All Humans Are Mortal. Socrates Is Human. Therefore, Socrates Is Mortal.
Students have been learning the basics of logic through the re-iteration of this syllogism for centuries.
Everybody who has ever lived has died. Everybody dies. You are going to die. That you are going to die is part of what it has always meant to be human. If you didn't die, you wouldn't be living a legibly human life. But of course you are going to die so there is no reason to belabor the point, and to do so is probably just to indulge in panic-stricken distraction or denialism about it anyway.
And, sure, you really can go into denial about it if you don't want to face facts, you can stick your fingers in your ears screaming la!la!la!la! whenever you contemplate your curtain call, you can dwell on death so much that you manage to die in life even before you die if you really want to be pathetic about it, you can behave recklessly on cliff faces and in sports cars to show how invulnerable you are, you can pray to Baby Jeebus to give you a cozy cloud perch from which to observe the bad people burning in Hell, you can build a gold-plated poop pyramid a mile high with your name on it. Heck, you can even get your brain frozen and hamburgerized by scam artists in the desert who promise you won't thaw for the centuries it takes for magic nanobots to "fix" you with the help of the Super Dad Robot God they are coding.
Many readers may think I am writing parodies when I speak of superlative futurological discourses and subcultures as a kind of Robot Cult. In a post earlier today right here, Hank Pellissier, Very Serious Futurologist and Managing Director at IEET, the Institute for Ethics (where the ethics are rarely actually discussed) and Emerging Technologies (where the technologies are rarely actually emerging) reported that "Immortality is a primary goal of many transhumanists…" For those who are curious, we now know that "many" means something like "76.2%" of the transhumanoids demand techno-immortality, while another "8.1%" are worried that they would be too bored, which presumably means they are techno-immortality persuadable if they are promised adequate entertainment in Holodeck Heaven.
We know this because a survey "of self-identified transhumanists" has yielded this result. Yes, "self-identified transhumanists." Yes, this is an "identity" now, it is an "identity movement" of people in the present who imagine they are different kinds of people than me because of the specific version of "The Future" they want "technology" to deliver them if they only just Believe in it hard enough together. The survey was funded, we are told, by the "Terasem Movement" -- look how many transhumanoid "movements" there are! Moving, moving... into The Future! This is how the Terasem Movement describes itself in their own promotional materials:
A social movement devoted to diversity, unity and joyful immortality achieved through exponential growth of geo-ethical nanotechnology. Immortality is accomplished by creating consciousness in self-replicating machines that can be distributed throughout the cosmos. The machines use their exponentially growing knowledge and ethical nanotechnology to convert universal random mass and energy into ubiquitous intelligent mass and energy that, networked together, will be a force capable of controlling cosmic physics.
I hesitate to call attention to the fact that this "immortality" is non-existing, although described as "accomplished" (or at any rate demonstrably accomplishable) and that the "self-replicating machines" involved are also non-existing, and hence, strictly speaking, cannot be "using" their "exponentially growing" despite also being non-existing knowledge and "ethical" -- and also, we are assured, "geo-ethical" -- despite also being non-existing "nanotechnology" in order to, dear oh dear oh dear oh dear, "control cosmic physics," although I daresay all the bits about "joy" and "unity" and cyber-angel choirs (well, I added that bit) all sound highly edifying.
I am not sure any of this sounds much like science or science education or technodevelopmental policy to me, but I do not doubt that it is all Very Serious, indeed, and that people much smarter than I am know very well that this is not at all a Robot variation New Age cult or science fiction fandom with theological delusions of grandeur fanwanking a stew of pop-tech journalism and tech CEO celebrity worship into a techno-transcendentalizing circle jerk of True Believers and guru-wannabes who just want to pretend magic is real while the world is literally perishing around their heads from the depredations of corporate-military plutocrats in a planet awash in amplifying Greenhouse storms.
In the preliminary announcement of the results of the survey at the IEET, Pellissier declares that this survey was "fiscally sponsored by the World Future Society." I don't know what that means exactly, but if it involves any money or serious effort at all I do hope the good people here at WFS think to call me up the next time they want to blow some cash or effort because I have plenty of suggestions for progressive technodevelopmental things to do that don't involve asking Robot Cultists if they want to live forever in shiny robot bodies.
Many complain that I am writing unfair parodies when I speak of Robot Cultists who fancy themselves sooper-geniuses pining to code their Sooper Dad Robot God who will "upload" their "brain-souls" into cyber-immortality in virtual reality treasure caves or into shiny sooper-sexy sooper-power robot bodies amidst nanobotic utility fog that makes Hogwarts magic real. Last year, Mike Treder was Managing Director of the IEET (as Hank Pellissier is now), and he wrote a post there which asked the following question: Will You Die? (The answer, for you kids keeping score at home, is: "Yes, Mike, yes, you will die, as will every single person who reads these words.") Let's let Treder speak for himself:
The hope for transhumanists in 2011 is that the science of biogerontology -- potentially combined with rapid progress in techniques for using smart ‘nanobots’ to clean out our arteries or fix our degraded cells -- will soon lead to a new era of widely available radical life extension. IEET Fellow Aubrey de Grey, a leading expert in the field, has predicted that the first person to live to be 1000 years old will be born in the next twenty years. If that doesn’t happen quickly enough for you or me, then maybe we can have our bodies (or just our heads) cryonically “preserved” and possibly reanimated at some point in the future. Another hypothesized route to immortality is the idea of having your personality “uploaded” to a computer before you die, so that the essence of you will live on for centuries or for eons. You might, theoretically, be able to have your mind implanted into an advanced robot, giving you a superior body that can be upgraded and made to last for a very long time indeed.
His words. Their words. And possibly, dear futurologially-inclined reader, yours too?
Especially rich for me in Treder's transhumanoidally characteristic catechism is the robotic predictability with which Aubrey de Grey has apparently chosen the inevitable "twenty years from now" as the arrival date for the goods in "the field" in which he is "a leading expert," a futurological gesture also beloved -- and for far more than twenty years, let me tell you -- of experts heralding the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, Drexlerian Nanotech, Designer Babies, Clone Armies, Immersive VR, the Paperless Office, Energy Too Cheap to Meter, Orbital Space Hotels, the Imminent Gengineered Cure for [insert disease], and the history-shattering Singularity when the Robot God inaugurates Tech-Heaven or eats the world for lunch (you decide).
It's, er, you know, science! Sometimes words fail us, sometimes proposals are so absurd they become literally indistinguishable from their possible parodies, sometimes things become so ridiculous that there is nothing but ridicule left to respond with.
No doubt about it. Socrates is dead.
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