Transhumanism

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Transhumanism is an intellectual movement centered around fundamentally transforming the human condition by using technology to enhance intellectual, physical, and psychological abilities. The development of superhuman intelligence and the end of death by old-age are two common focus-points in transhumanism.

Quotes[edit]

There is nothing in transhumanism but the same common sense that underlies standard humanism, rigorously applied to cases outside our modern-day experience. A million-year lifespan? If it’s possible, why not? - Eliezer Yudkowsky
  • Transhumanism is defined as: The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities;
    and the study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies.
  • Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it. Extinction is approaching. Fight it.
  • "What is a human being, then?"
    "A seed"
    "A... seed?"
    "An acorn that is unafraid to destroy itself in growing into a tree."
  • To be what you want to be: isn't this the essence of being human?
  • I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny.
  • The more we learn about what we are, the more options we will discern about what to try to become. Americans have long honored the “self-made man,” but now that we are actually learning enough to be able to remake ourselves into something new, many flinch. Many would apparently rather bumble around with their eyes closed, trusting in tradition, than look around to see what’s about to happen. Yes, it is unnerving; yes, it can be scary. After all, there are entirely new mistakes we are now empowered to make for the first time. But it’s the beginning of a great new adventure for our knowing species. And it’s much more exciting, as well as safer, if we open our eyes.
  • I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think Mother wants us to.
  • There is nothing in transhumanism but the same common sense that underlies standard humanism, rigorously applied to cases outside our modern-day experience. A million-year lifespan? If it’s possible, why not? The prospect may seem very foreign and strange, relative to our current everyday experience. It may create a sensation of future shock. And yet – is life a bad thing? Could the moral question really be just that simple? Yes.
  • And someday when the descendants of humanity have spread from star to star, they won't tell the children about the history of Ancient Earth until they're old enough to bear it; and when they learn they'll weep to hear that such a thing as Death had ever once existed!
  • Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children. We owe our minds to the deaths and lives of all the creatures that were ever engaged in the struggle called Evolution. Our job is to see that all this work shall not end up in meaningless waste.
    • Marvin Minsky (1994) Will Robots Inherit the Earth? in Scientific American
  • Once we know what we need to do, our nanotechnologies should enable us to construct replacement bodies and brains that won't be constrained to work at the crawling pace of "real time." The events in our computer chips already happen millions of times faster than those in brain cells. Hence, we could design our "mind-children" to think a million times faster than we do. To such a being, half a minute might seem as long as one of our years, and each hour as long as an entire human lifetime.
    • Marvin Minsky (1994) Will Robots Inherit the Earth? in Scientific American
  • John (an android): In all your travels, have you ever seen a star go supernova?
    Ellen: No.
    John: No? Well, I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there, I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air.
    Ellen: The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.
    John: I DON'T WANT TO BE HUMAN! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays, and I -- I want to -- I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can't even express these things properly because I have to -- I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid, limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws, and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me! I'm a machine, and I could know much more, I could experience so much more! But I'm trapped in this absurd body!
  • Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It’s a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity — a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied — and the world will pass beyond our understanding.
  • A small, but significant, minority in the body modification community sees body modification as the first steps in transhumanism. The connection is easy to see: in casting off the genetically-mandated exterior form of a standard human, we are breaking our minds of the belief that a human must look a certain way. Once the body of a human is modifiable for aesthetic reasons not tied to spirituality or tradition, it is possible to begin to modify that body in hopes of improving it.
    Beyond the abstract connection, there are very concrete connections. The aspect of transhumanism generally seen as most immediately viable is the the merging man and machine — indeed, it is so widely seen as viable, that dozens of major Hollywood films have been made about it, and the word "cyborg" is a household word. The most immediately visible way of merging man and machine is to simply implant useful machines into the human body.
  • I was born human. But this was an accident of fate - a condition merely of time and place. I believe it's something we have the power to change.
  • Buddhism is a faith tradition and set of spiritual practices whose core idea is that human beings can become more than human by application of mental technology and self-discipline. As such it is probably the most compatible of the older faiths with transhumanism. But it is also quite challenging for many transhumanists in its insistence that there is no discrete, continuous ego that could be protected and perpetuated. Many of the immortalists, for instance, find that a threatening idea, but I think we will increasingly see the truth of the emptiness of the self as we apply neurotechnologies and life extension.
  • You are in physical existence to learn and understand that your energy, translated into feelings, thoughts and emotions, causes all experience. There are no exceptions.
    • Jane Roberts, in The Nature of Personal Reality, p. 22, Session 614
  • Evolution moves towards greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on. Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution never achieves an infinite level, but as it explodes exponentially it certainly moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably towards this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal. We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking.
  • I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny.
  • The bold code of the transhumanist will rise. That's an inevitable, undeniable fact. It's embedded in the undemocratic nature of technology and our own teleological evolutionary advancement. It is the future. We are the future like it or not. And it needs to molded, guided, and handled correctly by the strength and wisdom of transhumanist scientists with their nations and resources standing behind them, facilitating them. It needs to be supported in a way that we can make a successful transition into it, and not sacrifice ourselves—either by its overwhelming power or by a fear of harnessing that power. You need to put your resources into the technology. Into our education system. Into our universities, industries, and ideas. Into the strongest of our society. Into the brightest of our society. Into the best of our society So that we can attain the future.”
  • If a reasoning human being loves and values life, they will want to live as long as possible—the desire to be immortal. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to know if they’re going to be immortal once they die. To do nothing doesn’t help the odds of attaining immortality—since it seems evident that everyone will die someday and possibly cease to exist. To try to do something scientifically constructive towards ensuring immortality beforehand is the most logical conclusion.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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