About Angry Monk

It would appear that every blog needs an “about the author” page to give a bit of back story behind the narrative found within. I hate doing these things and always have but it always seems to be one of the first pages checked so there we are.

I’ve mainly created this blog as an outlet for my interests in body mod, transhumanism and futurism. If you’re not sure what transhumanism or futurism is then you’re probably going to find a lot of the posts in this blog either weird, incomprehensible or just plain “crazy” ™. If I were forced to define Futurism and what it means to me I would have to say “the bone deep belief that technology will, in the end, make mankind free of toil and take us to the place we, as a race, need to go (where ever that may be)”

For me futurism is a philosophy of hope and positivity, a deep seated belief in mankinds ability to imagine, create and execute great things. The opposite of this would be, I guess, future shock or technophobia. The feeling that technology somehow separates us from what we are and what defines us as beings.

In many ways the struggle between futurism and technophobia is the struggle between those who wish to move forward vs. those who wish things to stay the same. I don’t think advancement can ever truely be stopped. The cat, once out of the bag, will always run rampant clawing at the sofas of convention. The best the defenders of “tradition” can ever hope to do is slow or impede the movement of the zeitgeist ever forward.

Transhumanism is an essentially futurist philosophy. It has been debated and defined by others far more eloquently than I could ever hope to do and generally the best resource for transhumanism is the WTA or the World Transhumanist Association FAQ. The best summary of the general beliefs of transhumanists can be found in the Transhumanist Declaration.

Wikipedia also has a frequently changing but generally excellent article on Transhumanism.

It basically comes down to believing that what we are now is not all that we can be, and that being more is inherently desirable to us as individuals. As such each individual has the right to pursue their enhancement and happiness as long as this does not impinge on the happiness of those they interact with.

This belief is tightly tied up with the understanding that as a species we are still evolving but have come to a point in the process where we can start to guide that movement forward. Not only that but that purely biological advancement is no longer the only path available to us.

This in a roundabout fashion brings us back to me. I am a fairly unremarkable specimen of the human race. Mid-30’s, middle class, and, I like to think, middlingly intelligent. I have always been interested in science and science fiction, as I imagine any number of people are. I am the son of a Physicist and an amateur Astronomer. I was brought up in a fairly stable two parent two child family. I was given a good education, read endlessly and have for most of my life daydreamed of space, the future and what it will bring us.

I imagine I am a bit of an air head from time to time. I get overly emotional when I see clips of men walking on the moon and a physical seretonin rush when I read about the latest scientific advance of man or the latest movement in computing power or human/machine integration.

I started getting tattoos when I was 18 in New Zealand. Back then NZ was probably one of the few places in the world where tattoos were widely accepted in a western culture so that, coupled with the mainly alternative people I chose to associate with probably molded my open-ness to body modification and adornment.

I have always had a fascination with biology and studied it at university. My childhood dreams fluctuated between creating prosthetic limbs (for me, not injured people, so I could have the abilities of a robot or machine) and being a neuroscientist (so I could figure out how to make my brain live forever). I have a deep interest in life extension, Aubrey De Grays projects such as SENS and his general thoughts on life extension.

Look at his beard… is it not wise?

I often find people who say “why would you want to live forever, wouldn’t you get bored?” very irritating as I feel that sentance stems from an immense lack of imagination. There are already more things I want to do in this life than I could fit into one, two or three lifetimes. Not to mention that by the time I would have completed or exhausted any of thoseĀ  I would have discovered a hundred more things I would want to do/see.

Mankind marches forever forward.

Those who see life as something to be endured, not relished and experienced, at best fill me with sadness and at worst really drive me crazy.

Add to this my atheism and knowledge that when I die there is only an ending of me, no afterlife, then the desire to continue on becomes quite a strong urge.

I rather unsurprisingly fell into IT as my chosen career and have been lucky enough to work my way quite high into the technical world in both New Zealand and now Australia where I reside.

I have worked with and near some of the truly top people in the field in this region of the world. As such I have had both the support and the challenge of some very sharp minds to bounce my ideas and thoughts off of. Some of the most influential people in my life have been :

JSR, one of the few people I have met as eager to advance as myself.

Grant Zanetti, another highly intelligent new zealander who has served to keep me grounded with his supportive realism more times than I can count.

Helen New, my current partner who suffers through my whims and fascinations with implicit caring and patience.

A few years ago now I met a truly avid body modification expert Nic Fletcher. Nic is of similar bent to myself and with his help and support I received my first actual implant that was also vaguely an “enhancement”.

In late 2005 I had an RFID chip inserted in my right hand with the intention of using it to open doors, unlock my computer and start my car. Unfortunately a combination of my usual flights of fancy and a idiotic need to have the best of everything resulted in me inserting a chip for which there were no cheap easy to use readers. Resulting in me walking around for 2 years which a chip inside me that’s only interaction with the outside world was to have “we are the borg” written to it as a txt file.

In the xmas of 2007/08 I had the chip removed after finding that with my increase in interest in freerunning I was starting to bash it alot, getting random soreness and generally feeling disheartened. I do intend on inserting a new chip at some point in time when I have more time, money and the intelligence to get a more basic, easier to use chip.

I have of late been following other interesting projects which I will no doubt post about in my blog. But for now I am mainly interested in projects that expand my senses and the way I interact with the world. I guess you could say I’m on an “enhancement kick” right now and am letting my longevity interests percolate while the experts get their shit sorted.

My only desire in life is to live long enough to see the advent of true life extension and then perhaps to make it to the singularity and out of this rotting meat sack that my intellect it trapped in. I hope to see you all there. (Get to know me well enough and you’ll get an invitation to my “Tea party at the heat death of the universe” *wink* )