Sunday funnies

Following up on our affectionate ribbing of futurism last weekend, check out this edition of the webcomic TGSA (click on the image to see a larger version):

I originally encountered this comic on the transhumanist website Sentient Developments, in an post admirably entitled Transhumanism is not a form of social Darwinism. SD’s still-human author, George Dvorsky, comments:

While funny and undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek, this comic gets it all wrong about human enhancement and its relation to social Darwinism …
Rather, transhumanism should be seen as a force for social justice, egalitarianism and a means to reduce human suffering. And of course, as a way for people to experience life at its maximum potential.

I’m on record as a skeptic of many of the predictions and aspirations of futurism in general and transhumanism in particular. Partially that’s just because some of those claims are so brazenly unscientific, to the point that I want to rip the logarithmic graph paper out of Ray Kurzweil’s hands and send him to bed without supper.

The other, more important, component of my skepticism is not based on my assessment of transhumanist projections, but on the attitudes and beliefs held dear by certain members of the “movement” itself. Sadly, some adherents of futurist and transhumanist philosophies use their own idiosyncratic and profoundly misguided interpretation of natural selection to justify a worldview that lacks mercy and compassion, and which is ultimately deeply misanthropic. (Examples available upon request; I’m not keen on legitimizing these folks by linking to them.)

With their parody, the authors of TGSA have hit that particular nail on the head, and Mr. Dvorsky’s comments are a welcome balm. Among other things, his words remind me that “the” futurist/transhumanist worldview is not monolithic, but rather is as diverse as the human beings that use those terms to describe their outlooks — and that, as with any school of thought, we are all free to accept the bits of it that make sense and reject the bits that don’t.

(For the previous installment of Sunday Funnies, see here.)