Support the IEET

The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.

Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:

Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view

whats new at ieet

Transhumanism Needs to Establish a Meaning to Life

The Lima Accord on Climate Change – A New Hope for Health?

Anti-Koch: The Fight For Green Energy is a Fight for the 99 Percent

Fairness on the Public Airwaves

10 Reasons Popular Versions of Christian Heaven Would be Hell

Time to Start Looking At ‘Cyborg’ As a Gender Identity

ieet books

How “God” Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith
Marshall Brain


CygnusX1 on 'Transhumanism Needs to Establish a Meaning to Life' (Jan 31, 2015)

CygnusX1 on 'Can We Avoid a Surveillance State Dystopia?' (Jan 30, 2015)

instamatic on 'If There Are Gods, They Are Evil' (Jan 29, 2015)

Lincoln Cannon on 'The End of Religion Misrecognized' (Jan 29, 2015)

Pastor_Alex on 'If There Are Gods, They Are Evil' (Jan 29, 2015)

kddubb on 'The End of Religion Misrecognized' (Jan 29, 2015)

CygnusX1 on 'Cosmic Evolution and the Meaning of Life' (Jan 29, 2015)

Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List


Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month

Bad luck and cancer – did the media get it wrong?
Jan 3, 2015
(18401) Hits
(5) Comments

The End of Religion: Technology and the Future
Jan 24, 2015
(14841) Hits
(5) Comments

Religion’s Smart-People Problem
Jan 1, 2015
(7406) Hits
(3) Comments

#2 Editor’s Choice Award: 2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?
Jan 9, 2015
(6450) Hits
(0) Comments

IEET > Rights > Personhood > PostGender > ReproRights > Life > Enablement > Innovation > Vision > Futurism > Staff > Kyle Munkittrick

Print Email permalink (4) Comments (6618) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg

When Will We Be Transhuman?

Kyle Munkittrick
By Kyle Munkittrick
Science Not Fiction

Posted: Jul 21, 2011

I propose seven changes as indicators that transhumanism has been attained.

The future is impossible to predict. But that’s not going to stop people from trying. We can at least pretend to know where it is we want humanity to go. We hope that the laws we craft, the technologies we invent, our social habits and our ways of thinking are small forces that, when combined over time, move our species towards a better existence.

The question is, How will we know if we are making progress?


As a movement philosophy, transhumanism and its proponents argue for a future of ageless bodies, transcendent experiences, and extraordinary minds. Not everyone supports every aspect of transhumanism, but you’d be amazed at how neatly current political struggles and technological progress point toward a transhuman future.

Transhumanism isn’t just about cybernetics and robot bodies. Social and political progress must accompany the technological and biological advances for transhumanism to become a reality.

But how will we able to tell when the pieces finally do fall into place? I’ve been trying to answer that question ever since Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution was asked a while back by his readers: What are the exact conditions for counting “transhumanism” as having been attained?

In an attempt to answer, I responded with what I saw as the three key indicators:

1. Medical modifications that permanently alter or replace a function of the human body become prolific.

2. Our social understanding of aging loses the “virtue of necessity” aspect and society begins to treat aging as a disease.

3. Rights discourse would shift from who we include among humans (i.e. should homosexual have marriage rights?) to a system flexible enough to easily bring in sentient non-humans.

As I groped through the intellectual dark for these three points, it became clear that the precise technology and how it worked was unimportant. Instead, we need to figure out how technology may change our lives and our ways of living.

Unlike the infamous jetpack, which defined the failed futurama of the 20th century, the 21st needs broader progress markers. So, I’ve come up with seven things to look for in the coming centuries that will let us know if transhumanism is here.

When we think of the future, we think of technology. But too often, we think of really pointless technology – flying cars or self-tying sneakers or ray guns. Those things won’t change the way life happens. Not the way the washing machine or the cell phone changed the way life happens. Those are real inventions.

It is in that spirit that I considered indicators of transhumanism. What matters is how a technology changes our definition of a “normal” human. Think of it this way: any one of these indicators has been fulfilled when at least a few of the people you interact with on any given day utilize the technology. With that mindset, I propose the following seven changes as indicators that transhumanism has been attained…


Kyle Munkittrick, IEET Program Director: Envisioning the Future, is a recent graduate of New York University, where he received his Master's in bioethics and critical theory.
Print Email permalink (4) Comments (6619) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


From the essay: “Using a scaled system based on traits like sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning, animals (including humans) will be granted rights based on varying degrees of personhood.”

I’m wondering about something: If you found two people (and by “people”, I mean the way most people define it /nowadays/) and they had two different levels of empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social behaviors, language use, or abstract reasoning, would you be in favor of granting them different levels of rights?

Abraham, I support the threshold theory of personhood, which means those above level x of personhood have set of rights 1, while those below level x but above level y have set of rights 2. Rights wouldn’t be as nuanced as to differ between those with a 120 and a 130 IQ, but someone with an IQ of 65 would have different rights than someone with an IQ of 90.

So, in short, yes, people with dramatically different levels of personhood would have different rights. They already do, personhood theory just codifies that into a coherent system.


There really seems something fundamentally wrong with your reply..

“Self-awareness” should be the only underlying and contributing factor that designates personhood to species - not Intelligence Quotient nor knowledge nor wisdom.

You may have to go back to the drawing board on this one?

I have to apologize Kyle. I should give your posts more attention.

I find your posts interesting, but most posting I do actually related to technology I do at

IEET I mostly post on the political/social issues.

I have started a thread there about your article:

Things every transhumanist should keep their eyes on, especially within this decade:

1) Aerogels/Hydrogels

2) Optoelectronics (this is broad enough to include spintronics, plasmonics, etc.)

3) Social Media

4) Solar Power/Fusion Power

5) 3D Rapid Prototyping

We might be encouraged by this recent advance:


Smart skin: Electronics that stick and stretch like a temporary tattoo (w/ video)

YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Narrow vs. General Transhumanism

Previous entry: Increase Your Intelligence: Five ways to maximize your cognitive potential


RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @     phone: 860-297-2376