In thinking about transhumanism, it seems almost intuitive to me as to the progress of things to come in technology, society, and humanity as a whole, but defining exactly what it means to hold a transhumanist viewpoint is important in explaining to those who may have never heard. To others who already share the transhumanist philosophy, it’s apparent why one would think in such a way, but to others it may be a mystery.
Transhumanism, in its simplest statement, regards that humans will become something more than only human. For ages, evolution has taken its course, and after billions of years, it finally led to us in the present day. For most of this time, evolution was extremely slow, but there has been an exponential trend upward in the rate at which it takes place, first starting biologically over long eras of time, then culturally over tens of thousands of years, and now technology evolves at an even quicker pace that the paradigms that preceded it.
With the use of science and technology to date, humans have successfully increased the average lifespan by eliminating disease, have harnessed fundamental laws of the universe to increase our thought and computing capacity, have created a global communication network to share information with one another at near the speed of light that also extends into space with our robotic exploratory missions, and generally have provided a more comfortable life for the average person. These trends will continue in a fashion that will radically change how we live and think in comparison with today.
To me, transhumanism is distinct from religion and is more of a philosophy. I personally identify as an atheist. Transhumanist ideas seem self contained and do not readily have to answer the question of whether or not God or gods exist and what their direct role in the universe is, though my feeling is that this ability to shy away from these questions points to atheism. There are, however, schools of thought within transhumanism that are influenced by traditional religion, such as Christianity or Buddhism.
Transhumanist themes appear in both modern and ancient societies. Such central ideas as overcoming death, building a mechanical being, and spreading into space. With our increasing knowledge of the universe we occupy and developing practical applications for our use, many of these previously unattainable ideas are becoming a reality. Its themes show up in art, music, and film.
Though some may say that we will eventually become transhuman, I say that we are already transhuman. Technology and its involvement in our everyday lives give credence to the position. The average person in the United States has had access to a computer and an Internet connection since the 1990s and since then, the interfaces we use to perform computing have only become more ubiquitous. The bulky desktop interface has evolved into mobile smartphones and tablets, and with more interfaces soon to catch on, such as Internet of Things devices like fitness trackers and home automation devices, there’s no end in sight.
If you’re looking for further discussion about transhumanism and the future of humanity, there’s a great audio lecture and Q&A by Nikola Danaylov from Singularity Weblog that discusses these ideas, available via http://goo.gl/IpUmQ0, though there are numerous other sources in which to learn from.
*Hero image obtained from http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_transhumanism33.htm