Transhumanism is an international intellectual movement which aims to transform the human condition. By developing sophisticated technologies to enhance humanintellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, some companies believe this to be the next billion dollar industry.
The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was explored by one of the first professors of futurology, F.M. Esfandiary (aka ‘FM-2030’). He taught ‘new concepts of the human’ at The New School in the 1960s where he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to posthumanity as “transhuman“.
Transhumanists study both the benefits and the dangers of emerging technologies as well as ethics behind using such technologies. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so expanded from organic condition as to merit the label of posthumanbeings.
As new technologies yield humans with much longer lives, microchip implants, cryonics, virtual reality, gene therapy, genetic modification, cybernetics and other ‘upgrades’ within the next six decades some believe the organic human will become obsolete.
Harari believes it would then be possible to translate economic inequality into biological inequality. Such a divide could give rise to a new version of old and flawed ideology some races are naturally superior to others. Biological differences will be engineered and manufactured.
Today, the medical industry has already adopted a ‘pro-cyborg’ mentality which many believe is setting the stage for trillion-dollar markets looking to ‘remake the human experience’. For instance, five million people in America suffer from Alzheimer’s, but a new surgery involves installing brain implants and shows a promise in restoring people’s memory. On the other hand, there are direct links to sugar level intake and the disease.
The use of medical and microchip implants, whether in the brain or not, are expected to surge in the coming years. Some experts surmise as many as half of Americans will have implants by 2020.
In his book To Be a Machine, father O’Connell invokes both death and childbearing. He explores the intersecting practices of body modification, cryonics, machine learning, whole brain emulation and AI disaster-forecasting.
O’Connell writes: “The transhumanist worldview casts our minds and bodies as obsolete technologies, outmoded formats requiring complete overhaul.”
He worries more about the collateral damage such a future would inflict and less on the worldviews of the supposed visionaries who supply the ideas. Not that the two can be separated.
According to Venter, 40 per cent of people who think they are healthy are not. He says there are undiagnosed ailments including tumors that havn’t metastasized or cardiovascular conditions. He claims his method can predict Alzheimer’s 20 years before its onset. Venter himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer and operated on.
Can any imaginable public healthcare provision pay for such speculative treatments? Will the gap between those who can afford to stay healthy and those who cannot widen?
In response to questions about such inequality there is little comfort to offer.
“Probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead.”
For some insight into the effects of introducing futurist ideas such as CRISPR into an organic biosphere check out the video below: