction-level events and other global disasters, accelerating technological progress will almost certainly give rise to recursively self-improving superhuman intelligence sometime during the first half of the 21st century. This birth and inevitable ascendancy of what will essentially be an alien, vastly superior species is sometimes called the Singularity, for like the inside of a black hole it is a great unknown; a warped alternate reality where normal rules no longer apply. Beyond the technological event horizon could lie either everything or nothing; heaven or hell. For better or worse, the old world will be gone forever, and life as we know it will be over.VIII. Social Individualism
Instead of passively awaiting, unconditionally welcoming, or mindlessly opposing this radical socio-technological phase shift which, without a doubt, is both the greatest threat and opportunity mankind has ever faced, we should try to harness the awesome power of nanotechnology, AI, genetic engineering, and other advanced technologies for our benefit. We must enhance our minds, transcend our bodies, and become the Singularity. From a survivalist point of view, this is the only rational strategy.
Technological transcendence is a grand and ambitious goal, and in many ways represents the very pinnacle of individualism and personal empowerment. Ironically, it is also well beyond the financial and intellectual means of any single person. Only through cooperation with like-minded others can one hope to acquire all the necessary funding, equipment, and expertise for such a complex undertaking before, accidentally or intentionally, the curtain falls on the Age of Man. While the lone wolf may be capable of maintaining a basic level of self-sufficiency, it is the pack that takes down the large and dangerous prey, and repels rival predators. Collectivist compromise is, for the time being, inevitable; true autonomy is the privilege of gods, not of men.
In order to facilitate civilized, fair, and efficient interaction, the group's code of conduct must be based on the triple pillars of the Golden Rule, Meritocracy, and Lex Talionis. This basically means that anything goes as long as it doesn't harm others against their will, and that loyalty and excellence must be rewarded --and harmful acts penalized-- in a systematic and proportional manner. Whenever possible, conflicts should be solved peacefully, and with minimal third party involvement.
IX. Dynamic Pessimism
Though there is little reason to doubt man's potential to overcome his biological limitations, there are no guarantees that the transition to post-humanity will be a smooth and successful one. Annihilation is at least as likely as a positive outcome. This, however, is by no means an excuse for technophobia or defeatism. One must realize that the very technologies that threaten our future can, when used properly, improve life far beyond our wildest dreams, and can actually help prevent a whole range of socio-political, economic, and natural disasters that could cripple or even outright destroy our civilization. More fundamentally, without technological progress we would sooner or later all fall prey to degeneration, misadventure, and disease like the countless generations before us. The flesh is weak, and death is programmed into our very genes. The status quo is literally a dead end for both the individual and the species, and therefore not an acceptable option. We must evolve, or die trying.