An Appeal to Transhumanism on the Question of Technological Inequality in Africa

“We are deceived by the appearance of right.” J.J Rousseau

 

AfricaPart One: Today’s Reality

 

The idea of improving humanity is not a new one. Such movements, notions and groups have marked our past. Some of them achieved their target and some have concluded with remarkable results; and yet, some have brought more suffering to the human condition.

Transhumanism is a movement that aims to enhance and improve humanity. As it happens with any notion and philosophy of this kind, it faces widespread criticism from many groups. Some criticism is constructive, passed on with the intention to improve on the shortcomings of the movement; then there is also criticism based on dogmatic and irrational grounds and expressed out of the fear that the movement is so radical and groundbreaking to the very idea of life itself.

In this article, I will discuss the future traits of Transhumanism with regard to the current status quo of technological inequality in the Developing world especially in the continent of Africa. From a Transhumanist stance, the perspective expressed might at first sound harsh, yet I feel the ideas given are both important and compatible with the core philosophy of Transhumanism.

When Hitler and the Nazi party introduced the idea of the “pure race” –  a concept which promoted the notion of Germans being an “Aryan” race of supermen – the majority of the German population embraced it unresistingly, without thorough scrutiny. This lack of critical analysis of the claims for racial superiority resulted in complete failure with regard to predicting the tragic outcome of its acceptance. Although Transhumanism is not, by any means, a movement with the aim of creating a supreme race of tyrants, its concept might sound similar to an uninformed observer. One of my goals here is to clarify such erroneous assumptions, albeit in the context of constructive criticism on the movement.

Hitherto, Transhumanist literature has focused mostly on the technological aspects of the movement. The primary focus has been on how the new age of technology will eventually overrun nature and her unchallenged authority on our evolution. Indeed, it is dramatic to think that we may transcend nature’s tyrannical control on human biological design and on defining the imposed biological limits to our own intelligence. Nonetheless, the time is ripe to expand the discourse on other aspects of Transhumanism.

So far, the bulk of humanity’s vice has been rooted in inequality. Inequality is the underlying motive to the countless ills of our society. It is the archenemy of existence in harmony. The belief that technology is our vehicle for escaping the curse of dramatic inequality that plagues the world today is increasingly gaining wider acceptance. Scarce natural resources, the issues of food production and population growth, the globe’s oil dependent economy, environmental degradation, racism, religious extremism and many other causes of conflict –may be viewed simply as irrationalities that are curable via the advancement of science and technology, if not today, then in the coming age when more advanced technological means are available.

In most of Africa, and other regions of similar socioeconomic conditions around the globe, the simple quest for ‘grazing land’ is still one of the major causes for conflicts in which thousands of people lose their lives annually. In a continent where natural resources are abundant, for both industry and agriculture, it is a shame to see humanity suffering for lack of food and clean water. Africa horribly lacks advanced technological means for supporting the necessities of life, an obstacle the West has overcome centuries ago.

How can Transhumanism promote the enhancement of humanity amidst such technological inequalities that are undermining the economy and the overall social organization of nations around the globe? If Transhumanism’s scope is limited to Europe, North America and the wealthier portions of Australasia, the new phase of human evolution will automatically be much like the old one: the Survival of the Fittest, driven not of natural selection but by the unequal distribution of technology.

Nature has at least carried out its selection unthinkingly; however, in the case of a radical Transhumanist future restricted to the ‘First World’, the ‘beau monde’ of humans will be quite knowingly ignoring a large percentage of the human race. This would be an inexcusable crime. This seems to be the Weakness of Transhumanism, and this is the point where many critics loudly cry out: “technology could easily be abused by the group that is in control of it”.

Do we want to see Africans and the rest of humanity in the Developing world be excluded from the emerging new human race known as the Transhumans? Can we even, slightly, guarantee that the developed world will not abuse technology by using it to become dominant over undeveloped or developing nations?

This is where we ask: What is  Africa’s place in Transhumanism?

Africa-appeal

 

Part 2: Future of Transhumanism and Its Role in Today’s Africa

 

For over a decade, sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing a relatively rapid economic growth. According to the latest World Bank report ‘Africa’s Pulse 2013, volume 7’, out of the top ten nations with the fastest growing economy, the top six are African countries followed by China. The Continent, despite the global economic crisis, registered an average of 6% in economic growth during the past eight years. The World Bank estimates that the growth trend will continue uninterrupted until 2015.

The time has come for the developed world to acknowledge Africa’s economic awakening. Like wise, Transhumanism should consider the potential of the African continent, and ponder upon how Transhumanist technology can boost the remarkable and rapid growth, which is finally beginning to blossom in this forsaken part of the world. The World Bank report on African’s Agribusiness (March 4, 2013) states that “Africa has more than half of the world’s fertile yet unused land. Africa uses only two percent of its renewable water resources compared to the global average of five percent”. It also forecasts the creation of a 1 trillion dollar market in the next two decades, from the food and beverage sector alone.

Even with such potential, the continent has the highest poverty rate in the world; 47.5% of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. This is a concrete fact, but what is the cure? The World Bank and other stakeholders with game changing power still insist on the traditional development process – advancement by dint of hard work applied in the areas of debt relief, increased aid, high commodity prices and improved macroeconomic policies.

The World Bank’s picture leaves out one essential point. Obviously, the developed world has already discovered it – I am referring to technology and the application of advanced hi-tech in the course of production.

Instead of trying to “save Africa”, with mere capital aid, we should support Africans in researching and developing advanced technology. We should invest on businesses that promote hi-tech and the modernization of local infrastructure, industry, education, health sector, agriculture, etc. This is something that is not happening now to any significant extent. This is something that Transhumanists ought to be looking at as part of their goal to enhance humanity via technology; let the world witness the curative power of technology!

If we agree on the notion that Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement that aims to improve the human condition through advanced technologies, it should become more involved in Africa’s march towards technological advancement. Then, how can it get there?

Recently there has been a new approach towards technology transfer, known as the Technology Leapfrogging, which points precisely at this direction.

Technology Leapfrogging is a method of progress in which, instead of passing through the expected linear stages toward adoption of advanced technology, an undeveloped society skips toward adopting the most up-to-date technology. In this fashion, advanced technology is applied in an area where the immediate predecessors of this technology had never been applied. Mobile phone technology in Africa is the best example. Instead of working on technologies focused on landline telephones, the continent has already adopted the wireless mobile technology; now 80% of urban Africans have access to cellular phones.

Africa’s recent, rapid economic growth is largely the result of technological leapfrogging – as even the World Bank has acknowledged, to some extent. “Emblematic of this growth is the information and communications technology (ICT) revolution in Africa” – says Africa Development Indicators 2012/13, published by the World Bank.

Technology leapfrogging and the adoption of new technologies depend on two factors. “Depending on the technology in question, the adoption of new technology can either be user demand driven or infrastructure driven as a result of policies to modernize infrastructure”. (Mody, A. and R. Sherman (1990: 77-83). “Leapfrogging in Switching Systems.” Technological Forecasting and Social Changes.)

From a Transhumanist angle, the user-demand aspect of technology leapfrogging is not problematic. However, if Transhumanism seeks worldwide embracement, it is the right time for it to promote infrastructure driven leapfrogging which focuses on the creation of entirely novel industrial sectors in Africa and the rest of the developing world.

Transhumanist thoughts and technology should address the critical challenges of technological leapfrogging, not only because diminishing inequality is a good and just cause in itself, but also because technological inequality is the greatest threat to Transhumanism and its ultimate potential.

The first step in tackling global inequality is to identify which aspects of leapfrogging require Transhumanist assistance. As long as Transhumanism can demonstrate its social value the world will realize the validity of its vision to enhance humanity in many other ways. So far, studies on technology leapfrogging have pinpointed ‘Absorptive Capacity’ as the most critical factor for the success of technology transfer.

For the existing sluggish progress of technology in the developing world, Absorptive Capacity is one of the top six challenges. The 2008 World Bank report, described it as a major barrier for technology diffusion. (R. Sauter and J. Watson (2008) “Technology Leapfrogging: A Review of the Evidence”. A report for DFID. University of Sussex.)

The Sauter and Watson study defines two types of Absorptive Capacity: that of a firm and that of a  nation. The Absorptive capacity of a country is the ability to learn and implement the technologies and associated practices of already developed countries.

If the goal of Transhumanism is to create a world with better and enhanced human beings by employing technology, it should encompass and perhaps even focus on programs for enriching Africa’s technological Absorptive Capacity.

The Absorptive Capacity of African states can improve via knowledge transfer. This can be achieved by building and supporting institutions who set up a fundamental framework for leapfrogging, by enabling access to training on state-of-the-art scientific and technological means, through the establishment of hi-tech start-ups and also by providing technological and financial support to researches carried out in the health and agricultural sectors.

So far, Transhumanism has focused on the future form of human beings. However, it is time for the movement to address the more mainstream social issues. Unequal technological distribution should no longer be technology’s weakest link. This should not become an opportunity for some irrational and immoral group to sabotage the hope provided by Transhumanism. We should not allow such groups to exploit Transhumanist ideals in order to dominate and control approximately three quarters of the world’s population (which encompasses Africa and the rest of the undeveloped and developing world).

There is no doubt that technology is central in Transhumanist thought and that technological inequality ought to be marginalized in order to create the world of enhanced humanity which Transhumanism envisions. This belief should infuse the core of Transhumanist thought.

In the sooner future, nature driven evolution will give way to evolution driven by human authority and Transhumanist technology will be the one to allow humankind to take control of its own evolutionary phases. Undoubtedly, one way or the other, technology will play a crucial part in human evolutionary change. The question then is focused on one point, “To what extent did African’s absorptive capacity is nourished regarding the role of hi-tech in the processes”?

Genetic engineering, nano-tech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, are very often perceived as some kind of voodoo in Africa. Yes, the continent is extremely lagging behind the rest of the world.

Adopting the Transhumanist view of the future will not be easy when living and educational standards are comparable to those existing in the middle ages. Today, hi-tech is a necessity in the households of Europeans and North Americans, yet in much of Africa mainstream technologies such as electricity and transporting vehicles are only dreams of the wildest sort.

In Europe and North America, research in numerous technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual and psychological abilities, beyond the capacity that humans are naturally capable of, are already in advanced stages and some have even materialized. Yet, in Africa and the rest of the developing world’s nations, these ideas are completely alien.

As a global movement for the future of all humanity, Transhumanism needs to contribute to Africa’s efforts for technological advancement and ensure that the continent will rise out of technological oblivion.

Africa-transcending

 

Part 3: The Harsh Conclusion

 

Humans have been using technology since the day they discovered fire and all the ‘Stone Age tools’. Now our civilization is on the edge of a new era where our biological evolution is going to be controlled by man-made technology. Yet before we talk about changing the very fabric of humanity and civilization, it is wise that we take a good look at our present condition.

It is very unfortunate that we are presently repeating some of the behaviors that have had a hideous impact on the harmony and well-being of humanity. Due to Transhumanism’s unique characteristics, a group driven by a malevolent – supremacist – agenda might benefit from technological inequality and ambush the future of Transhumanism by turning the movement into a means for establishing a master race. Hence, anyone who is not part of the movement at the present might as well be inhuman in the future, inferior and thus expendable. This is not the aim of Transhumanism, under any circumstances.

The Concept of Transhumanism is to enhance humanity. This has to start now and the movement needs to recognize the existing factors.

To hear some extremist or fanatic Transhumanist researchers claiming that their research should take precedence over funding health care aid to Africa, or some basic development program is ridiculous and poisonous. Such claims and immoderate acts in the name of Transhumanism are also the ones that stain its actual nature, which is simply to create a better and enhanced human race and thus create a better world.

Due to the existing socioeconomic conditions in Africa, voluntary amputation and cybernetic limb prosthetics, improving intelligence with brain implants, synthetic wombs and genetically modified babies as well as other features of Transhumanism might seem somewhat unrealistic. Considering how to enhance our humanity in the future is noble but to consider how one can first enhance the existing conditions in Africa and the rest of the developing world along with the technological advancement of these nations is even nobler.

Being human is not disgusting. Anyone having an issue with being human is not a true Transhumanist. Destroying humanity is not the answer to our problems nor will it ever be.

First, we have to come to the understanding that our Transhumanist motive is to enhance humanity out of love, not out of hatred; out of understanding, not out of despair and most importantly due to our incessant dissatisfaction with the existing limitations of the human body. Yet, such a harmony can never work where inequality triumphs.

Inequality, the greatest ill of the world since the dawn of civilization, comes in two forms: one bestowed by nature and one created because of our social, cultural, economic, and political attitudes and the regulatory institutions subtly facilitating these attitudes in a way they breed inequalities. Obviously, from the two origins of inequality, the most intoxicating form is the one created by humans.

Transhumanism, as a relatively new social, technological and philosophical movement, is focused on creating a better humanity (and thus it is concerned with the inequalities bestowed by nature), in a better world (and thus it is concerned with fabricated inequalities as well). To ignore Africa and the rest of the developing world is to ignore three quarters of the world’s population, let alone a population who has to struggle daily for things that the developed world takes for granted. Looking away from this is nothing but a mere replication of natural selection’s greatest shortcoming. Moreover, it is even unforgivable because the natural inequality of evolution is now under human control. Without proper attention, man-made inequalities, beyond doubt, will affect the progress of human evolution and render cybernetic modifications a weapon to control, destroy and even eventually annihilate the entire humankind.

Just as a house cannot stand on quicksand, nor will haphazardly envisioned plans empower humanity to progress and transcend to superhumans.

Whilst the majority of humans are not well acquainted with the simplest of technological products, such as malaria medicine and the electrical dishwasher, the Transhumanism’s alien-like and very advanced concepts of technology will always remain in the shadows for the populations of developing regions.

It is even disgraceful to hear someone claiming that the future is impossible to predict, and simultaneously claim Transhumanism will be the future of humankind and the next phase of human evolution. The future has always been with us and it is indeed possible to predict it to a significant degree; look where the world stands today! Are we not in a world where the few abuse the rest?

We do not want a utopian sermon and empty propaganda about a world where aging is no more a threat, a world where babies are born perfect, where humans will attain super intelligence and extraordinary strength. What we really expect to hear from  a movement such as Transhumanism is how it is going to overcome the limitations of human nature and how it will enhance humanity while inequality and injustice in technological advancement are casting a gloomy shadow on the near future of the people in the developing world.

Before we start boasting about transcending humanity, with the help of technology, we ought to consider the issue of technological inequality, where it stands and in what varying degree is technology used through different regions, worldwide. Otherwise, we are not enhancing humanity; we are only creating weapons to destroy it.

Humanity is here and we should not seek it in the mists of the future.

Many Africans suffer hunger, starvation and malnutrition because the agricultural sector in Africa is oblivious to technology and cannot afford to provide simple technology, like tractors. The introduction of basic technology is a major and persistent challenge for the African continent. Building robots that can be implemented in farming or artificial trees that can contribute to environmental restoration or labeling a functional track for technology transfer should be part of the short-term vision of Transhumanism. This is the harsh reality, which will – whether we like it or not – resist and most certainly overthrow Transhumanism and its typical features like voluntary amputation or genetic rearrangement as the malicious ideas of insane futurists.

Common definitions and perceptions of Transhumanism include motto such as ‘fundamentally improving the human condition’ and ‘widely available technologies’.  Unless the Transhumanist movement is  the product of some psychologically deranged group of scientists’ conception of the future, based on deep hatred towards humans, enhancing humanity in today’s Africa and the rest of the world for that matter, does not require a genetically modified sexless fetus!

Humanity needs a genetically modified immune system, genetically modified plants that can save the environment, hi-tech that can create a better water sanitation system and machines that will boost industrial production in the developing world.

If Transhumanism considers itself as the future of humanity, it has an obligation to set its foundation on stable ground and of course this is possible without diverging from the core futuristic ideas that lie at the heart of the Transhumanist movement. Africa and the rest of the developing world will quickly embrace Transhumanism if some part of Transhumanist technology addresses any of the major issues that constitute the harsh reality of daily struggle for the majority of Africa’s population.

It seems feasible that, on the foundation of Transhumanist contributions to the current progress of the continent’s technological advancement, Africa and the rest of the developing world’s nations can build a bridge crossing the gap of technological inequality, so that the people in these nations can keep up with Transhumanism and its future. Technology transfer to the developing world has to become a fundamental aspect of the emerging Transhuman evolutionary paradigm.

The world is far from perfect and the law of nature is sick and although it has always been like this, we humans were the only species to ever stand up against the unjust, illogical and frivolous conditions of nature. Hell yes, we should do something to change this and Transhumanism should never accept nature as the undisputed judge to our condition!

So far, with the use of technology, we have been fighting it, surviving it, and it finally seems that we are about to win the war, once and all. However, establishing Transhumanism in a world where vast technological inequality prevails will be a victory over nothing.

In the “Official Transhumanist Declaration” and other official documents accepted and distributed in the mainstream of the Transhumanist movement, words and phrases like freedom, expedite beneficial applications, equality, well-being of all sentience, solidarity, alleviation of grave suffering, moral responsibilities and preservation of life are abundant. Is it not the time to act upon them? If not, what is then the meaning of “enhancing the conditions of humanity”?

Although the movement has striven to gain prestige and has fathomed itself as the savior of humanity for the last two decades, it lacks concrete action towards grass-root suffering in today’s world and the sweet promise of Transhumanism still sounds to appear suddenly like a phantom out of thin air. Indeed, a savior it can be. Yet for such a champion of the future, what a hypocrisy it is to ignore the existing reality of the world!

Whilst an abyss of technological inequality remains prevalent in the world, it is a tuneless song and irrational cry to claim that Transhumanism will enhance humanity when in fact it gives the impression that it is about to destroy it. However, if destruction is really its purpose, then the effort may be needless since the world often seems to be going to that direction anyhow.

Quoting from the official Transhumanist Declaration, “Although all Progress is change not all change is Progress.”

12 Comments

  1. Maybe I am a cynic maybe I am a pessimist but one thing I am sure is that I am a rational observer when it comes to history. History repeats itself!

    We, the human race, have marked our past with plenty of attempts to enhance our condition, the Human Condition. It could be an idea or an actual tool, we invent it to enhance our existence, but in history, it mostly ends up as an oppressing tool. Religion, Politics, Law, Capitalism, Communism, Ethics… all these [ideals] were invented or moulded to improve the human condition but instead we turn them into a systematic oppressing tools. We create weapons (from swards to nuke) to safeguard humanity, but they turned out to be a tool to destroy it.

    I know that Transhumanism, in contrary to the misunderstanding that it is a movement or a philosophy which offers promises to make things ‘perfect’, just shines a light on the possible futures of the human evolution on the ground that the entire human nature is and has always been an incomplete process.

    As there has always been a room for improvement, using technology as the key tool, Transhumanism argues that we can enhance our condition.

    Hence, as Ben has nicely pointed the main argument of my article in his latest comment, I am not asking Transhumnists and the movement to sing about equality or shower Africa and the rest of the developing world with aids or gifts of technology. It is ‘given’ that we should work for it, fight for it and earn it for sure. The main point is whilst this inequality, the objectives of the movement are in a very vulnerable position and the odds to divert them from their original intention is very much in fever to the ‘oppressors’.

    I believe, in history, the greatest ill in this world is inequality; it is the one that opens the door to the oppressors and it is the one that motivates them. For those people, “we are not supposed to be equal” for them nature does not allow equality and this inequality must be kept alive at all time so the status qo can continue. Inequality in knowledge, economy, technology, science is what makes us miserable all the time. Ehm to preach about it is even a sin!

    I am an African and I can say I had the psyche of a third world person; 3/4th of the world’s population, the majority of humanity is with me. Our history is full of oppressors, hate mongers, killers and now imagine biologically enhanced and perhaps immortal race of Oppressors!

    As the proverb of my land goes, a house cannot stand on quick sand and using the exact words of Ben, “Humanity should better get its house in order, not just because it’s the humanly “right” thing to do, but because it will increase the odds of the transhumanity we produce…”

    Having beneficial characteristics and working towards creating a more stable world dealing with today’s reality will strengthen Transhumanity. Transhumanist Literature ought to include more of such points; it is time to scrutinize the existing economic structures, politics, psyche of our nature, the global attitude, and the consciousness that brought us to this condition. Unless we admit and act upon the risks with equal emphasis (on Promoting Trashumansim) there is no way that the Moor’s Law will triumph over ‘Murphy’s Law’ 🙂

  2. After some more thought and discussion with the author, I think I better understand his key point….

    His point is not just that it’s morally wrong to allocate resources to advancing tech for the few whilst the many are suffering (esp. given that the suffering of the many is substantially attributable to “imperialism” related dynamics, which are somewhat causally related to the relative wealth of the few…)….

    Rather, his point is more like: A morally unsound and mentally unhealthy PARENT is a lot less likely to give rise to a morally sound and mentally healthy CHILD.

    Here the parent is humanity, and the child is transhumanity — superhuman robots, or cyborgs, or genetically engineered supermen, or whatever.

    If one views the “global brain” of humanity as the creator of the next (transhuman) generation of intelligence, it’s fair to suppose that, if this global brain is twisted, self-deceptive and uncompassionate at its core, then the offspring it produces may also be somewhat screwy….

    So the argument would be: Humanity’d better get its house in order, not just because it’s the humanly “right” thing to do, but because it will increase the odds of the transhumanity we produce, having beneficial characteristics…

    As such this is a somewhat abstract argument, yet it’s not hard to see how it could be fleshed out concretely. If one looks at the spectrum of pathways to the Singularity, one sees some in which, say, early stage AGIs are developed mainly for humanitarian goals, and others in which early stage AGIs are developed mainly for military goals. Arguably if the early stage AGIs are military oriented, the chance of a peacable, beneficial Singularity is lower. So this is a very simple example of why a conflicted humanity could be more likely to give rise to a fucked Singularity. But this is only the most obvious example; one could elaborate many others….

    The risk isn’t just that extreme inequality leaves have-nots pissed off and strong potentials to do desperate things with advanced technology, in order to improve their relative situations…. The risk is also that extreme inequality leaves the haves in psychologically confused mind-states, because they know at some level that their way of life is somehow ill-founded (being built on the suffering of others) … and people in mind-states characterized by denial and confusion, are not the best ones to make huge decisions about the course of development of advanced technologies as Singularity approaches…

    I’m typing this comment hastily and likely not phrasing my points optimally, but hopefully the key ideas come across anyway…

    I tend to agree with Hruy that, all else equal, bringing the “global brain” to a greater state of “psychological health” would militate in favor of a positive Singularity…. How much attention to allocate to this versus other matters of course remains a nontrivial problem; but it’s intuitively clear to me that humanity allocates far too few resources to the alleviation of extreme economic inequality…

    • Hi Ben,
      (My response here is adopted in part from a comment I wrote recently in IEET’s website on a book review of “The Transhumanist Wager” which made me somewhat nervous regarding the way some transhumanists think about the future).

      It seems the problem highlighted in this important post does not start in Africa or any other specific place. The problem is not technological inequality since this is only an effect of a deeply rooted, ape-like, mental/psychological construct, itself an unfortunate product of our biological evolution and more specifically selection under conditions of want and a fierce competition over limited resources.

      In so many fields our imagination soars ever higher but when it comes to transforming our own minds, the dynamic intelligent pattern that defines us, our imagination terribly fails to dream beyond its historical self. I believe Nietzsche’s concept of the overman is exactly about this: the overman is the human breaking through its own historically evolved traits and their seemingly unbreakable chain of consequences.

      Do we really want the same ape mind immeasurably augmented technologically to run this planet and even beyond? More tools may take us to the stars and to indefinite life extension eventually. More tools will allow us one day to redesign our own brains as well. But into what are we going to redesign the core of our mentality, our emotions our prime motivators, our values and the very core of our identity? Technology will allow us an ever extended freedom, but what are we going to become with such an open ended freedom? Technology alone cannot and would not specify the nature of the Singularity and the post human that will emerge.

      What seems to be missing in transhumanist thought is a vision of a new mind, a new psychology and a new culture. A vision of a path that will liberate us from our own conditioned and wanting humanity and propel us towards the post human. Indeed we will one day become immortal and roam the stars. We will become as gods. Still, if we fail to pursue such a path, we will become ape-gods, as grotesque and pathetic as they will be grand.

      I do not see the point of invoking the “Global Brain” here because in the context of this discussion it is not more than a reified entity while the true challenge is still in the hands of individuals – our hands, to join forces and reinvent our very humanity. In this, our currently accepted moral ideals can guide us only at the initial phase because they too emerged within the constraints of the mental construct we need to transform. “To put humanity’s house in order”, as you say, is only reasonable so we will not look so ugly in our individual and collective self mirror (in case we dare to look that is…) I believe we need much more than to put humanity’s house in order. We need to meet the great (and perhaps terrifying) unknown that awaits us when our technology makes us free.

  3. Biggest contribution of transhumanism to Africa could simply be genetic engineering applied to humans.

  4. Hruy, you are raising some subtle and important issues here…

    One could look at there being a trade-off between A) doing R&D on new tech and science, versus B) doing work to roll out existing tech and science more broadly throughout all of humanity; and to generally improve the lives of all humanity by any means appropriate.

    However, it’s worth noting that the combination of A and B constitutes only a small percentage of the First World’s resources… So focusing on the trade-off between A and B is perhaps inappropriate…

    Transhumanism and humanitarianism EACH absorb a very small part of the world’s resources…

    The real problem is not that the .0001% of the world’s resources devoted to transhumanism is not being used to help the needy. It’s the wastage of a huge percentage of humanity’s resources on needless consumption, and the stockpiling of $$ by the wealthy — resources/$$ that could be used for both advanced R&D *and* helping the needy.

    Can we use advanced technology to create a different way of doing things, in which the bulk of resources are not wasted on needless consumption and stockpiling? This is a very appealing idea, but will require great creativity, because the current way of doing things has a lot of momentum behind it.

    One possibility is that the current regime of inequality persists until Singularity, at which point so much abundance is generated that distinctions between First and Third World are utterly irrelevant.

    Another possibility is that, before Singularity, advanced tech is deployed cleverly to close the gap between different parts of the world, and narrow the gap between rich and poor..

    The Internet and mobile tech have great potential in this regard. But they don’t solve the problem on their own.

    If there were some way to use AI to massively upgrade the degree of education provided in economically unfortunate portions of the globe, that would be one promising direction…

    Thanks for the article, which provides lots of food for thought…

  5. Being a fruit of a third-country myself, I see the wisdom and kindness in your words. But I also understand that it is the mature technology that seems to have the greatest effect on uplifting the masses; therefore, our best hope is to bring maturity to the likes of free AI-teenager SIRI and robots cheap as a motorbike. This will do more to spread transhuman agenda than any other efforts launched by us because it would be adopted and implemented by them, according to their rules and desires–not ours.

  6. In my view, transhumanism is best understood here as a strategy for design. In that mind set, H+ Magazine has run a series of articles (and solicits future articles) related to “Abundance at the Bottom”. As a strategy for design transhumanism can be useful at all strata of society.

    I would strongly support the application of transhumanist ideas to developing tools for the developing world. Although I feel there may be some misunderstanding of these ideas at this early stage in conversation.

    Returning to my way of thinking, transhumanism is a strategy for design, as well as a philosophy, and arguably a social movement. But this does not mean that transhumanists are able to solve all the world’s ills with the wave of a wand.

    So what can we do?

    I strongly support the idea of a more down to Earth approach as part of transhumanist activity. Specifically, sharing information about current and real world developments and technologies, medical advances, DIY ideas and instructions, as well as tutorials on use of transhumanist principles in design for example of Abundance at the Bottom.

    We can and should talk about things that are possible right now. Some of the early visions of transhumanism are now becoming real possibility!

    At the same time we recognize that not every prediction has come true. So there are still a lot of exciting things to work on and create. Keep in mind the longer range vision and bigger dreams.

    Please see:

    http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/12/13/abundance-at-the-bottom-stanfords-solar-benin-project/

    http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/02/07/global-village-construction-kit/

    http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/03/14/diy-solar-kilns-and-the-promise-of-ubiquitous-resources/

    http://hplusmagazine.com/2013/01/02/abundance-at-the-bottom-algae-based-nutritional-supplement-and-fuel-production/

  7. Thought-provoking article and deeply disturbing on many levels. Speaking direction to your request that transhumanism acknowledge and include the continent of Africa is in keeping with the scope of transhumanism, as it is not sequestered to any one geographical location or any one type of society of people, race, etc.
    Transhumanism makes no promises, it proposes futures and possible solutions. Just recently a critic of transhumanism said to me “Transhumanism has been 90% right”. That the ideas proposed by transhumanists that are aligned with its central core and tenets have shown themselves to be accurate on many fronts. Yet, even though the lag in technological development in Africa is apparent, the innovations that have been and are being designed offer possible resolve to at least a few of the most urgent issues. (see below)
    The aim now is to take on more humanitarian or transhumanitarian goals. I am 100+% for this! A chapter of Humanity+ has been started, right? But transhumanism is beyond Humanity+ and a suggestion is to build a core source of those who can be involved in your important and urgent project.

    http://www.designindaba.com/projects/10×10-low-cost-housing-project
    http://thewaterproject.org/how-to-give-clean-water.php
    http://www.solvingafrica.org/
    http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2013/may/30/africa-ozwald-boateng-design-project
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/10/business/tech-cities-dams-africa-infrastructure/

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