In recent centuries, humanity has got better at all sorts of things it has put its minds to. Farming, maths, war, extreme ironing, getting computers to play chess etc. But there is one endeavour that we don’t seem to be get much better at, despite a top notch obsession: romance.
Back in the day, before Mondo 2000, I and my partners had a magazine called “Reality Hackers” (which evolved into Mondo). The notion that reality was a hackable system was very attractive to us proto-transhumanists. One one level, reality hacking implied all of the enhancement tropes that are fondly embraced by the H+ community — improved brains, awesome abilities, extended lifespans, wingspans… maybe an extra arm… you know the drill.
In “Engineering Transcendence” I argued that science may someday develop the capability to resurrect the dead and build (and/or become) God(s), and proposed to base a “transhumanist religion” on this idea. I also argued that the ultra-rationalist, aseptic engineering language dear to most transhumanists does not seem able to have an emotional impact on the majority of other people. This means that “traditional” transhumanist ideas will remain confined to a very small minority of technically oriented nerds, and never make a difference to the rest of people.
According to my informal observations, the majority of transhumanists don’t consider themselves affiliated with any traditional religious organizations or belief systems – though some, like Giulio Prisco, are deeply interested in the creation of new spiritual traditions founded on transhumanist ideas. However, there is also a nontrivial minority of transhumanists who combine their transhumanism with traditional religious beliefs and membership in traditional religious organizations. And among the most vocal of the religious transhumanists has been the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) – a group consisting of of 116 members, with approximately 41% living in Utah and 90% living in the United States.
In the H+ Magazine context, R. U. Sirius is truly the Man Who Needs No Introduction. R. U. was the Editor of H+ Magazine from its inception until early this year, and remains a regular contributor — and has been well known to all transhumanists since well before the H+ magazine era, as the co-founder and original Editor-In-Chief of Mondo 2000, and an all around amazing writer, musician and cyberculture icon. Perhaps less well known is that Sirius was also chairman and candidate in the 2000 U.S. presidential election for The Revolution Party — and is now active in forming an Open Source Party. His book Counterculture Through the Ages is also a must-read, revealing an uncanny insight for the intersection of culture, psychology and technology, in the past and present as well as the future. And it was specifically with this book in mind that I got the idea of interviewing R.U. about the past, present and future of the transhumanist movement — a piece of history that he’s played a significant role in shaping.
A host of transhumanist thinkers have explored the connections between transhumanism and spirituality, seeking to do so in a manner that pays proper respect to both. One of the most prominent among these has been Giulio Prisco, an Italian physicist and computer scientist, who is the author of the much-read transhumanist/spiritual essay “Engineering Transcendence”, and the leader of the online transhumanist/spiritual discussion group The Turing Church.
We are proud to announce the open-sourcing of The Uncertain Future, the first web-based application for making rigorous, scientific forecasts of transhumanist technologies. The Uncertain Future was started in early 2008 with funding from the Singularity Institute, to allow anyone interested in futurism to form their own, mathematically consistent model of what the future of technology and civilization holds. The code is now available for download here under the GPL.
History holds many thinkers who have dabbled in transhumanist ideas. One such thinker was the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a philosopher who lived in the part of the world we now know as Germany. He lived from 1788 to 1860, and spent most of the latter part of his life in the city of Frankfurt am Main.
Although conservative in his political views and personal habits, Schopenhauer’s philosophy appeals to me as a transhumanist. This is because it emphasises the negative aspects of the human condition, and suggests how we might escape these, and achieve a higher state of being.
I was first exposed to transhumanist hopes while parading half-naked past Singularity Point tent at Burning Man 2000. Tossing back my chestnut curls, I sauntered my Adonis-like body into the tent and listened rapt as I learned that some scientists were convinced that the Seven Causes of Aging were not eternal principles but technical problems had been identified and were tractable. Leaping spryly to my feet, I cried out in a sprightly voice that through the rigorous application of scientific techniques, I would achieve "negligible senescence."