Saturday, 14 February 2015

What would Transhumanism mean for civilisation?

Transhumanism is a movement also known as post-humanism. It centres around the idea that one day we will use cyber limbs instead of our own and technology to enhance our psychological and intellectual state. Transhumanists are actually predicting that by 2030 we will have a transhumanist Olympics. Prolific transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan predicts that by 2020 people will have cyber limbs simply because they choose to have them. It’s the latter idea which is interesting – we would be in a place where we could choose to upgrade our human bodies to take cyber limbs, simply to be bigger, stronger and faster. What would this mean for civilisation? Would we need extra police on the streets to counter the increased risk to ‘regular’ humans? Would these police need to be cyborgs themselves? In 2016 we will see the very first Cybathlon, an Olympics for parathletes with cyber limbs. It will take place in Switzerland – naturally, the transhumanists are delighted.

Can you imagine a world where we’re able to upload our entire brains to a USB stick? Well buckle up, because it’s on our horizon. We’ll be eventually be able to fall down a mine, knock ourselves to kingdom come and simply re-upload all our thoughts and memories – sometimes called ‘whole brain emulation’. Feel a little uneasy about this movement? Francis Fukuyama has called it the most dangerous idea of the century, a liberation movement where the enthusiasts are not simply crusading for human rights, they’re crusading to free the body of its biological constraints. Let’s not forget the idea of human life-extension; one day living to 200, or even 10,000 years. What does this mean for society? What prison sentence do you give? Won’t we all just be incredibly bored and start looking for creative, dangerous ways to entertain ourselves? Suicide will surely be on the rise.

Many questions come to mind when thinking about the possibilities and consequences of this movement. But perhaps our hesitations come from the existing restraints of civilisation and evolution.

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