Thursday, August 24, 2006

Are You Bilingual?

In a discussion regarding recruiting more women to H+ sites and causes on Michael Anissimov’s blog:,
I realized in the midst of my own argument that the discussion over what kind of women did participate, whether other women could be encouraged to participate, etc., was really irrelevant. The real discussion is about how H+ ideals are communicated to all people, everywhere, regardless of gender.

The hoped-for recruitment will fail because transhumanism is not offering those on the outside of the cause anything they think they want, because H+ers don’t bother to communicate in a language that our great, big, diverse world can understand. There is rich irony that the transhumanist world, a world dedicated to positing the technological future, is stuck communicating to the infosphere with the printed word, often through academia, which could be defined as the dying communication/educational paradigm. I’m not saying its dying is a good or a bad thing. It’s simply happening. The language H+ers speak is intellectual, logical, dispassionate, scientific, disciplined, and philosophical. (They also think they’re objective by virtue of the application of the scientific method, but of course, that’s an illusion, if not an arrogance, because there is no objectivity in human perception. But that's another topic for another day.) But the great big world out there was formed by 20th C. media – mostly television – and the language its denizens were taught to speak is moving visuals, aural, emotional, subjective, intimate, instant, and most importantly, in a narrative.

The question of recruitment is not really one of male vs. female. The question for H+ers is: Are you bilingual? Can you speak to humanity in a language they can understand?

And the next wave of media technology? What language will that technology teach us to speak? And will those who think about and discuss the future need to be multilingual in multiple communication paradigms to bridge the many gaps from humanity’s uneven acceptance of communication technologies?

Am I a child of Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman? You bet your boots I am. But then, so are you, whether you know it or not. Because the medium will always be the message and what we call humanity will always be molded by our technologies. Whether we want to be or not.


Anonymous metavalent said...

I like the "H+" notation, although one might posit "H++" as a skosh (to use another technical term) more consistent with what one might subjectively interpret as the spirit of the notation. As you likely already know, "++" means "increment" in programmerish syntax. "++" generally counts off an iterative process that builds upon a base case; in this case, H.

But if I reverse engineer that thinking a bit, it's not too much to speculate that you may have already thought through all of this and perhaps intentionally shortened H++ to H+ ... for the very reasons described in this post! That is to say, one "+" is good enough for most folks to implicitly grasp. Or, maybe that is not the way that H+ really came about, but it might be a useful fiction to further illustrate the point of bilingualism.

The lesson: While H++ may be syntactically accurate, H+ is more widely accessible to a general audience; so we should consider using H+ to better connect with that wider audience.

Yet, it is also reasonable to ask, how accessible do the self-selected WE actually want the discussion to be, for now? I might get hammered for saying so, but there are MANY nonplussed (oh, the double entendre!) H-class humans who embody tendencies and ideals that We Generally might not want continued into the H+ configuration!

And there it is, always back to economics and politics, right? Which tendencies and who decides, right? Even among the most staunchly apolitical scientific technical types, these processes take place all the time; formally and informally. "With, without, and after all, it's what the fighting's all about," as an immortal Pink Floyd anthem put it.

All this brings me to an idea that might approximate an actual POINT to this rambling comment: at least initially, all H+ers are mere H. All too H, in fact. While extro-trans-post-meta-humanism is clearly *the* meta theme of this, and the next several generations, there is likely to be no clear demarcation between H and adding the +. Are cochlear implant recipients H+ yet? When do you get to add the +? When mood stabilizers clear the fog and the noise and make one focused and productive again? Is A Beautiful Mind an H+ mind?

These are among the most relevant questions of our times, worthy of undivided lifelong attention. Yet, all too often, I am disappointed to find my own navel-gazing ramblings on the prenatal H+ condition regress to the quotidian, conflicted, and needlessly complex; to the all-too-present-tense nonplussed Human sociotechnopolitical mayhem that constitute today's headline news and hence, today's modal cultural reality. Rising above and beyond that modal noise ... in a healthy and sustainable way, may well be H+ adaptive skill #1.

Personally, I justify my own plentiful shortcomings in terms of a theoretical H+ suitability with a hopeful, yet utterly unexpectant, "I'm workin' on it," and try to take just one day at a time. And on that basis, any day that increases the number of active blogs on this essential subject, I call a Good Day. Thanks for writing.

August 24, 2006 4:25 PM

Blogger PJ Manney said...

I am computer illiterate. I don't know programming from pilgrimages, so I didn't know what ++ means. Thanks for the lesson.

I can't claim the H+ notation for my own, but I have certainly embraced it, as have others like Russell Rukin ( -- visit his site -- it's great!) and have made it more common.

I have said in other essays that I find the term transhumanism offputting, hence my use of H+. And you are right. We are all just H. The + is aspirational, in my opinion.

My entire raison d'etre in discussing H+ issues is how to communicate them to everyone. On Michael Anissimov's blog, Michael made a comment that all transhumanists have a high IQ, and implied that we shouldn't bother with those who don't. I think that's dangerous. elitist thinking. If we can't discuss this with everyone, then what's the point of the discussion? Isn't it "humanity" we're talking about? Hence the need for bilingualism.

Thank YOU for writing!

August 26, 2006 4:23 PM

Blogger marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


May 19, 2010 7:03 AM


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