The Nature of Transhuman Nature

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species.

– Why Socialism? Albert Einstein, Monthly Review, 1949

 

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In the myriad discussions focused on future scenarios envisioned and articulated in science, technology, humanities, business, politics, military, and other fields, human nature is invariably undefined yet implicitly or explicitly assumed to be an unchanging and unchangeable constant. However, the resulting solutions based on philosophy, political rhetoric, regulation, legislation, and other external sociocultural mechanisms have too often proven to be temporary, cyclic or ineffectual. Rather, a solution based on a medical model in which human nature is seen not as the causative factor but as an expression of a deeper physical construct – Homo sapiens evolutionary neurobiology – that is thereby potentially amenable to revision. Transforming society by optimizing human nature thus becomes a challenge to be scientifically analyzed and implemented rather than a policy to be defined and administered.

In a announcement that may one day be seen as the first clear step in this direction, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has recently permitted the Francis Crick Institute (both are located in London) to use CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technology on human embryos in early development studies. What’s key is that this is the first time a national regulatory authority has endorsed such research (previous work in China was deemed controversial regarding regulatory practices) – but there’s a potential roadblock: The team led by developmental biologist Dr. Kathy Niakan must obtain ethical approval before beginning their research. Assuming the project moves forward, the initial focus will be on preventative genetic medicine – but applications may well expand to what could ultimately become known as Neurobiological Transhumanism and Genetic Enlightenment.

A brave new world, indeed.

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Stuart Mason Dambrot, Synthesist | Futurist, Critical Thought

Image from cursedblade1337