George Carlin once asked, “If God loved you, how come He gave you tumors?”
While teaching courses in the computer science department at the University of Texas at Austin, I came to believe that 21st century technology—especially nanotechnology, genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics—will transform reality.
“We are at the cusp of incredible things. It’s time to wake up and embrace it. We didn’t evolve through billions of years to remain animals. I believe that the biology has to go. Essentially, we’re living in a flesh coffin. I think we need to get down to the point when we’re basically pure data in machines.”
Technological posthumanists, whether wittingly or unwittingly, draw upon the long-standing Christian discourse of “theosis,” according to which humans are capable of being God or god-like. From St. Paul and Luther to Hegel and Kurzweil, the idea of human self-deification plays a prominent role. Hegel in particular emphasizes that God becomes wholly actualized only in the process by which humanity achieves absolute consciousness. Kurzweil agrees that God becomes fully actual only through historical processes that illuminate and thus transform the entire universe. The difference is that for Kurzweil and many other posthumanists, our offspring—the posthumans—will carry out this extraordinary process. What will happen to Home sapiens in the meantime is a daunting question.
Ted Chu’s first book, Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential, is a book that is going to appeal to many transhumanists, futurists and readers of H+ especially those that are looking for a spiritual or cosmist approach to transhumanism.
Perhaps, as Prof. Stephen Hawking thinks, it may be difficult to “control” Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the long term. But perhaps we shouldn’t “control” the long-term development of AI, because that would be like preventing a child from becoming an adult, and that child is you.
Even in this day of global change and universal paradigm shifts, the technologies that will evolve us beyond our previous states will soon become a reality for everyone. As this may be, there will be one element that will not change. That element is hostility, the very element that has been with us throughout history. In the posthuman era, hostility will still continue to exist and divide us into factions. This time, it will be our choice in form that will cause intolerance and hostility. As one chooses to become part of posthumanity, they will choose to either upload their minds into computers to become one with machinery or evolve their current form using genetic manipulation. It is this choice that will make them part of the Schism.
“Get creative about the future!”
This issue includes seven articles on transhumanity from a Jaspersian perspective, discusses the meaning, nature, and scope of transhumanist and post-humanist philosophies, and critically engages ideas concerning enhancement technologies and enhanced human/trans/post-human beings as well as an introduction by Gregory Walters.