Interstellar Journeys and Transhumanism Part I
Could human exploration beyond the Solar System imply the need of upgrading our human condition?
Actually, astrobiologists have recently discovered water trapped in rocks from a mine
beneath Ontario, Canada that are similar to Martian rocks containing chemicals known to support life, but this is not enough for humankind, (we) transhumanists have a deep hunger for discoveries and human enhancements and this article will try to focus on the importance of transhumanism and space exploration with manned missions.
The situation so far related to space exploration could be summarized as follows: the
well known Project Icarus is established as a private study based on theoretical and
intense feelings towards unmanned space exploration and one of their challenges is to design an interstellar spaceship capable of traveling to other star systems and galaxies using the most advanced technology before the year 2100. Birkbeck College Scientist, Ian Crawford stated that future space ships will be powered by nuclear fusion engines all of them provided with technology capable of braking when the space ship arrives to its designed space destination, obviously once telescopes have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like exoplanet and the spaceship arrives near the orbiter of that planet.
Daedalus, a 190 meter-space interstellar ship designed in the 70s could arrive to the
Bernard System (located at a 5.98 light year distance) in fifty years. Even though NASA thinks that seventeen million Earth-like (size) planets could exist only in the milky way, there are somewhat around 58 celestial bodies and 38 galaxies at a distance of 15 light years. So, if humankind designed a ship that managed to travel at the speed of light, we should be prepared for a 20 year trip – at least -, which seems, and actually is, a long journey to me. It must be taken into consideration that the farthest existent human build object (Voyager 1) has traveled the equivalent of “only” 18 light hours so technology and research must really make an effort in order to generate new discoveries related to human space transportation capabilities such as Proton engines fueled with Helium-3- deuterium, which can be found both in sea water and in gas planets. So, considering our current technological situation an interstellar journey to other far distant galaxies would take not time but generations, entailing that some or most of the crew would have never seen planet Earth at all because they would have been born aboard.
Back in 1960, a study by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline called Cyborgs and
Space was centered already in the idea of altering some bodily functions of the space
traveler to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments because, according to the writers it would be more logical than providing an earthly environment for him in space, idea that opens and intense and very interesting debate where the transhumanist condition clearly enters in order to allow humans to last longer and develop a concrete functionality, enhancements, bionic implants or upgrades essential for a concrete space interstellar mission, thus, habemus homo spatialis!
Now, numerous issues may arise related to human upgrade for space missions and the possibility of return to Earth of a genetically modified human organism born in space. Among this issues or ideas come the notion of embryo storage in the interstellar spaceship, stem cells and all the medical equipment and tools necessary to adapt the human body in order to cope with different gravity, oxygen, temperature, pressure and radiation levels depending on the hostility of the environment where humankind would step in. So pregnancy wouldn’t be even necessary in case the embryo could develop outside a female uterus.
As Scientist Stephen Hawking stated, it is a must for human kind to explore other
worlds because “the long-term survival of the human race is at risk as long as it is
confined to a single planet. Sooner or later, disasters such as an asteroid collision or
nuclear war could wipe us all out. But once we spread out into space and establish
independent colonies, our future should be safe. There isn’t anywhere like the Earth in
the solar system, so we would have to go to another star.”
Canadian company Chromos Molecular Systems already stated that it is possible to
build artificial chromosomes capable of being transmitted to other generations. Perhaps implanting artificial biologically important organic compounds made from amine (-NH2) and carboxylic acid (-COOH) functional groups, that is to say, artificial amino acids into a living organism could be another way to enhance human capabilities in order to adapt a human body and make it ready for interstellar space missions and allow the upgraded human body to adapt, live, and procreate during a space journey that could last generations.
Therefore, the terms Cyborg, Homo roboticus (a non necessary look alike human type
of figure with an implanted brain) and the farthest and latest step in human evolution
would become a merge or mix between human and robot would be called perhaps
Robotico earthensis, considered the next stage of evolution for humankind; an
individual with both, a manufactured body and a manufactured consciousness with the ability to self-replicate.
The reason we need to upgrade the human condition according to transhumanism
principles is to adapt humans to future intergalactic space manned missions in order to help humans to adapt to hostile environments, develop tasks which could be currently unthinkable for a human from an intellectual, physical, and psychological perspective which would be essential for future space interstellar missions.
Jordi Sandalinas is a Futurist, Transhumanist, Space Consultant, and current Phd Candidate. He won the 2012 Toulouse Space Show Best Communication Award.