Wolf Tivy on transhumanism and Henry David Thoreau
Wolf: Is mankind the perfect being? No, we are not. OK, are we eventually going to create—or create conditions that create—beings better than ourselves? Yes, we are.
Alex: Wouldn’t it be healthier, though, if we thought we were the perfect being and just you know, kept it at that?
Wolf: But that’s pride. It’s pride and hubris and it’s wrong.
Alex: It’s Christianity, in a way.
Wolf: It depends what you identify with. Do you identify with the flesh or do you identify with the principle that is animating the flesh? If the latter then we can identify with futures with vastly different technological stacks. So we have vastly different flesh, it’s silicon. I think ultimately we end up there. For now, I’m actually pretty anti-transhumanist, I think it’s all fake. But in terms of taking the scientific worldview seriously and projecting our destiny forward, I think you end up there. But it’s not this self-worshipping transhumanism which has I think become dominant, where it’s like “oh we’re going to use AI to enhance our pleasure”… these are just really stupid self-referential visions. It’s like no, our glorious descendents that are smarter than anything else that has ever existed are going to wage nuclear war accross the heavens, that’s like the glorious thing that’s going to happen, right? You have to see it as an extension of natural law and the whole evolutionary process that we have undergone so far. And yeah it’s going to be bloody, it’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be very dynamic and its going to take a long time. This is the process of creation, this is the process by which God is manifesting into the world the kind of beings he wants to have a relationship with.
Alex: You sound like you’re gripped by religious ecstasy while you’re saying this.
Wolf: I am an ideologue. I am a religious ideologue. […] The bison sphere is a transitional step in this vision… it’s also a joke, an April fools article that I wrote, but look… this is what I believe, right? That was like a fun version of it.
We are not in the game of subversion. We are in the game of construction. Maybe circumvention. But construction. Visions and ideas that improve the world around us.
Thoreau tackles head on one of the deepest pathologies in American society, the way in which we are sort of enslaved to our capital. What do you actually get out of your wealth?
He keeps things simple and ends up in a life of contemplation. He teaches a spartan life of philosophy. He doesn’t dislike technology, he doesn’t dislike wealth, he wants us to have a technologically enabled society, but he wants us to be worthy of it. He wants us to have ends that are glorious enough for our means.