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Are you ready to become a cyborg?

Are you ready to become a cyborg?
July 04
13:09 2016

The ultra-wealthy are looking into new ways of improving themselves – and I’m not talking about plastic surgery and tummy tucks.

For centuries, mankind has used science and technology to make life easier. But what if, instead of fixing problems (like bad vision), we could improve on the human condition?

transhumanismTranshumanism: the belief that mankind can evolve beyond its current mental and physical limits, especially through means of science and technology.

It might sound like fantasy, but the nation’s leading Transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, is actually a presidential candidate.

Click here to read more about Zoltan Istvan and his presidential campaign.

“If you show up to work, and your construction worker friend now has robotic arms and he can carry 5x the amount you can, he’ll get promoted faster,” says Istvan. “So this idea of merging with machines is becoming more evolutionary reasonable.”

Istvan’s ideas are not as farfetched as they may seem. We are already experimenting with “superhuman” powers, like implanted chips that allow humans to unlock doors with the swipe of a hand.

“Everyone says the human body is magnificent. It’s nothing of the sort!” argues Istvan. “Biology is an incredibly frail system. There’s not a sensible person that doesn’t believe a robot is going to run 100x faster than a human being.”

Machines will eventually become better than humans at virtually every task – including work. “That’s why we absolutely have to integrate ourselves into them or we’re going to be left behind.”

Istvan is excited about the potential of CRISPR – a gene-editing tool already being used in human trials. In addition to eliminating certain types of cancer, CRISPR has the potential to make the human body stronger and more efficient (a cosmetic surgery known as biohacking).

Some Transhumanists believe technologies like CRISPR are mankind’s first steps towards immortality. “The thing about genes is they’re responsible for generating each successive generation of cells to keep our bodies going,” explains Sociology Professor Steve Fuller of Warwick University.

“But as time goes on, those cells deteriorate – so it’s like having a poorer and poorer Xerox – and that’s how we grow old and debilitate.” Fuller believes that within a matter of decades, mankind will be able to biohack its way to immortality.

Istvan argues that aging is actually a “disease” and that we should have the option to cure ourselves. “It’s crazy that we live under this specter of death, and that death is ‘natural.’ There’s nothing natural on planet Earth anymore. Whatever we can’t do we call natural, but we change that all the time as human beings, as we pick up tools and explore the universe.”

Upgrading the human brain is by far the most difficult objective. Istvan believes that one day we will be able to upload the human consciousness into a computer, sort of like in the 2014 movie Transcendence starring Johnny Depp.

transhumanismNeuro-cosmotology, a branch of Transhumanism, is based on the idea that humans could “turn up” their brains by drinking some sort of drug cocktail (sort of like the 2014 movie Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson).

This process might sound desirable to employers, but certainly calls into question the ethics of artificially enhancing a person’s intellectual performance.

“Once these things are seen to actually have some kind of impact in affecting performance against other people, then a lot of the very same issues that arise with sports doping stuff with arise with this,” says Fuller.

The biggest problem (in my opinion) is what happens if only the ultra-rich can achieve “superhumanity” or immortality? This could create a giant rift in humanity similar to the battle between “normal” humans and mutants in the X-Men series.

“I think it’s inevitable that richer people will get access to this stuff, but I think the key thing is to have them be open, and publicly report the results of using the stuff,” says Fuller. “For example, people are given eye glasses because being able to see properly is considered to be a normal part of living as human beings, but we may need to expand that to include some of these other kinds of drug treatments and prosthetics.”

TranshumanJackIstvan agrees there are serious risks involved with Transhumanism, but believes prices will drop as the technologies become more mainstream.

“There’s no way I would allow a system where only the rich could afford to augment their children’s intelligence,” says Istvan. “That’s a totally unfair advantage.”

From Istvan’s perspective, the biggest challenge is to convince conservative Christians that technological and scientific progress is part of human evolution.

While Christians preach about sin, humility, and being prepared to meet God in heaven, “Transhumanists believe that we’re born for our own greatness, to pursue it, through technology, to become as much as we can, to overcome death so we never have to lose our loved ones.”

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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