Turing Church newsletter 10/16/2021

Turing Church news, meta-thoughts on politics & all that, reading list.

Greetings to all readers and subscribers, and special greetings to the paid subscribers!

Some readers ask why I don’t discuss politics, social issues, culture wars and all that. Read my last book “Futurist spaceflight meditations” if you are curious about my take on these things.

I don’t have much to say about these things that hasn’t already been said much better. While some of my ideas are weirder than weird and I proudly wear my mad scientist / philosopher hat, in politics I lean toward moderation and openness to negotiation.

I agree with liberals on some things, I agree with conservatives on some other things, and I disagree with both on many other things. Believe me, I am very boring when I talk politics (and all that). I tend to be calm and dispassionate, and I am very much out of tune with the passionate intensity of social media activists of any color.

Also, today’s political (and all that) debates are so heated that I feel the responsible thing to do is to refrain from adding more heat. Of course I know that these days one must produce heat to get attention, but I’m not that desperate for attention. I prefer to do the responsible thing. Of course I’m often tempted to intervene, but again, I prefer to do the responsible thing.

Turing Church is about the far future, abstract philosophy, pristine science, and ethereal metafysiks. And Turing Church welcomes everyone equally, so I try to address everyone instead of one or another identity group.

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Captain Kirk of Star Trek, aka William Shatner, earned his real astronaut wings with a Blue Origin sub-orbital flight to space.

“Shatner was exuberant after his flight, offering a long description of his experience to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos during the company’s webcast,” SpaceNews reports. “‘I hope I never recover from this. I hope I maintain what I feel now,’ he said. “‘Everybody in the world needs to do this.’”

Yes, Captain Kirk is right. Spaceflight is important for our well being: personal and collective, material and mental, spiritual.

Astronomers have detected unusual and unexplained signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way’s center. Of course everyone is thinking of aliens but nobody wants to say it first. Yes, perhaps the signals will be found to result from natural phenomena. But what the fuck is wrong with hope? I hope this candidate alien signal, or the next one, or one of the the next after that, will turn out to be the real thing. The detection of signals from aliens would have an enormous positive impact.

Reading list

The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia” by Anya Bernstein. This book covers much of the same territory covered in “On Not Dying: Secular Immortality in the Age of Technoscience” by Abou Farman, reviewed in a previous Turing Church newsletter, including life extension, cryonics, mind uploading, the quest for immortality, and philosophical / spiritual implications. See also this review of both books, by Jon Bialecki.

An important difference between the two books is that while Farman covers the American scene, and in particular Silicon Valley, Bernstein covers the Russian scene and looks at Russian immortalists like Dmitry Itskov, Danila Medvedev, Valerija Pride, the late Svetlana Semenova, Anastasia Gacheva (Semenova’s daughter), and many others.

To me, the most interesting aspect of the book is the analysis of the differences and the tension between transhumanist immortalists and those who consider themselves contemporary followers of Russian cosmism (see this BBC story and my book “Tales of the Turing Church,” Chapter 7), or Fedorovians. While the former tend to have a secular outlook, the latter tend to be spiritual, open to all sorts of esoteric ideas in the wildest fringes of science and philosophy, and religious.

“Fedorovians tend to identify as Orthodox Christians, while interpreting Christianity in very particular ways,” notes Bernstein. Fedorov envisioned technological resurrection: future humans will use science and technology to resurrect everyone who ever lived, and this is part of God’s plan. But the Orthodox Church sees Fedorov’s views as “nothing but heretical, since they advocate active human involvement in resurrection.”

Yes indeed! This is what we cosmists advocate!