Transhumanism is a movement whose goal is transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".
There are of course, many differing points of view on the subject. Proponents believe transumanism will result in an almost unimaginably idealistic future where we have not only conquered disease and poverty, but also have metamorphosed all of humanity into Super Beings. Imagine if your body never had to sleep or exercise, had millions of times more thinking power and energy, could photosynthesize its own food, heal wounds immediately, not feel pain or could live to be thousands of years old. Imagine living super-minds, immensely more powerful than ordinary human beings, super soldiers with super vision, hearing and strength, super rulers vastly more intelligent, on and on. Imagine a world of indescribable beauty, where wisdom, love, truth and peace prevail. A utopian world where the Singularity has occurred and its resulting advances remain tightly under the control of humans.
The term Singularity may be new to you, but it is a term you will be hearing more and more about in the near future. The Singularity is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.
Transhumanist visualize a global collective intelligence system or a 'hive mind' where everyone thinks and shares the same information with each other, on a global scale. They call it 'machine integration enhancement.' Using predictive programming, a global collective intelligence system will be created that will merge our biological bodies with machine intelligence – not just free-standing machines but nano-robots built into our bodies, making our brains machine-readable and interfaced with artificial neural networks.
The non-biological portion of our intelligence can be billions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence. Humans can be enhanced with brain computer interfaces and trained to be more creative and vastly more intelligent. They can share thoughts and information freely without having to study the subject matter, expand memory and sharpen capacity for concentration. New brain chips and transmitters can connect the brain wirelessly to the grid and allow the possessor to control a host of new electronics remotely by way of neural commands and to augment the senses.
This is the heaven scenario.
The hell scenario isn’t so pretty.
A version of the hell scenario focuses on the haves and have – nots.
In this world, there is a great divide between the classes. The haves are a select group, a ruling class with eternal youth, beauty and enhanced human capabilities. The have - nots become a slave class of non-thinking automatons living short, meaningless lives of servitude.
The have nots live in a desolate future where they are left behind in irreparable misery on a hotter, more crowded and utterly degraded planet. In this particular hell, groups are segregated and controlled by patent holders of specific genes related to the genetic makeup of certain groupings of people; they then withhold medicines or other life-supporting systems designed solely for that genetic group. Or even worse, “white plagues” designed to kill widely but selectively. The possibility lingers of engineering our evolution into several separate and unequal species. There is even the possibility of breaching species barriers set up by nature to create “Chimera” life-forms, human/animal hybrids.
All of this may seem rather alarmist but the potential is certainly there. I shudder to imagine how our world might have turned out if had Hitler gotten his hand on the A-bomb before the U.S. did, or if he had had access to these yet undeveloped technologies.
So many nations gladly hand over the reins of rulership to charismatic leaders that turn out to be maniacs down the road. It will be a continual task for future generations to keep these destructive and life altering technologies out of their reach.
As Albert Einstein quoted in 1917:
“Technology progress is like an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.”
Another great quote from C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man 1944:
“Human nature will be the last part of nature to surrender to man. The battle will then be won. We shall be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. But who precisely has won? For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.”
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