Monday, March 3, 2014

Is extropianism a humanitarian approach to being hacker?

Some time ago friend introduced me definition of Longevity Escape Velocity. I very like the idea of life extension. I was imminently sucked by similar topics and finally landed on transhumanism. Transhumanism is a idea to enhance human intelligence, physical and psychical abilities. It could be done for example by enhancement in medicine or by using technological add ons like implants. Overall idea is very broad, and I'm not planning to discuss it here. I would like to discuss subset of transhumanism called extropianism.

First of all, here is a nice introductory article about extropianism and general principles that emerge from this philosophy. For me, those principles were very familiar, but I wasn't sure from where. But someday, when I was discussing something related to Hackerspace ideology I connected my definition of being hacker with definition of being extropian.

Lets examine those rules, step by step:
  • Perpetual Progress - every hacker is optimizing things and system around him/her. And this is called hacking.
  • Self-Transformation - constant learning, getting familiar with new tools and ideas, using new technologies - those are also attributes of hackers. Every one of us knows his limitations but also tries to improve himself in those areas.
  • Practical Optimism - this varies from day to day. We have persons like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Aaron Swartz which are connected to not-so optimistic view on the past and future. On the other hand, with movements like free software, creative commons, open source hardware combined with MOOCs and Wikipedia like sites, average hacker could be also optimistic about future. Today, we have access to incredible large amount of knowledge and information - we just need to use it and everything will be better with some luck.
  • Intelligent Technology - should I mention that practically every modern technology was created by hackers?
  • Open Society - we don't have anything to hide. We even created an ideology of free software and derivatives to protect our work. 
  • Self-Direction - every hacker that I know is a different person. Someone are programmers, others sysadmins, there are electronics and scientists. There are also artists. I can divide those groups to sub groups and those sub groups to sub sub groups till I will receive pure sub groups with only one person in each. But also going up for communities, we can observe different communities dedicated to alternative solutions which can co-exist and share common interests and goals.
  • Rational Thinking - no one is expert in everything. As I mentioned above, we know our limitations and weak spots. But we also know when we could do something significantly important and right. I mean that, discussion combined with facts and arguments will build rational model. So to say we don't have any dogma, sometimes we have axioms but only when everyone agrees and we know its limitations. 
I'm not sure if I wrote everything clearly. But you should understand my overall conclusion: we are practically the same persons using the same philosophy to live our lives. Don't you agree with me in that?

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