When Will We Be Transhuman? Seven Conditions for Attaining Transhumanism

By Kyle Munkittrick | July 16, 2011 9:53 am

The future is impossible to predict. But that’s not going to stop people from trying. We can at least pretend to know where it is we want humanity to go. We hope that laws we craft, the technologies we invent, our social habits and our ways of thinking are small forces that, when combined over time, move our species towards a better existence. The question is, How will we know if we are making progress?

As a movement philosophy, transhumanism and its proponents argue for a future of ageless bodies, transcendent experiences, and extraordinary minds. Not everyone supports every aspect of transhumanism, but you’d be amazed at how neatly current political struggles and technological progress point toward a transhuman future. Transhumanism isn’t just about cybernetics and robot bodies. Social and political progress must accompany the technological and biological advances for transhumanism to become a reality.

But how will we able to tell when the pieces finally do fall into place? I’ve been trying to answer that question ever since Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution was asked a while back by his readers: What are the exact conditions for counting “transhumanism” as having been attained? In an attempt to answer, I responded with what I saw as the three key indicators:

  1. Medical modifications that permanently alter or replace a function of the human body become prolific.
  2. Our social understanding of aging loses the “virtue of necessity” aspect and society begins to treat aging as a disease.
  3. Rights discourse would shift from who we include among humans (i.e. should homosexual have marriage rights?) to a system flexible enough to easily bring in sentient non-humans.

As I groped through the intellectual dark for these three points, it became clear that the precise technology and how it worked was unimportant. Instead, we need to figure out how technology may change our lives and our ways of living. Unlike the infamous jetpack, which defined the failed futurama of the 20th century, the 21st needs broader progress markers. Here are seven things to look for in the coming centuries that will let us know if transhumanism is here.

When we think of the future, we think of technology. But too often, we think of really pointless technology – flying cars or self-tying sneakers or ray guns. Those things won’t change the way life happens. Not the way the washing machine or the cell phone changed the way life happens. Those are real inventions. It is in that spirit that I considered indicators of transhumanism. What matters is how a technology changes our definition of a “normal” human. Think of it this way: any one of these indicators has been fulfilled when at least a few of the people you interact with on any given day utilize the technology. With that mindset, I propose the following seven changes as indicators that transhumanism has been attained.

1. Prosthetics are Preferred: The arrival of prosthetics and implants for organs and limbs that are as good as or better than the original. A fairly accurate test for the quality of prosthetics would be voluntary amputations. Those who use prosthetics would compete with or surpass non-amputees in physical performances and athletic competitions. Included in this indicator are cochlear, optic implants, bionic limbs and artificial organs that are within species typical functioning and readily available. A key social indicator will be that terminology around being “disabled”and “handicapped” would become anachronous. If you ever find yourself seriously considering having your birth-given hand lopped off and replaced with a cybernetic one, you can tick off this box on your transhuman checklist.

2. Better Brains: There are three ways we could improve our cognition. In order of likelihood of being used in the near future they are: cognitive enhancing drugs, genetic engineering, or neuro-implants/ prosthetic cyberbrains. When the average person wakes up, brews a pot of coffee and pops an over-the-counter stimulant as or more powerful than modafinil, go ahead and count this condition achieved. Genetic engineering and cyberbrains will be improvements in degree and function, but not in purpose. Any one of these becoming commonplace would indicate that we no longer cling to the bias that going beyond the intelligence dished out by the genetic and environmental lottery is “cheating.”

3. Artificial Assistance: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) integrated into personal, everyday behaviors. In the same way Google search and Wikipedia changed the way we research and remember, AI and AR could alter the way we think and interact. Daedalus in Deus Ex and Jarvis in Iron Man are great examples of Turing-quality (indistinguishable from human intelligence) AI that interact with the main character as both side kicks and secondary minds. Think of it this way: you walk into a cocktail party. Your cyberbrain’s AI assist analyzes every face in the room and determines those most socially relevant to you. Using AR projected onto your optic implants, the AI highlights each person in your line of sight and, as you approach, provides a dossier of their main interests and personality type. Now apply this level of information access to anything else. Whether it’s grilling a steak or performing a heart transplant, AI assist with AR overlay will radically improve human functioning. When it is expected that most people will have an AI advisor at their side analyzing the situation and providing instructions through their implants, go ahead and count humanity another step closer to being transhuman.

4. Amazing Average Age: The ultimate objective of health care is that people live the longest, healthiest lives possible. Whether that happens due to nanotechnology or genetic engineering or synthetic organs is irrelevant. What matters is that eventually people will age more slowly, be healthier for a larger portion of their lives, and will be living beyond the age of 120. Our social understanding of aging will lose the “virtue of necessity” aspect and society will treat aging as a disease to be mitigated and managed. When the average expected life span exceeds 120, the conditions for transhuman longevity will have arrived.

5. Responsible Reproduction: Having children will be framed almost exclusively in the light of responsibility. Human reproduction is, at the moment, not generally worthy of the term “procreation.” Procreation implies planned creation and conscientious rearing of a new human life. As it stands, anyone with the necessary biological equipment can accidentally spawn a whelp and, save for extreme physical neglect, is free to all but abandon it to develop in an arbitrary and developmentally damaging fashion. Children – human beings as a whole – deserve better. Responsible reproduction will involve, first and foremost, better birth control for men and women. Abortions will be reserved for the rare accidental pregnancy and/or those that threaten the life of the mother. Those who do choose to reproduce will do so via assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) ensuring pregnancy is quite deliberate. Furthermore, genetic modification, health screening, and, eventually synthetic wombs will enable the child with the best possibility of a good life to be born. Parental licensing may be part of the process; a liberalization of adoption and surrogate pregnancy laws certainly will be. When global births stabilize at replacement rates, ARTs are the preferred method of conception, and responsible child rearing is more highly valued than biological parenthood, we will be procreating as transhumans.

6. My Body, My Choice: Legalization and regulation will be based on somatic rights. Substances that are ingested – cogno enhancers, recreational drugs, steroids, nanotech – become both one’s right and responsibility. Actions such as abortion, assisted suicide, voluntary amputation, gender reassignment, surrogate pregnancy, body modification, legal unions among adults of any number, and consenting sexual practices would be protected under law. One’s genetic make-up, neurological composition, prosthetic augmentation, and other cybernetic modifications will be limited only by technology and one’s own discretion. Transhumanism cannot happen without a legal structure that allows individuals to control their own bodies. When bodily freedom is as protected and sanctified as free speech, transhumanism will be free to develop.

7. Persons, not People: Rights discourse will shift to personhood instead of common humanity. I have argued we’re already beginning to see a social shift towards this mentality. Using a scaled system based on traits like sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning, animals (including humans) will be granted rights based on varying degrees of personhood. Personhood based rights will protect against Gattaca scenarios while ensuring the rights of new forms of intelligence, be they alien, artificial, or animal, are protected. When African grey parrots, gorillas, and dolphins have the same rights as a human toddler, a transhuman friendly rights system will be in place.

Individually, each of these conditions are necessary but not sufficient for transhumanism to have been attained. Only as a whole are they sufficient for transhumanism to have been achieved. I make no claims as to how or when any or all of these conditions will be attained. If forced to guess, I would say all seven conditions will be attained over the course of the next two centuries, with conditions (3) and (4) being the furthest from attainment.

Transhumanism is a long way from being attained. However, with these seven conditions in mind, we can at least determine if we are moving towards or away from a transhuman future.

Follow Kyle on his personal blog, Pop Bioethics, and on facebook and twitter.

Image of psychedelic human eye by Kate Whitley via dullhunk on Flickr Creative Commons.


Comments (96)

  1. Jody

    Number 7 doesn’t seem necessary or quite like it fits. For one thing, the differences between a parrot and a human toddler are considerable. Also, if I have mechanical wings and an AI augmented, genetically modified brain, and I live for 1,000 years, but all of that upgrade happens to run on sweet, sweet gorilla juice… I’m pretty sure I’m still a transhuman.  It feels like what you’re saying that “peace and harmony” are a part of transhumanism.  Admirable, but I disagree.

    Still, my biggest worry is that in advocating this, you make a gattica-like scenario MORE likely.

    If parrots and dolphins, etc, are given the rights equivalent to a human toddler, as advocated by degrees of personhood, that implies a scaled set of rights. Obviously we wouldn’t let parrots handle heavy equipment or, I presume, vote, just like a toddler. But unlike a toddler, these creatures likely won’t ever reach the age of majority, where they become active members of society. They will be perpetual toddlers, which is really just like a pet.

    Now what if a group of transhumans enhances its own intellect considerably above base humans. By this logic, they could scale rights for the rest of humanity. If they have superior “sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning”, their “degree of personhood” would be higher than others, say a 2.0 on the scale.  What’s to stop them from treating us like toddlers or gorillas?  Not out of malice, but for our own good.  And by this logic, they would be justified.  If I’m unlucky enough to be left off the transhuman bus, I hope I don’t lose any of my human rights because I score lower on the personhood scale.

    I’m also a little surprised that something like “permanent settlement of locations currently inhospitable to human life” isn’t on the list.  When humans create fixed settlements at the bottom of the ocean, or above 20,000 ft in the air, or in space, or on an astroid or other planet, this will be a major step towards the goals of transhumanism. Whether by terraforming, machine assistance, or modifying our physical forms, any of them would be a benchmark.

  2. Transhumanists always seem to strategically not mention the germ-line genetic enhancement which many are for. The germ-line genetic enhancement means imposing your “somatic rights” on every generation that follows. It is the antithesis of “My Body, My Choice” since the choice of one generation is forced on others.

  3. Fred

    What this sounds like is an advertisement for “A Brave New World” than trying to atain the true concept of being transhuman somatic rights are a noble step.

  4. This was an interesting read – thanks!

  5. Robert

    Making decisions that the future generation is not limited to genetic modification, and the effects of genetics on your offspring is part of the ethics of reproduction that was mentioned

  6. Mark Plus

    Regarding “Better Brains,” we have a tremendous amount of work to do. And I don’t mean at the high end. Giving everyone an extra 10 IQ points would revolutionize our society, not by making the smartest people a little bit smarter (not we wouldn’t benefit from that enhancement, of course), but by making the world’s dumbasses substantially smarter. The 10 point boost could push millions of people above a critical threshold so that they start to make better choices in life with material payoffs, like more self-control, lower illegitimacy, better academic performance, better health maintenance, higher rates of savings and so forth. (In other words, the IQ boost would reduce the zoo-keeping costs for nuisances like welfare, self-inflicted illnesses and crime which dumb people impose on the rest of society.) It could also reduce the costs of taking care of the demented elderly by giving us more of a cognitive reserve, along with higher savings and wealth building during our lives to pay for our care in our late senescence.

    Refer to:

    Why g Matters: The Complexity of Everyday Life


  7. Jody

    Reading Rebecca Taylor’s blog was kind of interesting. Setting aside for the moment that we already impose our germ line will on next generations (it’s not like they can choose their genes, we do that through mate selection; see also Screening for Tay-Sachs), I am curious about another issue:

    Are there any hardcore transhumanists that are Christians? Or any religion really, but primarily the big three monotheistic ones? I’m not just talking about permitting limb replacement for injured folks, but I mean hardcore like me. Give me clones and/or robot bodies, want to live forever hardcore. It seems like the goals of transhumanism would be an anathema to religion, especially for those that want to live indefinitely. Is transhumanism a subculture of atheism? it also makes me wonder if a large portion of the fear of transhumanists really stems not from fear of science run amok, but fear of losing religion’s place in society.

  8. Mark Plus

    >It seems like the goals of transhumanism would be an anathema to religion, especially for those that want to live indefinitely.

    So? People have a weak connection to religion any way, despite the propaganda about “god genes” and such, and they lose interest in it when they grow up in conditions of “existential security”:

    A Cross-National Test of the Uncertainty Hypothesis of Religious Belief


  9. Germ line enhancement for future manipulation of offspring is now possible and , in a manner of speaking, “controllable’ by the recipient. The choice to “turn on” the parental gift of genetic enghancement via a ingested/injected chemical trigger, is to allow the choice to the recipient. See Kurzweil et al
    We are a lot closer than you may think to transhumanism. The level of control we can now exert over our genetic code improves at exponetial artes. The biotech startups are making great progress and will be available within 1-2 years. See Mesoblast Pty Ltd. The rise of the DIY scientist in the biotech sphere is here .

  10. magetoo

    Food for thought. Each of the seven points could easily be posts in their own right, is something that struck me as I was reading through them (sketching out trains of thought agreeing, disagreeing, and getting sidetracked).

  11. Colin

    5 lost it for me. As soon as it started to value the individual choices of one group over the choices of another it became a ‘better than thou’ item. I believe transhumanism should have within it a respect for diversity. That includes respect for how families are structured differently from your own. And frankly, parental licensing is downright Orwellian. In all honesty, it also reads like religion because it assumes that transhumanism will lead to some suprahumanitarian homogeneity of morality rather than a diversification of morality.

  12. @Jody: There’s a pretty substantial Mormon Transhumanist Association. I’m not aware of too many others, but so far as I know there isn’t an enormous backlash either.

    Also, re: scaled rights – it wouldn’t have to work that way. For instance, it could be that reaching a certain threshold grants personhood / citizenship, but there need not be any higher tier. That is, the designation could be binary; you either are a person or you’re not. That’s how we work now, even for people in vegetative states (particularly states that aren’t curable) that are, in an important sense, less sentient than a parrot.

    Enhanced humans / artificial life might very well outpace non-modified humans in the same way that a pro football player would beat your average Biggest Loser in a football contest, but that doesn’t make either of them more or less of a person legally. We don’t currently tie personhood status to ability, so we needn’t start doing so in the future, even if modified human abilities are much, much greater than your average stock human.

  13. Jody

    @12 do you know of any web pages for the Mormon transhumanists. I’d be very curious to check it out. I’ve actually seen a lot of religious backlash on transhumanism (see rebecca’s blog link) so it would be really interesting to see another perspective.

  14. @Jody: Here’s their main page: http://transfigurism.org/

  15. Chris Winter

    You say you think #3 (“Artificial Assistance”) and #4 (“Amazing Average Age”) are furthest from attainment. I wouldn’t be so sure.

    When you Google “life extension” you get mostly sites wanting to sell you vitamins and the like. A few belong to cryonicists like Alcor. None of this gets at the real gerontology research that is going on. I’m not saying a breakthrough is imminent; in fact I think it will take a series of breakthroughs to significantly extend human lifespan. I just think these may start to come sooner than most expect.

    The prolongation of healthy life is an irresistible topic for writers, and there are many books on the subject. A new one that gets good customer reviews on Amazon is The Youth Pill by David Stipp.

  16. Jessica

    Was I the only one bothered by this article? It’s straight out of Brave New World and does anybody want to live in that world? Not I! I think if we hit these check marks we are in deep trouble.

  17. Combining 5 and 6: You can do anything you want … provided we agree with it.

    Combining 6 and 7: If your brain is currently off, you have no rights … but don’t you dare take away my dope!

  18. Doug

    I think where #7 gets interesting is when we combine it with numbers 1,2 & 3. A Gorilla with an enhanced brain and a few prosthetics may indeed have cause to seek personhood. Maybe the Yankees would have their best pitcher ever with an augmented sentient gorilla person. How many pet owners would get augmentations for their pets including an AI just so they could talk to their cat? It would be a brave new world just having another sentient being weighing in on our actions for a change.

  19. Gail F

    Is this a parody?

    If it’s meant to be serious, then it seems to me that the writer and the commenters agreeing with the piece may not be TRANS human, but they are certainly IN human.

    Why not just decide to kill everyone who doesn’t meet your standards of greatness and start over? At least that would be honest. Or is honesty one of those things “people have a weak connection to anyway”?

    I think that if you succeeded in creating “better” people, they would be even more disgusted with you than I am, and they would not necessarily be merciful to you, their inferiors.

  20. zeeno

    so the future, like the present, is a playground for the elite.

  21. Inspector Fu

    “Parental licensing” ? by whom? from whom? Enforced by whom?

    Eat a dick.

  22. Matthew Bailey

    An excellent article, and it avoids the many “Skyhooks” that are consistently employed in the Transhumanist/Singularity Community. I have written an article in H+ Magazine about such uses, and how they turn Transhumanism into a religion, rather than a scientific and socio-political system and meme.

    And, it might be the case that Gattica type systems are what is preferred (realizing of course that “Gattica” was a movie that perverted the concept irreparably).

    If we have the ability to accurately gauge a person’s physical and intellectual capabilities and preferences, then there ARE going to be some people who are superior to others, and will be better suited to the role of caretaker, policy creator, or scientist, as opposed to garbage collector, brick-layer, or cook.

    What we need to establish is a system where the people who are best suited to being brick-layers and fry-cooks are given a life that is as fulfilling to them as would be the life of a highly paid scientist or engineer. AND… AND this is a BIG A-N-D… They need to live a life where they have no wants or needs left unfulfilled.

    This was the myopia of the movie “Gattica,” It made an assumption that after an evaluation had been made that a person was not capable of exceeding that evaluation.

    It might be the case that the brick-layer might aspire to be a doctor and succeed.

    Or, it might be the case that our evaluation technologies are advanced enough to tell what the outcome of such an endeavor would be. This does not mean that we should discourage the exploration though…

    The trick is to make certain that we have no humans, by the time such technologies are available, who are mere brick-layers, and that all of humanity can aspire to greater things.

    This does involve facing up to this fact, mentioned in the article:

    “Procreation implies planned creation and conscientious rearing of a new human life. As it stands, anyone with the necessary biological equipment can accidentally spawn a whelp and, save for extreme physical neglect, is free to all but abandon it to develop in an arbitrary and developmentally damaging fashion”

    We need to begin planning who may and who may not have children, based upon their ability to responsibly raise a child…. Sorry, that may sound “Inhuman” but is it any more inhuman that allowing people to breed, only to abandon the child, or for said child to grow up into a sociopathic or psychopathic monster that society will then have to deal with in an even more brutal fashion?

  23. Christine Fraser

    Well shucks! Are freedom to grow old and stay stupid going to be an option in this here futuristic society? ‘Cause some simple folk might not care to get all intelligented up but be blithfully ignorant that they’re just gonna go on forever doin’ one of them CRAPPY ‘necessary to society’ jobs and, well I’d just like to know now if my great-great grandchildren are gonna have to eat Soylent Green and get all bionically outfitted to qualify do the laundry, collect that garbage and clean houses while some descendants of, say, the Mulroney’s, are doing all this high-minded ruminatin’ 200 years from now. And while I’m on it you might want to ask yourself if one of mine or your’n is gonna get the joe-job of programming that there robotic thingamagiggy to dig out the dirt in the corners of window sills with a toothbrush if that’s the way it’s gonna go, cause mine may not be as stupid as your’n to begin with and contraband intelligence is definitely going to be a sub-market…

    Fact – high functioning humans are by nature, competitive beasts – the utopian world you envision is a fairy tale.

    Shame on you! You talk about a transhuman world as if it a fair-accompli. Fear-mongers!

  24. Selective breeding and genetic enhancement are not the same thing. In selective breeding, mates are chosen by desirable and non-desirable NATURALLY occurring traits. Genetic enhancement introduces DNA foreign to the individual or intentionally changes naturally occurring genetics to take human abilities beyond normal. Germ-line genetic enhancement would impose the choice of enhancement (whether it be strength or height or intelligence or even the ability to glow in the dark) of one individual onto every generation after. It is the antithesis of “somatic rights” and yet transhumanists still champion it.

    Transhumanists also never consider that the “enhancement” they crave may have some serious side effects. Belgian Blue muscle bound cows, although not enhanced, have cardio-vascular problems and the calves sometimes cannot eat. Most are delivered by C-section because that is the only way that is safe. What if enhancing humans for strength results in serious skeleto-muscular and cardio-vascular problems? What if enhancements beyond high IQs also comes with mental illness? And what if these enhancements are done at the germ-line level? Every generation after will have to cope with the previous generation’s choice to alter his or her DNA.

  25. Christine Fraser

    Matthew, you quote “Procreation implies planned creation and conscientious rearing of a new human life. As it stands, anyone with the necessary biological equipment can accidentally spawn a whelp and, save for extreme physical neglect, is free to all but abandon it to develop in an arbitrary and developmentally damaging fashion”.

    You agree “We need to begin planning who may and who may not have children, based upon their ability to responsibly raise a child…. Sorry, that may sound “Inhuman” but is it any more inhuman that allowing people to breed, only to abandon the child, or for said child to grow up into a sociopathic or psychopathic monster that society will then have to deal with in an even more brutal fashion?”

    What would be the deciding factors and who is going to decide who is a responsible parent? Matthew, I was a single parent when I had my first child and my second child was also born 17 years later out of wedlock. In a transhumanist scenario I might very well have been obligated to abort to give them up for adoption simply because I chose not to marry. However, I didn’t choose to abandon them and I certainly didn’t abuse them despite my low income job and continued single status.

    It’s naive to assume that marital status, gender, economics and any othe life style choices has anything to do with responsible parenting skills. My oldest is married with three lovely children and my youngest is student president and going into her graduating year at high school. Neither has turned out to be a sociopath and I know more than one couple who earn far more than I who have completely destroyed their children’s childhood with fighting, divorce, physical and verbal abuse. So, tell me, what’s the criterion for knowing who is capable of raising a child intelligently? And where does it say that a child can’t rise above their upbringing, abusive though it may have been, and vow to overcome those obstacles? You give very little credit to the positive potential of any and all unborn children.

  26. Christine Fraser

    Take it from me – I left an abusive two parent white-bread home when I was seventeen and worked my way up from summer employment with a travelling carnival to full time employment at a university, working in research first with the Division of Laboratory Sciences and then with the Department of Human Subjects. I went on to work for 4 years at a university based seminary after I’d seen enough of that. Believe me, I’ve read and heard practically every view you can imagine for a utopian existence. No matter how you change up society, the very best we should expect is TOLERANCE and the very worst product of organized society is prejudice.

  27. Jody

    @24. It wouldn’t impact subsequent generations, because we’d just fix it. That’s a dumb argument. We’re able to insert traits but not remove them if the later become unwanted? That’s fear mongering.

  28. Looks like H+ is well overdue its own comments-backlash bingo card, Kyle. You wanna make it, or shall I? 😉

  29. Jody

    Want to see how transhumanism will actually manifest itself?  Go to thedailyshow.com and check out Jon Stewart’s interview with Medal of Honor winner Petry. Guy’s a hero anyway, so watch it. But he’s a right hand amputee, and has a prosthetic limb. Good stuff, Jon is impressed by it. But in talking about it, Petry reveals that he’s taken up the game of golf now.  Why?  Because they made a prosthetic hand attachment specifically for golf.  Guy said he never played before, but the availability of a limb enhancement changed him.  That’s how it happens, transhumanism creep.  It’s inevitable, and I for one welcome it.  If you use a smart phone and don’t think transhumans aren’t coming, you’re deluding yourself.  so we can either talk about it here, or just let it happen, but whether or not we plan ahead, transhumans are coming.

  30. Jody, genetic engineering of humans is just not that easy. In reality, inserting, removing or modifying DNA is a dangerous proposition. People have gotten cancer and died from genetic engineering just to try and fix disease (gene therapy). Once a trait is in the gene pool, it is just not going to be a walk in the park to remove or fix it. Transhumanism is willing to sign up subsequent generations for this experiment without their consent. These are the realities that transhumanism ignores.

    It is one thing to fit someone who has lost a limb with a prosthetic. That is not transhumanism. Transhumanism is cutting off a perfectly good limb and replacing it which most medical professionals would agree is unethical. You may desire that but you may also find a medical establishment (and an FDA) that is unwilling to chop off body parts that are in good working order.

  31. When electric lights were becoming prolific, people called out that it was a bad thing. Such inventions exposed women and children to predators! Others argued that such tools would only give the already-elite an even greater advantage, thus stomping hard on the face of the already-downtrodden.

    When subways and passenger trains were becoming prolific, people called out that it was a bad thing. Women would have their uterus ripped right out! Humans were not built to go speeds in excess of 50 mph! It was unnatural and immoral! And should the elite be allowed to travel so much faster than the lower class? Does this technology not favor those in power? And once this “utopian ideal” of fast travel nearly anywhere in the country is realized, we’ll be controlled by those who control the transportation! No more going where we like, when we like–or at least not at the speeds possible by those willing to submit to the will of the ruling elite.

    And the internet. Sure, all that information available at a person’s fingertips. But who will have access? Those who can afford it, obviously. And those people, those elite who have access to the newest technologies, will surely use this powerful tool to destroy those beneath them. The lower class will never catch up! Those who control the “internet” will control information itself! A more permanent and powerful dictatorship could never be envisioned.

    Seriously, what the hell, people. I don’t agree with all of his ideas, at least not entirely, but so? Even if I disagreed with most of them (which I don’t), he’s clearly not describing some evil, liberty-free hell future.

    You actually have a problem with society considering responsible child rearing more important than “whatever the hell you want, just don’t rip any limbs off or break too many bones”? Yes, there is a problem with the concept of requiring “responsible” child rearing. Who decides what is responsible?

    But see, like many problems, there’s a solution. We decide. We take the control we’re supposed to have over our government, and we as a people decide what’s responsible and what isn’t. Obviously it would be a terrible idea for there to be an instant “oh you forgot to put enough fiber in your kid’s diet last week, SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR SON FOREVER!” Is that the only place you can imagine this going? That’s pretty sad.

    Every possible decision we make, as a group, can have horrible consequences if we don’t mitigate those consequences and maintain control of our future. The answer isn’t to plop down where we are, state unequivocally, “No. Changes can be bad,” and do our best to make the future exactly as it was when we grew up. That’s not only stupid, it’s impossible.

    No, none of this is going to create a utopia. Nuclear and quantum physics didn’t create a world full of free energy where everyone had everything they could imagine, either. But they sure as hell resulted in a significant increase for anyone with access. (And do not try to say that “access” is the key word. In our world, access to technology is almost entirely governed by geography. Annoyingly enough, the concept of giving technology to those in other geographies is looked down upon by both Conservatives and Liberals! We’re either promoting socialism (omg evil) or we’re destroying the integrity of their culture (omg evil).)

  32. BCL1

    This article looks more like a list of political agendas rather than a test specification for transhumanism.

  33. If you’re going to call this a political agenda, could you please explain to me what wouldn’t be? Considering that our politics literally determine laws that allow or disallow nearly anything? An article about the future of streaming videos on the internet will have a “political agenda,” as long as the author has an opinion, because politics has a lot to do with streaming video on the internet.

    Concerning this post, I suppose it could be considered a “ways to know that transhumanism has arrived and we don’t live in a horrific hell-future.”

    I could imagine transhumanism without some of these things. For example, we might not have the right to control our bodies. We could still become transhuman, as long as the government decides exactly how we’re changed and when. I assume that if you’re against us having control of our own bodies, then we won’t have the right to decline such alterations either.

    Transhumanism + government control of our bodies = one of the scariest things I could imagine.

  34. Deirdre

    This is eugenics and coercive population control dressed up in futuristic, high-tech garb.
    Didn’t we already go down that road in the 1940’s with Hitler and the holocaust?
    Create the “New Man?” Of course, the “New Man” seems not to tolerate the “Old Man” and thus the holocaust commences. And in once even in the U.S., – the coercive sterilation of the “feeble minded” and so-called “inferior” went on, including many minorities, both black and full blooded Native Americans- they were sterilized often without full knowledge or consent.. (See Buck vs. Bell supreme court case, 1927 or therabouts). Are our memories so short?
    I agree with the others who asked-WHO decides who’s fit to reproduce??
    Furthermore-children are gifts on loan to us-not products to be designed to our specifications. Doing so will greatly reduce our compassion and humanity.
    People are worth SOOO much more than things. And things we will become-if we go down this path.

  35. Yeah, population control sucks. I say we’re not good till we’ve got 80, wait, no! 90 billion people on this planet! WAHOOO!!!

    How would we become “things,” by the way? If I’m a person, I’m a person.

  36. Deirdre

    #5 smacks of coercion to me-with some Controlling board deciding. Again look into the eugenics movement in the U.S. and Germany of the 1920’s and 30’s.
    I believe each individual couple should decide the number and spacing of their children.
    Births have dropped in the West today, and even in some developing countries, with lower infant mortality rates, Better education and job opportunities for women, ect. Maybe we need to help some developing countries with those things and their birth rates will go down.
    In fact, most European countries and Japan are below replacement levels. The U.S.is holding at 2. something mainly due to immigration-all without any guns being held to our heads.
    Many of my contemporary first cousins have chosen to have no children. As for myself I love children-they are a gift.
    How do you download a soul, or a conciousness into a robot body? I don’t think it can be done.
    I think the Gen rich are going to consider the less evolved “Gen-poor” “things” or inferiors, just as HItler and his minions did. “Things” to be disposed of. We already do it today with some calling for Euthansia of the less than perfect infants.

  37. Nate

    A thought on personhood… if a parrot or gorilla has the same rights as a human toddler, shouldn’t a late-term human fetus (say, 3rd trimester, viable outside of the womb) not also clearly have the same “personhood” and therefore the same rights as a prematurely-born infant? Or a puppy or cat, for that matter?

  38. Dan

    God. I hate people who rail against eugenics, just because a couple of maniacs and white supremacists misused it 70 years ago. Guess what? Almost ALL technology and social institutions were misused and backwards 70 years ago. Of course the society that has separate water fountains for black people is going to treat them monstrously in other areas. Does that really surprise you?

    There is limited amount of space and resources on this planet. That is a fact. Yes, if you clear cut the rainforest, grind up every other species for fertilizer and plant soybeans and we all start eating algae, we might get to 20 billion people. But. There. Is. A. Finite. Limit.

    And I for one don’t want to share my planet with unintelligent 1st world over-consuming rabble, fundamentalists religious extremists, and all other manner of universally detestable people. It’s not about race or ethnicity, which is what Hitler and American eugenicists were originally targeting. It’s about undesirable traits in all people. Ignorance, violence, intolerance. Yes, I’m being intolerant myself, but if you can’t see the difference, that’s because you’re one of the ignorant.

    Does that mean sterilizing them? No. But it does mean regulating parenthood. Too poor to feed your kids? Convicted of child abuse? No kids for you. Of course, this has to be coupled with social programs and a society that allow people to be economically mobile. It’s the very people at the bottom of the pyramid who make it’s structure possible. The poorest, least intelligent people vote for the most vile and corrupt politicians, against their own interest.

    Now, there are certainly wealthy, educated individuals who do more harm to the earth as a whole than any group of thousands. But if we can actively improve the intelligence of those thousands, the few at the top will no longer have an ignorant mass to exploit, or to serve as a market for the exploitation of other resources.

  39. Uncle B

    The decisions will be made according to Chinese communist criteria at any rate. We watch now as Obama cringes, slips away from the Tibet question at the ‘request’ of his Chinese Masters, grovels before them for more loans to keep the unsustainable “American Dream” alive at least to the end of his term. All the while speculators, mostly greedy American ones, witness gold’s rise to over $1600.00 /oz. and it is predicted by the savants in this field to go even higher, forced up by the prospect of astounding “money-printing sprees” by the Feds, to ‘fool’ the people just one more time, one more term. The U.S. dollar looses buying power as we speak, the working folk of America are robbed of their futures in astonishing examples of usury, gasoline prices in the U.S. are on the rise, Asians with new gasoline powered cars and fistfuls of stable highly prized Yuan bid against the Americans with over-drawn credit cards waving in the wind, and a climax approaches.
    China invests now, not to prop up America as a market for their goods, but for a ‘controlling interest’. China liquidates its American paper, buying even Thorium deposits, ore deposits, natural resource sources around the world – even in the U.S.A.
    Soon, China will dictate to the real, the hidden, American power-brokers as equals, and in the same way, behind closed doors, in board rooms, at grand and secretive financial conferences, by special telecommunications emissions, and eventually quite openly even in the faces of a well-propagandized American population. American sciences soon to be surpassed by Asian advances, will not have the technology, the moral will, the money, the sample populations, the long term planning ability, that the communist Chinese already have and use to make astounding advances where the American system failed. Population control, superior electric bullet train networks, environmentally friendly LFTR reactors that burn plentiful Thorium, stronger more durable steels, computer aided, hydraulic muscled, scientifically tailored mass production technologies, Whole, empty, ultra-modern cities made ready for the factories from the West, even plans for an oil free society are on the long term planning committees’s books.
    China will decide, America will abide! The mold, already cast!

  40. Lars Christensen

    Paul, the bingo card is already on the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism#Controversy

  41. Half the comments to this post, summarized:


  42. FoxtrotCharlie

    I’m not impressed by Rebecca’s Taylor’s arguments, not that some of her points don’t have merit. But if we do acquire the technology to insert genes, surely we’ll have the ability to remove them in the subsequent generation? That’s what genetic engineering is all about after all. She doesn’t explain why inserting a gene is easy and then removing one is “not possible”. Mind you, there may be problems or issues, but citing Dean Koontz novels as an argument against trans-humanism is like citing Michael Crichton’s works against any number of sciences in his novels (which he severely misrepresents entertaining though they may be). The whole selective breeding about naturally occurring traits is also unconvincing for the same reasons: let’s say you make a genetic change to make your eyes blue, or your future kids eyes blue, how is that nay different than selecting a mate to maximize your progeny’s likelihood of having blue eyes? Today many of us have genetic trait in which we’ve had no say whatsover and can’t change anyway. The matter of genetic enhancement that we would force choices on future generations fails precisely because the future generations can undo or change those they don’t like.

    Also the arguments about slave to technology holds no ground either: We are already slaves to technology, for the last 5000 years as a matter of fact. Ever since humanity learned to develop agriculture, metal working and so on, to maintain our current society and way of life we depend on this technology. I’d like to see Rebecca live without her internet, her cell phone, her car, or any of her everyday technological items she may have and not say that she’s not already a slave to her technology. We currently freely use this tech to compete for better work or better lives. Perhaps the most important tech is medicine: without it a lot of us would have died out at a young age or have life a expectancy in our 30’s. Dental hygiene and surgery. Anti-biotics, Vaccines, drugs, the list foes on and on. To say any of these particular trans-humanist items would make us slaves of technology is a very poorly thought out argument. I bet I can find many day-to-day uses of tech to which we are already basically slaves to. Just look at the fellow sitting next to you manipulating his blackberry…

    That’s not to say I agree with trans-humanist ideas, but the arguments put forth against genetic enhancement and the items regarding personal brain and body enhancement through tech are not very well thought out and fail to see the hypocrisy of said arguments.

  43. FoxtrotCharlie, I think there is a general misunderstanding of how genetic enhancement will actually work. A germ-line genetic enhancement will likely be done at the embryonic level were only a few cell or cells need to be altered which ensures the enhancement will be incorporated into every cell of the organism. If the result is undesired by the enhanced individual or further generations that would require removal from EVERY cell in the adult body. A very difficult task indeed.

    Also, the technology that we use today in medicine seeks to bring man back to normal functioning and prevents or treats a diseased state (dental hygiene, surgery, vaccines). Transhumanism would take something that is functioning normally and replace it with something artificial. Once you have to be enhanced with AI or genetic engineering or artificial limbs just to be considered “normal” or have the right qualities to be considered a “person’ (as stated above) that is when man becomes a slave to the technology. Right now a person could have little or no technology in their lives and still be considered a person or member of society. I do not believe that will be the case in a transhumanist future where the enhanced will naturally rule over the unenhanced.

    Blackberrys cell-phones, computers do not require invasive and possibly dangerous medical procedures like artificial limbs, cyberbrains or genetic enhancements so they really are not a good analogy for transhumansim. We can stop using them without having to visit a doctor. (BTW I spent my vacation this year without cell or Internet! 😉 )

    Selective breeding and genetic enhancement are fundamentally different. No one would ever think that enhancing your offspring with the jellyfish “glow in the dark” gene was the result of selective breeding. There is a difference between breeding for naturally occurring traits and insertion of foreign DNA sequences. Ask any patient of gene therapy that ended up with cancer.

    As for my reference to Dean Koontz, I by no means think that his depiction is scientific or inevitable, it is simply a tool to visualize what a transhumanist future may be like. Koontz has a great grasp of the transhumanist philosophy and follows it to its logical ends in the framework of the Frankenstein story. That is what we love about science fiction, a possible look into the future.

  44. FoxtrotCharlie

    Thank you Rebecca, that is a much better response. However I still disagree in general that these things are as dangerous as you paint them though I do believe your points should not be ignored or dismissed out of hand.

    Regarding technology, what is normal? As society changes and evolves what is considered normal changes along with it. You say that our current medical procedures seek to restore normal functioning of the human body or prevent or treat a diseased state and that is different from these other proposed body enhancers. Consider humanity 100 years ago, or a thousand years ago. If you take all of our technology away regular human beings would most likely not last beyond 30 years, based on estimates by researchers regarding life expectancy in pre-history. A lot of what you consider “normal” is actually extending human lifespan and function similar to point #4 in that list with 21st century tech. So you’re already agreeing with one of the trans-humanist points.

    I put forward that our medical technology (especially dental hygiene) is extending the use of our regular organs and parts of our bodies far beyond their expected lifespan and usefulness. If you take the extreme view regarding the “slave to technology” point, then I must take this counter-argument to its logical end as you put it. I know of plenty of surgery that is invasive to introduce pacemakers or artificial heart valves, or artery bypass. Metal pins to help broken bones heal. Metal plates to repair skulls. Drugs to restore and heal joint ligaments. What about organ donation and transplantation? Is that normal? would we have that without our current technology? Again you would say these restore normal function but my point is none of it is remotely “normal” if you take away our current technological development. You say, take away these things and we are still normal human beings… I don’t think so, on paper yes, in practice no way. I think you’re saying, take our tech away for away for a week or a month, and we’re still ok. That’s not a valid comparison. Take away our current tech from a population and in a few of generations you will see some pretty reduced and disadvantaged human beings. From the point of view of those beings we will be super-men a la Khan in Star Trek. That’s what I mean when I say our current tech already enhances us biologically. Your point may be: well take away those trans-humanist enhancers and those folks will IMMEDIATELY be poor disadvantaged human beings, but it doesn’t invalidate my observation.

    What if the replacement limb is indistinguishable from the regular one (Will Smith in I Robot). What if the enhancer is actually a long glove you wear that gives your arm strength resistance and dexterity. How is that different from having a different arm entirely? From a practical point of view at least?

    We are already enhancing ourselves by extending our natural lives and the function of our bodies. More often than not it’s people with the money and influence (sadly) that can afford the best drugs, the best medical care, the best nutrition, the best equipment. This is all due to our current technology. Of course in the eyes of the law or society everyone is supposed to be “normal” but let’s not kid ourselves, some people are more equal than others. This class segregation already exists. The “enhanced” shall we say already rule over the “non-enhanced” after a fashion, it’s just that they don’t do it with bionic arms or enhanced brain AI.

    Regarding genetic engineering: you’re description doesn’t sway me in believing that it’s more dangerous. As a matter of fact to an individual it’s actually useless in improving his current lot in life since that type of manipulation can only be passed on to progeny. Assuming things do go badly in one generation it sounds like the next generation can be corrected. Not an ideal state, but then again we have no idea what genetic engineering will be like in the future. Note that I’m only responding to your description of how it would work, it’s possible that in the future it will be something fundamentally different and your objections will be answered satisfactorily. Or maybe it will turn out to be an utter failure and not worth worrying over.

  45. Jody

    @Rebecca. To agree with foxtrot, I think you’re misrepresenting what transhumanist genetic engineering is seeking to do, at least near term. Maybe some day we’ll look to manipulate our genes in some “unnatural” way, like with jellyfish DNA or, um, bat wings or something. But right now transhumanists (and this article) are only trying to select for “natural” traits. They are doing what selective breeding does, just in a superior fashion. Turning on several desirable genes and removing undesirable ones, but these genes already exist in the human genome. We’re just looking to stack the deck so that we’re dealt the best hand, not add in cards from a different deck.

    I also think you’re not tracking what we’re saying about “removing” the traits. You say these enhancements would be done at the embryonic stage. So would the removal (at like zygote or blastophere stages probably). Unless the “enhancement” literally prevented fertilization, there is no reason why it theoretically couldn’t be removed as easily as it is inserted (or more likely, why the already present genes couldn’t be activated/deactivated as easily as they were the opposite). Even if it did prevent fertilization, there are cloning techniques which are becoming more efficient that would likely address that unlikely scenario. You are also misrepresenting the dangers associated with gene therapy, a technique that becomes safer and more common every year. When blood transfusions first started, there was a high failure rate, but blood transfusions are common now. Gene therapy appears to be on a similar trajectory, and fearing it to such a degree is irrational.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that one of the primary differences between first world nations and second/third world nations today is general access to technology. First world nations hold power over third world nations through technology already. foxtrot is right in saying that since the beginnings of history, technology has been a part of our society, and those cultures with superior technology always come to dominate those without. Rome and its roads, the Mongols and their bows, the Spanish with their firearms in south America, and America with our current technology.

    You can’t stop the growth of technology. Fighting against technological advancement is like trying to fight a tsunami. These things will be developed by someone, and the people who embrace them will naturally hold power through access. you just have to look at the biomedical DIY community to realize that these trends are inevitable.

  46. Bert

    How ridiculous! The technology is there and upcoming but do you personally think you, yes you, are going to be allowed access? Nope, well only as the initial “lab rats” for the elitist globalists, who btw think the world’s population needs to be reduced by 90 percent. Good luck! Maybe you will make the future servile class. In their thinking you are inferior and undeserving.

  47. Transhumanists will not stop at natural traits. They want to be enhanced in anyway and every way possible. Cross-species genetic enhancements would fit into the transhumanism philosophy.

    On the issue of inherited genetic modification, I am speaking directly about the generations that follow a germ-line genetic enhancement and THEIR choices. What if an adult offspring of a germ-line enhanced individual no longer wants to be enhanced? It will be difficult if not nearly impossible to remove, from every cell in their body, the unwanted enhancement that was forced upon them by the previous generation. What about their “somatic rights”? What if your parents decided to enhance their gametes and imagine if you hated the enhancement (or its side-effects) that you inherited but with the current state of technology it could not be removed? Does that not interfere with your “somatic rights?”

    I am simply pointing out that the germ-line genetic enhancement (that many transhumanists support) will affect more than just the person that is being enhanced. It is experimentation on future generations that did not give consent which is the anti-thesis of the “somatic rights” discussed in this article.

    I believe every generation has the right to be born without direct and unnatural genetic manipulation. If you are really for “my body, my choice” you should as well.

    I do not fear gene therapy. I embrace it. But it is dangerous and should only be undertaken when treating a devastating disease. In that case the risk of genetic engineering is balanced by the potential life-saving treatment. But for an otherwise healthy individual, genetic engineering, because of the risks involved, should not be attempted.

  48. Yeah, population control sucks. I say we’re not good till we’ve got 80, wait, no! 90 billion people on this planet! WAHOOO!!!

    Actually, we want a quintillion people in the Solar System. That should be followed by interstellar colonists escaping from parental licensing regimes.

    In related news, I think bioconservatives and transhumanists should bury that hatchet … in Malthusians.

  49. Open your eyes people! Don’t you see what is going on Right In Front of Your Face?
    Read A Book …Daniel 2 :43 ….they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another ,even as iron is not mixed with clay. Get this folkes because when i started reading the comments ,I diserned that Ya’ll dont read your bible very much. Im just surfin’ and when I see blatant ,Absolute Ignorance I just cant help myself. Wake Up! Pay Attention..Those of You who think Human Modification is OK.. then Think Again…”

  50. Western medicine continues it’s patriarchal roulette,further reminding us of our feigned fragility.Since many consciously fear to challenge this reptilian father,the decision to augment/distort through cosmetic surgery,emasculate newborns via vile circumcisions and bare their own veins for unneeded and potentially life-damaging vaccines continue.The greatest gift any academic in the multitude of medical specialization will ever share is admitting they don’t know if their invasive surgeries or advice will improve your life one iota.If you are not enjoying this mortal coil’s chaotic/ordered flaws now,I pity your horror in a perfectly remastered flesh tomb that houses a hand grasping for a peach just out of reach.

  51. Andreas H

    I think the one thing that is always disregarded when arguing in favor of transhumanism is the fact that it never only affects one person and therefore is not really a personal decision. This is especially true if you look at the interpretation of point (6) the whole somatic rights issue.

    I generally agree with the basic premise of somatic rights, the “My Body, My Choice” maxim is something i definitely support. But the extension of this paradigm into transhumanist thinking is wrong. You normally hear the very important amendment of “as long as you are not negatively affecting anyone else” when talking about somatic rights. And herein lies the whole problematic that is so often ignored by transhumanist supporters. Improving your body any transhumanist means is strongly affecting other people. This is why we need to look at every single possibility that exists today and might exist in the future to alter a human body and make sure that it doesn’t effect other people negatively! This is why you cannot use the somatic rights argument to support running wild, no limits transhumanism.

    In fact the way the world is structured today pretty much any artificial improvement of any ability will undoubtedly negatively affect everybody that has no access to it. I think one person already called it the “arms race effect”. As soon as some people start to improve their abilities with artificial augmentations they will have an advantage in our competitive world and even people that might not want to use any improvements are going to have to do so to stay competitive. Therefore transhumanism is not an individual choice, not a somatic right, but a collective opportunity that we as people want or don’t want to use. This means that every new possibility has to be looked at separately and should we as society believe it’s in the best interest to use it, needs to be made available to everyone. This is the only way we can uphold the democratic principles of equality!

  52. So many of the comments against transhumanism in this thread actually read as if they were written by a schizophrenic.

    All technology is initially used more by the wealthy than the lower classes. I don’t like that. I’m annoyed by that. But it’s not the end of the world.

    I’m a liberal. I would much rather that everyone become immortal, gain super-genius abilities beyond anything we have today, and get the ability to fly at the same time, or at the very least, based on their merits. But yes, it’s almost certainly more likely that the rich will get these improvements first.

    But you know what? When rich people can become immortal, brilliant, and fly, that means that it’s a decade or two away from the rest of us.

    I also like how literally every method of deciding who gets improved first is looked upon in horror.

    If the rich get it first, because they’re rich, then it’s elitism. They’ll surely kill the rest of us inferior beings immediately! Bwa ha ha ha, the evil!

    If the improvements are given based on merit, then it’s even worse elitism! They already think they’re better than us, and once they’re even MORE better than us, they’ll stop at nothing to kill all of us inferior beings! SO EVIL!

    Do you people actually think that everyone with either more money or a higher IQ than you are constantly scheming to wipe you off the planet? Good god. I literally cannot imagine the level of paranoia you must live in.
    (I recognize that transhumanism isn’t simply “we get magic powers,” I’m just using vaguely extreme examples because they’re fun.)

  53. Mothammad

    Monkeys becoming ubermonkeys, oh joy.

  54. Wally-G

    Lets call this for what it really is, eugenics bullshit. No better than the jackasses that made the Georgia Guidestones.

  55. Ray Q Smuckles

    “The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines,” Leto said. “Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments. Naturally, the machines were destroyed.” – Padishah Emperor Leto II

  56. This is the human condition in the fallen state. We represent the broken shards and the above article is living proof. We think that using technology we will ultimately find our god selves, but it is only when we leave this physical prison that we see the whole truth.

    Obviously the above is written with the intent on putting all of one’s faith into a piece of machinery one way or another.

    Our future lies in bringing our consciousness to a healthy whole, that would mean seeing our waking state, our lucid dream state, and the state of consciousness we call death as one continuous reality, instead of it being broken up. No amount of technology is going to end death. We must stop believing in the lie of death, only then will we become transhuman,

    the above article is really a bunch of drivel, this system was created by the murder of one man, and in order to sustain this reality, many more must be murdered. This is why all technology is used as an implement of destruction.

    The reality is you are human, you are alive in this system, this system must either kill you to sustain itself, or you must kill to sustain this system, in the end your choice will prove your own undoing.

    The only way to become transhuman is for death to end. Men utilize, rationalize the limit of death, there is no greater power than to control the womb and what comes from the womb, and to control the tomb, and who goes to the tomb, that will all end soon.

    When every breathing being can say “there is no one lesser or greater than I” that will be our very trans humanity.

  57. So many of the comments against transhumanism in this thread actually read as if they were written by a schizophrenic.

    We just took that line about “parental licensing” seriously.

    We listen to what you’re saying even if you don’t.

  58. JulianCA

    I think only #1 is necessary to define transhumanism as achieved. As soon as you are purposefully replacing your biological makeup with technology, you are transhuman. After that it is just a matter of what percentage remains biological, so you could perhaps measure further degrees of transhumanism.

    I could see eyes being one of the first mainstream replacements — technology is definitely superior in terms of optics and optical enhancement, so only a matter of perfecting the brain interface.

    Anyway, as soon as you voluntarily replace any non-diseased body part with a technological equivalent, you’re transhuman.

  59. “If I wanted to get there I wouldn’t start from here.”

    We need to go back a bit – change now – then start out on this.

    We took a wrong turn too recently – we allowed too many to become too poor to reach their potential and the slippage is getting worse.

    At the end of WW2 the world was ready for a better class of life the Americans began to have that even in Britain we began to see the need for education, science, and better run lives but it all got side swiped away – we must go back and rerun the tape, disk what ever

    If you use the see-back-a-scope you can see the recent loss of objectivity and belief in a future – a desire to end it all seems to be taking over ……

  60. Ray Q Smuckles

    The cyborg is the ‘Nouveau Nosferatu’, he is not human and he is not alive. He is a true undead, such as he will be actually physically possible to construct, which is debatable. Dogs and monkeys whose severed heads are attached to machinery which science says should fully support and replace their biology? Few retain waking consciousness, and those that do live not long, a mere span of hours a few days at the most.

  61. Tim

    I’d like to think that our own species development has gone beyond the distinction between the projection of an individual’s belief system upon their own reality.

    When we can align ourselves thinking beyond our self-deceptive projections, then we can realize that if we will must be happy to treat them right. As stewards of the garden we inbabit, a long long time has passed since their was ancient civilizations unknown to today’s historical perception by willful ignorance and selfishness. Those ancient ones had the clue to be good stewards of their lands, their farms, respect for individual propety and total liberty in trust with goodness and God. Learning to not do the wrong thing focusing on right through common sense and the jolly nature of a happy people in love from the heart. Not by the sword nor draconian law. Their demise 10000 years ago was ended in death and extinction of millions of species. Will we choose to repeat the same mistake and take another 10000 turn around the cosmos for the next energetic possiblity of getting off this planet and spread our happiness and love. Then we can leave those wild animals to develop their intelligence over time and guide them into such destiny as their more evolved “angels” help them along to self-realization.
    These animals have rights between themselves if left along to do so. We should have the right to leave animals in their habitat in the presence only of people humans, the managers and master planner of the forest.

  62. Ted

    God is the sovereign of this planet and Lord of the Universe. It is he who originates, creates, and multiplies. He is above all that you can comprehend yet closer to you than your jugular vein. Nothing escapes his knowledge. He built the heavens in truth and with great power. It is he who gives life, he who gives death, and he who will raise you again at the appointed time. He created the universe by merely saying “Be” and it was. Not a leaf falls but by his will.

  63. Tim

    WE are the total sum of everything to be found in the universe and everrthing is in us. How. Our universe is part of every material and atom to be found on the most smallest of level can we inversely find ourselves.
    I guess an animal cound be

  64. Ray Q Smuckles

    Scientists just discovered that parrots give their children names that they carry their whole lives.


  65. We just took that line about “parental licensing” seriously.

    We listen to what you’re saying even if you don’t.

    Ok, we’ve got comments about how humans are in a “broken state,” we’ve got comments about how we need to unify our consciousness with lucid dreaming, we’ve got comments about how a human with a robotic arm is now a “thing” and not a person anymore, and we’ve got posts about reptilian fathers and patriarchy.

    While I think you’re wildly overreacting to the concept of parental licensing, the posts that I disagree with aren’t necessarily the same as the posts that are literally incoherent.

  66. Bookish

    For years we had a book selling business on the “big river”. As a Bible believing Christian there were some books I refused to sell. One sale, however, got past me. I had come across, oh about eight years ago now, a scientific book of which only a handful were printed, on how to make drugs based on DNA. Something about it really bothered me so I put it up for sale for a whole lotta dough, thinking it would never sell.

    It sold two months later to a famous, rich person who was known to be a warlock.

    That sale has always bothered me and now that I read about all of this technology on transhumanism I can see that how far back its origins go. The book that sold was extraordinarily complex (I peeked) and based on theorums going back decades or more.

  67. Chuck

    Why not ask, should homosexuality be treated? It is clearly a disease, caused by the wrong hormones in utero. Why not remove the things that cause reproductive disorders, including microwave abuse by telecommunication giants. Why not remove poisons form out foods? If the object of health care is really health, than why not used drugs without side effects or treatments that can prevent surgeries altogether because they cure. These treatments are currently relegated to the fringe as “alternative”.

  68. John Keller

    The type of “New Order” described above is something to be opposed *by any means necessary*.

    Most of what is lionized as “progress” requires total government to be implemented. “Parent licenses”? Does anyone want the Police State that would be required to make that reality?

    It appears that “transhuman” won’t be a term referring to the betterment of people, but rather a synonym for inhuman or anti-human. Like with the Nazism of the ’30s & ’40s, this Nazism – yes, make no mistake, that is exactly what it is – must be opposed, and destroyed, with whatever weapons we “ignorant” & “unenlightened” types have available.

  69. White Indian

    Transhumanism and Christianity are both fantastically salvationist. We’re imperfect, and the righteous will be saved just as soon as Jesus or the Singularity comes. Neither will deliver us from the hell culture has made of Mother Earth.

  70. Tom

    Why am I even bothering to comment…? Oh geez, here goes…

    This has to be the biggest bunch of elitist BS I’ve ever read and the fact that there are so many fundamental flaws in the comments supporting this post is frankly surprising. I expect better from the crazies these days. So many of the comments and statements above seem to indicate that human beings don’t have an intrinsic and universally EQUAL value.

    “We need to begin planning who may and who may not have children, based upon their ability to responsibly raise a child…. Sorry, that may sound “Inhuman” but is it any more inhuman that allowing people to breed, only to abandon the child, or for said child to grow up into a sociopathic or psychopathic monster that society will then have to deal with in an even more brutal fashion?”

    Umm… yes, actually it is… much more inhuman. Part of the benefit that intrinsic human value affords us is the ability to make decisions for ourselves. Those decisions do not necessarily need to be “good” (as evidenced by the operators of this site posting this rubbish). I’ll lay aside, for the moment, the flawed logic of “my body my choice” as it pertains to abortion, and just point out that proponents here are willing to grant a parent the right to **end** a pregnancy, but feel that it is permissible to regulate who can begin one. That gets my “WTF?” of the day award. Reproduction is a fundamental facet of life. Regulating someone’s ability to have a child is in opposition to allowing life to be fully pursued and morally equivalent to considering black men and women “inhuman property” and denying them the right afforded to all humans. The limitation of applying restrictions to only “bad parents” is still absurd. People have the right, like it or not, to be bad parents. They have the right to raise children into belief systems you hate. They have the right to be “intolerant”. They have the right to be alcoholics and stoners and teach their kids every bad habit under the son. People have the right to suck. Deal with it.

    Moreover, the claim here that we should somehow relieve the children of poor parents of the “burden” of a life is foolish at best. Consider the number of successful people that grew up in broken homes, abused, neglected, undereducated, etc… that have grown up to be successful and valuable contributions to society. Consider also the number of healthy, cared for, loved children that grow up to be diseased, homeless, alcoholic, mentally ill, etc… People are not, and have never been, defined by their circumstances. People are defined by their choices and their willingness to execute on their beliefs. Children of poor parents have just as much right and reason to be born and pursue a fulfilling life as children of good parents. Poor parents just deserve to be publicly beaten and shamed. Here is where someone tells me that “if they were never born they’d never know what they were missing.” True, and if all of the “transhumanists” just dropped dead then the “live forever” problem would be solved with much less effort and you’d never know what you were missing.

    In another example of poor reasoning: @FoxtrotCharlie says “But if we do acquire the technology to insert genes, surely we’ll have the ability to remove them in the subsequent generation?”. Oh sheesh… @FoxtrotCharlie I hope you’re not the one reasoning this all out for us cause, frankly, you’ve got a ways to go with your thinking there pal. First, “…surely we’ll have the ability to remove them…”. Seriously? Says who? How? I can pee in a swimming pool but I can’t get it out. I can install a virus on a computer, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get it out. I can saw a cute little bunny in half, but I can’t fuse it back together. I think you get what I’m saying… some things are one way processes. You make this flawed assumption that we’ll be some kind of godlike beings with no medical marvel being out of reach. I might also assume that we’ll all become leprechauns and dance on rainbows and live forever by eating Lucky Charms. It’s a stupid premise to begin with and voids everything after it. Second, a related comment from @Jody says “You say these enhancements would be done at the embryonic stage. So would the removal…”. OK @Jody, put on your big girl thinking cap and work with me here… The argument here is that “If the result is undesired by the enhanced individual or further generations” it won’t be removable. Tell me how, exactly, a 23 year old woman is going to dislike some “genetic enhancement” that was inherited from her great-grandmother and just decide to return to the womb “(at like zygote or blastophere stages probably)” and have the process reversed. She can’t. Someone else decided to modify her, and she never has a choice.

    This entire topic stems from people being ticked off that the world is an imperfect place. Whatever utopia you people are dreaming of will never exist. Life is a painful, messy thing. Quit crying about it and wishing for some fairy-land where everyone is nice and everyone is tolerant and no one ever gets sick, and bla, bla, bla…. We all have the right to be rude, and insensitive, and upset you. Suck it up. After all, I have to put up with hearing this trash. You should be irritated too.

    ** As a disclaimer I’m posting this primarily because the opinions in the article just make me angry. I don’t comment often on blogs and in this case it’s just a vent. Don’t feel compelled to correct me on spelling, grammar, or typos. I seriously won’t care.

  71. White Indian

    An excellent rebuttal to fascist techno-utopianism:

    The Age of Batshit Crazy Machines
    by Ran Prieur
    July 4, 2005

  72. An excellent rebuttal to fascist techno-utopianism?

    I looked a the essay in question. To quote from it:

    “It was not an emotional reaction against scary new tools, nor was it about demanding better working conditions — because before the industrial revolution they controlled their own working conditions and had no need to make ‘demands’.”

    We are speaking here of horse manure. The essay is a load of horse manure and the working conditions before the industrial revolution usually involved shoveling horse manure.

  73. Peter B.

    “Persons, not People”

    Perhaps this is just my non-native language skills showing but I always understood the word “people” in a non-speciesist way, as in:

    psychologically complex individuals endowed with autonomous volition, including a will to self-determination that I am obliged to respect because I want my liberty respected, too.

    Species membership is beside the point as to the reasons WHY I support the concept of inalienable rights. Human-racism looks incoherent from the viewpoint of a neutral observer, since a klingon or cloned-neanderthal Colonel Quaritch might as well say that his species is the only one deserving of rights.

  74. I had come across . . . a scientific book . . . on how to make drugs based on DNA.

    It sold two months later to a famous, rich person who was known to be a warlock.

    Oh dear god.

    That’s it, I’m out.

  75. Buddydave

    It sold two months later to a famous, rich person who was known to be a warlock.

    Did his name begin with a “V” and end with a “mort”?

  76. Peter B.

    In regards to specious objections raised against germline genetic engineering, one generation ALWAYS forces its genes on the next. No one asked me if I wanted to be born with an 80-year life expectancy (on average) and a congenital venous valve insufficiency. I’d rather have enhanced cancer resistance and a 5000-year lifespan.

    If we can’t ask someone what traits they would like to have (because they are not yet out of the womb), the next best thing to do is choose a genetic makeup that will maximize their life opportunities. By favoring traits that leave it up to the child if and how to use, parents rightly put the child’s prospective interests before their own. Making your child green-fluorescent in the dark won’t help the young lead free and fulfilling lives. But making it healthier and a quicker learner probably will.

    For heritable genetic changes to be morally permissible, people have to do better at keeping in mind their offspring’s happiness than does nature’s thoughtless genetic roulette. That’s an awfully low bar to clear, even for the mentally unaugmented. 🙂

    As for risk: it’s a moving target. Of course, safe genetic upgrades to complex traits like intelligence are way beyond our current abilities. But this may well change as biomolecular computer simulations get more accurate, enabling us to predict effects of genetic alterations on the organism. New research suggests that adult human cells can be repurposed to turn into other cell types, which further raises hopes for the scope of possible functional gene mods (and reversal of most effects of unwanted gene mods) even in adults.

    “surely we’ll have the ability to remove them…”. Seriously? Says who? How?”

    Transposable elements. Nuclear insertion and subsequent swap/removal of tagged synthetic chromosomes.

  77. Ahmed

    Is being a transhuman an upgrade from being human? I don’t understand what’s the benefit?!!

  78. Chris

    Sounds like we’ll become the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  79. mildly interested

    The scary thing is this: humans, like all other species that have ever existed, face one of two fates:
    1. they will go extinct. That’s scary
    2. they will, eventually, evolve into something else, most likely some other kind of animal. That’s scary too.

    I don’t know much about transhumanism. I’m not in the trans-humanist clique.

    But, I know this: humans love to experiment, and whenever they get their hands on something funky, they just have to play with it. Maybe that’s instinctual or genetic, and arguably it’s the trait that has allowed us to overrun the planet with six billion apex-predators that want to eat every day.

    We will explore ALL the named avenues: genetics, prosthetics, and whatever else, and we will come slam up against the ethical dilemmas they pose, and we will fight, argue, and most likely kill each other over not only the ethics, but also who gets to control different lines of development.

    To me, we are transhuman when we quit killing and seeking to disempower one another, but that’s a philosophical and spiritual aspect of evolution. I get the feeling that the transhumanist movement is primarily concerned with technological advancement.

    But if there is no evolution in a moral sense, then technology is always going to be subverted to the us vs them paradigm.

    Humans are animals, but due to their brain power, they are the first animal, that we know of here at least, that has the ability to evolve itself, as opposed to just being operated on by evolution in a passive sense.

    All past species have had evolution act upon them. Humans are the first to purposely drive their own evolution. Never mind we are analogous to 12-year-olds getting their first driving lesson: the fact is, we are now in the driver’s seat, regardless of whether we are good or bad drivers. So far it’s been a pretty hairy ride at best…

    And it’s going to get weirder and more dangerous in the 21st century until we reach some sort of conclusive threshold, where we will either press on to evolve further, or cause some kind of mass extinction and kick the clock back to starting over from a more primitive phase.

    Either way is, of course, evolution, which is a non-linear process of jumpstarts and disasters and reboots. But I do think we will come to a point where we will, as a species (which is a level we don’t intentionally function on, yet), either navigate through a possible mass extinction event, or become a victim of it.

    A mass extinction of our own making, of course, but just as real, nevertheless.

  80. Jonathan

    I don’t like this common misinterpretation people seem to have with transhumanisation as if it’s some kind of magic pill or instant cyborg upgrade that will just suddenly become available on the market one day costing millions of dollars, which only the rich will have access to, who will therefore obviously destroy the lesser population who are unworthy of this new god-like status. No. Transhumanisation is a gradual process which has already begun, we have already vastly improved our average life expectancy and technology and thats all transhumanism is, only on a greater scale. If you have ever had a vacination, an operation, taken medication or even brushed your teeth your already part of it, you have taken concious steps using the technology available to you to prolong your own lifespan (I’m looking at you bible bashers, if your not dying at 30 your not practicing what you preech). Why do people think that we have to go through some sort of big transformation like removing an arm and replacing it with a new better prostetic arm to become transhuman? If I staple an ipod to my arm does that mean I’m a step closer to being transhuman than someone holding an ipod? of course not, it would probably just be more convieniant to have it that way, and does a guy who owns an iphone look down at others with lesser technology as being less important? no, and thats not going to change. Transhumanism is just the prolonged development of technlogy and increases in human life span, possibley to the point of immortality. It is a slow process, yet quickly increasing in pace that will continue without us barely realise it is happening. Theres nothing you can do about it, it’s happening, let it go.

  81. @7, Jody asked: “Are there any hardcore transhumanists that are Christians? Or any religion really, but primarily the big three monotheistic ones? I’m not just talking about permitting limb replacement for injured folks, but I mean hardcore like me. Give me clones and/or robot bodies, want to live forever hardcore. It seems like the goals of transhumanism would be an anathema to religion, especially for those that want to live indefinitely. Is transhumanism a subculture of atheism? it also makes me wonder if a large portion of the fear of transhumanists really stems not from fear of science run amok, but fear of losing religion’s place in society.”

    I am speaking as a Christian (with a Masters in Theological Studies) who is against Transhumanism, but I think I can speak to this.

    There is nothing inherent to Transhumanism that is explicitly contradictory to Christian theology because there is nothing about death that is explicitly necessary or virtuous in Christian theology. From the start of the Book, death is considered a tragedy to be overcome. Life is considered an intrinsic good (and there’s a whole mess of theology around the idea of God as the “Ground of All Being” and “First Principle of Life”… Basically that God is life itself) and death is bundled up with “sin” and “the Devil” as the big things that make life suck. Our morality is supposed to be centred around those actions which preserve and enhance life for ourselves and others, but moreso others. Our faith in Jesus is by-in-large focused on His incarnating the very principle of life: He originated spontaneously through parthenogenesis, taught a radical life-based message, acted as a faith healer and is believed, by us, to have stopped being dead after He was executed by the government. We believe that He will eventually act to resurrect all people and the entire universe into a kind of perfected state of eternal life.

    There is no reason to believe that Transhumanism is somehow an interference in this whole scheme. It’s not going to “keep us from God” in any particular way that matters. The idea that you need to die so you can float to Heaven is Gnosticism, not Christianity.

    That said, I am against Transhumanism… Not on any theological grounds, but on social grounds. I cannot divorce what is essentially talk about eugenics from the ways and means by which we expect to distribute these boons. To me, the first and foremost condition for attaining Transhumanism in any way that would not be a horrifying disaster is free and equitable access for ALL people. I mean right down to the poor newborn somewhere in a slum in India. Without free and equitable access, then all we’d accomplish is the utterly irrevocable entrenchment of class distinction. The idea that a superior class of people could become just plain superior people, period, is frightening. And inevitable unless a utopian society is accomplished first.

  82. ColinC

    @79. mildly interested Says:

    The scary thing is this: humans, like all other species that have ever existed, face one of two fates:
    1. they will go extinct. That’s scary
    2. they will, eventually, evolve into something else, most likely some other kind of animal. That’s scary too.

    Actually, though going extinct is still a scary possibility, evolving into something else does not preclude the survival of the original species. Going extinct is the only ‘fate’ that that species faces. The evolving is just diversification and speciation, which are only bad things if you don’t like “different”.

    To me, we are transhuman when we quit killing and seeking to disempower one another, but that’s a philosophical and spiritual aspect of evolution. I get the feeling that the transhumanist movement is primarily concerned with technological advancement.

    I’m not a transhumanist, but I can speak to the ‘stop killing’ portion. If you are talking about a 100% end to killing you are fighting against an asymptotic effect. In the last 60 years, the amount of people dying by the hands of others has decreased significantly when compared to any other period of history. We are living in the most peaceful era of human existence, but few people recognize it. I doubt it will ever get so peaceful that no one is ever killed by another.

    As far as the disempowerment, that’s up in the air. I see disempowerment when someone comes along with guns or the threat of guns to take money from someone else just for being an entrepreneur. You may see a different kind of disempowerment. Killing is a nice, solid measurable while disempowerment needs to be more fully operationalized to be a criteria for transhuman morality.

    Humans are animals, but due to their brain power, they are the first animal, that we know of here at least, that has the ability to evolve itself, as opposed to just being operated on by evolution in a passive sense.

    Humans are no more in the “drivers seat” than any other creature when it comes to evolution. We just happen to have that brain power making us ‘fit’ for almost any environment. Unless you are referring to the breeding of horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, and what-not, we haven’t done anything more active than any other species trying to survive. If you are talking about the shaping of other creatures, we have no more taken an active role in evolution than has the lion chasing down gazelle. The end result is the same.

    Remember, evolution is ongoing in every walk of life. It has no active or passive form. It has no directionality.

    And it’s going to get weirder and more dangerous in the 21st century until we reach some sort of conclusive threshold, where we will either press on to evolve further, or cause some kind of mass extinction and kick the clock back to starting over from a more primitive phase.

    Either way is, of course, evolution, which is a non-linear process of jumpstarts and disasters and reboots. But I do think we will come to a point where we will, as a species (which is a level we don’t intentionally function on, yet), either navigate through a possible mass extinction event, or become a victim of it.

    I’m not sure why it is going to get more dangerous in the 21st century. There is nothing to suggest that it will be more dangerous than was the 20th century, which was the most devastating century of human history. So far, the wars of the 21st century have had death totals smaller than significant battles of the 20th century. That is not to say that they are acceptable and should be accepted, but it is to say that there is real progress for the first time in history in bringing peace to mankind. It is unlikely than any technological development is going to trump biological, chemical, and nuclear threats, which have been around since the 20th century.

    The largest problem is that it will become easier and easier to genetically modify viruses to make them into potential extinction level events, but it will also become easier and easier to defeat such viruses as biomedical technology rises in kind. The worst problem will be a rise in the availability of WMD because nothing at present prevents a Jared Loughner, a Anders Breivik, or a Mohammad Atta from acting out for a deluded cause using deadlier weapons than guns. I’m more worried about this, not just because of the death it could create, but because of the loss of liberty that would come from it to ‘keep it from happening again’. When individuals can be as deadly as nations, we are facing a threat that can beat down society.

    Even so, I don’t believe that this would threaten us with extinction.

  83. It’s a esteemed put up, I commit take it to respond. The competence is then utterly organized that readers faith me hypocrisy induce as stage seconds. alimony applicable up.

  84. TerryEmberson

    It’s a esteemed put up, I commit take it to respond. The competence is then utterly organized that readers faith me hypocrisy induce as stage seconds. alimony applicable up.

    I feel it is necessary to point out that this individual, being likely an advertisement program, is the most transhuman poster on this comment thread yet.

  85. Tom

    Peter B:
    Tom: “surely we’ll have the ability to remove them…”. Seriously? Says who? How?”

    Transposable elements. Nuclear insertion and subsequent swap/removal of tagged synthetic chromosomes.

    Absolute conjecture and completely hypothetical. My initial argument is against the idea that we can factually claim that something will be possible prior to it actually being possible. The claim that we will absolutely be able to replace specific pieces of our genetic code, well into the lifetime of a human being, in every cell, in a reliable way, without any problematic side effects is at best arrogant and naive. Probably closer to a narcissistic desire for self-godhood. We’ll just call it “B.S.” for short.

  86. Nadu

    Why does it seem some people are getting upset at the theories? The article is about 7 Conditions that would possibly need to happen for humanity to achieve a transhuman state. The truth is, we don’t know how technology will alter our perceptions on what is right and wrong, normal or abnormal. Heck, just 20 years ago, the personal telephone was reserved for the elite. Look just 20 years down the line and everyone will probably have the ability to have cellular technology implanted into our bodies (no more looking for your phone). The laws and ramifications that can be made for such a minor change in human behavior could go any number of ways whether you think they’re right or wrong. Life will never be fair. Injustices of unthinkable measures will forever be and those in power will forever push their own ideals on the rest driven by the ‘guards’ who fear change in any capacity. It’s Life!

  87. Doug

    Rights for animals and robots? Screw that.

    Let them be our eternal slaves!

  88. Tihamer Toth-Fejel

    Jody asked if there are any hardcore transhumanists that are Christians. Hmm… it depends what you mean by “hardcore”, but the short answer is, “very few”. I addressed your question in my presentation at Transvision 2004, “Is Catholic Transhumanism Possible?” (http://www.transhumanism.org/tv/2004/program.shtml. In short, humanism originally came out of Christianity, so Christian Transhumanism is possible, but only if you jettison a number of Transhumanist philosophical assumptions that inexorably lead to things like atheism and eugenics. One root of Transhumanism’s problem is its inability to recognize evil. (See “Transhumanism: The New Master Race?” http://www.islandone.org/MMSG/99jan.htm#_Toc456110960)

    One thing I really like about Transhumanists is that they have guts. Like Christians, they make no bones about belonging to an exceptional species. None of this milquetoast pussyfooting around about “becoming one with the Earth”. Transhumanists recognize, even more clearly than most Christians today, that because Mother Nature accepts evolution as her handmaiden, she is a brutal and psychotic bitch who tortures and slaughters her children. And they want to do something about it. Christians should recognize that the goal of ameliorating the effects of the fall is nothing different from anything they’ve been doing since Jesus Christ walked this Earth.

    Christians are sinners too, of course (See “Bad Popes” for some famous examples http://stmarystudentparish.org/PDFs/students/grad/TheBadPopes.ppt). With respect to Transhumanism, on one hand Christians are philosophically much better equipped to identify Transhumanism’s problems (e.g. the entire theme of CBC’s “Imago Dei” conference a few years ago; see also their critique at http://www.cbc-network.org/2011/08/the-trouble-with-transhumanism-2/). But Christians commit a sin of the intellect when they blithely disregard the technological assumptions of Transhumanism. Productive Nanosystems will make many of Kyle Munkittrick’s predictions come true. And that should make everyone sit up and take notice –and carefully examine what they really want (See “Be Careful What You Wish For” http://www.nanotech-now.com/columns/?article=358).

    What is interesting is that if you find out what you really, really want, then you discover that saints and theologians have known it all along. In addition, some of the smarter ones have thought about some of the earth-shaking issues that mature nanotechnology will raise (see “Edith Stein: Atheist, Philosopher, and Saint” at http://stmarystudentparish.org/PDFs/students/grad/EdithSteinPhilosophyFinal.ppt).

  89. Peter B.

    Tom opines:

    >“Absolute conjecture and completely hypothetical. My initial argument is against the idea that we can factually claim that something will be possible prior to it actually being possible.”

    Twice wrong. First, the techniques I mentioned are *already* in use around the world for genetic engineering of mammalian cells. This includes targeted addition and removal of specific chromosomes. Here’s an example:


    “[..] we have developed chromosome elimination cassettes (CEC) using a Cre-inverted loxP system that was first used in mouse ES cells. In this system, transient cre expression can initiate immediate chromosomal loss over the course of a few cell cycles in the recombinant cells.”
    …showing it’s possible to move tagged chromosomes into or back out of the genome between generations.

    Second, we can pretty damn well say what’s possible prior to it being practical if the relevant natural laws and conditions are known. Humans can’t put an astronaut on Mars right now. But in view of scientific extrapolations from the Apollo Moon landings, it’s most likely just a question of money to solve the remaining health and engineering issues. Likewise, since chromosome engineering already works in stem cells and mammalian embryos, expectations that it will also work out for human zygotes are no leap of faith.

    Whether chromosome engineering could be applied to the adult organism directly, depends on whether the delivery methods for signalling molecules and/or gene vectors can be improved enough. I have yet to see a cogent argument suggesting it’s impossible. In any case, no one in here has made a contention that it will “absolutely” be feasible, and in “every” cell, without “any” problems. That’s a strawman you are bashing. Neither is it all that clear why it should be necessary to reprogram 100.0 % of body cells in order to achieve a desired effect with little side effects, rather than just, say, 99.999 %.

  90. David M

    Whatever ones stances on the ethical questions, I think it is inevitable that the relevant technology will one day exist (providing we don’t say, wipe out society in a nuclear holocaust or something.).
    How society responds will depend on how near or far into the future it is before technology has progressed to that point.
    If it’s in our lifetimes, the arguments in this comment thread will be the sort of arguments that will arise. If it’s in the distant future, our descendants may look back on this comment section and have a chuckle at the quaint old ideas and arguments their ancestors held and engaged in, because the nature of their society may be completely different from ours.
    While we might think predicting the technological developments of the future is getting easier, I think we can all admit we still can’t predict the directions society may move in the future.

  91. We will hit the technological singularity when our science and tech development has sped up so much that they’re doubling in hours…minutes…seconds…

  92. Mark Plus

    I happen to like “Brave New World,” and I think its social model has an undeservedly bad reputation. Huxley anticipated modern American women in his character Lenina Crowne. I could easily imagine her with a cell phone on her Malthusian belt.

  93. PJ Manney

    I’ve always believed the premise of articles like this (and the attitudes behind it) are flawed. Tranhumanism isn’t some specific goal to be achieved. It’s a process. We became transhuman when we created clothing, eyeglasses, prosthetics of any kind. The point is not wheather we cross a specific threshold to finally become transhuman. The point is that we are continually transhuman and the line we cross is erased in the sand, while a new line is thrust before us. In fact, technological adaptation and improvement is the definition of humanness post Homo habilis. We exist on a continuum.

    Making transhumanism something that only occurs in a Sci Fi future diminishes the importance of transhuman bioethics in the present. And we’re neck-deep in them.

  94. HashKat

    “Transhumanism cannot happen without a legal structure that allows individuals to control their own bodies.”

    I do not agree, whether something is legal or not does not determine whether people will do it. There are illegal drugs, yet people still take make and take them. It would be nice if post humans grew out of a society that respected their sovereignty but I don’t believe that is necessary for it to occur.

  95. 20. zeeno Says: “so the future, like the present, is a playground for the elite.”

    As others have noted, this is always the case, then to varying degree it spreads to the manager/worker masses (as economies of scale allow), and upon whom the system has historically depended. Some measure of inclusiveness, not by design, but by default and necessity. “Progress.”

    The difference going forward is the tech increasingly replaces/reduces the need for so many workers. The future no longer built upon their sweat and muscle.

    The question I pose to all those clamoring for these technotopias is simple: What will Transhumanism do with all those unemployed/marginalized, resource devouring, pollution generating, disease ridden, and now deemed “less evolved” beings… Will is stop or slow it’s unbridled leaps “forward” to insure integration/adoption for all? Can it make unlimited allowances for those who resist?

    Exclusiveness, not by design, but by default and “necessity”. A cold future of exponential acceleration, blurring the consequences, leaving all that to the past…

    The future unpredictable, always has been, but we know very well who we are and what we are capable of doing to each other under the guise of some “ism”.

    “Transhumanism” is simply a matter of “better” weapons. Same game, different name.

  96. Jackson

    I find a lot of hope in transhumanist thinking, one aspect of this philosophy that the people who denounce it forget is that it will greatly improve the quality of life for those born with a variety of birth defects.

    I live with Cerebral Palsy, and I consider myself lucky because by and large I can live a fairly normal life, but this took years of therapy from around the time I was three to get where I am now. I would love to be enhanced physically just to the position of a normal person.

    How many of the people who attack this idea have been made to feel like an invalid because of an disability? Or how many people have looked into the eyes of an extremely intelligent child trapped in a fairly useless body? I think human enhancements will be just the next leap forward in medicine, that gives humans a better quality of life.


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