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Transcendence: The Disinformation…
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Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the…

by R.U. Sirius

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What is Transhumanism? That's what I asked myself when I saw this book at the library. I only had a vague understanding of it from books and articles I'd read before. Now, I know a bit more.

What I came away with was that transhumanism is an umbrella term that includes different people with different focuses, but all seem to embrace a line from the old TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. 'We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better, stronger, faster.' Transhumanists are looking for miracles in chemistry, biology, and technology that previous generations looked for by falling to their knees before altars. The details of their search aren't clear from this book, but some seem to be going about it rather scientifically. Others seem about as credulous as their ancestors with sore knees.

I suppose we all share the transhumanist vision to some extent. Who wouldn't want to find ways to cure diseases, repair injuries, extend lifespans? But there are also those who dream of adding abilities, either through technological or biologically engineered enhancements. There are some who envision people becoming completely digital and 'living' in virtual worlds. None of these ideas bother me, as such, but they all seem highly speculative for the moment. That doesn't mean the ideas shouldn't be explored, but whereas overcoming disease, injury, and the devastating effects of aging are (I think) achievable in this century, the ability to upload a mind into a virtual world needs a much better understanding of several things first, not least of which is what a 'mind' is.

Transcendence is more of a dictionary than it is an encyclopedia. The alphabetically arranged entries are long enough to provide definitions but not really detailed enough to provide much understanding. It is, however, a pretty good guide to future reading on the subject, if you're interested.

( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
Transhumanism is an international movement that advocates the use of science and technology to overcome the “natural” limitations experienced by humanity, through such developments as:

the Singularity—the creation of machine intelligences that exceed the capacities of our biological brains
the ability to replicate individual minds and put them into solid-state bodies or virtual environments
individual control over mental and emotional states for enhancing functionalities and/or ecstasies
Some of this is happening now. Some it is still in the minds of dreamers.

In nearly ninety A-Z entries, Transcendence provides a multilayered look at the accelerating advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, genomics, information technology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, space exploration, synthetic biology, robotics, and virtual worlds that are making transhumanism a reality. Entries range from Cloning and Cyborg Feminism to Designer Babies and Memory-Editing Drugs. In addition, the book notes historical predecessors and personalities, both in mythology and history—ranging from Timothy Leary to Michael Jackson to Ray Kurzweil. It also introduces the culture around Transhumanism, covering all the geeky obsessions of the Transhumanist movement.

Review

"Sure-footed guides through the treacherous landscapes of infinite possibility, RU Sirius and Jay Cornell are lucid, witty, and stealthily profound. Transcendence is a refreshingly pro-human report on transhumanism and the 'Rapture of the Nerds.'" --Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

"RU Sirius and Jay Cornell present us with their own psychedelic guide to the galaxy in this adventurous idea-rich book, bootstrapping on emerging technologies that beckon us to take control of our evolutionary destiny and lead humanity towards radical new landscapes of mind, of dream, of cosmos, of possibility. Metaphors for self-transcendence are 'literalized' as we 'timelapse' our capacity to artfully remake the world and ourselves." --Jason Silva

"A wild tour of our possible future… friendly, fun, and extremely interesting, even hard to put down... creatives, circuitheads, and fans of science fiction will find plenty here to stimulate the mind." --Anna Call, Foreword Reviews

"Being of the same energy field as myself, I now throw a sack full of gold dust into the arena and dare anyone to be either funnier or smarter than this R. U. Sirius." -Andrei Codrescu

About the Author

R.U. Sirius (Ken Goffman) is a writer, editor and well-known digital iconoclast. He was co-publisher of the first popular digital culture magazine, MONDO 2000, from 1989-1993 and co-editor of the popular book, MONDO 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge. He has written about technology and culture for Wired, The Village Voice, www.Salon.com, www.BoingBoing.net, Time Magazine, S.F. Chronicle, Rolling Stone, and Esquire among other publications. Sirius/Goffman also lectures widely having appeared as part of the Reality Hacking series at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, at the TedX conference in Brussels, and at San Francisco's popular Dorkbot event. Visit him at: www.StealThisSingularity.com.

Jay Cornell is the former managing editor of h+ Magazine, and senior web developer at Landkamer Partners. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending humanity from existential risks.
  GalenWiley | Apr 28, 2015 |
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"In nearly ninety A-Z entries, Transcendence provides a multilayered look at the accelerating advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, genomics, information technology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, space exploration, synthetic biology, robotics, and virtual worlds that are making transhumanism a reality. Entries range from Cloning and Cyborg Feminism to Designer Babies and Memory-Editing Drugs. In addition, the book notes historical predecessors and personalities, both in mythology and history--ranging from Timothy Leary to Ray Kurzweil. It also introduces the culture around transhumanism, covering all the geeky obsessions of the transhumanist movement"--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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