Anthro Quick Hits: Telos and McFate

31 Jul

Originally posted at Iqra’i.

How to make friends with an anthropologist:

DO NOT: design Pentagon-funded anthro-warrior schemes that make the anthropological establishment leery, then decide that the perfect anthropologist to present the public face of these schemes is the daughter-in-law (and former support staffer!) of a former gun-lobby double agent. (h/t Open Anthropology)

DO: Talk about Transhumanism more often. As ckelty of Savage Minds explains:

Most of the critiques of transhumanism center around its more speculative aspects, like the notion of the singularity, the emergence of artificial intelligence etc. But I think there is increasingly an opening here for thinking about what we do and what we do not have control over as humanity evolves. Most transhumanist rhetoric seems to imply that there is no control—-it’s just the next stage of evolution—-but when push comes to shove, whatever “evolution” means to them, it isn’t simply your basic genetic-species evolution, but involves culture and technology as well.

I think that transhumanists will increasingly come to dominate discussions about the controlability of technology and its effects on people and their potential. But more than that, I think anthropologists are already interested in transhumanism, we just don’t call it that because we’ve given up (or just studiously avoid) trying to define the human.

Of course, the closest thing to a Transhumanism expert I know once argued with me for an hour during slow traffic outside Montreal about the worth of my discipline. (The opening line was something like “So, anthropology. Totally useless. Discuss.”) So I’m not too optimistic on the prospects for dialogue here.

Yeah, I know Montgomery McFate got her doctorate from the department that’s giving me my B.A. next June. And I know that my feelings on the Human Terrain System are more complicated than I allow for here. But the spy thing is still pretty hilarious.

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