IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Vision > Bioculture > Fellows > Natasha Vita-More > Enablement
Nano’s Neo Normal
Natasha Vita-More   Sep 21, 2009   Nanotech Now  

Would a person whose immune system starts declining after puberty, and finally gives up before 123, be normal? This statement largely sums up my transhumanist view that “normal” is misunderstood. The physiological (cognitive and the somatic) state of human existence “normality” ought to be a state of enhancement.

In the book, Liberation Biology, Ronald Bailey writes, “What if a biomedical researcher discovered that our lives were being cut short because every human being was infected in the womb by a disease organism that eventually wears down the human immune system’s ability to protect us?” (Bailey 2005, p. 49) In other words, would a person whose immune system starts declining after puberty, and finally gives up before 123, be normal? This statement largely sums up my transhumanist view that “normal” is misunderstood. The physiological (cognitive and the somatic) state of human existence “normality” ought to be a state of enhancement.

Yet, at the center of the unrest about human enhancement is the issue of human nature and normality for humanity’s aggregate. As meaningful as this might appear, it is not based on sound reasoning.

Read the rest here

Natasha Vita-More, PhD is faculty and Program Lead of Graduate Studies at the University of Advancing Technology. Her book The Transhumanist Reader - Classical and Contemporary essays on the Science, Technology and Philosophy of the Human Future is the most read book on transhumanism. She designed the first whole body prosthetic and establishing groundbreaking science on long-term memory after vitrification of C. elegans. Her creative works have been featured in Wired, The New York Times, London Observer, MIT Technology Review, U.S. News & World Report, Net Business, Teleopolis, and Village Voice, and in more than a dozen documentaries. She Chair of Humanity+. Her website is www.natasha.cc.



COMMENTS

“What if a biomedical researcher discovered that our lives were being cut short because every human being was infected in the womb by a disease organism that eventually wears down the human immune system’s ability to protect us?”

Well for one thing, everyone who mocked or allegorized the long life-spans of the Biblical characters might find themselves rethinking things.

This article is a little confusing? Are you arguing for the use of nanotechnology in biomedicine, or for the elimination of all human imperfections and disease, or for the focus of technologies on life extension, presumably beyond simply 123 years?

Attempting to describe and use the term “normal” in any argument is obviously misplaced as it is subjective and we all recognise the difficulties with its association, as with use of the term “perfection”, (also a term to be avoided). Is it “normal” for all of us to catch chicken pox and suffer the related long term effects of the virus?.I guess no must be the answer.

I think we should have a little more faith in our human immune systems, all is not as bad as it may seem. Aside from the triumph and success concerning antibiotics, the natural immune system of humans has overcome many diseases and viruses, although it may be arguable that perhaps these evolutionary diseases may also have had damaging long-term effects on our contemporary lifespans? Obviously all advances in medicines and vaccines and nano-medicines to combat disease and ageing are welcome.

Life extension has importance, yet quality of life is arguably of more importance. However, I would like to at least live as long as the wise old elephant, and maybe even as long as the giant tortoise, (a lesson in not eating meat, and living life in the slow lane?)

I guess the next “normal” extension to this argument and to living as a flawed biological species with many diseases to overcome, (past and future), is to create a bio-mechanical host that is not susceptible to biological disease or old age. Or moreover surpass even this and download life consciousness itself into a machine where life may exist perpetually?

In which case, concentrating resources on these may be deemed just as important?

All these ideas appear to be a natural progression from this want and desire to have “more” of life. As a somewhat idealist, I would like to believe that a spiritual evolution also has a major part to play in both transhumanism and posthumanism evolution.

You might be confusing yourself by having a separatist view about the elements which are crucial for radical life extension.  Nanomedicine, a genetically altered immune system, and the use of nascent medical technologies are convergent and necessary for radical life extension. 

Normal is not subjective, but based on a “norm”, etc.  (I don’t need repeat what I wrote and quoted in the article.)  However, as I said, I consider the use of normalization and normal to be biased. 

On another point, I am not sure where you ended up with the term “perfection” (I did not allude to it) and it is not a term I use or am interested in.  While you may want more faith in the biological human immune system, I’m afraid that simply will not suffice for achieving radical life extension. Further, life extension and quality of life are equal in a transhumanist world view.  And lastly, spirituality is not rejected by, removed from, or considered inconsequential to a healthy, meaningful, long life.

Abraham cleverly wrote: “Well for one thing, everyone who mocked or allegorized the long life-spans of the Biblical characters might find themselves rethinking things.”

I am interested to read what has been written on this (in seriousness and in jest).  Send URLs if you have any.

Thanks,
Natasha

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Cosmopolitans Outnumber Anarchists Three to One

Previous entry: On Being a Skeptical Transhumanist