Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Bionics, Transhumanism, and the End of Evolution"


So YouTube recommended a BBC video on transhumanism to me.

It was titled "Bionics, Transhumanism, and the End of Evolution" and it was a mixed bag. On the plus side, they interviewed the best talent. There's Kurzweil, Max More, Natasha Vita-More, and Bruce Sterling. The doc got the idea down, anyway. The purpose is to help people live longer, healthier lives by overcoming their biology. Not only that, but hopefully we can have smarter people as well. This can be brought about through advancements in such fields as bionics, nanotech, and artificial intelligence. For as Kurzweil is quoted in the video: "Non-biological intelligence is growing. Biological is not."

A few interesting points: the documentary video goes into genetic manipulation. This is an aspect of transhumanism that I tend to overlook but it is wrong of me to do so. It's a vital component. I was interested to learn of how DNA alteration may help with organ transplants. If a donor organ is "re-keyed" to the recipient's DNA, then the chance of rejection is far less (to that I say, forget the meat. Just go full tech.) There was also the account of Robert J. White of the Cleveland Clinic. He kept a brain alive outside the body. He transplanted a monkey's head onto a different monkey's body. Kept it alive for seven days.

I don't like what he did to animals, but it demonstrates that consciousness can be transplanted.

Natasha Vita-More said something that actually made me think of one of my reservations about transhumanism. She mentioned Versace and what an artist he was. "Can you imagine if Versace could have designed a human body?" Well, Versace products are very expensive. Will the Singularity only be affordable for the 1%? As the rich/poor divide widens almost daily, that's a distinct possibility.

Worst of all, the video had this ominous, tabloid-y tone to it that I seldom see associated with the BBC. Naturally Frankenstein was referenced and the whole thing had this air of "Guess what they're cooking up in the lab and do you think it will kill us all?" We don't need that. Additionally, the overall production and technical quality of the video was most lackluster.

I couldn't help but wonder what Vernor Vinge would think of this vid. He might've gotten sick of the dark tone as well.


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