IEET > Vision > Staff > HealthLongevity > Kyle Munkittrick > Technoprogressivism > Innovation
If It Ain’t Broke… Improve It!
Kyle Munkittrick   Apr 21, 2011   Science Not Fiction  

Raise your hand if every aspect of your body and mind is as good as it could possibly be.

Did anyone out there raise their hand? If you did, I congratulate you. But, if you’re like me, a list of minor malfunctions and maladies that you’d love to fix popped up in your head. None of us are perfect, there is always something to improve. We are, after all, only human. And most of us would jump at a chance to improve some of those little issues.

The last time I went to the doctor’s office, the nurse who took my vitals said, “What are you doing here? You’re as healthy as they come!” That can hardly be true. I eat street-vendor food more often than I go to the gym. How can I be a picture of health? The fact is, I’m not. Just because I’m not ill (save the sniffles from the end of a cold) and not injured, doesn’t mean that I am, by default, as healthy as I could be.
For some bizarre reason, we don’t think about our bodies that way when it comes to health care and self improvement. We don’t pursue excellent health the way we strive to be better in our hobbies and work. So, where did we get the idea that mediocre health is good enough?

It’s simple. When we look at our bodies, we apply the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I hate that saying. It’s one of the most anti-human phrases out there. No one who ever innovated, pioneered, explored or invented ever said that to themselves. The people who push the human race forward look at everything around them and say, “I think I might know how to make this better.”

As Oxford bioethicist and human enhancement proponent extraordinaire Julian Savulescu says, “to be human is to be better.”

To see the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset in action, let’s look at an example…


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.
Nicole Sallak Anderson is a Computer Science graduate from Purdue University. She developed encryption and network security software, which inspired the eHuman Trilogy—both eHuman Dawn and eHuman Deception are available at Amazon, the third installment is expected in early 2016. She is a member of the advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.


Hey Kyle,

I wonder how much of the Transhumanist interest in health has to do with excellence and self-improvement, and how much has to do with surviving long enough to benefit from life extension technologies underway, and making it to the Singularity. Any thoughts on that?

I wrote an article raising that question:

Hi Nikki,

A great question. So let me answer in a couple parts.
1.) I don’t speak for transhumanists. I speak for myself. I consider myself a proponent of human enhancement.

2.) I think the Singularity, as a concept, is intellectually bankrupt. Those who adjust their lifestyles, studies, and goals in relation to it are ignoring the issues in the present that are far more important and relevant.

3.) The transhumanist focus on health, excellence, and self-improvement is, I believe, a reaction to a lot of things, but primarily the failure of A.I., robotics, and nano-futurists like Kurzweil and Drexler whose Moore’s Law fueled futures ultimately failed to come to fruition. Instead, we see a world in which drugs and technologies on the market today could improve a person’s life, but due to a double-failure of non-classification and overregulation, are kept out of people’s hands. Further, irrational and ignorant fears around genetics and bodily integrity compound these issues.

4.) Despite RU’s nostalgia for the ‘90s (shudder), transhumanism is no longer the play thing of Usenet groups that trip acid on the weekends. I agree with you, it’s time to move beyond Mondo. Enhancement has been taken up by academia. That means fewer articles in hplus magazine but quite a few more peer-reviewed articles in prestigious journals. In fact, these articles often focus on of-the-moment issues, not how we will be affected in 20 years.

5) As for how transhumanists party, again, I can only speak for myself. Enhancement is now the domain of the Ivory Tower. But really, from what I’ve seen, at the best universities those who work hard, also play very very hard.

6.) So, to answer your question in short: transhumanists are focusing on health and longevity now because the dream of robot bodies and nano-brains was blown to smithereens when the first decade of the 21st century came and went and our big capstone was a computer playing Jeopardy. Hardware is dead, long live wetware. Whether or not I live long enough to live even longer is less important than being a part of a group that moves civilization forward.

“Those who adjust their lifestyles, studies, and goals in relation to [the Singularity] are ignoring the issues in the present that are far more important and relevant.”
“Whether or not I live long enough to live even longer is less important than being a part of a group that moves civilization forward. “

Thanks Kyle for the response. Lots of insights in what you wrote smile I’m going to copy-paste what you write to the comments on the other page, since these insights really add a lot to what was written there.


I find the purported demise of hardware greatly exaggerated. Strictly from an empirical perspective, it’s presumptuous even to claim Kurzweil’s predictions have failed - much less failed in a meaningful way. We’re only in 2011. I don’t put too much stock in Kurzweil’s timeline, but it’s essential to remember that the future remains uncertain.

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