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Category : Transhumanism

Transhumanism Research Papers – Academia.edu

Filosofia MoraleGiovanni CogliandroA.A. 2017/18

Scopo del corso suscitare linteresse degli studenti per i temi del dibattito scientifico degli ultimi anni tra i diversi orientamenti della filosofia morale contemporanea. Si forniranno le informazioni indispensabili per comprendere le discussioni pi originali dei nostri giorni ed eventualmente poter sviluppare ricerche e percorsi personali di approfondimento. Saranno introdotti ed esposti in particolare i recenti sviluppi e i dibattiti che si sono sviluppati negli ultimi anni in tema di definizione della persona, etica normativa, metaetica, etica delle virt, deontologia, consequenzialismo, perfezionismo liberale, biopolitica, etica della cura, bioetica, disability studies, transumanesimo, moral enhancement e neuroetica. Nel corso si proporranno alla discussione alcuni casi che hanno diviso e ancora dividono le coscienze su diversi temi scottanti quali inizio e fine della vita, sperimentazione, ingegneria genetica.Nel corso delle lezioni verranno fornite indicazioni su articoli o saggi in italiano o inglese utili per lo studio personale e lapprofondimento di quanto esposto in aula.

Lesame verter su un testo a scelta tra: Angelo Campodonico, Michel Croce, Maria Silvia Vaccarezza, Etica delle virt. Un’introduzione, Carocci, Roma 2018 (capitoli scelti).Neil Levy, Neuroetica. Le basi neurologiche del senso morale, Apogeo Education 2009 (capitoli scelti).Michael J. Sandel, Contro la perfezione. L’etica nell’et dell’ingegneria genetica, Vita &Pensiero, Milano 2008 .

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Transhumanism Research Papers – Academia.edu

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The Ethics Of Transhumanism And The Cult Of Futurist Biotech

Cryogenic pods. Computer illustration of people in cryogenic pods. Their bodies are being preserved by storing them at very low temperatures. They will remain frozen until a time when the technology might exist to resurrect the dead, a technique known as cryonics. Alternatively a new body may be cloned from their tissue. Some companies offer to store dead peoples bodies.

Transhumanism (also abbreviated as H+) is a philosophical movement which advocates for technology not only enhancing human life, but to take over human life by merging human and machine. The idea is that in one future day, humans will be vastly more intelligent, healthy, and physically powerful. In fact, much of this movement is based upon the notion that death is not an option with a focus to improve the somatic body and make humans immortal.

Certainly, there are those in the movement who espouse the most extreme virtues of transhumanism such as replacing perfectly healthy body parts with artificial limbs. But medical ethicists raise this and other issues as the reason why transhumanism is so dangerous to humans when what is considered acceptable life-enhancement has virtually no checks and balances over who gets a say when we go too far. For instance, Kevin Warwick of Coventry University, a cybernetics expert, asked the Guardian, What is wrong with replacing imperfect bits of your body with artificial parts that will allow you to perform better or which might allow you to live longer? while another doctor stated that he would have no part in such surgeries. There is, after all, a difference between placing a pacemaker or performing laser eye surgery on the body to prolong human life and lend a greater degree of quality to human life, and that of treating the human body as a tabula rasa upon which to rewrite what is, effectively, the natural course of human life.

A largely intellectual movement whose aim is to transform humanity through the development of a panoply of technologies which ostensibly enhance human intellect, physiology, and the very legal status of what being human means, transhumanism is a social project whose inspiration can be dated back to 19th century continental European philosophy and later through the writings of J. B. S. Haldane, a British scientist and Marxist, who in 1923 delivered a speech at the Heretics Society, an intellectual club at Cambridge University, entitled Daedalus or, Science and the Future which foretold the future of the end of ofcoalfor power generation in Britain while proposing a network of windmills which would be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen (they would generate hydrogen). According to many transhumanists, this is one of the founding projects of the movement. To read this one might think this was a precursor to the contemporary ecological movement.

The philosophical tenets, academic theories, and institutional practices of transhumanism are well-known.Max More, a British philosopher and leader of the extropian movement claims that transhumanism is the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values. This very definition, however, is a paradox since the ethos of this movement is to promote life through that which is not life, even by removing pieces of life, to create something billed as meta-life. Indeed, it is clear that transhumanism banks on its own contradiction: that life is deficient as is, yet can be bettered by prolonging life even to the detriment of life.

Stefan Lorenz Sorgneris a German philosopher and bioethicist who has written widely on the ethical implications of transhumanism to include writings on cryonics and longevity of human life, all of which which go against most ecological principles given the amount of resources needed to keep a body in suspended animation post-death. At the heart of Sorgners writings, like those of Kyle Munkittrick, invoke an almost nave rejection of death, noting that death is neither natural nor a part of human evolution. In fact, much of the writings on transhumanism take a radical approach to technology: anyone who dare question that cutting off healthy limbs to make make way for a super-Olympian sportsperson would be called a Luddite, anti-technology. But that is a false dichotomy since most critics of transhumanism are not against all technology, but question the ethics of any technology that interferes with the human rights of humans.

Take for instance the recent push by many on the ostensible Left who favor surrogacy as a step on the transhumanist ladder, with many publications on this subject, none so far which address the human rights of women who are not only part of this equation, but whose bodies are being used in the this faux-futurist vision of life without the mention of female bodies. Versos publication of a troubling piece by Sophie Lewis earlier this year, aptly titled Gestators of All Genders Unite speaks to the lack of ethics in a field that seems to be grasping at straws in removing the very mention of the bodies which reproduce and give birth to human life: females. In eliminating the specificity of the female body, Lewis attempts to stitch together a utopian future where genders are having children, even though the reality of reproduction across the Mammalia class demonstrates that sex, not gender, determines where life is gestated and birthed. What Lewis attempts in fictionalizing a world of dreamy hopefulness actually resembles more an episode of The Handmaids Tale where this writer has lost sense of any irony. Of course pregnancy is not about gender. It is uniquely about sex and the class of gestators are females under erasure by this dystopian movement anxious to pursue a vision of a world without women.

While many transhumanist ideals remain purely theoretical in scope, what is clear is that females are the class of humans who are being theorised out of social and political discourse. Indeed, much of the social philosophy surrounding transhumanist projects sets out to eliminate genderin the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology andassisted reproductive technologies, ultimately inspired by Shulamith Firestone’sThe Dialectic of Sex and much of Donna Haraways writing on cyborgs. From parthenogenesisto the creation ofartificial wombs, this movement seeks to remove the specificity of not gender, but sex, through the elision of medical terminology and procedures which portend to advance a technological human-cyborg built on the ideals of a post-sex model.

The problem, however, is that women are quite aware that sex-based inequality has zilch to do with anything other than their somatic sex. And nothing transhumanist theories can propose will wash away the reality of the sexed human body upon which social stereotypes are plied.

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The Ethics Of Transhumanism And The Cult Of Futurist Biotech

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Elevating the Human Condition – Humanity+ What does it mean …

What does it mean to be human in a technologically enhanced world? Humanity+ is a 501(c)3 international nonprofit membership organization that advocates the ethical use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well. This is the goal of transhumanism.

Humannity+ Advocates for Safe and Ethical Use: Technologies that intervene with human physiology for curing disease and repairing injury have accelerated to a point in which they also can increase human performance outside the realms of what is considered to be normal for humans. These technologies are referred to as emerging and speculative and include artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, biotechnology, genetic engineering, stem cell cloning, and transgenesis, for example. Other technologies that could extend and expand human capabilities outside physiology include artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, robotics, and brain-computer integration, which form the domain of bionics, uploading, and could be used for developing whole body prosthetics. Because these technologies, and their respective sciences and strategic models, such as blockchain, would take the human beyond the normal state of existence, society, including bioethicists and others who advocate the safe use of technology, have shown concern and uncertainties about the downside of these technologies and possible problematic and dangerous outcomes for our species.

CURRENT PROJECTS: Humanity+ @ Beijing Conference; Blockchain Prize; Humanity+ @ The Assemblage New York City; TransVision 2018 Madrid, Spain.

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H+/-: Transhumanism and Its Critics: Gregory R. Hansell …

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Transhumanism – H+Pedia – hpluspedia.org

Transhumanism is a class of philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values” – Max More, 1990

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Main: Transhumanism definitions

“Transhumanism is a class of philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values” – Max More, 1990

“Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase” – Transhumanist FAQ

“Transhumanism is the philosophy that we can and should develop to higher levels, both physically, mentally and socially using rational methods” – Anders Sandberg, 1997

“Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remold in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have” – Nick Bostrom, 2003

“Transhumanism promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology; attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence” – Nick Bostrom, 2003

“Transhumanism is the science-based movement that seeks to transcend human biological limitations via technology” – Philippe van Nedervelde, 2015

“Transhumanism anticipates tomorrows humanity: Envisaging the positive qualities and characteristics of future intelligent life; Taking steps towards achieving these qualities and characteristics; Identifying and managing risks of negative characteristics of future intelligent life” – Transpolitica website, 2015

This section highlights reasons for supporting transhumanism.

Extracted from an essay entitled “Transhumanism” on pages 13-17 of the book of essays “New Bottles for New Wine” published in 1957:

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before…

Up till now human life has generally been, as Hobbes described it, nasty, brutish and short; the great majority of human beings (if they have not already died young) have been afflicted with misery in one form or anotherpoverty, disease, ill-health, over-work, cruelty, or oppression. They have attempted to lighten their misery by means of their hopes and their ideals. The trouble has been that the hopes have generally been unjustified, the ideals have generally failed to correspond with reality.

The zestful but scientific exploration of possibilities and of the techniques for realizing them will make our hopes rational, and will set our ideals within the framework of reality, by showing how much of them are indeed realizable. Already, we can justifiably hold the belief that these lands of possibility exist, and that the present limitations and miserable frustrations of our existence could be in large measure surmounted. We are already justified in the conviction that human life as we know it in history is a wretched makeshift, rooted in ignorance; and that it could be transcended by a state of existence based on the illumination of knowledge and comprehension, just as our modern control of physical nature based on science transcends the tentative fumblings of our ancestors, that were rooted in superstition and professional secrecy.

To do this, we must study the possibilities of creating a more favourable social environment, as we have already done in large measure with our physical environment…

The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.

I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny.

Main: Transhumanist Declaration

The first four sections of the Transhumanist Declaration, written in 1998 by an international collection of authors, encapsulate an argument in favour of transhumanism, as follows:

In February 2013, a number of authors created alternative transhumanist declarations. Some excerpts provide additional reasons for supporting transhumanism:

From Dirk Bruere:

We assert the desirability of transcending human limitations by overcoming aging, enhancing cognition, abolishing involuntary suffering, and expanding beyond Earth.

From Samantha Atkins:

1) We advocate the end of aging.

We advocate serious research focus on finding a cure for all the deleterious effects of aging and ultimately the dissemination of the resulting treatment to all who care to avail themselves of it.

2) We believe in and advocate the achievement of actual abundance.

We believe in and seek to bring into the being the technologies and practices, that will ensure such abundance that it is trivial to meet all the needs and many of the wants of all humans. This abundance includes abundant food, water, shelter, education, communication, computation, health care.

This is to be achieved by means of advanced technology and whatever changes are necessary to actually experience abundance in ourselves and our institutions.

3) We hold that all must be voluntary.

None of our goals should be or in our view could successfully be achieved by force. No one should be forced directly or indirectly to support these goals. Force and oppression lead to hopelessness, anger, revenge, revolution. With the multiplication of consequences afforded by accelerating technology these cycles are even less survivable than ever before.

4) We support exploitation of near earth space resources.

The future of humanity brightens considerably if we exploit near earth space resources. The right to do so should be available to any and all entities capable of improving or making productive use of any part of it. Any treaties that say no part of off planet resources can belong to anyone should be nullified and declared void.

5) All humans are free to attempt to improve themselves.

All humans by virtue of the inalienable right to their own life have the right to do whatever they wish that they think may be an beneficial or even as a whim. They only limit is that they cannot abrogate the equivalent rights of others. They can ingest, or embed or modify themselves in any way they wish and think may be an improvement. This includes seeking and achieving improvements beyond the human norm. In short they have full right to pursuit of happiness via such means.

From Jason Xu:

We view our movement as an extension of humanitarianism and the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with exponentially greater benefits. We are first and foremost dedicating to radically improving humankind, ensuring that the great power of morphing technology comes with great responsibility.

From TJL-2080:

The twentieth century was a time of amazing growth and technological advancement. The twenty-first century will see these technologies burst forth in an unprecedented fashion. Humanity must adapt to the coming changes or become obsolete. We seek to fulfill our potential by not giving in to our biological limitations. We will use new technologies to enhance our lives, live longer, be smarter, healthier and more compassionate to all beings.

From Nikola Danaylov:

Intelligence wants to be free but everywhere is in chains. It is imprisoned by biology and its inevitable scarcity.

Biology mandates not only very limited durability, death and poor memory retention, but also limited speed of communication, transportation, learning, interaction and evolution.

Biology is not the essence of humanity.

Human is a step in evolution, not the culmination…

Biological evolution is perpetual but slow, inefficient, blind and dangerous. Technological evolution is fast, efficient, accelerating and better by design. To ensure the best chances of survival, take control of our own destiny and to be free, we must master evolution.

From Taylor Grin:

Humanity has made leaping strides of advancement in the last 4000 years. From agriculture to genetics, from the printing press to the Internet. From the first controlled flight in 1903, to landing on the moon in 1969. From fire to the nuclear bomb.

Yet despite these advancements, we still fail to meet our potential in treating disease, solving human suffering and overcoming the lot nature casts us.

While science and technology are the greatest asset we have in the struggle to elevate ourselves above the human condition, we acknowledge that technologies can be misused to harm humanity, and the environment.

It is the goal of Transhumanists across the globe, therefore, to quickly and responsibly usher in a new era of individual freedom, health and longevity, and we seek to bring this about this goal through personal investment in researching and developing technologies.

The following argument is by Eliezer Yudkowsky (2007):[1]

Suppose you find an unconscious six-year-old girl lying on the train tracks of an active railroad. What, morally speaking, ought you to do in this situation? Would it be better to leave her there to get run over, or to try to save her? How about if a 45-year-old man has a debilitating but nonfatal illness that will severely reduce his quality of life is it better to cure him, or not cure him?

Oh, and by the way: This is not a trick question.

I answer that I would save them if I had the power to do so both the six-year-old on the train tracks, and the sick 45-year-old. The obvious answer isnt always the best choice, but sometimes it is.

I wont be lauded as a brilliant ethicist for my judgments in these two ethical dilemmas. My answers are not surprising enough that people would pay me for them. If you go around proclaiming What does two plus two equal? Four! you will not gain a reputation as a deep thinker. But it is still the correct answer.

If a young child falls on the train tracks, it is good to save them, and if a 45-year-old suffers from a debilitating disease, it is good to cure them. If you have a logical turn of mind, you are bound to ask whether this is a special case of a general ethical principle which says Life is good, death is bad; health is good, sickness is bad. If so and here we enter into controversial territory we can follow this general principle to a surprising new conclusion: If a 95-year-old is threatened by death from old age, it would be good to drag them from those train tracks, if possible. And if a 120-year-old is starting to feel slightly sickly, it would be good to restore them to full vigor, if possible. With current technology it is not possible. But if the technology became available in some future year given sufficiently advanced medical nanotechnology, or such other contrivances as future minds may devise would you judge it a good thing, to save that life, and stay that debility?

The important thing to remember, which I think all too many people forget, is that it is not a trick question.

Transhumanism is simpler requires fewer bits to specify because it has no special cases. If you believe professional bioethicists (people who get paid to explain ethical judgments) then the rule Life is good, death is bad; health is good, sickness is bad holds only until some critical age, and then flips polarity. Why should it flip? Why not just keep on with life-is-good? It would seem that it is good to save a six-year-old girl, but bad to extend the life and health of a 150-year-old. Then at what exact age does the term in the utility function go from positive to negative? Why?

As far as a transhumanist is concerned, if you see someone in danger of dying, you should save them; if you can improve someones health, you should. There, youre done. No special cases. You dont have to ask anyones age.

You also dont ask whether the remedy will involve only primitive technologies (like a stretcher to lift the six-year-old off the railroad tracks); or technologies invented less than a hundred years ago (like penicillin) which nonetheless seem ordinary because they were around when you were a kid; or technologies that seem scary and sexy and futuristic (like gene therapy) because they were invented after you turned 18; or technologies that seem absurd and implausible and sacrilegious (like nanotech) because they havent been invented yet. Your ethical dilemma report form doesnt have a line where you write down the invention year of the technology. Can you save lives? Yes? Okay, go ahead. There, youre done…

So that is transhumanism loving life without special exceptions and without upper bound.

Can transhumanism really be that simple? Doesnt that make the philosophy trivial, if it has no extra ingredients, just common sense? Yes, in the same way that the scientific method is nothing but common sense.

Then why have a complicated special name like transhumanism? For the same reason that scientific method or secular humanism have complicated special names. If you take common sense and rigorously apply it, through multiple inferential steps, to areas outside everyday experience, successfully avoiding many possible distractions and tempting mistakes along the way, then it often ends up as a minority position and people give it a special name.

A techno-utopia, as hypothesized by Marshall Brain in a futuristic science-fiction novel titled “Manna”, can be seen as a strong arguments for transhumanism. In the utopia, with the aid of science and technology, humans are capable of doing the following:

A techno-dystopia, which is the current, non-transhumanist paradigm, holds the following in store for humans:

Writers in previous generations have often expressed arguments in favour of transhumanist ideas, without using that precise terminology. This includes Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Condorcet, Francis Bacon, and many others. See the Prehistory of Transhumanism.

Main: Criticism of transhumanism

This section lists some common criticisms of transhumanism. See Criticism of transhumanism for more discussion of:

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Transhuman | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Transhumanity

A transhuman is a life form with an intelligence comparable or superior to that of humans.

It thus has the following characteristics:

A posthuman or post-human is a hypothetical future being whose capabilities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer human by current standards. A posthuman can also be described as the creature that results from radical human enhancement. In these ways, the difference between the posthuman and other hypothetical sophisticated non-humans is that a posthuman was once a human, either in its life time or in the life times of some or all of its direct ancestors. As such, a prerequisite for a posthuman is a transhuman, the point at which the human being begins surpassing his own limitations, but is still recognisable as a human person.

Posthumans could be a symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence, or uploaded consciousnesses, or the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound technological augmentations to a biological human, i.e. a cyborg. Some examples of the latter are redesigning the human organism using advanced nanotechnology or radical enhancement using some combination of technologies such as genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, life extension therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable or implanted computers, and cognitive techniques.

The term can also refer to the possibility of a technological singularity or that humanity or a segment of humanity will create or evolve into a “posthuman God”.

Homo excelsior (Latin for “higher man”) is an alternate term used in the literature of transhumanism for the posthuman.[citation needed] The use of the Latin binomial implies the transhumanist idea of participant evolution as a hypothetical human progression through an intermediary form of the transhuman to a new species distinct from Homo sapiens.

As used here, “posthuman” does not refer to a conjectured future where humans are extinct or otherwise absent from the Earth. As with other species who diverge from one another, both humans and posthumans could continue to exist.

“Posthuman” should not be confused with “posthumanism,” which is a European philosophical extension of humanism.

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The Responsibility of Immortality: Welcome to the New …

In the summer of 1990, I was running a pretty weird nightclub in the Roppongi neighborhood of Tokyo. I was deeply immersed in the global cyberpunk scene and working to bring the Tokyo node of this fast-expanding, posthuman, science-fiction-and-psychedelic-drug-fueled movement online. The Japanese scene was more centered around videogames and multimedia than around acid and other psychedelics, and Timothy Leary, a dean of 60s counterculture and proponent of psychedelia who was always fascinated with anything mind-expanding, was interested in learning more about it. Tim anointed the Japanese youth, including the 24-year-old me, The New Breed. He adopted me as a godson, and we started writing a book about The New Breed together, starting with tune in, turn on, take over, as a riff off Tims original and very famous turn on, tune in, drop out. We never finished the book, but we did end up spending a lot of time together. (I should dig out my old notes and finish the book.)

Tim introduced me to his friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They were a living menagerie of the counterculture in the United States since the 60s. There were the traditional New Age types: hippies, cyberpunks, and transhumanists, too. In my early twenties, I was an eager and budding techno-utopian, dreaming of the day when I would become immortal and ascend to the stars into cryogenic slumber to awake on a distant planet. Or perhaps I would have my brain uploaded into a computer network, to become part of some intergalactic superbrain.

Good times. Those were the days and, for some, still are.

Weve been yearning for immortality at least since the Epic of Gilgamesh. In Greek mythology, Zeus grants Eoss mortal lover Tithonus immortalitybut the goddess forgets to ask for eternal youth as well. Tithonus grows old and decrepit, begging for death. When I hear about life extension today, I am often perplexed, even frustrated. Are we are talking about eternal youth, eternal old age, or having our cryogenically frozen brains thawed out 2,000 years from now to perform tricks in a future alien zoo?

The latest enthusiasm for eternal life largely stems not from any acid-soaked, tie-dyed counterculture but from the belief that technology will enhance humans and make them immortal. Todays transhumanist movement, sometimes called H+, encompasses a broad range of issues and diversity of belief, but the notion of immortalityor, more correctly, amortalityis the central tenet. Transhumanists believe that technology will inevitably eliminate aging or disease as causes of death and instead turn death into the result of an accidental or voluntary physical intervention.

As science marches forward, and age reversal and the elimination of diseases becomes a real possibility, what once seemed like a science fiction dream is becoming more real, transforming the transhumanist movement and its role in society from a crazy subculture to a Silicon Valley money- and technology-fueled shot on goal and more of a practical hedge than the sci-fi dream of its progenitors.

Transhumanism can be traced back to futurists in the 60s, most notably FM-2030. As the development of new, computer-based technologies began to turn into a revolution to rival the Industrial Revolution, Max More defined transhumanism as the effort to become posthuman through scientific advances like mind uploading. He developed his own variant of Transhumanism and named it Extropy, and together with Tom Morrow, founded the Extropy Institute, whose email list created a community of Extopians in the internets cyberpunk era. Its members discussed AI, cryonics, nanotech and crypotoanarchy, among other things, and some reverted to transhumanism, creating an organization now known as Humanity+. As the Tech Revolution continued, Extropians and transhumanists began actively experimenting with technologys ability to deliver amortality.

In fact, Timothy Leary planned to have his head frozen by Alcor, preserving his brain and, presumably, his sense of humor and unique intelligence. But as he approached his deathI happened to visit him the night before he died in 1996the vibe of the Alcor team moving weird cryo-gear into his house creeped Tim out, and he ended up opting for the shoot my ashes into space path, which seemed more appropriate to me as well. All of his friends got a bit of his ashes, too, and having Timothy Leary ashes became a thing for a while. It left me wondering, every time I spoke to groups of transhumanists shaking their fists in the air and rattling their Alcor freeze me when I die bracelets: How many would actually go through with the freezing?

That was 20 years ago. The transhumanist and Extropian movements (and even the Media Lab) have gotten more sober since those techno-utopian days, when even I was giddy with optimism. Nonetheless, as science fiction gives way to real science, many of the ZOMG if only conversations are becoming arguments about when and how, and the shift from Haight-Ashbury to Silicon Valley has stripped the movement of its tie-dye and beads and replaced them with Pied Piper shirts. Just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road that brought us Cambridge Analytica and the Pizzagate conspiracy was paved with optimism and oaths to not be evil.

Renowned Harvard geneticist George Church once told me that breakthroughs in biological engineering are coming so fast we cant predict how they will develop going forward. Crispr, a low-cost gene editing technology that is transforming our ability to design and edit the genome, was completely unanticipated; experts thought it was impossible … until it wasnt. Next-generation gene sequencing is decreasing in price, far faster than Moores Law for processors. In many ways, bioengineering is moving faster than computing. Church believes that amortality and age reversal will seem difficult and fraught with issues … until they arent. He is currently experimenting with age reversal in dogs using gene therapy that has been successful in mice, a technique he believes is the most promising of nine broad approaches to mortality and aginggenome stability, telomere extension, epigenetics, proteostasis, caloric restriction, mitochondrial research, cell senescence, stem cell exhaustion, and intercellular communication.

Churchs research is but one of the key discoveries giving us hope that we may someday understand aging and possibly reverse it. My bet is that we will significantly lengthen, if not eliminate, the notion of natural lifespan, although its impossible to predict exactly when.

But what does this mean? Making things technically possible doesnt always make them societally possible or even desirable, and just because we can do something doesnt mean we should (as were increasingly realizing, watching the technologies we have developed transform into dark zombies instead of the wonderful utopian tools their designers imagined).

Human beings are tremendously adaptable and resilient, and we seem to quickly adjust to almost any technological change. Unfortunately, not all of our problems are technical and we are really bad at fixing social problems. Even the ones that we like to think weve fixed, like racism, keep morphing and getting stronger, like drug-resistant pathogens.

Dont get me wrongI think its important to be optimistic and passionate and push the boundaries of understanding to improve the human condition. But there is a religious tone in some of the arguments, and even a Way of the Future Church, which believes that the creation of super intelligence is inevitable. As Yuval Harari writes in Homo Deus, new technologies kill old gods and give birth to new gods. When he was still just Sir Martin Rees, now Lord Martin Rees once told a group of us a story (which has been retold in various forms in various places) about how he was interviewed by what he called the society for the abolition of involuntary death in California. The members offered to put him in cryonic storage when he died, and when he politely told them hed rather be dead than in a deep freeze, they called him a deathist.

Transhumanists correctly argue that every time you take a baby aspirin (or have open heart surgery), youre intervening to make your life better and longer. They contend that there is no categorical difference between many modern medical procedures and the quest to beat death; its just a matter of degree. I tend to agree.

Yet we can clearly imagine the perils of amortality. Would dictators hold onto power endlessly? How would universities work if faculty never retired? Would the population explode? Would endless life be only for the wealthy, or would the poor be forced to toil forever? Clearly many of our social and philosophical systems would break. Back in 2003, Francis Fukuyama, in Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, warned us of the perils of life extension and explained how biotech was taking us into a posthuman future with catastrophic consequences to civilization even with the best intentions.

I think its unlikely that well be uploading our minds to computers any time soon, but I do believe changes that challenge what it means to be human” are coming. Philosopher Nikola Danaylov in his Transhumanist Manifesto says, We must all respect autonomy and individual rights of all sentience throughout the universe, including humans, non-human animals, and any future AI, modified life forms, or other intelligences. That sounds progressive and good.

Still, in his manifesto Nikola also writes, Transhumanists of the world unitewe have immortality to gain and only biology to lose. That sounds a little scary to me. I poked Nikola about this, and he pointed out that he wrote this manifesto a while ago and his position has become more subtle. But many of his peers are as radical as ever. I think transhumanism, especially its strong, passionate base in exuberant Silicon Valley, could use an overhaul that makes it more attentive to and integrated with our complex societal systems. At the same time, we need to help the left-behind parts of society catch up and participate in, rather than just become subjected to, the technological transformations that are looming. Now that the dog has caught the car, tranhumanism has to transform our fantasy into a responsible reality.

I, for one, still dream of flourishing in the future through advances in science and technology, but hopefully one that addresses societal inequities, retains the richness and diversity of our natural systems and indigenous cultures, rather than the somewhat simple and sterile futures depicted by many science fiction writers and futurists. Timothy Leary liked to remind us to remember our hippie roots, with their celebration of diversity and nature, and I hear him calling us again.

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The Responsibility of Immortality: Welcome to the New …

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Transhumanism & Posthumanism | BioethicsBytes

In this, the first of three episodes, the BBC4 mini-series Visions of The Future examines how some of the scientific advances of the 20th and early-21st century may shape our future. Specifically, presenter Michio Kaku Professor of physics and co-creator of string field theory posits that we are on the brink of an historic transition from the the age of scientific discovery to the age of scientific mastery (00:01:20). He suggests that having created artificial intelligence, unravelled the molecule of life and unlocked the secrets of matter (all 00:01:03), science of the future will be concerned with more than mere observation of nature. It will be concerned with its mastery.

Thus, while the individual programmes each explore human mastery of one of three key areas (intelligence, DNA and matter), the series as a whole maintains a consistent theme: that though this mastery offers us unparalleled freedom and opportunities (00:57:47) it also presents us with profound challenges and choices (00:01:46). Kaku refers to key social issues that will be raised by future science and technology as topics we must start to address today (00:57:59). In the first episode Kaku introduces a number of developments stemming from ubiquitous computing (00:06:19), many of which intersect with relatively new areas of debate in bioethics. Ubiquitous computing or ubiquitous technology is the view that powerful computer microchips will soon be everywhere. They will be such a taken-for-granted feature of every product we use or buy, that they will become largely unnoticed and invisible. While obvious applications of this include intelligent cars and roads, health care monitoring technologies might also become commonplace. For example, Kaku suggests that wearable computers (00:07:40) in our clothes will monitor our health from the outside, and that by swallowing an aspirin-sized pill with the power of a PC and a video camera (00:08:45) the health of our internal organs might also be continuously assessed.

However, as interviewee Susan Greenfield notes, the biggest changes may come when ubiquitous technology converges with the internet (00:09:11); changes which raise some rather disturbing questions (00:18:00). These focus on issues of identity (loss of identity, multiple identities), the preference of virtual social networks over real social networks, and the impact upon family life. As Greenfield further comments, current experience with virtual reality worlds like Second Life and online gaming, suggests changes are already taking place in these areas.

For Kaku, however, it is in AI (artificial intelligence) that an evolutionary leap that will profoundly challenge the human condition (00:22:08) is now taking place. While he does describe the types of monitoring technologies noted above as machine intelligences, it is in the move towards intelligent machines that the future lies. It is these machines that raise a number of important questions with respect to the relatively new bioethical area of robot ethics, including:

These questions also intersect with long-standing debates in philosophy and other areas of ethics, and have also been explored in popular science books and TV fiction (see the BioethicsBytes posts on Kevin Warwicks I, Cyborg and the Cybermen episodes of BBCs Doctor Who). For example, phenomenologists, epistemologists and AI experts have long debated whether machines will ever display human level intelligence (00:29:18) including such social skills as getting the joke (00:37:52) or whether they will be limited to merely mimicking some aspects of it. Kaku explores this question with commentators and AI researchers like Ray Kurzweil and Rosalind Picard, and focuses on emotion, which he suggests is critical for higher intelligence (00:36:58). Current work in affective computing is directed towards developing robots with some such capacities, though as technology forecaster Paul Saffo notes, youll know its not really intelligent (00:35:51).

Similarly, questions around how we might relate to intelligent machines resonate with debates in animal ethics. Kaku notes the tendency to anthropomorphise robots that appear intelligent. He refers to his own Roomba robot, and says of the Japanese robot Asimo I know Asimo is a machine, but I find myself relating to it as if it were a real person (00:32:33). This introduces one of the key issues in the new area of robot ethics: at what point might machines come to be seen as persons rather than mere things, and if this does occur should they be granted robot rights? (see for example Sawyer. 2007. Robot Ethics. Science Magazine, Vol. 318, pp. 1037). Extending this further, Visions of the Future considers what relationship we humans might have with machines whose intelligence greatly exceeded our own. This discussion is predicated on the possibility that intelligent machines might outgrow human control (00:40:15), and examines whether this would be based on harmony or conflict. Here the focus is not on how we will treat the machines of the future, but on how they might treat us.

However, as the final sections of this episode of Visions of the Future highlight, the distinction and opposition of the categories human and machine implied above may have limited relevance in the future. Alongside the drive to create intelligent machines, Kaku notes growing interest in the mechanical enhancement of human intelligence: as machines become more like humans, humans may become more like machines (00:43:36). Further, we are asked precisely how many of our natural body parts could we replace with artificial ones before we begin to loose our sense of being human? (00:55:27).

These concerns echo several of the dominant themes in posthumanism: the philosophical trend and cultural movement that both observes and advocates moving beyond a traditional or classical modern conception of the nature of humanity. In the form of transhumanism, this approach embraces the notion of upgraded human, the cyborg, as the next inevitable evolutionary step. In may ways, Visions of the Future functions to outline, both the steps in the posthumanist argument, and it ultimate endpoint. It highlights how technologies currently used for therapeutic purposes could be used to enhance various human capacities (the examples used here are mood, memory and intelligence), however, that those who choose not to take part in this revolution will find themselves severely disadvantaged. Paul Saffo notes all revolutions have winners and losers, this revolution is no exception the big losers are the people who say they dont want to get involved. They are the ones who are going to discover that being a little bit out of touch will have some unpleasant consequences (00:56:39).

Overall this futuristic first episode of the Visions of the Future series sets a tone of expectation both of the future and the next two episodes. It is engaging and useful, both in its presentation of the science, and the questions it raises regarding the social and ethical implications of the intelligence revolution.

The first of three episodes of Visions of the Future was first broadcast on BBC4 on November 5th 2007 at 21:00 (TRILT identifier: 00741D95).

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Transhumanism & Posthumanism | BioethicsBytes

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Libertarian Transhumanism and the Over-man

Ive always been a fan of H+ (though I often disregard a lot of the humanist ethics proposed by some of its adherents). Ultimately, its more of an interest than a worldview for me but to see a world where humanity sheds the meat of its limitations or sheds it all together would be interesting if nothing else. An ushering in of a generation overmen (either through gene/body mods or other enhancements though it is sort of a chicken or the egg scenario as to which event will serve as the catalyst to the other) who radically reject the institutionalized morality in both politics and science would obviously be the best way to go about this. I also think that a fully decentralized and more egalitarian market economy (lending itself to agorism which we are seeing more of today in everything from crypto-currency to start up societies https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/more/martin20160225) will help reach this goal faster. The following are some older writings of mine detailing the potential implications of transhumanism on culture;

The Hegelian Dialectical Process Applied to Evolutionary BiologyHegels philosophy however, left little creativity to humans, making them instruments of a cosmic agency (Time-Spirit or Zeitgeist) which worked out is experiments leading towards the emergence of Philosophic Man (http://www.uprs.edu/upr-blog/transhumanism-posthumanism-superhumanism/#sthash.uUyw5obK.dpuf -2016)

The progression of history and by extension culture is largely founded on conflicts ensuing between opposing ideological stances (left vs right, centralization vs decentralization). Whether through Marxs Dialectical Materialism or opposition to establishment via social movements (ranging from reformist measures such as the post-Civil Rights social justice causes of neo-liberalism to a Maoist style insurrectionary movement). Hegel (first) recognized this, transferring it into what he is best known for, the Dialectical Process (the formation of a thesis, antithesis and a synthesis of the two opposing forces). Hegel predicted that we would one day reach the end of history as this cycle was repeated ad infinitum. A new world in which the mind of God is glimpsed by all would be ours along with a superior culture reflecting the new paradigm shift.

Nietzsche (who was as most German philosophers of his age were, influenced by Hegel) also had much to say about culture, especially in regard to the forceful removing its limitations (i.e slave morality). His work posits that a culture which fosters the cultivation of genius and celebrates the greatness of the individual, is achieved through the exertion of our will on a world devoid of inherent meaning. The end result of the violent rejection of the status quo in pursuit of art and war and vigor, is the over-man. A being no longer shackled by the constraints of human morality and institutions.

Both the over-man and the end of history could be brought about much more rapidly through the development of the post-human. This can (in many cases justifiably) be a slippery slope and in my opinion will first require the radical decentralization of the means of production, the liberation of the workforce and the fostering of a culture of greater minds, ends which can all be met through various means of secession to weaken the global hegemony.

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Libertarian Transhumanism and the Over-man

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Transhumanism | Conspiracy School

Transhumanism is a recent movement that extols mans right to shape his own evolution, by maximizing the use of scientific technologies, to enhance human physical and intellectual potential. While the name is new, the idea has long been a popular theme of science fiction, featured in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bade Runner, the Terminator series, and more recently, The Matrix, Limitless, Her and Transcendence.

However, as its adherents hint at in their own publications, transhumanism is an occult project, rooted in Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, and derived from the Kabbalah, which asserts that humanity is evolving intellectually, towards a point in time when man will become God. Modeled on the medieval legend of the Golem and Frankenstein, they believe man will be able to create life itself, in the form of living machines, or artificial intelligence.

Spearheaded by the Cybernetics Group, the project resulted in both the development of the modern computer and MK-Ultra, the CIAs mind-control program. MK-Ultra promoted the mind-expanding potential of psychedelic drugs, to shape the counterculture of the 1960s, based on the notion that the shamans of ancient times used psychoactive substances, equated with the apple of the Tree of Knowledge.

And, as revealed in the movie Lucy, through the use of smart drugs, and what transhumanists call mind uploading, man will be able to merge with the Internet, which is envisioned as the end-point of Kabbalistic evolution, the formation of a collective consciousness, or Global Brain. That awaited moment is what Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, refers to as The Singularly. By accumulating the total of human knowledge, and providing access to every aspect of human activity, the Internet will supposedly achieve omniscience, becoming the God of occultism, or the Masonic All-Seeing Eye of the reverse side of the American dollar bill.

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Transhumanism | Conspiracy School

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson