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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.

Monday, January 30, 2006

X3 (X-Men 3) Coming Out -- Let the Pop Culture Enhancement Debate Begin -- Soc, Super

Apparantly you need Quicktime 7 to open this trailer for the new X-Men movie. Having seen the preview in movie theaters, I find it interesting that perhaps the most influential voice on the subject of human augmentation (pro or con) may be a movie about rebel mutant superheroes. I will say more on this subject later, but it goes without saying that X-Men comics and films tend to avoid the cliche suspicion of all forms of enhancement found in more "bio-conservative" fiction.

The X-Men, needless to say, are the heroes of their own film. And the automatic assumption many bio-conservatives have about biotech enhancement -- that it's recipients will no longer be definitively "human" -- is not one the X-Men try to finesse. They're not human... biologically. Their differences range from relatively trivial to the profound, but X-Men's mutants are most definitely not members of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

But in spirit, mutants are most definitely like you and me, for good or for evil. Of course, by making these people so clearly human in their essential nature, X-Men comics steer away from fully exploring what it would mean to be far beyond the mortal sphere in terms of, say, intelligence. But occasionally they go into those questions, too. Not bad for four-color comic book characters...

The "shame" of this movie, though, is that most people don't know much more about human enhancement than the limited science fiction glimpses they've already received, and most science fiction films lack the educational virtues of Gattacca.

Perhaps even more telling is the fact that no one has yet proposed a code of ethics for "superior beings" more involved than the X-Men's general sense of heroic virtue, of helping those unable to help themselves. Or a philosophy more powerful than Spider-Man's "With great power comes great responsibility."

This lack of a strong sense of ethics is of concern to me, as I personally am more concerned with the general moral inclinations of the average human being apt to undergo human augmentation in the near future. Where the X-Men were augmented by a quirk of nature or other unseen forces, we real-world humans are in a position to choose. Which means the things we're personally apt to choose are of particular interest in developing human enhancement policies. We can't assume augmentees will fall neatly into categories such as "Iconic Hero," "Dastardly Villain," "Raving Fanatic," "Self-Absorbed Narcissist" or "Hapless Sheep."

Real people are going to be more complicated. And as far as the readers of this site are concerned, if you end up on the leading edge of this wave, then with the resources available and open field ahead of you, you'll have a vast range of options to choose from. Including exactly where you fit, or don't fit, on the above scale. Or on any other scale, assuming your life can still be measured by any conventional yardstick at all.

So give it a bit of thought. What do I want to be like when I get to this place? And how do I want to get there?

Future Imperative


Blogger Mirco said...

Your worry about "superhuman" ethics is excessive.
Rich people are "superhuman" in respect of not rich people; so are well armed people against poorly armed people, learned people against ignorant people, and so on.
Looking at the Marvel Universe, who is the most dangerous villain?
Doctor Doom, that is not a superhuman (same for the DC Lex Luthor).
Who is the real nemesys of the X-Men?
The Sentinels (created with the government support).

January 30, 2006 11:34 AM  
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