Limited / Limitless





Limited                            -                      Limitless
Circular                           -                      Linear 
Completion                      -                      Perfection
Earth                                -                      Heaven
                  



One of the benefits of religion is that it allows us to draw boundaries, to mark off no-go-zones. Without an encompassing and binding narrative like religion, we are at the mercy of our expansive urges.





Perhaps the question is not, "Can The Matrix ever become a reality?" 

Rather, "What will stop The Matrix from becoming a reality?"

In other words, is technology inevitably taking us toward this destination? If so, when do we put the brakes on?

Another way to look at it is to ask, "If we had the appropriate technology now, would it happen?"

It may already be happening, bit by bit, one advance after another.

We look at The Matrix and are horrified, and yet we covet and praise the contemporary 'advances' that may lead us toward it.




The rule in biological evolution is plain: The immediate individual bodily effects of functioning shall never be allowed to impinge upon the individual genetic coding.

The gene pool of the population is however subject to change under a natural selection which will recognize differences, especially differences in ability to achieve more adaptive functioning. The barrier which prohibits 'Lamarckian' inheritance precisely protects the gene system from too rapid change under possibly capricious environmental demands.

But in cultures and social system [...] there is no equivalent barrier.

Innovations become irreversibly adopted into the on-going system without being tested for long-time viability; and necessary changes are resisted by the core of conservative individuals without any assurance that these particular changes are the ones to resist.

Individual comfort and discomfort become the only criteria for choice of social change and the basic contrast of logical typing between member and the category is forgotten until new discomforts are (inevitably) created by the new state of affairs.

Fear of individual death and grief propose that it would be 'good' to eliminate epidemic disease and only after 100 years of preventive medicine do we discover that the population is overgrown. And so on.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 238




The machine metaphor, stressing bigger and more efficient operations in wordly society, stands in sharp contrast to Amish thinking about the use of tools.

The logic of expanded technology points toward infinite industrial growth and infinite energy consumption. The energy crisis is for the Amish a crisis not of supply but of use, not of technology but of morality.

By carefully restricting the use of machine-developed energy, the Amish "have become the only true masters of technology."

The Amish have problems, but with respect to energy and the balancing of human life with machines, they have mastered one of the contradictions so puzzling to modern society.

By holding technology at a distance, by exercising restraint and moderations, and by accepting limitations and living within then, the Amish have maintained the integrity of their family and community life.

They have escaped many of the noxious side effects of ambitious technology - haste, aimlessness, distraction, violence, waste, and disintegration.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 383-4




Bostrom calls this the Technological Completion Conjecture:

If scientific- and technological-development efforts do not effectively cease, then all impor­t­­­ant basic capabilities that could be obtained through some possible technology will be obtained.

In light of this, he suspects that the farther into the future one looks the less likely it seems that life will continue as it is. He favors the far ends of possibility: humanity becomes transcendent or it perishes.

The Doomsday Invention: Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?

 



The Amish are inutitively aware of the danger of large-scale enterprises [...] Limitless technology is, for them, greed and a denial of wisdom.

Amish economic thinking is subjected to a traditional wisdom requiring the restraint of selfishness, greed, leisure, and expansionist thinking.

The future of the Amish will be determined not solely by technology, or the means to life, but by the definition they themselves give to life.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 396




Many argue that posthuman space will be more virtual than real.

Individuals may consist of uploaded minds living as data patterns on supercomputers or users engaged in completely immersive virtual realities.

Postgenderists contend that these types of existences are not gender-specific thus allowing individuals to morph their virtual appearances and sexuality at will.

Postgenderism 




The body, that inconvenient reminder of mortality, is plucked, pierced, etched, pummelled, pumped up, shrunk and remoulded [...] What seems a celebration of the body, then, may also cloak a virulent anti-materialism - a desire to gather this raw, perishable stuff into the less corruptible forms of art or discourse.

The resurrection of the body returns as the tattoo parlour and the cosmetic surgeon's consulting-room. To reduce this obstreperous stuff to so much clay in our hands is a fantasy of mastering the unmasterable.

It is a disavowal of death, a refusal of the limit which is ourselves.

For all its love affair with matter, in the shape of Tuscan villas and double brandies, capitalist society harbours a secret hatred of the stuff. It is a culture shot through with fantasy, idealist to its core, powered by a disembodied will which dreams of pounding Nature to pieces. It makes an idol out of matter, but cannot stomach the resistance it offers to its grandiose schemes.

Taming the Mississippi and piercing your navel are just earlier and later versions of the same ideology. Having moulded the landscape to our own image and likeness, we have now begun to recraft ourselves. Civil engineering has been joined by cosmetic surgery.

'Personalizing' the body may be a way of denying its essential impersonality. Its impersonality lies in the fact that it belongs to the species before it belongs to me; and there are some aspects of the species-body - death, vulnerability, sickness and the like - that we may well prefer to thrust into oblivion.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory, p.164-6




Religion has invisible purposes beyond what the literal-minded scientistic-scientifiers identify - one of which is to protect us from scientism, that is, them.

We can see in the corpus of inscriptions (on graves) accounts of people erecting fountains or even temples to their favourite gods after these succeeded where doctors failed. Indeed we rarely look at religion’s benefits in limiting the intervention bias and its iatrogenics: in a large set of circumstances (marginal disease), anything that takes you away from the doctor and allows you to do nothing (hence gives nature a chance to do its work) will be beneficial.

I believe in the heuristics of religion and blindly accommodate its rules (as an Orthodox Christian, I can cheat once in a while, as it is part of the game). Among other things the role of religion is to tame the iatrogenics of abundance - fasting makes you lose your sense of entitlement.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 364-5



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Closed / Open 
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Who's Steering the Ship?
Future Trends
Masters of the Universe 
The Earth's the Limit 
Familiar Territory
Live Forever?
Borders
A Higher Power