Titles About Transhumanism
The ultimate question is no longer “who am I” or “why am I here.” These questions were answered in the earliest civilizations by philosophers and priests. Today we live in an age of such rapid advances in technology and science that the ultimate question must be rephrased: what shall we be? The modern Victor Frankenstein holds a high political office, carries diplomatic immunity, and is most likely funded by the largest corporations worldwide. His method is ancient: alchemy. His fraternities are well known and their secrets are well kept, but his goal of times past and present is the same, and that is Transhumanism; he dares to become as god, genetically manipulating the seeds of the earth, the beasts on the fields, and to claim legal ownership over humanity by re-creating it in his own image.
Suppose in the near future humans are able to reverse the aging process. Imagine a world in which we are free from the ravages of mental disease, physical decrepitude, and natural death. Consider what life would be like if — through applied sciences like genomics, robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence — we were able to dramatically increase our intellectual capacity and control our emotional and mental states. Envision parents choosing the ‘nature’ of their children before they are born. This is the future celebrated by the transhumanists. They claim that the scientific know-how is not far off. As a philosophical proposition, transhumanism is as an outgrowth of the Enlightenment and secular humanism. It is an increasingly influential worldview that is gaining momentum and garnering criticism. Transhumanism has been called ‘the world’s most dangerous idea’. Previously imaginable only in the realm of science fiction, the reality of transhumanism may soon be upon us.
Transhumanists advocate for the development and distribution of technologies that will enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, even eliminate aging. What if the dystopian futures and transhumanist utopias found in the pages of science journals, Margaret Atwood novels, films like Gattaca, and television shows like Dark Angel are realized? What kind of world would humans have created? This title considers the promises and perils of using genetic engineering in an effort to direct the future course of human evolution. It addresses scientific and ethical issues without choosing sides in the dispute between transhumanists and their challengers. However, Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares reveals that radical forms of genetic engineering could become a reality much sooner than many people think, and that we need to encourage risk-management efforts. Whether scientists are dubious or optimistic about the prospects for directed evolution, they tend to agree on two things. First, however long it takes to perfect the necessary technology, it is inevitable that humans will attempt to control their evolutionary future, and second, in the process of learning how to direct evolution, we are bound to make mistakes. Our responsibility is to learn how to balance innovation with caution.
We may be living on the brink of a technological Singularity — a time when machines will become vastly more intelligent than humans. In such a scenario, death, disease and everyday material scarcity will be radically diminished, and life will be dramatically different in many other ways. But what will the path to this amazing future look like? How will human life grow and unfold as technology advances and Singularity approaches? The chapters in this book approach this issue from the perspectives of multiple authors from around the globe, covering topics such as the impact of life extension, the future of money and exchange, the future of human psychology, biological self-modification, intelligence enhancement, automation and escalating unemployment, the possibility of global war between pro and anti technology forces, the impact of future technology on Asia and Africa, the emerging Global Brain, the future of surveillance and privacy, and much more. There are no easy or definite answers here — but lots of fascinating questions to explore.
What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful – possibly beyond our control. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?
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