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The Transhumanist Wager (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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- ASIN : B00AQQSY60
- Editora : Futurity Imagine Media LLC (1 janeiro 2013)
- Idioma : Inglês
- Tamanho do arquivo : 920 KB
- Quantidade de dispositivos em que é possível ler este eBook ao mesmo tempo : Ilimitado
- Leitura de texto : Habilitado
- Leitor de tela : Compatível
- Configuração de fonte : Habilitado
- X-Ray : Habilitado
- Dicas de vocabulário : Habilitado
- Número de páginas : 300 páginas
- Ranking dos mais vendidos: Nº 335,488 em Loja Kindle (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Loja Kindle)
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For those that don't know, 'transhumanism' is the idea that humanity will be transformed by technology. Its basic tenets are that we should use advances in technology to improve the lot of humanity, tackling disease and ultimately extending human lifespan by means of technological advances. But it goes beyond that and predicts that the advances in technology will in the not so distant future lead to a technological 'singularity' where all the advances of the last few hundred years will pale into insignificance in relation to a rapid growth in possibilities which which challenge all thoughts of what humanity actually is. It predicts that very soon we will be able to extend human lifespans indefinitely with the ultimate hope of practical immortality. And it also predicts that we will shift from our current biological state into a new technological state (via ideas such as mind uploading) and a new evolutionary path no longer hindered by our biological limitations.
Clearly, such ideas demand a new morality and will not be accepted or welcomed by all, particularly those fettered by a religious mindset. As an atheist and humanist I see transhumanism as a logical progression but this is scary stuff in the sense that we would have to re-evaluate so many of the moral concepts that define our humanity and there is the possibility that if we do it wrong then our whole existence as a species is endangered.
Given that brief background what Zoltan Istvan attempts to do in this novel (and certainly achieves, in my opinion) is to raise all of the issues that we will have to face with this (what seems to be inevitable) future.
The novel documents the life of one Jethro Knights and is set in the not very distant future (possibly even the present). Jethro is a brilliant transhumanist who wants the world to change and will stop at nothing to achieve his transhumanist goals. His life story starts as a rebellious university student who gives up all to sail around the world, paying his way as a journalist and covering world events. He starts to define a philosophy based upon what he sees as transhumanist inevitability. On his travels he meets his love interest Zoe Bach who, though basically transhumanist herself challenges Jethro's hard philosophy with a more spiritual take on the whole idea.
On Jethro's return he sets up an organisation called 'Transhuman Citizen' and enlists the support of scientists and other supporters of transhumanist ideas. But his ideas are seen as dangerous by the establishment, especially those of a religious bent and he and his pursuit are put in mortal peril by the inevitable opposition. There is action and tragedy which I will not go into, interspersed with some challenging philosophy.
Ultimately, with the backing of a billionaire benefactor Jethro is able to set up Transhumania, a floating city where scientists and all others devoted to the technological advancements transhumanism offers are able to pursue their goals without the hindrances of the outside world. And ultimately Transhumnia challenges and overthrows the whole world order. But too many spoilers - read it for ourself. I guarantee it will either change you or offend your ingrained beliefs to such a degree that you may hate what it stands for. I personally fell into the former group where I see the ideas of transhumanism as something to welcome and encourage but sadly I also see that there will be opposition and turmoil.
Zoltan Istvan is an ex National Geographic journalist who himself sailed around the world as did Jethro and he clearly is a strong supporter of transhumanism. There is obviously some autobiographical influence. However, I personally found Jethro a bit hard to like and some aspects of his philosophy were harsh and a challenge to what I define as humanity. That said, I believe Zoltan painted Jethro as a controversial character to portray the absolute opposites of the philosophical standpoints in the challenges we face. I think we need to consider these future possibiilties, and soon. I hope we can adapt to this new world order without the need of the extremes that Jethro represents. I hope we can shake off the baggage and accept the inevitable changes in a way that all of humanity can benefit.
This book has made me think more than any book I have read for a long, long time. It provides real hope for those that pursue the course of reason above outdated superstitions. There are some faults in the book, for example the funding of Transhumania is an outrageous proposition - it could never be developed for the sums mentioned. And at times it slips into action sequences that require a little suspension of belief. But you can find faults like this in any novel. The important thing is that the ideas it puts forward are significant and very important. It is a very well written and well crafted work. You will come out of reading it with either very positive or very negative feelings and to me that is the measure of a good book.
Personally I loved it and would recommend to to anyone. People bogged down by their religion may not like it but forward and free thinkers should relish the ideas within.
Coming toward the end of his university course and vituperated for his radical transhumanist agenda, Jethro Knights embarks on a voyage around the world in a boat he built himself. While travelling he accepts a job as a roving journalist; a job that exposes him to the real fragility of the human body. Returning to a United States that increasingly rejects transhumanism in favour of a narrow interpretation of evangelical Christianity, he finds his determination to overcome humanity first ridiculed then punished.
Istvan prominently mentions this novel having being a best-seller in philosophy, and as a work of philosophy it is filled with thought-provoking arguments in favour of aggressive transhumanism. However, these often take first place to the plot and characterisation making it less accessible as a novel.
While the struggle between religion and science is at the forefront of this novel, Istvan’s transhumanism ironically wins through the most divine of methods: the author-as-god rigging the game.
Istvan first slant is to divides the world into three groups: aggressive transhumanists, supporters of aggressive religions, and the stupid. Consigning the majority of the world population to the third category, he tidies them away into an audience to the main event and forgets about them. Leaving him free to showcase a battle between his version of transhumanism and a narrow subset of religion. Thus, while the reader is likely to wish that Knights and his supporters succeed, many will desire it by comparison to the alternative only: the same desire that would support the NKVD against flesh-eating alien invaders, rather than a purer active agreement with the methods used. While Istvan might have arguments against the many religions and philosophies that do not advocate submission, his total focus on the worst of Abrahamic religion (with a brief mention of Hindus) might make it seem he is picking battles he can win
His second is a similar simplification of technological achievement: effectively defining transhumanism as winning all battles. The replacement of the internet with a faster, more efficient version is described with a single sentence declaring it happened in the middle of a long list of similar sentences declaring improvements caused by transhumanists. Other amazing advancements take up to a paragraph; but, often only because the laundry list of things they can do would not fit in a single sentence.
Even where there is some challenge, it is quickly defeated by transhumanists at little cost. A single missile manages to overcome the hacker who has single-handedly hacked a multinational fleet in real-time, but the transhumanists’ missile defence shoots it down before it does real damage. The hacker immediately works out what went wrong and deals with a larger threat with no effort. With all the tension stolen by low-cost inevitable success, readers might find it hard to care when the transhumanists face their straw-man enemies.
Knights himself is a character almost perfectly designed not to support a novel. He feels no fear, so the reader has less reason to feel tension. While he does feel other emotions, he puts them aside in favour of transhumanism without any real cost to himself. Starting the book as merely hard-to-empathise-with and monomaniacal, Knights loses what little pretence of being a complex character he had when he launches into his second multipage speech to the world setting out his radical beliefs.
Therefore, while this book is an interesting piece of philosophy, I found it neither entertaining nor convincing either as an argument or a narrative. I recommend it to readers seeking an introduction to one version of transhumanism.
There is a spoiler with regards to outcome of the novel in the announcement that its author is running for President of the USA under the Transhumanist banner. It is a bit like fiction centred on the Titanic – we all know what happens – it sinks. In this case Transhumanism rises against all odds. I am hardly giving anything away by writing that in a review.
The novel contains various protagonists. The Key Character is Jethro Knights who is pitted against equally self opinionated people, to represent various professions including politicians lawyers and clergymen. If the reader likes the idea of Transhumanism then he will enjoy Knights bashing his way through the opposition offered by these people. Knights doesn’t get his own way all the time and there is real opposition, but the reader knows he will get through it.
Although the novel ridicules the God Hypothesis, in the instance of any novel there is a God – the author – and the characters think and act exactly as he wants. The characters in The Bible and other holy books based on historic events have exactly the same problem with respect to the authors thereof.
Also there are lots of long speeches by all of the protagonists - a bit like party political broadcasts. Some readers may find these boring and skip through them. However they do attempt to consider the arguments put by people in the real world as they consider Transhumanism, and are worth reading. Ideally, though, a non fiction book by a Transhumanist and some others by its opponents may be a better way for open minded scholastic study of the field.
Maybe within the lifetime of those reading this, a sufficiently accurate “world simulator” will appear that enables various people to act out their own points of view and see what happens. So far we just have History, and studying what happened to Napoleon, Hitler and so on we see that world domination by one person never works. Often these people start out with the best of intentions, but never get where they wanted to go. Hitler had his autobahns, “Strength Through Joy Car” and an idyllic life set out for his citizens with Baltic holiday camps based on Butlins, but crazy ideas and megalomania took over and replaced all that. Napoleon had a government based on science, but all that there is left is the metric system and that still hasn’t caught on in the USA.
Using reality as the only alternative to a simulator, I get the impression that the events depicted in The Transhumanist Wager could not happen. The idea that the key character could just persuade people to give him vast fortunes to do what he wanted also strikes me as fanciful. Reality again has the super-rich earning it, winning it or inheriting it. Only those earning it would ever accrete a sum comparable to that which Knights persuaded people to give him.
Despite all that, I think that the Transhumanist world as described in the novel does not sell the idea well. A lot of people will see it as a fanatical unfeeling dictatorship. People want a leader, certainly. They want indefinite good health. They love technology toys. But the idea of being chucked out if you don’t come up to scratch isn’t appealing even to a lot of people who are confident that they personally will meet the grade. People do think beyond themselves, which is why death taxes and confiscatory divorce laws (“gold digger charters”) are unpopular even amongst those who would never be affected by them.
Barring a calamity, technology will go an advancing. Amazing changes will go on occurring, and many self serving professionals will find they need to look for other jobs. But people often look for leadership and comfort, and unless something else can replace religion to provide that, many will still flock to it regardless of how irrational its premises, axioms and hypotheses.
An utterly compulsive read, I would recommend it - 10/10!
But it got more and more preachy and - dare I say it - fascist.
By the end it was just pages and pages of rant about how wonderful some people are and how awful all governments and organised religions are.
While I agree with some of what he's saying it did get rather tedious and monotonous.
Surely not ALL religious people, and ALL poor people, are that bad? As someone who would be considered trailer trash, working class, deprived, marginalised, I found many of his attitudes rather harsh and judgemental.
Struggled to finish it but I did.
Left me feeling that yes, we are all under-achievers and could do so much more if only we believed we can BUT with someone like that in charge God help us. Makes Hitler/Stalin/Pol Pot and the rest seem like Mary Poppins.