Transhumanism is an intellectual and cultural movement that has developed over the past two decades. Transhumanist thinking emphasizes on the development and enhancement of human condition with advanced technologies to improve intellectual, physical and psychological capacities. The study involves weighing the potential benefits and dangers of technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations as well as the ethics behind the use of such technologies. Influenced by the works of science fiction, many believe that transhumanism would eventually lead to a transformation of human beings with greatly enhanced capabilities.
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Fundamental ideas of transhumanism were introduced by the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane in 1923. His essay, Daedalus: Science and the Future, predicted the evolution of human biology as a result of advanced sciences and technologies and such advancement would first appear to be blasphemous or abnormal.
“The range of thoughts, feelings, experiences and activities accessible to human organisms presumably constitute only a tiny part of what is possible. There is no reason to think that the human mode of being is any more free of limitations imposed by our biological nature than are those of other animals.”, said Nick Bostrom, a professor in the faculty of philosophy, Oxford University, in his paper: Transhumanist Values.
Transhumanists believe that human beings are not to be confined by their limitations. The core value of transhumanism involves the exploration of the post-human realm, which investigates the potential of enhancing human beyond imaginations.
The key concepts of transhumanism include:
- Increasing lifespan.
- Improving intellectual capacity: To have better perception, consciousness, self-awareness, and volition.
- Enhancing bodily functionality: To improve the immune system and allow adjustment of body condition to our desires.
- Sensory modalities and sensibilities.
- Mood, energy, and self-control.
Despite the great potential and benefits of transhumanism, the transhumanists also investigate the ethical issues related to enhanced human beings. In the case of increasing lifespan, overpopulation could be a severe issue once every individual stopped dying. Likewise, there is no clear answer that who have the rights to receive such privilege. If only the rich have the access to enhancement treatment, what would the society become? Would society operate smoothly if everyone is equally capable and intelligent?
There are diverse opinions about transhumanism. As part of the biohacking movement, transhumanism has inevitably gained increasing awareness in the past years. Similar to how the society moved into the digital realm, the fact of the matter is that it takes time for human to acknowledge and accept tools that seem unnatural or deviate from the norm. To the children of next generation, transhumanism might be as normal as kids playing with smartphone today.