Trans-humanism is a modern term that is used to describe the development of technology and its integration with people in order to enhance human intellectual, physical and mental capabilities.
Article | March 6, 2015 – 2:06pm | By Malcolm Massey
About the Author Malcolm Massey
Those that are pro trans-humanist are those who believe that the integration of Mankind with technology is both inevitable and necessary. Some believe that it is simply a means to improve the human condition, whilst others believe that with the rapid growth of technology mankind will have to transform itself in order to compete with or exist alongside the inevitable emergence of artificial intelligence. Trans-humanists see mankind’s current state as remarkably inferior to the capability of emerging A.I systems and suggest that our integration with technology would render our capabilities to a ‘super-human’ level, changing our bodies and the way we interact with the word forever, giving birth to a ‘post humanist’ era.
One such trans-humanist is Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil has long supported and promoted the idea of the ‘Singularity’, a point of time in the future when human consciousness shall be ‘uploaded’ into a digital system along with the mergence of human biology with robo-technology.
Kurzweil believes that this transition is already happening and that soon man and machine will become indistinguishable, and he may well be right. Whether this is a prediction, or wether it is an agenda, has yet to be seen, however companies such as Google would benefit greatly from a trans-humanist world whereby its users are not only engaging with their media, but are in fact uploaded and incorporated within it.
Every week we are seeing more and more articles within the mainstream media that are very subtly promoting the trans-humanist agenda. From bionic arms to bionic eyes, human beings are currently being fitted, or merged, with technology.
It is hard to argue that a technology that allows a blind man or woman to see is somehow detrimental to society, equally it is hard to argue against Kurzweil that artificial intelligence will one day outstrip mankind; it may well be that Man’s constant pursuit to better himself will one day be his undoing.
We must remind ourselves that the road to hell, or in this case annihilation, is paved with good intentions, and, whilst it may seem to be a miracle that the endeavors of modern science may allow the lame to walk and the blind to see, we should take great care to ask where such a path might take us when we start allowing such people to have greater capabilities than their neighbors and co-workers.
Interestingly, the caption in the above ‘bionic eyes’ story reads: “When they ‘turned me on’… it was absolutely the most breathtaking experience.” No doubt it was, but should we wonder: if someone can be turned on, can they equally be turned off? And, would that still be classed as murder or manslaughter if the item, lets say a heart, was being turned off by the owner because the user had not kept up with their payments?
When a corporation owns our limbs, what will become of us then? If we are economic slaves forced by debt today, will we be organ slaves tomorrow? Films such as Universal’s ‘Repo Men’ help not only to highlight this possible problem in the future but also help to nudge us towards it, planting the concept inside our psyche and preparing us for the inevitable reality that one day a corporation will own our body.
Who will oppose such a thing? When a terminally ill patient is offered a life saving transplant by a private corporation, in return for a vast sum of money that will take all, if not most, of their remaining life to repay, who will refuse? Equally, there are those who would gladly replace their limbs and organs with bionic body parts for the promise of super-human power, without ever considering the interests of the corporations that own such an organ or limb, ultimately owning the person using it; for once the natural limb and organ is replaced, to refuse the demands of the owner would render them without such an organ or limb, or even worse: dead.
There are a plethora of trans-humanist films spouting from Hollywood recently which are aiding the agenda by nudging society towards accepting the reality that we will one day be indistinguishable from machines.
It is not important whether they are pro or against, they are packaged in a slick, attractive and entertaining way designed to prepare us for that future, gently introducing us to a futuristic society whereby we will be merged, and ultimately controlled by our obsession with technology.
Films are by no means the only tool desensitizing us to trans-humanism, there are numerous articles published in the mainstream media that very subtly promote the agenda, often demonstrating advanced technology that is helping the disabled community (for who can argue against such initiatives). Other articles are presented in a fashion that appeal to a young audience, often advertising some item of technology that can aid us in our day to day lives, often by recording our data, monitoring us or aiding communication. Gadgets such as these, like blue tooth hands free sets, are the first step towards normalizing the integration of man and machine. They are one step closer from being outside our bodies to inside; they no longer sit on our desks or in our pockets, but instead rest as a permanent fixture on our bodies.
Trans-humanism is often targeted towards the younger ‘future’ generations, that are more likely to be part of that futuristic world who have grown up with the explosive advancement of technology in recent years. If we look at the picture used in the ‘toilet gadget articles’ across numerous papers recently, we will note that it is of a young person displaying how the gadget should be worn despite the supposition that such a product should be aimed at the elderly, or those who suffer incontinence,.
Looking at more serious trans-humanist endeavors, engineers at the Texas A&M University have created cyborg cockroaches that have electrodes planted into their nervous system allowing the engineers to control their movements. A very similar article was published by the same newspaper roughly a year and a half ago which purported that an app had been developed allowed the control of a cockroach.
Such efforts should be sounding alarm bells. The companies that are developing this sort of technology are exactly the sort of bio-tech companies that will be implanting, and ultimately owning, the body parts in our bodies. If we think that the control of cockroaches is a long way from controlling human beings then we should perhaps take comfort in the knowledge that google has been developing similar technologies for years.
Readers will also note that Second Sight, the developers of the Argus II system, that is responsible for developing the ‘bionic eyes’ are already working on a new systems that relies upon the implanting of electrodes in the brain in order to help blind people see. Whilst Second Sight are in all probability an innocuous company, it remains to be seen exactly how far this type of technology and research will be taken by other organisations.
Technology is being developed at a rapid rate, and, whilst technology can be very life enhancing and can help Mankind achieve the impossible, we should take care to make sure that our striving towards the impossible should not be our undoing. Similarly, our natural world is being consumed by the rise of gigantic private corporations via our support, as we strive to make even greater profits and thus improve our quality of life; we should therefore make sure that in that support we do not allow such corporations to consume us, lest we become the product.