by Alex Vikoulov
"Transhumanism literally means "beyond human." It's using science and technology to radically change and improve the human species and experience." - Zoltan Istvan
The contemporary transhumanist movement aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available advanced technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological potential. Transhumanists believe that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with superior God-like capacities - posthumans. The three transhumanist "Super Pillars" are: Superlongehity, Superintelligence, and Super Wellbeing.
According to Kurzweil’s “Law of Accelerating Returns,” exponential technologies will bring about ever more rapid changes in human evolutionary development. We will move from where we are today, increasingly dependent on external computers that help us conduct business and access information, to the next level where computers gradually become an integral part of us.
Most transhumanists would like to become superintelligent themselves. This is obviously a long-term goal, but it might be achievable either through mind uploading and subsequent enhancement or through the gradual augmentation of our biological brains, by means of future nootropics (cognitive enhancement drugs), cognitive techniques, IT tools (e.g. wearable computers, smart agents, information filtering systems, visualization software, etc.), neural interfaces, or brain implants (more on that further).
When transhumanists seek to extend human lifespan, they want to live longer, healthier, happier, more productive years, be able to do, learn, and experience more; have more fun and spend more time with loved ones. But the ultimate superlongevity goal of transhumanists is indefinitely long lifespan for all: to digitize our minds, upload our minds onto the Global Brain cloud, and achieve so-called digital immortality.
A transhumanist philosopher David Pearce promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. In his "Hedonistic Imperative" he outlines how genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as “Paradise Engineering”. Pearce writes: "...there is nothing to stop intelligent agents from identifying the molecular signature of experience below hedonic zero and eliminating it altogether — even in insects… I tentatively predict that the world’s last unpleasant experience in our forward light-cone will be a precisely datable event - perhaps some micro-pain in an obscure marine invertebrate a few centuries hence."
Video:: British Institute of Posthuman Studies - Introduction to Transhumanism
In our pre-Singularity transhumanist era, personal freedom should be expanded once again to include any person's legal right to exercise their morphological freedom (body modifications), to exercise their legal right to explore their psyche via psychedelics or designer drugs. Artificial sentience should be protected by the newly crafted laws. Death must become optional: any person should have the right to euthanasia or continue to live indefinitely long. During the next 30 years, with the looming Technological Singularity, everything will change - socio-politico-economic systems, structures and institutions, the nature of work, relationships, morality, ethics, procreation, and human nature itself.
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Tags: self-transcendence, transcendence, Zoltan Istvan, Ray Kurzweil, David Pierce, Law of Accelerating Returns, exponential technologies, mind uploading, postbiological superintelligence, posthuman superintelligence, the Syntellect emergence,, technological singularity, British Institute, of Posthuman Studies, transhumanism, superlongevity, super wellbeing, cognitive enhancement, substrate-independent mind, digital mind, digital immortality, wetware, brain implants, Hedonistic Imperative, paradise engineering, morphological freedom, experiential realism, philosophy of mind, science of mind, evolution of consciousness, posthumanism, transcendentalism, neo-transcendentalism
*Image Credit: British Institute of Posthuman Studies
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, singularitarian, evolutionary extrapolist, digital philosopher, futurist, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter and media artist, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution". Graduated from Armstrong University, Berkeley, CA. Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area).