Hope in Transhumanism

Far too often I hear people spouting generalized contempt. For example, “Humans are a cancer on the Earth” has become the credo of left-leaning environmentalists, and I for one am sick of it.

Far too often I hear people spouting generalized contempt. For example, “Humans are a cancer on the Earth” has become the credo of left-leaning environmentalists, and I for one am sick of it.

This view—that humans, because of technology, industrial growth and our adaptations that overcome biological limitations, are destroying the earth and ultimately ourselves—has become so common that it has become a plague. It is a plague on critical thinking.

People need to remove their heads from the ass of bio-conservatism (wary of technological development) and the more extreme, bio-luddism (strong resistance to technological advances) long enough to realize that many of the goals of science and technological advancement can take us to a utopia.

Transhumanism is the movement to use technology, mainly in the areas of life sciences, alternative energies and computer science, to challenge biological limitations and eventually overcome them. It is often linked with the philosophy of extropianism—the idea that science can be used to continually improve the human condition. 

Yes, I am talking artificial intelligence, cryogenics, space colonization, cloning and all those other technologies that seem to be four-letter words in many circles.

Scientists, artists, intellectuals and philosophers such as Max More, Alexander Chislenko, Anders Sandberg, Aubrey De Grey, Natasha Vita-More and the late FM-2030 are some of the proponents of this highly progressive school of thought.

Abolitionist Transhumanists, such as philosopher and vegan David Pearce, take this idea one step further, believing that technology can be used to end the involuntary suffering of all sentient life.

So what does this all mean in terms of action? Ultimately it means that one day, through the advancement of science and technology, we could live in a world with amazing life extension, and possible immortality, under the best perceivable possible circumstances for human, plant and animal life.

In a less distant future, scientists are figuring out how to create organs from replicating cultured cells, and further, how to develop truly humane in-vitro meat for those who still want their steak, but don’t want it to have ever had a face.

In the areas of psychology, brain mapping and a deeper understanding of the genetics of depression and pathology could lead to a future where the genetics of humans can be altered so that suicidal depression could never exist in those humans. We can challenge the need of emotions such as jealousy and fear, which may have helped us in the days of being hunter-gatherers, but now hinder us in modern life.

What environmentalists, animal rights and liberation activists, and those who challenge existing social problems such as poverty and health disparity often don’t seem to understand is that the end result of transhumanist goals are in line with those same ethics.

Will we someday be able to challenge the “natural order” that says the lion must eat the lamb? Can we use this empathy as an ethical compass toward the technology we create?

People who are opposed to transhumanism or extropianism often create elaborate dystopias or other horrifying hypothetical scenarios to justify their irrational fears. For example, a future where transhumans would subjugate humans that were left technologically behind into a slave class is one such fantasy. Others include the idea that transhumanism is somehow linked with eugenics and that the attempt to create a master race would ensue.

Under the current global capitalist system, I must admit that transhumanism would offer a potentially terrible fate. The U.S. military has been curious about artificial intelligence and bionic men to create super-soldiers. Certainly this is a terrifying notion that should be fought with every breath. Through greater worker control over the production of such technologies, as well as overcoming the concept of intellectual property rights, we can prevent the funneling of power of our future.

It is not science’s fault that those in power use technology for unethical ends. Without transhumanism, people have still attempted to subjugate others as slaves and deemed themselves a master race.

What we need is a dual front against social and political ills, as well as a front for technological advancement that helps us achieve ethical goals. The two are not mutually exclusive. ?