In the last couple years, we have seen the emergence of new and exciting technologies aimed towards closing the gap between man and machine; projects like Google glass, scanadu the real life ‘tricorder’ and the myriad of fitness bands are only a few examples of how not only technology has become part of daily lives but is slowly becoming part of what we are and how we define our identity.
Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve the human condition…
From a technologist point of view, this phenomenon is really interesting, but I find even more interesting the social implications of this line of technological development; which is what I intent do explore on this particular article.
I’m a huge fan of science fiction and trans-humanism, that been said I’ve found that many trans-humanists and futurologist often fail to factor-in socio-economic and political variables in their predictions, and in that sense they might end been to optimistic on the time lines that they propose.
Ray Kurzweil, father of the singularity movement and probably the most famous futurologist is a clear example of over optimistic predictions while he is more than likely correct on his technological predictions he fails to factor the possible blow-back from political groups, religious institutions and the resistance that is common with change.
Google Glass, which we could call the earlier beginning of trans-humanist technologies is already getting resistance well before of its public release and efforts have started in the US, and UK to get it banned.
What will happen when more esoteric technologies are made available to us, what kind of resistance we can expect when the first humans can and start modifying their own biology.
The problem with religion
What would happen if as Kurtweil expects, we get the first Immortal humans in the next few decades? How will a discovery like this affect the world religions, who base their core dogmas in the beliefs of an afterlife, and the rewards (or punishment) that come with it?
If death is no longer part of the human condition and becomes an avoidable, even reversible process; how would the religious leaders react?
If such evens happened tomorrow and this treatment was widely available, then is very likely that we would see even larger acts of terrorism committed the religious extremist of the world; a Jihad on science, Christian extremist bombing hospitals and carrying ‘Gods will’.
The Future of Humankind
Regardless of the singularity and the trans-humanism movement, humankind needs to mature; collectively we are in our teenagers still trying to figure out whom we are, and we want to do.
Unfortunately, the stakes are much higher, and if we do not get our act together as species there is a real chance that we will not make it see the promises of the singularity.