March 27, 2005

Four roads

Human civilization is at a critical stage of its development, and there are basically four views on its future:
  • The primitivists emphasize civilization's ills both for mankind and for nature, and propose that we adopt a less technological way of living. According to some extreme views this might entail going back to the Paleolithic, or even abandon symbolic thinking!
  • The conservationists agree that civilization cannot be sustained, so they propose a partial rollback of its development: population control or reduction, abandonment of certain technologies, and reversion to a more nature-oriented lifestyle.
  • The progressives think that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with our civilization. It should go on existing as it is, and any attempts to reform it will fail; if small reforms and adjustments are needed, then these will be made as a matter of course.
  • The transhumanists are impatient with civilization as it is, and they view it as a means rather as an end. They often acknowledge that it has many problems, but they emphasize that it is much better than earlier ones, and the way to overcome it is by intensifying it, by essentially running it to its final end which is the transcendence of our humanity and the establishment of a new order based on new technologies.
This classification is based on perceptions of the value of technology, from its total rejection as in the case of the primitivists to its near deification in the case of the transhumanists.

A good analogy would be that of a man running towards a chasm. The primitivists want us to start running in the opposite direction; the conservationists propose that we stop running and think about it; the progressives deny that a chasm even exists, or perhaps they assume that we'll figure out a way to overcome it; the transhumanists relish in its existence and urge us to run faster and jump hard, because that is the only way to reach the side of our post-human future.

So, which type are you?

Which type best describes you?

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