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Transhumanism And The Future Of Humanity: 7 Ways The World Will Change By 2030

Even tortoises do better than that. To get a sense that we might be missing out on something important by our tendency to die early, we only have to bring to mind some of the worthwhile things that we could have done or attempted to do if we had had more time. For gardeners, educators, scholars, artists, city planners, and those who simply relish observing and participating in the cultural or political variety shows of life, three scores and ten is often insufficient for seeing even one major project through to completion, let alone for undertaking many such projects in sequence.

Human character development is also cut short by aging and death. Imagine what might have become of a Beethoven or a Goethe if they had still been with us today. Maybe they would have developed into rigid old grumps interested exclusively in conversing about the achievements of their youth. But maybe, if they had continued to enjoy health and youthful vitality, they would have continued to grow as men and artists, to reach levels of maturity that we can barely imagine.

No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman? | Technology | The Guardian

We certainly cannot rule that out based on what we know today. Therefore, there is at least a serious possibility of there being something very precious outside the human sphere. This constitutes a reason to pursue the means that will let us go there and find out. Intellectual capacity.


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We have all had moments when we wished we were a little smarter. The three-pound, cheese-like thinking machine that we lug around in our skulls can do some neat tricks, but it also has significant shortcomings. Some of these — such as forgetting to buy milk or failing to attain native fluency in languages you learn as an adult — are obvious and require no elaboration.

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These shortcomings are inconveniences but hardly fundamental barriers to human development. Yet there is a more profound sense in the constraints of our intellectual apparatus limit our modes of our mentation. I mentioned the Chimpanzee analogy earlier: just as is the case for the great apes, our own cognitive makeup may foreclose whole strata of understanding and mental activity.

The point here is not about any logical or metaphysical impossibility: we need not suppose that posthumans would not be Turing computable or that they would have concepts that could not be expressed by any finite sentences in our language, or anything of that sort. The impossibility that I am referring to is more like the impossibility for us current humans to visualize an dimensional hypersphere or to read, with perfect recollection and understanding, every book in the Library of Congress.

These things are impossible for us because, simply put, we lack the brainpower. In the same way, may lack the ability to intuitively understand what being a posthuman would be like or to grok the playing field of posthuman concerns. Further, our human brains may cap our ability to discover philosophical and scientific truths.

It is possible that failure of philosophical research to arrive at solid, generally accepted answers to many of the traditional big philosophical questions could be due to the fact that we are not smart enough to be successful in this kind of enquiry. Bodily functionality. We enhance our natural immune systems by getting vaccinations, and we can imagine further enhancements to our bodies that would protect us from disease or help us shape our bodies according to our desires e.

Such enhancements could improve the quality of our lives. A more radical kind of upgrade might be possible if we suppose a computational view of the mind. It may then be possible to upload a human mind to a computer, by replicating in silico the detailed computational processes that would normally take place in a particular human brain. Uploads might live either in virtual reality or directly in physical reality by controlling a robot proxy.

Sensory modalities, special faculties and sensibilities. The current human sensory modalities are not the only possible ones, and they are certainly not as highly developed as they could be. Some animals have sonar, magnetic orientation, or sensors for electricity and vibration; many have a much keener sense of smell, sharper eyesight, etc. The range of possible sensory modalities is not limited to those we find in the animal kingdom.

Epstein was fascinated with transhumanism

There is no fundamental block to adding say a capacity to see infrared radiation or to perceive radio signals and perhaps to add some kind of telepathic sense by augmenting our brains with suitably interfaced radio transmitters. Humans also enjoy a variety of special faculties, such as appreciation of music and a sense of humor, and sensibilities such as the capacity for sexual arousal in response to erotic stimuli.

Again, there is no reason to think that what we have exhausts the range of the possible, and we can certainly imagine higher levels of sensitivity and responsiveness. Mood, energy, and self-control. Despite our best efforts, we often fail to feel as happy as we would like. Our chronic levels of subjective well-being seem to be largely genetically determined. Life-events have little long-term impact; the crests and troughs of fortune push us up and bring us down, but there is little long-term effect on self-reported well-being.

Lasting joy remains elusive except for those of us who are lucky enough to have been born with a temperament that plays in a major key. In addition to being at the mercy of a genetically determined setpoint for our levels of well-being, we are limited in regard to energy, will-power, and ability to shape our own character in accordance with our ideals.

Some subset of these kinds of problems might be necessary rather than contingent upon our current nature. For example, we cannot both have the ability easily to break any habit and the ability to form stable, hard-to-break habits. The conjecture that there are greater values than we can currently fathom does not imply that values are not defined in terms of our current dispositions. Take, for example, a dispositional theory of value such as the one described by David Lewis.

On this view, there may be values that we do not currently want, and that we do not even currently want to want, because we may not be perfectly acquainted with them or because we are not ideal deliberators. Some values pertaining to certain forms of posthuman existence may well be of this sort; they may be values for us now, and they may be so in virtue of our current dispositions, and yet we may not be able to fully appreciate them with our current limited deliberative capacities and our lack of the receptive faculties required for full acquaintance with them.

This point is important because it shows that the transhumanist view that we ought to explore the realm of posthuman values does not entail that we should forego our current values. The posthuman values can be our current values, albeit ones that we have not yet clearly comprehended. Transhumanism does not require us to say that we should favor posthuman beings over human beings, but that the right way of favoring human beings is by enabling us to realize our ideals better and that some of our ideals may well be located outside the space of modes of being that are accessible to us with our current biological constitution.

We can overcome many of our biological limitations. It is possible that there are some limitations that are impossible for us to transcend, not only because of technological difficulties but on metaphysical grounds.

No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman?

Depending on what our views are about what constitutes personal identity, it could be that certain modes of being, while possible, are not possible for us, because any being of such a kind would be so different from us that they could not be us. Concerns of this kind are familiar from theological discussions of the afterlife. In Christian theology, some souls will be allowed by God to go to heaven after their time as corporal creatures is over. Before being admitted to heaven, the souls would undergo a purification process in which they would lose many of their previous bodily attributes.

Skeptics may doubt that the resulting minds would be sufficiently similar to our current minds for it to be possible for them to be the same person. A similar predicament arises within transhumanism: if the mode of being of a posthuman being is radically different from that of a human being, then we may doubt whether a posthuman being could be the same person as a human being, even if the posthuman being originated from a human being.

We can, however, envision many enhancements that would not make it impossible for the post-transformation someone to be the same person as the pre-transformation person. A person could obtain quite a bit of increased life expectancy, intelligence, health, memory, and emotional sensitivity, without ceasing to exist in the process. Yet these developments are not viewed as spelling the end of the original person. If most of someone currently is, including her most important memories, activities, and feelings, is preserved, then adding extra capacities on top of that would not easily cause the person to cease to exist.

Preservation of personal identity, especially if this notion is given a narrow construal, is not everything. We can value other things than ourselves, or we might regard it as satisfactory if some parts or aspects of ourselves survive and flourish, even if that entails giving up some parts of ourselves such that we no longer count as being the same person.

Which parts of ourselves we might be willing to sacrifice may not become clear until we are more fully acquainted with the full meaning of the options. Additionally, we may favor future people being posthuman rather than human, if the posthumans would lead lives more worthwhile than the alternative humans would. Any reasons stemming from such considerations would not depend on the assumption that we ourselves could become posthuman beings. Transhumanism promotes the quest to develop further so that we can explore hitherto inaccessible realms of value.

Technological enhancement of human organisms is a means that we ought to pursue to this end. There are limits to how much can be achieved by low-tech means such as education, philosophical contemplation, moral self-scrutiny and other such methods proposed by classical philosophers with perfectionist leanings, including Plato, Aristotle, and Nietzsche, or by means of creating a fairer and better society, as envisioned by social reformists such as Marx or Martin Luther King.

This is not to denigrate what we can do with the tools we have today. Yet ultimately, transhumanists hope to go further. I f this is the grand vision, what are the more particular objectives that it translates into when considered as a guide to policy? What is needed for the realization of the transhumanist dream is that technological means necessary for venturing into the posthuman space are made available to those who wish to use them, and that society be organized in such a manner that such explorations can be undertaken without causing unacceptable damage to the social fabric and without imposing unacceptable existential risks.

Global security. While disasters and setbacks are inevitable in the implementation of the transhumanist project just as they are if the transhumanist project is not pursued , there is one kind of catastrophe that must be avoided at any cost:. Existential risk — one where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Several recent discussions have argued that the combined probability of the existential risks is very substantial. Global security is the most fundamental and nonnegotiable requirement of the transhumanist project. Technological progress. That technological progress is generally desirable from a transhumanist point of view is also self-evident.

Many of our biological shortcomings aging, disease, feeble memories and intellects, a limited emotional repertoire and inadequate capacity for sustained well-being are difficult to overcome, and to do so will require advanced tools. Developing these tools is a gargantuan challenge for the collective problem-solving capacities of our species. Since technological progress is closely linked to economic development, economic growth — or more precisely, productivity growth — can in some cases serve as a proxy for technological progress. Productivity growth is, of course, only an imperfect measure of the relevant form of technological progress, which, in turn, is an imperfect measure of overall improvement, since it omits such factors as equity of distribution, ecological diversity, and quality of human relationships.

Thanks to the gradual accumulation of improvements over the past several thousand years, large portions of humanity have been freed from illiteracy, life-expectancies of twenty years, alarming infant-mortality rates, horrible diseases endured without palliatives, and periodic starvation and water shortages. Technology, in this context, is not just gadgets but includes all instrumentally useful objects and systems that have been deliberately created. This broad definition encompasses practices and institutions, such as double-entry accounting, scientific peer-review, legal systems, and the applied sciences.

Wide access. It is not enough that the posthuman realm be explored by someone. The full realization of the core transhumanist value requires that, ideally, everybody should have the opportunity to become posthuman. It would be sub-optimal if the opportunity to become posthuman were restricted to a tiny elite. There are many reasons for supporting wide access: to reduce inequality; because it would be a fairer arrangement; to express solidarity and respect for fellow humans; to help gain support for the transhumanist project; to increase the chances that you will get the opportunity to become posthuman; to increase the chances that those you care about can become posthuman; because it might increase the range of the posthuman realm that gets explored; and to alleviate human suffering on as wide a scale as possible.

The wide access requirement underlies the moral urgency of the transhumanist vision. Some fear future " eugenics wars " as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.

The major transhumanist organizations strongly condemn the coercion involved in such policies and reject the racist and classist assumptions on which they were based, along with the pseudoscientific notions that eugenic improvements could be accomplished in a practically meaningful time frame through selective human breeding. In his book Our Final Hour , British Astronomer Royal Martin Rees argues that advanced science and technology bring as much risk of disaster as opportunity for progress.

However, Rees does not advocate a halt to scientific activity. Instead, he calls for tighter security and perhaps an end to traditional scientific openness. Some precautionists believe that artificial intelligence and robotics present possibilities of alternative forms of cognition that may threaten human life. Transhumanists do not necessarily rule out specific restrictions on emerging technologies so as to lessen the prospect of existential risk.

Generally, however, they counter that proposals based on the precautionary principle are often unrealistic and sometimes even counter-productive as opposed to the technogaian current of transhumanism, which they claim is both realistic and productive. In his television series Connections , science historian James Burke dissects several views on technological change , including precautionism and the restriction of open inquiry.

Burke questions the practicality of some of these views, but concludes that maintaining the status quo of inquiry and development poses hazards of its own, such as a disorienting rate of change and the depletion of our planet's resources. The common transhumanist position is a pragmatic one where society takes deliberate action to ensure the early arrival of the benefits of safe, clean , alternative technology , rather than fostering what it considers to be anti-scientific views and technophobia.

Nick Bostrom argues that even barring the occurrence of a singular global catastrophic event , basic Malthusian and evolutionary forces facilitated by technological progress threaten to eliminate the positive aspects of human society. One transhumanist solution proposed by Bostrom to counter existential risks is control of differential technological development , a series of attempts to influence the sequence in which technologies are developed.

In this approach, planners would strive to retard the development of possibly harmful technologies and their applications, while accelerating the development of likely beneficial technologies, especially those that offer protection against the harmful effects of others. Lara Prendergast has stated that goals of transhumanism, such as trying to cut out food and sex, are inauthentic, because doing so would remove two of the great joys of life.

She called transhumanism a part of 'the new narcissism'. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the futurist ideology and movement, not about Transhumance.

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For the critique of humanism and related term, see posthumanism. Philosophical movement.


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It has been suggested that Transhuman be merged into this article. Discuss Proposed since September See also: Outline of transhumanism. See also: Uplift science fiction. Antihumanism Posthumanism. Outline List of secular humanists. Main article: Human enhancement technologies. See also: Existential risk from advanced artificial intelligence. This article cites its sources but does not provide page references. You can help to improve it by introducing citations that are more precise.

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