Interview with Pramod K. Nayar on #posthumanism ‘as both a material condition and a developing philosophical-ethical project in the age of cloning, gene engineering, organ transplants and implants’. The book ‘Posthumanism’ by Pramod Nayar: https://amzn.to/2OQEA8z Rise of the posthumanities article: https://bit.ly/32Q67Pm
This time, I decided trying to itemize the interview so you can find sections via the time signature links:
0:00 Intro / What got Pramod interested in posthuman studies?
04:16 Defining the terms – what is posthumanism? Cultural framing of natural vs unnatural. Posthumanism is not just bodily or mental enhancement, but involves changing the relationship between humans, non-human lifeforms, technology and non-living matter. Displacement of anthropocentrism.
08:01 Anthropocentric biases inherited from enlightenment humanist thinking and human exceptionalism. The formation of the transhumanist declaration with part of it focusing on the human with point 7 of the declaration focusing on the well-being of all sentience. The important question of empathy – not limiting it to the human species. The issue of empathy being a good lunching pad for further conversations between the transhumanists and the posthumanists. https://humanityplus.org/
11:10 Difficulties in getting everyone to agree on cultural values. Is a utopian ideal posthumanist/transhumanist society possible?
13:25 Collective societies, hive minds, borganisms. Distributed cognition, the extended mind hypothesis, cognitive assemblages, traditions of knowledge sharing.
16:58 Does the humanities need some form of reconfiguration to shift it towards something beyond the human? Rejecting some of the value systems that enlightenment humanism claimed to be universal. Julian Savulescu’s work on moral enhancement
20:58 Colonialism – what is it?
21:57 Aspects of enlightenment humanism that the critical posthumanists don’t agree with. But some believe the poshumanists to be enlightenment haters that reject rationality – is this accurate?
24:33 Trying to achieve agreement on shared human values – is vulnerability rather than dignity a usable concept that different groups can agree with?
26:37 The idea of the monster – people’s fear of what they don’t understand. Thinking past disgust responses to new wearable technologies and more radical bodily enhancements.
29:45 The future of posthuman morphology and posthuman rights – how might emerging means of upgrading our bodies / minds interfere with rights or help us re-evaluate rights?
33:42 Personhood beyond the human
35:11 Should we uplift non-human animals? Animals as moral patients becoming moral actors through uplifting? Also once Superintelligent AI is developed, should it uplift us? The question of agency and aspiration – what are appropriate aspirations for different life forms? Species enhancement and Ian Hacking’s idea of ‘Making up people’ – classification and how people come to inhabit the identities that exist at various points in history, or in different environments. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-
38:10 Measuring happiness – David Pearce’s idea of eliminating suffering and increasing happiness through advanced technology. What does it mean to have welfare or to flourish? Should we institutionalise wellbeing, a gross domestic happiness, world happiness index?
40:27 Anders Sandberg asks: Transhumanism and posthumanism often do not get along – transhumanism commonly wears its enlightenment roots on its sleeve, and posthumanism often spends more time criticising the current situation than suggesting an out of it. Yet there is no fundamental reason both perspectives could not simultaneously get what they want: a post-human posthumanist concept of humanity and its post-natural environment seem entirely possible. What is Nayar’s perspective on this win-win vision?
44:14 The postmodern play of endless difference and relativism – what is the good and bad of postmodernism on posthumanist thinking?
47:16 What does postmodernism have to offer both posthumanism and transhumanism?
49:17 Thomas Kuhn’s idea of paradigm changes in science happening funeral by funeral.
58:58 – How has the idea of the singularity influenced transhumanist and posthumanist thinking? Shift’s in perspectives to help us ask the right questions in science, engineering and ethics in order to achieve a better future society.
1:01:55 – What AI is good and bad at today. Correlational thinking vs causative thinking. Filling the gaps as to what’s required to achieve ‘machine understanding’.
1:03:26 – Influential literature on the idea of the posthuman – especially that which can help us think about difference and ‘the other’ (or the non-human)