A classic transhumanist pastime is designing our future cyborg bodies. Never as an excuse for being slothful in the present… but hey, some of us alive today will make it to the cyborg era, and we want to have our blueprints ready. The prerequisite technologies are being developed right now.
Although physical enhancement is what most people associate with transhumanism, it’s not particularly interesting. A man with tentacles and wings who can fly and breathe underwater is still just some dude. Humans are primitive beings, with conspicuously primitive minds — we just recently evolved from un-intelligent apes that used the same stone tools for millions of years.
Everything truly exciting about the transhumanist project lies in the mental realm. Only through opening up and intervening in the brain can we really change ourselves and the way the world works. Anything else is just the surface.
What approaches can we take to cognitive enhancement?
First, take brain surgery. It is extremely unlikely that cognitive enhancement will be conducted through conventional brain surgery as is practiced today. These procedures are inherently risky and only conducted under necessary circumstances, when the challenges of surgery outweigh the huge cost, substantial risk, and long recovery time of the procedures.
More subtle than brain surgery is optogenetics, regarded by some as the scientific breakthrough of the last decade. Optogenetics allows researchers …
To me, transhumanism is a temporary movement — transitional. Its role is to help individuals and society transition to living in a world where some portion of society technologically transforms their minds and bodies on both incremental and fundamental levels. This might range from getting a Google-connected neural implant to uploading one’s consciousness into a virtual world. We transhumanists consider (cautious!) developments along these lines to be a good thing, and feel that the most pressing objections and concerns have been adequately addressed, including:
- What are the reasons to expect all these changes? – Won’t these developments take thousands or millions of years? – What if it doesn’t work? – Won’t it be boring to live forever in a perfect world? – Will new technologies only benefit the rich and powerful? – Aren’t these future technologies very risky? Could they even cause our extinction? – If these technologies are so dangerous, should they be banned? – Shouldn’t we concentrate …
+1 for everyone who saw through my lie.
I thought it would be interesting to say stuff not aligned with what I believe to see the reaction.
The original prompt is that I was sort of wondering why no one was contributing to our Humanity+ matching challenge grant.
Maybe because many futurist-oriented people don’t think transhumanism is very important.
They’re wrong. Without a movement, the techno-savvy and existential risk mitigators are just a bunch of unconnected chumps, or in isolated little cells of 4-5 people. With a movement, hundreds or even thousands of people can provide many thousands of dollars worth of mutual value in “consulting” and work cooperation to one another on a regular basis, which gives us the power to spread our ideas and stand up to competing movements, like Born Again bioconservatism, which would have us all die by age 110.
I believe the “Groucho Marxes” — who “won’t join any club that will have them” are sidelining themselves from history. Organized transhumanism is very important.
I thought quoting Margaret Somerville would …
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.
Just in case there are new readers, I want to refer them to the writings of Dale Carrico, probably the best transhumanist critic thus far. He’s a lecturer at Berkeley. (Maybe The New Atlantis should try hiring him, though I sort of doubt they’d get along.) I especially enjoy this post responding to my “Transhumanism Has Already Won” post:
The Robot Cultists Have Won?
When did that happen?
In something of a surprise move, Singularitarian Transhumanist Robot Cultist Michael Anissimov has declared victory. Apparently, the superlative futurologists have “won.” The Robot Cult, it would seem, has prevailed over the ends of the earth.
Usually, when palpable losers declare victory in this manner, the declaration is followed by an exit, either graceful or grumbling, from the stage. But I suspect we will not be so lucky when it comes to Anissimov and his fellow victorious would-be techno-transcendentalizers.
Neither can we expect them “to take their toys and go home,” as is usual in such scenes. After all, none of their toys — …
My article on how to pitch articles to H+ magazine has been slightly improved and is now posted on H+ magazine.
Topics to inspire you:
How can the transhumanist philosophy be applied to daily life? Quantified Self topics Is change actually accelerating? If so, what is the evidence? What technologies pose major risks and why? What are the next steps for robotics and AI? What is happening in genomics? What is the future of energy? Is culture getting friendlier to the future? What will the year 2020 be like? What will the year 2030 be like? What will the year 2050 by like? What will the year 2100 be like? Book reviews (Robopocalypse) Movie reviews (Limitless) Conference/event reviews Cool new businesses and initiatives in the transhumanist space Philosophical issues Other cultural commentary Space, space stations, spaceships, satellites, planetary colonization Topics similar to content in Scientific American and Popular Mechanics
Send your pitch ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing your ideas!
I’m the new Managing Editor at H+ magazine, which in practical terms means I need to come up with five good articles a week to publish. The magazine gets a lot of traffic so it’s a good place to share information with other transhumanists.
1. Come up with an idea or coverage of a company/product/news story worth covering. Ideally you have had personal experience with the company/product/news story and are uniquely suited to write about it. If not, you should be ready to quote someone who has.
2. Send the pitch to email@example.com. That goes into my inbox. Include links to samples of your other writing. (If you want to write articles for H+ magazine but haven’t written serious blog posts yet, you might want to try that first.)
3. If you get the go-ahead, investigate the story, get a quote from an expert in the area you’re writing about. Take notes. The article should primarily be reporting, not speculation or personal opinion. Editorials are welcome but harder to write than straightforward informative articles. If you do …
Humanity+, which used to be known more descriptively (but less concisely and media-friendly) as the World Transhumanist Association, is running a fundraiser this summer:
Thanks to a generous matching grant by the Life Extension Foundation and other major donors, if we raise $15,000 independently, we will secure a total of $30,000 in funding for Humanity+ this summer, enabling the organization to shift into a higher gear. Any gift you make to Humanity+ will be matched dollar-for-dollar until July 31st.
Thanks to everyone who is participating in the transhumanist collaborative map project, after just six days we have almost 100 pins on the map and over 20,000 views. I see that many people in the Bay Area and New York are being shy and not adding themselves…
Be sure to pass the link around to your friends who are transhumanists, so we can build a better picture of the movement worldwide. This is a very unique and foresightful group! We should learn a little more about one another.