April 24, 2009

Philosopher David Pearce guest blogging next week

British philosopher David Pearce will be guest blogging on Sentient Developments next week.

Pearce is a seminal figure in the transhumanist movement, most notably for his work as an organizer (he co-founded the World Transhumanist Association (now Humanity+) with Nick Bostrom in 1998) and as a thought leader (particularly for his work as a negative utilitarian ethicist and abolitionist).

Pearce's contributions will fit in nicely here at SentDev. Like myself, he believes and promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. He has a book-length internet manifesto called The Hedonistic Imperative in which he details how he believes the abolition of suffering can be accomplished through "paradise engineering".

A transhumanist and a vegan, Pearce also calls for the elimination of cruelty to animals. Among his websites, there are many devoted to the plight of animals. [Love it when people practice what they preach]

In The Hedonistic Imperative, Pearce outlines how technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience in human life and produce a posthuman civilization.

Pearce is also currently the director of BLTC Research, a non-profit research organization that seeks to elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms of physical and mental suffering, with the intention of eradicating it in all its forms. The goals of research in Better Living Through Chemistry include determining the final common neurological pathway of both pleasure and pain in the brain. Once this process is better understood, it could be possible to more effectively design medicines and other treatments for various mental illnesses, as well as cure the painful symptoms of many diseases.

David will be blogging on Sentient Developments from April 27 through to May 1. Note: David mentioned that he'd like to address topic requests from Sentient Developments readers. Feel free to post article suggestions and questions for David in this post's comments section.

[Hmmm, just realized that my last three guest bloggers have all been named David (Eagleman and Brin being the previous two). Weird]


T.Theodorus Ibrahim said...

Hello David,

Hope you are (super)well and the rabbits are behaving themselves :-)

I know you and I have touched on this subject before, but what are the current prospects of a merger or synergy between transhumanist concerns of the rights of natural humans within a world dominated by greater intelligences and the existing unequal power relations between animals - especially between human and non-human animals?

Will the human reich give way to a transhuman reich?


Michael Anissimov said...

Cool! I really appreciate your animal rights blogging lately btw, George.

midnightsun said...

I'm eagerly awaiting what David Pearce has to say!

FrF said...

Right now I'm listening to David's excellent talk The Abolitionist Project from 2007.

FrF said...

Speaking of "Reich" (as t.theodorus has done in another context):

When I sent The Hedonistic Imperative's introductory remarks* to a friend, he replied curtly with "This is crazy". I retorted "It's delightfully visionary" to which he in turn said "Fascist ubermensch fantasies". At this point I thought it better to remain mum because we'd previously clashed on matters transhuman (e.g. life extension) and I didn't want to risk another week-long silence between us.

Does David see where accusations of fascism against his radical engineering ideas come from or are they completely beyond him? Accidentally I see that he's reviewing Nicholas Agar's "Liberal Eugenics" on his website, so some aspects of my question might be answered there.

And which role do David's "multiple dysfunctions"** play in his philosophy? Could it be that transhumanists who are, for whatever reason, dissatisfied with their current lives overcompensate for their suffering by proposing grand schemes that could potentially bulldoze over all other people? (As a fellow sufferer from various mental ailments/life disappointments I may be guilty as charged...)

* From "The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life" onward.

** This is a phrase from DP Drug Regimen update Oct. 2008

Leafy said...

I would love to see a post that focuses on your vision for an animal welfare state, and explains how your views about the treatment of nonhuman animals (e.g., that animals need care and protection, not liberation, and when animal use or domination might be morally acceptable) differ from those of people such as Singer and Francione.

FrF said...

Ha! Of course Mr. Pearce knows about the pitfalls of futurism gone wrong:

"All sorts of stuff is technically feasible in principle; but a lot of so-called futurology is just a mixture of disguised autobiography and wish-fulfillment fantasy."

FrF said...

Btw, David's review of Nicholas Agar's "Liberal Eugenics" (mentioned above) is excellent.