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Transhumanism as Simplified Humanism – Yudkowsky

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Frank Sulloway once said: Ninety-nine per cent of what Darwinian theory says about human behavior is so obviously true that we dont give Darwin credit for it. Ironically, psychoanalysis has it over Darwinism precisely because its predictions are so outlandish and its explanations are so counterintuitive that we think, Is that really true? How radical! Freuds ideas are so intriguing that people are willing to pay for them, while one of the great disadvantages of Darwinism is that we feel we know it already, because, in a sense, we do.

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.

Suppose a boy of 9 years, who has tested at IQ 120 on the Wechsler-Bellvue, is threatened by a lead-heavy environment or a brain disease which will, if unchecked, gradually reduce his IQ to 110. I reply that it is a good thing to save him from this threat. If you have a logical turn of mind, you are bound to ask whether this is a special case of a general ethical principle saying that intelligence is precious. Now the boys sister, as it happens, currently has an IQ of 110. If the technology were available to gradually raise her IQ to 120, without negative side effects, would you judge it good to do so?

Well, of course. Why not? Its not a trick question. Either its better to have an IQ of 110 than 120, in which case we should strive to decrease IQs of 120 to 110. Or its better to have an IQ of 120 than 110, in which case we should raise the sisters IQ if possible. As far as I can see, the obvious answer is the correct one.

But you ask where does it end? It may seem well and good to talk about extending life and health out to 150 years but what about 200 years, or 300 years, or 500 years, or more? What about when in the course of properly integrating all these new life experiences and expanding ones mind accordingly over time the equivalent of IQ must go to 140, or 180, or beyond human ranges?

Where does it end? It doesnt. Why should it? Life is good, health is good, beauty and happiness and fun and laughter and challenge and learning are good. This does not change for arbitrarily large amounts of life and beauty. If there were an upper bound, it would be a special case, and that would be inelegant.

Ultimate physical limits may or may not permit a lifespan of at least length X for some X just as the medical technology of a particular century may or may not permit it. But physical limitations are questions of simple fact, to be settled strictly by experiment. Transhumanism, as a moral philosophy, deals only with the question of whether a healthy lifespan of length X is desirable if it is physically possible. Transhumanism answers yes for all X. Because, you see, its not a trick question.

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.

But a moral philosophy should not have special ingredients. The purpose of a moral philosophy is not to look delightfully strange and counterintuitive, or to provide employment to bioethicists. The purpose is to guide our choices toward life, health, beauty, happiness, fun, laughter, challenge, and learning. If the judgments are simple, that is no black mark against them morality doesnt always have to be complicated.

There is nothing in transhumanism but the same common sense that underlies standard humanism, rigorously applied to cases outside our modern-day experience. A million-year lifespan? If its possible, why not? The prospect may seem very foreign and strange, relative to our current everyday experience. It may create a sensation of future shock. And yet is life a bad thing?

Could the moral question really be just that simple?

Yes.

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Transhumanist politics – Wikipedia

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Transhumanist politics constitutes a group of political ideologies that generally express the belief in improving human individuals through science and technology.

The term "transhumanism" with its present meaning was popularised by Julian Huxley's 1957 essay of that name.[1]

Natasha Vita-More was elected as a Councilperson for the 28th Senatorial District of Los Angeles in 1992. She ran with the Green Party, but on a personal platform of "transhumanism". She quit after a year, saying her party was "too neurotically geared toward environmentalism".[2][3]

James Hughes identifies the "neoliberal" Extropy Institute, founded by philosopher Max More and developed in the 1990s, as the first organized advocates for transhumanism. And he identifies the late-1990s formation of the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), a European organization which later was renamed to Humanity+ (H+), as partly a reaction to the free market perspective of the "Extropians". Per Hughes, "[t]he WTA included both social democrats and neoliberals around a liberal democratic definition of transhumanism, codified in the Transhumanist Declaration."[4][5] Hughes has also detailed the political currents in transhumanism, particularly the shift around 2009 from socialist transhumanism to libertarian and anarcho-capitalist transhumanism.[5] He claims that the left was pushed out of the World Transhumanist Association Board of Directors, and that libertarians and Singularitarians have secured a hegemony in the transhumanism community with help from Peter Thiel, but Hughes remains optimistic about a techno-progressive future.[5]

In 2012, the Longevity Party, a movement described as "100% transhumanist" by cofounder Maria Konovalenko,[6] began to organize in Russia for building a balloted political party.[7] Another Russian programme, the 2045 Initiative was founded in 2012 by billionaire Dmitry Itskov with its own "Evolution 2045" political party advocating life extension and android avatars.[8][9]

Writing for H+ Magazine in July 2014, futurist Peter Rothman called Gabriel Rothblatt "very possibly the first openly transhumanist political candidate in the United States" when he ran as a candidate for the United States Congress.[10]

In October 2014, Zoltan Istvan announced that he would be running in the 2016 United States presidential election under the banner of the "Transhumanist Party."[11] By May 2018, the Party had nearly 880 members, and chairmanship had been given to Gennady Stolyarov II.[12] Other groups using the name "Transhumanist Party" exist in the United Kingdom[13][14][15] and Germany.[16]

According to a 2006 study by the European Parliament, transhumanism is the political expression of the ideology that technology should be used to enhance human abilities.[17]

According to Amon Twyman of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), political philosophies which support transhumanism include social futurism, techno-progressivism, techno-libertarianism, and anarcho-transhumanism.[18] Twyman considers such philosophies to collectively constitute political transhumanism.[18]

Techno-progressives also known as Democratic transhumanists,[19][20] support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and prevent technologies from furthering the divide among socioeconomic classes.[21] However, libertarian transhumanist Ronald Bailey is critical of the democratic transhumanism described by James Hughes.[22][23] Jeffrey Bishop wrote that the disagreements among transhumanists regarding individual and community rights is "precisely the tension that philosophical liberalism historically tried to negotiate," but that disagreeing entirely with a posthuman future is a disagreement with the right to choose what humanity will become.[24] Woody Evans has supported placing posthuman rights in a continuum with animal rights and human rights.[25]

Riccardo Campa wrote that transhumanism can be coupled with many different political, philosophical, and religious views, and that this diversity can be an asset so long as transhumanists do not give priority to existing affiliations over membership with organized transhumanism.[26]

Some transhumanists question the use of politicizing transhumanism.[who?] Truman Chen of the Stanford Political Journal considers many transhumanist ideals to be anti-political.[27]

Democratic transhumanism, a term coined by James Hughes in 2002, refers to the stance of transhumanists (advocates for the development and use of human enhancement technologies) who espouse liberal, social, and/or radical democratic political views.[28][29][30][31]

According to Hughes, the ideology "stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives."[29][32]The ethical foundation of democratic transhumanism rests upon rule utilitarianism and non-anthropocentric personhood theory.[33] Democratic transhumanist support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and to prevent technologies from furthering the divide among the socioeconomic classes.[34]While raising objections both to right-wing and left-wing bioconservatism, and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes aims to encourage democratic transhumanists and their potential progressive allies to unite as a new social movement and influence biopolitical public policy.[29][31]

An attempt to expand the middle ground between technorealism and techno-utopianism, democratic transhumanism can be seen as a radical form of techno-progressivism.[35] Appearing several times in Hughes' work, the term "radical" (from Latin rdx, rdc-, root) is used as an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the root or going to the root. His central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.[29]

According to Hughes, the terms techno-progressivism and democratic transhumanism both refer to the same set of Enlightenment values and principles; however, the term technoprogressive has replaced the use of the word democratic transhumanism.[36][37]

Hughes has identified 15 "left futurist" or "left techno-utopian" trends and projects that could be incorporated into democratic transhumanism:

These are notable individuals who have identified themselves, or have been identified by Hughes, as advocates of democratic transhumanism:[38]

Science journalist Ronald Bailey wrote a review of Citizen Cyborg in his online column for Reason magazine in which he offered a critique of democratic transhumanism and a defense of libertarian transhumanism.[22][23]

Critical theorist Dale Carrico defended democratic transhumanism from Bailey's criticism.[39] However, he would later criticize democratic transhumanism himself on technoprogressive grounds.[40]

Libertarian transhumanism is a political ideology synthesizing libertarianism and transhumanism.[28][41][42]Self-identified libertarian transhumanists, such as Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, are advocates of the asserted "right to human enhancement" who argue that the free market is the best guarantor of this right, claiming that it produces greater prosperity and personal freedom than other economic systems.[43][44]

Libertarian transhumanists believe that the principle of self-ownership is the most fundamental idea from which both libertarianism and transhumanism stem. They are rational egoists and ethical egoists who embrace the prospect of using emerging technologies to enhance human capacities, which they believe stems from the self-interested application of reason and will in the context of the individual freedom to achieve a posthuman state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. They extend this rational and ethical egoism to advocate a form of "biolibertarianism".[43]

As strong civil libertarians, libertarian transhumanists hold that any attempt to limit or suppress the asserted right to human enhancement is a violation of civil rights and civil liberties. However, as strong economic libertarians, they also reject proposed public policies of government-regulated and -insured human enhancement technologies, which are advocated by democratic transhumanists, because they fear that any state intervention will steer or limit their choices.[45][46][23]

Extropianism, the earliest current of transhumanist thought defined in 1988 by philosopher Max More, initially included an anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the concept of "spontaneous order" in its principles, which states that a free market economy achieves a more efficient allocation of societal resources than any planned or mixed economy could achieve. In 2000, while revising the principles of Extropy, More seemed to be abandoning libertarianism in favor of modern liberalism and anticipatory democracy. However, many Extropians remained libertarian transhumanists.[28]

Critiques of the techno-utopianism of libertarian transhumanists from progressive cultural critics include Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's 1995 essay The Californian Ideology; Mark Dery's 1996 book Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century; and Paulina Borsook's 2000 book Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech.

Barbrook argues that libertarian transhumanists are proponents of the Californian Ideology who embrace the goal of reactionary modernism: economic growth without social mobility.[47] According to Barbrook, libertarian transhumanists are unwittingly appropriating the theoretical legacy of Stalinist communism by substituting, among other concepts, the "vanguard party" with the "digerati", and the "new Soviet man" with the "posthuman".[48] Dery coined the dismissive phrase "body-loathing" to describe the attitude of libertarian transhumanists and those in the cyberculture who want to escape from their "meat puppet" through mind uploading into cyberspace.[49] Borsook asserts that libertarian transhumanists indulge in a subculture of selfishness, elitism, and escapism.[50]

Sociologist James Hughes is the most militant critic of libertarian transhumanism. While articulating "democratic transhumanism" as a sociopolitical program in his 2004 book Citizen Cyborg,[31] Hughes sought to convince libertarian transhumanists to embrace social democracy by arguing that:

Klaus-Gerd Giesen, a German political scientist specializing in the philosophy of technology, wrote a critique of the libertarianism he imputes to all transhumanists. While pointing out that the works of Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek figure in practically all of the recommended reading lists of Extropians, he argues that transhumanists, convinced of the sole virtues of the free market, advocate an unabashed inegalitarianism and merciless meritocracy which can be reduced in reality to a biological fetish. He is especially critical of their promotion of a science-fictional liberal eugenics, virulently opposed to any political regulation of human genetics, where the consumerist model presides over their ideology. Giesen concludes that the despair of finding social and political solutions to today's sociopolitical problems incites transhumanists to reduce everything to the hereditary gene, as a fantasy of omnipotence to be found within the individual, even if it means transforming the subject (human) to a new draft (posthuman).[51]

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Transhumanism (sometimes abbreviated >H or H+) is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human cognitive and physical abilities and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as disease, aging, and death. Transhumanist thinkers study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Possible dangers, as well as benefits, of powerful new technologies that might radically change the conditions of human life are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.

Although the first known use of the term "transhumanism" dates from 1957, the contemporary meaning is a product of the 1980s, when a group of scientists, artists, and futurists based in the United States began to organize what has since grown into the transhumanist movement. Transhumanist thinkers postulate that human beings will eventually be transformed into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".

The transhumanist vision of a profoundly transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters as well as critics from a wide range of perspectives. Transhumanism has been described by a proponent as the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity," while according to a prominent critic, it is the world's most dangerous idea.

In his 2005 article A History of Transhumanist Thought, philosopher Nick Bostrom locates transhumanism's roots in Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment. The Marquis de Condorcet, an eighteenth century French philosopher, is the first thinker whom he identifies as speculating about the use of medical science to extend the human life span. In the twentieth century, a direct and influential precursor to transhumanist concepts was J.B.S. Haldane's 1923 essay Daedalus: Science and the Future, which predicted that great benefits would come from applications of genetics and other advanced sciences to human biology.

Biologist Julian Huxley, brother of author Aldous Huxley (a childhood friend of Haldane's), appears to have been the first to use the actual word "transhumanism". Writing in 1957, he defined transhumanism as "man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature". This definition differs substantially from the one commonly in use since the 1980s.

The coalescence of an identifiable transhumanist movement began in the last decades of the twentieth century. In 1966, FM-2030 (formerly F.M. Esfandiary), a futurist who taught "new concepts of the Human" at The New School for Social Research in New York City, began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and world views transitional to "posthumanity" as "transhuman" (short for "transitory human"). In 1972, Robert Ettinger contributed to the popularization of the concept of "transhumanity" in his book Man into Superman. FM-2030 published the Upwingers Manifesto in 1973 to stimulate transhumanly conscious activism.

The first self-described transhumanists met formally in the early 1980s at the University of California, Los Angeles, which became the main center of transhumanist thought. Here, FM-2030 lectured on his "third way" futurist ideology. At the EZTV Media venue frequented by transhumanists and other futurists, Natasha Vita-More presented Breaking Away, her 1980 experimental film with the theme of humans breaking away from their biological limitations and the earth's gravity as they head into space. FM-2030 and Vita-More soon began holding gatherings for transhumanists in Los Angeles, which included students from FM-2030's courses and audiences from Vita-More's artistic productions. In 1982, Vita-More authored the Transhumanist Arts Statement, and, six years later, produced the cable TV show TransCentury Update on transhumanity, a program which reached over 100,000 viewers.

In 1988, philosopher Max More founded the Extropy Institute and was the main contributor to a formal transhumanist doctrine, which took the form of the Principles of Extropy in 1990.[ In 1990, he laid the foundation of modern transhumanism by giving it a new definition:

"Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life. [] Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies []." In 1998, philosophers Nick Bostrom and David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), an organization with a liberal democratic perspective. In 1999, the WTA drafted and adopted The Transhumanist Declaration. The Transhumanist FAQ, prepared by the WTA, gave two formal definitions for transhumanism:

The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. The study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. A number of similar definitions have been collected by Anders Sandberg, an academic with a high profile in the transhumanist movement.

In 2006, the board of directors of the Extropy Institute made a decision to cease operations of the organization, stating that its mission was "essentially completed". This left the World Transhumanist Association as the leading international transhumanist organization.

For a list of notable individuals who have identified themselves, or been identified by others, as advocates of transhumanism, see the list of transhumanists.

While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science and technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability and malnutrition around the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual level. Many transhumanists actively assess the potential for future technologies and innovative social systems to improve the quality of all life, while seeking to make the material reality of the human condition fulfill the promise of legal and political equality by eliminating congenital mental and physical barriers.

Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists an ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a post-Darwinian phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change. To this end, transhumanists engage in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and evaluating possibilities for overcoming biological limitations. They draw on futures studies and various fields or subfields of science, philosophy, economics, history, and sociology. Unlike philosophers, social critics and activists who place a moral value on preservation of natural systems, transhumanists see the very concept of the "natural" as an obstacle to progress. In keeping with this, many prominent transhumanist advocates refer to transhumanism's critics on the political right and left jointly as "bioconservatives" or "bioluddites", the latter term alluding to the nineteenth century anti-industrialisation social movement that opposed the replacement of manual labor by machines.

Converging Technologies, a 2002 report exploring the potential for synergy among nano-, bio-, informational and cognitive technologies (NBIC) for enhancing human performance.While some transhumanists take a relatively abstract and theoretical approach to the perceived benefits of emerging technologies, others have offered specific proposals for modifications to the human body, including inheritable ones. Transhumanists are often concerned with methods of enhancing the human nervous system. Though some propose modification of the peripheral nervous system, the brain is considered the common denominator of personhood and is thus a primary focus of transhumanist ambitions. More generally, transhumanists support the convergence of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC), and hypothetical future technologies such as simulated reality, artificial intelligence, mind uploading, and cryonics. Transhumanists believe that humans can and should use these technologies to become more than human. Transhumanists therefore support the recognition or protection of cognitive liberty, morphological freedom and procreative liberty as civil liberties, so as to guarantee individuals the choice of enhancing themselves and progressively become posthuman, which they see as the next significant evolutionary steps for the human species. Some speculate that human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies may facilitate such a transformation by the midpoint of the twenty first century.

A 2002 report, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, commissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Commerce, contains descriptions and commentaries on the state of NBIC science and technology by major contributors to these fields. The report discusses potential uses of these technologies in implementing transhumanist goals of enhanced performance and health, and ongoing work on planned applications of human enhancement technologies in the military and in the rationalization of the human-machine interface in industry.

Some theorists, such as Raymond Kurzweil, believe that the pace of technological evolution is accelerating and that the next fifty years may yield not only radical technological advances but possibly a technological singularity, which may fundamentally change the nature of human beings. Transhumanists who foresee this massive technological change generally maintain that it is desirable. However, they also explore the possible dangers of extremely rapid technological change, and frequently propose options for ensuring that advanced technology is used responsibly. For example, Bostrom has written extensively on existential risks to humanity's future welfare, including risks that could be created by emerging technologies.

On a more practical level, as proponents of personal development and body modification, transhumanists tend to use existing technologies and techniques that supposedly improve cognitive and physical performance, while engaging in routines and lifestyles designed to improve health and longevity. Depending on their age, some transhumanists express concern that they will not live to reap the benefits of future technologies. However, many have a great interest in life extension practices, and funding research in cryonics in order to make the latter a viable option of last resort rather than remaining an unproven method. Regional and global transhumanist networks and communities with a range of objectives exist to provide support and forums for discussion and collaborative projects.

There is a variety of opinion within transhumanist thought. Many of the leading transhumanist thinkers hold complex and subtle views that are under constant revision and development. Some distinctive currents of transhumanism are identified and listed here in alphabetical order:

Although some transhumanists report a very strong sense of spirituality, they are for the most part secular. In fact, many transhumanists are either agnostics or atheists. A minority, however, follow liberal forms of Eastern philosophical traditions or, as with Mormon transhumanists, have merged their beliefs with established religions.

Despite the prevailing secular attitude, some transhumanists pursue hopes traditionally espoused by religions, such as immortality albeit a physical one. Several belief systems, termed new religious movements, originating in the late twentieth century, share with transhumanism the goals of transcending the human condition by applying technology to the alteration of the body (Ralism) and mind (Scientology). While most thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement focus on the practical goals of using technology to help achieve longer and healthier lives, some speculate that future understanding of neurotheology will enable humans to achieve control of altered states of consciousness and thus "spiritual" experiences. A continuing dialogue between transhumanism and faith was the focus of an academic seminar held at the University of Toronto in 2004.

The majority of transhumanists are materialists who do not believe in a transcendent human soul. Transhumanist personhood theory also argues against the unique identification of moral actors and subjects with biological humans, judging as speciesist the exclusion of nonhuman and part-human animals, and sophisticated machines, from ethical consideration. Many believe in the compatibility of human minds with computer hardware, with the theoretical implication that human consciousness may someday be transferred to alternative media.

One extreme formulation of this idea is Frank Tipler's proposal of the Omega Point. Drawing upon ideas in physics, computer science and physical cosmology, Tipler advanced the notion that the collapse of the Universe billions of years hence could create the conditions for the perpetuation of humanity as a simulation within a megacomputer. Cosmologist George Ellis has called Tipler's book "a masterpiece of pseudoscience", and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating perceived flaws in Tipler's thesis.

For more details on this topic, see Transhumanism in fiction. Transhumanist themes have become increasingly prominent in various literary forms during the period in which the movement itself has emerged. Contemporary science fiction often contains positive renditions of technologically enhanced human life, set in utopian (especially techno-utopian) societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many horrific or dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.

The cyberpunk genre, exemplified by William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984) and Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix (1985), has particularly been concerned with the modification of human bodies. Other novels dealing with transhumanist themes that have stimulated broad discussion of these issues include Blood Music (1985) by Greg Bear, The Xenogenesis Trilogy (19871989) by Octavia Butler; the "Culture" novels (19872000) of Iain Banks; The Beggar's Trilogy (199094) by Nancy Kress; much of Greg Egan's work since the early 1990s, such as Permutation City (1994) and Diaspora (1997); The Bohr Maker (1995) by Linda Nagata; Extensa (2002) and Perfekcyjna niedoskonao (2003) by Jacek Dukaj; Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood; Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (2002); and The Possibility of an Island (Eng. trans. 2006) by Michel Houellebecq.

Fictional transhumanist scenarios have also become popular in other media during the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. Such treatments are found in films (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979; Blade Runner, 1982; Gattaca, 1997), television series (the Ancients of Stargate SG-1, the Borg of Star Trek, the Nietzscheans of Andromeda), manga and anime (Ghost in the Shell), role-playing games (Transhuman Space) and computer games (Deus Ex, Half-Life 2, Command & Conquer). The fictional universe of the table top war game Warhammer 40,000 also makes use of genetic and cybernetic augmentation. Human characters of the Imperium often employ cybernetic devices, while the Space Marines are indeed posthuman. Many of these works are considered part of the cyberpunk genre or its postcyberpunk offshoot.

In addition to the work of Natasha Vita-More, mentioned above, transhumanism has been represented in the visual and performing arts by Carnal Art, a form of sculpture originated by the French artist Orlan that uses the body as its medium and plastic surgery as its method. The American performer Michael Jackson used technologies such as plastic surgery, skin-lightening drugs and hyperbaric oxygen treatment over the course of his career, with the effect of transforming his artistic persona so as to blur identifiers of gender, race and age. The work of the Australian artist Stelarc centers on the alteration of his body by robotic prostheses and tissue engineering. Other artists whose work coincided with the emergence and flourishing of transhumanism and who explored themes related to the transformation of the body are the Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abramovic and the American media artist Matthew Barney. A 2005 show, Becoming Animal, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, presented exhibits by twelve artists whose work concerns the effects of technology in erasing boundaries between the human and non-human.

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A New Generation of Transhumanists Is Emerging | HuffPost

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A new generation of transhumanists is emerging. You can feel it in handshakes at transhumanist meet-ups. You can see it when checking in to transhumanist groups in social media. You can read it in the hundreds of transhumanist-themed blogs. This is not the same bunch of older, mostly male academics that have slowly moved the movement forward during the last few decades. This is a dynamic group of younger people from varying backgrounds: Asians, Blacks, Middle Easterners, Caucasians, and Latinos. Many are females, some are LGBT, and others have disabilities. Many are atheist, while others are spiritual or even formally religious. Their politics run the gamut, from liberals to conservatives to anarchists. Their professions vary widely, from artists to physical laborers to programmers. Whatever their background, preferences, or professions, they have recently tripled the population of transhumanists in just the last 12 months.

"Three years ago, we had only around 400 members, but today we have over 10,000 members," says Amanda Stoel, co-founder and chief administrator of Facebook group Singularity Network, one of the largest of hundreds of transhumanist-themed groups on the web.

Transhumanism is becoming so popular that even the comic strip Dilbert, which appears online and in 2000 newspapers, recently made jokes about it.

Despite its growing popularity, many people around the world still don't know what "transhuman" means. Transhuman literally means beyond human. Transhumanists consist of life extensionists, techno-optimists, Singularitarians, biohackers, roboticists, AI proponents, and futurists who embrace radical science and technology to improve the human condition. The most important aim for many transhumanists is to overcome human mortality, a goal some believe is achievable by 2045.

Transhumanism has been around for nearly 30 years and was first heavily influenced by science fiction. Today, transhumanism is increasingly being influenced by actual science and technological innovation, much of it being created by people under the age of 40. It's also become a very international movement, with many formal groups in dozens of countries.

Despite the movement's growth, its potential is being challenged by some older transhumanists who snub the younger generation and their ideas. These old-school futurists dismiss activist philosophies and radicalism, and even prefer some younger writers and speakers not have their voices heard. Additionally, transhumanism's Wikipedia page -- the most viewed online document of the movement -- is protected by a vigilant posse, deleting additions or changes that don't support a bland academic view of transhumanism.

Inevitably, this Wikipedia page misses the vibrancy and happenings of the burgeoning movement. The real status and information of transhumanism and its philosophies can be found in public transhumanist gatherings and festivities, in popular student groups like the Stanford University Transhumanist Association, and in social media where tens of thousands of scientists and technologists hang out and discuss the transhuman future.

Jet-setting personality Maria Konovalenko, a 29-year-old Russian molecular biophysicist whose public demonstrations supporting radical life extension have made international news, is a prime example.

"We must do more for transhumanism and life extension," says Konovalenko, who serves as vice president of Moscow-based Science for Life Extension Foundation. "This is our lives and our futures we're talking about. To sit back and and just watch the 21st Century roll by will not accomplish our goals. We must take our message to the people in the streets and strive to make real change."

Transhumanist celebrities like Konovalenko are changing the way the movement gets its message across to the public. Gauging by the rapidly increasing number of transhumanists, it's working.

A primary goal of many transhumanists is to convince the public that embracing radical technology and science is in the species' best interest. In a mostly religious world where much of society still believes in heavenly afterlives, some people are skeptical about whether significantly extending human lifespans is philosophically and morally correct. Transhumanists believe the more people that support transhumanism, the more private and government resources will end up in the hands of organizations and companies that aim to improve human lives and bring mortality to an end.

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A New Generation of Transhumanists Is Emerging | HuffPost

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Theres a lot of really cool stuff on this website. We have robots, powered prosthetics, genetic engineering, and so much more. Googling for any of this stuff could have brought you here, but thats not actually what this site is about.

Instead, its about a philosophy and an overarching idea about what it means to be human, and our destiny as a species. It re-imagines what it means to be human and how we can plot our way into the future. Its a philosophy that holds at its core the belief that human beings can transcend their limitations to become something more than they are.

Why are we the way we are? Human beings are the results of a long evolutionary process that spans billions of years into the past. We are the most intelligent and arguably most successful species to emerge from the vast variety of life on Earth; the result of an unbroken chain of evolutionary successes.

This does not mean that were the end of that chain, however. Humanity has room for improvement in many different ways.

Over the course of history and especially during the 20th century, our knowledge of the universe and our own biology has improved dramatically.

The list of diseases that we cannot cure or manage grows shorter every year. We can restore hearing to those who would have been deaf 100 years ago. Recently weve started doing the same for the blind. The average lifespan is now steadily climbing to the natural limit our genetics and current bodies will allow.

We are steadily mastering the art of how to make humans who are broken in some way whole again. Over the coming decades advancements in genetic engineering,biotechnology, AI, robotics, and many other scientific disciplines will likely eradicate most if not all the things that can go wrong with a human being.

Already people have realized you dont have to stop at restoring people to normality. Since technological development marches ever on, why not make people better than they were before?

For instance, why not give people sensory acuity that goes beyond what nature gives us? Seeing in infrared or hearing ultrasound are examples. Instead of prosthetics that give our limbs back, why not make those limbs stronger and faster?

One of the most important aspects of transhumanism is delaying or abolishing death itself. Apart from injury and illness, aging is the main cause of death. As we eliminate the other two causes it will become the number one killer.

There are many reasons why we age and die, but in principle there is no reason why each of those factors cannot be addressed.

Significantly extending the lives of human beings may be one of the most important breakthroughs we can make as a species. Many of the problems that we face are difficult to solve within a natural human lifespan.

Interstellar travel is one of these. Since its unclear if faster-than-light travel will ever be possible, the only other option that remains is to somehow endure the centuries in space. One way to do this is simply live longer.

Our relatively short lifespans also contribute to poor short-term decisions. Environmental problems such as global warming would bother people more if they thought theyd still be around in 100 or 200 years.

Why struggle with a biological body at all? Another strong current of thought in the transhumanism world suggests that we should become machines ourselves, either by becoming cyborgs with a mix of mechanical and biological parts or by uploading copies of our minds into robot bodies or virtual worlds.

This is one of the most radical examples of being transhuman becoming something wholly other than human.

Not content to just make us physically better or extend our lives as we are, transhumanism also means increasing our intelligence, both as individual people and as a species. How this will be achieved is an open question at this point. Already today we have a class of drugs known as nootropics that have a small but measurable effect.

Today we have a number of emerging brain implants that are used for rehabilitation, but in the future brain implants may add abilities to the brain that it did not have before. Imagine being able to do mathematical calculations or learning any skill in an instant. As research on the neural language of the brain continues well see more and more direct-implant brain augmentations. For example, in 2016 Bryan Johnsons company Kernel raised $100m to develop an intelligence-boosting chip.

Of course, long before that its likely that well have direct brain interfaces that will allow us to communicate with computers using nothing but the power of our brains. Direct stimulation of the visual cortex or optic nerves could pave the way to augmented and virtual reality without any external electronics.

These are just some of the ideas that have come from the transhumanist movement over the years. The different applications, technologies, and fields of science are impossibly broad. But, they all still center around this one idea that human beings can be more than they are and only we have the power to change our own fate.

When did this school of thought begin? Its hard to say, since the idea of transcendence is as old as humanity itself. Virtually all cultures have some idea that when we die or when we do certain things we become more than human. There are lots of legends where normal human beings become deified or somehow become something more, or other, than human.

The key difference is that transhumanism tells us that we can use technology to transcend our humanity. This is something that probably first emerged in science fiction in the 20th century, but actual scientists were also in on the idea from an early stage. Its a logical progression of thought once we can cure heart disease, what about hearts that never get sick? What about a heart that can pump twice as well?

While a long list of people have contributed to transhumanist thought, there are a few names that you should take note of if you really want to get into this field in a meaningful way.

The first person who has to be on such a list is not one of the earliest or even most important transhumanist thinkers. He is, however, one of the most readable ones and hes probably done the most to make the public aware of transhumanism. That person is Raymond Kurzweil.

Yes, thats the same Kurzweil from the company that makes music equipment and pioneered early voice-recognition technology. Kurzweil has written several books on transhumanism that soberly looks at the present and future of the technologies that underlie the movement.

Other notables include aging expert Aubrey de Grey, nanotech expert Eric Drexler, bioethicist George Dvorsky, and Hans Moravec. Not all of these people would label themselves as transhumanists, but their work and writing definitely plays an important role in transhumanist thought as a whole.

Asking what transhumanism is differs from asking what it means to see yourself as transhumanist.

First and foremost, before any of the technology stuff applies, transhumanism is a form of humanism. Many of the values humanism espouses are also present in transhumanism, they just apply to more than just human beings.

Transhumanism is more concerned with beings of a humanlike or greater intelligence level. In many transhumanist texts youll read about personhood and how an AI or a genetically-engineered animal may be smart enough to qualify for it. Many transhumanists may be bothered by the treatment of highly-intelligent animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins.

Equality, freedom of choice, freedom of thought, and an overall striving for the maximum well-being of all intelligences play a central role in much of transhumanism. In other words, someone who is pro-human augmentation but does not have any of these values doesnt really qualify as a transhumanist.

In addition to this, transhumanism also demonstrates other humanist values such as a lack of belief in the supernatural, a belief in moral capacity, and trust in logic and reason. To be a transhumanist means taking these values and striving to express them at their best, using science and technology.

Transhumanism has often been accused of being an irrational, almost religious movement for smart people. Its utopian and unrealistic, they say. These critics of course miss one of the fundamental facts about transhumanists. Transhumanist dont have dogma or an absolute belief in their desires coming true. There is no guarantee that any of the ways transhumanism thinks the world ought to be is how the world will be. However, to pursue a goal you have to define a goal.

There are many opponents to the ideas in transhumanism. Some people believe that humans should stay within the limitations of human biology and psychology. There are very good logical and philosophical arguments for this and we all should read them, but in general this opposition is driven by emotion and constrained thinking.

The rest of this site isnt going to deal much with the philosophy of transhumanism, but more with all the cool things being created that could make a transhumanist future a reality. So even if you dont agree with all or even any transhumanist ideas, you should still feel welcome to explore every inch of this site if you have any interest in the technologies themselves.What matters is that you allow your imagination to go where we ourselves cannot or will not yet go.

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Transhumanism - The Next Step to Super Humans?

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Ojochogwu Abdul

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 5:Belief in Progress vs. Rational Uncertainty

The Enlightenment, with its confident efforts to fashion a science of man, was archetypal of the belief and quest that humankind will eventually achieve lasting peace and happiness. In what some interpret as a reformulation of Christianitys teleological salvation history in which the People of God will be redeemed at the end of days and with the Kingdom of Heaven established on Earth, most Enlightenment thinkers believed in the inevitability of human political and technological progress, secularizing the Christian conception of history and eschatology into a conviction that humanity would, using a system of thought built on reason and science, be able to continually improve itself. As portrayed by Carl Becker in his 1933 book The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, the philosophies demolished the Heavenly City of St. Augustine only to rebuild it with more up-to-date materials. Whether this Enlightenment humanist view of progress amounted merely to a recapitulation of the Christian teleological vision of history, or if Enlightenment beliefs in continual, linear political, intellectual, and material improvement reflected, asJames Hughesposits, a clear difference from the dominant Christian historical narrative in which little would change until the End Times and Christs return, the notion, in any case, of a collective progress towards a definitive end-point was one that remained unsupported by the scientific worldview. The scientific worldview, as Hughes reminds us in the opening paragraph of this essay within his series, does not support historical inevitability, only uncertainty. We may annihilate ourselves or regress, he says, and Even the normative judgment of what progress is, and whether we have made any, is open to empirical skepticism.

Hereby, we are introduced to a conflict that exists, at least since after the Enlightenment, between a view of progressive optimism and that of radical uncertainty. Building on the Enlightenments faith in the inevitability of political and scientific progress, the idea of an end-point, salvation moment for humankind fuelled all the great Enlightenment ideologies that followed, flowing down, as Hughes traces, through Comtes positivism and Marxist theories of historical determinism to neoconservative triumphalism about the end of history in democratic capitalism. Communists envisaged that end-point as a post-capitalist utopia that would finally resolve the class struggle which they conceived as the true engine of history. This vision also contained the 20th-century project to build the Soviet Man, one of extra-human capacities, for as Trotsky had predicted, after the Revolution, the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise, whereas for 20th-century free-market liberals, this End of History had arrived with the final triumph of liberal democracy, with the entire world bound to be swept in its course. Events though, especially so far in the 21st century, appear to prove this view wrong.

This belief moreover, as Hughes would convincingly argue, in the historical inevitability of progress has also always been locked in conflict with the rationalist, scientific observation that humanity could regress or disappear altogether. Enlightenment pessimism, or at least realism, has, over the centuries, proven a stubborn resistance and constraint of Enlightenment optimism. Hughes, citing Henry Vyberg, reminds us that there were, after all, even French Enlightenment thinkers within that same era who rejected the belief in linear historical progress, but proposed historical cycles or even decadence instead. That aside, contemporary commentators like John Gray would even argue that the efforts themselves of the Enlightenment on the quest for progress unfortunately issued in, for example, the racist pseudo-science of Voltaire and Hume, while all endeavours to establish the rule of reason have resulted in bloody fanaticisms, from Jacobinism to Bolshevism, which equaled the worst atrocities attributable to religious believers. Horrendous acts like racism and anti-Semitism, in the verdict of Gray: .are not incidental defects in Enlightenment thinking. They flow from some of the Enlightenments central beliefs.

Even Darwinisms theory of natural selection was, according to Hughes, suborned by the progressive optimistic thinking of the Enlightenment and its successors to the doctrine of inevitable progress, aided in part by Darwins own teleological interpretation. Problem, however, is that from the scientific worldview, there is no support for progress as to be found provided by the theory of natural selection, only that humanity, Hughes plainly states, like all creatures, is on a random walk through a mine field, that human intelligence is only an accident, and that we could easily go extinct as many species have done. Gray, for example, rebukes Darwin, who wrote: As natural selection works solely for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress to perfection. Natural selection, however, does not work solely for the good of each being, a fact Darwin himself elsewhere acknowledged. Nonetheless, it has continually proven rather difficult for people to resist the impulse to identify evolution with progress, with an extended downside to this attitude being equally difficult to resist the temptation to apply evolution in the rationalization of views as dangerous as Social Darwinism and acts as horrible as eugenics.

Many skeptics therefore hold, rationally, that scientific utopias and promises to transform the human condition deserve the deepest suspicion. Reason is but a frail reed, all events of moral and political progress are and will always remain subject to reversal, and civilization could as well just collapse, eventually. Historical events and experiences have therefore caused faith in the inevitability of progress to wax and wane over time. Hughes notes that among several Millenarian movements and New Age beliefs, such faith could still be found that the world is headed for a millennial age, just as it exists in techno-optimist futurism. Nevertheless, he makes us see that since the rise and fall of fascism and communism, and the mounting evidence of the dangers and unintended consequences of technology, there are few groups that still hold fast to an Enlightenment belief in the inevitability of conjoined scientific and political progress. Within the transhumanist community, however, the possession of such faith in progress can still be found as held by many, albeit signifying a camp in the continuation therefore of the Enlightenment-bequeathed conflict as manifested between transhumanist optimism in contradiction with views of future uncertainty.

As with several occasions in the past, humanity is, again, currently being spun yet another End of History narrative: one of a posthuman future. Yuval Harari, for instance, in Homo Deus argues that emerging technologies and new scientific discoveries are undermining the foundations of Enlightenment humanism, although as he proceeds with his presentation he also proves himself unable to avoid one of the defining tropes of Enlightenment humanist thinking, i.e., that deeply entrenched tendency to conceive human history in teleological terms: fundamentally as a matter of collective progress towards a definitive end-point. This time, though, our eras End of History glorious salvation moment is to be ushered in, not by a politico-economic system, but by a nascent techno-elite with a base in Silicon Valley, USA, a cluster steeped in a predominant tech-utopianism which has at its core the idea that the new technologies emerging there can steer humanity towards a definitive break-point in our history, the Singularity. Among believers in this coming Singularity, transhumanists, as it were, having inherited the tension between Enlightenment convictions in the inevitability of progress, and, in Hughes words, Enlightenments scientific, rational realism that human progress or even civilization may fail, now struggle with a renewed contradiction. And here the contrast as Hughes intends to portray gains sharpness, for as such, transhumanists today are torn between their Enlightenment faith in inevitable progress toward posthuman transcension and utopian Singularities on the one hand, and, on the other, their rational awareness of the possibility that each new technology may have as many risks as benefits and that humanity may not have a future.

The risks of new technologies, even if not necessarily one that threatens the survival of humanity as a species with extinction, may yet be of an undesirable impact on the mode and trajectory of our extant civilization. Henry Kissinger, in his 2018 article How the Enlightenment Ends, expressed his perception that technology, which is rooted in Enlightenment thought, is now superseding the very philosophy that is its fundamental principle. The universal values proposed by the Enlightenment philosophes, as Kissinger points out, could be spread worldwide only through modern technology, but at the same time, such technology has ended or accomplished the Enlightenment and is now going its own way, creating the need for a new guiding philosophy. Kissinger argues specifically that AI may spell the end of the Enlightenment itself, and issues grave warnings about the consequences of AI and the end of Enlightenment and human reasoning, this as a consequence of an AI-led technological revolution whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms. By way of analogy to how the printing press allowed the Age of Reason to supplant the Age of Religion, he buttresses his proposal that the modern counterpart of this revolutionary process is the rise of intelligent AI that will supersede human ability and put an end to the Enlightenment. Kissinger further outlines his three areas of concern regarding the trajectory of artificial intelligence research: AI may achieve unintended results; in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values, and AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. Kissingers thesis, of course, has not gone without both support and criticisms attracted from different quarters. Reacting to Kissinger, Yuk Hui, for example, in What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment? maintained that Kissinger is wrongthe Enlightenment has not ended. Rather, modern technologythe support structure of Enlightenment philosophyhas become its own philosophy, with the universalizing force of technology becoming itself the political project of the Enlightenment.

Transhumanists, as mentioned already, reflect the continuity of some of those contradictions between belief in progress and uncertainty about human future. Hughes shows us nonetheless that there are some interesting historical turns suggesting further directions that this mood has taken. In the 1990s, Hughes recalls, transhumanists were full of exuberant Enlightenment optimism about unending progress. As an example, Hughes cites Max Mores 1998 Extropian Principles which defined Perpetual Progress as the first precept of their brand of transhumanism. Over time, however, Hughes communicates how More himself has had cause to temper this optimism, stressing rather this driving principle as one of desirability and more a normative goal than a faith in historical inevitability. History, More would say in 2002, since the Enlightenment makes me wary of all arguments to inevitability

Rational uncertainty among transhumanists hence make many of them refrain from an argument for the inevitability of transhumanism as a matter of progress. Further, there are indeed several possible factors which could deter the transhumanist idea and drive for progress from translating to reality: A neo-Luddite revolution, a turn and rise in preference for rural life, mass disenchantment with technological addiction and increased option for digital detox, nostalgia, disillusionment with modern civilization and a return-to-innocence counter-cultural movement, neo-Romanticism, a pop-culture allure and longing for a Tolkien-esque world, cyclical thinking, conservatism, traditionalism, etc. The alternative, backlash, and antagonistic forces are myriad. Even within transhumanism, the anti-democratic and socially conservative Neoreactionary movement, with its rejection of the view that history shows inevitable progression towards greater liberty and enlightenment, is gradually (and rather disturbingly) growing a contingent. Hughes talks, as another point for rational uncertainty, about the three critiques: futurological, historical, and anthropological, of transhumanist and Enlightenment faith in progress that Phillipe Verdoux offers, and in which the anthropological argument holds that pre-moderns were probably as happy or happier than we moderns. After all, Rousseau, himself a French Enlightenment thinker, is generally seen as having believed in the superiority of the savage over the civilized. Perspectives like these could stir anti-modern, anti-progress sentiments in peoples hearts and minds.

Demonstrating still why transhumanists must not be obstinate over the idea of inevitability, Hughes refers to Greg Burchs 2001 work Progress, Counter-Progress, and Counter-Counter-Progress in which the latter expounded on the Enlightenment and transhumanist commitment to progress as to a political program, fully cognizant that there are many powerful enemies of progress and that victory was not inevitable. Moreover, the possible failure in realizing goals of progress might not even result from the actions of enemies in that antagonistic sense of the word, for there is also that likely scenario, as the 2006 movie Idiocracy depicts, of a future dystopian society based on dysgenics, one in which, going by expectations and trends of the 21st century, the most intelligent humans decrease in reproduction and eventually fail to have children while the least intelligent reproduce prolifically. As such, through the process of natural selection, generations are created that collectively become increasingly dumber and more virile with each passing century, leading to a future world plagued by anti-intellectualism, bereft of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, coherence in notions of justice and human rights, and manifesting several other traits of degeneration in culture. This is yet a possibility for our future world.

So while for many extropians and transhumanists, nonetheless, perpetual progress was an unstoppable train, responding to which one either got on board for transcension or consigned oneself to the graveyard, other transhumanists, however, Hughes comments, especially in response to certain historical experiences (the 2000 dot-com crash, for example), have seen reason to increasingly temper their expectations about progress. In Hughess appraisal, while, therefore, some transhumanists still press for technological innovation on all fronts and oppose all regulation, others are focusing on reducing the civilization-ending potentials of asteroid strikes, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. Some realism hence need be in place to keep under constant check the excesses of contemporary secular technomillennialism as contained in some transhumanist strains.

Hughes presents Nick Bostroms 2001 essay Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards as one influential example of this anti-millennial realism, a text in which Bostrom, following his outline of scenarios that could either end the existence of the human species or have us evolve into dead-ends, then addressed not just how we can avoid extinction and ensure that there are descendants of humanity, but also how we can ensure that we will be proud to claim them. Subsequently, Bostrom has been able to produce work on catastrophic risk estimation at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford. Hughes seems to favour this approach, for he ensures to indicate that this has also been adopted as a programmatic focus for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) which he directs, and as well for the transhumanist non-profit, the Lifeboat Foundation. Transhumanists who listen to Bostrom, as we could deduce from Hughes, are being urged to take a more critical approach concerning technological progress.

With the availability of this rather cautious attitude, a new tension, Hughes reports, now plays out between eschatological certainty and pessimistic risk assessment. This has taken place mainly concerning the debate over the Singularity. For the likes of Ray Kurzweil (2005), representing the camp of a rather technomillennial, eschatological certainty, his patterns of accelerating trendlines towards a utopian merger of enhanced humanity and godlike artificial intelligence is one of unstoppability, and this Kurzweil supports by referring to the steady exponential march of technological progress through (and despite) wars and depressions. Dystopian and apocalyptic predictions of how humanity might fare under superintelligent machines (extinction, inferiority, and the likes) are, in the assessment of Hughes, but minimally entertained by Kurzweil, since to the techno-prophet we are bound to eventually integrate with these machines into apotheosis.

The platform, IEET, thus has taken a responsibility of serving as a site for teasing out this tension between technoprogressive optimism of the will and pessimism of the intellect, as Hughes echoes Antonio Gramsci. On the one hand, Hughes explains, we have championed the possibility of, and evidence of, human progress. By adopting the term technoprogressivism as our outlook, we have placed ourselves on the side of Enlightenment political and technological progress.And yet on the other hand, he continues, we have promoted technoprogressivism precisely in order to critique uncritical techno-libertarian and futurist ideas about the inevitability of progress. We have consistently emphasized the negative effects that unregulated, unaccountable, and inequitably distributed technological development could have on society (one feels tempted to call out Landian accelerationism at this point). Technoprogressivism, the guiding philosophy of IEET, avails as a principle which insists that technological progress needs to be consistently conjoined with, and dependent on, political progress, whilst recognizing that neither are inevitable.

In charting the essay towards a close, Hughes mentions his and a number of IEET-led technoprogresive publications, among which we have Verdoux who, despite his futurological, historical, and anthropological critique of transhumanism, yet goes ahead to argue for transhumanism on moral grounds (free from the language of Marxisms historical inevitabilism or utopianism, and cautious of the tragic history of communism), and as a less dangerous course than any attempt at relinquishing technological development, but only after the naive faith in progress has been set aside. Unfortunately, however, the rational capitulationism to the transhumanist future that Verdoux offers, according to Hughes, is not something that stirs mens souls. Hughes hence, while admitting to our need to embrace these critical, pessimistic voices and perspectives, yet calls on us to likewise heed to the need to also re-discover our capacity for vision and hope. This need for optimism that humans can collectively exercise foresight and invention, and peacefully deliberate our way to a better future, rather than yielding to narratives that would lead us into the traps of utopian and apocalyptic fatalism, has been one of the motivations behind the creation of the technoprogressive brand. The brand, Hughes presents, has been of help in distinguishing necessarily Enlightenment optimism about the possibility of human political, technological and moral progress from millennialist techno-utopian inevitabilism.

Presumably, upon this technoprogressive philosophy, the new version of the Transhumanist Declaration, adopted by Humanity+ in 2009, indicated a shift from some of the language of the 1998 version, and conveyed a more reflective, critical, realistic, utilitarian, proceed with caution and act with wisdom tone with respect to the transhumanist vision for humanitys progress. This version of the declaration, though relatively sobered, remains equally inspiring nonetheless. Hughes closes the essay with a reminder on our need to stay aware of the diverse ways by which our indifferent universe threatens our existence, how our growing powers come with unintended consequences, and why applying mindfulness on our part in all actions remains the best approach for navigating our way towards progress in our radically uncertain future.

Conclusively, following Hughes objectives in this series, it can be suggested that more studies on the Enlightenment (European and global) are desirable especially for its potential to furnish us with richer understanding into a number of problems within contemporary transhumanism as sprouting from its roots deep in the Enlightenment. Interest and scholarship in Enlightenment studies, fortunately, seems to be experiencing some current revival, and even so with increasing diversity in perspective, thereby presenting transhumanism with a variety of paths through which to explore and gain context for connected issues. Seeking insight thence into some foundations of transhumanisms problems could take the path, among others: of an examination of internal contradictions within the Enlightenment, of the approach of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adornos Dialectic of Enlightenment; of assessing opponents of the Enlightenment as found, for example, in Isaiah Berlins notion of Counter Enlightenment; of investigating a rather radical strain of the Enlightenment as presented in Jonathan Israels Radical Enlightenment, and as well in grappling with the nature of the relationships between transhumanism and other heirs both of the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment today. Again, and significantly, serious attention need be paid now and going forwards in jealously guarding transhumanism against ultimately falling into the hands of the Dark Enlightenment.

Ojochogwu Abdulis the founder of the Transhumanist Enlightenment Caf (TEC), is the co-founder of the Enlightenment Transhumanist Forum of Nigeria (H+ Nigeria), and currently serves as a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party in Nigeria.

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Transhumanism in fiction – Wikipedia

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Many of the tropes of science fiction can be viewed as similar to the goals of transhumanism. Science fiction literature contains many positive depictions of technologically enhanced human life, occasionally set in utopian (especially techno-utopian) societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.

Examples of "transhumanist fiction" include novels by Linda Nagata, Greg Egan, Zoltan Istvan, and Hannu Rajaniemi. Transhuman novels are often philosophical in nature, exploring the impact such technologies might have on human life. Nagata's novels, for example, explore the relationship between the natural and artificial, and suggest that while transhuman modifications of nature may be beneficial, they may also be hazardous, so should not be lightly undertaken.[1] Egan's Diaspora explores the nature of ideas such as reproduction and questions if they make sense in a post-human context. Istvan's novel The Transhumanist Wager explores how far one person would go to achieve an indefinite lifespan via science and technology.[2] Rajaniemi's novel, while more action oriented, still explores themes such as death and finitude in post-human life.

Fictional depictions of transhumanist scenarios are also seen in other media, such as movies (Transcendence), television series (the Ancients of Stargate SG-1), manga and anime (Ghost in the Shell), role-playing games (Rifts and Eclipse Phase) and video games (Deus Ex or BioShock).

The science fiction film genre has always had a hand in exploring transhumanism and the ethics and implications surrounding it. In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, however, there has been a surge of films and television shows focusing on the superhero genre. There are many superheroes whose stories are propelled or entirely result from dealings with transhumanism. From The Incredibles, to Iron Man, to The Batman saga, there have been plenty of heroes who did not receive their powers naturally, and therefore represent the great leap human beings may take into improving their own condition. Additionally, because these films represent the most popular trend in the medium today, they indeed represent a glimpse into the ideological shift of western culture as a whole. The fixation on normal men and women improving themselves artificially seems to have become a very widely accepted and celebrated idea.[3]

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Transhumanism in fiction - Wikipedia

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February 9th, 2019 at 4:42 am

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Transhumanism – Work for human longevity

Posted: November 24, 2018 at 9:47 am


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Transhumanism and posthumanism

Transhumanism goes beyond simply crushing death and aims to allow humans to overtake the limitations of their bodies through technology. Slow Darwinian evolution, working through millennia, has very little chance to compete with Moores law in terms of speed (the yearly doubling of computing capacities) and there is a very good chance that technology could allow the human kind to evolve faster than natural selection would.

This rapid change in the transhumanist community will probably give birth to a new humanity which is difficult to imagine today much like it would have been challenging for Turings contemporaries in the Second World War to picture the computing power and capacities of todays smartphones, just sixty years down the road.

As previously stated, predicting and even picturing the result of exponential change through time can be challenging. Todays transhumanists will first look just like the next person, before things fire up exponentially. Besides the prospect of a limitless lifespan, yours truly cannot tell you what other changes might have occurred with your regular transhuman two centuries from now (but maybe we can bring it up again then.)

Some scientists believe that people alive today could end up living for a thousand years a figure commonly used because of its striking effect, and because it is a fair estimate of a regular French person spared by the effects of aging.

On that matter, no scientist can give a definite answer as of today unless Calico, Googles eternal life pet project, or any company versed in biotechnologies are keeping secrets from you. However, just like some organisms dont age because their DNA repair system doesnt get damaged with time, I assume that in the future, humanity will unveil aging mechanisms and stop them. Our 21st century is undergoing such technological convergence and acceleration that it could one day bust open the locks that keep us from living a forever healthy, limitless life. This convergence of technologies is called NBIC convergence (Nanotechnologies, Biotechnologies, IT, Cognitive science).

As for the timing, however, it will be a question of will, financial means and serendipity.

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Transhumanism - Work for human longevity

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November 24th, 2018 at 9:47 am

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Transhuman | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Posted: November 3, 2018 at 10:43 pm


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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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Transhuman | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia

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November 3rd, 2018 at 10:43 pm

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Transhumanism: The Next Evolution of Man w. Zoltan Istvan (Video Interview)

Posted: September 29, 2018 at 1:44 am


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The question of the day is.... Will technology go too far? We've seen it in countless Hollywood movies; man builds robots, robots get too smart, man gets wiped out. With the ever increasing speed of technological advances where technology builds technology, will we allow it to get to that point?

Today's episode is my conversation with entrepreneur, politician, and transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan about what the future holds for mankind and their relationship with machines.

Zoltan is a big proponent of the merging of man with tech and as an optimist, he believes that the future is bright with endless possibilities of exoskeletons, superhuman abilities, and potentially immortality.

All that and much more on today's episode of The System is Down, "Transhumanism: The Next Evolution of Man w. Zoltan Istvan".

Question Everything and Stay Uncomfortable

Let's get weird!

Zoltan Istvan: http://zoltanistvan.com

The System is Down: http://tsidpod.com

The Downers Club: http://patreon.com/thesystemisdown

AntiNews: http://antinewslive.com

Open Discussion: http://tsidpod.com/forum

Buy Some SWAG: http://tsidpod.com/shop

Facebook: http://facebook.com/thesystemisdown

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tsidpod

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Transhumanism: The Next Evolution of Man w. Zoltan Istvan (Video Interview)

Written by admin

September 29th, 2018 at 1:44 am

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