6.8.03

Extropians and transhumanism get the UK tabloid treatment.

It's not quite the Sun, but the on-line computer magazine The Register certainly gives a good tabloid-like performance in this article on the recent "Pentagon Terror Casino" fiasco.

The picture painted by Register journalist Andrew Orlowski is not a pretty one: extropians are members of a "freakish" hi-tech cult. They are rich white males that spend their time plotting agaist those that are not like them: "such dunderheads will be left behind as [they] all lift off into space, making giddy whooping noises as [they] ascend. "

A few more quotes from the article, ranging from the misinformed to the patently absurd:

"A few years ago a bunch of extremely wealthy Californians met, liked the look of each other a lot, and formed a group called Extropians."

"[...] the Extropians devoted much of their disposable income (of which, there was much to dispose) to cryogenic research - deciding how to freeze themselves for eternal life, and deciding who amongst them Shall Be First."

"[…] the Extropian ideology [is] now blessed with Pentagon dollars"

A recent message on the extropian bulletin board, and the following thread, make a good first rebuttal and correct the most glaring misrappresentations.

What attracted the hack's attention to the extropians, was the fact that at the core of the ill-fated PAM (Policy Analysis Market) is "idea futures", the brainchild of known transhumanist Robin Hanson. The concept of idea futures, in a nutshell, is to harvest the market's ability to predict future events by allowing punters to "bet" on future events. The strenght of this approach is, quite simply, that it seems to work, but the idea was misunderstood and attacked as tasteless. Confronted with the bad publicity, the Pentagon abandoned the project. The fact that the whole point of the operation was to predict and prevent future terrorist attacks was conveniently forgotten by its detractors.

The background on PAM in a Reason article:
Betting On Terror: why futures markets in terror and assassinations are a good idea
by Ronald Bailey

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