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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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cyborg Pride Reported in the Times -- Cyber, Soc

The New York Times reports on the growing pride shown by amputees regarding their bionic limbs. Instead of concealing their modifications, or attempting to make their arms and legs appear "more natural," some former patients are polishing their clearly artificial limbs and flaunting them in public. The trend seems to be most pronounced among young men.

Just a quick note here. Quite a few enhancement enthusiasts of the "Transhumanist" stripe are eager to see cybernetic implants and replacement body parts find acceptance, seeing the mainstreaming of such technology as a step towards using cybernetic enhancements to give healthy people extraordinary abilities.

Of course, some might take the opposite viewpoint, that medical resources should be focused on finding ways to regenerate missing limbs, organs and other tissues.

Personally I'm happy to see people adjusting well and recovering from their injuries. But this kind of article illustrates how even the simplest of changes in medicine (improved bionic limbs, and better public attitudes towards them) can impact the whole field of human enhancement. As I've said before, this field is in a state of flux. We have no idea what might cause one sector or another to take the lead from day to day -- today an improved bionic limb, tomorrow stem cell cures, the day after nootropic drugs so potent you just can't live without them -- much less where the field will be headed 5 or 10 years for now.

My own inclination when trying to make predictions about the future is not to make hopeful predictions, but to look as realistically as possible at the facts in front of you and... try to make the future you want come true. If there's one thing I believe about the future, it's that it responds to the decisions that people are making right now. So if you want a particular line of research to succeed, or another to fail, or all of them to fail... now's your time to act.

Consider well the choices before you. There are many ways to influence this research, whether through financing experiments, increasing public awareness, creating grassroots support or opposition, writing your Congressman/Member of Parliament, or through other social, political or economic means.

I happen to shy away from political activity, but my point is that any one of us has the power to shape the future, often far more profoundly than we realize. And in the midst of a historical inflection point, when things could spin off wildly in any direction, it behooves us to realize that we're not all Pawns of History.

Future Imperative