Posts Tagged ‘transhumanist’

Friends and family make fun of me for my thoughts on the future of humanity. Most of them don’t believe me when I say they could literally be alive when the ability is made to have super intelligence or the ability to live forever (or at least 5x the current lifespan of a human). It doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit (probably because I don’t have many feelings), nor do I really care what others think anyways.

When I look into the year 2045, 30 years from now, I will be a 56 year old man. At that time, being in your 50s might be the new 30s. I will still be young, probably with a growing family, and if I am lucky, retired (right?).

But there will be one difference between the present me and the future me: I will be wiser, more intelligent, and more experienced. That’s a given, and that would happen whether or not I had the ability to gain super intelligence. My question for myself is how will I communicate and interact with those around me?

Social media has already destroyed the need for family or high school reunions. Who needs to go through the trouble of all that work when we can just shoot a quick Facebook message over to someone we probably don’t want to see anyways? We don’t even need to call them anymore. I’m confident, that if I survive between now and then, I WILL have the ability to be super intelligent AND live for a couple hundred years, if not forever.

My issue is will we lose what makes us human? Will we lose the feeling of happiness, if the feeling of stress, pain, and loss is no longer an issue. Humans who feel pain understand the difference between that and happiness. How can you be happy if you do not know how to be sad?

As part of the last generation that remembers what it was like without the Internet, I can see why kids have disappeared from the streets. They are inside in front of screens downloading games and stalking their enemies and friends on social media without any real interaction. I’m completely against social media for the purpose of being close to those you know. It’s ridiculous.

When I’m 56, I hope the abilities we will have will only bring us closer. And I hope we will still be able to feel pain and suffering. Being human, that’s required.

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When trying to keep the momentum alive for the transhumanist movement that many fear could mean despair, it is important to know what to measure when figuring out the ideas, emotions, and behaviors of both sides of the field.

What kinds of people don’t believe in your movement? Who does believe in your movement? What’s their age, race, level of education? What’s their level of income? Profession?

All of this information is needed when determining or pinpointing the reason for someone’s belief or non-belief in your movement. But this is just the start. There’s a lot that goes into why or why not someone is or isn’t a transhumanist.

One aspect to analyze is education. Not just formal schooling…but how much does this segmented group of people actually know about transhumanism? Do they fear or not believe because of ignorance to what the movement entails? This makes me think of Will Smith in I, Robot, where his reoccurring dream is due to a robot saving him, and not a drowning girl, ONLY because he had a better chance of surviving. Of course, in the movie, the robots were programmed to kill eventually. But there was one good robot that made a human connection with the audience….another subject!

Is someone a follower of transhumanist thought because they’ve already been affected by the movement? Some people in the world are already benefiting from transhuman technology, such as Lisa Kulik, who went blind slowly over 15 years. When opthamologist Mark Humayun created Argus, Lisa’s world became bright again.

Getting a sense of why someone thinks of transhumanism the way they do is what will help form a strategy on convincing people that transhumanism is the future. Unless the world is destroyed by humans, asteroids, aliens, or whatever, technology will take over the world and be integrated within human biology. Technology already controls us and is a apart of us on the outside. But at the rate we are going technology will be within us, and not just in our hands. Persuading the world that this can be used for good is hard, so here are some things to ask when researching public perception of transhumanism. Using a Likert scale, ask the respondents their agree-ability with the following intial statements:

  • Future technology will create 100% clean energy
  • Humans will one day be super-intelligent
  • Technology will speed the evolution of human beings
  • Technology will be used against humans to control populations
  • Nanotechnology will one day cure cancer
  • Nanotechnology will one day be used to assassinate public figures
  • Humans will need future technology to survive

The above questions offer good and bad sides of technology transhumanists believe the world will experience. This initial set of questions focuses on the beliefs of what technology will do, and not necessarily the opinions of why or why not transhumanistic thought is bad or good. This gives the researcher insight into what people think technology will offer in the future. Follow-up or additional questions may be presented in the future, either on the same survey, or on a follow-up survey (again, a Likert scale) to find opinions on those initial questions:

  • Biotechnology should be controlled by the government
  • Humans should be super-intelligent
  • Private companies should be in control of nanotechnology patents
  • Humans should be able to live forever
  • Parents should be able to choose the traits of their children
  • The most important part of future technology is ethics

Using the answers to the initial questions and follow-up questions, running tests on what types of people (demographics) consistently answer similarly will offer insight into how the leaders of transhumanism can cater to the needs of believers and non-believers. Most people who fear future technology, may fear it because of that technology getting into the hands of evil humans, which is generally a well-accepted concern. Saddam Hussein started wars due to the use of chemical weapons on his own people. Prevention is key, so being proactive is a major part of the transhumanist movement as it becomes larger.

Twentieth-century American writer Ray Bradbury was a science-fiction creator who was best known for his dystopian novels of the future world. He truly believed that science fiction was the “history of our species birthing itself“. David Simpson, author of the Post-Human series, agrees that we’ve “entered a moment in history where science has outstripped the fiction in most instances, with most visions of the future in popular science fiction being way too conservative“.

In the coming decades there will be a degree of separation from what we currently perceive as reality, and what we will experience as technology exponentially advances past its current state. Transhumanism is a cultural movement that states humans are on the path to becoming more than human by fusing advanced technology with human biology. A technological singularity is approaching, which is a point at which technology is advancing so rapidly, that on a line graph, there is a point where that line is “practically vertical”, according to Ray Kurzweil in his book “The Singularity is Near“, and the subsequent video shown below.

Super longevity, super intelligence, and super wellbeing are three aspects of transhumanistic thought. Which means we will live forever, be impossibly smart, and have the ability to control our genetic code.

There are a growing number of transhumanists on the planet that believe the first people to take advantage of living forever and super intelligence have already been born. Given technology’s advancement in only the last decade, the next set of advancements are truly too powerful for society to ignore.

Aubrey de Grey does not typically enjoy the label of “transhumanist” but he is the front-runner in the war on aging. he believes that aging is a disease, and a preventable one at that. A disease that can be stopped, and even reversed, to lengthen the human lifespan to that which has never been seen nor expected in our own lifetimes. Society’s focus on managing individual illnesses in elders is a mistake since he believes that we should act at the cellular level which would prevent those illnesses in human beings in the first place. In an interview with Motherboard.com, Aubrey de Grey states that he does not “work on longevity, I work on health. And it just happens that, historically, the main thing that kills people is…not being healthy“. However, he denies that he works on immortality, since he can’t “stop people from being hit by trucks”.

But what if we could take Aubrey de Grey’s idea one step further and not just focus on extending life, but taking measures before a person is even born? Can we edit our genes so that we can control our personality before we have even formed one? David Pearce, who thinks that transhumanism is “the use of technology to overcome biological limitations”, believes we can usher in an era of super wellbeing by minimizing and/or abolishing suffering by “rolling the dice in our favor” and birthing human beings who will one day have a personality without anxiety, without aggressiveness, and without jealousy or envy among other characteristic traits that can cause suffering on oneself or others. Instead, we can use gene therapy to create happier, healthier human beings, as well as finding and removing genes that are known to cause diseases later in life. In other words, parents will not only choose their child’s personality, but also choose their gender, their eye and hair color, how short or tall they will be, how prone they will be to obesity, and other things we have yet to know about gene therapy’s benefits.

Living forever and preventing the suffering of the human mind is all fine and dandy, but what about being super intelligent? Ray Kurzweil, who has more recently been employed by Google, is almost certain that will become a reality for human beings in the next couple of decades due to the enormous advancement of technology. Artificial intelligence will one day be created. Humans will first create an ultra-intelligent machine, so intelligent in fact, that it will create a super ultra-intelligent machine which will then be able to grasp the knowledge of all things possible and may be even conscious of itself. When this happens, Ray says, we will have reached the  “technological singularity”. Technology innovation will no longer be limited by the human brain, but aided by super intelligent devices. Imagine implanting a chip in your brain that is wirelessly connected to the Internet. It is believed by Ray Kurzweil and many others like him that without super intelligence, all other beliefs held in super longevity or super wellbeing are impossible. The 21st century will be the time in which humans are no longer held back by their biological weaknesses, as long as we don’t destroy ourselves first.