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Visions of Disaster and Perfection

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Paul Kingsnorth, Kevin Warwick. Andrew Copson hosts.

From Atlantis to 1984, visions of utopia once shaped the political landscape. What new visions, from technological golden age to environmental apocalypse, do today's thinkers foresee for the 21st century?

In association with the British Humanist Association.

In the Beginning was Nature
Alistair McIntosh, Caspar Melville, Benny Peiser, Rupert Read
Mind Change
Susan Greenfield
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Graham Cobb on 07/10/2012 6:18pm

[Been looking back at last year]

It is interesting how multiple people see very different views of the same thing! To me, Warwick clearly won that debate with Kingsnorth's objections being unclear, inconsistent and disjointed. From looking at the comments, others clearly saw it very differently!

I think the key is the discussion about "point". We are all happy to make use of the benefits of science: medicine, mobile phones, 3D TVs, travel, even IAI itself! Would I like my doctor to be augmented in the way Warwick describes? Certainly yes. And my aircraft pilot. And I would even prefer that a soldier was augmented than that he was replaced with a purely automated machine -- at least there is someone to prosecute when an atrocity occurs.

Will augmentation solve all the world's problems? Certainly not. But it might make the world a little bit better. I am even hopeful that the better communication Warwick describes might help -- but I will believe it when I see it.

Laurence Lord on 28/04/2012 12:23am

It was a bit tricky to register, log in and join this conversation. I wonder how much more inclusive, assessable and enjoyable this medium of communication is than have a conversation in a cottage-industry village? I wonder, I wonder.

For a conversation that could be so potentially abstract, seductive and dreamlike I think this was very well grounded and understandable.

Both speakers had an amazing way with words and highly specialised abilities to talk about their specialist subject. It was also very well chaired.

For me, I am very encouraged to hear Paul articulate his opinions so well. And what's more, to ask such well considered questions.

A few questions of my own come to mind:

Why develop an augmented human-race when we're causing so much damage without the augmentations? What's the rush? How does one know that it is better to augment humans than it is to augment monkeys, or bees, or whales, or earthworms? Is there something else we should be doing instead of getting excited about this?

That said, just as the environmental catastrophe has already begun,so to has the augmentation of the human species with anything from binoculars, to alarm clocks to shovels.

Very considerable stuff.

Kiljoy on 10/06/2011 3:24pm

Kingsnorth did rather well I thought, however on his Dark Mountain Manifesto he states

"Mainstream art in the West has long been about shock; about busting taboos, about Getting Noticed. This has gone on for so long that it has become common to assert that in these ironic, exhausted, post-everything times, there are no taboos left to bust. But there is one.

The last taboo is the myth of civilisation."

and such like.

To quote Theodore Dalrymple

"The problem of upholding virtue and denouncing vice without appearing priggish, killjoy, bigoted, and narrow-minded has become so acute that intellectuals are now inclined either to deny that there is a distinction between the two or to invert their value. There is no higher word of praise in an art critic’s vocabulary, for example, than “transgressive,” as if transgression were in itself good, regardless of what is being transgressed. Likewise, to break a taboo is to be a hero, irrespective of the content of the taboo. Who is more contemned than he who clings stubbornly to old moral insights?"

And

"The sexual revolutionaries' ideas about the relations between men and women—entailing ever greater sexual liberty, ever less mastery of the appetite—were so absurd and utopian that it is hard to understand how anyone could have taken them seriously. But mere absurdity has never prevented the triumph of bad ideas, if they accord with easily aroused fantasies of an existence freed of human limitations."

Denial indeed; I'd like to introduce a word: Lekcess (Lek/excess -use it mockingly if you must)

lek

noun

A lek is a gathering of males, of certain animal species, for the purposes of competitive mating display.

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