The world has never been enough. At least for us, humans. The endeavour to become more than what we are lies at the heart of human civilisation. We have overcome challenges of nature, obstacles of time, physical and mental impediments. Perhaps nothing reflects the culmination of this collective zeal to surpass our capabilities as much as Transhumanism.
Transhumanism is a belief that human beings can transcend the limits of physical and mental limitations through technology. For some, a Transhumanist is an ideal to strive towards, and for others, it is both a source and an answer to all of humanity’s problems.
Borne out of a belief system that humankind should reach the pinnacle of its capabilities and beyond, Transhumanism comprises augmentations to overcome limitations. While technological augmentations may be a recent endeavour, primitive humans have utilised tools to augment their capabilities. From the wooden spears they used to hunt, the prosthetic wooden and iron legs to augment walking, all the way to lances in warfare, humans have employed augmentations throughout history. Eyeglasses, clothing, and ploughs signalled a rise in using tools to augment our capabilities.
The rise in medical technology, genetic science, and electronics from the 1990s, has opened new frontiers in human capabilities. We don’t merely use technology as enablers but have started adopting it from within in the form of cybernetics. Armbands, deep-brain stimulators, physical and neural augmentations, mechanical and cybernetic implants, and potentially gene editing are technologies which humans can use to enhance themselves and achieve capabilities previously unheard of.
On one hand, science is driving innovation in augmentation, and on the other, Transhumanism has given rise to a significant amount of philosophical thought. Notions of challenging what it means to be human, virtues and vices of post-humanism, and the dangers of uncontrolled immortality provoke deep questions that do not have answers but encourage much debate and discourse. There is also an entire section of humanity that believes that the very notion of Transhumanism is irrelevant, for any such technological advancements are several decades away.
Transhumanism has generated fear and enthusiasm in equal measures. While proponents extol the virtues of embracing technology to enhance our lives, detractors fear what this will mean to be human at all. The widespread availability of Transhumanist technologies could result in radical life extension, overall well-being and improper perpetuation could create class divides, encourage oppression and even alter geopolitical landscapes.
For the first time in human history, we can radically alter our minds and bodies and take shortcuts to the various destinations of natural evolution. This essay looks at Transhumanism from an emerging technological paradigm and attempts to provide an objective view of where Transhumanism is headed and what it means to the rest of the world.TE-Evolution-of-Synthetic-Thought-CRG-2019-01