How far are we willing to go in our quest to build better bodies? Would we agree to having tiny machines implanted in our brains and bodies to make us function better? It’s not that alien a concept even now says James Hughes, director of the World Transhumanist Association.
“At least a quarter of the population of the United States has one kind of implant in their body already”, he says, citing several examples from contact lenses to pace makers.
Scientists are already working on implants, computer chips and nanotechnology in medicine that could prevent diseases, prolong human life and enhance our physical and mental performances. And according to James Hughes, that’s as natural an evolutionary step as the first caveman slinging the bloody fur coat of a recently killed animal around himself to stave out the cold. Hughes explains:
“We [trans-humanists] want to argue that human beings can become more than what people consider to be human and that’s part of our right.”
Hughes goes on to describe a possible scenario for the post-human future that may be ahead of us. He describes a family dinner say 500 years from now, where one person would have gills, another would have wings and a third may be nothing more than a black box, having interfaced his own personality with a computer, disposing of his physical body altogether.
According to James Hughes, these people should all still be considered valued members of our post-human future, a future which will have to extend the idea of human rights to rights for all - human, post-human and robot/human.
In 2004, James Hughes defended the concept of transhumanism in Amsterdam Forum, the Radio Netherlands Worldwide against the accusation of being anti-humanist, saying that transhumanism is all about the full realisation of human potential. To listen to that programme and read more quotes, go here.