Humanity is in a state of transition. Since the dawn of time, our progress has been unrelenting. Though to start it was creeping, the exponential nature of this change is catapulting us towards a future we cannot comprehend.
We may perceive the world as stagnant, and though we may even resist change — it is inevitable. Until now, we have been floating aimlessly in this sea of transformation, sailing into the abyss of the unknown. We are now at a critical, precipitous moment in history.
It is now within our abilities to chart our course through this world. Through the abundance and ubiquity of technology and information, we are beginning to understand and predict the tumultuous tide of life and create tools to aid us in our journey through it.
There is an ideology that captures this: transhumanism. Whilst this might sound provocative or alien at first, what it stands for is something far greater than anything that has come before us.
The word transhuman embodies the fact that change and humanity are inextricably linked. The prefix ‘trans’ implies transition; to go beyond, to change thoroughly. Transhumanism dictates that, if given the opportunity, we should attempt to guide the change humanity is experiencing in a positive direction, rather than let it go unchecked and have possibly dire ramifications.
Transhumanists believe in making decisions based upon the facts. One definition of transhumanism is:
“The belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology”
This definition might make you think of cyborgs, however, the notion of upgrading oneself is not foreign whatsoever. We have been augmenting ourselves for a considerable amount of time already. Artificial hips, organs, cochlear implants, prosthetics limbs and dentures are a few examples of this. We celebrate these discoveries and implement them so that people affected by certain conditions can enjoy a normal way of life.
These are examples of ‘fixing’ any issues of the body. What about improving the current body?
We use a vast array of different technologies to improve our lives on a daily basis. However, the thought of augmenting oneself with technology is relatively taboo. Ironically, there are plenty of millennials that are so attached to their smartphones, some would think they are a part of them.
This fascination has lead to the argument that technology is eroding our humanity. Some believe that we are so transfixed by the digital world that we ignore the reality before us. There is no ignoring the fact that there can be detrimental effects from overuse of this technology. However, I feel that due to these innovations, we are more aware of our humanity than ever before.
I would like to draw attention to one piece of technology that has allowed humanity to ‘evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations’: the Internet.
The internet has arguably been the most transformative technology since agriculture. It has connected people in ways unimaginable just a century ago (except for Nikola Tesla). There is no better example of something external to ourselves which helps us define exactly who we are. The internet is the culmination of our ideas, our feelings, our triumphs and failures. The internet is humanity digitised.
A lot of transhumanist literature is focused on technological advancements like the singularity, automation of skilled jobs, anti-aging technologies and mind-uploading. It’s incredibly important that we discuss these advancements now, due to the earth shattering ethical implications they will have.
However, the amount of attention given to these topics detracts from what I believe is more pressing, and core to the transhumanist movement: bringing the entire world up to a universal standard of living and technological standards. Transhumanism is egalitarian. It does not discriminate by race, religion, or nation. Transhumanists believe in globalisation — that we are all bound together by our humanity and thus should exist as one unit, not a bunch of separate, petulant countries.
The notion that countries are independent of each other is outdated. There are a plethora of issues that transcend the sovereign state. Through climate change, the global economy and through the rapid dissemination of technology and information globally, we are connected. To say that we are separated by borders and nationality is to deny that we bound together by our humanity.