I'm a big fan of science and technology as well as humans. I like the transhumanist movement and was just wondering what your thoughts and feelings are about it?
Please stay on topic and don't obsessively talk about how religion is mostly anti-human etc. I already know that. :P
I'm more interested in how humanity can be better, have more enjoyable lives and evolve in positive ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism
Thanks and I look forward to your ideas and perspectives. :)
I'm going to try to get out everything I have to say in the next hour.
I agree with you and understand what you are saying about biological evolution. It is what it is. That is irrefutable.
You also have a valid point that as long as we live on this planet we can't ignore the impact that the physical environment will have on us as a species such as a rapid biodiversity loss due to the breaking down of an ecosystem or a cataclysmic event such as the eruption of a super-volcano, which could destroy civilization and potentially most life on this planet as we know it. As an animal that because too dependent on technology and should such a situation arise where the backbone that allows for the creation of that technology is lost, it would be detrimental to the species as a whole as our dependency on that technology for our survival will essentially lead us into a great big hole that is our grave.
Realistically, half the world would die at least in such a scenario, because half of the world's population lives in cities and probably has little concept of what food looks like outside a store or a restaurant.
What you don't seem to be getting is that as we progress in our level of technology, biological evolution essentially becomes obsolete. We can overcome the the shortcomings of our randomly selected DNA. If someone is born blind, we can give them eyes. If some one was born with a cleft palate, we can fix that. If someone was born with a congenital heart defect, we can give them a new heart. The idea of transhumanism is really to become master of one's biology. As you've indicated, you think this is makes us "weaker" because it allows what would in a more primitive time be non-survivable genetic traits to be passed on. I say it makes us stronger. How long would it take one man to chop down a tree to gather wood for a house? Should he even use a stone axe? That's technology after all. Maybe he shouldn't even worry about building a shelter. Maybe he should just sleep in a tree like his ancestors of millions of years ago. He could, but there are reasons that his ancestors came down from the trees. There are reasons we he seeks to build a shelter. There are reasons he now cuts down trees with a saw rather than an axe. Those reasons are because it has made it easier for the species to survive and thrive. Besides, as you have noted multiple times, unless such variations are "successfully passed on to future generations of breeders thereby successfully affecting the species as a whole, then you don't call it evolution." In that sense, our technology has not made as weaker evolutionarily, because we still posses the mostly the same genes as a species that our ancestors did half a million years ago. I don't think that's really going to change in the next 200 hundred years or so until we have a better understanding of how each gene mutation or series of mutations affects our physiology. While we may no longer breed with the idea of just biological fitness in mind (we have included a social aspect as well), biological fitness certainly does still play a part.
With technology, we are far stronger than we nature could have built us. We can now quickly and easily adapt to every environment this world has to offer to include environments where nothing else can live: the vacuum of space. It is because of our technology that we have not just survived, but have thrived to the point of dominating every ecosystem we have encountered. That has become a double-edged sword. Our ability to use technology to survive has reached a point where we are not changing the local environments, but the global ones. An argument can be made that the way we have been using the technology that has enabled us to grow our numbers so much so quickly now threatens our very survival. The crux of that argument is that it is not technology that threatens our survival, but how we use it that does. It is our behavior, not simply our technology that will determine our survival.
I think that a balance can be reached. Just as our species created rules that allowed societies to form that increased the survival chances of the individual, we can (and I think will) create new rules governing the use of technology to do the same. There are already vocal movements in the developed world for sustainability, green technology and healthy lifestyles. We are adapting our behavior to the new environment the we have created. Transhumanism is one more behavioral adaptation to the environment we are ever creating for ourselves. Only with transhumanism, we won't be changing our external environment to increase our survivability, we will be changing ourselves for the same purpose.
I can tell you obviously don't agree that this is something that we should do, but regardless it is where we are moving. Of course, that is if there are no cataclysmic events between then and now.
Thanks TAA and Sagacious Hawk. I enjoy the depth of your arguments. I have seen Wall-E and found it to be rather unrealistic like most movies. hahaha I only hope for the best of all worlds and futures, is that too much to ask for? hahahaha I'm joking, of course.
I accept the good with the bad and do my best with both. I think sometimes the word "technology" has a misconception of cold, metal, mechanical, anti-environmental/nature, outside of the soft gooey human and biological world. It is unfortunate to me that Hollywood and others view technology this way but that doesn't reflect all of the reality.
Those are aesthetic choices when viewing or thinking about technology and they are mostly arbitrary. I see technology as being part of the organic and inorganic connections within the web of reality and the cosmos.
Humans are one piece of the puzzle and yes it will all go on without us as it does all over the galaxy and beyond. But since I'm still a human and live in the human world, I have no other choice but to try to live as well as I can as a human and hopefully help others enjoy being human too. Transhumanistic technology is just a possible evolutionary step among many possibilities.
I'm just a fan of it just like I'm a fan of things like Doctor Who, Star Trek, many other shows, biomedical tech, computer or food tech, 3D printing/manufacturing, gadgets, nature programs, the natural world outside, human observation/interactions, comedic people or any other interesting idea, person or thing.
I hold no explicit vested or professional or philosophical loyalty to any of these things. I just find pleasure in these ideas, environments, possibilities or people that are part of these types of things that I find interesting.
Yes, I know that personal preferences can be based on circular logic most of the time. hahaha I do go in circles in my own mind quite often. :P I hope that no matter what your perspectives may be, that you are all enjoying life to the fullest or in the best ways you see fit. Life is very short and precious, employ it wisely. :)
Three words: Power corrupts; beware!
"Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely;
God is all-powerful. Draw your own conclusions."
I included this link to try to keep this conversation on topic but I'm fine with tangents as long as they are not wholesale usurpations of the whole conversation about transhumanism/technology.
What do you think will happen as science figures out/creates new micro environments and structures?
Using technological advancements and innovation to positively adapt the human body to our changing environment is exciting. Being modified to extend longevity would be something to consider for instance. But if we are talking about replacing the natural evolution of our species with DNA-oriented body modification then that is something I am not necessarily comfortable with. Is our current/future understanding sufficient to avoid creating unforeseen flaws in our very genetic makeup? I don't think so and I could not be a willing participant.
Were any of us willing participants when we were born? hahaha The "natural" argument is an odd one to me. Are not humans part of "nature"? So if we guide our own evolution, are we not just naturally evolving but with the added possible benefit of it being a sentient choice how that happens? Also, our ignorance has never stopped us from trying in the past. The main way to get rid of ignorance is to try or experience new things. I'm one that is more on the excited side than the afraid side when it comes to exploring new technologies.
That sounds good, but (at least in the case of what Ed's saying), it ignores the potential damages done to people and humanity before we "get it right".
I'll bet that the ethics of cloning will come up in a serious way, even before the more classically imagined, Transhumanism scenarios. IMO, there's nothing wrong with creating duplicate organisms, like twins, but the looming issue is about how to clone successfully, without damage to the organism.
As far as customizing our own genes, we're almost ready to do that now, by replacing unhealthy genes in an egg with healthy genes from another mother. But it takes time to work out, and I think you might at least admit that an "all speed ahead" or cultic/dogmatic, form of Transhumanism can be very damaging. There is plenty of evidence out there in the world that shows how powerful science and technology can be abused, so to me, this is a human rights issue that needs to consider the possible cons, as well as the pros.
A couple of years ago, a company in South Korea began cloning people's pets. A few went well, but the company got shut down, apparently there were some pretty funky results.
When we evolve naturally, we do so on the basis of need. Evolution by "sentient choice" involves a perceived need, but perceived by whom? Based on what? The concept really raises more questions than it answers.
But right at this instant, there is no visible evolution happening. The most recent genetic leap to occur in H.sapiens was lactase persistence, showing up +/- 5000 y/a in Northern Europe, and independently among the Massai more recently. Both of these mutations are spreading rapidly and will have conquered Asia and South America within a century quite possibly. But that's about it. The most noteworthy aspect of human biology at this point is extreme outbreeding, causing a homogenisation of our miscellaneous gene pools.
There is a gradual weakening of the H.sapiens health (outside medical intervention) due everyone and anyone accessing the breeding process, which is not normally (in nature) taken on by all individuals in a group. But most biologists are of the opinion that this has not yet had a genetic impact, as if there was a sudden meltdown of civilisation, all the weaklings and dependents would quickly die out, leaving only the fittest individuals to breed. Whether this new human genetic makeup would be identical before global demise vs after, is still a matter of contention among biologists, but most assume it would be the same. Where I live in Yukon there are still a fair number of almost genetically pure indigenous peoples, and there are pockets of this diversity left here and there on the planet, though we are in the very last generations of this genetic diversity. In 50 years, this conversation would likely have a different direction.
RE: "But right at this instant, there is no visible evolution happening." - that shouldn't surprise anyone, as evolution is rarely visible, operating as it normally does, over millennia.