How Transhumanism Works

Toward a Super Future: The Three Core Tenets of Transhumanism

Transhumanists advocate for any technology that helps improve the human condition, ultimately evolving us into transhumans, the next step beyond humans, but shy of post-humans, a future being that arises from humans, but whose basic capacities radically exceed those of present day people. To a transhumanist, improvement of the human condition falls under three main categories:

The first is super longevity, or living forever. And if that doesn't work, a really long time will suffice. Lord Voldemort tried to do it through horcruxes. Twilight's Edward Cullen was a vampire, so he was automatically immortal. Transhumanists, however, have traveled down a different research path to super longevity: cryonics. Just as Austin Powers and Dr. Evil froze themselves to be resuscitated later, transhumanists believe that scientific advances can take us to a place where we might one day be able to preserve ourselves at low temperatures when medicine can no longer cure us of our ailments, and then revive ourselves at a point in the future where medicine has advanced enough to heal us. In fact, hundreds of people have already placed enough faith in the emerging technology that they have chosen to freeze their bodies upon death [sources: Cryonics Institute, Alcor]. Only time will tell if they'll ever be revived.

The second item on the transhumanist agenda is super well-being. No one wants to live a really long time if that life is full of the pain and suffering that can accompany old age. Pharmaceuticals and advances in biotechnology can potentially solve this problem. Genetic manipulation may be a viable way to allow us to bring children into the world who inherit only the best traits from their parents, relieving much of the suffering that comes with inheriting genes that factor into depression, obesity and disease. Transhumanists may even advocate for the recalibration of pleasure centers, or using pharmaceuticals to remove negative emotions from life.

The third goal is super intelligence. The human mind has a high level of intelligence, but transhumanists believe that we should not feel limited by the capabilities of the human mind. Why not build machines that are superintelligent, far surpassing the best human brains in every capacity from wisdom to social skills? We may be well on our path toward this future. After all, IBM's artificially intelligent computer system Watson beat out the humans on "Jeopardy!" in 2011. Add a few social skills and you've got yourself a superintelligent being.

More to Explore