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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.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Man Into Superman -- Free Online Book (With a Warning) -- Bio, Long, Rev

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Some of you may recognize a book I've mentioned here and there, Man Into Superman, by Robert C. W. Ettinger, which you can read free online here. This book was written in 1972, but was surprisingly forward-looking in terms of the potential for human augmentation. While some of his ideas will definitely seem extreme to most readers, this is a terrific primer on the concept of human augmentation taken to one particular extreme.

There is a concept sometimes referred to as "Transhumanism," the idea that technology should be used to make our lives as good as they can possibly be. Stated that way, transhumanism isn't at all radical, but pretty much what everyone does. The reason the philosophy is sometimes seen as radical is because of the aspects of human life that some transhumanists are willing to consider optimizing. Such as longevity and immortality, computers as a substrate for our minds instead of biology, and the potential for nigh-infinite intelligence and power represented by the use of technologies such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.

I will warn you, however, not to read Chapter 5, "Transsex and Supersex," even if you have a strong stomach. And by "don't read" I mean "don't even look at the first page." I'm not that squeamish myself, but probably the most horrific image in the entire chapter is contained within its first paragraph. Depending on your nature, it may not only put you off a lot of human contact, but also... well... eating.

Aside from that, however, the book is an excellent examination of all the ways in which human beings could theoretically be optimized. You don't have to agree with his ideas to get the main point that humanity suffers a host of weaknesses and indignities that limits its potential and quality of life. If you consider Ettinger's recommendations extreme, consider what less radical options you would be willing to utilize, and why those are more acceptable to you than his or other proposals.

Future Imperative

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