The Ethical Conscientiousness of Transhumanism

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Crms0nBlade, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. Crms0nBlade

    Crms0nBlade Staff Member
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    In modern society, we are constantly inventing and engineering brand new technology that augments and improves our own experiences and quality of life. This rapid expansion of technology ultimately intrudes into our personal lives and reshapes our daily interactions with other technology and our interactions with other people. The introducing of new technology ultimately reshapes society and the human experience. Many new technologies can actually help people regain a sense of normalcy that they may not have been able to have had before. As such, the evolution of humanity and technology has always been trending to convergence. While humans can better adapt and survive through the use of technology, should we embrace this increasing trend towards the merging of technology and humanity? This is the ethical foundation of transhumanism, a movement which encourages the blending of both man and machine in order to better adapt and improve the human condition. I believe that embracing transhumanism will allow for incredible innovations in humanity, however, this will come at the expense of redefining what it means to be human and may cause several other issues in the transitioning from a “pure” human society to an augmented society.


    Current Technology

    Due to the fact that we are currently still developing many of technologies that would allow a transhuman revolution to begin, I will begin by discussing what exactly transhumanism is. A simple definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary defines transhumanism as: “The belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology”.1 As demonstrated by this definition, transhumanism is simply concerned with improving the capabilities and possibilities of human beings, usually through the use of technology and science. Today, there are various technologies that would fall under that categorization. Nowadays, current life-sustaining technologies would be the beginning of transhumanism. By allowing people to overcome their physical and mental limits, current technologies that bring normalcy to those who haven’t had it are improving the lifestyles and quality of life. Technologies that prolong longevity and restore typical human behaviors such as pacemakers, hearing aids, false teeth, glasses, and processes such as Lasik eye surgery. These are the beginning of the foundation for transhumanist practices.

    According to most consequential ethical theories, practices such as these should be ethically tolerated and in fact, allowed due to the fact that everyone deserves a chance to have an enjoyable life. Utilitarianism would justify the transhumanist restorative technology due to it causing a great number of good to those affected and very little negative consequences. Some transhumanists support the transhumanist movement because they support “eradicat[ing] aging as a cause of death”. 2 Being able to overcome death has always been an earnest human endeavor yet it will fundamentally change what it means to be human, leading us to reconsider what humanity actually is. Secondly, we must consider current technology that improves human function. Examples include technology such as “smart” contacts which allow you to interact with a small screen on your eye for enhanced augmented reality. An article online describes the contact: “The smart contact lens can be controlled using eye movements and blinking, potentially allowing users to take photos with the miniature camera simply by winking or blinking. An antenna would then transmit the image to a companion device, such as a smartphone or tablet.” 3 This technology demonstrates how we can improve our level of convenience in our daily life simply by improving and utilizing our new technology, something which is usually well intended but causes a lasting change between our daily interactions. Ultimately, the technology that restores and even improves biological function will be adopted by society if it becomes easily available and is ultimately useful to improve the quality of life of the individual. Such technology should be fully supported after careful planning to ensure everyone has an opportunity to use this tech if they wish.

    We currently have implants that can connect to the brain, and contacts that can transmit photos and videos over Bluetooth and WiFi. Should humanity decide to accept transhumanism, to agree that we should blend our humanity with our technology, another question arises: who controls the data needed to operate and transmit these implants and other technology? This is an issue that needs to be considered before we fully adopt and adapt these new technologies, as we need to fully understand the societal and ethical ramifications of releasing such life-changing tools. As we get further into the future, our entire mind may be able to backed-up, our memories can be stored online through cloud servers. When parts of ourselves, our experiences even, can be saved and stored, who is in control of them? While they may be our experiences, we may not own them once they are uploaded or shared. How secure will our minds be backed up? Even today with Samsung’s smart contacts, will Samsung be given access to photos you have taken with their technology? Who really owns what will need to be defined and need to be clear, something which I don’t believe will happen at first, at least not easily. Even currently our data is not easily tracked by us and can be mishandled, as demonstrated by Facebook selling users data to Cambridge Analytical or Verizon selling data to law enforcement agencies. The myriads of contingencies in these details will ultimately require regulation and enforcement and will need the public to be aware of what is exactly happening to themselves. When breakthrough technology is bought, such as prosthetic limbs that the user can “feel” with, they have to be able to not be interfered with, something that may always be a possibility.

    Another example of how technology is currently changing what it means to be human is the recent news of human gene manipulation. Being able to change the genes of embryos directly demonstrates how technology is reshaping our world. Just within the last couple of months, Chinese scientists had created the first genetically modified human in order to make them immune to the HIV virus. This technology is widely condemned by the medical and scientific community and was condemned by the Chinese government, as well as scientists internationally. While the gene editing recently can be seen as “harmless” and altruistic in theory, in practice, however, the fear among the masses is that allowing gene editing will allow for further reshaping of humans and will cause other unseen issues. Being able to edit genes may make way to increased resistance to diseases, extended longevity, and other numerous things that may reshape our societies. While this may be positive, it also may worsen existing problems and have unforeseen consequences. Gene editing may allow only the wealthy to have gene edited babies, making way to “designer babies”. This is an issue because it only furthers current unethical issues in our society, such as an exuberant wealth gap and poverty. This problem was further elaborated on by the Guardian. An article claims,“The position is summed up by Whitby. ‘History is littered with the evil consequences of one group of humans believing they are superior to another group of humans,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately in the case of enhanced humans, they will be genuinely superior. We need to think about the implications before it is too late’”. 4 This reinforces the idea of superiority and is very similar to racial-driven discrimination, as it may lead to the rise of non-technologically enhanced people being treated as “less” than human, sparking further divides between people and humanity. Others refute this claim by pointing to other examples of technology, such as computers and cell phones. While the technology was originally large, extremely expensive, and ultimately ineffective in terms of today, it eventually became so widespread and easy to create that almost everyone can afford them today. While this may be true, it doesn’t take into account that medicine and other advanced prosthetics are still expensive to manufacture and apply and doesn’t factor in attributes such as longevity enhancing or intelligence augmentation. These other factors make it difficult to compare to external technology such as cell phones. It also doesn’t factor in current medical practices here in the United States, where certain dosages of life-sustaining medicine can cost thousands of dollars and are mostly price regulated by the companies that hold the patents. Introducing adaptive technologies may reinstate eugenics and genetic superiority, further dividing a world that constantly divides itself. While humans are always creating conflict due to differences internally and externally, part of the population will be literally superior due to their improve cognitive and physical abilities. All of these issues contribute to difficulty from most modern technologies transitioning into emerging technology that is widely accepted.
     
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  2. Crms0nBlade

    Crms0nBlade Staff Member
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    Evolving (Emerging) Technology

    Technology is constantly adapting, with new innovations always on the way, and breakthroughs happening daily. In order to implement new technology and evolve it so that it can evolve us, we must continue to improve and refine our existing tech. Technology improves so rapidly, that every year we have life-changing technology we didn’t have the year before. This is demonstrated on the technical side by Moore’s Law, which claims the number of transistors on a computer chip roughly doubles each year. This shows that innovation this year, may not have been physically possible last year. Our ability to change and improve our technology continues to be refined, and it is these changing technologies that will end up reshaping our interactions with the environment. These new innovations that change our daily life and interactions with reality are known as emerging technologies.

    [​IMG]5

    The foundation of our future is currently being created through our understanding of technology. New advancements such as the beginning of virtual reality and artificial intelligence are allowing us to re-evaluate and overcome obstacles in ways not previously conceived. Currently, we are creating artificial intelligence and neural networks that can learn from their experiences and actually learn from themselves. Currently, they do not actively improve our lives in a large way. On average, most AI’s currently do less difficult tasks, ones requiring calculation and less imagination. We have AI that can do everything from detect cars in photos to beat real people in games of chess. While it may not seem impressive now, AI’s will eventually be able to do much more, and will even allow us to learn much more than ever was possible. AI will be able to learn almost anything we humans can do, and may even lead to another industrial revolution, one where we find most if not all jobs replaced with autonomous machines. All of these rapidly improving technology will ultimately make our own lives easier once implemented carefully, and will absolutely change the way we live our life and how our societies look. [​IMG]6

    Even today, artificial intelligence is used in businesses in sales and marketing to improve efficiency, profitability, and larger expandability. This shows that artificial intelligence is here to stay, even if it currently is not mainstream in the business environment. As our abilities to understand our technology expands, so will the impact these technologies have on us. The business sector will drive automation and will change the way we perceive many of these jobs and will change and create some new jobs while stopping humans from needing to work in others.

    The point of emerging technologies is where we need to be able to understand ourselves as a species. We need to be more conscious of how our actions affect others, and how much these technologies can help other people. The beginning of these changes is starting to be seen currently, such as automation of cashiers in restaurants or how bank tellers were mostly replaced by ATMs over the last 20 years. During this period we will begin to see the effects of our technology and begin asking important questions regarding our own identity and being. With more automation comes more time for other activities. We have to figure out issues such as employment and income before full automation occurs and jobs are no longer necessary. This period is a period for transition, where many of the main difficulties will occur. Even if we can figure out a proper plan to begin a transhuman revolution, being able to implement it will be far from easy. Should we successfully encourage the adoption of these new technologies and encourage the integration of them and humans, then we shall set the foundation for futuristic and augmenting technology.
     
  3. Crms0nBlade

    Crms0nBlade Staff Member
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    Futuristic Technology

    Lastly, we have technology that has yet to occur or futuristic technology. Eve Harold, author of “Beyond Human: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Extending Our Lives”, further exemplifies what futuristic technologies may include. He informs his readers, “Artificial body parts, neural implants to enhance the brain, nanobots that can cure disease and reverse aging, and direct interfaces between our bodies and machines will dramatically improve human health, but they also mean that the line between “human” and “machine” will become progressively more blurry”. 7 Primarily, all technology in this period will be reshaping our interactions with technology, with each other, and what it means to be human. Our interactions with technology will become much more personal, as technology will actively learn back from us personally. This is even evident currently, for example, as companies such as Facebook and Google actively listening to conversations and changing their advertisements to better reflect things you may have searched for or talked about. This will be even more efficient and inescapable due to technology such as AI actively learning about not just what we say, but how we feel and what we do. We will know much more about ourselves and our bodies than ever before, and how we act will be a reflection of not just our insight, but the insight of technology at our fingertips and in our minds.

    Futuristic technology will also change what how we interact with each other drastically. Neurological implants could allow telepathy-like communications to those who have it, allowing us to always be in contact with our loved ones. With brain-machine interfaces, we can not only show our experiences, but we can share how we felt when it happened, and all other aspects of our experiences. We can actively live vicariously through other humans. Until this happens, our idea of others emotions and feelings is as far as we can come to understand them. Our understanding may be so far from what someone else feels or experiences that we can better understand each other and may actually consider the feelings and actions of others more, making us more self-aware of the consequences of our actions. This may allow for more empathy among people, or even simply a way for our friends and family to “experience” our memories, describing our lives in ways that words and videos couldn’t begin to describe. Most importantly, however, is that futuristic technologies will inevitably reshape our society and fundamentally what it means to be human. Through the use of advanced AI, we will be able to have breakthroughs in medical science allowing us to learn and understand more than before. Nanotechnology will allow our bodies to be repaired on the cellular level, eliminating disease and death from old age. These will redefine parts of the human experience, as death may be almost unknown just as jobs may be completely taken over by automation. These by themselves will absolutely change the human experience, however, technology may ultimately change what being human is. If we choose to accept technology-human integration, we will have to come to a working definition of what it is to be human. Especially with increasingly intelligent AI, technology and humanity will be blended well enough that we need to wonder when do we stop becoming human? At what point do we become a machine? This can be exemplified by the Ship of Theseus 8 which claims that over time if every board on a ship is replaced one by one, is it still the same ship? This directly relates to technology integration in our bodies, as if we choose to replace most of our body with enhancing technology, are we even the same human being? Clearly, converging and emerging technology will lead to a change in what we interpret as the human condition.

    As this happens, there may still be those who oppose this new technology. The problem isn't that this tech cures diseases, the problem is they enhance humans past the point of being “naturally” human. As these augmentations change our own bodies, they change our own perspective and therefore change our own set of morals. Everything in society can be altered through the use of converging technology, and this will lead to a rapid alteration of society. Should we not have a plan to do so, it would lead to disaster. New technology may be rejected by some, fearing the long-term effects that may be unknown at that point.
     
  4. Crms0nBlade

    Crms0nBlade Staff Member
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    Final Thoughts

    While most inquiries into the specifics behind transhumanism often leave us more questions than answers, should the policies be rightly implemented to ensure fair and equal use of new technology, transhumanism will redefine and improve what it means to be human. To do so we need to know if humans can effectively harness transhuman results into progress and societal good. This comes back to allowing the technology needed to progress as a species to be widely available rather than being hoarded by the wealthy or elite. In order to for us to adapt as a species, we must all be willing to accept this new technology, something which will not happen with everyone. Similar to the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, many will resist this new technology, conforming to the Luddite beliefs of the past. When the benefits ultimately outweigh the risks, society will likely continue to embrace emerging and converging technologies and those who do not will be left in the past and will be steamrolled such as the various industries who closed due to the emergence of the internet. How will we ensure that we cause more good than harm by creating these processes, especially in the transition period should we adopt them? Only by thoroughly planning the consequences of our actions and not prioritizing money and greed over human morality can we ever hope to correctly introduce these world-changing technologies.

    Assuming we can ultimately provide benefit and adapt our own bodies and world, the next question is should we integrate humanity with technology? While plenty must change for transhumanism to have a large impact on the general population, should we be extending our lives and enhancing ourselves? Many argue that transhumanism is destined to fail. Critics point out current issues that we are facing and believe that augmentative technology will intensify these issues, for example with wealth inequality and discrimination. Extended life may make limited resources harder to obtain if we can not create more yet. I agree with these claims and believe that if we were able to implement this technology and make it available to all who wanted it, we could eliminate some of the bias and issues in a transition period. This alone is almost impossible. Another problem the transhumanist movement faces is the idea that not everyone will want enhancements, and there will be more discrimination between those who have and it and those who don’t. Society is always changing and progressing, allowing for and changing the culturally accepted norms. Should transhumanism be implemented in a thoughtful and deliberate way rather than be driven solely by profit, transhumanism has a chance to truly help the world. Many of the issues arise during the period of emerging technology, similar to the introduction of the internet. While many may do well without augmentations for awhile, eventually those who don’t will be able to compete. If we as a species can better understand ourselves and what it means to be human, transhumanism has a great potential to allow us to survive and prosper. Others also argue about the unforeseen consequences that may occur over time, issues the technology may have, humans losing touch with emotions and other “necessary human” traits, and more. As it seems, it will be difficult for such a world to exist where our current issues are not intensified by the transhuman movement.

    With daily advancements in technology and our ever-growing reliance on tech, transhumanism is currently part of our world and will continue to expand its influence. While the transhuman goal is to expand the human potential, the movement faces many issues along every stage of its development. While many positives may arise out of augmenting ourselves without technology, we must ensure that we know what we are facing and can correctly implement emerging and converging technologies to cause the greatest good rather than solely benefitting a few. The many issues that arise along the transition periods must be handled universally and as a species, to ensure we can all benefit together. The transhumanist movement will ultimately reshape society and humanity, and may even begin a new era in human history, should it founded correctly.


    Footnotes:

    1 Transhumanism [Def. 1]. Oxford English Dictionaries Retrieved November 10, 2018, from http://www.en.oxforddictionaries.com

    2 McKie, R. (2018, May 06). No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technol...and-an-enhanced-life-is-the-future-transhuman

    3 Cuthbertson, A. (2016, June 03). Samsung smart contact lenses take photos in the blink of an eye. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/samsungs-smart-contact-lenses-let-you-blink-take-photo-445425

    4 McKie, R. (2018, May 06). No death and an enhanced life: Is the future transhuman? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technol...and-an-enhanced-life-is-the-future-transhuman

    5 Akseth. (2014, December 15). Should we fear the technological singularity? Retrieved from https://neurobanter.com/2014/12/09/should-we-fear-the-technological-singularity/

    6 Global specific AI use case adoption 2017 | Statistic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/737865/worldwide-specific-ai-use-cases-2017/

    7 Herold, E. (2016). Beyond Human: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Extending Our Lives. New York: Thomas Dunne.

    8 Philip-perry. (2018, October 05). This ancient thought exercise will have you questioning your identity. Retrieved from https://bigthink.com/philip-perry/t...rcise-will-have-you-questioning-your-identity
     
  5. Crms0nBlade

    Crms0nBlade Staff Member
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    For the record I got an A on this
     
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  6. FNPlayz

    FNPlayz Staff Member
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    Epic Victory Royale
     
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  7. F4ntasbolic

    F4ntasbolic Staff Member
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    Now your teacher gives you a F- caz you copied it from the internet
     
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  8. nxkami

    nxkami Member

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    yolo swag
     
  9. XiYen

    XiYen Well-Known Member

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    I'm uploading my brain to the cloud and no one can stop me.
     
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  10. FNPlayz

    FNPlayz Staff Member
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    Lmao
     
  11. Christian Santos

    Christian Santos New Member

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    Transhumanism is a tough topic because it can benefit us but i dont personally think enough to where it should be a huge change on the earth and our society ... i think we should have technology aid us instead of evolve us and change who we are
     

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