I'm fundamentally convinced that the opportunities that lies ahead is tremendous. It's not just a business opportunity or a scientific research, to create a movement, if you will. At scale. The combination of information technologies and other scientific research that has been discussed here, with biology, as a massive opportunity. However, I also see some formidable obsticles in wide-srpead consumer adoption.
A couple of years ago I spoke with Marshall Cohen for the marketing guy for the mass adoption of American Online. It came in every magazine, and so on. He was the guy on that, they spent billions of dollars on the marketing. It was very hard to sell something that they couldn't imagine. What you're trying to do is to convince someone, I'd like you to walk through that door over there. But they want to stay seated, and it's really great on the other side. Most people aren't willing to make that step, to open the door and figure out what's going on behind that door. You have to speak to the merits, you have to find anecdotal evidence, testimonies, etc. This was very instructive. He was a master of selling the invisible. If you consider what transhumanists proposal is, it's not to walk through the door, it's about stepping into the void, into the future.
Take that leap, the tech is probably going to work, we're pretty confident. Take that step. Throughout human history, there has been two responses to the massive changes: joy, a general positive expectation. You're here because you're enthusiastic about this. There's another group, they exist, they are afraid of the future. On the middle, is the group who doesn't know, they are uninformed, they are uninterested or don't have neough information, they are unsure.
If this was a political situation, and I guarantee you, this will become a political situation, political strategists will narrow this undecided group to be as small as possible. The firmly committed pro/con groups. Social change, at the scale that you are proposing with transhumanism, generates fear. Look at the GM crops riots. There's hysterical fear around the world that persists to this day. The fear triggers resistence. They get more entrinched, they feel that this is being forced upon them, and sometimes irrational expressions of this fear occurs. To surmount this existence, something is required.
I believe transhumanism fits into a long tradition of social progress in the U.S. It did not come easily in the U.S. though- like abolition. John Brown was able to frame the debate in moral terms, he used examples from the bible, it was so compelling that his captors were pursuaded about the moral rightness of this cause, those were for and against, and he set the moral terms of the debate, so that they had god on their side, the moral right on their cause. The worker's right movement happened. Workers spoke up. It seems unthinkable that workers had to face armed resistence to demand working conditions that didn't kill them. Reasonable rights.
Around the same time, the child labor movement. Children in eastern europe were almost enslaved basically. Sufferage movement, same thing. You had a debate that seems unthinkable today, but of course it seems that women should have rights today. But at that time, it was a major debate, not just an intellectual debate, the moral high ground had to be defined as the proponents of sufferage.
Evolution theory, this debate about evolution remains with us today. The civil rights movement started with non-violent approach with forceful resistence, it gave them the moral high ground, and thereby the prevailing position in the debate. The women's liberation movement had less movement. Today we have massive social change. We have pro-life and pro-choice debates. They linger, it takes a long time for democratic society to come to terms with these issues. The right to die movement. The marriage equality movement, and they are very much alive. With respect to transhumanism and massive social change, there's a large number of undecided people in the middle. The obligation of us is to convince as many people in the middle to take the rightness of transhumanism, that this is indeed a birthright of humanity, and is our destiny.
I don't suggest that we have to take to the streets in armed in insurrection. There will be people who resist. Within that group in the middle, and while they might be unaware of the great breakthroughs in science, guess what- they already have an opinion of you. Take a survey of pop culture and transhumanism, starting with HAL 2000. The idea of the bad robot has been with us for a long time. This is the invention that is smarter than us, takes us over, and then screws us. Blade runner. Scary cyborg, Terminator. In the first movie, he was the bad guy, on the second one he was the good guy. This creature, is he really on our side? Another variant of that form was the Violant Mutant Meme, where the violant mutant is the scientifically bred offspring is quite off, not just like us, but you can't quite trust them.
Another version is the celebrity robot meme. A thousand of these photos, the idea that these people are not quite like us, they might be robots. Another notion that has been prevelent in pop culture in thrillers is the idea of the evil corporation that is somehow seeking to patent DNA and control our human heritage, and that's linked to the notion of the nazi conspiracy that is rooted in the muddy eugenics movement of the early part of the last century. When humans start to talk about perfectibility, it has this over-tone about the Third Reich. This idea of playing god gone wrong makes reference to Jurassic Park. For the citizen science movement, one scientist could cause us all to make a major step backwards. Jurassic Park is the bumbling scientist example, attempting to play god.
Another evil corporation version is genetic determinism. Once they understand your genes, they will predict which insurance you will, your role in society. So Gattaca put that into a movie, and what roles people play in society. Another idea that scares people in pop society, this is a grotesque picture, a mouse is bred to grow a human organ on their back. There was also The Island, the clones that are grown just to bred to be organ donors for the masters.
Another negative meme is unfair advantage memes. People will react. There's something inherently unfair about this- steroid scandals. That's very much alive and with us. What about the scary idea of the Rich Methuselah Meme - that these technologies will be first available to the very rich and powerful, they will maintain their youth, and financial advantage, and reep double their financial advantage, and thereby the rest of us won't have access to those technologies. This is a real fear. Some of these people push body modification to a real extreme. These are hardly the best proponents for your cause, and that's not great. There are thousands of photoshopped photos. Some hybrids of animals. Some unnatural and awful thing, and hopefully it doesn't exist. Unnatural monster meme. Some sort of weird human dog thing. It's really disturbing, the most repuslive image of them all is that image from Alien.
My message to transhumanists and the proponents here today is that you're already losing the pop culture game. The voices of fear are winning. That's a very easy target to play. Who's against transhumanism? Rob, who's against it? There's a resistence built in.. behind it are real organizations who are threatened. When you talk about radical change, it's about root, about uprooting. Who has roots that are going to be uprooted?
health maintenance orgs
To you, it's about science. To them, it's about survival. It's about the preservation of an existing status quo, a business model that is tried and true. Take for instance, an insurance company. Why not, keep people along longer, don't pay out the death benefit? Well, they have 100s of years of acturial models, so anything that represents change is going to incur beauracratioc resistence. They have every reason to resist- those tables are huge. In the wider spread community, the masses of people around the world. Their idea of a human being is very much rooted in their beliefs and traditions. This is what makes up our cultural identity. Anything that suggests a change, or threatens a change, that's a threat called Ego Annihiliation. That will incur such a tremendous amount of irrational resistence. Not at the level of intellect or awareness, from some gut level, ego preservation at all costs. Anything that is a threat to all identity to us as a human being, will incite that resistence.
I want to find an example of something that promotes radical life changes, in some aspirational life style, which is a positive change, but something that you can embrace, and derive lasting benefit from. Now, in my career, I've worked with some of the leading proponents of life improvement. The self help movement, personal growth movement. These groups have touched millions of people with messages of positive growth, to make positive changes in your group. They are in the business of promoting radical change life style changes. I have developed digital programs for these folks.. like Oprah.
MAKE IT EASY TO FOLLOW
Your stuff is just too complicated. There is a very complicated subject matter. Very difficult to follow. Make it easy to follow. This movement needs to define what it stands for, what it will accept, what it will take to get kicked out of the transhumanist movement. What does this group find unacceptable in transhumanism? I've gone through in the many many examples in pop culture. I believe it's the responsibility of this group to define what's factually true, a repository of data, a wiki, where we can gather the news articles, dispell those media myths, and provide more accurate data. Keep that data live. If you're interested in talking with Humanity+ about that, Alex is your man. I think another important aspect is making easy this to follow, make it easy to show the challenges. An investor would call it a hand-wave, and then we're off to that brilliant new future. You're side-stepping the challenges, who wants to talk about it? You diminish your credibility. When the delay occurs, and it's a bigger problem then you thought, you lose credibility. You should be honest about the real challenges, and a realistic timeline.
Establish a rappport. Put a friendly face on it. Create that human connection, eliminate all of the jargon. The jargon is what designates an expert, and people who are non-expert. If you want to gain the broad undecided group. Get people to buy into this, make it easy. Don't set the freaks forwards. Minimize amount hte weirdness, there's going to be some but just try to minimize it please. Emphasize the practical benefits, what's here and now? Talk about diseases and situations that regular people are going to face, like caring for an elderly parent. Tell the human story. The great religious teachers always use human stories to convey their stories, not just facts and numbers and definitions. The human brain does remember stories, and we can derive the lasting benefits from those. Tell the stories of success cases, of real people, by applying transhumanism philosophy to their lives. Link your values, your defined mission, to their values.
Harness emotional energy. Don't resist it. I know, emotion and logic doesn't fit. This group of researchers, they are very comfortable making an argument using logic, and using the argument in the intellectual sphere. When you're talking about fear, existential anxiety, you're not talking about that, you're talking to someone who will respond only to emotion. Don't deal with the emotion with contempt. Respect the fear. Embrace it, emotional energy is the most powerful energy to drive change. If we can find a way to harness emotional energy, that's how we can galvanize this. We will go to any length to avoid pain, to gain more pelasure in our lives. The more you can show how breakthroughs and transhumanism are going to increase our pleasure and decrease pain, you're going to get people to buy into these concepts, and harness emotional energy to drive change.
Inspire action, it's not going to be a movement if everyone just sits around. You need to give them things to do. Don't talk about the singularity, too much of the discussion is stuff talking about stuff 50 years from now, I might not be around at that point. If you talk about stuff in the future, it just doesn't sound very urgent, talk about today. Show how today's actions, even if they are small actions, will lead to tomorrow's bright future. It's necessary for us to serve as role models. Apply your transhuman values to yourself. If you can't commit to this, you might not be ready to be a leader. I like Alex because he keeps talking about himself and steps he's taking to be a role model. If you want to be a leader, harness other people, your actions are going to take..
You need to inspire a mission much greater than an individual life. I've heard tech abilities and statistical probabilities, we need to elevate that discussion, we need to talk about human destiny, a moral imperative, seeze the moral high ground. This is our birthright as human beings. We've been privledged with consciousness and intelligence to engineer our destiny, and treat other living creatures more humanely than we currently do. That's the moral high ground. Step up to that level in your leadership of this movement. I welcome any comments and feedback from this group.