oneirophrenia: (r0b0t)
In doing research for a good epigraph for Scibidus, my maxi-sized transhumanist epic sci-fi gangsta novel, I've realized something: Zen koans and transhumanism go together perfectly. It would seem kind of counterintuitive, though, wouldn't it? At its heart, transhumanism is a fairly materialistic philosophy. It does not necessarily exclude gods or spiritual principles in any way, mind you--it just doesn't need them since transhumanism is only of limited focus: it deals with the human condition and the improvement thereof. All spiritual matters are ancillary to it: not hostile, not facilitating...merely additional. Hence the reason there can be Buddhist transhumanists (I know a few), Jewish transhumanists (a lot of them, it seems!), atheist transhumanists, Tiplerite transhumanists, and so forth....But it seems to me that the practices and thought of Zen Buddhism is more applicable to transhumanism than virtually anything else. Not that I'm calling Zen Buddhism a religion, in any way--it's not: it's a philosophy of daily life and daily mindfulness. But as an ancillary philosophy, a supplemental system to transhumanism, it seems to mesh better with the basic tenets of transhumanism than anything else.

Why? Because Zen teaches awareness. A perfect example is the following koan--one of my alltime favorites:

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree. Hui-neng, the sixth Patriarch, said: "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves."


One of the simplest steps toward overcoming all-too-human limitations (what Nietzsche, in The Gay Science, calls simply the "all-too-human" [allzumenschliche]) is something that every thinking being right now can accomplish: becoming more aware of how your mind works. As I always say, you can't get any kind of good results from software until you learn how the program works--its quirks, its hidden capabilities, its bugs, and so forth. Once you have a better grasp on how a program works--be it Cubase SX 3 or your mind--you can use it more effectively...and that's what transhumanism is fundamentally about: learning to be a more effective person. As soon as you recognize your quirks and bugs, you can either work around them, if possible, or learn to live with them effectively.

I need to add a Zen character to Scibidius now. I'm thinking some sort of alife construct or a sentient cloud of utility fog. Something airy, light, and unbelieveably capable. Or maybe just an upload civilization who've claimed to have reached a form of sophotechnological "enlightenment" by jacking their processing cluster into a megabit quantum computer. THAT would be interesting!
oneirophrenia: (r0b0t)
In honor of the beginning of what promises to be an excellent Stillerz Season, I've started work on a silly but manifestly fun story: a tale of the first day of the League of Football season in the year 2,500 C.E. In this bizarre, heavily allegorical and satyrical world, football "teams" are no longer teams but families of heavily cyborged and bioneered transhumans who function almost like insect hives, but instead of individuals being designed to act as workers, soldiers, and so forth, there are quarterbacks, tight ends, kickers, and so forth! On the field, Homo footballicus functions almost like a hive mind as all the players' minds are networked together into a hyperintelligent coachnet. Because the players are all so heavily engineered and ridiculously strong and fast, the playing field is now over a mile long and paved in fullerene/quantum-well-based smart matter, the ball is made of steel, rocketpropelled, and semisentient in its own right, and...oh, hell, I haven't figured it all out yet, but it's going to be so much goddamned fun!

BUT! I can't do it alone. I just don't know that much about the glories of the gridiron--so I'm gonna need to call in my homies [livejournal.com profile] vocis, [livejournal.com profile] imightbegaye, and any of you other Terrible Towel-wavin' motherfuckers to assist a brotha in this grand undertaking! Hell, if this turns out really cool, I might even just send it to www.steelers.com or something. :)

In the meantime, though, here are some other nifty background concepts from this world:

The First Singularity involved the semi-spontaneous, semi-planned rise of sentience of the two great AI "Master Systems," the Googleplex (a hive mind of a billions of ultrapowerful search engines) and WikiMIND, the world's first--and so far, ONLY--sentience that anyone can edit.

The Second Singularity began and ended with the UPMC Outbreak of 2050, in which experimental selfreplicating nanomachines mutate and devour all of Oakland in a wave of gigantic semiorganic tentacles and crystals. The Cathedral of Learning is converted into a strange sort of launching device that periodically fires packages of replicators into orbit. When it does so, it resembled a gigantic biomechanical wang jizzing--hence the reason it is now known as the Phallus of Incomprehensible Mechorganic Knowledge and is sometimes worshipped by the feral descendants of Pitt students trapped in the biorg jungle.

Welcome to the future! It's just like today, only weirder.
oneirophrenia: (r0b0t)
I think I've finally found my doctoral dissertation topic: a survey of transhumanist themes in sci-fi from the late 1800s (H. G. Wells) to the Bleeding Edge of Today (Charles Stross), paying particular attention to the ways in which cultural factors 1) influenced the predictions or tropes mentioned in the literature; or 2) were actively influenced by or just grew to become similar to those in the literature. An example of (1), for instance, would be Wells' future society of Morlocks and Eloi as logical extrapolations of Victorian British social stratification. An example of (2) would naturally be Gibsonian cyberspace. Even though my background to date has primarily been in horror lit, I've become so heavily involved with transhumanist writing in the past few years that it only makes sense I do something with that as well....And since I'll be weaseling my precybernetic ass into WVU's doctoral program sometime in the near future, well, might as well combine the two interests!

And now, off to bed, to dream of electric sheep.
oneirophrenia: (Christyballs Attack!)
OK. I've finally turned into that weird guy at the end of the block with hundreds of cats and more electronic equipment than the Pentagon. I'm writing a hardcore >H story concerning--get this--highly-upgraded and modified cats. After all...when the Singularity comes 'round, the humanoids who go along for the ride will most certainly be taking their companion animals along with them, right? I sure as hell will be.

Also: Orion's Arm looks to be a very intriguing CC-licensed world for writers and other artists to explore from an >H standpoint. It's pretty well-realized, logically developed, and nicely constructed. I think I may very well have to contribute!
oneirophrenia: (Synth Head)
Here's a very thoughtful and interesting article on the ethics and humanistic challenges of life extension, elimination of aging (and possible death), and the burgeoning culture of self-expansion--the ultime "be all you can be" philosophy for hardcore transhumanists.

And for those of you who ain't down with cyborgization, better get on that wagon NOW before the future turns into yesterday and you realize you're the human equivalent of a 386 Packard Bell running Windows 3.1.
oneirophrenia: (r0b0t)
In order to give myself something constructive to do here at work, and inspired by my voracious infotropic consumption of Charles Stross' Accelerando, here's a brief list of technological upgrades and kludges that, as soon as they become available (probably within the next twenty years, considering how fast things are advancing these days), I'm going to be jamming into myself:

1) Corneal display implants...at least to tide me over until direct interface with my visual cortex becomes possible. I'm sick of staring at monitors all damn day long.

2) Exocortical plug-ins. A few simple cortical interfaces, at first, to train my brain to work better with invasive technologies. Primarily, I need a scientific calculator interface to make up for my gray matter's inherent innumeracy (I can barely add without assistance), a few flash drives to hold short term memory before I immediately forget something one of y'all told me three seconds ago, and a megapowerful firewall to keep annoying cognitives viruses and memes out of my mind--specifically tuned to automatically block memetic span from "religious" transhumanist and extropian societies who tend to worship technology rather than rock and roll with it. I could also use a complete onboard edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, a technical concordance of string- and membrane-based theories of cosmology (with particular emphasis on all research dealing with quantum gravity and/or quagma physics), and linguistics modules containing translation apps for all known human languages. I'm serious about this "knowing everything possible" thing, folks.

3) A limbic/hypothalamic damper system to disable, or at least quiet down, annoying and often inappropriate emotional responses generated by too much childhood cultural conditioning and all that useless old ape-man bullshit left over in my phenotype.

4) A BAN (body-area network) capable of at least a gigabyte per second transfer rate, or at least a highly-accessible optical network to facilitate mad fast data absorption. When I want pr0n access, I want it NOW, and I want it FAST! I ain't waiting more than 200 microseconds for that new SVG of Paris Hilton's daughter taking it all three ways simultaneously from an imported Bangladeshi dickbot!

5) Medical nanobots to constantly scour my ear canals of fucking gross-ass earwax. And an immune system upgrade to keep annoying rhinoviruses under control come the winter months.

6) Liquid-crystal skin capable of displaying images or just cool-ass old medical-diagram bitmaps scanned from Gray's Anatomy or Vesalius' De Fabrica Corporis Humanae. Or, even better, skin whose translucency I can control.

7) A wang with a built-in vibration unit...y'know, for the laaaaaaadies.

8) And finally...you all knew this one was coming: BIOMECHANICAL TENTACLES! They don't have to be particularly strong, just dextrous enough to serve as extra haptic interfaces or fingers when necessary--ohyeah, and they must be able to shoot out darts of structural diamond filled with enough tetradotoxin to kill an elephant in under three seconds, and discharge at least a few hundred watts of electricity when necessary.

Good lords, I am bored.

FRESH EDIT!: Ohyeah, and one other thing: Scrap these useless, arthritis-ridden legs for a Totally Awesome(tm) set of three tentacular tripod legs, so I can be cool like a Martian. And more stable on my "feet."

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