Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transhumanism as our best hope against extinction

theglobalspiral - by Mark Walker

Transhumanism is the thesis that we can and ought to use technology to alter and improve human biology. Some likely targets for the technological makeover of human nature include making ourselves smarter, happier, longer-lived and more virtuous. The operative assumption here of course is that intelligence, moods, longevity and virtues each have deep roots in our biology. By altering biology transhumanists propose to improve human nature to the point of creating a new genus: such as posthumans.

Posthumans probably won’t have much more capacity for evil than we have, or are likely to have shortly. So, at least in terms of how many persons can be killed, posthumans will not outstrip us in this capacity. This is not to say that there are no new worries with the creation of posthumans, but the greatest evil, the destruction of civilization, is something which we now, or will soon, have. In other words, the most significant aspect that we should focus on with contemplating the creation of posthumans is their upside. They are not likely to distinguish themselves in their capacity for evil, since we have already pretty much hit the wall on that, but for their capacity for good.

Notice that transhumanism encompasses a moral thesis. Transhumanism does not say that we will create posthumans, rather, it makes a moral claim: we ought to create posthumans. The hint of an argument based on the accrual of moral benefits is perhaps obvious from what has been said: to the extent that we value the development of intellectual, emotional and moral virtue, becoming posthuman is imperative. I won’t pursue this line of argument here directly. Rather, I want to explore the objection that transhumanism is an ill-advised experiment because it puts us at unnecessary risk. My reply will be that creating posthumans is our best bet for avoiding harm. In a nutshell, the argument is that even though creating posthumans may be a very dangerous social experiment, it is even more dangerous not to attempt it: technological advances mean that there is a high probability that a human-only future will end in extinction.

Read more>>

Follow me on Twitter. Please subscribe to our news feed. Get regular updates via Email. Contact us for advertising inquiries.


Leo said...

Thanks for surfacing this. I've been making very similar arguments for years.