- The belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.1
When I started writing this blog mini-series, I had initially thought that it would be a light-hearted three part series that I would be able to discuss some showcase technologies. However, through the journey that this blog and its research have taken me on, I’ve realized the profound nature of transhumanism.
Transhumanism isn’t just an ideology or lifestyle reserved for boffins; it has changed our society in both small and large ways. From literary works to everyday items, the transhumanism movement is among us. The Island of Dr. Moreau2 and Brave New World3 are both great examples of early literary works that begin to touch on the concept of transhumanism and our attempt to improve ourselves through science and technology. Contact lenses, titanium knee replacements, night vision goggles (NVGs), and deep brain stimulation (DBS) – all within the realm of transhumanism. Even modes of transportation (trains, planes, and automobiles!) could be considered a part of the early transhumanist movement.
Whether it is a not-so-Vulcan “mind-meld”, telepathic painting, or super hero inspired super armor for our soldiers, these technologies are undeniably forward thinking. But, what are some other practical applications of these types of technologies in the medical device industry? How far will we go to obtain technical singularity and who/how will be responsible? And how can we safeguard against “bio-hackers” and other such threats?
Improving our quality of life and to making a positive impact to our society is the inspiration for these incredible technologies; however, we also need to keep in mind how these technologies (intended for good) could potentially be used for bad. “Bad” isn’t a one size fits all adjective and doesn’t necessarily mean Dr. Doom levels of bad – it may be less or more. So, when thinking of all the potential greatness a technology could provide, we must also think of all the potential harm it could create, and how to safeguard against those harms and hazards.
Not only do we have to safeguard ourselves from the baddies, but we also have to safeguard ourselves from ourselves. In our quest to ever improve ourselves, we may eventually lose touch with what truly makes us human. In order to prevent us from becoming zombie-like cyborgs, we must ask ourselves the harder, tougher questions that surround transhumansim. If you could improve one aspect about yourself (i.e. extend your life expectancy, become a faster marathon runner, have x-ray vision, etc.), would you do it? Why would you do it? What if you could make such tweaks to your unborn child? What improvements are morally acceptable and morally tolerable?
What are your thoughts, comments, and feedback? I want to know!
- RSpelich ^_^
- "Transhumanism." Def. la. Oxford Dictionary (British & World English). Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2013.
- Wells, H.G. The Island of Dr. Moreau. 1896. NY: Penguin, 1988.
- Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 1st ed. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2006