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IEET’s Kyle Munkittrick debated human enhancement with Brad Allenby, author of The Techno-Human Condition, and Nick Agar, author of Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Life Enhancement, over at Slate. Check out the fascinating results.
Mon: Should We Use Nanotech, Genetics, Pharmaceuticals, and Augmentations To Go Above and Beyond Our Biology?
Tues: Even If We Don’t Want Enhancement, We Might Not Be Able To Stop It
Wed (Pt. I): Why I Don’t Want To Be A Cyborg
Wed (Pt. II): It’s Impossible To Predict Whether a Technology Will Be a “Good” or “Bad” Thing
Thurs (Pt. I): How To Determine Whether a Proposed Enhancement Is Ethical
Thurs (Pt. II): Why Can’t We Enjoy Being Human Just a Little Longer?
Fri (Pt. III): There Are Some Places Our “Wetware” Bodies Just Can’t Go
I’ve read each of these articles and I have to admit this is the most well balanced debate on human enhancement I have read so far. It has arguments for, against, and even neutral to the subject. Where I stand in this argument is that if proven safe, I wouldn’t mind having my life extend. after all, I would be able to get more done. However, in the world we live in I wouldn’t want to live forever even if it is possible. On top of that I’m not comfortable with the idea of having my mind uploaded onto a computer or having implants that cannot be removed once you have them. By the way, for those who hope to have their minds uploaded, do you plan on still having a body of some kind. If so, have you considered some of the pleasures of being organic that you may be giving up such as eating good food, having sex, or even the sensation of breathing fresh air. Maybe you though of some way to replicate those things or something, but those are simple pleasures I’m not willing to give up. I enjoy the taste of good food, the feeling of fresh air inside my lungs, and though I’m twenty years old and still a virgin I intend to be a loving and caring father when I get married and that is something those who transition to “hardware” can’t be. So If you want to transcend your biology or just enhance it you have every right to do so, most of it is just not for me. I also hope you are happy with your decisions and you don’t peer those who choose otherwise into enhancement.
On a side not against mechanical body parts for replacing damage ones or even something like bio-luminescent tattoos formed from your skin cells if you call that enhancement.
Ever since I first heard of it, the subject of trans-humans and post-humans has perked my interest. What I’m most interested in is for those who “transcend” their biology (if we ever get there), what would they be like and what would they look like. From what I’ve researched, I came up with this picture.
In the year 3120, earth is inhabited by two groups of humans. The first group is the is the non-biological trans-humans, who had their memories uploaded onto computers (or had their central and proliferal nervous system built over and replace in certain areas with implants, whichever is more likely to happen) and inhabit bodies consisting of their most advance technologies, granting them functional immortality. They are appear as androids with recognizable human features such as their original faces and five fingered hands. However, they are significant taller than their organic counterparts (around ten feet) as well as stronger, faster, and possessing far more mental capacity. Though they have have transcended biology, the trans-human bodies are designed with properties that mimic the organic originals. Such properties include artificial muscles composed of carbon nano-tubes which allow increased strength and act as super efficient batteries to help power the bodies. Other properties include the ability to regenerate just as an organic body heals, a full range of senses (internal sensations such as breathing are replicated to make the bodies more bearable to inhabit), and a cybernetic immune system that wards off threats to the bodies, both digital and physical. Their society is based on Ethics, scientific reasoning, and progression. They are an international society consisting of scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals who govern themselves (rather than having any political leaders). Though conflicts have not been abolished, wars and other violent actions have become increasing rare among trans-humans.
The second group of humans is a significant minority whom I will refer to as the new humans. The new humans are considered a new species of human due to the genetic and physical changes given to them from past generations such as stronger immune systems, fitter bodies, slowed aging, and extended life span. The new humans (scientifically named Homo Sapiens Novous) appear the same as their ancestors other than the evident affects of gene flow over the generations. The similarities end with overall health and life expectancy with the maximum being one thousand years. Their ancestors (consisting primarily of the religious and indigenous people), rejected the transition and maintained a more traditional culture who utilizes only a few sophisticated technologies such as medicines. Nevertheless, the vast majority of trans-humans view the new humans as equals and provide the option of transcending if any of them desired it. In spite of the best intentions from both sides, some division exists between the two groups, though violence is virtually unheard of.
I’m not going to go into the history of the two groups. I’m just giving my idea of what trans-humans and any other future humans might be like. If their is anything you want to add or correct me on, please comment.
Something I forgot to mention a couple of things in my envisioning of trans-humans. One is that their transition occurred latter than anticipated due to the inability to efficiently power and cool the technologies required for their bodies. It was only when helium 3 was regularly acquired that these problems were overcame. Second is that they are unable to reproduce though few of them find the need to do so. Again correct me on anything that I posted here or add any additional information on this topic (though no one has responded yet).
I found some additional info on the brain uploading idea for an episode of “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” about living forever. As it turns out, the only kind of computer that would even come close to the complexity of the brain is a quantum computer. But seeing that we still haven’t figure out all, or even most of the secrets of the brain, such a computer won’t be invented anytime soon. Even if it was, the things we do as human beings, conversing with one another in person and interacting with the world around us, can’t be done inside a computer. Probably the only way to contract that problem is upload everyone’s brain (those who chose to do it that is) onto their own, individual quantum computers and give those computers some kind of body that can interact with the world. Then there would be the problem of being able to power and cool such powerful technologies and the high financial expenses of producing such technologies (let’s face it, the world is not that generous).
Next entry: What Do We Do With The Results of Unethical Experimentation?
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