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May 01, 2006

Transhumanism and its impact

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism

Perhaps its just the range of readings I've been sampling lately, or perhaps my addled brain is drawing connecting lines where there are none, but I'm suddenly seeing the dawning rays of a transhumanist future.

I feel oddly unprepared, transhumanism is not a topic I ever discovered in academia and indeed seems to be a movement that often takes science fiction as a key explanatory reference. Yet I feel that given my degree title its something I should have covered in more substantial depth somwhere along the lines. I'm not sure I even need to be prepared, I feel a need for some kind of action but I'm unsure how such action might even begin.

Transhumanism – transcending the current human condition. Something rightly feared by many established religions. Especially if it can promise immortality. Its an awe and maybe fear inspiring concept that the 'I' may not be fixed. One may be able to overcome ones physical limits in very direct ways, replace and improve whole limbs, run faster, jump higher and lift more. How can religions continue to hold sway over a transhumanity? Forget your abortion debates, this will be the ultimate showdown between 'science' and 'religion'. The questions just keep piling up. Can an immortal life itself even continue to hold onto meaning? Why do anything now if you have eternity in which to do it?

How will law and order keep pace with a cybernetically enhanced criminal underworld? Even if the technologies are outlawed for general use the criminals will eventually get their hands on black market technology. Will an arms race ensue as real life robo cops grapple with nano–enhanced super criminals? Will the advent of a Universal constructor destroy crime completely by eliminating wealth disparities? Or will new ways be found to mainitain a social wealth heirarchy.

Will our corrupt politicians eventually be overthrown not by the people but by a benevolent omnipotent singularity A.I. ? Will transhumans instead become trans–soldiers fighting the battles of the future in more destructive and insane ways than before?

The questions of science fiction are gradually becoming the issues of scientific fact. Its happening right in front of us and faster than most of us expect. Everyday the news draws us closer to the transhumanist future, described by Francis Fukuyama as the most dangerous idea in the world today. Choose your side wisely as this one could be brutal:

The new species, or "posthuman," will likely view the old "normal" humans as inferior, even savages, and fit for slavery or slaughter. The normals, on the other hand, may see the posthumans as a threat and if they can, may engage in a preemptive strike by killing the posthumans before they themselves are killed or enslaved by them. It is ultimately this predictable potential for genocide that makes species–altering experiments potential weapons of mass destruction, and makes the unaccountable genetic engineer a potential bioterrorist

quoted from bioethicists George Annas, Lori Andrews, and Rosario Isasi


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