353: Cyborg Buddha

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Dr. James Hughes

Dr. James Hughes

KMO welcomes IEET co-founder, James Hughes, back to the C-Realm to discuss the possibilities for maximizing human capabilities, including ethical capabilities, in a time of rapid technological change. The conversation around the use of technology to improve upon humanity needs an infusion of compassion and adulthood to counteract the adolescent, male, techno-libertarian mentality that has kept the discussion from reaching a wider and more diverse audience. Dr. Hughes, a former Buddhist monk, has recently added some high-tech enhancements to his long-standing meditation practice, and the discussion turns to the potential benefits and dangers of the widespread adoption of this technology now that prices have come down and the hardware has become more user-friendly. The conversation ends with a continuation of the recent C-Realm theme of anticipating and responding to the trend of technological unemployment.

Music by Hobotech.

Present Shock & The Psychedelic Legacy of Terence McKenna: an Evening with Douglas Rushkoff and Dennis McKenna.

  • islandnotes

    Buddhist aspirations eh? That’s some robot-approved stuff for sure! Dunno, but it seems to me that the: more-electronic-shit-on-our-head approach can very readily serve a more centralized hierarchical set-up. In that sense, it isn’t surprising to similarly hear primary-production-through-using-one’s-hands being condescended to. Naturally there is a wider berth at the career-table for technophiles, but can’t we also acknowledge the ubiquitous backlash that results in proportion to our hubris? Personally, if I come across a guy suggesting I first don electronic headgear to meditate, I’ll put my wallet in my sock. While this reads back a tad polemic, given the immensely one-sided power of the IT industry, and its shills (present company notwithstanding), and the profound techno-version of maya, it seems that community dialog ought to happen with high regard for the dialectic.

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      Thank you for commenting, Islandnotes. You’ve remarked on many an episode before this, so you know that technophilia is certainly the antithesis of a long-running thesis on the C-Realm, namely the perversion of food, work, health, and our way of inhabiting the land wrought by fossil fuels and the mechanization of agriculture. For the full dialectic to unfold, however, we can’t just make a cursory nod in the direction of the antithesis while continuing to hold our beloved thesis in a jealous embrace. A genuine synthesis demands that we drink the techno-utopian Kool-Aid, at least for a time.

  • islandnotes

    KMO,
    Your point is well taken. However as a parent and a teacher, I hear cyborg-in-waiting Doctor Hughes issue forth such pronouncement as the “misery” of raising a child; and the imposition on kids with this crap comes all the more into view. (Which was, incidentally, not named as a part of your long-running C-realm thesis — and which is ‘wrought’ by determining that junior’s attention be placed on the displays of computational power.) I hope that such discussion as regards the impact of adults’ technophilic zeal being projected onto kids, needing to develop their presence in the non-cybernetic world, won’t be drowned out by the sheer neato-power of the gadget industry. I have a sort of theory that misery in schooling and parenting is inversely proportional to our ability to be fully present in the context of our lives. So a cat espousing ‘post-human-cyborg’-goodness AND who is apparently a fan of the fat man often credited as one of the earlier proponents of “wake the fuck up!” naturally invites such query. The recent promulgation of something called Code.org would seem to be as good of a phenomenon to contemplate in this regard. A public school counselor acquaintance of mine was recently shilling for that effort on Facebook. Upon my perhaps predictable polemical response, his reply was: “well, it’s meeting up on Facebook, or going back to a quill and parchment”. I fear this is the mindset of all too many “educators” charged with Kool-aid distribution for our young people. The devil is truly in the details of how society determines what is appropriate for community well-being. In any case, by no means is the irony of my typing this out on my macbook/satellite-rig lost on me. I sincerely hope that my compulsion to respond to this is not a straw-man argument. Thanks for indulging me and for your good work.

  • tejanojim

    A Starfleet spokesperson today defended the destruction of the Temple of the Thunderclap on Vulture Peak with photon torpedoes earlier this week, and stated that no signs of Borg assimilation had been found after an intensive and ongoing search of the surviving buddhas, arhats, and other immortals in the vicinity. Riots continue to rage throughout Asia and on colony worlds with a strong Buddhist heritage throughout the Federation, protesting what has been described as a “heavy handed and brutal” response to the crisis.