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  1. #1
    rip Angalifu
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    A.I. and Transhumanism

    Transhumanists are interested in the evolution of the human species beyond our current state through the use of genetics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Some transhumanists are interested in literally conquering disease and death through scientific means. Some imagine the creation of machines millions, trillions of times more intelligent than we are. Some expect the human species will eventually merge with machines or exist primarily in a virtual environment. Ray Kurzweil imagines the spread of intelligent matter throughout the universe so that God itself evolves (not to mention the re-creation of the dead). Others imagine the 'uplift' of other species with augmented intelligence. So on and so forth...

    It's odd and fascinating speculation, and it often reminds me of longstanding human urges to overcome our fallible, limited and frustrated state. Transhumanism seems to have the qualities of a religion, but it begins with technologies (and paradigms like Moore's Law) that are based in science.

    I mentioned in the entertainment forum that I just watched this movie:



    It's a good overview of the topic. It seems plain, after viewing, that Kurzweil has a notable problem with death and that very possibly a great deal of his optimism about transhuman evolution is simply a neurotic, fearful reaction to death. On the other hand, most of us agree death is a downer, so it's easy to sympathize with his frustration.

    The possibilities of artificial intelligence are at turns terrifying, grotesque and wondrous. (Although it seems hard to define intelligence at all!)

    Does anyone have any thoughts or reactions to transhumanism, in whole or in some specific part? Are you willing enough to hazard a guess about the future to be an optimist, a pessimist or a skeptic? Would you willingly augment your body or mind with machines? Are you scared of Skynet? How Amish are you?

  2. #2
    Know thyself kallipolis's Avatar
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    ^I enjoy the entertainment provided by sci fi films recognising that the human factor always prevails when man confronts the ultimate truth that death provides to finalise the journey of a lifetime.

    My reality remains in the here, and now leaving others to speculate on the future.

    In a age in which the anti depressant pill has become the easy response to address the symptoms of fear, and frustrations of very many people I rather believe that futuristic speculations are best viewed through entertaining programming.

  3. #3
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    ^That's absolutely one of my reactions, too.

    Another is that we suffer some malaise from our sense of fixedness and dominance in the world and one of the sources of that malaise is (what you might refer to as a 'hyper-rationalist') disinclination to speculate. Insofar as transhumanism provides a springboard for imagination--centered on primary questions of our human nature--I think it's also provocative and helpful.

    In addition to what may be a neurotic reaction to death, we see another side of Kurzweil in his creation of reading machines for the blind (his wise reaction to disability). The speculative nature which drives him to ponder literal immortality and metamorphosis also results in the practical realization of a transformative, helpful tool. In the here and now, some transhumanist work is not fictional.

    Questions like 'what can/should we become?' can result in neurotic fantasies; but I don't think, in every instance.

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    Know thyself kallipolis's Avatar
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    ^The human imagination is a very potent tool enabling man to interface with the human collective consciousness leading a few human beings to understand that there are no limitations when faced with the challenges that confront our daily life.

    The many limitations that man imposes upon himself are the result of fear of the unknown intervening to restrain our birth right to discover more of who we are and become that person.

    Your reference to the hyper rationalistic approach to living often creates a response that relies solely upon our field of sight whereas, the imagination provides us with a much more subtle, even limitless remedy when faced with what appears to be overwhelming odds.

    Day, and night dreams are never neurotic rather the imagination providing its services to those who are sufficiently insightful to trust their inner wisdom.

    Code error never occurs when the imagination runs smoothly, without interruption from the limitations imposed by the senses.

    A wiser man, than I said that cryptic exchanges often conceal much more than appearances might suggest

    But you would know and understand this.

  5. #5
    MikeyLove
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Death would be far more preferable than to let Technology rule the roost. Ultimately, no one can prevent Death which is inevitable to all of Mankind, and besides....why interfere with the natural process of Life. Adam lived to be over 900 years, and Noah lived way over 100. Now very few people live beyond 114 or so. There are times that technology can be morally wrong.

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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by kallipolis View Post
    ^The human imagination is a very potent tool enabling man to interface with the human collective consciousness leading a few human beings to understand that there are no limitations when faced with the challenges that confront our daily life.

    The many limitations that man imposes upon himself are the result of fear of the unknown intervening to restrain our birth right to discover more of who we are and become that person.

    Your reference to the hyper rationalistic approach to living often creates a response that relies solely upon our field of sight whereas, the imagination provides us with a much more subtle, even limitless remedy when faced with what appears to be overwhelming odds.

    Day, and night dreams are never neurotic rather the imagination providing its services to those who are sufficiently insightful to trust their inner wisdom.

    Code error never occurs when the imagination runs smoothly, without interruption from the limitations imposed by the senses.

    A wiser man, than I said that cryptic exchanges often conceal much more than appearances might suggest

    But you would know and understand this.
    Very interesting, Kalli. It's my inclination that Methusalites like Aubrey de Grey misunderstand the nature of immortality when they suggest we can have healthy bodies forever. Perhaps the futurists misunderstand in a similar way the nature of metamorphosis when they suggest we can evolve into much more intelligent hybrids.

    Maybe the transhumanists should begin work on A.W(isdom). technologies instead.

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    Know thyself kallipolis's Avatar
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltanspawn View Post
    Very interesting, Kalli. It's my inclination that Methusalites like Aubrey de Grey misunderstand the nature of immortality when they suggest we can have healthy bodies forever. Perhaps the futurists misunderstand in a similar way the nature of metamorphosis when they suggest we can evolve into much more intelligent hybrids.

    Maybe the transhumanists should begin work on A.W(isdom). technologies instead.
    Agreed! Life is far too short to speculate on a future where sci fi reigns supreme.

    G.K.Chesterton said: " I call them Methusalites, because their basic religion is to live a long time." I'd go further and suggest that long life is a concept that ignores the present by focusing on what might be, rather than what is.

    I know where I'm going leads me to believe that human life should be focusing on quality of life, rather than on life extension therapies.

    Aubrey de Grey is a very cleaver fellow.... but.... none of his therapies has ever been demonstrated to extend the lifespan of any organism, let alone that of human life.

    This article speaks - plainly - to de Grey's ideas:

    http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/...l/7400555.html

  8. #8
    MiamiHorror
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by kallipolis View Post
    Agreed! Life is far too short to speculate on a future where sci fi reigns supreme.
    What an incredibly sad way to view existence. If it were not that we had enough time to dream, we wouldn't have attained all that we have today. Speculation is what leads to the creation of solutions that give way to manifestation.

  9. #9
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by MiamiHorror View Post
    What an incredibly sad way to view existence. If it were not that we had enough time to dream, we wouldn't have attained all that we have today. Speculation is what leads to the creation of solutions that give way to manifestation.
    That life is short?

    Of course it is. It is not speculation that addresses our real needs, rather a willingness to come to terms with our every day issues that so often clog the wheels of human progress. The nitty, gritty so to speak which reduces many people to zombies existing rather than living. The epidemic in anti depressant medication prescriptions evidences this fact of life.

    Dreams are a different matter that I have already addressed when discussing the matter of the imagination, and its insightful ways of providing us with answers that address our real needs.

  10. #10
    MiamiHorror
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    The idea that life is short is a relative one. Time is also relative. Our experience of the dimensions of time and space are wholly subjective. Almost half of our existence is within dreams and the subconscious, it is almost as valid a state as waking life.

    We need to visualize, importantly, the future we want for ourselves and also collectively, so that the tracks are laid down and we can move in the direction that will most benefit us in the end.

  11. #11
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by MiamiHorror View Post
    The idea that life is short is a relative one. Time is also relative. Our experience of the dimensions of time and space are wholly subjective. Almost half of our existence is within dreams and the subconscious, it is almost as valid a state as waking life.

    We need to visualize, importantly, the future we want for ourselves and also collectively, so that the tracks are laid down and we can move in the direction that will most benefit us in the end.

    That time is short is never relative when death surprises us by knocking on our door, and whispering in to our ear that our time has expired. This can, and does happen well before the three score years, and ten that stands as a marker for the average life span.

    Relativity is not the issue rather that time waits for no man, especially those who believe that their time is sufficient for them to achieve their dreams come true.

  12. #12
    MikeyLove
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Technology cannot, and will not delay death forever. There's a time for everything under the heavens, a time to live, and the time we are called from this life.

  13. #13
    MiamiHorror
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by kallipolis View Post
    That time is short is never relative when death surprises us by knocking on our door, and whispering in to our ear that our time has expired. This can, and does happen well before the three score years, and ten that stands as a marker for the average life span.

    Relativity is not the issue rather that time waits for no man, especially those who believe that their time is sufficient for them to achieve their dreams come true.
    It would all have to trace back to your beliefs on what life actually means and your views on reincarnation, the soul, and an afterlife. If you merely see death as an end then that is what it will be for you.

    Many men have realized their dreams within their lifetime and thanks to the efforts of men like them we have much of what we would consider humanity's greatest achievements.

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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by MiamiHorror View Post
    It would all have to trace back to your beliefs on what life actually means and your views on reincarnation, the soul, and an afterlife. If you merely see death as an end then that is what it will be for you.

    Many men have realized their dreams within their lifetime and thanks to the efforts of men like them we have much of what we would consider humanity's greatest achievements.
    My beliefs in after life do not change, or influence what occurs, if anything following death of the flesh.

    Dreaming, dreams is not the issue for I have already stated that the imagination offers the human person limitless possibilities to confront, and overcome our daily trials, and tribulations.

    Our aspirations are the result of our willingness to create a life, with purpose that contributes to our sense of fulfilment, and well being realised when attempting to make our life worth living to die for.

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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Transhuman evolution posits both material and spiritual benefits.

    The material benefits will be plain enough if the futurists are correct, and as time passes technology heals the sick, eases the suffering of the aged and lifts the ignorant from their dumbness.

    It's the question of spiritual evolution which I find most provocative. What would it mean for us to become a new, and much, much more intelligent species? Would you take a pill that would transform you into a new kind of being with extraordinary intelligence? From our point of view, we might seem like mice compared to such newly augmented hybrids...

    Kallipolis has replied above perhaps as promisingly as Kurzweil, but with a different assessment of our situation. I find this part of your reply rather wonderful, Kalli.

    I'm not as convinced that all quarters of such speculation, on the other hand, are distracting. There is some dismissiveness in the characterization of such imagination as fiction (or mere entertainment) that doesn't fully address the issue. Is there an end to our suffering? Can we build a heaven for ourselves? Or is the Kingdom already within us? I think such lines of thinking can be very helpful.

    Would there be a spiritual benefit to enhanced intelligence? Or, are we as a species already spiritually complete?

  16. #16
    MikeyLove
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltanspawn View Post
    Transhuman evolution posits both material and spiritual benefits.

    The material benefits will be plain enough if the futurists are correct, and as time passes technology heals the sick, eases the suffering of the aged and lifts the ignorant from their dumbness.

    It's the question of spiritual evolution which I find most provocative. What would it mean for us to become a new, and much, much more intelligent species? Would you take a pill that would transform you into a new kind of being with extraordinary intelligence? From our point of view, we might seem like mice compared to such newly augmented hybrids...

    Kallipolis has replied above perhaps as promisingly as Kurzweil, but with a different assessment of our situation. I find this part of your reply rather wonderful, Kalli.

    I'm not as convinced that all quarters of such speculation, on the other hand, are distracting. There is some dismissiveness in the characterization of such imagination as fiction (or mere entertainment) that doesn't fully address the issue. Is there an end to our suffering? Can we build a heaven for ourselves? Or is the Kingdom already within us? I think such lines of thinking can be very helpful.

    Would there be a spiritual benefit to enhanced intelligence? Or, are we as a species already spiritually complete?
    If I was to take a pill that would transform me into a new kind of a being with extraordinary intelligence, it would not effect my spiritual benefits as a Catholic, as I will always be a Catholic with the same degree of knowledge as always.

    Is there an end to Human sufferings? I do not think that Medical Sciences will ever be able to wipe out all human sufferings, as Medical Sciences has its limitations.

    Can we build a Heaven for ourselves? Many Christian Monasteries are already ahead of the rest of us in that aspect, but there is still the earthly human elements that keeps us grounded.

    In the Christian sense, the Kingdom is already within us as we are baptized, and confirmed, etc.

    Spiritual benefits enhancing Intelligence? I would think so, for the greater our Knowledge, the greater is our responsibilities to the world around us.

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    Know thyself kallipolis's Avatar
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltanspawn View Post

    It's the question of spiritual evolution which I find most provocative.

    Can we build a heaven for ourselves?

    Or is the Kingdom already within us?

    I think such lines of thinking can be very helpful.

    Would there be a spiritual benefit to enhanced intelligence?
    I appreciate that this thread's focus is AI as it relates to human life, and that my response to Zoltan's questions, and observations on the spiritual dimension relative to the influence of AI on human life should address this factor.

    The wisdom of the great spiritual thinkers over the centuries has recognised that only by surrendering our ego, or self interest into the care of our interior guidance can we ever enter into relationship with the creating dimension of our life's journey.

    Nano technology provides us with the thought that rapidly advancing techniques are becoming available, to enable man to enter into a realm of engineering of the human body that can more accurately confront, and disable disease, even strengthen the body's resistance to disease.

    Nano bots are no longer the monopoly of science fiction representing an advance in medical science that speaks to the ever expanding possibilities offered to homo sapiens by AI engineered to assist the human race to better deal with its medical needs.

    The profound spiritual thinkers have long recognised that spiritual awareness is a process of growing self awareness (development of the interior life) that necessarily evolves within a personal relationship with the creator's presence (the spirit) in the life of every human person.... thus, our spiritual growth necessarily is the result of human nature yielding its self focus into the care of The Spirit rather than in believing that the human person exercises control over its spiritual development.

    AI is a tool that human life will develop towards realising a better life for all human beings. Sci fi films may well be our medium for illustrating the limitless potential of the human imagination, to imagine then create all that human life needs to realise its many concealed gifts....

  18. #18
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyLove View Post

    Spiritual benefits enhancing Intelligence? I would think so, for the greater our Knowledge, the greater is our responsibilities to the world around us.
    An insightful observation worth noting for understanding from where man's inspiration, to imagine is sourced - from, The Source.

    I occasionally reference the Book of Sirach as my inspiration illustrating the importance of recognising the influence of Divine Wisdom in the inspiring moment that many people attempt to understand when Carl Jung refers to Synchronistic coincidences.

    Chapter 24 of the Book of Sirach speaks to the inspiration of Divine Wisdom as it relates to the human imagination dreaming into reality ideas that are the result of a mystical influence on the life of the human person. I recommend reading the entire chapter slowly and deliberately that you may appreciate why the great spiritual thinkers over many centuries have been inspired to perform great acts that have benefited the human race.:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/sir024.htm

  19. #19
    CyborgDreamSt8
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    Re: A.I. and Transhumanism

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltanspawn View Post
    Does anyone have any thoughts or reactions to transhumanism, in whole or in some specific part? Are you willing enough to hazard a guess about the future to be an optimist, a pessimist or a skeptic? Would you willingly augment your body or mind with machines? Are you scared of Skynet? How Amish are you?
    I feel that Transhumanism is amazing. I am a huge believer in the ideals of the movement. Not only the defeat of ageing, disease and death, but also the incorporation of machine technology into the human body to create a cyborg. I am also greatly intrigued by the idea of mind uploading, and abstraction or the use of virtual reality.

    For an interesting look at a sci-fi vision of Transhumanism I recommend you take a look at my favorite author, Alastair Reynolds. He writes in the genre of Hard Core Space Opera. A more serious type of sci-fi, and he does one thing many don't do, he only likes to include technology that is not easily conceivable, i.e. no faster than light travel, no such thing as transporter technology, or food replicators.

    I urge those who feel that it is immoral or wrong in a religious view please keep in mind that while that religious view is fine for some and may serve you well it is not so for all. There are some of us who do not follow your religion who are genuinely excited about the prospects put forth by Transhumanism and have no moral qualms with it. I ask only that you respect us and our views the way you always ask us to respect yours. No one is asking you to accept the treatments we view as good, and should it ever come to the point that a group of transhumanists tried to force it upon you I would be the first one to stand up in your defense and say that to force it upon you would be morally indefensible and monstrous.

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