During the course of hundreds of thousands of years since the first ancestor of modern homo sapiens stretched its back in a distant, gloomy jungle, humanity has changed a lot. This is true for both physical appearances and mental capabilities: it is a well-known fact that people nowadays are on average smarter than their counterparts two or three hundred years ago. Generally speaking, humanity has been evolving in the same way as other biological species on the planet. Moreover, based on the most significant contemporary tendencies, scientists and futurologists suggest which direction evolution will take, and what people will look and think like in the distant future. Others, though, believe that humanity has reached its evolutionary summit, and that no significant changes in physical appearances and/or intellectual powers will occur to human beings within the next few centuries.
This does not necessarily mean there is no chance to evolve anymore. There are scientists, activists, dreamers, writers, and engineers who believe that if mother nature cannot do anything else for humanity in terms of evolution, it is time to take the baton from her. Such a direction of thought has gradually turned into a comprehensive and accomplished ideology shared by thousands of adepts all over the world. This ideology can be generally called transhumanism. The methods of evolution may differ, but one aspect is common for all transhumanist schools and directions of thought. This aspect is artificial evolution.
So, what exactly is transhumanism? First coined in 1957 by biologist Julian Huxley (whose brother, Aldous Huxley, was a renowned science-fiction novelist, the author of “Brave New World” and other remarkable works), the term “transhumanist” meant “man remaining man, but transcending himself by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.” Generally speaking, transhumanism in its modern meaning implies that human beings can be enhanced by the means of science to the extent when they surpass biological limitations and capabilities programmed by nature. The species into which humanity transforms this way will be called posthuman, or transhuman, as it would have be something new—based on human nature, but going beyond it at the same time (Owlcation).
As it was mentioned, there is no universal way in which adepts of transhumanism would agree to evolve humanity. On the contrary, there are numerous areas which, according to transhumanists, require enhancement, as well as there are countless propositions on the means of such enhancement. In particular, transhumanists work, in particular, on such problems as overcoming the physical boundaries of the human body. Starting with aging, which they believe to be rather a disease than a natural process, and ending up with replacing limbs and organs with their artificial analogs, transhumanists believe that the human body is imperfect, and that it should be improved. All kinds of nanotechnologies for repairing damaged organs; neurostimulants and drugs to alter mood and eliminate negative emotions; brain implants and embedded technologies to allow interconnectivity between multiple human beings and to boost intelligence—these and many more actions are just some of the means transhumanists plan to use to make humanity better (CARM).
Some of the technologies transhumanists plan to employ to push the boundaries of humanity are available already. For example, gene therapy and genetic interference allowing to cure or stop certain diseases that were considered terminal; CRISPRi or SHARP-2 methods, which were discovered not so long ago, have already proved to be efficient in treating or remedying a number of complicated medical conditions, and in case further research is conducted, they might significantly improve the quality of medicine worldwide. Virtual reality, another technology from science-fiction movies of the late 1980s, has become not so virtual either, after all. VR gear can be easily purchased from online stores, and the prices are affordable—given that we are speaking of technology capable of substituting actual reality. So far, it has been mostly used for games and education, but in the future, the range of its useful applications will definitely broaden. Other technologies, which have not yet been invented but which definitely will, include megascale engineering, self-replicating robotics, artificial intelligence, mind uploading technologies, molecular manufacturing, space colonization, and other technological wonders (Lifeboat).
About a hundred years ago, the idea of flying in the skies seemed absurd, until Wilbur and Orville Wright proved this assumption wrong. Who knows, perhaps in a couple of decades the concepts listed here, no matter how fantastic they look now, will become reality. Moral aspects and the price humanity will have to pay for such advancements are a different subject.
Transhumanism is a philosophy or ideology that proclaims humanity to have reached the peak of biological evolution; still, considering it necessary to continue evolving, transhumanists suggest an alternative to biological evolution: enhancing humanity through artificial means. They believe technologies can make people smarter, healthier, more efficient and communicative. Cryonics, gene engineering, space colonizations, body implants, artificial intelligence—these are just some of the ways transhumanists plan to push humanity forward. However, “Forward to what?” remains a debated question, as the moral aspects of transhumanism are yet to be studied and pondered upon properly.
Perrottet, Margaret. “What Is Transhumanism?” Owlcation, Owlcation, 18 Dec. 2017, owlcation.com/humanities/Transhumanism-The-Singularity-and-H.
Slick, Matt. “What Is Transhumanism?” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, 18 Aug. 2017, carm.org/what-is-transhumanism.
Anissimov, Michael. “Top Ten Transhumanist Technologies.” Lifeboat, lifeboat.com/ex/transhumanist.technologies.
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