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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.

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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.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

(Non-)Human Evolution -- Part II -- Attack of the Cyber-Chickens -- Bio, Cyber, Tech

Dr. James Auger proposes augmenting animal species through technology. The pictures in this article are particularly amusing.

Strangely enough, some people in favor of radical human enhancement/ evolution don't draw the line at evolving humans. Some transhumanists and others seriously talk about uplifting animals -- modifying complex animals such as apes and dolphins until they possess at least human intelligence and letting them decide whether or not they want to keep those augmentations. And of course, a few people don't want to draw the line anywhere, and would like to spread intelligence anywhere from virtually all animals to all multi-cellular organisms.

While this position, like that of the radical immortalists ("I want to live forever, along with anyone else who wants to") may seem radical, it really isn't if you take into account the philosophy of those who embrace it. If you don't believe humans are particularly distinct from animals, particularly not in a spiritual sense -- possessing a soul -- why shouldn't they be treated no differently than human beings? We help people who are mute or mentally limited all the time, why should animals be different?

The hard-core immortalist position is similarly explicable. If you don't believe human beings have an immortal soul, or an omnipotent Deity enforcing certain "facts of life" Who we are obliged to obey, then why shouldn't you try to live forever? This is all that there is, after all.

Many seemingly bizarre positions make a great deal of sense if you simply break them down and look at their core assumptions (unstated or otherwise). Which is good to keep in mind when dealing with people from dramatically different worlds (both mental and physical). The human enhancement debate is filled with traditionalists, futurists and others who often have no idea how unreal they seem to everyone else.

If you want to talk to these people, it helps to speak their language. Especially if you're trying to convince them to fund your experiments in teaching intelligence-boosted, voicebox-modified killer whales how to speak.


Future Imperative

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