What Is Transhumanism?Transhumanism is a movement that aims to understand what makes one human, and how we can surpass our natural limitations. It believes that there is an imperative to enhance our capabilities, and that limitations to those abilities can be overcome. More importantly, it believes that technology and science are the keys to overcoming them.
Why Do We Try To Enhance Our Species?It is only recently that we’ve found ourselves actually able to extend our lifespans, our biological abilities, and our intellectual capabilities with technology. For millennia, humans lived within their biological boundaries, never overcoming them. Despite that, humans have always found an urge to become more than what we are, as history and anthropology shows.
Technologies That Enhance The Human ExperienceHuman-enhancing technologies tend to be grouped under the all-encompassing term ‘Human Enhancing Technologies’. These do not refer to technologies and tools that treat illness and disabilities, but rather enhance our physical and cognitive abilities past what is realistically biologically possible.
Transhumanism, Evolution And YouDarwinian evolution by means of natural selection is by far the most convincing explanation for the origin of our species. It can be concisely explained as descent with modification. As genes are passed down, ‘errors’ are made. The genetic changes which are best suited to an environment are retained, as they contribute to the survivability of the carrier.
“The use of technologies to modify our emotions, our bodies and our neurochemical balances, is bound to undermine and alter the instincts that have developed over millions of years in the process of human evolution and was pivotal to our survival thus far.”The transformative effect technology has had on the development of our species cannot be denied. Despite its promise, there are a number of concerns about transhumanism, and what it means for the human experience, and the future of the human race.
Concerns About TranshumanismThe Transhumanist movement is not without its share of detractors. The concerns about it are diverse, as are the detractors themselves. And they don’t mince their words.
‘If we start transforming ourselves into something superior, what rights will these enhanced creatures claim, and what rights will they possess when compared to those left behind?’These are difficult questions, but ones that seemingly have an answer. Prof. Al-Rodhan reconciles transhumanism with human rights and dignity with his ‘Sustainable History’ thesis, where he argues that the stability and longevity of any political order relies entirely upon a guarantee of dignity for all citizens, at all times, and under all circumstances. Al-Rodhan insists that moral, ethical and legal global guidelines are urgently needed to make sure that these technologies are used correctly.
‘While dangers to human nature, dignity and destiny are real, I am not suggesting that technological innovations and the potential for enhancement should be halted or stifled. I am instead calling for urgent global action at the UN level to define international moral and bioethical guidelines on what potential enhancements are acceptable to our global societies and on what terms.’He also raises the concerns that there are some significant challenges to be addressed and soon: for example, who gets enhanced, who has the right to decide, and do adults have the right to choose their own babies attributes. Are these choices determined by economics, politics or ethnic and ideological persuasions? These are all very serious considerations that must be addressed before humanity goes along that inevitable path to make sure that the dignity of all is maintained in this brave new world.