Better Living through Tranhumanism: More Than Just a Philosophy and Social Movement, Transhumanism Is for Many a Way of Life

By Dvorsky, George | The Humanist, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Better Living through Tranhumanism: More Than Just a Philosophy and Social Movement, Transhumanism Is for Many a Way of Life


Dvorsky, George, The Humanist


Some experts believe that all genetically based diseases will be eliminated by 2030. The widespread application of genetic and other technologies, it is thought, may also result in significant increases to human intelligence, memory, physical health, and strength. Some expect the achievement of indefinite lifespans this century and believe that immortals already walk among us.

Researchers suspect that the development of strong nanotechnology in the coming decades will result in molecular assemblers that effectively function like Star Trek replicators. A number of experts are hopeful that medical nanotechnology will be used to revive those who are preserved in cryonic stasis. It is also suspected that advances in both nanotechnology and robotics will greatly alter the current socioeconomic infrastructure, potentially resulting in such things as massive unemployment, the need for a basic guaranteed income, and the general rethinking of how people should coordinate their activities and leisure time.

Steady advances in computing and processing power are leading many experts to conclude that human-equivalent artificial intelligence may be attainable by the year 2040, if not sooner. After that, as intelligent machines continue to redesign themselves and recursively improve, they will likely develop into superintelligences, with cognitive capacities thousands of times greater than that of humans. No one knows what this will mean to humanity, causing futurists to dub the hypothesized event the technological singularity, or simply the Singularity.

These predictions are nontrivial, to say the least. Of course, they are just predictions, and most casual observers maintain that these things will never come--or at least not within their lifetime. Futurists such as myself tend to be less skeptical, recognizing the remarkable upward trends in technological research and development; things are set to change quite dramatically and quite quickly.

In consideration of these predictions, a growing number of people are turning to transhumanism, which aims to promote and encourage human enhancement through the application of science and technology. With roots in humanist and Enlightenment thinking, transhumanism is an emerging and broadly based philosophy, bioethic, cultural phenomenon and lifestyle choice whose proponents believe that technology can and should be applied to improve the human condition. Transhumanists believe that humanity ought to enter into a post-Darwinian phase of existence where intelligences, rather than the blind forces of natural selection, are in control of their own evolution. The World Transhumanist Association describes transhumanism as

   an interdisciplinary approach to understanding
   and evaluating the possibilities for overcoming
   biological limitations through technological
   progress. Transhumanists seek to expand technological
   opportunities for people to live longer and
   healthier lives and to enhance their intellectual,
   physical and emotional capacities.

While many--including me--have written often about transhumanism, few have elaborated on how the transhumanist mindset has an impact on how people live their life in the present. Not ones to dwell on the future while passively waiting for it to happen, transhumanists engage in foresight and promotional activities.

Just as significantly, the day-to-day lifestyle choices of transhumanists such as me reflect anticipated change. I am in my early thirties, which means that, barring some unfortunate accident (with no cryonic or other backup plan), I'll be around to witness, participate in, and take advantage of future radical developments. Consequently, everything from my ethical and moral foundations to my eating and exercising habits are in some way influenced by how I think the next fifty years will go.

And I am hardly alone. Transhumanism is in many respects a burgeoning lifestyle choice and cultural phenomenon. …

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Better Living through Tranhumanism: More Than Just a Philosophy and Social Movement, Transhumanism Is for Many a Way of Life
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