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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.


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, December 04, 2005

Feedback -- Posthuman Dreams, or Being Both More and Less than Human... -- Dark, SF, Soc, Super

An anonymoust poster offered the following commentary, and I thought I'd print my reply.

You, my friend, are wise in many things. My picture of the coming future
parallels yours with uncanny precision. The only question is: is this a good
development or a bad one? Could it go both ways, with one version a more
positive reality than the similar yet slightly different alternatives. Will the
entire globe encompass a hive-mind? Will it be centrally directed or emergent?
Will it be more or less the picture that Aldous Huxley painted, with an
inherently utterly locked hiearchy? How many human beings will get left behind
as the species evolves?

Natural selection can create wondrous things, but she's not known for her

One of the ideas I try to emphasize on this site is that we don't really know which direction this "transhuman evolution" will take. A trap many futurists fall into the idea of One Technology Uber Alles. In other words, the notion that a single technology or field of research is inherently the only one that matters. This tendency shows up even in people who don't embrace a "Rapture Technology" view of the future or the Singularity.

That's partly a result of intense specialization, and one of the reasons I'm maintaining this website. I strongly suspect that many researchers would find it heartening to understand the extent of modern augmentation research -- not only what is on the horizon, but what is already here. I also suspect that most researchers (and other "enthusiasts") worth their salt would find it very useful to be able to augment their intelligence to a greater or lesser degree using those methods which are already here, as well as those that seem to be almost upon us.

As to your question about how it will all turn out, honestly, any of the possibilities you mention could happen. Or all of them. Just as the key technologies can't be declared from our standpoint, neither can we conclude how humanity will react to and utilize them.

Another reason I have this site is the belief that whatever decisions humanity ultimately makes about these technologies, our final decisions will be far, far better if we can maximize the number of people who can intelligently contribute to them. This doesn't just mean democracy, but intelligent, informed democracy, with a real emphasis on education and careful experimentation. Not just experimentation in terms of discovery, but in terms of wisely assessing risks as well as opportunities.

So how will it all turn out? Why don't you tell me? =)

Future Imperative


Blogger Rik said...

I don't understand why we should get a hive-mind. Haven't you ever wondered why the borg never evolve? (I think it's because they're Lamarckian parasites)

Evolution of the species? What kind of nonsense is that? It doesn't work that way! Selection works on the individual level, not that of the group.

Increasing intelligence: I'm not sure what that is worth. But likely seems a situation, like in the Night's Dawn-trilogy, where anyone can get an implant, if you can afford. People 'left behind'? How about the naderists from Eon? Or will we see in 2025 the 'No Human Left Behind'-Act?

ps. body-augmentation: most enthousiasts have, I think, a better understanding of what is definitely not possible, yet. Many things are already possible: say that you want to be a mermaid. Any evil plastic surgeon could make a mermaid, though it is extremely unethical. What do you need the hi-tech for? Pity, I think, that so little people are willing to be explicit.

December 05, 2005 5:54 PM  
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