Transhumanism is, at it's core, a philosophical idea that advances the idea of positively encouraging human development using advanced and emerging technologies. This can encompass life extension or clinical immortality, using technology to augment the human body to solve problems of physical or mental disability and to increase the capabilities of the human body, increasing the efficiency and comfort of human life, decreasing human impact on the environment, or achieving some form of enlightenment or connection with the technological world.
History of Transhumanism
Within Transhumanism, there are several lines of thought that focus on specific aspects of humanity;
- Abolitionism, an ideology based upon a perceived obligation to use technology to eliminate involuntary human suffering.
- Democratic Transhumanism, a political ideology synthesizing liberal democracy, social democracy, radical democracy and Transhumanism.
- Extropianism, an early school of transhumanist thought characterized by a set of principles advocating a guided approach to human evolution. It should be noted that this is not the same as eugenics, Extropianism advocates assisting those with disabilities with advanced technology rather than the removal of individuals from the gene pool
- Transhumanistic Socialism, a combination of Transhuman ideas with Socialist thought, it involves using advanced and emerging technology to help create and sustain a Socialist society.
- Immortalism, a ideology based upon the belief that technological immortality is possible and desirable with the use of advanced medical technology.
- Libertarian Transhumanism, a political ideology combining Libertarianism and Transhumanism.
- Singularitarianism, an ideology based upon the belief that a technological singularity is possible, and advocating deliberate action to effect it and ensure its safety.
- Technoecology, an ecological ideology based upon the belief that emerging technologies can help restore Earth's environment, and that developing safe, clean, alternative technology should therefore be a priority.
While other forms of Transhumanism do exist, these represent many of the main currents in modern Transhumanist thought.
The Singularity is a point in human development where our technological capability will be so rapid that it becomes impossible to predict what will occur next. In the words of Ray Kurzweil, "The Singularity is a future period [in] which technological change will be so rapid and it's impact so profound that every aspect of human life will be irreversibly transformed."
Almost all forms of Transhumanist thought encompass the idea of a technological singularity. A technological singularity works off of the fact that our current capability to process and access information, both technologically and as human beings, is increasing at an exponential rate. At some point in the future, we will reach a point of critical mass where the rate of intelligence growth, both biological and technological, becomes so fast that it becomes impossible to predict anything beyond that point. After that point, it is believed that many of the barriers we face when dealing with advanced technologies will be gone.
Transhumanists in general disagree as to what the singularity will look like or when it will occur, but it is a key component to almost all Transhuman thought.
Transhumanist thinkers generally embrace the ideas of responsible use of technology, bioethics, social progressiveness, and open exchange of information. The idea of eugenics or forcible inclusion into a Transhuman society is universally shunned by Transhumanists because Transhumanism attempts to advance mankind and a system of eugenics or forced inclusion is not a positive or stabilizing force within humanity.
A strong idea within Transhumanism is freedom of information because it only through free access and exchange of information that many advanced and emerging technologies will have their greatest impact
The term "posthuman" refers to the human being after the singularity or in an extremely technologically advanced society. This has been described as the human body augmented by cybernetic and nanotechnology, the human body having evolved to a higher stage of evolution or existence, human beings in a collective consciousness, or even the human mind translated to digital data and downloaded into a digital system where humans have no bodies at all and exist purely in a digital format.
This aspect of Transhumanism is highly speculative and many Transhumanists disagree as to what exactly "posthuman" will look like, but all agree that it is a goal of Transhumanism.