Have you ever heard something so absurdly crazy that you get that clenching knot in your stomach, fearing it’s actually true? Well, hold onto your lunch because transhumanism and transhuman technology tip-toes on the very principles of our existence.
In other words, only read on if you strong-minded.
Transhumanism is the belief that technology can be used to liberate the human body from its natural limitations. In other words, they want to take control of natural evolution, thus reprogramming our future.
Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and Stephen Hawking have popularized the transhuman mentality by foreshadowing a future of indefinite lifespans, downloadable memories, and interplanetary travel.
And while these things seem like ultimatums we must decide on today…they aren’t. In fact, they are narratives that have gone on for the last century.
Russian cosmism was a belief system by Nikolai Fyodorov that advocated physical immortality, space exploration, and resurrecting the dead through science. It was the 1906 version of transhumanism.
During middle school history class, I remember hearing about Walt Disney being frozen beneath Disney World, with the hope of being brought back to life in the future.
No coincidence here, cryonics was first told in The Jameson Satellite, a short story from 1931 (thirty years before Walt passed away).
Four years ago, Google’s in-house futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted we’d achieve digital immortality, through mind-uploading, by 2045.
Hmmm. Oddly familiar to Jerry Sohl’s The Altered Ego in which a man is able to make a digital duplicate of his mind and access it after his death…published in 1954.
Most likely, it’s because transhuman technology may finally be catching up to these fictions.
Tracing Transhuman Technology
These fictional stories of the 20th century inspired the youth to experiment – to see if their favorite sci-fi’s were plausible.
Yes, I’m saying that science is inspired by fiction. Or maybe it’s inspired by the desire to disprove fictions?
One of these inspired individuals is Aubrey de Grey – a biogerontologist focused on gene therapy. Essentially, the goal is to replace bad genes with good genes, thus manipulating our genetic code and eliminating our inefficiencies.
Perhaps someone you are more familiar with is Elon Musk and his transhuman technology: Neuralink. Neuralink is a brain-computer interface that essentially brings the computing power of your MacBook right inside your head.
Ultimately, they want to merge the human brain with Artificial General Intelligence, so we don’t fall behind the machines which we’ve built.
Personally, when I learn about these transhuman technology projects, I get the impression I have to decide today whether I want to live forever or be mortal. When in reality, there will be many stepping stones.
For instance, the first stepping stone might be implanting a microchip in your hand, like a company in rural Wisconsin is doing to their employees.
Three Square Market is giving employees an option to implant RFID chips in their hand to allow them to more easily make purchases in their break room, open doors, use copy machines, log into computers, unlock phones, and more.
If this frightens you, not to worry. Nobody is forcing you to become a transhuman. It’s just a philosophy that is seeing the light of day.
Transhumanism in Perspective
When I think of transhumanist thought leaders, I always imagine they hate humanity. That they wish people were better at life and less human.
But, then I remember that transhumanist thinkers are no different than you or I. Driven by fear and inspired by opportunity.
Fereidoun M. Esfandiary, a transhumanist philosopher, feared that he wouldn’t live to be 100 years old. So, he changed his name to FM-2030, started advocating transhumanism, and had his body cryogenically frozen at age 69.
Elon Musk fears technology and its rise to power. That’s why he wants us to merge our brains with AI, while also colonizing Mars. In case AI goes rogue on Earth.
For many transhumanists, their purpose is to further the progress of transhuman technology. We all have fears and we all have different ways of coping with those fears.
I’m not sure what I fear more: dying before I’ve accomplished all my goals, or living forever and running out of goals.
Eventually, if transhumanism goes according to plan, I’ll have to face one of these fears head on.
“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” – Sammy Davis Jr.
Fear shouldn’t consume your day, but rather it should inspire you to take your commitments more seriously. Take a deep breath, remember you are alive and put your heart into what you love to do.
Hopefully, this post didn’t knot your stomach too much. I’m glad you took the time to read this week’s Quick Theories.
I’d love to hear what you think of transhumanism, the people behind it, and maybe even a prediction of your own. You can reply directly to this email.