Transhumanism | A mindset for the future

Summer is the season best spent chatting with friends in a lounge bar facing the sea. Last summer I did exactly that; a Mojito, the scent of the sea breeze and the pleasure of meeting an interesting person.

“I personally don’t want to surrender to my natural instincts, I would like to detach from my body and live in a pure mental state in order to avoid the natural imperative of mating that degrades us to animals”. The seeds of the desire to transcend into a different being were already inside me, as this quote from the article about love and attraction testifies.

Another crucial moment that catalyzed the quest for a state that is beyond what we actually experience is “San Junipero”. I am talking about the 4th episode of the third season of Black Mirror. This episode is set in a Californian coastal town in 1987, by coincidence the year when I was born. We follow the adventures of two girls who live, love and experience the pleasures and sorrows of their existence. We soon find out that they are living inside a computer simulation where people’s minds are downloaded into the servers of a revolutionary tech company. One of the two protagonists is bed-ridden on the verge of death, and the other one visits her friend in the hospital where she is on life support. These two old ladies are given the chance to live their youth again, forever young. When you experience pain and disease you can only be left nostalgic, reminiscing of a time when the world was your oyster and you could dance, run and scream in a whirling hymn to life. This is one of the few tv series episodes that has left a lasting effect on me. Happy and serene on the surface, poignant and heartbreaking just below it.

Elon Musk and his previsions about humans being a multi-planet species with enhanced capabilities was another huge source of inspiration. Elon founded Open AI, a non-profit artificial intelligence research organization and Neuralink, a company devoted to develop implantable brain-computers interfaces. Among his many talents, Elon is one of the brightest futurologist of our time, I highly suggest you listen to one of his interviews.

At a certain point during the conversation my friend told me: “I think you are a transhumanist”. I had never heard that term before. He told me the main points of this cultural orientation and I was happy to learn that somebody in this world shares my vision.

What is Transhumanism?

Transhumanism (abbreviated as h+ or H+) is an international cultural movement that advocates for the transformation of the of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. After our current phase of evolution we will evolve in a new species called posthuman and in order to do so we will live a transitional phase as transhumans. Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth.

This is the transhumanist declaration, originally crafted in 1998 by an international group of authors, it has been later modified by several authors and organizations.

  1. We believe that humanity’s potential is still mostly unrealized. There are possible scenarios that lead to wonderful and exceedingly worthwhile enhanced human conditions.
  2. We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable. Some of these scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.
  3. Research effort needs to be invested into understanding these prospects. We need to carefully deliberate how best to reduce risks and expedite beneficial applications. We also need forums where people can constructively discuss what should be done, and a social order where responsible decisions can be implemented.
  4. Reduction of existential risks, and development of means for the preservation of life and health, the alleviation of grave suffering, and the improvement of human foresight and wisdom should be pursued as urgent priorities, and heavily funded.
  5. Policy making ought to be guided by responsible and inclusive moral vision, taking seriously both opportunities and risks, respecting autonomy and individual rights, and showing solidarity with and concern for the interests and dignity of all people around the globe. We must also consider our moral responsibilities towards generations that will exist in the future.
  6. We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise.
  7. We favour allowing individuals wide personal choice over how they enable their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to assist memory, concentration, and mental energy; life extension therapies; reproductive choice technologies; cryonics procedures; and many other possible human modification and enhancement technologies.

I think transhumanism is a mindset that carries a whole set of implications in every aspect of the society. Its revolutionary force resides in the shift of fundamental questions that torment us. The national States and their sovereignty dominates today’s political and economical disputes. It’s all about what nation is the strongest and the richest. It’s absolutely shameful to verify how nations spend a huge amount of money and resources in weapons, espionage, aggressive behaviors and expansionist actions. We’re fighting one another and building death instruments that could end life on earth. We’re also exploiting and polluting our planet, ultimately poisoning ourselves. Politics trough ideologies and religion are two of the ways used to control the masses. Both are based on instilling fear in order to force the consciences to cede autonomous reasoning. I consider all these dynamics shortsighted and miserable.

Transhumanism will allow us to have a much broader view from higher above. We’re one species on one planet and we must colonize other planets in order to survive the future explosion of the sun. Once technology will let us overcome our cultural and linguistic differences, we’ll be able to focus on efficiency and progress. The goal is to achieve the freedom our mortal body denies us. Our needs, our existential questions and desires will radically change due to the absence of a body or at least a different relationship with it. We’ll dispose of our body at the time of death and live as androids or in a San-Junipero style computer simulation. We won’t have to worry about reproduction as this will happen trough artificial processess and the optimal number of individuals will be set on the resources available.

Adopting this new mindset allows us to discuss the shape of the future and to implement it trough reasonable and ethical choices but it’s also a proactive action. I mean that, regardless of our beliefs, the merging of technology and humans will proceed and likely accelerate. Only those ready to embrace the revolution will benefit from the enormous improvements that will be available. We’ve already had a little preview of the importance of an open mindset in the last 20 years. Digital illiteracy has split the world in two: those who use computers, internet , smartphones and other tech devices and those who don’t.

I imagine a future where everything will be less physically tangible but more reachable thanks to digitalisation, where barriers will turn into challenges, where our name won’t lead to cultural, religious or ethnic inferences, where an injury or a disease won’t change our path, where our imagination will let us achieve things that our body alone doesn’t allow us to, a world of opportunity for everyone.

I am nostalgic of the future.

Useful links:

Humanity+ Website

Are you ready to become a Transhuman? Leave a comment below!

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