Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Satanic Transhumanismboabz
Satanic_Transhumanismboabz SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, transhumanism, world, technology, satanism, transhumanist, conversation, human, symbology, zoltan, christians, question, idea, christian, ai, project, satan, written, create, article SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long, Peter Clarke
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Stephen Bradford Long 01:02 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we're here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. In this episode, I speak with transhumanist author Peter Clark. Peter Clark is the author of the comic novels, politicians are superheroes and the singularity Survival Guide. His short fiction has appeared in over 50 literary journals and his nonfiction has appeared in publications including quillette Aereo magazine, the humanist and arc digital. He is also the founding editor of jokes Literary Review. So in this conversation, we talk about his admiration for Satanism as a scientific religion. While he does not personally consider himself a Satanist. He is an ally to Satanism he admires Satanism from the outside, we also discuss Satanism and transhumanism and how those two are excellent bedfellows. Along the way, we also discuss artificial intelligence pan psychism, the Bible and so much more, this conversation was fascinating. And I really, really hope you enjoy it. But before we get to that, I have to thank my patrons. As always, my patrons are my personal lords and saviors. I truly could not do this without them, they are ensuring the long life of my work. So for this week, I have to thank will and Steven, thank you so much. It means the whole world to me, if you want to join their number, just go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for a few dollars every month, you get extra content each week. And it really does ensure the long life of the show, I put a lot of work and energy into my articles and to my podcast. And now I'm doing more online speaking engagements. That's a lot of work. And I want to keep it all free. But in order for it to be free to the general public, I need your help. So you can follow the link in the show notes. Or you can just go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. I always have to thank my amazing Discord server as well. Every single day there is new conversation going on there. Most of the discussion about my work takes place on my Discord server. There is a link in the show notes. I always welcome you to join their company. I also have to thank my sponsor, the satanic temple.tv. They are a streaming platform by and for the Satanic and satanic adjacent communities. It is full of all kinds of stuff like rituals, feature length films, documentaries, live streams, movie nights, all kinds of stuff is featured on the satanic temple.tv. And you can get one month free by using my promo code sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout. Finally, if you haven't already, please subscribe to the show. Wherever you listen, that tells our digital overlords that this show is worth sharing to others. And if you happen to be on Apple podcasts, please leave a five star review. When you do I will read it on the show as thanks. All right. Well, with all of that out of the way. I am delighted to bring you my conversation with Peter Clarke. Peter Clarke, welcome to the show.
Peter Clarke 04:39 Thanks so much for having me.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:41 So I encountered your work on Twitter. You were kind enough to mention me and several other Satanists in an article or not in but you mentioned us you added us to kind of let us know that you wrote this fantastic article. Hold on the narrative of Satan. And also you've written some amazing stuff about transhumanism and Satanism. And you know, we can get into all of that very soon. But I wanted to ask you what drew you to Satanism in the first place? What got you interested in this subject of Satanism and kind of how it how there's kind of a Venn diagram between it and transhumanism.
Peter Clarke 05:28 Right. So probably like a lot of people I grew up in a fairly conservative Christian household. And the idea of Satan, it has this mystique that whether you're like, full on the Jesus narrative or not the mystique of Satan when you're somehow in the Christian world, it's just so it's just so fascinating and so juicy. And so I mean, I woke up having nightmares about getting the market to beast, you know, the whole six, six Hey, man, right? Yeah, so the whole world of Satanism in, in your childhood, when it's like the most evil thing imaginable that can like curse you to hell for eternity, all of these things, they really play upon the mind of a child. And I, you know, started kind of falling out with the whole Christian thing, when I was around 18 started calling myself an atheist proper private, I was around 25 ish. And I never, like sought out anything as a replacement to Christianity, I still, you know, I don't think that there's any void in my soul, this this, like seeking any replacement for that. But at the same time, like all that, symbology it lingers in inside of you, you know, it is kind of like a rich part of our culture. And I think that so whenever, like, a Satanism type thing happens in a movie or a book, or, or whatever, like it, there's a there's a draw there, right? And I mean, I don't have like a moment necessarily, but I do remember when I watched that movie, called, I'm blanking on it, but about the Satanic Temple.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:09 Oh, Speak of the devil, and I did an interview. I believe it was last, you know, two years ago now with Penny Lane, right about that movie, it is fantastic. Everyone needs to go watch it, it is a great primer to the Satanic Temple.
Peter Clarke 07:24 Oh, it was so good. And so like, during, when I was watching that, when they went through their seven tenants, I was like, I'm on board with all of these, I don't know what this is exactly, but but count count me and I'm fully on board. And so being able to, like, maintain some of that, that rich symbology that is like just ingrained in her culture and in like Western art, and everything, I think is really fascinating. And there's still a lot of richness there to, you know, kind of participate in, I still don't call myself a Satanist. But I do love incorporating that into my writing into my thought process. When when you're talking about like, you know, I'm pro science, and is there any symbology behind that rather than just like, oh, you know, Isaac Newton, or whatever, you know, is there like an artistic or youngin way to appreciate that that's not just naming off famous scientists. So that kind of drew me, I guess, to this, this world of enjoying Satanism, you know. And it does link up to a lot of my other interests. I am quite a bit more into the world of transhumanism than I am into the world of Satanism, necessarily. And so it was just a natural thing that I was able to start to combine the two in my mind, and you probably noticed this, but there is a fairly substantial movement among Christians, kind of like like hip Christians who want to latch on to the transhumanist movement. So there's like, you know, Christian transhumanists.com And there's there's a lot of these people
Stephen Bradford Long 09:06 I thought about I thought about reaching out to them for an interview actually. Okay, yeah, just because like whenever I see something like that, I'm like, that sounds like an interesting conversation for a podcast.
Peter Clarke 09:20 Totally and I mean, I I've debated a couple of Christians on this point, specifically, fuzz Rana. And, I mean, these things like they're, they're really married to a lot of concepts that are completely opposed to transhumanism. I think like just the idea that we're made in the image of God, right? It just is fundamentally opposed to the idea that, let's let's play with the body, let's consider it more of a Mitsi within a sacred vessel, these these sorts of things. And so I kind of like set out to do, you know, debunk the idea that you can coherently be a Christian transhumanist in My process of doing that I started writing about how like Satan, satanist transhumanism makes way more sense kind of just like to like poke poke at the the Christian transhumanists. But at the same time, I ended up convincing myself that that actually is legitimate along the way of writing about this,
Stephen Bradford Long 10:17 that that satanic Transhumanism is legitimate or that Christian Transhumanism is legitimate,
Peter Clarke 10:25 that satanic Transhumanism is legitimate, and that it serves as like a just That being the case is a reason why Christian transhumanism again, it's kind of a kind of ridiculous thing, I would say. Definitely happy to talk more about that.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:41 Yeah, that that's, that's really, really interesting. So just to lay down some terms here and or to define some terms here. First, because I, you know, you use the word atheist to describe yourself, I still find that there are just so many people who are unclear of what people mean when they say the word atheist. So what does atheism mean to you?
Peter Clarke 11:08 Right, so, I mean, there are people who are both strong atheists, they call themselves where they believe that there is no God, there never will be. And there's almost an element of faith there that even if there were a god, I'm not gonna I'm not going to believe it. I'm more on like, the weak atheist side, where if there's some evidence for some, like higher power, I mean, I'm all in like, that sounds fine. You know?
Stephen Bradford Long 11:34 Yeah, you know, I totally relate to that. And honestly, I feel like I've almost gotten more shit for calling myself an atheist or a non theist than I have for calling myself a Satanist because at least Christians have, like, a deranged place of Satanism in their worldview. They don't. And by Christian, I mean, theistic Christians, non theistic Christians do exist, you know, or, and, you know, most most conservative theistic Christians, it's like, they have a place for Satanism, and their worldview, but they don't have a place for Satanist. Or they don't have a place for atheist. I mean, right. And so I almost get more shit for that. Which is so bizarre to me. But yeah, it's like, I'm totally open to, to a higher power or to God, I just want sufficient evidence, right? If that's really all it comes down to. So I'm right there with you on that and then define transhumanism.
Peter Clarke 12:35 Transhumanism is basically the idea that we are trying to, through science, augment the body, improve the body, maybe merge with machines, maybe just like overcome biological death. There are a lot of projects that are kind of fall under the umbrella of transhumanism. Interestingly, the people who are doing the most for the movement, have no association with a movement. It's people like Elon Musk, do a neural link. And it's people like George Church doing genetic engineering, and I don't think that they're going to be calling themselves transhumanists If so, the the movement itself is it's kind of just science, you know, at a very basic level. But um, philosophically, it does become interesting when you start looking at where it came from as as a narrative. And the fact that like, there is there is some like, interesting elements of belief to it. One is that we aren't a sacred vessel. We are just kind of a meatsuit that can be tinkered with, there's a little bit of an element of just like naturalism natural philosophy there. But also, like, it's interesting to explore the roots of it. And I have done this a little bit where it kind of goes back to as harassed or predating Christianity. In the Judeo Christian world, there's the idea that we were created perfectly by God, so it was our world. And so we can't fundamentally change anything about ourselves or the world. Or ask or thought that God gave us the ability to manipulate our bodies manipulate the world, these sorts of things. And so transhumanism just kind of kind of takes off from there. And there are threads throughout history of like, Prometheus is another just like, point. They're also people like Jack Parsons that the rocketeer he was kind of like a, an early ish transhumanist in America, where he was trying to, you know, onboard the live forever type of mentality.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:50 It's fascinating, and you have this opening sentence in your article on satanic transhuman DISM which I will be linking in the show notes, by the way, for people who are interested, and your article starts, transhumanism can't escape the fact that it has religious undertones. And then you go on the core of the movement involves a desire to overcome death, which inevitably aligns with religious worldviews. So no one should be too shocked that religious organizations are starting to become attracted to transhumanism. So it's like from the get go. There's this really interesting tension within transhumanism where it it seems like and then you go on to say that, you know, secular, the more secular or scientifically minded transhumanists, which I assume is all of them. Personally, I don't I haven't met them. But a lot of them seem to resist that, in your perspective, and how there's kind of this tension from the get go of religion and science. talk some about that tension, and how to Satanism come into that for you.
Peter Clarke 16:03 So kind of kind of, yeah, there, there is just a lot of tension here. And it is a little bit hard to talk about, because there is a mind reading going on with what, what is the average transhumanist believe this sort of thing. But I think that it's very telling that a lot of Christians have latched on to transhumanism, and it is because of this element that it's an overcoming death thing. And it can be mapped onto the Jesus Christ thing. And so just a little sidebar here, but it all ties in. There's this guy named Frank J. Tipler, who is a physicist, I think, at the University of Houston or something like this. And he has taken the whole Jesus narrative and completely map it onto the idea of the singularity, that through technology, we will create heaven, we will all you know, our future human selves will repopulate the world with all human souls through technology. And that will be the singularity, which he calls the Omega point, when we all become God all matter become sentient, this sort of thing. So there's definitely a narrative there. But it like even that, even though he tries to route that in physics, and in science, it is it's very, like woowoo II, and it's rooted in, you know, the idea that Jesus was resurrected and you know, kind of kind of that kind of silly things. So that's that, that's Christians trying to grapple with this idea of us overcoming eternal life. The atheists, the naturalists, also like we're all kind of basically doing the same thing, if you have any interest in maintaining a healthy body, you're, you're kind of like, on board with this project, but you want to live for as long as you can. And especially when we're talking about genetic modification, so that we can maybe overcome natural, the natural aging process, there's a movement to call aging and disease. That's, that's kind of like kind of a very, very similar project. And but like, you don't, you don't really want to as a naturalist, you don't want to have any any symbology thrown in there. Because it's it is just so it's, it's so woowoo it's, you know, it's so religiously, and it comes with all this baggage is the one thing that has some of this symbology that is that's rich and as cultural, you know, richness to it, is Satanism because it isn't like an atheist perspective. It's very pro science. It's pro naturalism. naturalism is all that we have, but it has symbology to it that maps on to transhumanism, that is doesn't have any of the religious baggage.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:00 Yes. And you know, I I've always heard from religious people. And I always heard this, as I journeyed through the Christian world from like, ultra conservative Christian to then super progressive Christian where my faith eventually died in in 2017. That faith that religion and science that there was no inherent contradiction, and it's like there was always this battle or there is this always the struggle within Christianity to reconcile faith and science and you know, I did an interview with Paul Wallace, for example, who's a progressive Christian astrophysicist and just listening to him try to reconcile that was super interesting to me. I feel like the Satanic Temple and kind of what you're talking about with Transhumanism is The actual reconciliation or the actual marriage of religion and science. You know, in in Satanism, we have the, or in the Satanic Temple, we have the fifth Tenet, we should always conform our beliefs to the best scientific evidence while also upholding a symbol, a kind of mystical religious symbol, but fully understanding its place fully understanding that this is a guiding narrative that it is that for us it is real, but not true. And so I kind of see, I kind of see what you're talking about as the resolution that Christians have looked for for so long. Does that make sense?
Peter Clarke 20:48 100% Because if you go back to the Genesis story, Satan is a foil to bullshit. That's that's what he does. He calls bullshit on the idea that, you know, everything that God says is kind of a lie. And Satan just just just calls bullshit on that and says, like, No, you can you can question authority. And yes, you can find knowledge for yourself. And yes, you can determine your own future, your future isn't determined by like some some god deity thing. And injecting Satanism into transient humanism is equally a foil for not allowing any dogmatism, any religious, you know, nonsense, and to the transhumanist movement to because it makes everything so that the the end goal is not about pleasing some higher power. The end goal is about just kind of figuring out how the natural world works for ourselves. And that to me, is the the satanists agenda.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:54 Yeah, definitely. You have this line, in your article about Satan as a literary figure, and how over time, it's like these villains suddenly become heroes, when we apply our modern sensibilities to them, and so you wrote Lucifers role is to call bullshit on the tyrant and to give Adam and Eve the knowledge, they need to flourish in the real world, where God says, Have faith in me alone, and don't ever question what I tell you. Lucifer responds, in essence, no, you should always question the tyrant, don't believe any authority figure, just because they tell you to believe them, do your own research and figure out what's true on your own. That is a fantastic encapsulation of this satanic ethnos, of, of being kind of a radical, independent thinker and to not yield to the tyrant. So talk, talk some about that process of how, you know, literary figures that were once villains become heroes, how and how Satan encapsulates that for you.
Peter Clarke 23:11 So I actually am primarily a fiction writer, I spend most of my time writing fiction. So this, to me is almost one of my most interesting articles in the Satanism world because I think of Satan as a literary figure primarily because because he is right. And I was trying to wrap my mind around this idea that so Satan, like was the villain and now he's now he's like, very much arguably the good guy, it's hard to find moderate, just, if you come with no religious baggage, you just read this story and apply modern sensibilities. He's kind of a good guy. He's he, you know, is anti tyrant, right. And any of the heroes that we see in our daily lives are teachers and scientists and political figures who aren't tyrants. These are the heroes and the tyrants of school or out schoolyard bullies on and on, that's the God to hear in this story. But when I started to kind of explore this and map out this, this essay about this topic, I found that there are very few literary figures who did the bad guy to good guy thing. It's really common for a hero in hindsight, to actually be the villain. And in the article, I give it a couple of examples. Like John Wayne in characters, he plays in a lot of his old cowboy movies. He's like this, you know, very aggro, the the white man coming in to like, be, you know, misogynistic, and also like, very do not nice to Native Americans. To put it, you know, you know, vaguely. However, you watch a lot of his movies. He's kind of like the bad guy, you know, even though like he's portrayed as good. He's kind of the bad guy. And this this is a pretty common theme throughout history throughout literature. Columbus is another good example. Well, he's not, you know, he's he's a historical figure. But he ends up in literature a lot of times to same with like anyone involved in the Crusades, they thought that they were the good guys, right? They thought that they were on the side of God turns turns out, they were just like in the Crusades, they were just, you know, murdering a lot of Muslim folks who didn't, you know, ask for, you know, that sort of treatment. But, you know, this is how I phrase in the article, any author who is crafting a good narrative, they're going to put a lot of qualities on the villain, that's gonna make it really challenging for them to actually make it true, do a true one ad and become the good guy in the story. And so like, I tried to find other examples, and Medusa is an example of someone who was kind of the villain who became the good guy over overtime. But Lucifer really stands out as truly the one fictional character who did a complete 180 by modern sensibilities, just reading the story as modern people. And that, to me is fascinating, because he really is a fairly unique character.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:09 Yeah. And, you know, I encountered this myself where, as a Christian, I would say, my core religious practice was just, you know, every morning reading the Bible, and I, and I did that for years. And it's like, over time, the character of God started to transform and the character of Satan started to transform. And I remember it specifically when I was, I was reading the book of Judges, I was working through the Old Testament, and just horror story after horror story after horror story of these atrocities that either God Himself would commit, or that people in his name would commit. And if it started to dawn on me, like, maybe God's the bad guy, like maybe, maybe he isn't the hero of this story, maybe he is. Maybe he's actually, in the Old Testament, like the manifestation of all of the worst human impulses of xenophobia and genocide and hatred and homophobia and, and sexism, and just like, maybe he's just the personification of all of the worst impulses of human nature. And how is it that I ever believed that this character was good? Like, how was it that I was ever brainwashed into believing that a god that would send people he didn't like to eternal torment? To you know, cosmic gas chambers for all time? How could I have ever believed that that was the good guy?
Peter Clarke 27:56 Yeah, this is the thing that made me kind of ultimately, realize that I was no longer a Christian was just that the evidence kind of from from the first word, the last word, is just just very clearly written by humans. Exactly. Yeah. And like I started reading Bart Ehrman. And he goes into a lot of specific passages in the New Testament about how, like, where a passage came from, and how it was clearly written by scribes. Excuse me. So like, you know, the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. And he says, you know, who he who has not sinned? Cast the first stone. Turns out that that particular passage, which was my favorite passage in the whole Bible is just letters it was so like, like, fantastic and brilliant. Yeah, turns out that was written by a scribe 400 years after these manuscripts appeared, yes. And the second you start, like, that's just one example. But I mean, the second you start, like really digging into the specifics of where this book came from, one, it's not the simply not the most brilliant book in the world, there are better books in the world, just terms of literature, and like history and name of thing, name, a field that there are better better books out there. And it's, it's just like, clearly written by people, you know, if it were a God, he would have done better he would have at the burning bush, with Moses, the God, God would have said, Oh, here's some basic info on germ theory, wash your hands. So you can save hundreds of millions of lives, Yo,
Stephen Bradford Long 29:30 don't defecate in your open water, et cetera, et cetera. Yes, no, I I'm totally with you on that. And, you know, my, my, and I still have conversations with Christians all the time on this show, because I just refuse to kind of cut ties with that world and to end to dialogue and conversation with that world. But, you know, I think the Bible is worth reading because it's is a huge part of our culture, I think it's really important to read and understand and understand the ways in which it informs our culture. And when we do that, we learned that there is a lot of like, crazy bullshit and it and truly horrific stuff. And it it was really this process of the Bible. It felt like having to wake up in the morning and just read the most atrocious horror story imaginable. Like it was it was like, you know, when I would do my morning devotions, it was like waking up and girding myself and being like, Okay, I'm going to read about death and slaughter and rape and murder and, and injustice and so on and so forth. And I was just like, I can't do this anymore. And that that was really the turning point at which I started to re examine the figure of Satan. Yeah. And, you know, Richard Dawkins, has this fantastic quote, that really encapsulates my what I came to see the God of the Old Testament as Hold on, let me let me pull it up. The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction, jealous and proud of it. A petty unjust, unforgiving Control Freak a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and fantasy idol genocidal Phyllis idle, pestilential, Megalon, Megillah, maniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Peter Clarke 31:41 That is, that is very
Stephen Bradford Long 31:42 good, you know, for for all of Richard Dawkins, his flaws of which there are many, I have to give it to him, that is a fantastic quote. So, talk some about your, your interest in transhumanism, what sparked your interest in that to begin with?
Peter Clarke 32:01 So, um, I mean, I think that it goes back a little bit to just what my day job was back in the day, about about five or so years ago, I was an editor at Fine law.com. And we wrote a lot about technology, most of it related to the law, but kind of kind of just like, you know, technology, in general, and just advancements in technology. And that's, you're just kind of like, introduce me to what what was happening. Sorry, one second. My throat is losing it here. But just like, you know, what was trendy in the old Silicon Valley world. And it you know, it gets more and more interesting once you start looking into like, the weird characters that exists in the valley. And so like, you know, Zoltan ispan is one of them. And he's the guy who ran for the transhumanist party, or I guess he founded the transhumanist party, and like, ran for president on that platform. And I kind of like I followed him a little bit got to know him got to know a couple of the characters in that movement. Friends with like Rachel haywire, who also ran for the transhumanist party president. And it's just full of a lot of fun people just a lot, a lot of weirdos, a lot of academics.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:18 And I am here for I'm here for the weirdos for.
Peter Clarke 33:22 Yeah, totally Museum, I ended up going to a couple of years ago, I went to the like, biohack, the planet conference that was over in Oakland. And just, I mean, just just I get a kick out of all those people like Josiah zener was the guy at like, the Odin. And he's like, you know, the bio hacker guy that you can buy a CRISPR kit from him for like 100 bucks, and you can do CRISPR in your garage, that sort of thing. So I guess this is it's partly me just exploring that world for a lot of the interesting characters out there. But I've also like, written about it quite a bit. And I wrote this book called The Singularity Survival Guide, which is kind of a goofy, satirical take on how do we how do we survive when robots become smarter than humans? And that, I mean, there, that's just kind of an example of how that when you get into the transhumanist world, there's just a lot of fun things to to think about and to write about.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:23 So I guess, my question has always been how, how reachable is transhumanism? Like how far into the future? Are we looking? Are we looking like 1000 years into the future? Or are we thinking like tomorrow? What What's the timescale? What's what's actually feasible or possible in terms of attaining I guess, the human augmentation transhumanist goal?
Peter Clarke 34:54 Well, the most ambitious goals that I can tell kind of Come down to whatever is happening with the longevity researchers. I mean, there's a lot of people like Max and more at Alcor trying to freeze the human brain so that we can one day be reanimated. You know, there's a lot of projects like that. But in terms of the hardest problem on the table is I think trying to just reverse the aging process and make it so that we don't get cancer, kind of a lot of these a lot of these things that anyone who probably goes into biology or medicine right now they're going to be these problems are going to be on the table for them. I recently went to a talk by Aubrey de Grey, who's doing a lot of research into life extension. And he kind of like laid out very specifically, I think he has like a list of eight or 15 problems that have to be solved to really make any actual progress and longevity. And he's says pretty bluntly, that solving any one of these problems, it just mostly comes down to money, it comes down to just being able to throw a couple billion dollars at any one of these problems, because we're making inter incremental progress, but it's just happening very slowly. This is kind of why I really like some people like Zoltan ispan, who are bringing a political element to the transhumanist conversation. Because once you have any sort of political power, you can actually start throwing millions or billions of dollars at a project like this. And so Zoltan has this idea of getting away from the military industrial complex, putting that money into a science industrial complex. And he kind of Yeah, I mean, he talked talks very convincingly about how if you just like, take that money, and throw it out at cancer and other problems that we all have to deal with every single one of us, that is just way better use of your money bang for your buck, that will actually improve the lives of humans, rather than fighting, you know, foreign wars and all the rest of it.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:08 Yeah. And, you know, I have to ask this as a good lefty, is I here, you know, I'm I follow Jacobin. And, and, you know, I stay on top of the left dbx to the socialist beat. And there's a lot of anxiety and a lot of leftist bases about this conversation and about it, it creating another economic case system, where the super powerful are able to the super wealthy and the super powerful are able to augment themselves and extend their lives and so on and so forth. And, and invest power to create more power. Where as the underclass is, the proletariat, etc, would not have access to that, and it would create a widening gap between the classes. What do you think of that critique?
Peter Clarke 38:03 You know, I have a little bit of a cynical perspective on this, you may appreciate this, maybe, maybe not. And I will just kind of say, as subtext that, I think that I'm probably politically aligned with you, it sounds like a lot of these characters like Zoltan. He's, like very libertarian, like, like, a little bit too much for me, and, you know, ran as a Republican against Trump, which I actually appreciate. I enjoyed that. But, um, yeah, so I don't necessarily politically aligned with with the average Joe, in this crowd, per se. But to answer your question, specifically, and this is my cynical take, I think it's inevitable, I think it will happen that the rich and powerful will definitely 100% Take advantage of all these these, you know, advancements? First, I think there's nothing we can do about it. And I think that like, complaining about it is literally just a waste of breath. But I think that like if, if any of this technology is scalable, and it all should be every single piece of of transhumanist, you know, adjacent technology, it will be scalable, the expensive one will be the first one, okay. And then once once you have the the thing in the DNA lab that makes it so that you don't get cancer, it's you know, assuming that that is just a matter of recreating that thing, at a certain point. A drug company will want to make money off of that, the more people they sell it to the more money they make, this just comes down to basic economics. And hopefully we have some political leaders that somewhat aligned with with the common folks not just like they're their big money interests, you know, this this, this conversation goes back in time, but I'm kind of kind of far reaching li i This is also sounds a little cynical, but I think it's also just kind of true and we're thrown out there. I don't think any of these technologies are necessarily going to make people happy. You're on in their day to day lives. Yeah, I think it will be great when we have these technologies, and that the latest gadget, you know, but anytime you do any sort of looking into what makes people happy, it's having a strong friend group and having strong family ties. And a lot of these technologies, especially when they come in, in their infancy, they make people less happy. They take people away from their friends and their families. So I think that, you know, if you don't get the latest Google Glasses version, that probably is for your benefit is probably to not to your detriment. I mean, who knows? It's fine. It depends on the technology, for sure. But that's kind of my cynical take.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:39 Yeah, no, I I'm totally on board with that, like, you know, getting the first Apple implant, which I would have to pay internal organs for. would not make me a happier person. Do you feel like there's sometimes a sort of utopianism surrounding conversations like this, like, this technology will make us happier, I see the same thing around social media, it's like this thing will make us more connected, this thing will make us happier, it will make us better human beings. And I guess we could go back and forth on whether that's true or not. But to me, the evidence is pretty clear that that is not the case. Right? So is there often like a utopian expectation with these technologies, that this will be the thing that that finally improves our life, to the point that we will be happy?
Peter Clarke 41:35 So I think at a very fundamental, basic level, it is utopian, and that's good. And so yes, we
Stephen Bradford Long 41:43 are pro we are actually I am pro utopia. I think utopias are good, because they give us something to aspire to. Yeah.
Peter Clarke 41:50 Yes. So 100% Exactly. I actually recently wrote an article about this, about human purpose, the idea of human purpose. And psychologists have drilled down that the idea of human purpose basically comes down to just having goals to work towards, and cross societies and across time, humans like to tell stories, and we like to build things. And we, when we get social credit, when you know, from our peer group, for the things that we build, and for the stories that we tell, that fulfills our sense of purpose. And this is like, deeply ingrained in us. And at this point, we have done everything like we have, we have done pottery, we, we have done basic coding, we have done mountain climbing, we've done all the things. And we're we're building off of everything that we've done in the past, and being able to have goals and to impress our peer group with what we what we create, is still just as much a part of who we are, as it was back in the stone age, you know, when we were building huts, and still have that same sense of purpose that we got out of that work. So having ambitious goals is only going to make sure that we maintain a strong sense of human purpose going forward into the future. And I'm so all about that. I think that another just a little bit of a tangent to that point is that I think that America as a country, we have come together recently, in we've always come together historically on like having an enemy and hating other people. Right now we hate each other. And that's kind of our national project is just like the left versus the right. I think we need to have a positive vision that can bring people together something like going to the moon like we did back in the day, something that like people on both sides of the political spectrum can be stoked about and to feel pride in. And a lot of the transhumanist type top type, you know, endeavors projects could could fulfill that.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:56 That's really interesting. It's like It's like the watch, you know, the comic, the Watchmen, and how, you know, they, they I forget the superheroes name who basically invented an alien invasion to unite humanity. Yeah, and it's like a common cause a common goal, something to work forward to, but you're you're casting it in a more positive light, like what is something what is a positive project that humanity can work on? Together? Yeah, that's for me. That's climate change, like overcoming climate change is the thing that I that I wish we could all just get on board with, but it's become so you know, right, left politicized that that's probably not going to happen anytime soon.
Peter Clarke 44:42 Yeah, that is too bad.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:43 How does? How does AI play into so you talked about the research into reversing the process of death? How does AI play into the conversation surrounding transhumanism?
Peter Clarke 45:00 Well, so this is a little bit of a critique of transhumanism in that it is just my friend, Rachel haywire has described transhumanism as just a cult of health. And just like maintaining, she describes it better than that, but just it is very, like health focused. I think that there should be slightly more emphasis on the AI world because I do think that AI could definitely be an existential threat to humanity. And I don't think it doesn't matter if we cure cancer, if, you know, you know, just just queue any of the scenarios in Black Mirror come to life, right? There are so many ways that technology could go wrong. One, one thing that worries me the most is how our military is going a little bit green, not just our military, but militaries around the world are going a little bit crazy with with AI, research. And I mean, that's, that's just worrisome when we have like militaries, using AI for destructive purposes. So in terms of like incorporating artificial intelligence in those conversations in the transhumanist world, I think that it really should be trying to move forward the project that I know Elon Musk and Bill Gates and these people talk about, of trying to make safeguards so that AI doesn't destroy us. I think that that's a really legitimate project that should be part of the the daily conversations among the transhumanist crowd.
Stephen Bradford Long 46:36 Just because I'm so ignorant about this. I mean, I've listened to Sam Harris lose his goddamn mind over over AI for years now. But what are what are the specifics? Like what are the way Why is AI? A? Why is AI an existential threat?
Peter Clarke 46:58 So I really liked the way that I'm blanking on his name, the guy Oxford Bostrom, Nick ball, Nick Bostrom, I like the way that he articulates this, and that this is just a lot makes a lot of sense to me that anytime we ever invent anything, and whether it's a cure for cancer, which those, you know, a cure for polio, that right now, labs Dow have polio that they could spread throughout the world if they wanted to. That's a technology that's a piece of technology, the cure for polio, right, but now that has the opposite effect of that we could destroy, you know, kill a lot of people with that same technology. Whenever we invent anything, not anything. But I mean, many things whenever whenever we invent a new piece of technology, Bostrom describes it as we're reaching into an urn, and we're pulling out a ball, it could be usually it's like a gray ball, it's something that's benefit beneficial, and it might have some kind of like negative consequences to it. Sometimes you pull out a white ball, it's only beneficial. This is hard to imagine, but like we invented pencils, right, and there's not much downside to a pencil. But they're inside this urn. There are balls that are black. And we don't know if they're going to be gray, white or black until we pull it out. And a black ball will kill us. And we don't know what it will do. And so the perfect example of this is when we created the atomic bomb, there were legitimate physicists who knew what they were talking about, who thought that it might, like suck out all the oxygen of the planet, and we would all die or some scenario like that, that they had kind of like mapped out with numbers. And it was almost just like a luck of the draw that the physics of the atmosphere work such that that happened. And so when we don't know we simply do not know what we're what we're messing with. When we're trying to create an artificial intelligence when we don't even know what our own consciousness is. We don't even we can't even accurately describe what our own consciousness is. And we're trying to create a digital version of that. We have no idea it's probably going to be a gray ball. It's probably another ball that's gray color that has some advantages and some disadvantages. As definitely going to kill people no doubt about it. It does every day on some battlefield someplace in the world. Will it be come outside of our control? The fact that that's a legitimate question should should be concerning to people. Yeah, that's
Stephen Bradford Long 49:30 kind of chilling. You know, this conversation is doing great for my mental health today. And you know, just what you're talking about, about pulling out a gray ball or a black ball or whatever. Another good example I think of that is the printing press. You know, there is no doubt that the printing press was this massive advancement in human progress that has changed our lives and has made our lives better. It also brought about 300 years of religious war and turmoil. Great point, you know? And yeah, so if I compare AI to something like that it makes complete sense that, that there should be concerns about it. How close are we to? How close are we to that? You know, I kind of AI is kind of always on the fringe of my awareness, because I find it interesting. And so I hear scientists say for sure, within a decade, or I hear that I hear others say, No, you know, consciousness and human intelligence is so unbelievably complex, it is the current blackbox of science, we just do not understand it. It will be. It could be centuries before we figure this out, what's your take on the timeline for AI?
Peter Clarke 50:54 I mean, my take is, is pretty not optimistic, I think that it's going to take a long time. I have just, you know, for fun, I've waltzed into a couple AI firms in San Francisco, because a lot of times we'll give like public talks, for self driving car technology, or this sort of thing. And it's interesting listening to the engineers, like talk about the real actual, like, engineering problems, and they're still like really rudimentary, it's still like very basic stuff, I just have a hard time imagining any engineering firm going from struggling with just very basic facial recognition type problems, to all of a sudden, this same technology is, you know, taking over the world, for me that I think it's gonna be a long way out, I'm really fascinated in some of these firms. I forget what they're called off the top of my head. But there are a couple of organizations that are trying to take all artificial intelligence technologies, and see how they they work together, see how they combine together and piece together. That sort of a project, there might be some, you know, Eureka thing that happens that all of a sudden, all these technologies shoved into one room. And these are kind of like, you know, like global projects, that that people you know, work on, there might be some eureka moment that happens, and all of a sudden, we have some form of like, sentience. That probably won't happen, though, that that would, that would have to be like, some some really, like serendipitous moment, I think, if it is just a matter of like incremental progress engineers, struggling, you know, with her with her, you know, laptops to overcome these, you know, technical problems, I feel like it's just gonna gonna take a really long time.
Stephen Bradford Long 52:51 I yeah, I agree with that, you know, when I think about the fact that the human brain has like, oh, like, how many eight, eight to 16 billion neurons, something like that. And then, you know, the untold 1000s of neural connections between those neurons, which means that there are there are more neurons in the heat or more neural connections in the human brain than we can like, comprehend than I can comprehend. It's, it's hard for me to understand how how a system that vast and complex Can, can be mimicked or recreated in a technological sense. Does that make sense? Super hard for me to, to kind of grasp the the relationship between human consciousness and, and technology because the the complexity is so vast, and we still just aren't anywhere near understanding it.
Peter Clarke 53:55 Yeah, and I mean, I'm, every now and then I listen to these conversations about like, what is what is consciousness I have ever my undergrad is in psychology. And so I, you know, used to be way, way more curious about this. And then I don't know, but I still like kind of pay attention a little bit. Some of the people who make the most articulate noises in this this world are the the people who think that consciousness might just be baked into the universe, it might just, it might just
Stephen Bradford Long 54:24 pan Yes, Pan psychist. Like if I had, I had the author of Galileo's error, which was I think the first really, you know, written for the, the written for the public, by Philip Goff. He's a philosopher of Pan psychism. And I was not stoned enough for that conversation. But ya know, it's, it's super interesting. How does how does the concept of Pan psychism relate to relate to artificial intelligence?
Peter Clarke 54:56 Yeah, so this this is exactly the question I was gonna lay it out is like Let's just say it does the answer for how to create artificial intelligence in that case is going to fundamentally be different than if consciousness is a product of emergence. Right? And we just don't know. And the fact that we don't know if consciousness emerges, or if it's somehow like baked into the cosmos, we don't know that very basic question. So I mean, how can we recreate consciousness if we don't even know? Yeah, very fundamental thing to me. That's, that's, that's a problem.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:30 Unless, like you said, there was this accidental Errico where we figure it out somehow, and it's entirely by accident. Where do you stand on the pan psychism debate for people who are just completely clueless if we've lost you? I'm so sorry. But pan psychism, the idea that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the cosmos, that that consciousness is a is a feature of, of the universe, and but it is not an emergent property of brains following the laws of physics. Where do you fall on that debate?
Peter Clarke 56:15 I really liked the idea of that being true, just because I liked the idea. I mean, a couple of just, you know, I'm a fiction writer, so I can just have fun with this idea. But I like some some just kind of aesthetic qualities about the idea that we're Stardust about the idea that our bodies are I think it's like 80% space, like empty space, things and things like this. All of these things that are just completely counterintuitive. When I like a wall is not hard. It actually like it's mostly empty space. Things like this, I think are so fascinating. And it tells me that we have zero intuition. I don't think our brains are were created by evolution to have intuitions about some of these questions. So I'm just kind of like fundamentally open to it. And I like I like the idea that when I'm drinking a beer, that beer is consciousness is. Things like that are just very fun to think about.
Stephen Bradford Long 57:17 Yeah, you know, I'm currently reading Sean Carroll's book, something deeply hidden, which is about quantum physics. And that's one of the points that he lays down, which is our intuitions about the world. And what we experience is fundamentally wrong in terms of how reality actually is like reality is preposterous. Reality is way weirder and counterintuitive to us. And yeah, so I, I relate to what you're saying there, and I think I'm with you like I am. I really love the idea of Pan psychism. I just don't know, I don't know how we would ever determine whether it's true or not. I would love for it to be Yeah, I think Philip Goff makes this point that as conscious beings, we feel kind of alienated from an unconscious universe. And there's this sense of not being at home, there's this sense of it, of it of the universe being alienating to us. But that it would the but it would be if we had a pan psychist society, you know, if we had a society that that believed in pan psychism, we might be, we might be much healthier, you know, in terms of climate change, how we treat the environment, how we see the world in the universe. If, if we aren't aliens and an unconscious universe, then maybe we would treat it much better. And I relate to that there's a sense of alienation, and the current model of the universe, right?
Peter Clarke 59:03 Yeah. 100% I mean, I was just gonna gonna throw just another goofy detail in here. And that we might be in a simulation and it might be we might be people who built our simulation made it so the Panasonic is in this room, maybe they made it so that it looks like it's true, but it's not just like Slyke so that's interesting. That's that's just another thing that it's an open question that also will determine you know, kind of kind of everything.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:30 Yeah, I'm definitely going to put a disclaimer at the top of this show that everyone should definitely drop acid or do mushrooms at the start so that they can fully fully appreciate this conversation. So in regards to transhumanism, this is kind of a very basic question. Are you good on time by the way, we've we've hit about an hour and we can wrap it up if if need be. What
Peter Clarke 59:56 how are you there like 10 1015 minutes Bryant? I'll jump background work, whatever. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:01 for sure, for sure. This is kind of a very basic question when it comes to transhumanism, but it's one I hear a lot, which is what's so wrong with death, or what's so bad about death.
Peter Clarke 1:00:17 I think that this is an individual thing. And someone can decide for themselves that this is a race I want to run, and I'm not going to fight that. But when you start looking into reasons why you might not want to run, just like the bare minimum race, you can find a lot of great reasons why you you might want to extend this, this game that you're playing. And this is another leg Zoltan is fantastic, but I like it. Each mind is basically a library of unique information, unique and novel information. And there, there's only there's only one, you know, one person who has their individual library, every death is the the burning of Alexandria. And that's something that one, I think, is a good way of looking at humanity, and looking at people that we're all valuable in that sense, that we're not just another another human that like, each person has the Library of Alexandria in there between their ears. And that's, that's a precious thing that we shouldn't let burn. And to like, it's actually it's actually kind of true, like, I mean, there's, there's, if you look at the, the cosmos itself, that's infinite, or, you know, as far as far as we can tell, humans take up basically no space in the cosmos. And yet, we How is, you know, a perspective on the universe that is 100% unique and incredible. Why would you want to let any of those creatures not, you know, experience something that's even, not just a breath in the cosmic scale, why not live for like 200 million years and experience just like, like half a millimeter on the cosmic scale, rather, rather than just like a breath. And we take for granted the idea that I mean, literally everything and in terms of time, we take for granted that we were lucky to live 6570 years. Like why that's it's completely arbitrary. It's a it's a quirk of, you know, evolution that we don't live as long as some of those, you know, ancient sea creatures that that lived for hundreds of years. I mean, turtles, Galapagos turtle. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it's completely arbitrary that they got that DNA and we got ours. I mean, it's not arbitrary. I'm sure, you know, biologists could tell you why we die when we do we for raising young purposes or whatever. But if we can change that, I think that I think that there's no reason not to.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:01 And as I'm listening to you talk, I just can't help but feel that this is kind of a religious thing to go back to the start of our conversation that the, you know, overcoming death, that's a very religious exercise, and it extends into science. It's like this deep human impulse that permeates so much of what we do.
Peter Clarke 1:03:30 Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that, um, the way that it's not religious is that this is kind of like this is it? This is your heaven right now and enjoy heaven, because this is what this is what she got. One thing that I find destructive about a traditional religious worldview is that no, like, the game hasn't even started yet. This is a trial run. When this when this is over, you get to go to heaven. And that's when the fun really starts. That perspective. I think. I mean, if there were evidence for that, sure, that's a thing. But since that, that is just a fairy tale that people think we're, you know, believe for some reason. I think that's just kind of like the wrong perspective. And if this is not only the trial run, but also the real thing. Why wouldn't you want to you know, make it make it last as long as you can. This isn't like, death is boring. Some people are fascinated by death is boring. Like, why not hang on and see like, who wins the next presidential race or whatever the thing
Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:29 is, or i Oh, my God, that thought of that makes me want to just kill myself now actually, that might wanting to know who wins like that should not that should not be your cell. That is bad publicity for transhumanism. Don't, don't put that foot forward.
Peter Clarke 1:04:44 So one winner Ivanka Trump puts her name on the ballot. Oh, my God. We can all kill ourselves happily.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:54 All right. Well, on that wonderful note, I think this is a great place to end the conversation. Thank you so much for joining me. This has been great. Yeah, thank
Peter Clarke 1:05:03 you Steven is a great time. Appreciate it.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:05 Yeah, you're welcome back anytime this has been fun. Excellent. Thank you. All right. For people who want to find your work or learn more about you, where can they do that?
Peter Clarke 1:05:16 I do have a website Peter M. clarke.com. You can follow me on Twitter at Hey Peter Clark and that's Clark with an E CLA RK E and also I am kind of still promoting my book The Singularity Survival Guide and you can pick that up on Amazon so yeah, any of those places
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:40 great I'll post a link to all of that including the book in the show notes so everyone go check that out all right, well that is it for this show. The music is by the jelly rocks and 11 D seven you can find them on iTunes Spotify or wherever you listen to music The artwork is by Rama Krishna Das this show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as a production of rock candy recordings as always Hail Satan and thanks for listening found a safe space because I just wanted the sake grandma to say the same cities suffer nervous break Christmas Eve crisis I'm traveling back into black holes Neil deGrasse Tyson. name is Sal in the game we maintain the strike a movie live in this shape Googly blank. Keep the where you push right gotta leave it right me you might have to fight home. Look at this slideshow. We can't get here right. I mean, the doors to fight you know. We go into the round but I gotta start swinging. All the way to make it out of this tree. Life is barely history. Nobody makes it straight from the mouth.