Why Technogaianism?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why technogainism?


Guest writer Connor Heflin introduces technogaianism—a word combining "techno-" for technology and "gaian" for Gaia philosophy.  Technogaians argue that developing safe, clean, alternative technology should be an important goal of environmentalists, and transhumanists.

It's easy to lose hope about things. After all, the adage of the news industry is "if it bleeds, it leads". But transhumanism, and its sister ideology singularitarianism, offer a counter-narrative, a hope for a better future. While it's arguable that there are some oversights and problems in these movements, people willing to look past the doom and gloom can find it appealing. However, much of mainstream transhumanism/singularitarianism is missing something: care for the natural environment.

Now you might be thinking that this will be some radical anti-science green screed saying that killing 99% of the population is a good thing, but it's not. The green movement is unfortunately rotten with people who view science, not as a way of saving the environment, but always as a way of destroying it. But there's a different green ideology that meshes with transhumanism, it's called technogaianism.

Technogaianism, as described by IEET, is:
"a bright green environmentalist stance of active support for the research, development and use of emerging and future technologies to help restore Earth’s environment. Technogaians argue that developing safe, clean, alternative technology should be an important goal of environmentalists. Technogaianism is a movement within Transhumanism."
But why should transhumanists embrace technogaianism? Reasons can be categorized as either selfish (solely benefiting the transhumanist movement and/or humanity) and selfless (benefiting beings outside of the selfish category).

Biosphere 2
Technogaianism embraces possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and also allows the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth

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Selfishly, transhumanists should embrace technogaianism because it could reduce the existential riskiness of artificial intelligences. An artificial intelligence designed to learn from its surroundings and the actions of others will tend to mimic them to one degree or another. Now if we're driving other species to extinction and destroying our habitat, wouldn't the artificial intelligence do the same to us once it becomes a superintelligence? While we can't know the answer for certain, it's probably better to be safe rather than sorry.

Things become more debatable when it comes to the selfless reason. Why should we embrace technogainism selflessly? Simply put, do we have the right to pollute the environment and cause other species to go extinct? While this might not be ironclad and likely has some shades of grey to it, it's worth thinking about. If you were a dodo or a thylacine would you have asked to be exterminated? One trait humanity in general has is empathy, the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Why limit it to humans though? In applying protection to the environment and ecology, we practice what is commonly known as the golden rule (which incidentally was part of the new religion that was outlined in passing in Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near).

With that said, now is the perfect time to take action. Since technogaianism is science based, it will be in conflict with the position of anti-science greens (such as the responsible use of GMOs, or the usage of nuclear reactors where necessary). It's going to be difficult, but I'm confident that if we try we can succeed.

By Connor HeflinEmbed


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