Saturday, June 11, 2005

A glimpse into a Montreal Transhumanist Meetup...

Justice: "I always like to begin a meetup by thanking everyone for coming. Although I am a great supporter of virtual networks, I think it is important for us to meet in person on a monthly basis to give us a sense that we are a community of individuals who are working together to acheive a goal."

Newcomer: "And what is that goal exactly?"

Justice: "Well, the Quebec Transhumanist Association wants to eventually organize public forums and art exhibits that invite Montrealers and all Quebecers to think critically about the possibilities and implications related to the emergence of enhancement technologies in order to rationally debate about what needs to be done, and a social order in Quebec where responsible decisions can be implemented."

Newcomer: "Art exhibits?"

Justice: "Yes. Beyond the opportunity to indulge in one of my passions, I think art and culture can and will play a major role in spreading the transhumanist meme. Despite being technogeeks, I think we are all aware of the fact there is only a limited number of people we know that will want to attend a conference on the technical feasibility of *yawn* hypothetical nanorobotics in the near-future. However, a well-publicized art exhibit displaying nanoflowers for example might get some people through the door who had never heard the word 'nano' before and have them exposed to transhumanist ideas for the first time. This might sound paradoxal for someone who describes himself as a techno-progressive but, to be honest, like most people, I don't really care how stuff works unless its broken and I have to get it fixed. What people really want to know is: Is it safe or should I be worried that it will give me cancer 5 years from now? Is everyone going to have quick access to this or only a select few for too long? Is this going to be forced upon me without my consent or even knowledge or will I have an informed choice? It is the answers to those questions that people care about. And I believe art can be a tool to not only stimulate our imagination but also trigger a conversation. People dismiss transhumanists as technophiles wallowing in science-fiction yet isn't it ironic that the most intellectual of our critics keep pointing to books like Brave New World or movies like Gattaca to condemn the biotech revolution. Never underestimate the power of art to influence public opinion."