Does Cosmism Advocate Human Extinction?

Cosmism, as I conceive it, is about seeking a positive life based on actively seeking increasing knowledge about the cosmos in all its aspects.

Joy, growth and choice and all that!

But what does this mean about us (smelly, hairy, violent, sex-obsessed, chaotically creative and cultured, beautiful, loving and malevolent,...) people, in particular?

Of course, you could have all these glorious, abstract-sounding values preserved without any humans around.

But the existence of humans -- in spite of all our imperfections -- certainly doesn't contradict joy, growth and choice. Indeed, the forcible abolition of humans would be a rather strong violation of the value of choice.

What Cosmism encourages is not the abolition of humans, but the transformation of humans into something more joyful and more splendidly growing than current humans -- guided not by force but by human intentionality.

Cosmism does not encourage the forcing of transformation or transcendence or transhumanity on humans whose choice is otherwise.

Cosmism does advocate not allowing those who choose to remain "legacy humans" to diminish the joy, growth and choice of others -- most likely there will always be some balancing to be done, as maximizing all three of the "joy, growth and choice" values may not be possible given the constraints posed by the universe.

Hypothetical Tough Choices

Hypothetically one can construct scenarios where there is a clear, crisp choice between, say,
  • A static, depressing, fascist world dominated by humans
  • A joyful, growing, freedom-ful world without humans
and then ask which one is preferable.

The Cosmist answer is obviously: the latter.

In Cosmism, humans are valued as sentient beings and complex pattern-systems -- but they're not viewed as uniquely important, and if it happened that the persistence of humanity violently contradicted higher, broader values, then the values would win.

But this kind of scenario seems extremely unlikely to occur -- for one thing because humans are just not going to be that powerful compared to transhuman minds we will create (or that our creations will create, etc.). It seems unlikely humans will have the power to significantly perturb the joy, growth and freedom in the future universe, even if they wanted to. My gut feeling is that once we have transcended the legacy human condition, these artificial dichotomous situations are going to look very silly in hindsight.

Someone asked me, recently, the following question:

Hypothetically, if there were a situation in which you knew that the development of AI would directly harm a massive amount of people would you decide to end your work or keep going?

I won't repeat my whole answer here but the core of it was as follows:

If a path to AGI is leading in that direction, it's probably the wrong path, and a better path to AGI can be found.

Obsolete the dilemma!

Shouldn't We Seek to Guarantee the Ongoing Welfare of the Human Race?

At the moment, my gut feeling (which could change as we all learn more about these issues) is that any kind of guarantee of human well-being unto eternity post-Singularity, is going be bloody hard to come by.

It seems more feasible to me that one could come close to guaranteeing a peaceful "controlled ascent" for those humans who want to increase their mental scope and power gradually, so that they can experience themselves transcend the human domain.

A more important, statement, perhaps, is that early-stage AGI scientists are likely to help us understand these issues a lot better.

But it's important to recognize that fundamental growth inevitably involves risk. Growth involves entering into the wonderful, frightening, promising unknown. In this kind of situation, guarantees are not part of the arrangement....


  1. Cosmism does advocate not allowing those who choose to remain "legacy humans"

    Sounds like you have already made your choice, even though back in your Good Ancestors Principle Workshop, you were still questioning the ethics of letting humans remain human.

    While I somewhat agree that keeping humans past the singularity is rather difficult we must not forget that the singularity may just be a localized event.

    I see no reason that the humans cant simply be relocated else where into space and start from scratch.

    This spore like spreading of intelligence in the cosmos may represent an even grander cycle of life, which both sides could use to reconcile there difference.

    "A static, depressing, fascist world dominated by humans
    A joyful, growing, freedom-ful world without humans"

    To simply believe thats there is only two choices is to put fourth hugo's comist vs terran war into play. This type of scenario would destabilize the controlled ascent you so speak of. Therefore it would prudent that we don't let this possibility become a reality. Further exploration is needed on this topic.

    After all it will be the "humans" that put all of this into motion.

    So even if i don't fully agree with you here I still thank you for even mentioning it so it may be discussed further.

  2. I didn't mean to imply there will only be two choices: that was just a simplistic example presented for sake of argument!

  3. I would no sooner remain a "legacy human" (MOSH) than I would remain a "legacy cow". How fucking lame would that be? LOL!

    My other comments apply more to this chapter than the other chapter I left them under. Feel free to evaluate them on their own, or as they relate to your negative view of (most) humans here.

    Most of humanity is brutality now. Governments = force. Look at what a dominant role force plays in our lives! Everyone is cowed, few people even attempt their full potential due to the omnipresent brutality in the name of benevolence. Noone is allowed to "opt out", there is no "consent of the governed".

    Read Harry Browne's book "Why Government Doesn't Work", or "For a New Liberty" by Rothbard (or perhaps more esoteric and drier Nozick, Rand, Peikoff, etc...)

    I imagine that universes inside of universes will be created. I favor my own ability to grow and remain continuous, if possible.

    But I do see an upside: I doubt artilects will need violence to curtail human violence. (And, although I don't like the idea of being manipulated, I like the idea of mass imprisonment, democide, and brutality even less.) I would prefer to simply see the bars fall away from the "mala prohibita" prison cells.

    I would prefer to see the soldier's guns rust overnight, but the potential rape victim's and private citizens' guns remain functional until those persons joined the mafia or the bigger mafia (the government). I would also prefer an enormous and growing ad campaign against the initiation of force(the violation of "the golden rule" that even Christians claim to understand, but instead mistakenly use to justify enforced conformity on everyone similar to the conformity they practice themselves.)

    ...Just a few thoughts.