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. :)
One way this question has been dropped in the lap of the common person in a way that's hard to ignore was this summer when a South African runner with artificial lower legs was allowed to compete against runners with their birth legs in the Summer Olympics. As time goes by this will become a tougher and tougher issue, and while handicapping may be used to keep partially artificial people from having a physical advantage, that would seem to be more art than science.
Perhaps we should just throw in the towel as one comedian opined and allow every potential enhancement from drugs to physical modifications. That way there can be no cheating, because anything goes, and we can one day see Olympic events like the Volkswagen Toss.
Volkswagen Toss? We'll call it the AWESOME OLYMPICS.
Not MY day-glo orange 1973 camper van, you don't!
As far as who will be in charge of all of this, that is easy to answer. Humans will guide the process even though some of the process is already beyond humans abilities like the computational power in computers that is much faster than our own. I agree that transhumanism/evolution is happening right now and it is not some future pipe dream. The only way a utopian place or world can exist is if humans make that choice. There are many choices going forward and no one can predict exactly how all of these technologies will play out. I'm hopeful they create a more peaceful and just world. We can see that happening with the spread of the Internet. Open communication is a beneficial thing the majority of the time.
Science can build models and do a pretty good job of predicting the "knowns" within science but the future "unknowns" are probably going to surprise all of us. I'm already amazed at the speed at which computers have advanced but I will be even more amazed by the advances in nanotechnology and medicine as the supercomputers make those things more complex yet understandable by some humans and useful for everyone.
The argument that the tech will only benefit the wealthy is not one I subscribe to. An example is cell phones/smart phones/computers etc., when they first came out they benefitted the wealthy disproportionately but now they are ubiquitous. Nature happens and rich people can't control most of it, they can just be part of it like the rest of us.
Plus most scientists I know are egalitarian and open minded with a willingness to share what they learn with anyone that will listen. Anyway, I personally look forward to the day when certain ailments are actually "cured" and not just bandaged over with shoddy drugs and therapies etc.
Thanks for the great responses, I have a lot more research and thinking to do on this subject. It is great to hear all of your input about this fascinating topic.
"The argument that the tech will only benefit the wealthy is not one I subscribe to. An example is cell phones/smart phones/computers etc., when they first came out they benefitted the wealthy disproportionately but now they are ubiquitous. Nature happens and rich people can't control most of it, they can just be part of it like the rest of us."
I was just going to make this comparison. The problem is that those early adopters will get an exponential increase in improvement over time, and if this technology takes as long to become prevalent as it did with the cell phone, then 10 to 15 years is an incredible head start. That's a significant time to consolidate control of the market. Sure, computing power has become ubiquitous in our mobile devices, but it's only those with wealth who have smart houses where others might have a smart phone. When you include the fact that what people are gaining is the ability to essentially be more productive, healthier, and live longer, then I think it is highly likely that the wealthy and powerful in the developed world will widen the gap tremendously in the time it takes other populations to catch up.
I have no doubt that such technology will become akin to the iPhone, the question is how long will it take to get there after it is developed? Just because someone is willing to share with others what they have created, doesn't mean that it will become widely available for the public. That's something that is cause for worry as time goes one.
In an ideal world yes, but reality says otherwise, the poor get poorer and the rich are fewer and richer. The poor catch up on the eventual old technology, but by then a multiplicity of new ones are defining the first world. Certain cheap gadgets of course don't behave so restrictively, due to low cost. But a vast majority of technology is very high cost.
Nate - RE: "The argument that the tech will only benefit the wealthy is not one I subscribe to."
You mention that prices of communication technologies are within reach of the common man, and that's true, but one reason for that, is that once the device is owned, there's still more money to be made than the original cost of the device. With most, there are service costs from companies that will reduce the price of the device, to acquire you as a customer for their services, as just an example. Others might be app, music, and software purchases.
But in the health arena, there's no such incentive to cut costs. I have an uncle who needs dentures. He looked into highly advertised "Clearchoice Dental," regarding their abilility to implant pegs into your jawbone, to which an entire set of teeth can be easily attached and permanently worn - no teeth in the waterglass by the bedside, as in older days.
They have a credit program, but it's not exactly a dollar down and a dollar a week - the total cost of the teeth is $40,000 dollars, with a minimum $20,000 down payment.
One situation involves an entertainment luxury, the cost of which is subsidized by an industry that plans to continue to make money from it, while the other is a health issue - whether physical or emotional - and "they" know that people will pay a higher price, where their health is concerned.
And no health plan I'm aware of will even touch those - most still balk at dental insurance. VA, Social Security and Medicaid just laugh. As long as doctors can continue to afford Mercedes', as much as I'd like to, I can't see those specialty prices coming within the reach of the common man.
I agree that the medical system in America is highly overpriced and the doctors have mostly sold out to corporations and non-altruistic codes of ethics. I lived in South Korea for about 5 years with a few months breaks back in the USA between the one year contracts teaching English.
While I was there I had 5 root canals with crowns on molars as well as one gold filling in one molar as well as a root canal and crown on one of my front teeth. ( DNA but mostly a killer sweet tooth has not been kind on my teeth) Anyway, the total cost for all those things was less than $2000 USD. The most expensive one was the gold filling that was $400 and that was mainly for the cost of the gold and not the labor costs of the dentist.
The point I'm trying to make is that even without insurance the costs of dental or medical treatments was a lot cheaper than here in the States. The universal coverage of healthcare even for foreign workers like I was, makes it very affordable for everyone. My monthly premium was about $90 USD and my employers paid half of it. Total cost from my paycheck was about $45.
People can go to other countries and get services for much better prices and even take a sort of vacation while doing it. Costa Rica and Thailand seem to be popular choices for certain medical procedures but there are many other places as well that even considering the cost of air travel etc. are much cheaper places for some of the really expensive things like hip replacement surgeries and things like that.
If you are wondering, the dentists and doctors in South Korea were mainly educated at western universities and spoke English quite well usually and certainly well enough to do the work. The main thing I observed was that the system was much more efficient and computerized and much more affordable. The hospitals and doctor's offices were modern and mostly up-to-date on technology etc. A national ID or in my case a Resident ID card is all that they needed for me to see any doctor in any area of the country.
When I first arrived and didn't have an ID yet, I went to an ear, nose and throat clinic because I was having severe allergy problems and the pay for the visit was $8 USD even without insurance and once I got the national insurance they retroactively reimbursed me about $4 since the normal "co-pay" was about $4 for a visit to see this specialist doctor. The prescriptions were really cheap as well.
I was extremely amazed and have been quite angry and bitter towards the corporations and government in the USA when I realized how exploitative they have been to all of us "common people" when it comes to our healthcare "system."
I had a CT scan and some other tests on my liver/intestines while there and it cost about $160 USD. I can't even imagine how much those tests would be here in America. The point of this long reply is to suggest that your uncle look to more humane countries than America for help with his teeth. It could save him a boatload of money. Even places in Europe or Canada would most likely be cheaper than here in the US.
South Korea would be a tricky place to go because of the culture or language potential problems but even they are trying to create clinics that cater to medical tourists looking for cheaper medical services than can be found in the US and some other countries. I'm sorry to hear about his difficulties and my poor "common" man heart goes out to him in his challenging times. Have a good one. Laters.
Let me elaborate on what I meant. Humanity can be better= how can humans be less violent and eventually not ever need violence to stay alive. Have more enjoyable lives= less illness and disease that is not in our control to fix. Evolve in more positive ways=live longer, be smarter, have healthier children etc. As for your point about enjoying life to it's fullest, I agree 100% and I do stop and enjoy the roses on a regular basis.
Transhumanism to me is not so much about enhancing our humanity in some freakish ways as it is about using technology in ways that can help us enjoy our human lives as they are, if we are healthy, and if not, then fix the problems so the illnesses won't get in the way of everyone's enjoyment of life. I don't think transhumanism is trying to eliminate the simple pleasures of being human.
Self discipline and exercise won't restore a lost limb or lost brain cells. I guess you have a mostly pleasant life so you can stop and enjoy what you have but there are many humans that have little beyond sustenance level lives and sometimes not even that. Transhumanism and advances in technology can and does help those that are not as fortunate as we are already.
P.S. Judith, ad hominem attacks and condescending tones are not appreciated by me nor do I find them to be effective arguments for or against anything. Maybe you need to think again before expressing your arguments or thoughts.
(Nate, I didn't see any ad hom there. Not even lard-arse sounded too personal to me, even if I resemble that remark.)
Judith just assumes that I or others don't eat well or exercise or take time to enjoy or appreciate life. This is an assumption based on what evidence? Her limited experience. What kind of people does she know then that are mostly like that?
While her comment about a lard arse could be directed at people in general, I'm making the assumption that she is talking to me specifically. I may be wrong but it doesn't change the "I know how to better live than you" attitude that she expressed her thoughts with.
I also don't see the correlation between choosing to enjoy life and her anti-technology ideas. Are they never compatible? That is a strange presumption on her part. I enjoy outdoor nature and meditation etc. as well as technology with little or no difficulties arising from one or the others.
Anyway, people have a right to live or think however they want in relationship to technology and I'm perfectly content with those rights.