Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Transhumanism 101 with Natasha Vita-More

She is the "first female philosopher of transhumanism."

Dr. Natasha Vita-More is an artist and designer and the host of H+ tv online.  She is also one of the driving creative forces behind the notion of transhumanism.   Recently, she sat down for a Singularity 1-on-1 interview to take us all to class.  Get out your notebooks and your number two pencils, kids.  Dr. Vita-More is about to expose the hamartias of the Luddites and wash away the misconceptions and apprehensions of transhumanism.  This is Transhumanism 101 and here are a few of my favorite bits from the interview:

-Did Mary Shelley do more harm than good by writing Frankenstein?  That was the question posed by Socrates at Singularity.  Vita-More had a balanced response.  Yes, Frankenstein made many terrified of science and technology run amok, but many wonderful books came from this line of thought. 

-"In academics," said Vita-More, "Transhumanism is a threat to post-modernism."
I am very impressed with Dr. Vita-More's scholarship and academic reasoning.  I may have to read her dissertation.

-"Rather than complain about the future, let's get in there and do something about it.  Transhumanism allows to have perspective on that."

- "We back up our computers, why aren't we backing up ourselves?"

-"Transhumanism as the 'world's most dangerous idea' is a silly thing."

-"Transhumanism is an evolution from being exclusively human in our biology...and therefore in our consciousness...to becoming trans-biological, merging with technology and improving the physiological performance of our bodies."

-There is a difference between transhuman and cyborg.  The notion of the cyborg turns out to have been born in space exploration; that humans would need augmented bodies to deal with the environment of space.  Our environment has changed, we therefore must augment our bodies (e.g. sunscreen to protect the skin from increased UV rays.)  Cyborgs and cybernetics do not direct evolution and cognition in the way that transhumanism does.

-"Transhumanism is a worldview and the philosophy of extropy is transhumanism."

-On human dignity being located in our genes, Dr. Vita-More rightly places that sense of dignity back in the human ability to solve problems.  I take "problems" to be issues that come with disease and age.  Interfacing with technology will go a great way towards mitigating these issues.

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