This article is a follow-up to an article I wrote in 2013 called, Transhumanism and Powerlifting: Don’t Be An H+ Poser, http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/armstrong20130403 which was inspired by some statements by transhumanist and fitness enthusiast, George Dvorsky:
“…anyone who professes to be a transhumanist, but does nothing to improve upon himself, is a poser.”
“If you call yourself a transhumanist, but you’re not doing anything in the here-and-now to improve upon yourself—whether it be your body or mind—then you’re simply misunderstanding it and doing it wrong.”
What inspired today’s article were some of the reactions to my “poser” article. But, enough about my articles, let’s talk about me! I began my path toward transhumanism in the early 1980s when I was studying computer science, specifically Artificial Intelligence, more specifically, neural modeling. On the fitness side, I have trained in several martial arts over the course of 4 decades, have trained in powerlifting for 2 years and have recently become a certified powerlifting coach. I am not an all-around fitness expert and will not presume to tell you exactly what you should do to achieve optimal fitness and increased longevity. I do have enough experience through my own training and interaction with other athletes of various talents and capabilities to know that there is a wide range of psychological and biological variability among people, which precludes any attempt to prescribe one kind of diet, supplement, exercise program that will work for everyone. Instead, I will be presenting several articles that will help you to do your own research and self-experimentation so that you can discover things that work for you specifically. But first, I may need to persuade some of you to see that an increased amount of fitness-focus in your life is a high-value, both here and now as well as in the future.
There were several types of objections I encountered in the 3 websites online where my article appeared. One was a “waste of time” attitude that proposed that time spent exercising was time taken away from developing technology necessary to lead us to a transhuman future — as though nearly all waking hours must be spent on engineering new technology. I find this to be some unnecessarily rigid, borderline workaholic, either/or type thinking that ignores the creative benefits that can be found when we turn away, periodically and briefly, from the object of our creative obsession and let the mind wander in new directions — when we let the subconscious kick around our ideas for a while until, sometimes, a new and unexpected angle reveals itself in a sudden “eureka moment.” I have had this happen numerous times as I was lifting weights while letting my mind wander of its own accord. If this approach seems too passive and haphazard for you, you could do as I often do and try listening to podcasts about science and tech topics while working out. In this way, you can at least be absorbing some new information that may assist you in a new discovery.
An even less reasonable variation on the “waste of time” argument comes in the form of: Why put so much energy into maintaining this body? I’m just going to have it all replaced with sturdier non-biological parts anyway. The flaw in this hyper-optimistic position is painfully obvious: We aren’t at that point in our technological development yet, so you’re making a very large gamble that the tech you need to replace a particular abused organ will be available when you need it. This kind of mindset is more prevalent in people on the younger end of the lifespan-spectrum who still feel invincible and see a long stretch of life ahead of them. It is up to those of us on the older end of that continuum to point out the shortsightedness caused by their long-view of life ahead.
Until we do have have the ability to fully replace any failing component of our bio-bodies, the only thing we can do is maintain and enhance our health until the next series of progressively powerful medical breakthroughs enable us to reach “longevity escape velocity,” as Aubrey de Grey calls it. This is the hypothesized time in the future when we will be able to increase our life expectancy through science and technology by more than one year, per year, thus keeping decrepitude and death at bay indefinitely…or at least until we can engineer a non-biological vehicle in which to house our “consciousness pattern.”
Another type of aversion to fitness for some is the belief that building a muscular body is rooted in superficial vanity with not much value beyond that. I would counter that a muscular and fit body is a more functional body that is able to handle activities that go beyond those needed for a low-energy-output, largely sedentary, hyper-cerebral lifestyle that many tech-developers feel most comfortable with. While some have argued for doing only the most minimal exercises necessary to gain only the most baseline level of fitness, I would remind them that transhumanism is not about “being just the least you can get away with,” rather, it is about enhancement, H+ (Humanity PLUS) — to “be all that you can be,” physically, mentally and in all other respects. This kind of self-directed high-functionality can only enhance our ability to survive and thrive.
Having been friends with quite a few brilliant tech-types, I have been able to see certain tendencies in them, some of which I share. The fundamental and prevalent characteristic I have seen is a high tolerance/preference for spending hours engaged in mental activities that involve little use of the body. Although I do engage in regular physical exercise, I can easily concentrate on some mental activities for hours on end without feeling the need to get up and move around. In contrast, I know quite a few athletic-types who would jump out of their skin if forced to remain immobile for such long periods. This comfort with extended periods of sedentary concentration was caricatured by comedian, Elon Gold, as, ASD (Attention Surplus Disorder). Along with this tendency, I have noticed that many of these same hyper-cerebral types don’t have a high-degree of body-awareness and are not very athletically skilled, which is understandable considering the imbalance of time they spend “in their heads” rather than “in their bodies.” Since the mind is the primary place where they/we live, it is somewhat understandable that a suggestion that an increased concern and attention be paid to the body can be met with resistance or complete apathy.
However, for those interested in extended longevity, the body cannot be ignored indefinitely. As the body’s decline begins accelerating with age, the proper amount and kind of exercise can help increase bone density, metabolism, mental acuity, and a generalized ability to avoid falls, which can cause a cascading effect of deterioration, and the ability to remain independent and high-functioning while waiting on that eventual “whole body prosthetic” that Natasha Vita-More may have ready for us in…THE FUTURE…
In my next articles, I will explore the kinds of exercise, diet, and supplements used by some prominent transhumanists in their efforts to enhance their health and longevity.
*hero image obtained from http://www.warriormindcoach.com/blog/2014/06/24/renaissance-man/