By Julia Galef
What's so great about being human, anyway? Yeah, sure, we've got a lot of neat stuff — art, literature, love, digital watches — but there are some pretty serious downsides to the human condition, too. Being made of flesh is no picnic; we're easily maimed, mutilated, and hijacked by microorganisms who have no qualms about making us miserable. For that matter, we have a seemingly bottomless capacity to make each other miserable, too, through our own short-sightedness, hot-headedness, and other foibles that evolution built into us, or couldn't be bothered to fix. And even if we avoid all those ills, we still have an annoying tendency to shrivel up and die after just a few decades.
But we don't have to settle for the human condition as it currently is, say the transhumanists. Why not instead strive to make ourselves smarter, better, faster, stronger? And instead of meekly accepting our death sentence, why not try to finagle a stay of execution — either by understanding the causes of death and preventing them, or through more unorthodox means such as replacing parts of our bodies or brains with inorganic parts?
Not so fast, some say. Tampering with human nature could have dire social consequences, such as heightened inequality and an overcrowded Earth. Or maybe death and suffering are an essential part of a meaningful life. What if, in trying to improve the human condition, we end up becoming inhuman? And finally, there's the sizable contingent who think that all these doomsday scenarios are beside the point, because the transhumanist aspirations are wildly unrealistic anyway, simply the product of wishful thinking and a diet of too many science fiction novels.
In episode #17 of the Rationally Speaking podcast, we'll discuss some of the basic ideas of transhumanism, the accusations made against it, and whether — rationally speaking — it's something worth pursuing. Kick off the discussion in comments below!
I do not identify with those who think that inevitable death is necessary for meaning in life. Think of all the interesting things to do in life! You could devote a whole lifetime just to feeling the subtleties of Gypsy Jazz. Even if I wouldn't want to literally live forever, I wouldn't mind another ten thousand years, thank you.ReplyDelete
H+ is entirely unrealistic, however, and this is where I dissent from the whole philosophy. How are we supposed to make ourselves smarter, for example, when we are struggling to find genes that account for even a single percent of the genetic variation in intelligence in the general population?
The unrealistic aspects of H+ are related to its potentially damaging aspects. Many resources would be required to enhance human beings to a significant extent. Where are we going to get the energy, for example? Solar panels?! Give me a break.
I know that I'd be the first person to line up for getting a direct brain link to the intertubes with the display being my visual cortex so that a web browser window opens in my field of view. :-)ReplyDelete
Why is transhumanism not considered an offshoot of religion? Does the quest for "emergent" mitigating factors in an often painful life, or more to the point, absconding to an 'other' world, e.g. uploading the 'self,' not reek of the same desire that led to codification and universalization of ridiculous life negating laws?ReplyDelete
Yes it does.
Are we only having this conversation because transhumanism has latched onto technology, the way religion did to language, tens of thousands of years ago?
Why yes, yes we are.
beside the point, because the transhumanist aspirations are wildly unrealistic anyway, simply the product of wishful thinking and a diet of too many science fiction novelsReplyDelete
Yeah, what they said.
Apart from that, the whole vision strikes me as incredibly narcissistic. Instead of asking what we have to do to make the world a better place for ourselves and our fellow humans, the question is: when will we finally have the tech that allows me to live longer/forever? Yes, you threw our capability for hurting each other into the mix, but it seems like a sop. How is a cybernetic implant or immortalizing gene therapy going to help those who don't even have the money to buy bread or school fees?
Intelligent people who could be trying to push for concrete solutions to actual problems today waste their time cheering for research into AI and suchlike in the hope that a magic bullet technology will pop out of it that somehow removes poverty, war and AGW in a jiffy without us having to do any actual heavy lifting or making any sacrifices. Understandable, in a way, but what a depressing state of affairs!
Well I personally don't see any problem with wanting better artificial limbs and if it came down to it an entirely artificial body if your own became too damaged, but there is a problem with the brain. The brain is of a finite size and so no matter how cleverly you arrange the memories in there sooner or later you will run out of space unless you are deleting old memories as soon as the new ones come in in which case you will be like the kid in the Neverending Story except that eventually you'll have pushed out the memories of who you are and the things you've done at which point you need to ask what is the point of doing them if you can't remember them?ReplyDelete
The people who talk about having their consciousness transferred wholesale into a machine are of course failing to think this through. What corporation and corporate software would you trust with your consciousness? And that is the least of the problems with that concept.
What I can see though is a natural progression of what we are seeing now in its infancy. An implant which will connect you 24/7/365 with the Sum Total of Human Knowledge (STOHK) and with every other implanted person so that all you would have to do for knowledge, sensory data or communication is think about them. Hand held devices and the internet are already a crude simulation of this. I think the Borg are our near future.
I am inclined to believe that, provided civilisation is not wiped out, we will eventually have the technology and understanding to either radically enhance our bodies and minds, or to create machines with artificial minds, or some combination of both. I just can't see anything about the nature of minds that prevents them from existing beyond the confines of the short-lived colony of metazoan cells that we call the human body. It's just a matter of solving the obvious and huge technical challenges involved.ReplyDelete
It is tempting to consider the 'end point' of this line of thought to be the total 'liberation' of the mind from the weak, flawed human body, and perhaps from any physical body (think virtual reality, or a mind which can move between multiple bodies) just as people once thought about human flight as the liberation of the body from gravity. But just consider someone stuck in a cramped economy class seat on a long haul flight - things didn't quiet turn out to be as liberating as might have been expected for the average person at least. It's difficult to predict what the consequences would be of this escape of mind from body, because its such a radial boundary to cross. But just as gravity still applies to aeroplanes, so limitations will still apply to enhanced minds. It's a bit beyond our current scientific understanding to rigorously characterise such limitations, but that doesn't make the end goal a crazy or pseudo-religious dream.
"The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable." (source: Wikipedia)ReplyDelete
I see this wish to "live forever" as a typical manifestation of a society which is somehow escaped under "control" and want much more than he "deserve" from nature and life. I live in a corner of the world (Eastern Europe) where many traditional rural societies still exists (meaning that the lifestyle and perception of life and the human place in nature is still "ancestral" - somehow close to middle ages). It is interesting to see how these people think about health, life and death, how they face with illness and death, how they perceive and the meaning of life. In a totally different way than this H+, and, they seem to be happy and healthy (they live up to 100 years sometimes...). All in all, this H+ movement would like to resolve some deep problems in the society, in a wrong way. I am sure that life of somebody who live for 200 years can be more empty and meaningless that the life of somebody who die at 70...
Only in facing an unavoidable death do we find a special human dignity and courage; facing an unnecessary death is a pitiful tragedy.ReplyDelete
That there are conditions of happiness that are not addressed by prolonging life or by improving the quality of life is irrelevant. Duration and capability are firmly entrenched condition of happiness.
"Only in facing an unavoidable death do we find a special human dignity and courage"ReplyDelete
People used to say that pain in child birth was good for the mother's character, but do we decry pain relief now that it's readily available? I think most people don't, and would consider the pain-is-good-for-you argument to be somewhat abhorrent. But the same argument seems to be in action against transhumanism - facing the bad stuff makes us better, or even, makes us human.
But, firstly, it's called TRANShumanism for a reason - because the new beings would be something sufficiently different to be clearly distinguishable from present day humans. Even if your argument were valid (I don't accept that it is) it wouldn't apply to a transhuman being - unless they retained this human frailty of requiring to be killed at some point in order to be 'valid'.
And, secondly, how much greater would the courage required of a transhuman be to accept a voluntary death for some higher cause?
Thirdly, death can be nullified in a different way than simply engineering a long lived individual being - if individuals begin to loose their sharp boundaries, death becomes less of an issue. Beings could merge or divide or enter indefinite hibernation etc. This is the long term view, and not, of course, current feasible, or even anywhere close to feasible.
#1 Pain is Ennobling.ReplyDelete
"People used to say that pain in child birth was good for the mother's character, but do we decry pain relief now that it's readily available?" - sp1derm4n
No. Which is exactly my point. I'm not making the argument that there is a special dignity in pain and death; I'm responding to that argument, made above by several people hoping to deploy it against Transhumanism. My point is that if there is such a dignity at all, it can only be applied to unavoidable conditions. Transhumanism is not concerned with unavoidable conditions, so it is not an argument against Transhumanism.
That said, I think there *is* a sense of dignity in confronting one's own mortality., and Transhumanism does not argue against it. Transhumanism merely contends that this particular expression of dignity need not be mandatory. Noone is suggesting that, for example, computerized consciousnesses cannot set delete dates from themselves, or cannot engage in activities that could result in termination.
#2 Not relevant.
Your second point is premised on a misunderstanding of my argument, corrected above.
#3 There are other ways!
"Thirdly, death can be nullified in a different way than simply engineering a long lived individual being." - sp1derm4n
I don't see how this is an argument against Transhumanism, particularly when splitting and dividing consciousnesses can not be considered "nullifications of death" when neither move preserves an individual consciousness - the very thing one would want to avoid in death. Regardless, as I understand it, Transhumanism is not in the business of claiming that there is but one possible way of advantageously changing what it is to be human; in fact, I'm under the impression that they claim exactly the opposite.
Scientists and engineers already research and develop the technology to improve the human condition. What's the point of transhumanism? To provide moral support, or do they want to steer the research in a different direction?ReplyDelete
"Or maybe death and suffering are an essential part of a meaningful life."?! That's a belief for people who have retreated into religion or some other unhealthy state of mind.ReplyDelete
We can't avoid the technical difficulties, scientists are already working on these projects in a scattered way. We can't avoid the ethical issues, which will always be with us. H+ is our future, though not as soon as we'd like. it's time to start thinking about it seriously.
Technology is a culture only unfortunately, and transhumanism, underneath the ornamentation of technological devices and their ideas, is by its core values in line with the fascist regimes of religion (mainly) and modern capitalism.ReplyDelete
After capitalism stopped fornicating with religion only, religion became jealous. It hid itself within the technological drive, then rejoiced in the birth of the technocracy, and almost as a foregone conclusion certain people became the technocracy's Jesuits.
Those would be the transhumanists you give so much credit to Julia.
I highly recommend Arnold Pacey's 'Culture of Technology,' and Albert Borgmann's 'Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life.'
Both are a bit dated but worth the paradigmatic explication of technology's effect upon small to large social groups.
Even aside from modern capitalist tendencies, just remember, transhumanism is religious bullshit and subject to all of religion's metaphysical failings, even if not its epistemic ones.
I learned much from these comments! As I see the overall evolution of human societies even from the archaic, it was a wish to maximize fitness (live in safe, have many offspring, resources...). All living organisms in Earth "want to do have" these. What is different with us, is that we have the ability (mental, physical - interrelated) to do it, in a more extent way than other creatures. We started by modifying environment and adapting it to our wishes, then various behavioral shifts occurred at social and individual level (see the nomadic=>sedentary agricultural transition, then the huge industrial development). Then the medicine. Now it is time to think about "robocop" like people too.ReplyDelete
Sorry if I am vague - what I am saying is that if we interpret H+ on the big ground of the various shifts which occurred in human history, all mostly driven by the (ancestral, animalic) wish to increase fitness ("fitness in humans may be a complex thing, extending more far than in lemurs for example...) and demographic explosion, then nothing wrong with it. As in the case of every major shift, there were at least two big groups of people: who like the idea and those who were more traditionalists. The route, however, was always clear and what we see around...
"Only in facing an unavoidable death do we find a special human dignity and courage; facing an unnecessary death is a pitiful tragedy." - JamesReplyDelete
"My point is that if there is such a dignity at all, it can only be applied to unavoidable conditions. Transhumanism is not concerned with unavoidable conditions, so it is not an argument against Transhumanism... Transhumanism merely contends that this particular expression of dignity need not be mandatory." - James
Thanks for that clarification. I am arguing 'for' (to simplify to binary) transhumanism. My (mis)understanding was that your comment meant "currently human death is unavoidable and this type of death is dignifying, but for transhumans death would always be by unnecessary accident (since they would never die of old age) and therefore not dignifying".
But your intended meaning is something like: "there is an aspect of death which applies equally to human and transhuman, and only this aspect could be said to instil dignity".
While transhumanism is often painted in a kind of "for-or-against" fashion, it is worth reminding onself that (like for most issues) the opinions range on a continuum - we're really all transhumanists, and we're all already transhuman. We use technology such as clothing, notebooks, electricity, watches, cars, telephones, computers, the Internet, podcasts (!), medicine etc. to improve upon the human condition in different ways. Some people want to take it further than others, though we should probably keep in mind that many of the technologies we consider normal today would probably be seen as science fiction and potentially harmful and "inhuman" by people of earlier times.ReplyDelete
"Scientists and engineers already research and develop the technology to improve the human condition. What's the point of transhumanism?"ReplyDelete
The point of normal medicine is to keep you healthy, you get sick, they provide the means to get you back healthy, you lose an arm, they might provide an inferior prosthetic. Similarly normal science on engineering will give you new tools and gadget, but they won't change your body.
The point of Transhumanism is to go one step further. Instead of bringing you back to "healthy human", they want to make you a "new & improved human", i.e. your eyes might be fine, but the artificial ones are better, so you update to the new one. Your iPhone no longer enough for the mobile Internet? Time for a brain plug.
While most of that is still science fiction, we are slowly getting there. A deaf person with a cochlear implant still has inferior hearing to a normal human, but she can link her Mp3 player directly into the implant, thus no need for headphones.
The tricky part with transhumanism is: Where do you stop? Better arms, legs, eyes and ears are reasonably simple, as they can still be considered just "tools", but what about the motivation that drives us? What happens when you start meddling with that? If you have a brain implant that can give you non-stop happiness without effort, would you turn it on?
There is simply far to much of what we do that is driven by rather basic biological instinct and I am not quite sure what is left when you open up that basic human nature to modifications and adjustments. The road from there to basically StarTrek Borg looks awfully short.
Trans-humanism is intrinsic to the human combination of biology + culture + technology and we are already well into it.ReplyDelete
What concerns me most is that certain technologies may pose existential risks, especially those technologies which can produce products that are self-replicating and self-organizing. The familiar examples are genetic engineering (artificial organisms), nano-technology (gray goo), and software engineering (adaptive malware).
Where technologies pose existential risks we need to develop appropriate defenses (our trans-human immune system) in step with the new products. Neither politicians nor private industry may have all the needed incentives to take adequate precautions.
Poor Richard's Almanack 2010
I notice a lot of people are focusing on how 'unrealistic' transhuman aspirations are. I think this is orthogonal to the issue. Transhumanism is best understood as an ethical stance: IF it is possible to use technology to improve the human condition, THEN (ceteris paribus) we should do it. Nobody is making fact claims yet.ReplyDelete
I also notice a lot of comparisons between transhumanism and religion. These comparisons are as boring as they are fatuous, relying only on the most superficial pattern matching: "Transhumanists have hope for the future, just like those silly theists!" Wow, you cut me to the quick. Now that you mention it, I'm also a dog lover - just like Hitler.
There's also a lot of sour grapes about how ennobling death is, and how it gives meaning to life. I think this is a Huge Mistake (along the same ethical lines as "slavery is beneficial to both master and slave"), and maybe a thought experiment will show you why.
Imagine if you will, that people *actually had* immortal souls which survived the body and lived on somewhere else infinitely better. In this world, nobody would be very sad at a funeral; after all, Aunt Dahlia has just gone on to something much better; she will live forever and we will join her by & by. Suicide would be seen as a perfectly understandable surrender to temptation, not a retreat from reality.
Now into this world comes a device capable of capturing someone's immortal soul after death and tearing it to pieces, till there is absolutely no hope of recovery.
In case you hadn't put it together, that device is death, and it is one of the most awful things in existence. The operation it performs is nothing less than the *total annihilation of our material souls.*
No amount of sour-grapes "philosophy" mitigates the horror of it, which makes the deathbed conversions of atheists as understandable as removing your hand from a hot stove burner. Welcome to reality, source code written by Torquemada! Hey, at least the aesthetics are nice.
Seen from this perspective I find transhumanism as obvious a conclusion (ethically) as there can be.
"Seen from this perspective I find transhumanism as obvious a conclusion (ethically) as there can be." - ianpollockReplyDelete
"Apart from that, the whole vision strikes me as incredibly narcissistic. Instead of asking what we have to do to make the world a better place for ourselves and our fellow humans, the question is: when will we finally have the tech that allows me to live longer/forever? Yes, you threw our capability for hurting each other into the mix, but it seems like a sop. How is a cybernetic implant or immortalizing gene therapy going to help those who don't even have the money to buy bread or school fees?"
First, caring about A more than B does not mean that no time and attention should go to B. Maybe women's lib should never have happened, because after all, famine and disease were always far more important anyway? Shut up and get back in the kitchen, honey; your complaints are nothing compared to the suffering children of biafra.
Second, it is an open question whether humans as they are today are CAPABLE of solving the mass suffering and existential risk problems they have. I hope they are, but I don't *know* they are. One part of the transhumanist programme might be to repair my ethical akrasia. I don't anticipate this happening anytime soon, but since I'd apparently rather spend $20 on making seafood paella than on a GiveWell-endorsed charity, the solution of that problem (which I would welcome) would be helpful to more people than just me.
And you really think that the idea of the average transhumanist is to have an empathy module installed, of all things? Hah.
You are right, of course, that there are many noble causes to be pursued, and I do not fault anybody for fighting for environmental protection, equal rights or democracy to the neglect of the other two, just as an example. And of course I can accept that there are people who have enough to do with living their own lives in a decent way; my own earlier activism has also subsided with increasing demands from studies and work.
Still, there are priorities. If you devote enormous energy over years to lobbying for a continuation of the firefly TV series while considering things like AGW Somebody Else's Problems, I will reserve the right to consider that loopy. The same for people who think that humanity's greatest issue today is to give those few who can afford it some cyborg upgrades or suchlike.
H+ basically boils down to: If we can improve our core programming, we should. On this foundation there are any number of fantasies proposed ranging from conquering aging to downloading brains to robotic limbs. Which of these are to be believed as likely are up to interpretation and I could ramble about it for pages. Instead, I will argue that this is a natural next step. Science and technology are a force for combating our problems from trivial to severe. If it's possible to engineer a human that is not at risk of cancer, how much more effective would that be than any cure that is already out there?ReplyDelete
The movie Gattaca comes to minds for highlighting possible side effects to human engineering and it is important to consider the societal consequences. In exchange for our healthier stronger bodies and lengthier lives, might we be placed into a society where who you are is decided for you at your birth? What if only the wealthy could afford to engineer their children? These are legitimate concerns, but if the alternative is to not advance for fear of what the next problem we must conquer will be... well, imagine if there had been no industrial revolution because of what factories would be like. I would rather we work to ensure such advancements are available and affordable to all as an ethical prerogative. Whether or not that is realistic is something I am not sure can be answered yet.
Transhumanism is so easy to caricature. It's not primarily about immortality (an obvious benefit that I'm still floored that anyone would pretend they wouldn't take), it's about an ethical stance that says alleviation of suffering and betterment of the human experience is a good goal and that there is nothing inherently 'morally' superior or 'natural' about our current bodies over potential technologically based ones. Transhumanism is just taking Western culture's stance toward technology over the last few hundred years and recognizing the potential applications in light of our recent tech developments.ReplyDelete
Calling transhumanism a religion? That's extremely disingenuous. Avoiding death is a common habit of successful species and seems ludicrous to criticize on the face of it. Is cancer-research religious then? It also seeks to prolong life via technological means.
It seems to me that people sell themselves on this idea that life must be finite to be meaningful because it's how they cope with their own abandonment of a hope of eternal life in accepting atheism. It really isn't sensible. I accept that my life will probably end within less than a century and I can recognize that that's tragic. Some truths are simply unpleasant. I think it's off the mark to try to act as if we're glad it's this way and let that carry over into our evaluations of things like this. Even if many transhumanists are overly optimistic, that should not be confused with cultishness or absurdity.
Consider the ethical implications of opposing transhumanism. Where do you draw the line? Which life saving technology gets labeled 'unnatural'? If you could live indefinitely without disease, at which age would you just up and decide to kill yourself for living to long? Bettering the human experience in both quantity and quality is good. That's the core theme of transhumanism.
I am not sure if anybody apart from maybe some churches can be said to oppose transhumanism. If somebody comes up with a robotic arm, or a brain implant that improves memory, hooray! Who will have any problems with that?
But it must be allowed to point out that an entire movement dedicated equal parts to (1) obsessing about inventions that will be made anyway regardless of their cheer-leading and (2) dreaming of inventions that are technically impossible or actually incoherent, like "uploading your mind", is simply childish and could better direct its energies towards something useful.
Harry, you say the following:ReplyDelete
“Why is transhumanism not considered an offshoot of religion? Does the quest for "emergent" mitigating factors in an often painful life, or more to the point, absconding to an 'other' world, e.g. uploading the 'self,' not reek of the same desire that led to codification and universalization of ridiculous life negating laws?
Yes it does.”
Psychologizing the motivations behind transhumanism does not render its claims implausible or its objectives undesirable. This also reeks of “guilt by association” and the dubious suggestion that this link should lead us to believe there is a serious threat that transhumanism would lead to something similarly life-negating as religion.
Even if there were some identifiably similar characteristics between religion and transhumanism this does not in itself constitute a reason for dismissing the claims of transhumanists or for thinking that these similarities are a reason to think transhumanism would somehow lead to the irrational barbarity of religions. After all, religions do not place as their explicit goal so utilitarian an objective as transhumanism, which is all about maximizing happiness and eliminating suffering; it's a strange world where a proposed means of bringing about an end to suffering that's support is entirely contingent upon it actually being able to deliver is criticized on the grounds that it would actually cause it. I also don't note any actual argument for this view, it is merely asserted.
Furthermore, as other commenters have noted, the supposed link between transhumanism and religion is utterly puerile to begin with. What, exactly, is it based on? Do transhumanists consider such lofty goals as overcoming the fundamental sources of human suffering, and indeed consider “absconding to an 'other' world – perhaps literally by space colonization? Absolutely. But whereas religion proposes absurd, imaginary means of achieving these, transhumanism doesn't offer these “after death”, it proposes we actively work to produce these outcomes in this world. It is not the objectives or desires of religious people that make their beliefs absurd, but the fact that the particular methods they imagine will achieve these are completely irrational and utterly devoid of evidence. Utopianism is not the sole province of religion and its pursuit in the real world is not rendered ridiculous merely because so many ridiculous religions propose a heaven.
You also suggest that transhumanism is aligned with the “fascist regimes” of religion and capitalism. I happen to be a transhumanist advocate whose other principle views are being an anti-religious atheist activist and a socialist activist and political theorist with an exceptionally anti-capitalist bent. What you are saying is not only false, it is completely false IF it is intended as a description of the fundamental nature of transhumanism: transhumanism requires no particular religious or political orientation and examples such as myself are a testament to it not being composed entirely of religious fascists or capitalists. Virtually every transhumanist I know is an atheist and most are socialists or moderates. And we are not exceptions. It turns out that transhumanists have tracked trends in the political and religious views of their membership, and there is, at least among one group's membership, a trend towards left-leaning attitudes and secularism. Here is a report on a survey of the participants of the World Transhumanist Association.
Lastly, you mention that transhumanism suffers “metaphysical failings”. Can you please elaborate on what those are?
After having just listened to the podcast, I'd like to make the point that 'radical' ideas have been responsible for all of human progress up until this point: ideas such as the earth being not-exactly-flat, or that people of colour might not be sub-human fauna. Certainly this does not mean that all 'radical' ideas are true, but neither should an idea being radical be, in itself, cause for dismissal (or even subtle derision). Rationally speaking, (!) to do so would be a nonsense.ReplyDelete
Evolution is blind, and we are currently very imperfect primates biologically adapted to entirely different circumstances from those in which we now find ourselves. Our social and psychological progress is entirely disproportionate to our biological evolutionary progress.
Whilst I agree that there is much potential for error with the ideas proposed in transhumanist thought, and even a dystopian future complete with great class power disparity, the overarching point to my mind is technology's inevitability. There are, after all, currently people walking around with mechanical hearts and bionic ears.
Without going into the ethical and political implications of where cyborg technology et. al. might take us, it seems quite plausible that superior body parts will be available in the next 25-50 years. Whilst there will undoubtedly be luddites at the outset, the unfamiliarity of such new technology will, like all the technology before it, be assimilated and accepted as 'normal' eventually.
And when that happens we may begin to realise that there actually isn't anything all that special about being a self-important ape, and that perhaps far greater things are possible.
I just listened to the podcast. Where to begin? Massimo you really need to get this 'AI will never happen' rant out of your system before tackling other subjects. It is having a deleterious effect on your ability to focus. It also ate up a significant portion so that you could not get to the low hanging fruit of transhumanism and a favorite speculation of mine: Human Genetic Modification. You never even mentioned Gattaca! Designer babies are the future and if I could go in and rewrite my own code I would certainly do so to correct some errors. Just imagine - Imagine eliminating every genetic disease. Imagine our eyes put in the right way and everybody having the four (or more) cones, not just a select few. Imagine our spines designed for upright walking. Imagine being able to regenerate limbs and wounds. Or further out imagine being able to change your skin like an octopus to blend in or create instant tattoos. None of that is impossible. All we need are the right genes.ReplyDelete
I find your haves and have-nots argument about technological progress a little difficult to take seriously. Are you planning to have yourself altered to be less physically attractive in order that the ugly people won't be jealous of you and cause conflict? I didn't think so. We already live in an unbalanced, unfair world. Would you propose universal homogenization to get rid of it so that everybody had the same things (looks, material possessions, abilities) and thus no reason to be envious? Somehow I doubt it.
Julia - my condolences. I had no idea that you were a future pessimist (as in pessimistic about the future). I see nothing but bleakness when I look into the near future, but I will not have to endure it nearly as long as you will.
I think the fact that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death brings into serious question the presumption that everyone would want to live forever (or a long, long time) if they had that option. Obviously some people don't even want to live out the few years they have now.