Humanity’s Ultimate Double Edge Sword–Technology and Transhumanism

How would you like to be perfect? Ultimately perfect; no disease, no genetic dispositions, superior senses, superior, live long, live perfect? How much would you pay to be that perfect, where you can fall and break bones then heal them almost instantaneously? Of course we do have technology to mutilate ourselves to look perfect, but seeking that holy grail of perfection. Most people would say immortality, intelligence, genetically flawless. We are closer to this reality believe or not.

We have done this once in out life, play the wiki game. You pick one article and only clicking on the links inside the article to get to an end article. Well this particular time, I discovered transhumanism. What is this fantabulous term, you ask? Straight out from the article itself:

an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Off the bat, I can already think of things that are happening now to change how we view ourselves as human beings; to gauge our human selves on the measurement of man. We have mind controlled devices, limbs that can be controlled by thought, research into our DNA for the “death gene”, Google Glasses project to provide an onboard access to the cloud. Hardest part to realize is as we look forward to these technologies, they will later be part of us and will consume us from the inside. Take for instance the cell phone, firstly prized by businessmen and now for all men to communicate. When it opened up to the world, we have assaults on the technology; it causes headaches, tumours, radiation burns, and whatever that can be said about it. As the cell got small, we added more to it. Other wireless technologies, cameras, and capabilities to do what it was originally intended.

As I continued to read, I start to realize most of my life has been influenced to embrace transhumanism. In short, this ideology argues both for and against enhancing, modifying and improving the human condition through technology. To slow it down even further, think Star Trek’s Borg and it’s very compact and has access to Facebook. And the though there are many reasons to be better, smarter and stronger; there are arguments that all this can lead us to be more uniform, duller and distant future.

For those who want to save time and refuse to read the article for themselves, there are a lot of discussion on how this technology would  affect us. Argument the first, “pic or it didn’t happen”. Essentially, we can make educated or radical guesses on what it will happen but it won’t happen. The argument is sound considering what has transpired with the silicon wafer over the past half century to build electronic circuits. Ever since then, we built them smaller and small to the point every few years on the market there is always a new computer part. Now there’s work on holography, virtual presence and augmented reality. How fast half a century is when you look at how fast we can turn ourselves into that distant horizon to better ourselves.

Biomedical research too has taken towards into more technological methods to prolong life and enhance the human experience. We have mapped the human genome to be ready to build ourselves outside the reproductive convention; cloning. Not much time ago, many argued this would be religiously immoral since you can build a genetic copy of yourself and be physically immortal. Though there are flaws in the argue that would suggest you are in the original version would not technically be in the next version and the next one would experience life differently (the same argument about teleportation where you die at device A and created at device B). A more religious approach is the whole redesigning the future thing, creating a heaven on earth scenario. Where socially we choose to make our children super perfect and everything is set out for them in it’s very biologically healthy world.

Aside from prolonging life, one argument discusses the whole immortality issue. We’re talking about real immortality where you can transfer information to one brain to another like a computer. Overall, this would be a cosmetic issue considering there is no real benefit aside from living forever until you can no longer transfer your mind to another just so you can look in the mirror and look and feel younger or older depending on the body. Kind of like botox aside from the fact that botox can kill you.

We live in a society of excess, don’t deny it. We toss away more than we use. One argument states it is morally wrong to override what nature has done properly every since life started on earth. Why tamper and tinker with something already perfect? Living on a limit makes you appreciate what you have and what has been provide for you. In short, complex real life Minecraft on Hardcore mode with one life and anything will likely kill you.

Remember World War II? That thing that happened before our time where many people died to prevent a guy from killing a whole lot of people because they’re different? Yes, the master race thing is sort of the ego of now; sort of. We are taught if anything makes you look better and live longer is better for you. The what if scenario; what if the government started to tell you who you can and cannot marry in terms of your genetic constitution? Can’t marry that blonde girl you wanted because you have cancer. Can’t have intercourse with your neighbour because you’re susceptible to the common cold. That’s the kind of thinking that would turn us in a very uniform society.  Feeling kind of down about this paragraph? Sorry, can’t even be eligible to knock up something through artificial means since you might pass on the “sad gene”.

Last one’s my favourite one, dominance of artificial intelligence and the destruction of the human race.  Yeah that got your attention, AI and doomsday. Most of us has seen The Terminator movies where robots destroy humans. Then it’s a good thing in the Wikipedia article it’s called the “Terminator argument”. What it comes down to is that we create AI smarter than us, that we turn ourselves into second class citizens to our robot overlords. This can happen in so many ways but mainly programming gone awry, rogue human elements with diabolical plans, or just too well programmed robots bent on achieving the objective we put out for them whether it’s just consuming carbon dioxide or self-replicating to be do certain tasks.

Screw online piracy, we got bigger bureaucratic fish to fry. Some of the upcoming technologies may or may not be relevant now but they will, where will the laws be for those problems? For one thing, cloning is a big issue considering the likelihood of having it dilute the gene pool. Diversity within it has it’s upsides, one thing it does ensure survival of a species even though the downside would be you drew the short straw and will have to die to protect said gene pool. That’s natural probably that you might have “good” or “bad” genes, it’s better than knowing you got the same biological probably as the next guy. In every way I see it, everyone in natural selection has a slight advantage; since it’s random it’s likely you got good genes no matter what due to the variability. Cloning in terms of individual organ cloning is pretty amazing and likely a crack pot idea since genetic material is currently made with other pieces of the same puzzle and would require a fetus somewhere. There are other ways of making organs on the drawing table that is considered and in testing with much promise, like 3D printers. Biotechnologies like cybernetic and bionic implants are a good thing, but I personally draw the line at artificial intelligence. If it can think for itself and was made by man, I want it outside my body. If I had a choice between nanobot injections or an aluminum prosthetic controlled by thought for a new leg, I would choose the latter. Of course you could argue the bots could fix it like it never happened but you have to think it does have access to the rest of the body and what kinds of other things they snuck aboard that could to harm to me (Also the metal leg could make a good conversation starter.) I believe in a choice filled society, you can do whatever you please under the law and the laws only define things you do to other people. So if it’s your choice to get botox, I’m cool with that as long as I’m not paying for it. If you want to be injected with an immortality serum, I’m happy for you as long as I didn’t pay for it. If you want to turn yourself into a robot, sounds awesome and I better not be paying for that operation. On a grander scale, the laws we have or will need does have to define what is “man”. Does a clone count under law a “human” since it’s made by mankind or something else? How many clones of one organism can there be especially when it comes to people? If you kill yourself to have your mind be transferred into a machine, does it count as suicide or assisted suicide since the physical body is deceased? If you are immortal, then what is defined as your legal state in life (ie. senior citizen, child, teenager, adult) and are you to have the equal amenities as someone who is mortal? Many questions, most yet unanswered.


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