Hans de Zwart's Reviews > A Cosmist Manifesto: Practical Philosophy for the Posthuman Age

A Cosmist Manifesto by Ben Goertzel
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May 29, 12

Read in May, 2012

This is a very special book from somebody with an incredible brain who isn't scared to think ahead. The subtitle of the book is "Practical Philosophy for the Posthuman Age". There is no irony in that title at all and a practical philosophy is exactly what Goertzel manages to accomplish. If you are interested in the thinking about the singularity, transhumanism or artificial intelligence and the moral and scientific questions around those topics than you will love this book. The book is brimming with common-sensical insights in a incredibly wide range of topics: from "Pattern Space" to "Causality as a convenient construct", from "Joy and Woe", via "The Sociocultural Mind" and "Work and Play" to "Cetacean Minds" and "Uploading". I loved his concept of how technological progress allows us to obsolete many dilemmas and have warm feelings for his assertion that Joy, Growth and Choice are great values to base morality on.

The chapter on education is a good example of what he tries to do in this book. Some choice quotes from the chapter:

As civilization has advanced, education has become increasingly important - and increasingly pervasive. This trend is going to continue, until "education" as separate category dies, replaced for those who choose to grow by learning that thoroughly pervades life.

[..] Our formal educational methodologies seem to have advanced less rapidly than many other aspects of society. Our formal education systems seem out of step with rapid-growth hi-tech industries and online communities, and more akin to those old-fashioned, fusty, domains of industry that haven't yet caught up with the times.

Where this leads is to the end of the distinction between education and plain old everyday life. If you learn by doing, and you need to constantly learn while doing anything due to the constant influx of new information... then where lies the distinction between learning and living?

And that's without even mentioning the really groovy stuff - the possibilities for education afforded by, say, cranial jacks feeding knowledge directly into the brain ... or virtual worlds allowing students to try out new experiences in a manner partially self-guided and partially remote-controlled by other ... etc. etc. etc.
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