The Transhumanist

No more fairy-tales: Transhumanism and the people behind it

No more fairy-tales: Transhumanism and the people behind it

The fast development of technology and its implementation in everyday life of the regular people all around the world.

Along with eye-catchy titles in the media, the new generation sci-fi movies and their outwardly special effects, have got us all in line for the next big event: the transcendence, which is what the experts call the human merging with the AI – the machine.

Human beings have been evolving ever since their beginning as a species, and for that, there is solid proof. By examining that proof, people can observe that there were many big changes in both the human mind and the body in history, which have crucially affected the way we function, to the point that until now we have differentiated several different concepts of human, all the way to today’s homo sapiens.

But not ever before has it happened that so much time has passed between those changes, as it does today. So we are all expecting and imagining, speculating and dreaming about the new human. The question is imposed, and for some the only logical answer is transhumanism.

The people representing this tricky, attention-grabbing and philosophically debated direction, are mentioning the various possibilities that would have opened for us, from telepathical communication, over age-reversing bioengineering, to mind-alternating concepts of emotion and morale.

‘There’s no way we will survive as we are’

Avi Roy is one of the transhumanism pioneers at the Oxford University. He implies that the human bodies, the “wetware” as he calls them, as evolved and adapted as they are, can be improved by putting in a conscious effort, a scientific approach to alternation. “Next generation transhumanists want us to think about wetware as past,” he says.

“They think about the future as the blending of man and machine, the upgrade of humans from this wet and squishy vulnerable clothing to something far beyond that can expand and move at the speed of light.”

“I want everyone to be able to dance the salsa at 150.” “There is no way that we are going to survive the way we are today for the next 10,000 years,” he says. “We are going to have use all of our brain power in order to survive and thrive.”

‘Humans are not disabled’

Hugh Herr, a double amputee, mountain climber and biophysicist, has a more down-to-earth approach: “A person can never be broken. Our built environment, our technologies are broken and disabled. We, the people, need not accept our limitations, but can transcend disability through technological innovation.”

The talk made Richard Metcalfe, a 25 year old from Middlesbrough, certain about pursuing a career developing technology to help people he changed his outlook, his diet and, aged 25, enrolled to study prosthetics and tissue engineering at Salford University

‘It transformed my life’

One of my closest friends has a son who’s now having to have dialysis three times a week,” he says.

“That’s awful for an adult let alone a nine-year-old boy. Once he has a kidney transplant, he’ll still need to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.

“To me that’s an inelegant solution. What I’d like to do in my career is look into kidney cloning which means he will not have to take anti-rejection drugs.

Nicky: ‘A lot of media interviews have missed the point’

Nichy Ashwell, a girl from the UK, was the first one to get the world’s most advanced bionic hand. “I wasn’t used to having that extra 12 inches on the end of my arm and it feels quite heavy,” she explains. “It’s easy to operate though. It’s not moved by my thoughts but I flex the muscle in my right arm which is connected to sensors within the socket and the sensors either open or close the hand in different positions.”

Strangers often approach Nicky and ask her about her hand. I don’t think of it as some sophisticated sci-fi thing. It’s felt very natural to have it become integrated as part of me. “I think everybody sees it as something futuristic,” she says.

“I don’t think of it as some sophisticated sci-fi thing. It’s felt very natural to have it become integrated as part of me, helping me do what I need to do in my life.” She says she’s never really considered the idea of transhumanism. “Having been born without a right hand I’ve never really imagined having two hands, let alone one that’s super human.

“This hand can supposedly lift 45kg which is probably more than my left hand. If a hand is mechanical then it has the possibility to crush things and have a lot of power behind it. From people I’ve met within the industry of prosthetics… the goal is to make the hand as life-like as possible rather than make it super human.”

For Nicky, it’s the small improvements that the bionic has had that have made the difference. Things like stirring her tea, holding her boyfriend’s hand and holding her purse in the other.

The little things, such as holding her boyfriend’s hand or stirring her tea, for which she were enabled by the bionic arm, meant the most to her.

“A lot of media interviews have focused on the idea I couldn’t do anything before I had the hand and perhaps missed the point that it’s improving my life in subtle ways rather than a magnificent change.

“It’s important because I would never want to be looked upon as someone like ‘oh poor her she couldn’t do anything’.”

‘Mind modifications could make us happier’

A medical student from Manchester, Daniel Hurt, sees transhumanism as the logical next step that would enable us to feel things that we now find inconcieveable.

“There’s mind-enhancing technology, at the moment in its infancy, with new emotions we can’t even conceive of. Mind modifications have the potential to make people much happier.

“In the next few decades there will be a lot more debate about what rights people have to modify themselves to extend their lives.”

We are already so integrated with our phones… transhumanism just takes it one tiny step further

“We are already so integrated with our phones, our social media. Transhumanism just takes it one tiny step further and integrates them with our bodies.”

‘I had grave concerns’

Olan Harrington, a master student in the fields of philosophy and psychology who is now writing his dissertation on transhumanism, implies that technology is developing too fast for the right questions to be asked and the right way to be maintained.

He said: “If we enhance ourselves beyond a certain point we’ll erode what it means to be human.”

“People outside what we deem to be human won’t be entitled to human rights and they will be subjected to social injustices.”

He said he had “grave concern” about this. “If we were to differentiate our DNA enough, at what point would you say, this is now a new subspecies?