Charlie Stross nails down some thoughts on Transhumanism/Singularity, and in the process builds a near perfect summation of all that’s wrong with it:
There is a rottenness at the heart of the transhuman project, and the biggest symptom of it is blindness to its own origins: a mixture of warmed-over Christian apocalyptic eschatology (which Cory Doctorow and I poke with a stick in “The Rapture of the Nerds”) and the Just-So creation mythology of the smugly self-satisfied hypercapitalists who have unintentionally done so much to destroy so many of the moral and interpersonal values of post-Englightenment civilization.
I’m half tempted to add a sort of thematic epigraph to my novel-in-progress, in the style of Moby Dick, full of quotes that point to the themes of the story. And you can be sure this one would be right smack dab in the middle of it.
Because you see, the major problem facing the world today is not war or greed or racism. Those are horrible of course, but they are symptoms of a much larger social problem created by our cultural adherence to a fundamentally anti-human idea: that this world is broken and corrupt and we have to escape it.
The biggest problem is that there is nowhere to escape to. Religion promises some otherworldly dimension where you get to live in harmony and never have to poop. But it’s a fairy tale designed to mollify intellectual children. It’s not a real, attainable place. All paths leading toward it pass through the door of death. And there’s nothing after that but a long and empty dark corridor.
Science Fiction is supposed to be the literature of ideas. But for the last decade or so, it’s chief idea is reheated Augustinian pablum. Or as Greg Egan put it, “Uberdorks battling to turn the moon into computronium… Throwing Grey Goo around like monkeys throwing turds while they draw up their plans for Matrioshka brains.”
Some time ago we stopped believing that we could make a human future and reverted back to primitive day dreams of escaping to fairy land. But it’s the same old fear of death, just dressed up in LEDs and chrome.
As long as escape (i.e. Death) is the only promoted goal of our civilization, then we will never seriously address the concerns that make life here on Earth hard. We could spend our considerable imagination and creative power on solving the problems that vex us, and build a semi-paradise on Earth (no promises that it’ll be perfect) or we could just sit around day dreaming of a fantasy world where we don’t have to poop, while we drown in toxic shit of our own making.
Those are our only two options for our future: hard work or death. I choose hard work. What shape that work takes, now that’s the question I plan to spend the next thirty years or so trying to answer.