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Transhumanism

Written By Michael Reign on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 8:00 PM



Transhumanism is an internationalist endeavor advocating the use of technology as a means of accelerating the development of a biosynthetic evolutionary dynamic as an aspect of posthuman interventionism. The transhumanist philosophy is largely based on the exaltation of the Darwinian construct through the engineered obsolescence of the human condition, whereby the emergence of technologies designed to overcome physiological limitations associated with the aging process effectively supplant the current standard of medicine. Contemporary interpretations espousing the actualization of transhumanist doctrine were foreshadowed by one of its initial proponents, professor of Futurology Fereidoun M. Esfandiary, an individual later known simply as FM-2030. Esfandiary applied teachings emphasizing “new concepts of the Human” at The New School in the 1960s, when he began to associate individuals adopting technologies, lifestyles, and worldviews transitional to “posthumanity” as “transhuman”. This hypothetical contrivance establishing the intellectual framework of this particular movement’s impetus, predominantly through the machinations of British philosopher Max More, who, in 1990, articulated principles endemic to the foundation of transhumanist ideology as a key component of the futurist exemplar - effecting the organization of a California-based intelligentsia charged with the development of the World Transhumanist Association, a transnational collective now known as Humanity+.

The Emergence of the Transhumanist Construct in a Contemporary Setting

The first acknowledged congregation devoted to the examination of technological innovation as an extension of the biosynthetic evolutionary process convened in the early vestiges of the 1980s at the University of California in Los Angeles - the eventual nexus of the transhumanist philosophy. It was within these halls of academia that FM-2030 lectured on the benefits of the so called “Third Wayfuturist diametric. In 1986, K. Eric Drexler (Kim Eric Drexler) published Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, examining the precepts of molecular nanotechnology as a by product of nanotechnological integration through the incorporation of molecular assemblers at the anatomical level. Drexler is widely acknowledged as the principal founder of the Foresight Institute, one of many organizations within the scientific community charged with the propagation of the transhumanist ideology. The others being the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the American Cryonics Society, the Applied Foresight Network (AFN), the Cryonics Institute (CI), Humanity+, KrioRus, LongeCity, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), and the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA). Located in Southern California, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation is recognized as the first non-profit organization to research, advocate for, and perform cryonics as a means of immortalization. In 1990, More authored his own variation to preexistent transhumanist dogma through its integration of extropianist methodology via the Principles of Extropy, effectively deconstructing the acknowledged foundation of the movement through the application of the following maxim:

Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life. Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies.


In 1992, Max More and Tom Morrow founded the Extropy Institute, the purported beacon of transhumanist philosophy long since discontinued, as evidenced by the following article of reference:


LINKED ARTICLE OF REFERENCE:

Closure of the Extropy Institute as the Acknowledged Pioneer of the Transhumanist Philosophy Ushering in a New Era in the Impetus of the Movement


This organization was to be the catalyst for networking futurists and the central locus of a burgeoning industry devoted to the invention of numerous memeplexes through a series of conferences. These conferences effecting the creation of a mailing list, thereby facilitating a heightened degree of exposure outside the movement through written communication, invariably contributing to the rise of a cyberculturalist dynamic as well as its cyberdelic complement. In 1998, Nick Bostrom and David Pearce, two noted philosophers, founded the World Transhumanist Association (WTA) - a large-scale internationalist consortium re-branded as Humanity+ in 2008 - a firm whose establishment would pave the way for the recognition of transhumanistic endeavors as a legitimate topic of discourse in the realm of scientific inquiry and public policy. In 2002, the WTA modified and adopted The Transhumanist Declaration, an itemized listing inclusive of The Transhumanist FAQ, two documents that effectively expanded the definition of transhumanism to account for the following:

1) The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

2) The study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies.

Philosophical Divergences

A significant contrast in the realm of thought and opinion concerning the subject of transhumanism exists in numerous circles of the scientific community, viewpoints that are constantly being revised and developed with the most noteworthy incarnations of these currents specified in the following addendum:

Abolitionism (Bioethics) - hailed by its proponents as an ethical ideology based upon the perceived obligation to use technology as a means of alleviating involuntary suffering in all sentient life forms


Anarcho-Transhumanism - a subjective modification of its libertarian counterpart, the fundamental precepts governing the actualization of this particular social construct emphasize biological freedom through the removal of limitation at the genetic level through the introduction of technological advancement, political freedom through the elimination of restrictive government and administrative mandate, and economic freedom through the abolition of the capitalist system of finance

Democratic Transhumanism - an ideological amalgam integrating the political philosophies of liberal democracy, social democracy, and radical democracy with transhumanist belief systems

Extropianism - widely acknowledged as one of the first transhumanist disciplines, characterized by the strict adherence to precepts advocating a proactive approach to the use of technology for the express purpose of enhancing the evolutionary process in humans

Immortalism - moral discourse pairing the beliefs of radical life extension and technological immortality as a viable alternative to the aging process

Libertarian Transhumanism - a politically oriented philosophy synthesizing libertarianism and transhumanism

Postgenderism - a social construct centered primarily on the idea of voluntarily induced elimination of gender-specific identities in the human species through the application of advanced biotechnology and assisted reproductive technologies; postgenderism is a subject evincing commonality with biogenetically engineered asexuality

Singularitarianism - a moral system of beliefs espousing the possibility of technological singularity that oftentimes advocates the use of deliberate action to effect its actualization
Technogaianism - an environmentally centrist philosophy advocating the use and development of emerging technologies to effect the restoration of the Earth’s climatological patterns

Technological Utopianism - also known as techno-utopianism or technoutopianism, is defined as an ideological system emphasizing the incremental progression of science and technology, the result of which facilitates the emergence of a utopian construct. The culmination of these events precipitating the incidence of an artificially generated immanence - a metaphysical manifestation of the omnipresent characterized by the merger of a divine spiritual essence with the corporeal realm. Progenitors of the technoutopianist philosophy seek to engineer the genesis of an artificially inspired eschaton, in essence, “attempting to create Heaven on Earth through the introduction of various mediums of technology” - a process known as immanentizing the eschaton.

Religious Disciplines


The Terasem Movement, an inter-religious philosophy integrating the concept of technological innovation with the Divine Manifestation of the Ethereal - the ritualistic preservation of one’s thoughts and feelings designed to facilitate the construction of a digitally rendered simulacrum that would, in theory, be available for use by future generations. Dedicated to the study and analysis of what has come to be known as “personal cyberconsciousness” — a biomechanistic system of progression emphasizing the creation of mindfiles. These cybernetically engineered compilations then uploaded to various websites or transmitted to satellite dispensaries exhibiting Earthen orbital inclination. With more than 32,000 individuals having authorized the creation of mindfile accounts, these technologically transcribed identities housed on servers in both Vermont and Florida would later be reassembled into a tessellated approximation of one’s subconscious — a circuitized coagulation of the immaterial effecting the emergence of an artificially inspired essence, the technological equivalency of the soul.


The casual dismissal of these belief systems by the scientific community hasn’t deterred its proponents, as evidenced by the proselytizations of Gabriel Rothblatt, a pastor at Terasem whose philosophical countenance has merged with the political realm — a fact reinforced by the political aspirations of this DNC-endorsed (Democratic National Committee-endorsed) candidate for U.S. Congress.

LINKED ARTICLES OF REFERENCE:

The Terasem Faith | A New-Age Religious Philosophy Designed to Allow for the Co-Existence of the Divine and Technological Innovation
The Terasem Movement | Rapture of Intellectualism and the Transcendence of Mortality


Advocated Technologies and Areas of Interest

Progenitors of the transhumanist philosophy oftentimes advocate the emergence and eventual coalescence of numerous technologies through a process of scientific innovation, most notably the following:

Nanotechnology



Nanotechnology - In a wide variance of scientific circles this particular field is synonymous with the nanotech abbreviation. Nanotechnological pursuits are characterized by the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. The generalized description most often proffered by proponents of the NNI (National Nanotechnology Initiative) is consistent with the following assessment: the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension ranging in size from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition inclusive of discoveries emphasizing the importance of quantum mechanical effects at the quantum-realm classification, thereby necessitating its migration from a particular technological goal to a research-based category composed of every conceivable type of experimental study conducted in the field of innovation, predominantly those pertaining to the specialized properties of matter typically observed below the standard accepted threshold relevant to its size/ aspect ratio. In recent years nanotechnology has heralded the promise of eradicating the incidence of hereditary illness in patients, enhancing the human body’s natural capability for immunity. This is evidenced in the following illustration, as well as several articles of reference and cinematic presentations affirming the above statement:


LINKED ARTICLES OF REFERENCE:

Nanotechnology, Gene Therapy, Synthetic Implants, Injections, and Oral Delivery Modalities Being Heralded as the Future in the Treatment of Anterior and Posterior Ocular Conditions
How the Application of Nanotechnology Will Revolutionize the Eye Care Industry
Four Ways Nanotechnology Will Revolutionize Medicine
Future Impact of Nanotechnology on Medicine and Dentistry
Medicinal Studies in the Field of Nanotechnology to Effect the Regeneration of Damaged Tissue in the Human Anatomy




The application of nanotechnology in various fields, particularly the medical industry, paves the way for the introduction of nanobots into the realm of applied science, far beyond their current phase of research and development in the scientific community. The use of these devices consistent with nanorobotics, an engineered discipline of nanotechnology involving the construction and design of machines ranging in size from 0.1-10 micrometers. This particular field inclusive of a broader categorization emphasizing the emergence of molecular nanotechnology as a subject of interest. The following cinematic reference alluding to these developments:


There is also a more sinister connotation associated with the application of these devices, particularly within the agricultural industry, as the introduction of nanotechnological derivatives into the ecosystem becomes epidemic. The following documents examining these findings in greater detail:

LINKED ARTICLES OF REFERENCE:

Food and Nutrients Utilizing Nanotechnology as an Agent of Enrichment
The Future of Food: Nanoparticle Integration
The Possible Ramifications of Nanoparticle Integration
Examining the Interaction of Carbon-based Fullerenes (Significant components present within nanotechnological experimental enhancement) With Membranous Tissue at the Cellular Level and its Possible Connection to Molecular Toxicity
The Nanotechnological Integrative Process

In this article of reference German authorities offer insight into the possible ramifications the introduction of such advancements into the prevailing ecosystem present, the correspondent registry link is listed accordingly:


German Researchers Issue Warnings Regarding the Infusion of Nanoparticles Within the Prevailing Ecosystem, the Food Supply, Clothing and Fabric, and Cosmetics

Then there is the mention of nanobots being actively integrated into various regions of the atmosphere by agencies within the Federal Government as part of wider operation involving the use of Stratospheric Sulfate Reflective Nano-particulate (Aerosol) Dispersants (Chemtrails). The following cinematic presentation elaborating on the nature of this particular subject further:



An even more dire consequence with regard to the infusion of nanorobotics in a scientific setting concerns the possibility of an extinction level event involving the exponential replication of nanoscalar assemblies whose principal design specifications were inclusive of an organismal transformation, whereby such materials are effectively converted into other forms of matter - the so called ‘grey goo’ scenario, an event also identified as ecophagy. The following illustrative appendage elaborating on the scope of this phenomenon in greater detail:
 

The Nanotechnological Weaponization of Bacteriophages and Pathogenic Derivatives in a Scientific Setting


The introduction of nanotechnology into various microscopic ecosystems through a process of biogenetic engineering, specifically as it pertains to T4-designated Bacteriophages, once the subject of speculation, is now thought to be a reality. The following linked article of reference delving further into the aforementioned topic of discussion:

LINKED ARTICLE OF REFERENCE:

Bioengineered Encephalographic Degeneration Through a Process of Nanotechnological Weaponization

Biotechnology


Biotechnology - defined as the scientific application of living systems or organisms to effect the development of useful materials, or “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use” (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 2). Depending on the instrumentation being utilized, precepts typically ascribed to this particular discipline oftentimes incorporate biological engineering as well as its biomedical engineering complement. Transgenesis/ xenotransplantation is recognized as the functional derivative of research-based studies and developments in the field of biological engineering, its definition listed as follows:

Transgenesis/ xenotransplantation - Synonymous with the concept of trans-genetic alteration and biosynthesis (synthetic biology, also recognized as a disciplinary alternative to biological engineering), precepts governing its implementation in a controlled scientific setting are inclusive of the following tenets: the multigenerational transference of genetic material (DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid) from a disparate specieal order into previously unaltered genome sequences through a process of biomolecular engineering.

Figure 2. Mouse and in vitro transgenesis incorporating the use of a single plasmid PiggyBac Transposon System.

(A) Schematic representation of pmGENIE-2 self inactivating PgB (peptidoglycan-binding) gene delivery vector. The transposon cassette is delimited by the 3’- and 5’-TREs. Transposon size, restriction sites within the transposon, and Southern blot probe location are indicated.
(B) The mPgB (Maximum Parsimony Genetics Branch) is separated from its CAG promoter during transposition in HEK293Tcells (Human Embryonic Kidney 293T lymphocytes).
(C) Depiction of full transgenic, mosaic and nontransgenic pmGENIE-2 (puromycin GENIE-2) transgenic littermates.
(D) Southern blot analysis of gDNA (genomic DNA) from pmGENIE-2 transgenic founder and F1 (Filial 1) mice.


Biopolitical activist Jeremy Rifkin and cellular biologist Stuart Newman accept the belief that the application of biotechnology in a scientific setting has the power to effect profound changes in organismal identity. Collectively, these individuals vehemently denounce the prospect of genetic engineering of human civilization, due, in large part, to their apprehensiveness with regard to the blurring of boundary between human and artifact. Philosopher Keekok Lee equates the scientific findings associated with these developments as an integral part of a much broader trend emphasizing the accelerative modernization of technologies designed to effect the transformation of the ‘natural’ environment into an ‘artifactual’ template. In extreme instances, the utilization of these technologies could precipitate the manufacture and eventual enslavement of a dystopian subclass, specifically human clones, human-animal chimeras, and bioroids*, with even lesser dislocations of human and non-humanoid populational segments from social and ecological systems recognized as a distinct possibility.

*NOTE - At present, there is a humanoid construct that has been mass produced by various robotics developing agencies and engineering affiliates within the confines of Osaka University, most notably Kokoro Company Ltd. (a specialized animatronics division within the Sanrio Corporation. This cybernetically rendered automaton, known as an Actroid, is widely acknowledged as the first successful integration of various human physiological characteristics and mannerisms with an entity deemed to possess biomechanistic attribution. First unveiled in 2003, at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan; these artificially inspired creations are capable of mimicking various human anatomical functions, specifically blinking, respiration, and rudimentary speech patterns. Further information regarding this topic of discussion is contained in the following articles:

LINKED ARTICLES OF REFERENCE:

Actroid-F: Bridging the Gap Between Humanity and the Synthetic
Female Telepresence Automatons, Japan’s Latest Technological Foray
Actroid-SIT: Japanese Robotics Industry’s Newest Creation, Capable of Autonomous Function

Human Enhancement Technologies


Human Enhancement Technologies/ Biosynthetic Augmentation - defined as the integration of cybernetically inspired anatomical extensions through scientifically coordinated processes of biomolecular engineering - recognized as a scholastic variant of biotechnology. The following articles of reference provide a greater degree of clarity on the subject of physiological modification:

LINKED ARTICLES OF REFERENCE:

The Age of Enhancement
Examining Cybernetic Augmentation Through Advances in Technology
Report Raises Ethical Concerns Regarding the Use of Human Enhancement Technologies
Neural Enhancement Possibilities in the Field of Military Conflict
Assessing the Prospect of Biosynthetic Augmentation in the Military | An In Depth Analysis
Chronicling DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) Extensive Forays Concerning the Subject of Physiological Modification Through the Application of Technology

Information Technology


Information Technology - the application of communications and telecommunications equipment to effect the storage, retrieval, transmission, and manipulation of data, oftentimes in the context of a business or corporate-level dynamic. The use of this particular term synonymous with the networking industry, specifically in the realm of computing, though its literal interpretation is interchangeable with various information distribution technologies - most notably telephone-based communications devices and televisions. Several industries are associated with this particular field, such as computer hardware/ software manufacture and distribution, electronics, semiconductors, Internet-based communication, telecom equipment, e-commerce, and computer service integration. It is defined as “the study, design, development, application, implementation, support, or management of computer-based information systems” by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA).

Cognitive Science


Cognitive Science - the interdisciplinary scientific assessment of the mind and its processes, cognitive science is inclusive of research analysis into the field of intellectual capability and behavioral patternization, focusing primarily on how information is represented, processed, and transformed (in faculties such as perception, language, memory, reasoning, and emotion) within neural networks (human or animal) and machines (computers). It is composed of multiple research-driven disciplines, specifically psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology.

Simulated Reality


Simulated Reality - a hypothetical contrivance implying the simulation of reality through an electronically inspired medium. These computer generated reflections would be indistinguishable from the corporeal plane of existence, providing the foundation for an, as yet, undefined construct at the subconscious level. There are three specific variations meriting further investigation with regard to the concept of simulated reality, these being listed accordingly:


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) - oftentimes known as a Mind Machine Interface (MMI), though on occasion it can be identified as a Direct Neural Interface (DNI), a Synthetic Telepathy Interface (STI), or a Brain-Machine Interface (BMI), these integrated conduits provide a direct line of communication between the brain and an external device. BCI typically involves the application of an electronically inspired extension to the cerebral cortex that effectively mimics the synaptic impulses endemic to that particular region of the human brain.




In the realm of simulation, BCI’s effect the transmission of sensory information to participants, providing an unparalleled level of interaction with the manufactured reality through the introduction of stimuli. Individuals engaging in these types of experimental forays may then be induced by any number of possible means to forget, temporarily or otherwise, that they themselves have been immersed into a virtualized construct. Their consciousness, while inside these computer generated existences, is typically represented by an avatar, a digitally rendered simulacrum that could appear entirely different from the actual appearance of those involved.


Virtual Civilization - in this manufactured actuality, every participant is recognized as the inhabitant of a virtual construct. Physiological boundaries associated with the corporeal realm are externalized, with the anatomical structure of these individuals effectively rendered as a digitally inspired personage whose implementation is predicated on the logistical parameters of the simulation. This artificial level of consciousness then capable of being downloaded from one simulation to another, or possibly archived within a massive data repository and resurrected at a later point in time. The possibility also exists that these simulated entities could be removed from their manufactured existence entirely by mind transfer into a synthetic substrate.


Intermingled Synthesis - synonymous with the concept of digital/ physical convergence, supportive of both BCI-generated simulations and virtualized cityscapes.

Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence (AI) - scientifically engineered intellectual capability whose central path of origin is dictated through the introduction of various mediums or coordinated processes.

Superintelligence


Superintelligence - termed under the hyperintelligence, or superhuman intelligence scientific cognomen, such a designation refers to the existence of a hypothetical entity possessing an inherent intellectual capacity surpassing that of present day civilization. Oftentimes, the possibility of its manifestation within the prevailing socio-physiological archetype is contingent on the evolution of an artificially based intelligence via cybernetic manipulation and biomechanized integrative processes. Exponential increases in natural intelligence through genetic engineering/ molecular alteration, transhumanistic promulgation whereby physiological aspects relative to the instance of consciousness through brain function are integrated into a cybernetically enhanced cerebral interface, nanotechnological advancement through bio-molecular integrative processes relative to the field of biomechanics, etc. exhibit a high degree of commonality with the emergence of superintelligence.
 
Psychosocial/ Mind Transference


Psychosocial/ Mind Transference - also known as Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) or mind uploading (synonymous with mind replication or mind transfer), defined as a hypothetical contrivance involving the duplication of psychosocial identity/ mental faculty through the introduction of a biomechanically engineered substrate that is digital, analogue, or quantum-based, effecting a process of subconscious transferal at the cerebral level into another storage medium (substrate-independent mind or SIM). The inherent purpose of these projects coincides with the synthetic replication of neurophysiological function paired in conjunction with the neuroanatomical structure responsible for the determination of salient interactions between each of the stipulated components. This concept associated with a broader philosophy emphasizing the conscious domain within the cerebral cortex, its engineered separation, and eventual reintegration into an entirely different physical form.

Chemical Brain Preservation


Chemical Brain Preservation - a process involving the vascular perfusion of an individual with cryoprotective agents combined with long-term storage at temperatures commensurate to the liquid nitrogenic standard (-346°F and -320.44°F, Kelvin equivalency noted as 63K to 77.2K, Celsius equivalent recognized as -196°C and -210°C). Research into the development of surgical protocol capable of reliably effecting the preservation of the human brain’s precise neural infrastructure beyond the 100 year threshold is being conducted, with the availability of such procedures affording interested parties a way of circumventing predefined longevity restrictions.

Cryonics


Cryonics - from Greek κρύος kryos - meaning icy cold, is the application of low temperature preservation techniques designed to extend the longevity of cells, whole tissues, or other organic substances deemed susceptible to damage caused by chemical reactivity or time. The inherent purpose of these technologies being one of life extension, through which every conceivable option associated with the science of contemporary medicine has been exhausted.
  
 Biological Totalitarianism and the Looming Specter of Coercive Eugenicism


The impetus behind the transhumanist movement heralds the eventual terminus of human civilization, with the emergence of nanotechnology and the precipitous escalation in the use of biogenetic alteration in various experimental settings foreshadowing an era of technologically inspired eugenicism. Richard Hayes, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society, elaborated on this contention in a series of statements in 2004 that were, for the most part, suppressed by the mainstream media:

The Transhumanists have chapters in more than 20 countries and advocate the breeding of “genetically enriched” forms of “post-human” beings. Other advocates of the new techno-eugenics, such as Princeton University professor Lee Silver, predict that by the end of this century, “All aspects of the economy, the media, the Entertainment Industry, and the knowledge industry [will be] controlled by members of the GenRich class... Naturals [will] work as low-paid service providers or as laborers.”

What happens then? Here’s Dr. Richard Lynn, emeritus professor at the University of Ulster, who, like Silver, supports human genetic modification: “What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the ‘phasing out’ of such peoples... Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent.”

C. Christopher Hook echoes Hayes’ contentions, exposing the philosophical underpinnings of the transhumanist directive with the following utterances, also in 2004:

That we are biological creatures is simply our current status, transhumanists believe, but it is not necessary for defining who we are or who we should be. Bart Kosko, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California, puts it more bluntly in his book Heaven in a Chip (2002): “Biology is not destiny. It was never more than tendency. It was just nature’s first quick and dirty way to compute with meat. Chips are destiny.”

British roboticist Kevin Warwick put it this way: “I was born human. But this was an accident of fate-a condition merely of time and place.” This sounds startingly reminiscent of what nihilist Frederick Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spake Zarathustra: “I teach you the overman. Man is something to be overcome.”

Katherine Hayles, a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, says in How We Became Posthuman (1999) that “in the posthuman, there are no essential differences, or absolute demarcations, between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals.” She concludes her book with a warning: “Humans can either go gently into that good night, joining the dinosaurs as a species that once ruled the earth but is now obsolete, or hang on for a while longer by becoming machines themselves. In either case … the age of the human is drawing to a close.”

In accordance with the Darwinian current of the transhumanist philosophy, mankind is the next specieal order slated for extinction. How will this new “GenRich” class effect the regulation and control of those deemed “dysgenic” until their demise? Transhumanist ideologue and Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems William Sims Bainbridge provided the answer within the written context of an article entitled “Religions for a Galactic Civilization”, reference material that appeared in the 1982 publication of Science Fiction and Space Futures, a book authored by Eugene Morlock Emme that, at the time, was made available by the San Diego: American Astronautical Society:

Techniques such as genetic engineering, psychoactive drugs and electronic control of the brain make possible a transformation of the species into docile, fully-obedient, “safe” organisms.


The above statements cementing the concerns of those who openly criticize the movement, alleging the presence of an ableist bias in the use of concepts or ideologies emphasizing “limitation”, “enhancement”, and “improvement” as a prerequisite standard. The possibility of “eugenics wars”, a term synonymous with biopolitical conflict, giving rise to state-sponsored compulsory sterilization programs targeting those deemed genetically inferior, sanctioned euthanasia of the institutionalized, and, specifically, the coordinated segregation and eventual extermination of individuals or “races” that have been labeled defective. William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.



Even those advocating the creation of these technologies have come to recognize the potential dangers associated with its continued development, as evidenced in the following assessments:

1. Exponential Population Growth Arising from Longevity and Senescence Studies

Life extension looks great from an individual or group perspective but it’s a resource nightmare from a national and global angle. Current human population is about 6.8 billion with most linear estimates projecting somewhere around 9 billion by 2050. If life extension is designed to be readily available to anyone & everyone, we can expect two outcomes: considerable population growth as longevity outpaces mortality, and a rise in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its commensurate resource consumption as working age extends towards the centenarian. People living longer means people will consume more in the course of their lifetimes. Consider the competition for resources & ecological carrying capacity we currently face in 2014 and roll that forward 40 years with a massive global population and members of the workforce that can potentially stay employed for 70 years.

2. Inequity of Technological Distribution - the Transhuman Gap

The flip-side of the resource consumption issue arises if we admit that transhuman technologies will not be evenly available to all; that socio-economic factors will gate who has access to technologies that extend human capabilities. In this context, population dynamics will not be appreciably influenced by human life extension as only a small subset of the populace will have access to such enhancement. Indeed, genetic modification, brain-computer interface, advanced prosthesis, and access to virtual & augmented realities are all presently gated by economic barriers to entry that are not likely to diminish any time soon. AR (augmented realities) & VWs (virtual worlds) may become ubiquitous & cheap but real human enhancement through interventionary technologies will mostly fall along class lines, giving rise to a wealthy tier of augmented & enhanced individuals. If only the wealthy are most able to afford enhancement, the socioeconomic divide will be reinforced by the Transhuman Gap, further disenfranchising those already at a competitive disadvantage by their class circumstances. From such economic disparity, reinforced by the inevitable moralizing and judgments from both sides of the gap, social cohesion will be further challenged and class distinctions will begin to take on a biomechanical & genetic aspect with the threat of technology-enabled superiority.


NOTE - This premise of inaccessibility to scientific discoveries and achievements based on ones economic status can be retraced to include the concerns of various individuals regarding the emergence of a technologically induced caste system.

3. Techno-elitism, Civil Discord, and Eugenics


Throughout history elite classes have used their status & abilities to influence the control systems that govern those beneath them. Likewise, the underclass has looked at elites with both admiration & disdain, occasionally rising to join their ranks but, more often, rising up to knock them down. Civil strife is a common outcome of disparity, driven by inequities in access to resources, opportunities, and power. A class of techno-elite transhumans would pose a profound existential threat to the underclass who might very well perceive themselves as being forever cut-out from the Democratic ideal that “all humans are created equal”, no longer able to compete in any capacity without transhuman enhancements. The anger and victimization from such an outlook would very quickly translate into moralizing against the crimes of human augmentation and stigmatizing those who pursue such “un-natural” and “un-holy” enhancement. In turn, the techno-elite may feel inclined to judge the underclass as “unfit” or “un-evolved” - two distinctions that have historically led to great atrocities.

4. Co-option of Transhumanist Philosophy by Fascist Political Assemblies, Oligarchic Ensembles, or the Criminally Affluent

The slippery slope of this scenario posits the rise of a transhuman ruling class who, when challenged by the underclass, recede into their own sense of authority & enhanced intelligence to determine that the only appropriate course of action is to subjugate the masses and shepherd the rise of transhuman governance. If transhuman enhancement is truly advantageous, yet remains available only to an elite class, then in all likelihood those elites will embrace the technology to their competitive advantage. Since it would be folly to assume that human technological enhancement will remediate our most basest evolutionary program of survival of the fittest, the likelihood of enhanced predatory elites seizing global power is not so small. The darkest scenario might see transhuman governance requiring control & tracking implants in all newborns - perhaps a bit hyperbolic but not inconceivable if the type of global predators that currently traverse societies gained access to advanced transhuman technologies.

5. Fractured Reality/ Disambiguation

Virtual worlds and augmented reality offer many compelling experiences across the spectrum of entertainment, socialization, marketing & advertising, collaboration, and modern knowledge work. At their core, these technologies intermediate our experience of the world, giving third parties access to program our sensorium. Brain-computer interface technologies are working to extend this access to the core structures of our brain, kicking off a wave of neurotechnologies able to more specifically & accurately influencing the mind-brain interface. The opt-in path through designer reality gives us the ability to modify the way we interface with the phenomenal world, electing to commit more of our selves to virtual experiences & relationships, or to overlay our environments with the images of our choosing rather than confront the physical world solely on its terms. While affinity groups will accrete around specific worlds & layers the barriers between differing experiences of objective reality will multiply when the world I experience is markedly different than yours. As the Transhuman Gap threatens social cohesion through class, reality design threatens cohesion across all classes by erecting virtual constructions between adjacent-but-unrelated digital worlds. While we may feel a sense of agency in creating such personalized experiences we do so in digital layers most likely owned by 3rd parties or accessible through public APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). We may inadvertently wall ourselves off from each other but we’ll become even richer targets for profilers, influencers, and governors. The slippery slope in this scenario suggests that governance might enforce realities onto subjects or that dangerous identity groups might create monstrous, all-encompassing layers as indoctrination tools & neuro-propaganda towards the engineering of social movements. Considering how supremely the television has been used to influence the masses with only basic access to eyes and ears, it’s not unlikely that greater access into the transhuman will yield a greater ability to influence and manipulate.

CONCLUSION


There are many who will undoubtedly denounce a vast majority of the assessments proffered throughout the context of this particular entry as the subject of speculation, choosing instead to view the emergence of these types of technologies in an aura of beneficence. These same individuals will assume that the uncontrolled development of such contrivances would never portend the eventual obsolescence of humanity, effectively shifting their focus toward the promise of life extension through the introduction of artificially rendered stimuli. Countless others will fail to take into account the fact that their accessibility to these forms of technology will be constrained by the very progenitors advocating its release, these restrictions recognized as a conditional standard of ones economic status in the emerging techno-corpocratic paradigm. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, depending on your particular system of beliefs, are questions regarding the afterlife - as humanity’s quest for immortality through the prospect of biomechanistic integration, would, in the eyes of many, relegate the possible existence of a divine spiritual essence toward a path of irrepressible antiquity.

SOURCE ARTICLES/ REGISTRY LINKS:

Engineering Evolution: The Alchemy of Eugenics by Phillip D. Collins
5 Dark Scenarios Associated with the Prospect of Transhumanity by Chris Arkenberg


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