Random Announcements

So exams are over, although my work at the institute is not, and I’m finally doing something interesting with Google Wave: Playing RPGs. Specifically, Eclipse Phase, which is a CC-licensed RPG that deals with transhumanist themes:

Eclipse Phase is a pen & paper roleplaying game of post-apocalyptic transhuman conspiracy and horror.

An “eclipse phase” is the period between when a cell is infected by a virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is.

Players take part in a cross-faction secret network dubbed Firewall that is dedicated to counteracting “existential risks” — threats to the existence of transhumanity, whether they be biowar plagues, self-replicating nanoswarms, nuclear proliferation, terrorists with WMDs, net-breaking computer attacks, rogue AIs, alien encounters, or anything else that could drive an already decimated transhumanity to extinction.

I’m just getting started playing a one shot scenario, but if I like it, I’m definitely hoping I could continue playing with someone that I already know. (Or not, random commenter, if you are interested!) Do comment if interested. 

Second- and I’ve been wondering about this one for a while, and I’m not really sure how to go about it- I was thinking of writing a post on preference modification and “preference choice”, which is a rather oxymoronic term that I quickly need to find a substitute for. Essentially, it was sparked off my my rather religious friend telling me that I would be much happier if I picked things other than my current preferences to be happy about. This struck me as both obviously true and completely pointless, but I am coming to realize that I may have been wrong about the latter. Of course, this is hardly a revolutionary idea: it’s already preached by any number of religious and spiritual groups, and any number of best-selling self-help authors as well. I am interested in:

a) seeing how far this is actually possible, with what is currently known about human psychology and perhaps any technological assistance. This post seems to imply that it is not.(“One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” “)

b) Postulating that at some point of time, any amount of self-modification is possible, how far would one want to take it? This is an ontological issue, obviously, relating to how far your preferences dictate your identity- there’s a wonderful quote from High Fidelity* that fits in well here- and you can expect some amount of philosophy to be thrown about. The whole “so why don’t you wire up implants to pleasure centres in your brain and just stick yourself into a socket” issue will also hopefully be discussed here.

The problem is, I can’t seem to get very far on this alone, so I was wondering if anyone had some sort of pointers/links/ comments.

*”I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films – these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.”
–Rob Gordon, High Fidelity.