Monday, April 13, 2015

Transhumanism for pets

Photo from Discover magazine

Transhumanism: it's not just for the human anymore.

A couple months back, I wrote about how transhumanism could be applied to our beloved dogs and cats. I now have a real-world example of such a thing that I came across in Discover magazine. Please take a look at the above photo.

That's Brutus. He is a two year-old Rottweiler from Colorado. As a puppy, some dumbass left him outside in below zero temps, resulting in severe frostbite. Brutus had all of his paws amputated. Now, thanks to experts at Colorado State University and funds from a GoFundMe campaign, the Rottweiler has four new prosthetic paws. These prosthetic attachments serve to protect, support, and align his legs to an equal length.

Naturally, Brutus has been undergoing extensive therapy to get him adjusted to walking on his new prosthetics. They are not cybernetic attachments. That means that they do not transmit signals to the dog's brain and therefore he does not feel the ground when he walks. It would take a while for a human to get used to this sensation, let alone a dog. Despite this, Brutus has proven himself to be fairly mobile on the new, artificial paws. He can get around pretty well, as demonstrated by the video at the link. Walking up stairs, getting across hardwood floors, and other actions once prohibitive are now open for the little guy. Soon, trainers will get him to take hikes and play with other dogs.

The repeated...and quite frankly tiresome...bleat I hear from anti-transhumanists is that transhumanism is taking away our "humanity" (whatever the hell that means.) I could not disagree more. Transhumanism is made possible by human intelligence. This allows for creative problem solving. Prosthetics, synthetics, cybernetics, and all such augmentations have one thing in common: improve the quality of life for their recipients. That is the fundamental focal point behind all manner of transhumanist achievements and derring-do. Additionally, it sometimes affords us the ability to undertake great acts of compassion for fellow living things that cannot otherwise help themselves.

If that is not an act of pure humanity then I don't know what is.

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