What You Need To Know About Transhumanism
Many of us will look at this title and imagine this term does not exist, and is beyond our reality. However, we should equally realise science and technology have made inspirational leaps in recent years.
We often watch science fiction movies believing them to be exactly that - fiction. However, in reality could such vivid and detailed imagination exist? Rather, we are conditioned to believe these advancements are somehow impossible, and too far-fetched. However, transhumanism has existed for more than thirty years and it is only of late that we are being slowly given pieces to the puzzle of how some technologies have been created.
Essentially, to be transhuman is to be beyond human. Those futurists experimenting with transhumanism believe that you can use technology to transform your body and brain and become a more powerful species as a result. Most transhumanists will tell you that the use of any such life-enhancing scientific advances must be bounded by ethics. Many sci-fi writers and opponents of transhumanism believe otherwise - that is to say, ethics are being overlooked.
With transhumanism we have a scientific philosophy bubbling away in the background unseen. It has enormous consequences for mankind, but has virtually no policing or understanding by the general populace.
It is clear that some experimentation to achieve these goals has been under way for many years - like cloning 'Dolly the Sheep', creation of an external womb, artificial limbs, gene replacement and therapy, the use of animal organs in transplants and so on.
Another viewpoint of those pursuing this technology, is that with advances of robotics and artificial intelligence, transhumanism will allow humanity to compete. This may sound like a 'chicken and egg' argument, as there would be no need for this technology, if careful consideration was taken of whether ethically these technologies were needed. Therein lies another dilemma, as globalists believe the world is already over-populated, but transhumanism has a primary goal of immortality through cryogenics. This goal could potentially be achieved by 2045, which is not so far into the future.
Founded in 2008 by Ray Kurzweil, the head of engineering at Google, the Singularity University is a think tank and business incubator. It's just one of the many organizations based at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, California. Part-funded by Google, the Singularity University focuses on Kurzweil's theory of technological singularity. This states that the growth of technology will provoke exponential growth in human capabilities.
Kurzweil, a pioneer of transhumanism, believes that technological progress follows an exponential trajectory. It doubles up each year, in spite of major world events, such as world wars. For example, Kurzweil alone was unperturbed when only seven years into a 15 year project only 1% of the human genome had been mapped. He was to be proved right. Through doubling up the 1% progress each year, the entire genome was completely mapped in the following seven years. Unlike the horde, Kurzweil plans for the exponential future, never the linear one.
Kurzweil, identifies three key technological fields: genetic engineering, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI). Together, advances in these will eventually reach a point of ‘singularity’. When this occurs, humans will become machine hybrids, immortal and possessing superintelligence.
Advances in genetic engineering will allow DNA editing of embryos to protect against disease. Already we have RNA interferon, which can switch genes on and off. Nanotechnology will create molecule-sized robots to clean our blood of pathogens and toxins.
The most profound change will probably come from the evolution of artificial intelligence. Kurzweil believes that it is inevitable that one day AI will exceed human intelligence. AI can achieve far greater processing power and efficiency. This is the point at which the human mind will eagerly to tap into superintelligence. Our existence will become more software-based but far less human. Our knowledge, skills and personality will be backed up to the ‘Cloud’ or a similar digital environment. This will give humans a virtual immortality. We will have become a human art canvas with infinite possibilities. We will have the capability to change our physical bodies within a 'virtual-reality environment'. It’s a life without death, but one where the biological parts of our existence would be increasingly superseded by the machine.
Kurzweil is a futurist and techno-optimist who believes AI will transform human life for the good and reduce suffering. But not everyone shares Kurzweil’s utopian vision. Both Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned of the dangers of an unchecked rise in AI.
In a sense, transhumanism is not new. For a while now, we have entertained bits of metal and plastic inside our bodies; at least in small measure replacing the biological with the mineral.
Mercury fillings have been used to treat tooth decay for over a hundred years. However recently there have been concerns that the mercury part of the amalgam - as much as 50% - has been leaching into our brains and bodies. Dentists continue to deny there is any hazard to health, despite WHO stating there’s no safe mercury levels.
The Essure sterilisation implant has recently been withdrawn from the market, except for in the United States. While an effective birth control method, it has been found to cause chronic pain in some women, and in a few cases has led to hysterectomies.
So there can be physiological concerns which dictate against the use of implants in the body. But many others question the intellectual consequences. They worry about the exercising of cerebral power through monopolies.
You only need to drive around Silicon Valley to understand that it is the nerve centre of transhumanist ideals. Silicon Valley is the hub of technological innovation, full of start-ups, some small, others not so small. All the big players are here too, and it’s important to join the dots to see the family connections.
Transhumanist pioneer, Ray Kurzweil, is an executive director at Google, the world’s foremost search engine. Regina Dugan, former head of DARPA - the technological arm of the Pentagon - once ran the advanced Technologies and Projects Laboratory at Google. She has since moved a few miles down the road to Facebook, the world’s foremost social media platform. Boston Dynamics, a company which designs military robots has received funding from DARPA. In 2013 it was acquired by Google X, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. DARPA meanwhile has been associated with the design of new surveillance technology, even death rays. Alphabet owns Google, the search engine company, and both subsidiaries are based in Silicon Valley. Even Apple’s popular handheld devices owe much of their technological innovation to DARPA. Many query the web of connections between the US military and the world’s most powerful technology companies.
It is clear that around the globe, technology companies have been afforded much privilege in terms of relaxation of rules regarding taxation and monopolies. However great this may be in terms of employment, the cost has to be paid somewhere, be it by the wider public paying more taxes or a decline in funds available for public services. Ultimately, these losses of revenues from the larger players may be contributing to the rising inequalities that we are witnessing around the world. Perhaps the most concerning aspect of monopolisation is the "untouchable" status, which accompanies this status. Maybe we already at the stage where there is no remedy obtainable?
Opponents argue that far from bettering human existence, transhumanism might turn our world into a dystopia. Instead of freeing the human mind, transhumanism would instead enslave it. The connection of billions of human minds to a vast technological sub-reality - or ‘Cloud’ - might pass control to the wealthy elite. They would be able to subjugate the minds of the proletariat, and get them to do their bidding.
Transhumanism could be sold to the masses as a route to superintelligence and unbridled creativity. But without doubt it would be the ‘Cloud’ which would be on the take. The perceptions of the masses would all originate from the ‘Cloud’, hijacking all human thought and emotion. Rather than becoming superhuman, mankind would have become subhuman.
Some say the subjugation process has already begun. Consumers are already addicted to their smartphones, which offer an alternative screen-based reality. Even when these phones are switched off, the user’s location can be tracked. The take up of smart watches will ensure an even closer-knit state surveillance. The next stage is implantable technology. Once people accept smart technology implants into their body, they are allowing biological portal access to the cloud. We have recently seen new diabetes technology in the form of the Freestyle Libre by Abbott Pharamceuticals, where a sensor is partially implanted through the skin to read blood glucose levels.
It is at this stage we should start to be worried about what’s going to happen with our freedoms of expression and human rights. We need to ask ourselves whether transhumanism will make our lives better, or worse. Remember, technological progress is exponential, not linear. We don’t have much time.
Technology is advancing exponentially without any 'checks and balances'. We should question whether these advances should be taken, as these steps forward to some extent take us backwards at the same time.
This is a list of some of the core technologies on the transhumanism agenda: -
Clearly, on examining this list, we can see several of those technologies are even already in the reach of the general public. Others we may have heard of, but not have such familiarity. The point is one of timing, and understanding the proximity of this technology.
It is clear there are economic, social and ethical issues to the transhumanism agenda. The price for these "advances' may in the not too distant future, prove to be humanity itself..
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