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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

Name:

The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, April 29, 2005

(Non-)Human Evolution: The Public Debate -- Bio, Soc

Yes, even the Utne Reader has written an article on "transhumanism" -- the belief that humanity can and should seek to transcend its physical limits through technology. In light of mainstream articles like this one and Francis Fukuyama's declaration in Foreign Affairs that transhumanism is "the world's most dangerous idea" and Bill Joy's call to arms against the notion in Wired magazine, I think the transhumanist vision of human evolution is entering the public discourse.

Meanwhile, the National Academy of the Sciences has submitted guidelines on the ethics of inserting human genes into animals, among other matters. One bio-ethics panel has already endorsed a scientist's plan to create mouse brains almost entirely composed of human brain cells.

Oddly enough, the main red line offered up by the NAS actually had to do with avoiding any experiment that might result in a human brain being "trapped" in an animal body. But the mouse experiment has not gone forward, and the scientist, Irving Weissman, has no immediate plans to do so.

I just know I'm going to end up in a Labyrinth with a classic minotaur at this rate. =)

Seriously, the issue of human brains, even partially human brains, in animal bodies, is going to raise all kinds of ethical questions for many average people. Do such beings have a soul? Consciousness? Complex reasoning, feelings, etc?

How human is human? Regardless of your religion or your private philosophy? Where do you stand?

Sometimes entry into the public discourse doesn't mean a comfortable debut. =)

Ralph


Future Imperative

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