Who needs “transhumanism”? Millions of dollars are going into fields such as brain-computer interfacing, robotics, AI, and regenerative medicine without the influence of “transhumanists”. Wouldn’t transhumanism be better off if we relinquished the odd name and just marketed ourselves as “normal”?
Wild transhumanist ideas such as cryonics, molecular nanotechnology, hard takeoff, Jupiter Brains, and the like, distract our audience from the incremental transhumanist advances occurring on an everyday basis in labs at universities around the world. Brain implants exist, gene sequencing exists, regenerative medicine exists — why is this any different than normal science and medicine?
Motivations such as the desire to raise one’s father from the dead are clearly examples of theological thinking. Instead of embracing theology, we need to face the nitty gritty of the world here and now, with all of its blemishes and problems.
Instead of working towards blue-sky, neo-apocalyptic discontinuous advances, we need to preserve democracy by promoting incremental advances to ensure that every citizen has a voice in every important societal change, and the ability to democratically reject those changes if desired.
To ensure that there is not a gap between the enhanced and the unenhanced, we should let true people — Homo sapiens — be allowed to vote on whether certain technological enhancements are allowed. Anything else would be irresponsible.
As Margaret Somerville recently wrote in the Vancouver Sun:
Another distinction that might help to distinguish ethical technoscience interventions from unethical ones is whether the intervention affects the intrinsic being or essence of a person — for instance, their sense of self or consciousness — or is external to that. The former, I propose, are always unethical, while the latter may not be.
The intrinsic essence and being of a person is not something to be taken for granted — it has been shaped carefully by millions of years of evolution. If we start picking arbitrary variables and trying to optimize them, the consequences could be very unpredictable. Our lust for pleasure and power could quickly lead us to a dark road of narcissistic self-enhancement and disenfranchisement of the majority of humanity.