Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Delving Deeper Into Singularity: What is Transhumanism?

From time to time I think it is a good idea to discuss definitions. Otherwise we may find, as we use certain words, that we are not discussing the same things. When it comes to the technological singularity, we cannot assume that everyone understands what it is. The same is true of the concept of transhumanism. What is it, really?

Nick Bostrom has a stellar explanation here. Nick is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and the Scientific Method at the London School of Economics, and a leading thinker in the realm of transhumanism.

According to Nick, although mankind as a species faces many well-known threats to its existence, there is a threat that most people never consider, and that is forever remaining sub-optimal, simply because we accept the premise that human nature will remain forever unchanging. Here I quote from Nick's essay:
This assumption no longer holds true. Arguably it has never been true. Such innovations as speech, written language, printing, engines, modern medicine and computers have had a profound impact not just on how people live their lives, but on who and what they are. Compared to what might happen in the next few decades, these changes may have been slow and even relatively tame. But note that even a single additional innovation as important as any of the above would be enough to invalidate orthodox projections of the future of our world.

"Transhumanism" has gained currency as the name for a new way of thinking that challenges the premise that the human condition is and will remain essentially unalterable. Clearing away that mental block allows one to see a dazzling landscape of radical possibilities, ranging from unlimited bliss to the extinction of intelligent life. In general, the future by present lights looks very weird - but perhaps very wonderful - indeed.
Nick goes on to describe the various technology fields that will impact on human nature and what it means to be human. Take a look, if you dare.

What is Transhumanism?

Singularity & The Price of Rice is updated daily; the easiest way to get your daily dose is by subscribing to our news feed. Stay on top of all our updates by subscribing now via RSS or Email.


citizencyborg said...

Nick Bostrom is actually at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. Glad you liked his writings. Also check out