Why I am not an Extropian
by Lee Frank

First of all, here are two defintions used by Extropians:
Someone actively preparing for becoming posthuman. Someone who is informed enough to see radical future possibilities and plans ahead for them, and who takes every current option for self-enhancement. [Term: FM-2030, Are You A Transhuman? Definition by Max More] (The word was used earlier by Damien Broderick in The Judas Mandala from 1982 (of which an excerpt called "Growing Up" was published in Galileo in 1976), and in "Transhuman 2000" by FM-2030 in Woman in the Year 2000 (Ed. Maggie Tripp) in the 60s or early 70s)
Persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity, self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals. [FM-2030. Definition by Max More]

If you need more explanation to be leery of this techno-cult, here is a detailed examination of Extropian principles.

What Extropians believe in:

1. Perpetual Progress — Seeking more intelligence, wisdom, and effectiveness, an indefinite lifespan, and the removal of political, cultural, biological, and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.

I believe progress to be a recent and suspect concept, often misapplied by social darwinists. As for "expanding into the universe and advancing without end," it smells a lot like pie in the sky.

2. Self-Transformation — Affirming continual moral, intellectual, and physical self-improvement, through critical and creative thinking, personal responsibility, and experimentation. Seeking biological and neurological augmentation along with emotional and psychological refinement.

I believe in my self-improvement only so long as it comes at no discernable cost to others.

3. Practical Optimism — Fueling action with positive expectations. Adopting a rational, action-based optimism, in place of both blind faith and stagnant pessimism.

I believe in optimism, provided it also is not blind. But I also believe that rationality has, like any tool, limitations.

4. Intelligent Technology — Applying science and technology creatively to transcend "natural" limits imposed by our biological heritage, culture, and environment. Seeing technology not as an end in itself but as an effective means towards the improvement of life.

I believe anyone, who seeks to use technology as a means, needs to examine both his/her own ends and technology's demonstrated continuous ability to exceed our control.

5. Open Society — Supporting social orders that foster freedom of speech, freedom of action, and experimentation. Opposing authoritarian social control and favoring the rule of law and decentralization of power. Preferring bargaining over battling, and exchange over compulsion. Openness to improvement rather than a static utopia.

I believe in an open society but they need to define "experimentation" and why they believe anything utopian would not be static—utopias are all about promotimg ends to the determent of means.

6. Self-Direction — Seeking independent thinking, individual freedom, personal responsibility, self-direction, self-esteem, and respect for others.

I believe this also, and wonder why it needs to be explicitly stated.

7. Rational Thinking — Favoring reason over blind faith and questioning over dogma. Remaining open to challenges to our beliefs and practices in pursuit of perpetual improvement. Welcoming criticism of our existing beliefs while being open to new ideas.

I believe reason is not immune to having its own blind spots. Again, why is necessary to say they prefer open thought to blind faith and questioning to dogma?

Finally, I believe Extopians should be doubted merely because of their overuse of the word "self." To me, this shows an inadequate appreciation of our beings (and our intelligence, our knowledge, our consciousness, and our very selves) as connected social beings. We are not isolated individuals.

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Last updated 5/02/02

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