By Senayt Nur
The rapid technological progress of our time is obvious to anyone with an observing eye. The changes that happened in the past few years were not even dreamt a few decades back. If we get the chance to bring back a person who died fifty years ago, he wouldn’t know what to do with a lot of the changes and honestly our dead friend would have been bewildered beyond words. I have been blessed to see the changes firsthand since many of the vagaries occur in my generation, and I have seen instruments get more portable and more efficient through time.
Nowadays the changing technology have given me devices for education and entertainment that weren’t even ideas a century, and diseases that would have been a death sentence a few decades back could now be diagnosed rapidly and have a straightforward treatments. This influx of technology has led to economic growth – and everywhere in the world, everyday people workout how to do things a little bit better and a little bit easier.
But, unfortunately, growing up in a third world country, I cannot say many of my fellow countrymen have the privilege to say the same. I see a lot of sufferings and deaths that could easily be prevented using the right tools and access to better technologies. Hundreds and thousands of people in my country and many other third world countries suffer from hunger, famine and diseases every year. The extent of these problems is not only explained by the economic deficits but also from the underdeveloped technology.
So you can imagine what I felt to learn what transhumanist like Max More have to say about transhumanism. Believing that the current evolutionary state of humans isn’t supposed to be a final or a permanent state; but rather by applying the right changes like biotechnologies, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, stem cell researchers and etc. Science can dictate evolution to make sure humans transcend their biological limitations to posthumans! The Posthumans sounds, most likely, a product of evolution [guided via science] advancement of humans into superhumans that does not suffer from diseases, aging and the inevitable death, which is the ultimate goal.
Transhumanism, broadly speaking, is the philosophy of life that seeks the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond the current human form and human limitation by means of science and technology, guided by life promoting principles and values.
Another common definition is that, transhumanism is the intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reasoning, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
Just this year alone the world population has increased by 105 million people roughly, and the addition makes the growth rate escalate to a 1.13 percent and the world population stands at 7.4 billion people now. As the number of mouths to feed increases, resources grow more and scarcer by the day. I fear as do the rest of the world, that there will come a day we will run out of supplies. And I believe transhumanism could lead to an answer [by creating a super brain] to many of the problems facing our earth today, even though it is not fully without its own shortcomings.
Despite the unpredictability of the future, transhumanism could actually help in solving the countless crisis of the world other than resource issues. When it comes down to it, in time transhumanism will lead us to develop alternative methodologies to the practice of medicine which in return will enable us to cure any mental or physical illness. And I believe it is capable of changing the world we live in once and for all.
Though transhumanism is committed to improving the human condition and optimistic about our prospects for doing so, it does not entail any believe in the inevitability of progress nor in a future free of dangers and downsides. And the challenges will be dealt with in due time with many others that are bound to come in the lights of the hour.
Despite all their evolutionary ideas and philosophy not everyone welcomes the transhumanists with warm hugs and smiles. Finding solutions for the complications resulting from the biological and technological aspects might take many decades, since nothing can be confirmed about the future. But the challenges faced are not just these and most of the unwillingness to accept comes from the ethical and social aspects of the ideology.
Richard A.L. Jones on his book titled “Against Transhumanism” argues transhumanists are a sure futurists. He says transhumanists are far reaching because they are excited by the latest developments in nanotechnology, robotics and computer science, they fearlessly look ahead, projecting consequences from technology that are more transformative.
As I tried to mention above, transhumanism would do wonders in countries like mine. But the development of technology as simple as phones and electricity, let alone altering the human body, are considered more of the devil’s work than the evolutionary and life changing progresses that they are. And teaching the population to accept this will not be a walk in the park.
It mostly has to do with the fear of change; which is mainly a result of the cultural, religious and most importantly subjective-moral based value system of the community most of us are raised upon. Since this community considers the human body sacred, any alterations made are considered unholy.
If we are to make sure transhumanism (and many other new world technologies) actually makes significant effects and enhance the lives of the people to a much easier and better condition than today’s average state, we are going to have to work harder in making sure people see that change isn’t always scary and could be a productive entity.
From where I stand, the future is bright despite the cast of grim circumstances. And for the first time in history, the building blocks and life span of the human body could be designed, controlled and improved by the very same hands of that body. After all, the singularity between the human body and technology is a bright light guiding humanity to a better posthuman life.
Bishop, Jeffrey P. “Transhumanism, Metaphysics, and the Posthuman God.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35: (2010): 700–720. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
Jones, A.L. Richard. Against Transhumanism: The Delusion of Technological Transcendence. 1st ed. USA: Self Published, 2016. Print.
More, Max, and Natasha Vita-More, eds. The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future. United States: Wiley, John & Sons, 1-35, 2013. Print. Schneider, Susan. “Future Minds: Transhumanism, Cognitive Enhancement and the Nature of Persons.” (2008): n.pag. Web. 9 Oct. 2016.