Transhumanism: A merger between humans and machines?Explained

Transhumanism is a hugely debated topic these days. If you have seen the movie Transcendence (2014) or HBO’s TV Show Westworld or played video game Deus Ex Games, you might have come across the idea to elevate natural human capabilities like strength, speed, vision and thinking by using machines in our body. Transcendence and Westwold take this concept one step further to preserving conscienceless of humans in a machine after their deaths. 

But then again, one wonders what is the reality of it? Is Transhumanism really that bad? Is it possible? And if yes, How? Well, keep on reading to have your questions answered.


WHAT IS TRANSHUMANISM:

Transhumanism is a social, philosophical and technological movement for enhancing human natural capabilities via technology.

Roots of this idea date back to folklores about fountain of youth for immortality etc, and with the rise of Science Fiction Genre in literature, transhumanists have gathered many supporters and also critics from wide range of perspectives from ethical to religion. 

Now before we delve into its technological aspects or its feasibility, we should examine whether it should happen or not from various perspectives, because it is a question of SHOULD more importantly than it is a question of HOW.


RELIGIOUS DEBATE:

Religious critics of transhumanism claim that it is playing God and an open challenge to God, that we humans have the power to modify or bodies by manmade technology and with the rise of AI, we humans can also create intelligence. They consider transhumanism as a direct challenge to God on basis of their understanding.

However, other are supportive of transhumism on religious basis and they consider it to be similar to medicines and other devices and no matter how intelligent AI can be, it would not be alive. The only difference is that these devices would be builtin humans, not handheld or seperate. They have their own theory of science and religion.


ETHICAL DEBATE: 

This is the most critical issue that is the reason for low popularity of practice of transhumanism. According to this school of criticism, transhumanism would cost money, obviously because machines require money to be made. And this will result in rich people who would be able to afford new modifications to their bodies and will become more intelligent and agile and then according Darwin’s law of survival of fittest, non-modified people will suffer under modified ones.

This critique also fears that this may lead to loss of human identity. Two kinds of species would emerge, modified and non-modified, and modified ones will enslave non-modified ones. Also, the importance of human mind would diminish. For example, you want good grades in school, get a brand new intelligence enhancing device, sports will be affected and much more.

However, some people think that above written fears can be eliminated by proper laws and thier strict enforcements about the use of transhumanistic technologies.


FEASIBILITY:

Is transhumanist technologies possible? Yes. They are not even talks of future, they are already in use. Science and Engineering fields like biotechnology, bionics, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, cognitive science and information technology are the fields that have made transhumanism possible. 

Many people consider the word “CYBORG” to be a non-realistic thing that only exists in Hollywood, but according to definition “CYBORG” means a human being with embedded technology in his/her body. And there are many firms that manufacture artificial limbs for disabled people and help them in walking. Hearing Aids are widely used. So, they are all cyborgs by definition and this is very good and productive use transhumanistic technologies. Below is a video of use of artificial limbs in TED talk with Hugh Herr:`


Also there are reports of human brain and body modification research sponsored by US Department of defense for the pursuit of supersoldiers by use of exoskeletons for soldiers with various enhancements. 

So, yes, transhumanism is not the talk of science-fiction, but it is an emerging reality. 


CONCLUSION:

Just like any other technology, transhumanistic technologies are also not intrinsically bad. Its their use is what can be good or bad. As explained by Hugh Kerr in above video, these technologies can be very helpful for disabled people. 

What are your views on transhumanism? Comment Below

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