Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt: apparently a transhumanist

post by chaosmage · 2013-04-25T00:36:41.935Z · score: 10 (15 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 19 comments

It makes a lot of sense for the Google people to be transhumanist, with Sergey Brin and Larry Page working with the Singularity University, but still I was surprised to hear this on the new Colbert Report (of the 23rd of April):

Colbert: Can I live forever?
Schmidt: Yes.
Colbert: Really?
Schmidt: But not now. They need to invent some more medicine.
Colbert: So I can live forever, but later. So I just need to live long enough for later to become now.
Schmidt: But your digital identity will live forever. Because there's no delete button.
Colbert: On me?
Schmidt: That's correct.
Colbert: That's profound.

He seemed quite serious, too.

I guess a lot of people would take transhumanism more seriously if they heard the top people at Google are in. To me, I actually find it makes Google seem more trustworthy. In-group psychology is weird.

Here's another good interview with Eric Schmidt. No explicit transhumanism, but some fairly intense plans entirely compatible with it.

(edited: corrected title)

19 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-25T07:41:31.896Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

They just hired Ray. They'd have to be moderately transhumanist positive to do that.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-26T11:57:32.004Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There could be other explanations - like trying to buy the goodwill of people inclined towards Kurzweilian Transhumanism.

Also, Transhumanism aside, he's an extremely accomplished engineer.

comment by chaosmage · 2013-04-26T12:24:39.241Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good points.

Still, if they thought he was probably wrong about the idea he wants to be judged by, they wouldn't have hired him as Director of Engineering.

comment by jkaufman · 2013-04-30T20:09:20.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a Director of Engineering

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-04-25T07:04:16.474Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

To me, I actually find it makes Google seem more trustworthy. In-group psychology is weird.

No in-group psychology needed. I also trust people who expect to be iterating the prisoners dilemma against me for billions of years more.

comment by gryffinp · 2013-04-25T15:30:22.867Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Colbert: So I can live forever, but later. So I just need to live long enough for later to become now.

That's the plan Stephen. That's the plan.

Here's the Comedy Central video, but if it's blocked in your country, here's a somewhat crappy youtube recording of same.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2013-04-25T02:59:36.883Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, this makes me more wary of google instead.

comment by ygert · 2013-04-25T08:40:23.374Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One man's modus ponens is another's modus tollens. That's all. It's a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-04-26T14:39:45.960Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

While this may be true, it does not follow from your saying. Chaosmage is concluding p (google is more trustworthy), while CellBioGuy is concluding not-p (google is less trustworthy). If you look at the actual definitions of modus ponens and modus tollens you'll find the following:

Modus ponens: A -> B and A, therefore B

Modus tollens: A -> B and not-B, therefore not-A

In other words, CellBioGuy would've had to conclude the negation of chaosmage's premise (and not his conclusion) for your saying to be relevant in this situation.

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-26T15:29:05.757Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's a double implication involved: "Google is trustworthy if and only if transhumanism is worth taking seriously." (Or at least the probabilistic version of that.) So there's four possible Modus Whatevers to use, and I think altogether we've covered three of them. The remaining possibility is "Well, I took transhumanism seriously before, but if Google supports it, then it must be nonsense."

comment by CellBioGuy · 2013-04-28T00:29:47.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think for me it's more a combination of a touch of the first of those (low personal estimated credibility for transhumanism -> lower estimated credibility of those who take it seriously), and that I tend to distrust large grand plans or narritives in general in favor of more narrowly focused objectives. Big grand plans have a way of obscuring details and sending people off track and into tangents via ideology.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-04-26T15:52:26.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that saying only makes sense if it has the exact same implication in both terms (and then their respective conclusions has to be about different propositions), otherwise one is just claiming the equivalent of:

"One guy thinks A implies B, another thinks B implies A."

And that is not a very good saying. It just sounds like something a post-modernist would say.

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-26T16:20:47.555Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"One man's modus ponens is another man's modus ponens... in the other direction."

comment by jsteinhardt · 2013-04-27T19:26:19.617Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you make A -> B only with some probability, then B becomes probabilistically dependent on A as well; i.e. if you make logic probabilistic then this actually becomes true in a sense.

comment by lfghjkl · 2013-04-27T21:09:36.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is certainly true that if we know A implies B, then knowledge of B will also confer knowledge of A. However, this is not enough to call it a logical implication, and given that the original saying used the terms modus ponens and modus tollens, a logical implication is obviously what is meant in this setting.

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-26T14:42:16.291Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify, here's what's going on. The link between Google and transhumanism sets up the implication "If Google is trustworthy, then transhumanism should be taken seriously."

Modus ponens: Google is trustworthy, therefore transhumanism should be taken seriously.

Modus tollens: Transhumanism should not be taken seriously, therefore Google is untrustworthy.

comment by ysekand · 2013-04-25T10:21:56.381Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Coudn't agree more!

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-04-26T12:27:27.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Eric Schmidt isn't Google's CEO.

comment by chaosmage · 2013-04-26T12:55:56.104Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Kawoomba is right. Thanks for the correction!

In the video I linked to, he was CEO, but he has since transitioned to Executive chairman.