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🎨 Creative Anti-transhumanism as a viable faction?

Adam Reynolds

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So in a settling very loosely like Eclipse Phase(but probably less advanced, with brain interfaces but not the ability to outright cheat death), what would be a way in which an anti-transhuman faction could actually be viable as a proper primary threat? While Eclipse Phase has the Jovian Republic, it is only a threat in the sense that they are getting in the way of bigger existential threats, not because they are really a direct threat to the rest of the solar system.

The problem here seems obvious, that a faction or collection of factions with transhumanism would be vastly more powerful. One option seems to me that it could be viable if the transhuman faction was more ethical in the way they fought, because they were not really fighting for survival.

Also, what would be a good ideological foundation for such a belief, that transhumanism is inherently wrong? Some kind of religious ideology seems the most obvious, but I was wondering if there were any others that would work as well.
 

Mandrion

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Depending on how hard you want your SciFi, a popular option is that covers all of these issue is: "Mixing human and machine interferes with magic/psionics". This way, you can have a faction of anti-transhumanists with some kind of "magic" to counter the disadvantage from not being half-machines. Whether this magic is actually considered magic, or psionics, or the Force, or spice-induced precognition is up to the tone you want to go for.
 

Ulzgoroth

Mad Scientist
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Well, if you're enough less advanced, and are willing to not take things to a flanderized-space-amish level of refusal to use the latest technology, simple weight of numbers and societal inertia can go a long way. Transhuman Space bioconservative movements are in a relatively viable position - a large majority of humanity, which is a large majority of the sapient population and a larger majority of the sociopolitically empowered population, is close enough to baseline to be tolerable to the mainstream bioconservative groups. And they're not trying to sell a hard-luddite rejection of all the current cutting edge, just select parts of it.

Eclipse Phase doomed bioconservativism when it killed Earth and made the fraction of the solar system population that isn't hard-transhuman body-hopping ghosts into a rounding error. If the average person is a more or less baseline human who lives in a habitable planetary biosphere and has at most a little bit of cybernetic augmentation, it's a whole different situation.

Though from what you're saying it sounds you mean a military threat, not a political threat. For that, they really need to be big. Which works out pretty easily, really: give them Earth. A better biosphere and more people and capital than all the rest of the solar system put together, most likely. Conservative Earth government vs. radical belter/outer system colonists is not unusual in solar-system SF. With mars as either the outworlder stronghold or the middle ground.
 

Bruce Redux

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It depends also on how you do the transhumanist faction. There are real-life transhumanism advocates who are truly terrible people, arrogantly, cruelly dismissive of both human suffering and the needs of the planet as a whole. Since, they're sure, everyone who matters to them will soon be uploading away, who gives a damn about the present real consequences of bigotry, the literally brain-distorting consequences of poverty, climate change and the impending suffering and deaths of hundreds of millions of people, the needs of the handicapped, the rights of queer people, anything about humanity or Earth apart from the march to uploading?

Obviously there are plenty of transhumanists who are much better people. But there are good reasons that many transgender and other social groups became profoundly wary of anyone who leads with proud happy proclamations of their transhumanism.

There are a lot of folks in the top 0.1% who are very interested in the whole "let's ditch biological reality forever and play somewhere near" aspect. An anti-transhumanist faction could easily be a force on behalf of genuine human liberation for everybody else.
 

Cirlot

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The problem here seems obvious, that a faction or collection of factions with transhumanism would be vastly more powerful. One option seems to me that it could be viable if the transhuman faction was more ethical in the way they fought, because they were not really fighting for survival.
I'm not sure this is true? On the one hand I think there could be an asymmetric technological development where the nontranshumanist faction is ahead in some vital area - energy sources, propulsion, communications, big honking planet busting mass drivers, non-sapient AI - in such a way as they have a dangerous edge on the transhuman faction. On the other hand transhuman tech also opens up new vulnerabilities. Take the common treatment of the mind as software - replicable, copyable, writeable . . . you just made people hackable in a way biological brains aren't without gross surgical and chemical intervention. Maybe the humanist faction uses braked AI's and old-school decker style net operatives to wage persistent infowar on the regional system net - disrupting backups, creating sleeper agents by way of viral downloads injected into resleaving mainframes and otherwise undercutting the core faith in the validity of instanced copies actually being the same person or having the same memories. Mnemonic terrorism, essentially.


Also, what would be a good ideological foundation for such a belief, that transhumanism is inherently wrong? Some kind of religious ideology seems the most obvious, but I was wondering if there were any others that would work as well.
You don't need to go to religion to find objections here, I think. First, it's been said elsewhere and by better minds than me that from the outside a transhuman singularity and an extinction event aren't really distinguishable from each other. Once a population becomes sufficiently transhuman in composition and outlook just communicating even the simplest and most benign of intentions to baseline humanity becomes hard verging on the impossible: if you're used to communicating via quantum entanglement and multi-spectrum semiotics trying to talk via radio waves and simple speech woule be like trying to learn morse code from scratch for an alphabet you only half remember. In this mode both factions might want to talk but view each other as so irreconcilably alien as to be incompatible. And misunderstanding leads to fear, fear to anger, anger to hate, etc. . .

Two: change the wiring changes the person. Thing is, from a certain point of view, sophont minds? They're not just software - they're kludge evolutionary artifacts welded to physical structures governed and governing a half dozen atavistic drives - we're as much firmware as we are software. So swapping the hardware the mind runs on . . . changes things. From the inside nonessential stuff is stripped away but from the outside? Loved ones are now strangers, friends are now enemies and things that used to matter don't. For someone with a vested interest in the life they have versus the one they might that's scary as hell. From there it's an easy hop skip and a jump to defining human as something safe and stable vs. the chaotic flexibility transhumanism offers.

Three: The continuity glitch. Full bore body swapping mind ripping transhumanism kinda typically requires that the sophont in question dies, one way or the other. From the outside it might not look like it but . . . well, what's the benefit of a copy of you being immortal when you, the person being digitized, loses the subjective history coin-toss and faces oblivion. Life 2.0 might be awesome but it's not something you are ever gonna see: why risk it when you have things like VR or augmented reality, or life extending technologies that make life better, faster and longer for the you here and now? Why, it's just good civic/public policy!

Stepping outside the philosophical bits, there's a pragmatic concern which might drive the split. Resources. A normal baseline human uses X resources, on an average and reproduces at rate Y. A transhuman uses X+ resources and can reproduce or replicate in theory indefinitely. If everyone is a techno-immortal resource wars are assured as there's only so much stuff to go around . . . and the lion's share will likely go to the oldest because they've been collecting resources the longest and have the most to fight with. If the choice is presented IC/in-faction as flawed human society versus a over-capitalized techno-feudalism and it's perpetual serfdom you'll have people fighting for the baseline.
 
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Ramidel

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There's probably not anything wrong with the anti-transhumanists' tech as such. They still have access to ships and guns like everyone else - and if the bioconservatives are a hate group, they're probably willing to deal with the "soulless" or whatever through extreme force. That's how the Purity ideology in Civ: Beyond Earth keeps up: they use brute force, big tanks and heavy artillery. A willingness to employ limited AI will also help them keep on base with upgraded transhumans.
 

Fabius Maximus

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A couple of things. 1. A lot of these stories make the assumption that Transhumanism is more or less immune ot anything but peer level opponents. That doesn't have to be true. I mean, incredibly complex equipment can be incredibly vulnerable to damage, and if someone is fighting you who isn't into the whole "turn my body into a robot" idea, then they can use weapons that hurt you, not them.

2. the dignity of the human mind and body. The idea that someone is of innate worth, even if they haven't upgraded to "supermind 2.0." And that's really important, because the mindset behind a lot of transhumanism, both fictional and real life, has some really ugly social darwinist implications to it. Think of our concerns about the gap between rich and poor and now imagine how that could be literally hard coded into mankind, with transhumanism--that is only available for the rich.
 

dmjalund

Polychromatic Pikathulhu
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They may even accept real AI that was not based on human personalities.
 

jorganos

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I can see different approaches to transhumanism being at odds with one another (like cybernetic link enhancement, body modification through artificial organs/limbs, genetic engineering). You would need a strong ideology to refuse superpowers, and either isolation or a vast reproductive advantage to be able to afford to bleed some of your population into the transhuman camp.

However, this doesn't seem to be viable in the long run. While transhumans might have a reduced reproductive urge, they would still be able to create multiples of themselves, making up for the numerical disadvantage.

But then, the anti-transhumanist camp might have a powerful protector - e.g. the singularity that doesn't want or need individuals to upload or to keep harrassing it with their neverending demands (if for nothing else, for existence and recognition).

A cult or culture embracing death and a form of reincarnation or afterlife outside of known parameters, or otherwise a nirvana, can be considered transhumanist, too. Designing a death cult that doesn't come across as somehow evil takes quite a bit of effort, though.
 

LordofArcana

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Let's say that transhumanists are just plain tougher, smarter, stronger, and faster than normal humans. Put one transhuman against ten humans and the transhuman will probably win the fight.

That's almost completely irrelevant when it comes to war. Strength and toughness don't matter when you are using weapons that reduce just about anything to ash or a bloody smear. Actual combat is going to be happening at electronic speeds, a person who can react 10x faster is still going to be watching the same video of how the computers actually resolved the conflict as everyone else. Intelligence is valuable in the long term, but even then it can mostly be replaced by numbers.

Will the transhumans eventually pull ahead? Probably, but that might take decades or even centuries. In practice most of their augmentations are going to essentially be toys.
 
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