What Is Transhumanism?
Transhumanism or H+ is a movement which spans the entirety of our world which works with the possibility and desirability of technologies which help us become more than our natural selves. This is to say, technologies which eliminate or slow aging, and augmentation of intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities etc. The movement studies the benefits and dangers of new technologies that could at some point help overcome human limitations, as well as discuss the ethics behind the technologies.
While a large portion of transhumanists and transhumanist theories seek to improve quality of life through decreasing disease, disability, malnutrition etc. across the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its want to improve human bodies on the individual level.
As the human brain, the central nervous system is considered the main proponent of humanhood, most transhumanist ideas pertain to the augmentation of the brain. These ideas can range from such things as improving mental capability in those who suffer from CNS impeding disorders, to the uploading of consciousness to an artificial, non-biological system. Other ideas put forward include genetic engineering of hereditary traits that augment mental capabilities, augment physical endurance, reducing susceptibility to disease or addictions, or to reduce the occurrence of myopia.
Technologies of interest range from nanotech, biotech, infotech, to cognitive science, artificial intelligence, cyonics, simulated reality, chemical brain preservation, and the list goes on and on. It goes almost without saying that such theories and ideas come with tough opposition. Some of the arguments against transhumanism are as follow:
- Infeasability (Futurehype argument): This relies on the idea that many predictions about future technological capabilities have been vastly overestimated, and that this will indeed happen again. The technologies that many futurists and transhumanists want to develop and support are thought to never be feasible.
- Hubris (Playing God argument): This is an argument that is a favourite of the Vatican, as it stated that, “Changing the genetic identity of man as a human person through the production of an infrahuman being is radically immoral”. This implies that it is highly inappropriate for humans to substitute themselves for a god.
- Existential risks (Terminator argument): This argument states that in developing advanced nanotechnolgies such as self-replicating robots, and AI intelligence, humans would likely generate their own extinction. Once we create something that replicates and has its own intelligence, we soon lose control of it and it could overrun the ecosystem here on Earth.
There are many more arguments put forth against transhumanist ideas; too many to cover here. In summary, transhumanists support the advancement of many technologies which are thus far on the fringe of science, and they also exist as a panel of advisers on the ethics of the technologies.
For extra reading I shall point you here, here, here, here, here, and here.
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