Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mormon Transhumanism Conference--Paper Presented

At the recent Mormon Transhumanist Association Conference, I presented my paper: "How Amazing is Grace: The Role of Jesus Christ in Mormonism and Transhumanism.

There was actually very little time for question or discussion with any of the talks, but I was pleased and somewhat surprised by the general respect for my perspective and even several positive comments about my talk.  Even the guest keynote speaker, Giulio Prisco, former board member and director of the World Transhumanist Association, told me he really appreciated my remarks.

I thought that was a bit odd because of how generally critical I was of some aspects of transhumanism.

But then as the conference progressed and I experienced the incredible diversity of thought and ideas, I found myself in a culture of people who seemed to like different perspectives, who openly disagreed with each other without getting upset.  I wasn't the only speaker with criticism of transhumanist perspectives, yet all reasonable views were welcomed.

The topics were incredibly diverse:  Some I disagreed with strongly, others I thought were pointless philosophizing about things not scientifically measurable, and some I learned a lot from and took copious notes. 

The format of 10-minute presentations with 1-minute Q&A kept things moving pretty quickly from one idea to the next, but didn't allow for a lot of discussion. That's why I especially enjoyed visiting at lunch and dinner with some people who had some extremely diverse perspectives.

It seems to be a group of mostly techie-type people interested in philosophizing about possibilities, and exploring the merger between science and religion, but without much unified agreement on specifics of transhumanism.  Even among people who call themselves "transhumanists," they're mostly just interested in scientific discovery, not necessarily all promoting human solutions to the resurrection.  They loved to visit with each other and learn from each other, but aren't really unified enough to form any kind of significant movement.

I still struggle to see how transhumanism adds significant additional value to people who already openly embrace science as strongly as many, perhaps most, Mormons do, and I'm much more interested in the practical matters of science and technology solving current world problems than in philosophical discussions of what might happen many decades to come.