The term transhumanism was coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his essay of the same name. Huxley referred principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanist movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom.
Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanity—one in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges. The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way.
One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutions—including national and international governmental organizations—will be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences.
Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness , physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes. The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it.
Bostrom and British philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.
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Introduction Origins Characteristics of the movement. 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.
In brief Transhumanism includes how we may live on after death It's also about how technology and people interact. What we need to establish is a system where the people who are best suited to being brick-layers and fry-cooks are given a life that is as fulfilling to them as would be the life of a highly paid scientist or engineer. A posthuman can also be described as the creature that results from radical human enhancement. Maybe you will make the future servile class. Yeah, population control sucks. When subways and passenger trains were becoming prolific, people called out that it was a bad thing.
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. 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. 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.
Transhumanism is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely. Transhuman, or trans-human, is the concept of an intermediary form between human and posthuman. In other words, a transhuman is a being that resembles a .
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?