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Papers, and Essays
and Fallacies, from The Atheism Web. A great introduction to the basics
of logical reasoning (and how to apply them to religion, for example).
The Technological Singularity, by Vernor
Vinge. "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create
superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such
progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we
may survive? These questions are investigated. Some possible answers (and
some further dangers) are presented."
How Long Before Superintelligence?, by Nick Bostrom. "This paper outlines the case for believing that we will have superhuman artificial intelligence within the first third of the next century. It looks at different estimates of the processing power of the human brain; how long it will take until computer hardware achieve a similar performance; ways of creating the software through bottom-up approaches like the one used by biological brains; how difficult it will be neuroscience figure out enough about how brains work to make this approach work; and how fast we can expect superintelligence to be developed once there is human-level artificial intelligence."
When Will Computer Hardware Match the Human Brain?, by Hans Moravec. "This paper describes how the performance of AI machines tends to improve at the same pace that AI researchers get access to faster hardware. The processing power and memory capacity necessary to match general intellectual performance of the human brain are estimated. Based on extrapolation of past trends and on examination of technologies under development, it is predicted that the required hardware will be available in cheap machines in the 2020s."
Law of Accelerating Returns, by Raymond Kurzweil. A detailed, powerful
introduction to the Singularity theory and related matters.
Building Gods or Building Our Potential Exterminators?, by Hugo de Garis. "Hugo de Garis is concerned that massively intelligent machines ('artilects') could become infinitely smarter than human beings, leading to warring factions over the question: should humanity risk building artilects? Result: gigadeaths."
Artificial Intelligence: A Worst Case Scenario, by Ed Merta. A fictional but fairly realistic story describing the genesis of superintelligent, sentient AI and the final day(s) of the human race. Tip: after having read Merta's story, visit the Animatrix site and view The Second Renaissance, Part 2. The text and the visuals go together like coffee and creamer!
prophylaxis: How do we prevent a nanotechnological disaster?, by Nick
Bostrom et al.
The Gray Goo Problem, by Robert A. Freitas. "In Eric Drexler's classic 'grey goo' scenario, out-of-control nanotech replicators wipe out all life on Earth. This paper by Robert A. Freitas Jr. was the first quantitative technical analysis of this catastrophic scenario, also offering possible solutions. It was written in part as an answer to Bill Joy's recent concerns."
The Simulation Argument: Are You Living In a Computer Simulation?, by Nick Bostrom. "This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a 'posthuman' stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the transhumanist dogma that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed."
Existential Risks, by Nick Bostrom. "Nick Bostrom defines a new category of risks that could threaten humanity and intelligent life with extinction: existential risks. The future could be a dangerous place indeed."
The Storm Before the Calm, by Robert Wright. "Are we on the verge of an apocalytptic era? Robert Wright applies game theory to evolution, illustrating how the interdependence and competition between organisms lead to biological, cultural and technological evolution, with chaos and upheaval thrown in the mix."
Wild Cards: The Nature of Big Future Surprises, by John Petersen. "In the coming years, the world could experience a series of massively transformative events, or "wild cards," brought on by radical developments in areas such as AI and nanotechnology. Futurist John Petersen suggests strategies for dealing with them proactively."
Nanotechnology: What Will It Mean?, by Ralph C. Merkle. "Ralph C. Merkle weighs in on the debate about the future of nanotechnology, considering its possible uses and abuses."
Engineering Humans, Part 1, by Rachel Massey. "Genetic engineers are starting to modify human genes, using cloning, somatic cell manipulation, germline manipulation. The potential financial and health rewards are huge, but so are the risks."
Promise And Peril, by Raymond Kurzweil. "Bill Joy wrote a controversial article in Wired advocating 'relinquishment' of research on self-replicating technologies, such as nanobots. In this rebuttal, originally published in Interactive Week, Ray Kurzweil argues that these developments are inevitable and advocates ethical guidelines and responsible oversight."
Embrace, Don't Relinquish, the Future, by Max More. "Extropy Institute head Max More finds Bill Joy's Wired essay uninformed, unworkable, and even unethical because it will slow down progress in medicine and other vital areas, he believes."
Evolution and the Internet: Toward A Networked Humanity?, by Danny Belkin. "Integration of human and machine will lead to an interconnected "organism"--the next major evolutionary step forward for humanity, says immunology PhD candidate Danny Belkin."
Infinite Memory and Bandwidth: Implications for Artificial Intelligence, by Raj Reddy. "Not to worry about superintelligent machines taking over, says AI pioneer Dr. Raj Reddy. A more likely scenario: people who can think and act 1000 times faster, using personal intelligent agents."
That's impossible! -- How good scientists reach bad conclusions, by Ralph C. Merkle. "Many researchers remain very skeptical of the feasibility of general molecular manufacturing technology. Here Dr. Ralph Merkle tackles their arguments against the praticality of general purpose, programmable assemblers."
Transhumanism: Towards A Futurist Philosophy, by Max More, Ph.D. "In this essay I will show how religion acts as an entropic force, standing against our advancement into transhumanity and our future as posthumans."
In Praise of the Devil -- How lucifer.com got its name. Another powerful anti-religious (pro-reason) essay by Extropian philosopher Max More.
United Satanic Front: An Interview With Phil Marfuta, by Rev. Matt G. Paradise. Marfuta explains the links between modern (LaVeyan) Satanism, Objectivism, and Transhumanism, among other things.
Religion - The Antithesis to Science, by Peter Atkins. Excellent arguments against the compatibility of science and religion.
Religion's Misguided Missiles, by Richard Dawkins. "Promise a young man that death is not the end and he will willingly cause disaster."
Five Things You Can Do To Fight Entropy Now, by Romana Machado. Personal empowerment from the Transhumanist perspective.
How to Overcome "Economic Correctness", by Frederick Mann. "Similar to 'political correctness' there's 'economic correctness'. Overcoming 'economic correctness' can help you gain your financial freedom. Hopefully, this article will help you do just that."
Egoism, by John Beverley Robinson. Ethical Egoism explained and celebrated.
Burn the Rich A recent study suggests that envy comes naturally. By Ronald Bailey. "[Economists] Oswald and Zizzo's research suggests that socialists who believe that their ideology appeals to humanity's better instincts have it backwards. Envy is behind the leveling spirit of socialism. A truly generous and rational soul would wish others well, especially if they have done no one any harm."
Researchers help define what makes a political conservative, by Kathleen Maclay. "Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?" According to the article, conservatism is mainly based on fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, and terror management. Basically a reassuringly simple worldview for scared, aggressive, intolerant simpletons.
Evolution, Altruism and Genetic Similarity Theory, by Philippe J. Rushton. Deals with the evolutionary dynamics behind 'altruism'.
To Marry, Or Not? (That's Easy!) , by Fred Reed. "In an age when neither sex economically needs the other, in which women do not need protection from wild bears and marauding savages, not in the suburbs anyway, perhaps marriage doesn't make sense, at least for men. The divorce courts remove all doubt. A young fellow might do well to stay single, keep his DNA to himself, pick such flowers as he might find along the way, and live his life as he likes."
The Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Dead, by Steven B. Harris, Ph.D. An article from Skeptic Magazine that clearly illustrates how it often takes "forever" before good ideas -ranging from CPR to cryonics- are "accepted" by the (stubborn, small-minded, ignorant, superstitious etc.) establishment and mainstream society.
Extension -- Or Why Live At All? Ben Best on the ethics of life
extension in general, and cryonics in particular.
Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly over the Edge, by Ed Regis. "Describes the life and ideas of visionary technologists of the eighties, then and now ever hard at work on creating the future as we wish it to be out of the reality we find ourselves in right now. You'll meet those who dare to think and act beyond the limits of the 'accepted canon': rocket scientists who would like everyone to have their own way into space, cryogenics researchers who hope to freeze people for revival in the future, nanotechnologists who want to build molecular robots to fix everything, and space colonists who want to build new worlds from the spare parts of the solar system." A true Transhumanist classic.
The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies, by Damien Broderick. "We are already in the early stages of a transition that will radically alter civilization and even the human species itself. The Spike, by Australiaís respected cultural theorist and science writer (& well-known Transhumanist) Damien Broderick, offers an insightful survey of cutting-edge science of today and the not-so-distant future."
I've Changed My Mind: Intelligence Augmentation through Neurohacking, by Alex Ramansky. "This is a specialistís textbook for neurohackers. It is also the story of a journey. In one sense it is a personal exploration that I am undertaking, but on another, larger scale it is the story of the journey which human intelligence tries to make, from its very beginnings in the womb to its ultimate maturity and potential. It is through the formation of Matrix Theory that I have come to understand why it so very rarely gets there." Full text online.
Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, by Kevin Kelly. Explores the potential consequences of the convergence of life and automation in the future. Full text online.
Moths to the Flame: The Seductions of Computer Technology, by Gregory J. E. Rawlins. How (computer) technology will shape the future. Full text online.
Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace, by Douglas Rushkoff. "The author, a New York-based journalist, goes west to Berkeley for a look inside Cyberia -- the emerging countercultural terrain of computer hackers, 'smart' drugs, house music, and a range of alternate 'cyberpunk' lifestyles and anarchic philosophies." Another (proto/pseudo-) Transhumanist classic! Full text online.
Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, by Richard Brodie. "Virus of the Mind is the first popular book devoted to the science of memetics, a controversial new field that transcends psychology, biology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Memetics is the science of memes, the invisible but very real DNA of human society. [...] Viruses of the mind are not a future worry: they are here with us now and are evolving to become better and better at their job of infecting us. The recent explosion of mass media and the information superhighway has made the earth a prime breeding ground for viruses of the mind. Will there be a mental plague? Will only some of us survive with our free will intact? Brodie weaves together science, ethics, and current events as he raises these and other very disturbing questions about memes."
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, by Michael Shermer. "This updated edition of Why People Believe Weird Things covers Holocaust denial and creationism in considerable detail, and has chapters on abductions, Satanism, Afrocentrism, near-death experiences, Randian positivism, and psychics. Shermer has five basic answers to the implied question in his title: for consolation, for immediate gratification, for simplicity, for moral meaning, and because hope springs eternal. He shows the kinds of errors in thinking that lead people to believe weird (that is, unsubstantiated) things, especially the built-in human need to see patterns, even where there is no pattern to be seen."
The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan. "In this brilliantly argued book, The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan demonstrates how scientific thinking is critical for the progress of our civilisation. He debunks many popular myths and pseudosciences, such as that of alien visitations, faith healers, psychic powers, and channelling of spirits. It is a book that tries to put rationality and sceptical thinking back into the examination of phenomena."
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, by Richard Dawkins. "I want to persuade the reader, not just that the Darwinian world-view happens to be true, but that it is the only known theory that could, in principle, solve the mystery of our existence."
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter. "Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think. [...] Its intellectual range and ability to let us visualize difficult mathematical concepts help make it one of this century's best for anyone who's interested in computers and their potential for real intelligence."
Engines of Creation -- The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, by K. Eric Drexler. "Presents the basic vision of nanotechnology as a fundamental revolution in technology. This is the first and still the classic book on nanotechnology." Full text online.
Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution, by Eric Drexler and Chris Peterson, with Gayle Pergamit. "This book delivers a rich array of micro-scenarios of nanotechnology at work, some thrilling, some terrifying, all compelling. Probably none represent exactly what will happen, but in aggregate they give a deep sense of the kind of thing that will happen. Strategies of how to stay ahead of the process are proposed, but the ultimate responsibility for the wholesome use and development of nanotechnology falls on every person aware of it. That now includes you." Full text online.
Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, by Robert A. Freitas Jr. "More than just an extension of 'molecular medicine', nanomedicine will employ molecular machine systems to address medical problems, and will use molecular knowledge to maintain and improve human health at the molecular scale. Nanomedicine will have extraordinary and farreaching implications for the medical profession, for the definition of disease, for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions including aging, for our very personal relationships with our own bodies, and ultimately for the improvement and extension of natural human biological structure and function." Full text online.
Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility, by Robert A. Freitas Jr. "The safety, effectiveness, and utility of medical nanorobotic devices will critically depend upon their biocompatibility with human organs, tissues, cells, and biochemical systems. In this second Volume of the Nanomedicine technical book series, we broaden the definition of nanomedical biocompatibility to include all of the mechanical, physiological, immunological, cytological, and biochemical responses of the human body to the introduction of artificial medical nanodevices, whether 'particulate' (large doses of independent micron-sized individual nanorobots) or 'bulk' (nanorobotic organs assembled either as solid objects or built up from trillions of smaller artificial cells or docked nanorobots inside the body) in form." Full text online.
The Prospect of Immortality, by Robert C.W. Ettinger. Rightly called "the Bible of the cryonics movement" -- this is the book that started it all back in the '60s. "The Prospect of Immortality is a sober, scientific, and logical argument founded on undeniable fact: that a body deepfrozen stands a better chance of being revived than one rotting in the ground; and that many people who died fifty or a hundred year ago of 'incurable' diseases would today be cured. Mr. Ettinger has carried his thesis to its logical conclusion and examined every aspect of the consequences. Even those who are appalled by the 'prospect' will be intrigued by the argument." Full text online.
Man Into Superman, by Robert C.W. Ettinger. This is more or less the sequel to The Prospect of Immortality. An eloquent, razor-sharp attack on the many absurdities of our deathist society. Very transtopian in nature. Full text online.
Forever For All: Moral Philosophy, Cryonics, and the Scientific Prospects for Immortality, by R. Michael Perry. A nearly 500-page meditation on cryonics and various Transhumanist topics, including the technological Singularity and the Omega Point. Available in printed and ebook (.PDF) format. 25 pages can be downloaded for free.
Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow, by Ralph Whelan et al. A comprehensive, albeit slightly dated introduction to cryonics, courtesy of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Full text online. [Currently unavailable]
Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? (Second Edition), by Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D. "Provides the answers to the questions about corpses you were afraid to ask: How does a body really turn to dust? What happens during autopsies, dissection, embalming, cremation, and cryogenic preservation? And what about cannibalism, body snatching, and the secret rites of various cultures? A textbook, a resource, and entertaining reading!"
The Origin of Species (by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life), by Charles Darwin. "Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specially created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fit enough for the task. This text reveals the almost unthinkably complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and by implication, the human world." It is quite amazing -and sad- that almost a century and a half (the book is from 1859) after The Origin...'s publication, Creationism and related follies are still alive & well in many parts of the world, including some supposedly civilized ones. It once more shows that religion is an inherently irrational, un & anti-scientific force. Indeed, it is more akin to a psychosis than to a mature, rational worldview. Full (searchable) text online.
Man: The Moral Animal Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright. "An accessible introduction to the science of evolutionary psychology and how it explains many aspects of human nature. Unlike many books on the topic, which focus on abstractions like kin selection, this book focuses on Darwinian explanations of why we are the way we are--emotionally and morally." Partially? online.
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into The Forces of History, by Howard Bloom. "Covering the entire span of the Earth's as well as mankind's history, this ambitious and revolutionary book explores the intricate relationships between genetics, human behavior, and culture to put forth the thesis that 'evil' is a by-product of nature's strategies for creation and that it is woven into our most basic biological fabric." Two chapters and some sample pages can be viewed here and here.
The Selfish Gene: Second Edition, by Richard Dawkins. "Our genes made use. We animals exist for their preservation and are nothing more than their throwaway survival machines." Human behavior explained from an evolutionary perspective.
The 'G' Factor: General Intelligence and its Implications, by Christopher Brand. "The g factor--general mental ability--is the major construct for understanding both individual differences and the average differences between groups (race and sex) in educational and occupational attainment. It is also germane to social issues of national importance. Brand fully and clearly explains the psychometric, statistical, genetic, and physiological basis of g, as well as the major theoretical challenges to the concept." One of those books that the PC crowd doesn't want you to read (screw 'em)... Full text available for downloading (.zip format).
Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (3rd Edition), by J. Philippe Rushton. Mr. Rushton, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, offers an evolutionary/genetic explanation for racial differences in a wide variety of physical and behavioral characteristics. An eloquent, scientifically sound critique of the not-quite-so-innocent "politically correct" leftist dogma of "racial equality".
The Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail. To quote Samuel Jared Taylor: "Originally published in 1973, this may be the first significant racialist novel since the days of Thomas Dixon. It is the story of the final, tragic end of European civilization which falls, like all great civilizations, by its own hand. Mr. Raspail's powerful, gripping novel is a call to all whites to rekindle their sense of race, love of culture, and pride in history--for he knows that without them we will disappear." See also: Camp Of The Saints Comes True In France. Let's Stop It Happening Here, by Donald A. Collins. If it weren't for the Singularity etc., sanctimonious, decadent, self-castrating, runaway multicultural political correctness probably would eventually cause the downfal of the civilized world. And who knows, maybe it will... Recommended reading for the politically naive.
Woman and the New Race, by Margaret Sanger. How mindless breeding is not only damaging women's health and social status, but also corrupting society as a whole by 'making life cheap'. Women should take responsibility for, and action against, this situation. State-imposed measures like parenting permits and universal reversible sterilization (at birth) might also help. This is an excellent feminist book(let) / manifesto of a refreshingly PC-free candor that you rarely see these days, and though written in the 1920's, the advice given is still relevant due to the persistence of procreation-related problems in many parts of the world. Full text online.
The Childless Revolution, by Madelyn Cain. "This book is a comprehensive, and well researched documentation of the many reasons why women don't have children. Cain provides an in-depth historical and statistical background to birthrates and childlessness, which is very informative, as well as a bit of information about several famous women without children. It is an easy read, a nice balance of facts and personal interviews with over 100 childless (Cain's chosen term) women."
Cheerfully Childless: The Humor Book for Those Who Hesitate to Procreate, by Ellen Metter. "Plenty of books look at the subject of choosing to be childless in a (relentlessly) serious fashion. It's time to look at the subject with a laugh! If you've been asked just one too many times 'So? When will you be making us grandparents?' this book is for you."
The Rule of Lawyers -- How the New Litigation Elite Threatens America's Rule of Law, by Walter K. Olson. "This is the most alarming book about abuses of our legal system. Olson isn't just talking about too many lawsuits and outrageous jury awards. He tells how secretive, greedy, hypocritical, corrupt class-action lawyers have conspired with state attorneys general, politicians, and fellow travelers in the mass media to destroy what's left of a rule of law."
Hit Man On-Line -- A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, by Rex Feral. "For informational purposes only..." Full text online.
Stoned Free: How to Get High Without Drugs, by Douglas Rushkoff. "Now you can just say 'No!' to drugs... and get high anyway! This book enumerates many drugless consciousness altering techniques, both timeless and recent in origin, that anyone can make use of. Meditation, breathing techniques, high-tech highs, sleep and dream manipulation, and numerous other methods are examined in detail. Avoid incarceration, save money, and skip the wear and tear on your body, while getting higher than a kite."
PiHKAL -- Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved: A Chemical Love Story, by Alexander and Ann Shulgin. If, otoh, you are gonna fool around with drugs, might as well do it right! This is the online version of the second half of the book, the 'business end'. The various chemicals are arranged alphabetically, and brief but useful info regarding synthesis, dosage, and duration, as well as additional comments, are provided. "The first half of PiHKAL is an excellent commentary on the Shulgin's personal experiences with phenethylamines. It is highly recommended and well worth purchasing the book. Purchasing the book also gets you a far more complete cross-index into the chemicals described in the second half. If you are seriously interested in the chemistry contained in these files, you should order a copy." Partially online.
Thus Spake Zarathustra -- A Book for All and None, by Friedrich Nietzsche. "Written in four parts and published in German between 1883 and 1885 as Also Sprach Zarathustra. The work is incomplete, but it is the first thorough statement of Nietzsche's mature philosophy and the masterpiece of his career. It received little attention during his lifetime but its influence since his death has been considerable, in the arts as well as philosophy. Written in the form of a prose narrative, Thus Spake Zarathustra offers the philosophy of its author through the voice of Zarathustra (based on the Persian prophet Zoroaster) who, after years of meditation, has come down from a mountain to offer his wisdom to the world. It is this work in which Nietzsche made his famous (and much misconstrued) statement that 'God is dead' and in which he presented some of the most influential and well-known (and likewise misunderstood) ideas of his philosophy, including those of the Ubermensch ('overman' or 'superman') and the 'will to power'. Though this is essentially a work of philosophy, it is also a masterpiece of literature. The book is a combination of prose and poetry, including epigrams, dithyrambs, and parodies as well as sections of pure poetry." Full text online (English & German).
Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't (primarily) a book about the horrors of advanced surveillance technology. Rather, it's a razor-sharp, cynical analysis of ('Socialist') egalitarian-totalitarian techniques and policies, and human stupidity in general. From the primitive, short-sighted proles to the sometimes fiendishly clever but essentially psychotic party bosses; no flesh is spared, and rightly so. Parallels with current political and technological developments should be obvious. Full (searchable) text online.
Animal Farm, by George Orwell. Another must-read classic. "Animal Farm (1945) - satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution, particularly directed against Stalin's Russia. Led by the pigs, the Animals on Mr Jones's farm revolt against their human masters. After their victory they decide to run the farm themselves on egalitarian principles. Inspired by the example of Boxer, the hard-working horse, the cooperation prosper. The pigs become corrupted by power and a new tyranny is established under Napoleon (Stalin). 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.' Snowball (Trotsky), an idealist, is driven out [and subsequently killed, as was Trotsky]. The final betrayal is made when the pigs engineer a rapproachement with Mr Jones." Full (searchable) text online.
A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. It ain't exactly transtopia (i.e. Transhuman Utopia), but in many ways Huxley's future society is far superior to the current world order. Add physical immortality (or at least advanced suspended animation) and hardcore automation (hence eliminating the need for 'dumbed down' workers), and you have a pretty cool antesingularian society. People who compare BNW to Orwell's 1984 (now there's a genuine dystopia!), see above, either haven't read the books, or are just plain dumb. The difference is almost like night & day. Full (searchable) text online.
The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. The first, or at least the most famous book on what is now known as "realpolitik". Recommended reading for anyone interested in political philosophy. "[This book's] essential contribution to modern political thought lies in Machiavelli's assertion of the then revolutionary idea that theological and moral imperatives have no place in the political arena. 'It must be understood,' Machiavelli avers, 'that a prince ... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state.' With just a little imagination, readers can discern parallels between a 16th-century principality and a 20th (21st)-century presidency." Also, Machiavelli rightly notes that people are, on the whole, stupid and irrational (ruled by passions rather than reason) and [therefore] incapable of effective self-government. The enlightened few must rule the 'ignorant, emotional, volatile, superstitious masses' (to quote Havelock Ellis) for mutual benefit, and the end --a stable, civilized society-- justifies any, or at least many, means. Of course, political manipulations are only marginally interesting from the transtopian perspective, but with a few tweaks you can apply the same basic philosophy to the personal rather than the political sphere, which in effect turns it into a hardcore form of ethical Egoism, which is very relevant indeed. Incidentally, the Singularity Institute's Friendly AI project could be seen as the ultimate Machiavellian scheme, for it wants to protect the human race from its own, potentially lethal stupidity by creating a literally 'absolute' --and absolutely rational-- ruler; an artificial God-Prince who will impose order on an inherently entropic universe. Full (searchable) text online.
The (Divine) Comedy - Inferno, by Dante Alighieri. Best known (and arguably the most interesting) part of the famous medieval trilogy (Inferno, Paradiso, and Purgatorio). Soon, we will have the technological means to make both Heaven and Hell a (virtual) reality, so read and be inspired! Tip #1: Dante's Inferno is best enjoyed with a bottle of fine Italian wine and illustrations by Gustave Doré.Tip #2: Wanna know in which level of Hell you would end up? Take Dante's Inferno Test and find out! Don't forget to "abandon all hope" first, though... Full (searchable) text online.
Wake Up America! The Dynamics of Human Power, by Frederick Mann. "In the coming chapters you will be provided with some tools you will be able to use to greatly increase your personal power. You will gain both greater ability to solve your personal problems, and the power to govern yourself - as intended by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Call it anarchy or call it individual self-government. It is the solution to both personal and societal problems." Full text online.
Breaking the Rules: Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance, by Kurt Wright. "If youíre looking to develop the mental clarity and emotional maturity that will let you follow the wisdom of your heart in both your personal and business life, you will want to read and follow the principles set forth in this book." The foreword and chapters 1 & 4 can be viewed here.
How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, by Harry Browne. "You don't have to reconstruct the social order; you don't have to overcome the villians; you don't have to re-educate the world; you don't need a miracle. All you have to do is use your sovereign power of choice to release yourself from those who would keep you in bondage."
Seasteading: A Practical Guide to Homesteading the High Seas, by Wayne C. Gramlich, Patri Friedman, and Andrew Houser. "A seastead is a structure designed specifically for permanent living on the ocean's surface. There are many aspects to designing such structures, including motivation, engineering, infrastructure, and project planning. The primary motivations for living on these structures are a desire for political and/or religious freedom, a more environmentally sound way of life, and the sheer adventure of it all. A seastead must be able to withstand strong waves, winds, and currents. We describe previous attempts at ocean occupation and several possible designs. Our top choice is based on a hollow vertical tube, called a spar. A ballasted flotation hull is attached at the bottom and a living platform is attached at the top. The spar keeps the hull well below the waves and the platform well above them. The residents will also require food, water, and energy. Energy comes from a combination of solar, wind, wave, and diesel generators, water comes from collected rainwater, solar distillation, and reverse osmosis, and food from hydroponics and high density 'victory gardens'. We advocate an incremental development model based on niche markets and prototypes, rather than a single large and financially risky project." This is a work in progress, and you can provide feedback using the embedded comment links. Full text (draft) online.
The Last Frontiers on Earth -- Strange Places Where You Can Live Free, by Jon Fisher. Includes the pros & cons of living in polar regions and the ocean, nomadic lifestyles, secret cellars, caverns, etc.
Uninhabited Ocean Islands, by Jon Fisher. Maps and detailed descriptions of more than 180 exotic islands. "Jon Fisher takes you on a fascinating journey to some of the most isolated real estate on earth."
How To Start Your Own Country, by Erwin Strauss (2nd edition). "This
book tells the story of dozens of new country projects and explains the options
available to those who want to start a country of their own."
© Copyright 2003-2005 transtopia
Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism