Monday, November 2, 2015

The 2044 US presidential election

Statement from Anthony Roberts, candidate for the Scientific Humanist Party

Greetings Americans and all people of Earth!  We approach this election at a critical time, as the forces guiding our species converge to offer us a moment of decision. By using the term "decision" I have already distinguished our party from the opposition, Cosmic Merger, which sees the next step in human evolution continuing the passive, uncaring process we have known since we began what we thought was the domination of this planet.  In truth, we have never dominated anything; we were thrust into the appearance of dominance by who-knows-what forces, making a virtue of necessity with the old scriptural command for "dominion."  As the catastrophe of the Third World War made clear, we have had no more dominion over our planet and our lives than fruit flies.  The science of consciousness has shown that we haven't even possessed our own selves, as we find that the fictional self in our heads that details the "decisions" we make and our moment-to-moment being occur a full quarter-second after the fact.  We have been automatons, slaves if you will, to forces that our "science" could not, indeed did not want to see.

That has changed with that very science of consciousness, as foreseen in the pre-war "movie," The Matrix, recently restored and understood as prophetic.  This work suggests that when we realize we are shadows on Plato's wall, a brave achievement in itself, we change.  This change has occurred to our entire species, and we face a clear decision, yes, a decision! Do we want to participate in our own reconstruction, or do we not?

Scientific Humanism started, as our opposition Cosmic Merger did, from the teachings of our beloved Gregory, teachings which presaged World War III and were developed further by him after the war.  Gregory helped us understand and deal with a disaster taken by many as the final repudiation of the pride our species once had in itself, in its rationality and resourcefulness, happening ironically just as we seemed to acquire, at least technologically, the long-sought dominion of the earth.  The war was- as Gregory had warned- a product of covert technocrats who corralled eight billion confused and frightened people into believing that whichever "nation-state" they belonged to (non-belonging being a dangerous rarity), or whatever cultural or ethnic tribe, other nation-states, tribes and factions were moving against theirs, so that the ancient valorizing of combat was revived and people were manipulated into global war.  While each side believed other sides had started the fighting, in fact the technocrats of the species had banded together and started it.  

Every schoolchild knows that World War III, using AI-assisted nuclear, biological, geological and meteorological weapons killed two-thirds of the human population, a slaughter we now recognize as the intent of the war from the beginning. The instigators eventually turned on each other, revealing themselves in the process, and a great purging ensued. Many of their oligarchical ideas were exposed by documents uncovered in the year leading up to the Treaty of Los Angeles in 2027.  The universal acceptance of the Treaty led to a resurgence of old-style domestic politics, most of which, my opponent and I agree, was noise.  The most prominent of the nascent political parties, led by Gregory, was Purposeful Beginning, which had a compelling vision of humanity's preferred course: that we should take control of the newly powerful biological and AI technologies to remake our species from another blueprint than that envisioned by the instigators of the war- a blueprint that would represent what the species as a whole desired for itself. The World War had effectively sated the part of the human psyche that craved fire and death, so this would be a rare opportunity for a species to set its own agenda.  Young people flocked to our message and we became the dominant party.

There was loose unity for several years, until two opposing factions emerged with differing visions of the coming prototype for human biology and culture, and Gregory judiciously stepped aside to let the process unfold.  Those who drifted from PB's founding principles of self-determination, later becoming, as noted, Cosmic Merger, were comfortable with the traditional hierarchical society of the industrial world- the management/worker dichotomy- and justified it with a veneer of mystical babble to cover the lack of actual change in human nature.  CM envisioned compliant workers and consumers living modest and intellectually restricted lives in service of a small class of highly comfortable "managers," these being, of course, the Party elite. The problem discerned by the founders of Scientific Humanism was that, without fundamental change in our psyches, the managerial class would be as much in the thrall of the workers as the workers were of them.  The basic thralldom of our species would be unchanged.  We would still, without further understanding and modification of our "specs," be laboring to fulfill imperatives not written or understood by us.

Take sexual pleasure for example.  We have learned that sexual reproduction is a response to the rapid evolution of parasites, who are so aggressive against multicellular creatures like humans that we must continually reshuffle our genes merely to survive. Our science, however, is reaching a point where the parasites can be confronted, perhaps co-opted by us, so that rather than wiping them out- which would probably wipe out many ecosystems we depend on- we might incorporate them into our biology. This is the way to true dominion of our earthly environment, not the mindless kill-offs we pursued in the past.

And what of sex, then?  In another prophetic pre-war work, the Aldous Huxley novel  Brave New World, the workers had no need of sex, being mass-produced in petri dishes, yet the managerial class enjoyed culturally approved promiscuity.  Along with the recently recognized impracticality of cloned humans- in terms of matching parasite evolution- it is now clear that the sexual pleasure of the managers depicted in the book had no biological function, since the managers too were lab-born.  What we need now is a conscious decision about what sex is and what it could be in the post-parasite world.  Do we need two genders?  Should there be relentless recharging of desire, expelled periodically in orgasmic release, or should we experience a sort of steady-state orgasm?  At last, we can decide.

In addition to its incomplete understanding of sex, Brave New World did not fully explore the age of automation, which is reaching its climax now through AI.  We will soon have no need of a worker class.  There will literally be no work.  Some will try to take refuge in the managerial class, but what will they manage?  At that moment we will have an existential crisis like none before. Will we become so bored by our purposeless state that we start fearing/loving our robots and have a war with them just for something to do? An alternative would be to grow up, become rational and self-aware, and be on this planet for the first time.

The Scientific Humanist Party chooses the latter!

I humbly accept the Scientific Humanist Party's nomination as its presidential candidate.  A vote for me on November 2 will be a vote for decision.  A vote for Cosmic Merger will be a vote for the passivity that time and again has nearly destroyed our species.  The choice is yours!

Statement from Rebecca Silversmith, candidate for the Cosmic Merger Party

Greetings, fellow humans!  This election offers the starkest choice that our species has faced in many years.  Do we choose the arrogant and selfish path that has dimly lit the way throughout our desperate and tragic history, as my opponent from the Scientific Humanist Party has?  Or do we at last follow Gregory's true path and combine with the forces that brought us into being in the first place?

The recent war offers all the proof we need that the old ways of humanity did not serve us well.  We dub it World War III, as if only three big wars characterize the species, when in fact we should call it Human War Three-Hundred Thousand, suggesting the non-stop wars we've engaged in throughout our recorded history.  The Scientific Humanists point out, correctly, that World War III was a manipulated effort by mostly hidden technocrats to scrap an infrastructure of obsolete technology and discontented humans, and they suggest that the passivity of humans made the war possible.  The Cosmic Merger Party understands, however, that the arrogance of the technocrats who promoted World War III is exactly what the Scientific Humanists now extol. Those technocrats embodied the very traits that my opponent would like to see enshrined in the species, glorified in a credo of "rational decision making."  How many times has humankind paid obeisance to decisiveness as a trait divorced from what it decides? How has that worked?  Look no further than Nazi Germany, whose leader's favorite philosophical concept was "will."

Take sex for example.  My opponent is correct that a potential modus vivendi between humans and parasites may open up sexual reproduction and its cultural artifacts to reinterpretation.  But he insists that we are in a position to decide in detail how that should be expressed.  Do we actually know enough to be in the position of decision we're in, regarding sexuality or the many other evolving aspects of human culture and physiology?   What the Cosmic Merger Party understands is that our current position of apparent "dominion" remains a result of forces we cannot see.  Why are we in this apparent dominant position?  We don't know why, any more than we've known why we've been in any position throughout human history.

Should we depend on AI to figure out our coming role, before we've done it ourselves?  Where is the wisdom that people used to speak of?  The term "wisdom" is not used by my opponent, because he knows that his understanding does not go beyond the mechanistic understanding of past eras. Wisdom is the term for knowledge that cannot be known.  My opponent would scoff at such a formulation.  But if he meditated, if he opened his mind to the non-human universe, he might have a better idea what we should do.

And what of science?  Does the Cosmic Merger Party oppose science and its gifts?  Not at all.  What we call for is a new type of science, so that, for instance, instead of finding out what atoms are made of by smashing them into each other, or determining how animals operate by torturing them to death, we find new tools to "see" into things.  There is evidence that the ancient cultures of our species did indeed see into things, and speak with things.  We've been taught to ridicule and dismiss such notions, in favor of my opponent's credo of "deciding," of keeping the human in charge.  And look what that got us: Human War Three-Hundred Thousand!

The next leader of our nation will represent one of two competing philosophies.  Will you elect my opponent and plunge us into a high-tech dark age?  Or will you elect me and usher in the age when our species meets its true parents, the earth and the sky, the inner and the outer, and we merge as one?  That is what I seek, as I proudly accept the Cosmic Union Party's nomination as the standard bearer for Gregory's vision!  Listen to your brain, follow your heart, and on November 2nd vote for Rebecca Silversmith for President!  Thank you! 

[For further material on Gregory and his proteges, check Lasken's Log at , Harry the Human at">, and my new Substack site at Sorry, links don't work. Google "Doug Lasken's Substack" and click on the first option.]

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