That is the tagline for Robot Central. In a short sentence, it gets to the heart of our possible future on this planet. It implies that we will be able to transcend our biological selves and become something more. The “more” is what we are trying to track here. The transhuman community looks to a new age where we could quickly eradicate disease through nanotechnology, or augment our intelligence, or develop machines to the point where the only work we have to do is the work we want to do, or do innumerable things. The goal here is to be optimistic about these possibilities.
It’s interesting that the symbol for transhumans has become H+. Human, but more than human. It can be argued that we became transhumans the moment we developed technologies to improve our biological functions, through things as simple as a pair of glasses. The H+ movement we know today expand on that. Instead of just correcting your vision with glasses, we now have laser eye surgery, which can permanently correct your vision and restore it to near perfect condition. It scales up to being even more complex: people who have lost a limb now have artificial limbs that restore their abilities, at the least, and that they can control as if it were an actual limb, at best. Just a couple of off-the-top-of-my-head examples.
Waltzing to the Countdown, or going into it kicking and screaming?
Ray Kurzweil predicts a “Countdown to Singularity.” That is, a point in human and technological evolution where the nature of being human has fundamentally changed, wherein the artificial intelligence that we’ve created surpasses our own, limited intelligence. This is a rather big idea in the transhuman community, and one that has been seen in some mainstream art. The idea almost implies a seamless merging, but will that be the case? What is the process we will undergo once the Singularity happens?
There are many criticisms of this movement and its technology. In coming posts, I want to sit down and explore some of the bigger ones including: questions of religion’s compatibility with transhumanism; whether the movement rely on dehumanization; is it even the offing in our future, among other topics.
Seeing as I’m not completely sold on the idea of transhumanism, this will be a journey for me and I’d be happy if you join me for it.