Monday, November 18, 2013

Transhuman dream


I am an unrepentant, unabashed transhumanist.

That probably comes as no surprise, especially if you're a long time reader (and if you've checked out my latest, greatest publication *plug plug*)  However, I may not have realized just how much I want to commix my crude, human form with something more durable and sophisticated until this past weekend.

I've been sick the past few days.  That alone might make one seek out transhuman options.  After all, it was my bad stomach that first prompted me to search for technological fixes.  But something else came to me in a fevered dream...and I do mean fevered.  In fact it's one of the only real pluses to be sick with the respiratory flu: fever delirium.  Always good times.  But I digress...

As I tried to sleep, I had a half-awake dream...or so I like to call them.  I was in a dark cavern.  Black, wet rock, pointy things dipping from the ceiling, the whole bit.  The open expanse in front of me began to reassemble itself in front of my very eyes (nanotech?)  Bumpy, irregular rock turned into metal with a smooth sheen.  Even the walls of the cave took on the same texture.  Something in my head compelled me.  I was to utter what I wanted to most at that particular juncture.  Without thinking I said, "time." When I spoke the word, the walls responded in splashes of color.  There was bright red, cool blue, and several other colors that swarmed and swirled as if an unseen paint roller were responding to the rhythm and tenor of my voice.  I looked down and saw that...what I guess were my lungs and heart suddenly become outwardly visible...were turning to cybernetic devices.  My flesh began to reorganize itself in the exact same manner as the cavern walls and floor had just moments before.  Was this how I would get my "time?"

I think that's what I'm after.  I have badly screwed up my life and I think that the only way to fix it is by living longer.  Perhaps even somehow getting a "do-over" altogether but I know that's a long shot.  Is that wrong?  Lifelong readers of science fiction don't seem to balk at this thought, but others...well...

Most of the opposition I have encountered to transhumanism seem to fall into two camps: 1) "We're playing God" and 2) the somewhat misguided perception that merging with this technology will be mandated for all and that ultimately it will mean the crushing of the human spirit (whatever the fuck that is.)  Only in the dreariest of dystopian musings can I see this as a possibility.  There are people who choose to exist today without the Internet or even a computer.  My Grandmother is one of them.  I'm certain these people run into their share of obstacles and market forces may eventually push them into going online at one point or another, but no one is physically forcing them to get an Instagram account.  It remains a completely personal choice.  I can't see anyone mandating you to replace your meatself if you choose to keep it.  Depending again on market forces, it might become harder for you to do so in the entirety anyway.  But you don't want an implant?  Fine.  Don't get one.

As for "playing God," I would argue that most surgeries are a form of that.  Are we willing to dispense with such medical procedures?  I'm not.  Go into most hospitals and take a quick poll of the patients there.  I'm pretty sure they're down with it too.  They may not be excited about it, but it's probably the best bet they have of improving an aspect of their health, perhaps even their whole life.  Transhumanism is much like this.  I want to have an active say in what my physical and mental limitations are.  Technology may allow me to do this.

Take a look at Nick Bostrom's Transhumanism FAQ:

 "Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase."

That's the whole idea folks.  And I think that it is from a sort of egregious arrogance that several people form their opposition to transhumanism.  There is this since of humanity as being so certain of its "top of the food chain" place not just on Earth but in the whole cosmos.  We're it.  As they say south of the Mason-Dixon: "It don't get no better."

I disagree.

Vehemently.

We can get better.  We can overcome our limitations.  We can extend our lifespan and have these "second chances" we never thought we might have. 

At least that's what I believe.  It might not seem like much hope but it's all I have.

 >H   (Google it)




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