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Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Dangers, as well as benefits, are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.
The term "transhumanism" is symbolized by H+ or h+ and is often used as a synonym for "human enhancement". Although the first known use of the term dates from 1957, the contemporary meaning is a product of the 1980s when futurists in the United States began to organize what has since grown into the transhumanist movement. Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman". Transhumanism is therefore sometimes referred to as "posthumanism" or a form of transformational activism influenced by posthumanist ideals.
The Declaration was originally written in 1998 by an international group of authors, and then modified and re-adopted by the Humanity+ membership in 2002. This revision was adopted by the Humanity+ Board in March 2009.
(1) 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.
(2) We believe that humanity's potential is still mostly unrealized. There are possible scenarios that lead to wonderful and exceedingly worthwhile enhanced human conditions.
(3) 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 ofthese scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.
(4) 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.
(5) 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.
(6) Policymaking 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.
(7) 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.
(8) 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.
Does the Wall Still Stand?
The Implications of Transhumanism for the Separation of Church and State
That’s the title of a speech given in March 2009 by Steven Goldberg, a Law Professor at Georgetown University. It lays out a fascinating and important challenge to transhumanists, especially relevant to those of us who aspire to think deeply about the meaning of transhumanism and its proper place in the world.
Goldberg opens by posing this hypothetical situation:
Suppose that twenty years from now transhumanists make up the bulk of the population in a small Massachusetts town. They persuade the elected school board to offer a required course in the public high school on transhumanism. The course teaches how nanotechnology can improve brain functioning, how human consciousness might someday be downloadable into computers, and similar topics. The course also surveys earlier steps in the fusing of man and his technology, and it takes a positive, optimistic perspective on the past, present, and future of transhumanism. Its essential theme would be, in the words appearing on the website of the transhumanist Anders Sandberg, that “humans can and should continue to develop … [our] bodies and minds … using science and technology…. In the long run, we will no longer be human anymore, but posthuman beings.”
And then he adds:
Suppose further that a resident of the town who is not a transhumanist argues that this is an unconstitutional establishment of religion. How would such a case be resolved? How ought it to be resolved?
Why does the Constitution forbid establishing religion while allowing the teaching and funding of science? Part of the reason is historical; religion incited passions and led to conflicts incompatible with a diverse democratic society. A modern version of this concern is the worry some have that religious arguments are “conservation stoppers” that do not work well in public policy disputes.
And this is where he brings in the key questions: Do transhumanists hold a set of beliefs that effectively offer an alternative to traditional religions? And if so, is that necessarily a bad thing?
Originally posted by maria_stardust
In fact, transhumanism seems to be nothing more than a dressed up form of moral relativism. Am I wrong in this assumption?
Can religion and science co-exist peacefully? Many wish they could. But alas, it isn’t so, for science and religion are not actually two sides of the same coin—as many desperately wish to believe—but they’re entirely different currencies. Where science limits its trade to the natural world, religion traffics in the supernatural, and the two just don’t mix.
Originally posted by maria_stardust
Without a supreme being as a central focus, there is no religion. Hence, this should be a non-issue.
Originally posted by OmegaPoint
Me I would rather die in the universe that God created and leave it up to God as to how things are cycled in eternity - an infinitely wiser choice I think, in the final analysis.
Isn't death part of the natural order of things?
Transhumanists insist that whether something is natural or not is irrelevant to whether it is good or desirable [see also “Isn’t this tampering with nature?”, “Will extended life worsen overpopulation problems?”, and “Why do transhumanists want to live longer?”].
Average human life span hovered between 20 and 30 years for most of our species’ history. Most people today are thus living highly unnaturally long lives. Because of the high incidence of infectious disease, accidents, starvation, and violent death among our ancestors, very few of them lived much beyond 60 or 70. There was therefore little selection pressure to evolve the cellular repair mechanisms (and pay their metabolic costs) that would be required to keep us going beyond our meager three scores and ten. As a result of these circumstances in the distant past, we now suffer the inevitable decline of old age: damage accumulates at a faster pace than it can be repaired; tissues and organs begin to malfunction; and then we keel over and die.
The quest for immortality is one of the most ancient and deep-rooted of human aspirations. It has been an important theme in human literature from the very earliest preserved written story, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and in innumerable narratives and myths ever since. It underlies the teachings of world religions about spiritual immortality and the hope of an afterlife. If death is part of the natural order, so too is the human desire to overcome death.
Before transhumanism, the only hope of evading death was through reincarnation or otherworldly resurrection. Those who viewed such religious doctrines as figments of our own imagination had no alternative but to accept death as an inevitable fact of our existence. Secular worldviews, including traditional humanism, would typically include some sort of explanation of why death was not such a bad thing after all. Some existentialists even went so far as to maintain that death was necessary to give life meaning!
That people should make excuses for death is understandable. Until recently there was absolutely nothing anybody could do about it, and it made some degree of sense then to create comforting philosophies according to which dying of old age is a fine thing (“deathism”). If such beliefs were once relatively harmless, and perhaps even provided some therapeutic benefit, they have now outlived their purpose. Today, we can foresee the possibility of eventually abolishing aging and we have the option of taking active measures to stay alive until then, through life extension techniques and, as a last resort, cryonics. This makes the illusions of deathist philosophies dangerous, indeed fatal, since they teach helplessness and encourage passivity.
Espousing a deathist viewpoint tends to go with a certain element of hypocrisy. It is to be hoped and expected that a good many of death’s apologists, if they were one day presented with the concrete choice between (A) getting sick, old, and dying, and (B) being given a new shot of life to stay healthy, vigorous and to remain in the company of friends and loved ones to participate in the unfolding of the future, would, when push came to shove, choose this latter alternative.
If some people would still choose death, that’s a choice that is of course to be regretted, but nevertheless this choice must be respected. The transhumanist position on the ethics of death is crystal clear: death should be voluntary. This means that everybody should be free to extend their lives and to arrange for cryonic suspension of their deanimated bodies. It also means that voluntary euthanasia, under conditions of informed consent, is a basic human right.
Originally posted by nine-eyed-eel
reply to post by schrodingers dog
And by the way, nice pic of Sri Ramana Maharshi...
It's surprising more people don't use avatars as avatars...
2e.) Illicit Activity: Discussion of illicit activities; specifically the use of mind-altering drugs & substances, engaging in computer hacking, promoting criminal hate, dicussing sexual relations with minors, and furtherance of financial schemes and scams are strictly forbidden. You will also not link to sites or online content that contains discussion or advocacy of such material. Any post mentioning or advocating personal use of illicit mind-altering drugs will result in immediate account termination.
A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, God or gods, or ultimate truth.
Originally posted by badmedia
So, can we start a pool on how long it will be before they realize what they attempt to do has already been done, and they are a product of that?