What does it mean to be human in a society in which we can use technology to modify our bodies beyond our normal capabilities, and how does that change our sense of self?
Transhumanism is a futuristic movement, and we’re joined this week by David Wood (Chair of London Futurists) and Zoltan Istvan (Founder of the Transhumanist Party in the US), two leading figures with unique foresight into our transhuman future.
How might we modify our bodies long into the future? Do we have the right to immortality and a duty to ‘fix’ disability? Should we be afraid to change into a different version of ourselves? We tackle all this, and so much more intriguing debate, on this episode of The Future of You.
This episode of The Future of You covers:
- The traditional definition of transhumanism, and the form into which the movement might evolve
- Maintaining our personal sense of identity in a society capable of collective consciousness and hive minds
- Possible reasons for fewer prominent female figures in transhumanism
- How we define our bodies, and at what point they should be considered to be failing
- Whether we should allow ourselves to be immortal
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Links & references
“We are limited in what we might imagine we will do with much greater mental capabilities, but we can see some limits that we will transcend and that's the limitations in our bodies that lead us to age and die, the limitations in our mind that often cause us to make really bad decisions, the limitations in our own emotions which cause far too many of us to be depressed, suicidal, egotistical, divisive, and so on. ” - 7:00 - David Wood
“I'm very keen to emphasise that transhumanism does uphold individual identity. Morphological freedom is very important, and the right to life for individuals is paramount.” - 11:45 - David Wood
“I don't think we should be afraid of changing into something else significantly, and saying that that would actually be a different version than us. We are certainly different versions than we were two years ago, let's say even pre-Covid. I mean, it really is a different world and I feel different because of the things that I've done.” - 17:05 - Zoltan Istvan
“One of the things with ‘Build Back Better’ that I certainly wonder about is whether, now in this kind of COVID era, if it's not so much about building a better environment for humans, but building better humans for the environment.” - 26:30 - Tracey Follows
“That's how I would have run the country; really just saying, ‘Let's turn ourselves instead of a military industrial complex into a science industrial complex’. I'm happy with everyone making a fortune. I just can't believe that we've become a nation that built it on the military, as opposed to science that would actually help humans overcome things like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's.” - 30:45 - Zoltan Istvan
“I think it may be an attribute of something that's in the Western world, where we often encourage women too early to make a decision about their careers, and we push women away from the technical career path. But that's a great shame, because of course we should have more women engineers. Ultimately, being careful what I say here, we need more of the softer skills in the transhumanist discussions.” - 35:45 - David Wood
“Maybe in the past, we had to put up with lots of deaths, childbirth, long strings of pregnancies and bad eyesight and all the other issues. Maybe we had to accept it then, maybe the Buddha was right at that time. But now I say, we no longer need to accept it, and if we don't take advantage of this, we are inflicting unnecessary pain, limitations and restrictions on people around us.” - 46:20 - David Wood
“The very first thing David and I are going to do when we upload our minds is make more Davids, more Zoltans. Then they will probably evolve into other beings. That's the natural way that a virus would do it, and that's how a human being would do it, if they were able to do it. ” - 55:00 - Zoltan Istvan