A Guardian biographical piece on Daniel Dennet, the "semantic engineer" author of "Consciousness Explained" and "Freedom Evolves". In his new book, "Breaking the spell", Dennett will take on supernaturalism with the declared intention to "extirpate" it.

Daniel Dennett (homepage) is certainly a profoundly extropian philosopher, even if he probably doesn't know it ;-)

A few quotes from the article:

"The essential doctrine that Dennett took from Quine was that knowledge -and philosophy - had to be understood as natural processes. They have arisen as part of the workings of the ordinary world, which can be scientifically studied, and are not imposed or injected from some supernatural realm. So there is nothing magical about human brains - no ghost in the machine, to use Ryle's phrase. When we talk about "intelligence" we are describing behaviour, or a propensity towards certain behaviour, and not the exercise of some disembodied intellect."

"Darwinism gives us a perspective to see how meaning and function and purpose can come to exist in a world that is intrinsically meaningless and functionless - not just biological purpose and function, but in the end, moral purpose and the meaning of life. In the beginning, there wasn't any design. Nothing was designed. Nothing had a function. It is life that gives birth to reasons and functions. There were reasons before there were things that could think about reasons. For example, there's a reason why the baby cuckoo pushes the other baby out of the nest, but it is clueless about why it's doing it. Reasons predate reasoners."

"The trouble with the word atheism is that there are so many different concepts of God it would be foolish to take them all on at once and say they are all rubbish. Apparently that's what the atheist does. But I don't believe in anything supernatural. That's naturalism, I guess. But the main thing is that it's not supernatural. I have absolutely no doubt that the secular and scientific vision is right and deserves to be endorsed by everybody, and as we have seen over the last few thousand years, superstitious and religious doctrines will just have to give way."

The full article


ExtroBritannia - London event: life-extension

The next ExtroBritannia event is scheduled for Saturday the 24th of April at 12,00pm in Holborn, London.

The theme of the meeting is life-extension. Michael Price will give a presentation based on his "The Role of Enzymic Cofactors in Aging or How to Live to 200":

"To live longer we know we should cut down on tobacco, alcohol and calories, drink water and drive carefully. Less well known are the benefits of various micronutrients in our diet: micronutrients such as the B-vitamins, minerals and other dietary precursors to enzymic cofactors; yet the health and longevity benefits of the cofactor-yielding B vitamins and minerals are much greater than the more widely publicised anti-oxidants, such as vitamins C and E. We survey the dietary cofactors that have extended lifespan in animals, apparently by slowing aging. We examine the experimental methodologies used and their relevance to, and implications for, humans. We examine a number of theories of aging in relation to various dietary-derived enzymic cofactors. In the light of the role of enzymic cofactors in aging we look to see what other dietary micronutrients may slow aging, or at least improve health. Finally we examine some prevalent misconceptions before concluding."



If you want to attend, you have two choices:

1) you can show up at the Wetherspoon pub at the address below from 12,00 noon to just before 2pm for a pre-event chat over lunch/caffeine/drinks

2) you can go directly to Conway Hall at 2,00 pm where we have hired the "Artists' Room".

If it's your first time at an ExtroBritannia meeting and you are going to the pre-event lunch, I'll be the guy clearly displaying a copy of Kurzweil's "The Age of Spiritual Machines" on the table we'll be sitting at.


Penderel's Oak
283-288 High Holborn
London WC1V 7HJ
Tel: 0207 242 5669


Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square,
London WC1R 4RL
Tel: 020 7242 8032



BTA RELOADED: Building British Transhumanism. London, Thursday the 15th of April 15 2004, 7-9pm

A meeting to discuss an agenda for British transhumanism and the relaunching of the British Transhumanist Association

Here at ExtroBritannia we are always very interested in transhumanist events and in what the various transhumanist associations get up to. Obviously, then, something happening in London and involving our good friends at the BTA is just unmissable! So, if you want to talk transhumanism and can't wait till the next ExtroBritannia meeting (later this month - check the blog soon for further details) make your way to Community Technology (at the junction of Shakespeare Road and Coldharbour Lane).

Unit F9
First Floor
245a Coldharbour Lane
London, SW9 8RR

Telephone 020 7733 3334


At the event will be present, among others, Nick Bostrom, Chair of the World Transhumanist Association and Fellow in Philosophy at Oxford University and J. Hughes, Secretary of the World Transhumanist Association.

The full announcement and details


Are you a Futurehuman?

Channel 4 and Professor Gunther Von Hagens (the man behind last year's Body Worlds exhibition and public autopsy) are searching for a terminally ill patient donor to take part in a television programme to redesign and 'perfect' a human body and preserve it for posterity at the Science Museum in London.

From the Channel 4 Futurehuman website: "Futurehuman aims to 'improve' upon evolution by making alterations to a donor's body after their death. The changes will be based on the decisions of leading experts in fields such as anatomy, evolutionary biology, surgery and mechanical engineering. The 'futurehuman' will then be displayed at the Science Museum's new Dana Wing, which is dedicated to cutting edge science. Professor von Hagens says: This person will be a landmark human being. They will pave the way for a future life with a more healthy, capable and longer lasting body."

An interesting exercise, if slightly macabre... might even help in further mainstreaming the deeply transhumanist concept of improving on human evolution by technological means (but what about doing that before the donor's death? Now, that would be unmissable viewing...)