My first blog on the topic had a headline that was a transparent ploy to generate curiosity … The Invisible and Critical Issue of the Postmodern Era.
As I’ve read about and researched the subject over the last ten or so years it really hasn’t been invisible in some circles. A ton of articles, blogs, and miscellanies of public discourse exist on the matter.
But that said, I’ll circle back to part 1 of this blog series to reiterate that it has not resonated with anyone I know outside of academia, scientific and research circles and the geekiverse.
The people that are talking about it publicly fall broadly into two camps, pro and con. This is likely the problem.
One of the movements outspoken critics is Francis Fukuyama and certainly he is someone one would want to hear from on the topic. He denounced transhumanism as “the most dangerous idea in the world” in a 2004 article in Foreign Policy magazine: “As ‘transhumanists’ see it, humans must wrest their biological destiny from evolution’s blind process of random variation and adaptation and move to the next stage as a species,”.
Now, to be clear, I do not self-identify as a ‘Transhumanist’. And I am under no delusion that I have the knowledge and training … and to be perfectly frank, the intelligence … to consider myself an authority on the subject.
Even ardent anti-Transhumanist acknowledge many of the foundational assertions made by Transhumanist. This seems mostly true when it comes to the effect numerous technologies are having (and have had) on humans, as individuals and as a social body.
One would also have to be blind not to appreciate the tremendously powerful capacities of emergent technologies … we read about a few in Transhumanism, The Promises and the Threats … Part 2 . At this juncture, the Genie is out of the bottle and we are not putting it back. Technology will move forward and continue to develop.
On the flip side, the Transhumanist crowd just gives off the vibe that they have forgotten about some of their predecessors who have spoken to us in terms of ‘historical inevitability’ … that kind of talk makes many of us nervous. As well it should.
The utopic dream is a terrible siren call that should be looked at with the utmost skepticism while exercising extreme caution.
I think the ho hum reaction from the public at large is because of the ‘ism’ aspect of the dialogue. This should not be something we are ‘for’ or ‘against’. The subject does resonate with a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ culture.
Knowledge is power and as important as this is to our species, it is more important than ever to be informed and aware of the issue. Technology is not a single ‘entity’ and has no agency … its kind of analogous to an ice age, flawed analogy, but sufficient.
Ice ages drive evolution, force adaptation and have a huge influence on the biosphere. As our ancestors found out, loving the ice or hating the ice doesn’t make a bit of difference one way or the other. Making warm clothes and shelters does. Learning to pool resources and store food is a logical reaction.
The best we can do now is to understand the emergent technologies, anticipating ethical and practical ramifications, and attempting to guide the direction of the inevitable changes to come.
Here are some links that may be of value, I neither endorse nor promote any of these sites … but they should provide a good springboard to dive in and develop your own thoughts on the matter … enjoy !!!
- The problems with transhumanism Some personal views on nanotechnology, science and science policy from Richard Jones