What is transhumanism?

by Matt Slick

Transhumanism is the idea that human beings, as a whole, can be drastically improved in physical and mental areas with technologies, such as cloning, genetic modification, bionics, nanotechnology, drugs, etc.  The great majority of transhumanists believe that the "human species" has evolved and that science can provide a kind of artificial, directed evolution.  Transhumanists look to the future and believe the human condition will see improvement in physical ability, lifespan, and mental acuity, and health.  In addition, the world condition can also be improved by reducing starvation and poverty.  Such technological advancements, some have said, would even redefine what it means to be human.

  • "Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement that believes we can, and should, improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies. One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible."1
  • "Transhumanism" has gained currency as the name for a new way of thinking that challenges the premiss [sic] that the human condition is and will remain essentially unalterable."2

Some of the areas the trans-humanists propose can be assisted and or improved by technology are as follows:

  • Personality alteration - Via drugs and/or implants to the brain to help in overcoming a quick temper, shyness, jealousy, insecurity, etc.
  • Altering mood - Pills that would reduce stress, add pleasure, make people calm.
  • Enhancing Intelligence - Mind-computer interfaces that would drastically increase mental capabilities such as mathematical processing, memory augmentation, decreasing the time to learn something, etc.
  • Communication - Embedded technology that allows interconnectivity between people as well as access to knowledge via thought activation technology embedded in the brain.
  • Enhancing Physical Abilities - Using technology to make humans stronger, faster, with better endurance.
  • Limb Replacement - Adding permanently placed prosthetic limbs
  • Organ Replacement - Adding bionic organs to replace failing ones
  • Medical - Adding nanotechnology to the human body that can repair damaged organs, improve vision, improve hearing, fight diseases, heal, etc.
  • Gene Therapy - Altering and improving the genetic structure of a person to avoid sickness, physical deformities, personality disorders, etc.
  • Extending life span - Through nanotechnology, gene therapy, disease reduction, etc., human lifespans can be drastically lengthened.
  • Humanity at large - Via science and technology poverty and disease can, hopefully, be eliminated worldwide.

Some trans-humanists have even proposed the idea of transferring human consciousness into the machine in order to vastly extend lifespans.

There Are Questions

Philosophers and ethicists have been delving into the theological and moral issues related to the advancement of technology as a relates to altering human capabilities, mental states, duration of life, etc. Many questions have arisen that don't, as yet, have answers.

  1. What are the ethical implications of controlling and altering human life?
  2. Will a new kind of ethics be developed based on mind-body-machine integration?
  3. How might different religions react to the blending of the human being with technology?
  4. What about birth control, abortion, euthanasia as they relate to controlling quality of life through technology and who controls that technology?
  5. Who decides which person gets which technological advancement?
  6. Might human life value be assessed by the quantity and quality of technological integration a person possesses?
  7. Is there a possibility of altering an individual's "humanness" to where he is no longer human?
  8. If technology improves the brain through computer chip embedding, how would that affect the concept of personal responsibility since harmful actions could be blamed on faulty technology?
  9. If consciousness can be transferred into machines, would it really be "you" an exact duplicate of your mind?
  10. If consciousness could be transferred into machines, could different consciousnesses be blended and individuality lost?
  11. If consciousness could be transferred to machines, how then is biological reproduction to be accomplished?
  12. Should the technologies be built with off switches in case things go wrong?  And if so, who controls the switches?
  • 1. http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/152240-what-is-transhumanism-or-what-does-it-mean-to-be-human
  • 2. http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/transhumanism.htm
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.