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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 10, 2023

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How about a pallet cleanser?

In the other thread a few people brought up surrogacy, and maybe I've spent too much time with TERFs, but am I the only one that overwhelmed with the feeling of Lovecraftian horror whenever it's brought up? The feeling is even more uncanny, because it's like I slept through some great societal debate where everybody decided it's actually a lovely thing that should be celebrated. Although maybe it's not all that bad, there's a certain "how it started, how it's going" quality to the NYT headlines. In any case the casual way it's supporters talk about surrogacy freaks me out even more than militant pro-choicers.

Then there's the whole slippery slope thing:

  • Love is love, we have a right to get married just the same as you! - Yes I agree!

  • We also have a right to adopt! - Sure! I mean I have my issues with adoption in practice, but in principle if there are kids without parents, and willing gay couples to adopt them I don't see an issue.

  • We also have a right to biological children! What? Do you expect us to be ok with not having children?

Wait what? Yes I do! I'm all for tolerance, and living and letting live, but you're not going to make me see this as a lovely family moment, and anyway I don't remember signing on to turning a fundamental human experience into an industry when I supported the gay rights movement. Accept the limits of your biology, and move on.

Which brings me to Dase's idea "postrat ┬źdon't mean-spiritedly dunk on a rationalist┬╗ challenge (impossible)". Indeed, I can't help myself, and even though I used to be rat/rat-adjacent, I find myself having growing disdain for the entire philosophy. There's a meme that's slowly gathering momentum, that all the trans stuff, and 72 genders is just a foot in the door for transhumanism, and after I heard the idea for the first time, I can't seem to unsee it. This twisted ideology will drive us to throw away our humanity, turn us into a cross-over between Umgah Blobbies and the Borg, or trick us into committing suicide, because there's a subroutine running on some GPU somewhere, that's somewhat similar to the processes in our brains. Given the utter dominance of the trans ideology, the vindication of the slippery slope argument, and the extrapolated trajectory of these ideas, I believe we have no other choice - Transhumanism must be destroyed!

There are many examples of technology coming before its time. The Puckle Gun was an attempt to make machine-guns during the 1720s, the era of flintlocks. People mostly sneered at it: "they're only wounded who hold shares therein" went one satirical pamphlet. There were also the Kalthoff Repeaters in the 1630s, they had a good rate of fire but were difficult to maintain since they hadn't figured out interchangeable parts yet. If there were any problems with the powder fouling, if a single part breaks, you had to take the whole thing back to a master gunsmith to be fixed. For over 200 years attempts to make rapid-firing firearms all failed!

But then people figured out interchangeable parts, rifling and smokeless powder. There were improvements in machining and metallurgy. Unlike all its predecessors, the Gatling Gun was pretty decent. Another few decades of refinement and we got the Maxim Gun. Machine guns became practical and extremely lethal. They dominate infantry combat to this day, every infantryman has some kind of automatic weapon. If you go out on the battlefield with a flintlock musket, you'll be sneered at as it's totally pathetic, totally impractical (imagine spending at least 30 seconds reloading and you can't even go prone, you have to stand up!)

Transhumanism is the same. Right now it's dominated by weirdoes and a very impractical, forceful approach. Its full potential has not been seen. We're talking about people doing pretty primitive surgical procedures. We're talking about people doing weird roundabout manipulations of existing biology. We're not talking about emulating the brain progressively, neuron-by-neuron, ensuring continuity of consciousness. We're not talking about the speed, strength and power machinery can give you. At this stage it all seems like science-fiction, airy abstract words thrown around by people who have no proof to back it up, no concrete knowledge of all the myriad problems...

At some point, we'll hit the Gatling Gun stage where the future becomes visible and concrete. Maybe that'll be if or when Neuralink fulfills its promise. Neuralink's bogged down with the FDA over safety concerns before they can start human testing. We could imagine a more ruthless country like China whisking off a 1,000 political dissidents to rapidly iterate testing. They might choose not to do that but it's only getting easier. If not Neuralink then its successors.

But certainly, eventually we'll be forced to throw away our humanity as we perceive it now. Can you imagine walking onto a battlefield with a flintlock musket today? What about walking onto a battlefield in the future at all? Can you fly at Mach 20, withstand 30 G acceleration, react in machine-time, track thousands of objects simultaneously, brave the cold of deep space for months on end? Can you clone yourself 50 times in a month, such that you're all aligned with eachother? Can you design an automated factory, an automated mine, an automated power plant, manage an entire robotic supply chain such that it's durable to full-scale nuclear war?

Maybe there are limits to replication or whatever. Maybe we all get wiped out by machines or a few monopolistic posthumans.

But if you're just a base-human in the future, your life will be decided by others forever. You won't have the brainpower to understand what's happening, the speed to react in time, you won't have the firepower to resist, you'll be completely surpassed in every aspect. And this trend cannot be stopped. Everyone wants to be smarter, richer and more capable. Everyone wants more ______ whatever that might be. Those with better technology will overcome those with lesser technology. Just look at what happened to the pastoral nomads! They might have had great fun, their lifestyle might be more 'human' (out in nature, authentic skills, having fun around the campfire, personally inflicting violence) than industrial city-slickers but industrial armies wiped the floor with them. They have no control over their own destiny but what modern, urban, sedentary civilization gives them. Genghis could never win, no matter what he did. Even if he conquered the whole world, his successors would get moulded and slowly turned by degrees into urbanites and lose their nomadic skills (as they did in China).

rifling

Even rifling was invented back in like the 1500's! It just took a lot of other technological developments (such as interchangeable parts, industrial machining, and probably also metallic cartridges) to finally get to breechloaders.

Good point. I recall elite units were using rifles in the Napoleonic wars but they weren't quite practical yet, they were very slow to reload since they were still muzzle-loaders.