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What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

Transhumanism – Britannica.com

Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of robust human-enhancement technologies. Such technologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.

The term transhumanism was coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his 1957 essay of the same name. Huxley referred principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanist movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. The ethos of Huxleys essayif not its lettercan be located in transhumanisms commitment to assuming the work of evolution, but through technology rather than society.

The movements adherents tend to be libertarian and employed in high technology or in academia. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. The movement has evolved since its beginnings as a loose association of groups dedicated to extropianism (a philosophy devoted to the transcendence of human limits). Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanityone in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges.

The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way. One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutionsincluding national and international governmental organizationswill be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences. That end point is often referred to as the singularity, a metaphor drawn from astrophysics and referring to the point of hyperdense material at the centre of a black hole which generates its intense gravitational pull. Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness, physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes.

The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions (such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom) not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it. Bostrom and British philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.

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Transhumanism - Britannica.com

Transhumanism | definition of transhumanism by Medical dictionary

Indeed, in my decades of work around issues such as euthanasia, utilitarian bioethics, animal rights, transhumanism, and other associated agendas, I have found that the more one rejects human exceptionalism, the more likely one is to declare that immoral and (still) illegal wrongs--like infanticide--are virtuous.Transhumanism has been called a religion since its inception, and for valid reasons.1) [T]here is much to be dissatisfied with about the world (including being trapped in a pathetic, weak and mortal human body); 2) this world is replete of suffering, ignorance, and death that should be eliminated; 3) salvation from such evil is possible; 4) the order of being must be changed and perfected through developmental/evolutionary human processes; 5) humans are capable of effecting such change, first through transhumanism, but definitely through posthumanism; and 6) humans are now discovering the gnosis needed to bring about such change.Moreover, ethics may not be eluded even under circumstances in which we imagine humanity enter a new development stage, the supposed transhumanism, in which technology turns into a form of transcendence and human condition is removed from present patterns (Sandu 2015, 3-26; Chifflet 2016, 61-68).PJ: Posthumanism and transhumanism are often used as synonyms.Transhumanism is a "radically" technology-inspired worldview, insofar as it regards technology as being at the very "roots" of basically every potential progression and solution to the problems of the present and future in each and every field of civilization.While Transhumanism, with a capital t, is the activist movement that advocates the use of technology to expand human capacities, lower-case transhumanism refers to the belief or theory that the human race will evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of deliberate technological interventions.The game's themes mirror those of the broader series': transhumanism, advanced biomechanical technology, a not-too-far-off future that borders on dystopia and an "Assassin's Creed"-style shadow battle between hidden factions positioning themselves to control the world.In the wake of bioethical issues related to sexuality and reproduction, transhumanism looks particularly powerful: a recent paper on legal issues in robotics, supported by the European Commission, states: "Machines cannot and should not, at least for the moment, have the legal status of humans.Wallach characterizes the critique of transhumanism as "buy[ing] into a representation of what it means to be human that is incomplete and mechanizes, biologizes, and pathologizes human nature.Today, there is a grand push towards transhumanism, pluralism, and a one-world government.They augment themselves with mechanical wings for personal transportation, which calls to mind later ideas of cyborgs and transhumanism.

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Transhumanism | definition of transhumanism by Medical dictionary

Transhumanism | Conspiracy School

Transhumanism is a recent movement that extols mans right to shape his own evolution, by maximizing the use of scientific technologies, to enhance human physical and intellectual potential. While the name is new, the idea has long been a popular theme of science fiction, featured in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bade Runner, the Terminator series, and more recently, The Matrix, Limitless, Her and Transcendence.

However, as its adherents hint at in their own publications, transhumanism is an occult project, rooted in Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, and derived from the Kabbalah, which asserts that humanity is evolving intellectually, towards a point in time when man will become God. Modeled on the medieval legend of the Golem and Frankenstein, they believe man will be able to create life itself, in the form of living machines, or artificial intelligence.

Spearheaded by the Cybernetics Group, the project resulted in both the development of the modern computer and MK-Ultra, the CIAs mind-control program. MK-Ultra promoted the mind-expanding potential of psychedelic drugs, to shape the counterculture of the 1960s, based on the notion that the shamans of ancient times used psychoactive substances, equated with the apple of the Tree of Knowledge.

And, as revealed in the movie Lucy, through the use of smart drugs, and what transhumanists call mind uploading, man will be able to merge with the Internet, which is envisioned as the end-point of Kabbalistic evolution, the formation of a collective consciousness, or Global Brain. That awaited moment is what Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, refers to as The Singularly. By accumulating the total of human knowledge, and providing access to every aspect of human activity, the Internet will supposedly achieve omniscience, becoming the God of occultism, or the Masonic All-Seeing Eye of the reverse side of the American dollar bill.

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Transhumanism | Conspiracy School

Transhumanism Is TemptingUntil You Remember Inspector Gadget …

Imagine a man with a Swiss Army knife for a body. His arms and legs can extend in any direction, bend into any shape, and move at extraordinary speeds. His spine can elongate into a helicopter, his hands can turn into an almost unlimited number of tools, and his feet can turn into ice skates, roller blades, and more.

This is some transhumanists dream, a future where we can completely trick out our bodies and transcend the limitations of human biology. Its also a description of what the title character from the 1983 cartoon Inspector Gadget can do.

Rose Eveleth is an Ideas contributor at WIRED and the creator and host of Flash Forward, a podcast about possible (and not so possible) futures.

For those who arent familiar with the cartoon, the premise is simple: Inspector Gadget is, as his name implies, an inspector, or detective. Hes also a walking gadget, who can turn his body into nearly anything. And yet, with all that power, Gadget cant solve a single mystery. Every episode Gadget is called upon by his boss Chief Quimby to help solve a crime, nearly all of which are perpetrated by the villain Dr. Claw. For some reason or another, Gadget is always accompanied by his 10-year-old niece, Penny, and her dog Brain. And despite being equipped with every tool he could possibly need, its the brilliant Penny, a completely boring noncyborg, who saves the day every time.

Sure, the cartoon (and subsequent film adaptations) are over the top and ridiculous. But our hapless detective can teach us something about the ways we think about bodies, bionics, data, and the future of human-machine interfaces. Gadgets antics poke real holes in the fantasies that some transhumanists and body hackers have about how the body works, and what we might be able to ask it to do.

Early in the first episode of Inspector Gadget (Monster Lake) theres a scene that establishes the entire premise of the show. While our titular Gadget tries to find the instruction manual for the car hes driving, to deal with the overheating engine (in fact, the car is on fire because an evil robot spewed flames at it), he takes his hands off the wheel. Penny, as will become a recurring theme in the show, saves the day by actually paying attention to her surroundings, and noticing that the car is about to fly off a cliff. She grabs the wheel and averts disaster, completely unbeknownst to her bionic uncle. Gadget has seemingly unlimited physical resources at his disposal, but cannot use them to save his life (literally).

It is in scenes like this that I think of two things: Three Mile Island and butter production in Bangladesh. Let me explain. The former is the biggest nuclear meltdown in American history. The latter is a spurious economic predictor proposed in 1998 to poke fun at forecasting markets. But theyre tied together by the same thing that dooms Gadget: an excess of information. Three Mile Island (like Chernobyl and other nuclear accidents) happened for a variety of reasonslax regulations, slashed budgets, overworked employees, scientific rivalriesbut during the most critical moments of the disaster, it was marked by information overload. The control panel at the nuclear plant was designed to display all kinds of data, but there was no way the operators could keep track of the whole system at once. In a sea of signals, you can miss the most important ones.

Or, you can see one that means nothing at all, as in the case of butter production in Bangladesh, a signal that economist David Leinweber described in 1998. According to his calculations, three things could explain the performance of the S&P 500 with 99 percent accuracy: American cheese production, the Bangladeshi sheep population, and butter production in Bangladesh. Leinweber was intentionally poking fun at the methods he employed, arguing that with enough data but insufficient context you can correlate almost anything. At first, Leinweber wasnt even going to publish the work, he simply thought it was a funny trick. But then, reporters picked up on it, and it has found its way into the curriculum at the Stanford Business School and elsewhere, he writes in the paper he did eventually publish. Mark Twain spoke of lies, damn lies and statistics. In this paper, we offer all three, he writes.

The point here is that more data doesnt mean much if you cant do something useful with it. You can have all the data in the world and be just as useless as Inspector Gadget. Today, in conversations about AI people talk about the rise in computing power, the rise in giant data sets, and how those two things will inevitably lead to super-powerful systems. But theres a step missing in those arguments, and its a crucial, difficult, and time-consuming one: If all that data isnt labeled or organized in a meaningful way, even the greatest supercomputer cant do meaningful work with it. (This is why youre still asked to train the algorithms with a captcha any time you sign up for a newsletter, for example. These data sets often need human eyeballs and brains to work on them, and those are usually pretty expensive.)

This doesnt just apply to data. More tools, as any overexcited new home chef can tell you, dont make you a better cook. Inspector Gadget has, it seems, every possible piece of gadgetry at his disposal, but he cant see the forest through the bionic trees. Penny, on the other hand, undistracted by an endless number of technological choices, remains clear-eyed to save the day.

Penny is not completely untechnological. She is, in fact, a brilliant inventor in her own right. In many episodes she builds and deploys devices to help solve the casea radar system, a long-range camera, a smart watch. But where Gadget has technology embedded within him as a bodily element, and as such has less than perfect control over it, Penny uses technology as a tool outside her body.

Were the creators of Inspector Gadget trying to poke fun at the notion of Cartesian duality? Who can say, really. But the location of the technology here highlights the way we think about integrating our machines with our inventions.

The body as machine analogy dates back to at least the industrial revolution, when the idea that the body might be like the machines we were creating took hold. As Randolphe Nesse, a professor at Arizona State University, wrote in his essay The Body Is Not a Machine, The metaphor of body as a machine provided a ladder that allowed biology to bring phenomena up from a dark pit of mysterious forces into the light where organic mechanisms can be analyzed as if they are machines. The analogy proved valuable to evolve our understanding of the body.

Now, this body as machine trope is the well from which much of current-day body hacking springs. If the body is a machine, if the brain is a computer, if muscles are simply pulley systems, then we can go in and tinker at will. We can create Inspector Gadget because we can create computers and Boston Dynamics robots and spaceships. But the body is not a machine. It does not behave like one. We did not invent it and we mostly cannot program it. Its parts are not plug-and-play, nor are they discrete. And many researchers and writers have highlighted how our insistence on this model is actually hurting progress. In psychiatry, thinking about the mind as a machine has led to a debacle about diagnosis, writes Nesse.

As a (reluctant) tech reporter, I get a lot of press releases for products that only work if you assume the body functions like a device. If we could just measure things more accurately, these pitches argue, we could solve eating disorders, infertility, chronic pain, depressionthe list goes on. Silicon Valley tech gurus are all in on biohacking their bodies just like they growth hacked their startups. The company Daysy claimed that it could help people prevent pregnancy by measuring body temperaturewhen your body creates X signal, we know its doing Y thing. Daysy claimed that using this method it could identify whether a user was fertile with 99.4 percent accuracy. Turns out the paper Daysy was using as the basis for that claim was recently retracted.

Body-as-machine fantasies also imagine that the technology will work as we hope, every time. But anybody whos ever used, well, any kind of device can tell you that thats not true. Inspector Gadgets entire comedic repertoire (unbeknownst to him of course) lies in exactly these failures. His gadget arms extend, but wont contract, his coat inflates when he doesnt want it to, his feet turn to roller skates when he wanted skis. His existence makes plain the ridiculousness of assuming that something like Robocop could truly happena seamless, perfectly efficient blend of man and machine.

People who use prosthetic devices know this all too well. Many people who are initially outfitted with electronic prosthetic hands that are state of the art, for example, wind up going back to hooks and body-powered prosthetics because they obey their more simple, muscular commands better and are less likely to break. Jillian Weiss writes in her essay Common Cyborg, I am not impressed with their tech, which they call 3C98-3, and which I am wearing, a leg that whirs and clicks, a socket that will not fit unless I stay in the weight range of 100 to 105 pounds. I am 88 percent charged in basic mode and I have taken 638,402 steps on this leg. The last one they gave me was a lemon. Maybe this feeling of trial and error, repetition and glitch, is part of the cyborg condition and, by extension, the disabled condition.

Its comforting to think of the body as a machine we can trick out. It helps us ignore the strange fleshy aches that come with having a meat cage. It makes a fickle systemone we truly dont understandfeel conquerable. To admit that the body (and mind that sits within it) might be far more complex than our most delicate, intricate inventions endangers all kinds of things: the medical industrial complex, the wellness industry, countless startups. But it might also open up new doors for better relationships with our bodies too: Disability scholars have long argued that the way we see bodies as fixable ultimately serves to further marginalize people who will never have the standard operating system, no matter how many times their parts are replaced or tinkered with.

There is another scene in the first episode of Inspector Gadget that makes clear the distinction between Penny and Gadget. While Penny uses her radar system to detect the mechanical monster in the lake, Gadget has deduced that the scientist they have been charged with protecting must be hiding up a tree, and is walking along the lake shouting for the professor to come down. He is quite literally barking up the wrong tree. Id argue that the tech industrys current fixation with the body as a hackable device is exactly that.

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Transhumanism Is TemptingUntil You Remember Inspector Gadget ...

Transhumanism – RationalWiki

You know what they say the modern version of Pascal's Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God. Julie from Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

Transhumanism (or H+), an intellectual movement, is greatly influenced by science fiction and presents an idealistic point of view of what technology could do for humanity in the future, not what it can do; it's all hypothetical.[1] Transhumanism explores the benefits and repercussions of what technology could do for humanity; however, it assumes the technological boundaries are nonexistent.[2]

How plausible is transhumanism? In the 1930s, many sensible people were sure human beings would never get to the Moon and that was just one of many predictions that turned out incorrect.[3] Early 21st century people do not know one way or the other what will be possible in the future. However, the scientific claims of transhumanism still need to be examined critically, because some of these technoscientific prophecies may not be plausible; after we got to the moon, people expected we'd have a permanent colony there by the end of the century.[4]

While frequently dismissed as mere speculation at best by most rationalists[5] (especially in light of the many failures of artificial intelligence), transhumanism is a strongly-held belief among many computer geeks, notably synthesizer and accessible computing guru Ray Kurzweil, a believer in the "technological singularity," where technology evolves beyond humanity's current capacity to understand or anticipate it, and Sun Microsystems founder and Unix demigod Bill Joy, who believes the inevitable result of AI research is the obsolescence of humanity.[6]

Certain recent technological advances are making the possibility of the realization of transhumanism appear more plausible: Scientists funded by the military developed an implant that can translate motor neuron signals into a form that a computer can use, thus opening the door for advanced prosthetics capable of being manipulated like biological limbs and producing sensory information.[7] This is on top of the earlier development of cochlear implants, which translate sound waves into nerve signals; they are often called "bionic ears."[8]

Even DIY transhumanism or 'biohacking' is becoming an option, with people installing magnetic implants, allowing them to feel magnetic and electric fields.[9] Others have taken to wearing belts of magnets, in order to always be able to find magnetic north. Prosthetic limbs with some level of touch are also now being developed, a major milestone. [10]One notable individual whose received magnetic finger implants is Zoe Quinn; [11] the current scientific consensus seems unclear, although humans are not thought to have a magnetic sense, there is a cryptochrome protein in the eye which could potentially make humans capable of Magnetoreception, like certain other mammals such as mice and cows appear to be. [12]

"Whole brain emulation" (WBE) is a term used by transhumanists to refer to, quite obviously, the emulation of a brain on a computer. While this is no doubt a possibility, it encounters two problems that keep it from being a certainty anytime in the near future.

The first is a philosophical objection: For WBE to work, "strong AI" (i.e. AI equivalent to or greater than human intelligence) must be attainable. A number of philosophical objections have been raised against strong AI, generally contending either that the mind or consciousness is not computable or that a simulation of consciousness is not equivalent to true consciousness (whatever that is). There is still controversy over strong AI in the field of philosophy of mind.[13]

A second possible objection is technological: WBE may not defy physics, but the technology to fully simulate a human brain (in the sense meant by transhumanists, at least) is a long way away. Currently, no computer (or network of computers) is powerful enough to simulate a human brain. Henry Markram, head of the Blue Brain Project, estimates that simulating a brain would require 500 petabytes of data for storage and that the power required to run the simulation would cost about $3 billion annually. (However, in 2008, he optimistically predicted this it would be possible ten years from 2008.)[14]) In addition to technological limitations in computing, there are also the limits of neuroscience. Neuroscience currently relies on technology that can only scan the brain at the level of gross anatomy (e.g., fMRI, PET). Forms of single neuron imaging (SNI) have been developed recently, but they can only be used on animal subjects (usually rats) because they destroy neural tissue.[15]

First, let me say that Im all in favor of research on aging, and I think science has great potential to prolong healthy livesand Im all for that. But I think immortality, or even a close approximation to it, is both impossible and undesirable.

Another transhumanist goal is mind uploading, which is one way they claim[17][18] we will be able to achieve immortality. Aside from the problems with WBE listed above, mind uploading suffers a philosophical problem, namely the "swamp man problem." That is, will the "uploaded" mind be "you" or simply a copy or facsimile of your mind? However, one possible way round this problem would be via incremental replacement of parts of the brain with their cybernetic equivalents (the patient being awake during each operation). Then there is no "breaking" of the continuity of the individual's consciousness, and it becomes difficult for proponents of the "swamp man" hypothesis to pinpoint exactly when the individual stops being "themselves." It does, however, run directly into a similar problem, the "Ship of Theseus" problem: when all of the brain parts are replaced, is it still fundamentally the same as the original?

Cryonics is another favorite of many transhumanists. In principle, cryonics is not impossible, but the current form of it is based largely on hypothetical future technologies and costs substantial amounts of money.

Fighting aging and extending life expectancy is possible the field that studies aging and attempts to provide suggestions for anti-aging technology is known as "biogerontology". Aubrey de Grey has proposed a number of treatments for aging. In 2005, 28 scientists working in biogerontology signed a letter to EMBO Reports pointing out that de Grey's treatments had never been demonstrated to work and that many of his claims for anti-aging technology were extremely inflated.[19] This article was written in response to a July 2005 EMBO reports article previously published by de Grey[20] and a response from de Grey was published in the same November issue.[21] De Grey summarizes these events in "The biogerontology research community's evolving view of SENS," published on the Methuselah Foundation website.[22]

Worst of all, some transhumanists outright ignore[citationneeded] what people in the fields they're interested in tell them; a few AI boosters, for example, believe that neurobiology is an outdated science because AI researchers can do it themselves anyway. They seem to have taken the analogy used to introduce the computational theory of mind, "the mind (or brain) is like a computer", and taken it literally. Of course, the mind/brain is not a computer in the usual sense.[23] Debates with such people can take on the wearying feel of a debate with a creationist or climate change denialist, as such people will stick to their positions no matter what. Indeed, many critics are simply dismissed as Luddites or woolly-headed romantics who oppose scientific and technological progress.[24]

Transhumanism has often been criticized for not taking ethical issues seriously on a variety of topics,[25] including life extension technology,[26] cryonics,[27] and mind uploading and other enhancements.[28][29] Francis Fukuyama (in his doctrinaire neoconservative days) caused a stir by naming transhumanism "the world's most dangerous idea."[30] One of Fukuyama's criticisms, that implementation of the technologies transhumanists push for will lead to severe inequality, is a rather common one.

A number of political criticisms of transhumanism have been made as well. Transhumanist organizations have been accused of being in the pocket of corporate and military interests.[31] The movement has been identified with Silicon Valley due to the fact that some of its biggest backers, such as Peter Thiel (of PayPal and Bitcoin fame), reside in the region.[32][33] Some writers see transhumanism as a hive of cranky and obnoxious techno-libertarianism.[34][35] The fact that Julian Huxley coined the term "transhumanism" and many transhumanists' obsession with constructing a Nietzschean ubermensch known as the "posthuman" has led to comparisons with eugenics.[36][31] Like eugenics, it has been characterized as a utopian political ideology.[37] Jaron Lanier slammed it as "cybernetic totalism".[38]

Some tension has developed between transhumanism and religion, although there are many secular liberal people who are skeptical or opposed to transhumanism as well.[citationneeded] Some transhumanists, generally being atheistic naturalists, see all religion as an impediment to scientific and technological advancement and some Christians oppose transhumanism because of its stance on cloning and genetic engineering and label it as a heretical belief system.[39] Other transhumanists, however, have attempted to extend an olive branch to Christians, [40] and the Christian Transhumanist Association group on Facebook has over 1,100 members.

Some religious transhumanists have tried to reconcile their religion and techno-utopian beliefs, calling for a "scientific theology."[41] There is even a Mormon transhumanist organization.[42] Ironically for the atheistic transhumanists, the movement has itself been characterized as a religion and its rhetoric compared to Christian apologetics.[43][44] Interestingly the word transhuman first appeared in Henry Francis Careys 1814 translation of Paradiso, the last book of the Divine Comedy as Dante ascends to heaven during the resurrection. [45]

The very small transhumanist political movement has gained momentum with Zoltan Istvan announcing his bid for US president, with the Transhumanist Party and other small political parties gaining support internationally.

The important thing about transhumanism is that while a lot of such predictions may in fact be possible (and may even be in their embryonic stages right now), a strong skeptical eye is required for any claimed prediction about the fields it covers. When evaluating such a claim, one will probably need a trip to a library (or Wikipedia, or a relevant scientist's home page) to get up to speed on the basics.[note 1]

A common trope in science fiction for decades is that the prospect of transcending the current form may be positive, as in Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel Childhood's End or negative, as in the film The Matrix, with its barely disguised salvationist theme, or the Terminator series of films, where humanity has been essentially replaced by machine life. Change so radical elicits fear and thus it is unsurprising that many of the portrayals of transhumanism in popular culture are negative. The cyberpunk genre deals extensively with the theme of a transhumanist society gone wrong.

On closer inspection, this should not be surprising. Since transhumanism is ambitious about conquering age-related illnesses (extropianism), death (immortalism), ecological damage (technogaianism), gender differences (postgenderism) and suffering (abolitionism), a fictional world where this has already been achieved leaves a story with few plot devices to exploit. Additionally, it could be hard for the public to identify with flawless, post-human characters.

Among the utopian visions of transhumanism are those found in the collaborative online science fiction setting Orion's Arm. Temporally located in the post-singularity future, 10,000 years from now, Orion's Arm is massively optimistic about genetic engineering, continued improvements in computing and materials science. Because only technology which has been demonstrated to be impossible is excluded, even remotely plausible concepts has a tendency to be thrown in. At the highest end of the scale is artificial wormhole creation, baby universes and inertia without mass.[46] Perhaps the only arguably positive depiction of transhumanism in video games is the Megaman ZX series where the line between human and reploids has begun to blur. Defining at what point the definition of the singularity was met in the centuries long Megaman timeline can be a useful way of illustrating how nebulous the terminology is during a debate.

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Transhumanism - RationalWiki

What is Transhumanism? – GenSix Productions

The title of this years True Legends Conference is Transhumanism and the Hybrid Age. For the followers of Steve Quayle, Timothy Alberino and Tom Horn, these might be familiar terms, but the importance of the topic deserves a clear understanding by all. So what exactly is transhumanism? And for that matter, what is a hybrid?

Transhumanism is defined as the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology. Of course, this sounds admirable. Who among us does not want to move toward the goal of eliminating human pain with ever increasing intelligence? But transhumanism is much more than that. With the unending surge in biological know-how, we now have the ability to redefine what it means to be human. Through tools like artificial intelligence, robotics and especially genetics, science is playing a very high-stakes game in the homo sapien sandbox. The end result of this game will have massive implications for future generations.

A quick internet search of the term transhumanism reveals a host of good intentions. Phrases such as broadening human potential, overcoming aging and cognitive shortcomings, and eliminating suffering decorate articles highlighting the possibilities at our fingertips. Breakthroughs like thought-controlled robotic limbsor even regrowing natural limbsseem to make the decision to proceed a no-brainer. If we can do it, we must, as long as were careful, they say. An obligatory word of warning is usually inserted somewhere among the celebratory jargon about how we must never misuse these technologiesas if mankind would ever do such a thing? The question is; Are those who rule over us responsible enough to wield such power?

The power of our technology is being concentrated into the hands of the technocratic elite, and there is more at stake than the Terminator scenarios portrayed in Hollywood. There are deeper spiritual consequences underlying the transhumanist agenda, consequences that can have eternal ramifications. And this is why Steve Quayle and Timothy Alberino have decided to address the topic of Transhumanism and the Hybrid Age in this years True Legends Conference.

This raises another question: What exactly is a hybrid? The official definition reads as follows: a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture. In our current context, would having a robotic arm make you a hybrid? Would this be a bad thing? I would not want to tell people needing a limb that they cannot have it for either their own good or the good of mankind. Nor deny the blind sight, or the diseased a cure via some amazing biotechnological breakthrough. Thats what makes this such a sticky issue. The cryptic phraseology in Genesis concerning Noah being perfect in his generations also gives me great pause. How is it that all flesh became corrupt in the pre-flood world? Was the rest of the worlds population a hybrid mix of some kind, an unholy amalgamation of beast, man and tech?

We are fast approaching an irreversible tipping point that will radically change society as we know it, and fundamentally redefine what it means to be a human being.

Darrin GeisingerTrue Legends 2018 Conference Coordinator

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What is Transhumanism? - GenSix Productions

Elevating the Human Condition – Humanity+ What does it mean …

What does it mean to be human in a technologically enhanced world? Humanity+ is a 501(c)3 international nonprofit membership organization that advocates the ethical use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well. This is the goal of transhumanism.

Humanity+ Advocates for Safe and Ethical Use: Technologies that intervene with human physiology for curing disease and repairing injury have accelerated to a point in which they also can increase human performance outside the realms of what is considered to be normal for humans. These technologies are referred to as emerging and speculative and include artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, biotechnology, genetic engineering, stem cell cloning, and transgenesis, for example. Other technologies that could extend and expand human capabilities outside physiology include artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, robotics, and brain-computer integration, which form the domain of bionics, uploading, and could be used for developing whole body prosthetics. Because these technologies, and their respective sciences and strategic models, such as blockchain, would take the human beyond the normal state of existence, society, including bioethicists and others who advocate the safe use of technology, have shown concern and uncertainties about the downside of these technologies and possible problematic and dangerous outcomes for our species.

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Elevating the Human Condition - Humanity+ What does it mean ...

Transhumanist | definition of Transhumanist by Medical dictionary

(redirected from Transhumanist)Also found in: Dictionary. (trns-hyoom-nzm, trnz-)n.

1. A belief that humans should strive to transcend the physical limitations of the mind and body by technological means.

2. A movement of people who espouse such a belief.

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Transhumanist | definition of Transhumanist by Medical dictionary

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

A New Generation of Transhumanists Is Emerging | HuffPost

A new generation of transhumanists is emerging. You can feel it in handshakes at transhumanist meet-ups. You can see it when checking in to transhumanist groups in social media. You can read it in the hundreds of transhumanist-themed blogs. This is not the same bunch of older, mostly male academics that have slowly moved the movement forward during the last few decades. This is a dynamic group of younger people from varying backgrounds: Asians, Blacks, Middle Easterners, Caucasians, and Latinos. Many are females, some are LGBT, and others have disabilities. Many are atheist, while others are spiritual or even formally religious. Their politics run the gamut, from liberals to conservatives to anarchists. Their professions vary widely, from artists to physical laborers to programmers. Whatever their background, preferences, or professions, they have recently tripled the population of transhumanists in just the last 12 months.

"Three years ago, we had only around 400 members, but today we have over 10,000 members," says Amanda Stoel, co-founder and chief administrator of Facebook group Singularity Network, one of the largest of hundreds of transhumanist-themed groups on the web.

Transhumanism is becoming so popular that even the comic strip Dilbert, which appears online and in 2000 newspapers, recently made jokes about it.

Despite its growing popularity, many people around the world still don't know what "transhuman" means. Transhuman literally means beyond human. Transhumanists consist of life extensionists, techno-optimists, Singularitarians, biohackers, roboticists, AI proponents, and futurists who embrace radical science and technology to improve the human condition. The most important aim for many transhumanists is to overcome human mortality, a goal some believe is achievable by 2045.

Transhumanism has been around for nearly 30 years and was first heavily influenced by science fiction. Today, transhumanism is increasingly being influenced by actual science and technological innovation, much of it being created by people under the age of 40. It's also become a very international movement, with many formal groups in dozens of countries.

Despite the movement's growth, its potential is being challenged by some older transhumanists who snub the younger generation and their ideas. These old-school futurists dismiss activist philosophies and radicalism, and even prefer some younger writers and speakers not have their voices heard. Additionally, transhumanism's Wikipedia page -- the most viewed online document of the movement -- is protected by a vigilant posse, deleting additions or changes that don't support a bland academic view of transhumanism.

Inevitably, this Wikipedia page misses the vibrancy and happenings of the burgeoning movement. The real status and information of transhumanism and its philosophies can be found in public transhumanist gatherings and festivities, in popular student groups like the Stanford University Transhumanist Association, and in social media where tens of thousands of scientists and technologists hang out and discuss the transhuman future.

Jet-setting personality Maria Konovalenko, a 29-year-old Russian molecular biophysicist whose public demonstrations supporting radical life extension have made international news, is a prime example.

"We must do more for transhumanism and life extension," says Konovalenko, who serves as vice president of Moscow-based Science for Life Extension Foundation. "This is our lives and our futures we're talking about. To sit back and and just watch the 21st Century roll by will not accomplish our goals. We must take our message to the people in the streets and strive to make real change."

Transhumanist celebrities like Konovalenko are changing the way the movement gets its message across to the public. Gauging by the rapidly increasing number of transhumanists, it's working.

A primary goal of many transhumanists is to convince the public that embracing radical technology and science is in the species' best interest. In a mostly religious world where much of society still believes in heavenly afterlives, some people are skeptical about whether significantly extending human lifespans is philosophically and morally correct. Transhumanists believe the more people that support transhumanism, the more private and government resources will end up in the hands of organizations and companies that aim to improve human lives and bring mortality to an end.

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A New Generation of Transhumanists Is Emerging | HuffPost

transhumanism | Definition, Origins, Characteristics …

Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of robust human-enhancement technologies. Such technologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.

The term transhumanism was coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his 1957 essay of the same name. Huxley referred principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanist movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. The ethos of Huxleys essayif not its lettercan be located in transhumanisms commitment to assuming the work of evolution, but through technology rather than society.

The movements adherents tend to be libertarian and employed in high technology or in academia. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. The movement has evolved since its beginnings as a loose association of groups dedicated to extropianism (a philosophy devoted to the transcendence of human limits). Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanityone in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges.

The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way. One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutionsincluding national and international governmental organizationswill be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences. That end point is often referred to as the singularity, a metaphor drawn from astrophysics and referring to the point of hyperdense material at the centre of a black hole which generates its intense gravitational pull. Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness, physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes.

The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions (such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom) not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it. Bostrom and British philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.

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transhumanism | Definition, Origins, Characteristics ...

What are Nootropics? – Neurohacker Collective

Nootropics. You might have heard of them. The limitless pill that keeps Billionaires rich. The smart drugs that students are taking to help boost their hyperfocus. The cognitive enhancers that give corporate executives an advantage. All very exciting. But as always, the media are way behind the curve. Yes, for the past few decades, cognitive enhancers were largely sketchy substances that people used to grasp at a short term edge at the expense of their health and well being. But the days of taking prescription pills to pull an all-nighter are so 2010. The better, safer path isnt with these stimulants but with nootropics. Nootropics consist of dietary supplements and substances which enhance your cognition, in particular when it comes to motivation, creativity, memory, and other executive functions. They play an important role in supporting memory and promoting optimal brain function.

These days, nootropics are beginning to take their rightful place as a particularly powerful tool in the Neurohackers toolbox. After all, biochemistry is deeply foundational to neural function. Whether you are trying to fix the damage that is done to your nervous system by a stressful and toxic environment or support and enhance your neural functioning, getting the chemistry right is table-stakes. And we are starting to get good at getting it right. Whats changed?

A big part is that we are finally starting to apply complex systems science to psycho-neuro-pharmacology and a nootropic approach. The neural system is awesomely complex and old-fashioned reductionist science has a really hard time with complexity. Big companies spends hundreds of millions of dollars trying to separate the effects of just a single molecule from placebo and nootropics invariably show up as stacks of many different ingredients (ours, Qualia , currently has 42 separate synergistic nootropics ingredients from alpha GPC to bacopa monnieri and L-theanine). That kind of complex, multi pathway input requires a different methodology to understand well that goes beyond simply whats put in capsules.

But, thanks to the efforts of a number of remarkable scientists, researchers and plain-old neurohackers, we are beginning to put together a whole systems model of how all the different parts of the human brain work together and how they mesh with the complex regulatory structures of the body. Its going to take a lot more data and collaboration to dial this model in, but already we are empowered to design stacks that can meaningfully deliver on the promise of nootropics to enhance the quality of subjective experience and promote cognitive health, while having extremely low toxicity and possessing very few side effects. Its a type of brain hacking that is intended to produce noticeable cognitive benefits.

Before taking any supplement or chemical, people want to know if there will be long term effects or consequences, When Dr. Corneliu Giurgea first authored the term nootropics in 1972, he also outlined the characteristics that define nootropics. Besides the ability to benefit memory and support the cognitive processes, Dr. Giurgea believed that nootropics should be safe and non-toxic.

While some people focus on finding a short-term boost, nootropics emphasize long-term effects with noticeable cognitive support over a more extended period. Even though nootropics are intended to be safe, there are a few issues users want addressed before taking these supplements.

Many nootropics promote cognitive functioning as well as cognitive performance. Dr. Giurega also saw improved memory and reduced stress in many patients as well.

The first concern users have is with developing a tolerance to the nootropic. Developing a tolerance means the more you have of a substance, the less effective it gets over time.

Second, users are concerned with the possibility of withdrawal if they stop taking the nootropics. They worry that if they stop taking nootropics they wont be as smart as when they were taking nootropics, and will need to continue taking them to function. Some users report feeling a slight brain fog when discontinuing nootropics, but that isnt a sign of regression.

One of the most common strategies to beat this is cycling. Users who cycle their nootropics take them for a predetermined period, (usually around five days) before taking a two-day break from using them. Once the two days are up, they resume the cycle. By taking a break, nootropic users reduce the tolerance for nootropics and lessen the risk of regression and tolerance symptoms.

With so many different ones to choose from, choosing the best nootropics for you can be overwhelming at times. As usual, a decision this important will require research. Study up on the top nootropics which catch your eye the most. The nootropics you take will depend on what you want the enhancement for. The ingredients within each nootropic determine its specific function. For example, some nootropics contain ginkgo biloba, which can help memory, thinking speed, and increase attention span. Check the nootropic ingredients as you determine what end results you want to see. Some nootropics supplements can increase brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. An increase in dopamine levels can be very useful for memory, alertness, reward and more. Many healthy adults, as well as college students take nootropics. This really supports the central nervous system and the brain.

Another factor to consider is whether the nootropic is natural or synthetic. Natural nootropics generally have effects which are a bit more subtle, while synthetic nootropics can have more pronounced effects. Its also important to note that there are natural and synthetic nootropics. Some natural nootropics include Ginkgo biloba and ginseng. One benefit to using natural nootropics is they boost brain function and support brain health. They do this by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the arteries and veins in the brain. Moreover, some nootropics contain Rhodiola rosea, panxax ginseng, and more.

Some nootropics are more commonly used than others. These include nutrients like Alpha GPC, huperzine A, L-Theanine, bacopa monnieri, and vinpocetine. Other types of nootropics ware still gaining traction. With all that in mind, to claim there is a best nootropic for everyone would be the wrong approach since every person is unique and looking for different benefits.

Even the best of todays nootropics only just barely scratch the surface. You might say that we are in the Nokia 1100 phase of taking nootropics, and as better tools and more data come along, the leading thinkers in the space see a powerful future. For example, they are already beginning to look past biochemistry to the epigenome. Not only is the epigenome the code that runs much of your native biochemistry, we now know that experiences in life can be recorded in your epigenome and then passed onto future generations. There is every reason to believe that you are currently running epigenetic code that you inherited from your great-grandmothers life experiences. And there is every reason to believe that the epigenome can be hacked that the nootropics of the future can not only support and enhance our biochemistry, but can permanently change the epigenetic code that drives that biochemistry and that we pass onto our children. This is why many healthy individuals use nootropics. They have great benefits and can promote brain function and reduce oxidative stress. They can also improve sleep quality.

Well dive into the cognition - enhancing possibilities in future posts such as brain plasticity and more, but for now, here are just a few resources to get you started in exploring this domain of neurohacking:

Steven Fowkes - quora - facebook - google+ - youtube - linkedin

* Organic chemist who co-wrote the foundational book on Smart Drugs

* Founded the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute

* Founded Project Wellbeing

* Related interests: Nutrition, Neurohacking/ Biohacking, Human Performance, Nano-tech

David Pearce - @webmasterdave - facebook* Wrote the online bible of nootropics at nootropics.com* Founder of The Hedonistic Imperative, a project outlining how bioengineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life* The Hedonistic Imperative Facebook public group* The Abolitionist Project* Related Interests: Philosophy of mind, Ethics, Transhumanism, AI

Joe Cohen - @Selfhacked* Authors the blog SelfHacked* Embodies much of the neurohacker ethos; taking responsibility for his health & wellbeing and upgrading his experience through research and self-experimentation

Longecity: Brain Health - @imminst - facebook

* Forum for discussing nootropic stacks and mental health

Reddit Forum Groups - Forum for discussing nootropics and cognitive enhancers

* r/Nootropics/ - @CognitvEnhancer , @Smart_Drugs, @Nootropix

* r/CognitiveEnhancement/

* r/DrugNerds - @DrugNerds

Bluelight

* Forum for discussing brain nootropics and psychedelics

Examine.com

* An independent encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition.

PubMed

* Citations for biomedical literature

ConsumerLab.com

* Independent testing of health and nutrition products

Educational Blogs & WebsitesNootriment* Research-backed content & reviews of effectiveness of supplementsSmarter Nootropics

Self Tracking Apps & Brain Training ProgramsCambridge Brain SciencesTrackMyStackStackDB.netNootDBDual N-BackQuantified Mind

Vendors / SuppliersCeretropic

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What are Nootropics? - Neurohacker Collective

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

What is Transhumanism?

The human desire to acquire posthuman attributes is as ancient as the human species itself. Humans have always sought to expand the boundaries of their existence, be it ecologically, geographically, or mentally. There is a tendency in at least some individuals always to try to find a way around every limitation and obstacle.

Ceremonial burial and preserved fragments of religious writings show that prehistoric humans were deeply disturbed by the death of their loved ones and sought to reduce the cognitive dissonance by postulating an afterlife. Yet, despite the idea of an afterlife, people still endeavored to extend life. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (approx. 2000 B.C.), a king embarks on a quest to find an herb that can make him immortal. Its worth noting that it was assumed both that mortality was not inescapable in principle, and that there existed (at least mythological) means of overcoming it. That people really strove to live longer and richer lives can also be seen in the development of systems of magic and alchemy; lacking scientific means of producing an elixir of life, one resorted to magical means. This strategy was adopted, for example, by the various schools of esoteric Taoism in China, which sought physical immortality and control over or harmony with the forces of nature.

The Greeks were ambivalent about humans transgressing our natural confines. On the one hand, they were fascinated by the idea. We see it in the myth of Prometheus, who stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, thereby permanently improving the human condition. And in the myth of Daedalus, the gods are repeatedly challenged, quite successfully, by a clever engineer and artist, who uses non-magical means to extend human capabilities. On the other hand, there is also the concept of hubris: that some ambitions are off-limit and would backfire if pursued. In the end, Daedalus enterprise ends in disaster (not, however, because it was punished by the gods but owing entirely to natural causes).

Greek philosophers made the first, stumbling attempts to create systems of thought that were based not purely on faith but on logical reasoning. Socrates and the sophists extended the application of critical thinking from metaphysics and cosmology to include the study of ethics and questions about human society and human psychology. Out of this inquiry arose cultural humanism, a very important current throughout the history of Western science, political theory, ethics, and law.

In the Renaissance, human thinking was awoken from medieval otherworldliness and the scholastic modes of reasoning that had predominated for a millennium, and the human being and the natural world again became legitimate objects of study. Renaissance humanism encouraged people to rely on their own observations and their own judgment rather than to defer in every matter to religious authorities. Renaissance humanism also created the ideal of the well-rounded personality, one that is highly developed scientifically, morally, culturally, and spiritually. A milestone is Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), which states that man does not have a ready form but that it is mans task to form himself. And crucially, modern science began to take form then, through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

The Age of Enlightenment can be said to have started with the publication of Francis Bacons Novum Organum, the new tool (1620), in which he proposes a scientific methodology based on empirical investigation rather than a priori reasoning. Bacon advocates the project of effecting all things possible, by which he meant the achievement of mastery over nature in order to improve the condition of human beings. The heritage from the Renaissance combines with the influences of Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Condorcet, and others to form the basis for rational humanism, which emphasizes science and critical reasoning rather than revelation and religious authority as ways of learning about the natural world and the destiny and nature of man and of providing a grounding for morality. Transhumanism traces its roots to this rational humanism.

In the 18th and 19th centuries we begin to see glimpses of the idea that even humans themselves can be developed through the appliance of science. Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire speculated about extending human life span through medical science. Especially after Darwins theory of evolution, atheism or agnosticism came to be seen as increasingly attractive alternatives. However, the optimism of the late 19th century often degenerated into narrow-minded positivism and the belief that progress was automatic. When this view collided with reality, some people reacted by turning to irrationalism, concluding that since reason was not sufficient, it was worthless. This resulted in the anti-technological, anti-intellectual sentiments whose sequelae we can still witness today in some postmodernist writers, in the New Age movement, and among the neo-Luddite wing of the anti-globalization agitators.

A significant stimulus in the formation of transhumanism was the essay Daedalus: Science and the Future (1923) by the British biochemist J. B. S. Haldane, in which he discusses how scientific and technological findings may come to affect society and improve the human condition. This essay set off a chain reaction of future-oriented discussions, including The World, the Flesh and the Devil by J. D. Bernal (1929), which speculates about space colonization and bionic implants as well as mental improvements through advanced social science and psychology; the works of Olaf Stapledon; and the essay Icarus: the Future of Science (1924) by Bertrand Russell, who took a more pessimistic view, arguing that without more kindliness in the world, technological power will mainly serve to increase mens ability to inflict harm on one another. Science fiction authors such as H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon also got many people thinking about the future evolution of the human race. One frequently cited work is Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), a dystopia where psychological conditioning, promiscuous sexuality, biotechnology, and opiate drugs are used to keep the population placid and contented in a static, totalitarian society ruled by an elite consisting of ten world controllers. Huxleys novel warns of the dehumanizing potential of technology being used to arrest growth and to diminish the scope of human nature rather than enhance it.

The Second World War changed the direction of some of those currents that result in todays transhumanism. The eugenics movement, which had previously found advocates not only among racists on the extreme right but also among socialists and progressivist social democrats, was thoroughly discredited. The goal of creating a new and better world through a centrally imposed vision became taboo and pass; and the horrors of the Stalinist Soviet Union again underscored the dangers of such an approach. Mindful of these historical lessons, transhumanists are often deeply suspicious of collectively orchestrated change, arguing instead for the right of individuals to redesign themselves and their own descendants.

In the postwar era, optimistic futurists tended to direct their attention more toward technological progress, such as space travel, medicine, and computers. Science began to catch up with speculation. Transhumanist ideas during this period were discussed and analyzed chiefly in the literary genre of science fiction. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Stanislaw Lem, and later Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge have explored various aspects of transhumanism in their writings and contributed to its proliferation.

Robert Ettinger played an important role in giving transhumanism its modern form. The publication of his book The Prospect of Immortality in 1964 led to the creation of the cryonics movement. Ettinger argued that since medical technology seems to be constantly progressing, and since chemical activity comes to a complete halt at low temperatures, it should be possible to freeze a person today and preserve the body until such a time when technology is advanced enough to repair the freezing damage and reverse the original cause of deanimation. In a later work, Man into Superman (1972), he discussed a number of conceivable improvements to the human being, continuing the tradition started by Haldane and Bernal.

Another influential early transhumanist was F. M. Esfandiary, who later changed his name to FM-2030. One of the first professors of future studies, FM taught at the New School for Social Research in New York in the 1960s and formed a school of optimistic futurists known as the UpWingers. In his book Are you a transhuman? (1989), he described what he saw as the signs of the emergence of the transhuman person, in his terminology indicating an evolutionary link towards posthumanity. (A terminological aside: an early use of the word transhuman was in the 1972-book of Ettinger, who doesnt now remember where he first encountered the term. The word transhumanism may have been coined by Julian Huxley in New Bottles for New Wine (1957); the sense in which he used it, however, was not quite the contemporary one.) Further, its use is evidenced in T.S. Elliots writing around the same time. And it is known that Dante Alighieri referred to the notion of the transhuman in historical writings.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several organizations sprung up for life extension, cryonics, space colonization, science fiction, media arts, and futurism. They were often isolated from one another, and while they shared similar views and values, they did not yet amount to any unified coherent worldview. One prominent voice from a standpoint with strong transhumanist elements during this era came from Marvin Minsky, an eminent artificial intelligence researcher.

In 1986, Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation, the first book-length exposition of molecular manufacturing. (The possibility of nanotechnology had been anticipated by Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman in a now-famous after-dinner address in 1959 entitled There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.) In this groundbreaking work, Drexler not only argued for the feasibility of assembler-based nanotechnology but also explored its consequences and began charting the strategic challenges posed by its development. Drexlers later writings supplied more technical analyses that confirmed his initial conclusions. To prepare the world for nanotechnology and work towards it safe implementation, he founded the Foresight Institute together with his then wife Christine Peterson in 1986.

Ed Regiss Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (1990) took a humorous look at transhumanisms hubristic scientists and philosophers. Another couple of influential books were roboticist Hans Moravecs seminal Mind Children (1988) about the future development of machine intelligence, and more recently Ray Kurzweils bestselling Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), which presented ideas similar to Moravecs. Frank Tiplers Physics of Immortality (1994), inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness) argued that advanced civilizations might come to have a shaping influence on the future evolution of the cosmos, although some were put off by Tiplers attempt to blend science with religion. Many science advocates, such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Douglas Hofstadter, have also helped pave the way for public understanding of transhumanist ideas.

In 1988, the first issue of the Extropy Magazine was published by Max More and Tom Morrow, and in 1992 they founded the Extropy Institute (the term extropy being coined as an informal opposite of entropy). The magazine and the institute served as catalysts, bringing together disparate groups of people with futuristic ideas. More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, which emphasized individualism, dynamic optimism, and the market mechanism in addition to technology. The transhumanist arts genre became more self-aware through the works of the artist Natasha Vita-More. During this time, an intense exploration of ideas also took place on various Internet mailing lists. Influential early contributors included Anders Sandberg (then a neuroscience doctoral student) and Robin Hanson (an economist and polymath) among many others.

The World Transhumanist Association was founded in 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce to act as a coordinating international nonprofit organization for all transhumanist-related groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The WTA focused on supporting transhumanism as a serious academic discipline and on promoting public awareness of transhumanist thinking. The WTA began publishing the Journal of Evolution and Technology, the first scholarly peer-reviewed journal for transhumanist studies in 1999 (which is also the year when the first version of this FAQ was published). In 2001, the WTA adopted its current constitution and is now governed by an executive board that is democratically elected by its full membership. James Hughes especially (a former WTA Secretary) among others helped lift the WTA to its current more mature stage, and a strong team of volunteers has been building up the organization to what it is today.

Humanity+ developed after to rebrand transhumanism informing Humanity+ as a cooperative organization, seeking to pull together the leaders of transhumanism: from the early 1990s: Max More, Natasha Vita-More, Anders Sandberg; the late 1990s: Nick Bostrom, David Pearce, James Hughes; the 2000s: James Clement, Ben Goertzel, Giulio Prisco and many others. In short, it is based on the early work of Extropy Institute and WTA.

In the past couple of years, the transhumanist movement has been growing fast and furiously. Local groups are mushrooming in all parts of the world. Awareness of transhumanist ideas is spreading. Transhumanism is undergoing the transition from being the preoccupation of a fringe group of intellectual pioneers to becoming a mainstream approach to understanding the prospects for technological transformation of the human condition. That technological advances will help us overcome many of our current human limitations is no longer an insight confined to a few handfuls of techno-savvy visionaries. Yet understanding the consequences of these anticipated possibilities and the ethical choices we will face is a momentous challenge that humanity will be grappling with over the coming decades. The transhumanist tradition has produced a (still evolving) body of thinking to illuminate these complex issues that is unparalleled in its scope and depth of foresight.

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What is Transhumanism?

transhumanism | Definition, Origins, Characteristics, & Facts …

Transhumanism, social and philosophical movement devoted to promoting the research and development of robust human-enhancement technologies. Such technologies would augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body.

The term transhumanism was coined by English biologist and philosopher Julian Huxley in his 1957 essay of the same name. Huxley referred principally to improving the human condition through social and cultural change, but the essay and the name have been adopted as seminal by the transhumanist movement, which emphasizes material technology. Huxley held that, although humanity had naturally evolved, it was now possible for social institutions to supplant evolution in refining and improving the species. The ethos of Huxleys essayif not its lettercan be located in transhumanisms commitment to assuming the work of evolution, but through technology rather than society.

The movements adherents tend to be libertarian and employed in high technology or in academia. Its principal proponents have been prominent technologists like American computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil and scientists like Austrian-born Canadian computer scientist and roboticist Hans Moravec and American nanotechnology researcher Eric Drexler, with the addition of a small but influential contingent of thinkers such as American philosopher James Hughes and Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. The movement has evolved since its beginnings as a loose association of groups dedicated to extropianism (a philosophy devoted to the transcendence of human limits). Transhumanism is principally divided between adherents of two visions of post-humanityone in which technological and genetic improvements have created a distinct species of radically enhanced humans and the other in which greater-than-human machine intelligence emerges.

The membership of the transhumanist movement tends to split in an additional way. One prominent strain of transhumanism argues that social and cultural institutionsincluding national and international governmental organizationswill be largely irrelevant to the trajectory of technological development. Market forces and the nature of technological progress will drive humanity to approximately the same end point regardless of social and cultural influences. That end point is often referred to as the singularity, a metaphor drawn from astrophysics and referring to the point of hyperdense material at the centre of a black hole which generates its intense gravitational pull. Among transhumanists, the singularity is understood as the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses that of humanity, which will allow the convergence of human and machine consciousness. That convergence will herald the increase in human consciousness, physical strength, emotional well-being, and overall health and greatly extend the length of human lifetimes.

The second strain of transhumanism holds a contrasting view, that social institutions (such as religion, traditional notions of marriage and child rearing, and Western perspectives of freedom) not only can influence the trajectory of technological development but could ultimately retard or halt it. Bostrom and British philosopher David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with those social institutions to promote and guide the development of human-enhancement technologies and to combat those social forces seemingly dedicated to halting such technological progress.

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Transhumanism | Future | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Transhumanism (sometimes abbreviated >H or H+) is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human cognitive and physical abilities and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as disease, aging, and death. Transhumanist thinkers study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Possible dangers, as well as benefits, of powerful new technologies that might radically change the conditions of human life are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.

Although the first known use of the term "transhumanism" dates from 1957, the contemporary meaning is a product of the 1980s, when a group of scientists, artists, and futurists based in the United States began to organize what has since grown into the transhumanist movement. Transhumanist thinkers postulate that human beings will eventually be transformed into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".

The transhumanist vision of a profoundly transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters as well as critics from a wide range of perspectives. Transhumanism has been described by a proponent as the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity," while according to a prominent critic, it is the world's most dangerous idea.

In his 2005 article A History of Transhumanist Thought, philosopher Nick Bostrom locates transhumanism's roots in Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment. The Marquis de Condorcet, an eighteenth century French philosopher, is the first thinker whom he identifies as speculating about the use of medical science to extend the human life span. In the twentieth century, a direct and influential precursor to transhumanist concepts was J.B.S. Haldane's 1923 essay Daedalus: Science and the Future, which predicted that great benefits would come from applications of genetics and other advanced sciences to human biology.

Biologist Julian Huxley, brother of author Aldous Huxley (a childhood friend of Haldane's), appears to have been the first to use the actual word "transhumanism". Writing in 1957, he defined transhumanism as "man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature". This definition differs substantially from the one commonly in use since the 1980s.

The coalescence of an identifiable transhumanist movement began in the last decades of the twentieth century. In 1966, FM-2030 (formerly F.M. Esfandiary), a futurist who taught "new concepts of the Human" at The New School for Social Research in New York City, began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and world views transitional to "posthumanity" as "transhuman" (short for "transitory human"). In 1972, Robert Ettinger contributed to the popularization of the concept of "transhumanity" in his book Man into Superman. FM-2030 published the Upwingers Manifesto in 1973 to stimulate transhumanly conscious activism.

The first self-described transhumanists met formally in the early 1980s at the University of California, Los Angeles, which became the main center of transhumanist thought. Here, FM-2030 lectured on his "third way" futurist ideology. At the EZTV Media venue frequented by transhumanists and other futurists, Natasha Vita-More presented Breaking Away, her 1980 experimental film with the theme of humans breaking away from their biological limitations and the earth's gravity as they head into space. FM-2030 and Vita-More soon began holding gatherings for transhumanists in Los Angeles, which included students from FM-2030's courses and audiences from Vita-More's artistic productions. In 1982, Vita-More authored the Transhumanist Arts Statement, and, six years later, produced the cable TV show TransCentury Update on transhumanity, a program which reached over 100,000 viewers.

In 1988, philosopher Max More founded the Extropy Institute and was the main contributor to a formal transhumanist doctrine, which took the form of the Principles of Extropy in 1990.[ In 1990, he laid the foundation of modern transhumanism by giving it a new definition:

"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 1998, philosophers Nick Bostrom and David Pearce founded the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), an organization with a liberal democratic perspective. In 1999, the WTA drafted and adopted The Transhumanist Declaration. The Transhumanist FAQ, prepared by the WTA, gave two formal definitions for transhumanism:

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. 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. A number of similar definitions have been collected by Anders Sandberg, an academic with a high profile in the transhumanist movement.

In 2006, the board of directors of the Extropy Institute made a decision to cease operations of the organization, stating that its mission was "essentially completed". This left the World Transhumanist Association as the leading international transhumanist organization.

For a list of notable individuals who have identified themselves, or been identified by others, as advocates of transhumanism, see the list of transhumanists.

While many transhumanist theorists and advocates seek to apply reason, science and technology for the purposes of reducing poverty, disease, disability and malnutrition around the globe, transhumanism is distinctive in its particular focus on the applications of technologies to the improvement of human bodies at the individual level. Many transhumanists actively assess the potential for future technologies and innovative social systems to improve the quality of all life, while seeking to make the material reality of the human condition fulfill the promise of legal and political equality by eliminating congenital mental and physical barriers.

Transhumanist philosophers argue that there not only exists an ethical imperative for humans to strive for progress and improvement of the human condition but that it is possible and desirable for humanity to enter a post-Darwinian phase of existence, in which humans are in control of their own evolution. In such a phase, natural evolution would be replaced with deliberate change. To this end, transhumanists engage in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and evaluating possibilities for overcoming biological limitations. They draw on futures studies and various fields or subfields of science, philosophy, economics, history, and sociology. Unlike philosophers, social critics and activists who place a moral value on preservation of natural systems, transhumanists see the very concept of the "natural" as an obstacle to progress. In keeping with this, many prominent transhumanist advocates refer to transhumanism's critics on the political right and left jointly as "bioconservatives" or "bioluddites", the latter term alluding to the nineteenth century anti-industrialisation social movement that opposed the replacement of manual labor by machines.

Converging Technologies, a 2002 report exploring the potential for synergy among nano-, bio-, informational and cognitive technologies (NBIC) for enhancing human performance.While some transhumanists take a relatively abstract and theoretical approach to the perceived benefits of emerging technologies, others have offered specific proposals for modifications to the human body, including inheritable ones. Transhumanists are often concerned with methods of enhancing the human nervous system. Though some propose modification of the peripheral nervous system, the brain is considered the common denominator of personhood and is thus a primary focus of transhumanist ambitions. More generally, transhumanists support the convergence of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC), and hypothetical future technologies such as simulated reality, artificial intelligence, mind uploading, and cryonics. Transhumanists believe that humans can and should use these technologies to become more than human. Transhumanists therefore support the recognition or protection of cognitive liberty, morphological freedom and procreative liberty as civil liberties, so as to guarantee individuals the choice of enhancing themselves and progressively become posthuman, which they see as the next significant evolutionary steps for the human species. Some speculate that human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies may facilitate such a transformation by the midpoint of the twenty first century.

A 2002 report, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, commissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Commerce, contains descriptions and commentaries on the state of NBIC science and technology by major contributors to these fields. The report discusses potential uses of these technologies in implementing transhumanist goals of enhanced performance and health, and ongoing work on planned applications of human enhancement technologies in the military and in the rationalization of the human-machine interface in industry.

Some theorists, such as Raymond Kurzweil, believe that the pace of technological evolution is accelerating and that the next fifty years may yield not only radical technological advances but possibly a technological singularity, which may fundamentally change the nature of human beings. Transhumanists who foresee this massive technological change generally maintain that it is desirable. However, they also explore the possible dangers of extremely rapid technological change, and frequently propose options for ensuring that advanced technology is used responsibly. For example, Bostrom has written extensively on existential risks to humanity's future welfare, including risks that could be created by emerging technologies.

On a more practical level, as proponents of personal development and body modification, transhumanists tend to use existing technologies and techniques that supposedly improve cognitive and physical performance, while engaging in routines and lifestyles designed to improve health and longevity. Depending on their age, some transhumanists express concern that they will not live to reap the benefits of future technologies. However, many have a great interest in life extension practices, and funding research in cryonics in order to make the latter a viable option of last resort rather than remaining an unproven method. Regional and global transhumanist networks and communities with a range of objectives exist to provide support and forums for discussion and collaborative projects.

There is a variety of opinion within transhumanist thought. Many of the leading transhumanist thinkers hold complex and subtle views that are under constant revision and development. Some distinctive currents of transhumanism are identified and listed here in alphabetical order:

Although some transhumanists report a very strong sense of spirituality, they are for the most part secular. In fact, many transhumanists are either agnostics or atheists. A minority, however, follow liberal forms of Eastern philosophical traditions or, as with Mormon transhumanists, have merged their beliefs with established religions.

Despite the prevailing secular attitude, some transhumanists pursue hopes traditionally espoused by religions, such as immortality albeit a physical one. Several belief systems, termed new religious movements, originating in the late twentieth century, share with transhumanism the goals of transcending the human condition by applying technology to the alteration of the body (Ralism) and mind (Scientology). While most thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement focus on the practical goals of using technology to help achieve longer and healthier lives, some speculate that future understanding of neurotheology will enable humans to achieve control of altered states of consciousness and thus "spiritual" experiences. A continuing dialogue between transhumanism and faith was the focus of an academic seminar held at the University of Toronto in 2004.

The majority of transhumanists are materialists who do not believe in a transcendent human soul. Transhumanist personhood theory also argues against the unique identification of moral actors and subjects with biological humans, judging as speciesist the exclusion of nonhuman and part-human animals, and sophisticated machines, from ethical consideration. Many believe in the compatibility of human minds with computer hardware, with the theoretical implication that human consciousness may someday be transferred to alternative media.

One extreme formulation of this idea is Frank Tipler's proposal of the Omega Point. Drawing upon ideas in physics, computer science and physical cosmology, Tipler advanced the notion that the collapse of the Universe billions of years hence could create the conditions for the perpetuation of humanity as a simulation within a megacomputer. Cosmologist George Ellis has called Tipler's book "a masterpiece of pseudoscience", and Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating perceived flaws in Tipler's thesis.

For more details on this topic, see Transhumanism in fiction. Transhumanist themes have become increasingly prominent in various literary forms during the period in which the movement itself has emerged. Contemporary science fiction often contains positive renditions of technologically enhanced human life, set in utopian (especially techno-utopian) societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many horrific or dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.

The cyberpunk genre, exemplified by William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984) and Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix (1985), has particularly been concerned with the modification of human bodies. Other novels dealing with transhumanist themes that have stimulated broad discussion of these issues include Blood Music (1985) by Greg Bear, The Xenogenesis Trilogy (19871989) by Octavia Butler; the "Culture" novels (19872000) of Iain Banks; The Beggar's Trilogy (199094) by Nancy Kress; much of Greg Egan's work since the early 1990s, such as Permutation City (1994) and Diaspora (1997); The Bohr Maker (1995) by Linda Nagata; Extensa (2002) and Perfekcyjna niedoskonao (2003) by Jacek Dukaj; Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood; Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (2002); and The Possibility of an Island (Eng. trans. 2006) by Michel Houellebecq.

Fictional transhumanist scenarios have also become popular in other media during the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. Such treatments are found in films (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979; Blade Runner, 1982; Gattaca, 1997), television series (the Ancients of Stargate SG-1, the Borg of Star Trek, the Nietzscheans of Andromeda), manga and anime (Ghost in the Shell), role-playing games (Transhuman Space) and computer games (Deus Ex, Half-Life 2, Command & Conquer). The fictional universe of the table top war game Warhammer 40,000 also makes use of genetic and cybernetic augmentation. Human characters of the Imperium often employ cybernetic devices, while the Space Marines are indeed posthuman. Many of these works are considered part of the cyberpunk genre or its postcyberpunk offshoot.

In addition to the work of Natasha Vita-More, mentioned above, transhumanism has been represented in the visual and performing arts by Carnal Art, a form of sculpture originated by the French artist Orlan that uses the body as its medium and plastic surgery as its method. The American performer Michael Jackson used technologies such as plastic surgery, skin-lightening drugs and hyperbaric oxygen treatment over the course of his career, with the effect of transforming his artistic persona so as to blur identifiers of gender, race and age. The work of the Australian artist Stelarc centers on the alteration of his body by robotic prostheses and tissue engineering. Other artists whose work coincided with the emergence and flourishing of transhumanism and who explored themes related to the transformation of the body are the Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abramovic and the American media artist Matthew Barney. A 2005 show, Becoming Animal, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, presented exhibits by twelve artists whose work concerns the effects of technology in erasing boundaries between the human and non-human.

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Transhumanism – RationalWiki

You know what they say the modern version of Pascal's Wager is? Sucking up to as many Transhumanists as possible, just in case one of them turns into God. Julie from Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

Transhumanism (or H+), an intellectual movement, is greatly influenced by science fiction and presents an idealistic point of view of what technology could do for humanity in the future, not what it can do; it's all hypothetical.[1] Transhumanism explores the benefits and repercussions of what technology could do for humanity; however, it assumes the technological boundaries are nonexistent.[2]

How plausible is transhumanism? In the 1930s, many sensible people were sure human beings would never get to the Moon and that was just one of many predictions that turned out incorrect.[3] Early 21st century people do not know one way or the other what will be possible in the future. However, the scientific claims of transhumanism still need to be examined critically, because some of these technoscientific prophecies may not be plausible; after we got to the moon, people expected we'd have a permanent colony there by the end of the century.[4]

While frequently dismissed as mere speculation at best by most rationalists[5] (especially in light of the many failures of artificial intelligence), transhumanism is a strongly-held belief among many computer geeks, notably synthesizer and accessible computing guru Ray Kurzweil, a believer in the "technological singularity," where technology evolves beyond humanity's current capacity to understand or anticipate it, and Sun Microsystems founder and Unix demigod Bill Joy, who believes the inevitable result of AI research is the obsolescence of humanity.[6]

Certain recent technological advances are making the possibility of the realization of transhumanism appear more plausible: Scientists funded by the military developed an implant that can translate motor neuron signals into a form that a computer can use, thus opening the door for advanced prosthetics capable of being manipulated like biological limbs and producing sensory information.[7] This is on top of the earlier development of cochlear implants, which translate sound waves into nerve signals; they are often called "bionic ears."[8]

Even DIY transhumanism or 'biohacking' is becoming an option, with people installing magnetic implants, allowing them to feel magnetic and electric fields.[9] Others have taken to wearing belts of magnets, in order to always be able to find magnetic north. Prosthetic limbs with some level of touch are also now being developed, a major milestone. [10]One notable individual whose received magnetic finger implants is Zoe Quinn; [11] the current scientific consensus seems unclear, although humans are not thought to have a magnetic sense, there is a cryptochrome protein in the eye which could potentially make humans capable of Magnetoreception, like certain other mammals such as mice and cows appear to be. [12]

"Whole brain emulation" (WBE) is a term used by transhumanists to refer to, quite obviously, the emulation of a brain on a computer. While this is no doubt a possibility, it encounters two problems that keep it from being a certainty anytime in the near future.

The first is a philosophical objection: For WBE to work, "strong AI" (i.e. AI equivalent to or greater than human intelligence) must be attainable. A number of philosophical objections have been raised against strong AI, generally contending either that the mind or consciousness is not computable or that a simulation of consciousness is not equivalent to true consciousness (whatever that is). There is still controversy over strong AI in the field of philosophy of mind.[13]

A second possible objection is technological: WBE may not defy physics, but the technology to fully simulate a human brain (in the sense meant by transhumanists, at least) is a long way away. Currently, no computer (or network of computers) is powerful enough to simulate a human brain. Henry Markram, head of the Blue Brain Project, estimates that simulating a brain would require 500 petabytes of data for storage and that the power required to run the simulation would cost about $3 billion annually. (However, in 2008, he optimistically predicted this it would be possible ten years from 2008.)[14]) In addition to technological limitations in computing, there are also the limits of neuroscience. Neuroscience currently relies on technology that can only scan the brain at the level of gross anatomy (e.g., fMRI, PET). Forms of single neuron imaging (SNI) have been developed recently, but they can only be used on animal subjects (usually rats) because they destroy neural tissue.[15]

First, let me say that Im all in favor of research on aging, and I think science has great potential to prolong healthy livesand Im all for that. But I think immortality, or even a close approximation to it, is both impossible and undesirable.

Another transhumanist goal is mind uploading, which is one way they claim[17][18] we will be able to achieve immortality. Aside from the problems with WBE listed above, mind uploading suffers a philosophical problem, namely the "swamp man problem." That is, will the "uploaded" mind be "you" or simply a copy or facsimile of your mind? However, one possible way round this problem would be via incremental replacement of parts of the brain with their cybernetic equivalents (the patient being awake during each operation). Then there is no "breaking" of the continuity of the individual's consciousness, and it becomes difficult for proponents of the "swamp man" hypothesis to pinpoint exactly when the individual stops being "themselves." It does, however, run directly into a similar problem, the "Ship of Theseus" problem: when all of the brain parts are replaced, is it still fundamentally the same as the original?

Cryonics is another favorite of many transhumanists. In principle, cryonics is not impossible, but the current form of it is based largely on hypothetical future technologies and costs substantial amounts of money.

Fighting aging and extending life expectancy is possible the field that studies aging and attempts to provide suggestions for anti-aging technology is known as "biogerontology". Aubrey de Grey has proposed a number of treatments for aging. In 2005, 28 scientists working in biogerontology signed a letter to EMBO Reports pointing out that de Grey's treatments had never been demonstrated to work and that many of his claims for anti-aging technology were extremely inflated.[19] This article was written in response to a July 2005 EMBO reports article previously published by de Grey[20] and a response from de Grey was published in the same November issue.[21] De Grey summarizes these events in "The biogerontology research community's evolving view of SENS," published on the Methuselah Foundation website.[22]

Worst of all, some transhumanists outright ignore[citationneeded] what people in the fields they're interested in tell them; a few AI boosters, for example, believe that neurobiology is an outdated science because AI researchers can do it themselves anyway. They seem to have taken the analogy used to introduce the computational theory of mind, "the mind (or brain) is like a computer", and taken it literally. Of course, the mind/brain is not a computer in the usual sense.[23] Debates with such people can take on the wearying feel of a debate with a creationist or climate change denialist, as such people will stick to their positions no matter what. Indeed, many critics are simply dismissed as Luddites or woolly-headed romantics who oppose scientific and technological progress.[24]

Transhumanism has often been criticized for not taking ethical issues seriously on a variety of topics,[25] including life extension technology,[26] cryonics,[27] and mind uploading and other enhancements.[28][29] Francis Fukuyama (in his doctrinaire neoconservative days) caused a stir by naming transhumanism "the world's most dangerous idea."[30] One of Fukuyama's criticisms, that implementation of the technologies transhumanists push for will lead to severe inequality, is a rather common one.

A number of political criticisms of transhumanism have been made as well. Transhumanist organizations have been accused of being in the pocket of corporate and military interests.[31] The movement has been identified with Silicon Valley due to the fact that some of its biggest backers, such as Peter Thiel (of PayPal and Bitcoin fame), reside in the region.[32][33] Some writers see transhumanism as a hive of cranky and obnoxious techno-libertarianism.[34][35] The fact that Julian Huxley coined the term "transhumanism" and many transhumanists' obsession with constructing a Nietzschean ubermensch known as the "posthuman" has led to comparisons with eugenics.[36][31] Like eugenics, it has been characterized as a utopian political ideology.[37] Jaron Lanier slammed it as "cybernetic totalism".[38]

Some tension has developed between transhumanism and religion, although there are many secular liberal people who are skeptical or opposed to transhumanism as well.[citationneeded] Some transhumanists, generally being atheistic naturalists, see all religion as an impediment to scientific and technological advancement and some Christians oppose transhumanism because of its stance on cloning and genetic engineering and label it as a heretical belief system.[39] Other transhumanists, however, have attempted to extend an olive branch to Christians, [40] and the Christian Transhumanist Association group on Facebook has over 1,100 members.

Some religious transhumanists have tried to reconcile their religion and techno-utopian beliefs, calling for a "scientific theology."[41] There is even a Mormon transhumanist organization.[42] Ironically for the atheistic transhumanists, the movement has itself been characterized as a religion and its rhetoric compared to Christian apologetics.[43][44] Interestingly the word transhuman first appeared in Henry Francis Careys 1814 translation of Paradiso, the last book of the Divine Comedy as Dante ascends to heaven during the resurrection. [45]

The very small transhumanist political movement has gained momentum with Zoltan Istvan announcing his bid for US president, with the Transhumanist Party and other small political parties gaining support internationally.

The important thing about transhumanism is that while a lot of such predictions may in fact be possible (and may even be in their embryonic stages right now), a strong skeptical eye is required for any claimed prediction about the fields it covers. When evaluating such a claim, one will probably need a trip to a library (or Wikipedia, or a relevant scientist's home page) to get up to speed on the basics.[note 1]

A common trope in science fiction for decades is that the prospect of transcending the current form may be positive, as in Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel Childhood's End or negative, as in the film The Matrix, with its barely disguised salvationist theme, or the Terminator series of films, where humanity has been essentially replaced by machine life. Change so radical elicits fear and thus it is unsurprising that many of the portrayals of transhumanism in popular culture are negative. The cyberpunk genre deals extensively with the theme of a transhumanist society gone wrong.

On closer inspection, this should not be surprising. Since transhumanism is ambitious about conquering age-related illnesses (extropianism), death (immortalism), ecological damage (technogaianism), gender differences (postgenderism) and suffering (abolitionism), a fictional world where this has already been achieved leaves a story with few plot devices to exploit. Additionally, it could be hard for the public to identify with flawless, post-human characters.

Among the utopian visions of transhumanism are those found in the collaborative online science fiction setting Orion's Arm. Temporally located in the post-singularity future, 10,000 years from now, Orion's Arm is massively optimistic about genetic engineering, continued improvements in computing and materials science. Because only technology which has been demonstrated to be impossible is excluded, even remotely plausible concepts has a tendency to be thrown in. At the highest end of the scale is artificial wormhole creation, baby universes and inertia without mass.[46] Perhaps the only arguably positive depiction of transhumanism in video games is the Megaman ZX series where the line between human and reploids has begun to blur. Defining at what point the definition of the singularity was met in the centuries long Megaman timeline can be a useful way of illustrating how nebulous the terminology is during a debate.

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Transhumanism | definition of transhumanism by Medical dictionary

Indeed, in my decades of work around issues such as euthanasia, utilitarian bioethics, animal rights, transhumanism, and other associated agendas, I have found that the more one rejects human exceptionalism, the more likely one is to declare that immoral and (still) illegal wrongs--like infanticide--are virtuous.Transhumanism has been called a religion since its inception, and for valid reasons.1) [T]here is much to be dissatisfied with about the world (including being trapped in a pathetic, weak and mortal human body); 2) this world is replete of suffering, ignorance, and death that should be eliminated; 3) salvation from such evil is possible; 4) the order of being must be changed and perfected through developmental/evolutionary human processes; 5) humans are capable of effecting such change, first through transhumanism, but definitely through posthumanism; and 6) humans are now discovering the gnosis needed to bring about such change.Moreover, ethics may not be eluded even under circumstances in which we imagine humanity enter a new development stage, the supposed transhumanism, in which technology turns into a form of transcendence and human condition is removed from present patterns (Sandu 2015, 3-26; Chifflet 2016, 61-68).PJ: Posthumanism and transhumanism are often used as synonyms.Transhumanism is a "radically" technology-inspired worldview, insofar as it regards technology as being at the very "roots" of basically every potential progression and solution to the problems of the present and future in each and every field of civilization.While Transhumanism, with a capital t, is the activist movement that advocates the use of technology to expand human capacities, lower-case transhumanism refers to the belief or theory that the human race will evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of deliberate technological interventions.The game's themes mirror those of the broader series': transhumanism, advanced biomechanical technology, a not-too-far-off future that borders on dystopia and an "Assassin's Creed"-style shadow battle between hidden factions positioning themselves to control the world.In the wake of bioethical issues related to sexuality and reproduction, transhumanism looks particularly powerful: a recent paper on legal issues in robotics, supported by the European Commission, states: "Machines cannot and should not, at least for the moment, have the legal status of humans.Wallach characterizes the critique of transhumanism as "buy[ing] into a representation of what it means to be human that is incomplete and mechanizes, biologizes, and pathologizes human nature.Today, there is a grand push towards transhumanism, pluralism, and a one-world government.They augment themselves with mechanical wings for personal transportation, which calls to mind later ideas of cyborgs and transhumanism.

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Transhumanism | definition of transhumanism by Medical dictionary

Elevating the Human Condition – Humanity+ What does it mean …

What does it mean to be human in a technologically enhanced world? Humanity+ is a 501(c)3 international nonprofit membership organization that advocates the ethical use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to expand human capacities. In other words, we want people to be better than well. This is the goal of transhumanism.

Humanity+ Advocates for Safe and Ethical Use: Technologies that intervene with human physiology for curing disease and repairing injury have accelerated to a point in which they also can increase human performance outside the realms of what is considered to be normal for humans. These technologies are referred to as emerging and speculative and include artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, nanomedicine, biotechnology, genetic engineering, stem cell cloning, and transgenesis, for example. Other technologies that could extend and expand human capabilities outside physiology include artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, robotics, and brain-computer integration, which form the domain of bionics, uploading, and could be used for developing whole body prosthetics. Because these technologies, and their respective sciences and strategic models, such as blockchain, would take the human beyond the normal state of existence, society, including bioethicists and others who advocate the safe use of technology, have shown concern and uncertainties about the downside of these technologies and possible problematic and dangerous outcomes for our species.

2018 PROJECTS:

Humanity+ @ Beijing Conference

Blockchain Prize

Humanity+ @ The Assemblage New York City

TransVision 2018 Madrid, Spain

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Elevating the Human Condition - Humanity+ What does it mean ...


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