Is transhumanism desirable
What is transhumanism? What are the political consequences of this new, technology-centric ideology? And how about a dialogue about the future of human existence with it on the part of humanistic approaches? These questions inevitably lead into even broader and deeper dimensions: How will (and want) we live in the future - as individuals and as a society? How can free (political) will be protected from access by too much technology - and how much technology is desirable to extend and improve our lives?
These are questions that will become increasingly important in the coming years in the area of tension between politics and communication - and will move to the center of practically all areas of life in the dialogue between humanism and transhumanism.
Technology today is becoming a political force in two ways
First, by becoming a "transformation technology": a logic that is present in all areas of society, without which nothing works and which shapes the overall change in conditions. The "micro-political" power of penetration it has developed corresponds to a growing global political role that is not limited to information control or the military.
Until a few years ago, technology was subordinate to economic logic, but today it begins to dominate the globalized economy from its own logic, for example in the form of innovations from Silicon Valley. Some even believe that technology, due to its pervasive influence, could go from a "soft power" to a "liberation technology" - such as the "Liberation Technology Program" (Program on Liberation Technology) the influential Stanford University.
Second, technology has recently also become directly political: in the form of the establishment of globally networked "transhumanist" parties. In 2014 the bestselling author Zoltan Istvan founded the "Transhumanist Party of the United States" (Transhumanist Party of the USA). He is running for president of the United States in the November 2016 elections.
Together with other technophiles around the world, he founded the at around the same time Transhumanist Party Globalwhich is to become a network of national transhumanist parties: a kind of "First International" of the technophiles. Party foundations took place in 2014 and 2015, among others in Great Britain (UK Transhumanist Party, UKTP) and Germany (Transhuman Party Germany).
Transhumanist party clusters are also planned according to geopolitical regions: Transhumanist Parties North America (TP-NA), South America (TP-SA), Europe (TP-EU), Middle East & Africa (TP-MEA), Northern Asia-Pacific (TP-NAP) and South Asia-Pacific (TP-SAP). By means of democratic elections, the new political party clusters are striving to achieve what "transhumanism" literally intends: to promote, enable and ultimately also to realize "beyond the (previous) people" at all levels of society.
Transhumanism as "Human Enhancement": "Improving" the human body
There are different approaches to this. The most important one is the new medical, scientific and economic area "Human Enhancement". In connection with the ideology of "transhumanism", it creates an antithesis that is likely to be fundamental in the future to the humanistic image of man, which has guided the development of western societies so far.
"Human enhancement" developments today include:
1. the amalgamation of the human body and brain with "penetrative" technology;
2. the cyborgization now also of healthy body tissue; and
3. The "blending" of human and artificial intelligence (Artificial Intelligence, AI). Leading scientists, intellectuals and business leaders expect (and in some cases also warn against it) that Artificial Intelligence will develop a kind of "self-reference" and thus a basic ability to act anticipatory by 2045.
This "multiversal" trend towards the "hybridization" of humans and technology is in the form of broadly and wirelessly applicable "brain-computer interfaces" (BCIs) and "brain-machine interfaces" (BMIs), both of which are direct interconnections of the brain with computers and Representing machines, shortly before the social introduction.
Leading "transhumanists" advise Western governments, companies and decision makers. In doing so, you are increasingly gaining opinion leadership for overcoming previous humanity.
Steps on the way to a "transhumanist" - and subsequently possibly also a "transhuman" - civilization
These developments begin today in their mutual fertilization and in the interaction of ideas to contribute to influencing the public debate of technologically developed societies in the direction of a new relationship between technology and humans - and thus to relate politics, technology and anthropology from the ground up to one another.
Since the image of man and the form of society are related, the fundamental tension between humanism and transhumanism will play an important role in further development. The dialectic between humanism and transhumanism is at home in (and originates from) technologically innovative areas of society such as medicine, mobility and science.
In terms of its consequences and effects, however, it extends far beyond the fundamental self-image of the political - beyond the previous left-right dualisms.
So were the start of the Google project "Ends Death", the intensification of the BRAIN initiative of the USA and the expansion of the "Singularity University" on the NASA site Moffet Federal Airfield near Palo Alto, a 2008 by Google chief engineer Ray Kurzweil co-founded university, which prepares for the awakening of technology to self-confidence and to "existence as an individual" (singularity) is dedicated to concrete steps on the way to a "transhumanist" society in 2014 and 2015.
Assembly: Marcel Franke
Leading university centers such as the - so far only - "Future of Mankind Institute" (Future of Humanity Institute) of Oxford University, which receives funding for the future of human existence from financiers and major sponsors from the USA and Europe, including the global technology-economic avant-garde in Silicone Valley, are actively advocating the cyborgization of humans.
If possible, you also want to extend the life of the human brain independently of the human body (Head transplant, Head transplant) and a replication of the human mind using a computer and artificial intelligence-supported algorithm system (Mind uploading - "Mind charging" in computers and the Internet) scientifically and socially enforce.
The question is, however, whether this "transhumanist" tendency will not also trigger a "transhuman" development - which is already part of the program in the name of the "Transhuman Party Germany".
The question of "I" changes from an ethical to a logical question
This development has accelerated significantly in recent years. Direct brain-computer and brain-machine interfaces are already standard in medicine, science, and the military. Controlling machines through thoughts (such as wheelchairs) is becoming a routine reality that is about to become widespread in everyday life, presumably also in connection with the "Internet of Things".
Governments both in Anglo-American (USA, Great Britain) and in Asia (China, South Korea) discuss the medical cyborgization of humans on the one hand - and the physiologically representative explorability of their minds through "mirroring" in robot "twins" (Japan ) on the other hand. Both are increasingly no longer for passive-conservative, but for actively-modifying purposes.
The possible areas of application affect all areas of society. Due to globalization, they are less and less bound by ethical-normative, cultural or religious boundaries. While transhumanism assumes "that technology will replace God" and "human enhancement" will trigger a whole new phase of body-related spirituality (Zoltan Istvan), globalization weakens ethics by means of comparative relativization in public discussion, even without expressly intending to do so.
Paradoxically, it leads to a return of a "classical" scholastic constellation according to the motto: "Logic is the only true ethic of thought".
The dialectic between the humanistic and the transhumanistic image of man becomes less on the level of “softer” and more appellative ethical, but rather “sharper” - and thereby differentiating between content and act of thinking - logical argumentation patterns about nature and the desirable future of the human “ego” "play.
The question of the "I" as a directly self-given fact of "conscious consciousness" in connection with a physical substrate: the brain, as well as its "unbridgeable abyss" (Colin McGinn) will play an essential role.
The health sector and the next "great civilizational leap" into the "business with the human body"
After initial hesitation for historical reasons, the topic is now also booming in Central Europe. High-tech nations are beginning - at least behind the scenes - to prepare for the "next great leap in civilization" after that of computers and the Internet in the 1990s: the leap into the future leading industry of "human bodies".
In combination with automation and artificial intelligence, this will gradually replace the previous leading industries, on which Germany and other Central European economies lived, before the end of this decade. Existing cars are becoming intelligent and driving by themselves, but caring for your own body and improving the quality of life and lifespan will take priority.
The motto will be: If I have extended my own life and improved my body - as the closest and closest to me - I can still buy a car.
In other words: In the age of highly individualized "body industries" (from which Apple's idea of connecting the name of technical devices with an "i", such as iPhone or iPad was only a faint foretaste) on the central economic and innovation question.
It will play an increasingly comprehensive role and the anthropological and anthropological aspects will gradually move more and more into the center of the social debate - whether this is welcome or not, and regardless of whether society is prepared for it or not.
The health sector - alongside the mobility sector - will play a pioneering role in this development. Both areas could change rapidly under the impression of "human enhancement" (human optimization): From the previous "healing of the sick body" (healing) to "improve the healthy body" (enhancement), and from transporting the real, "heavy" body to technoid, "light" proxy mobility.
In addition, there is extensive automation, which, according to estimates by international organizations such as the OECD and the United Nations, will replace at least a third of all human-operated industrial and service jobs with a combination of machines with artificial intelligence in the next 10 years - which is the effect the technological upheaval will intensify socially.
Assembly: Marcel Franke
The announcement by the world's largest carmakers, VW and Toyota, that they want to go massively in this direction is only the first step in an impending upheaval that is unparalleled and will turn many familiar patterns upside down.
A shift in social parameters and logics is imminent
The effect of the civilization trend towards comprehensive "transhumanist" technologization will be the overall sociopolitical necessity of a radical shift of previous public mechanisms. To stay with the automotive sector:
When people are replaced by machines and people no longer generate income for themselves through work, it is pointless for the machines to produce the cars because there is no one left who has the money to buy these cars.
This results in the need for a new conception of social redistribution of production yields to the public - and possibly also of the connection between society and the individual as a whole, as is the case with the "technoprogressive" (left) strand of the "transhumanist movement", including James J. Hughes (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies), Nick Bostrom (Future of Mankind Institute, Oxford University) or the 2016 presidential candidate of the "Transhumanist Party of the USA", Zoltan Istvan, make revolutionary calls for Anglo-American standards.
Sections of the "transhumanist" movement advocate, among other things, an unconditional basic income, generally accessible free public education and universal free health care, but also free general access to technology and education as a basic human and civil right.
This is to be financed with the productivity benefits of automation and artificial intelligence, which experts expect in their combination to produce significantly cheaper than humans and thus generate larger surpluses.
In any case, the universal surge in technology describes a social task of restructuring and reorganization, which is unprecedented in this dimension, but which the developed societies will face in the coming years. That makes this surge political by its nature.
Ideas of the "transhumanists" on the expected change
In this constellation, parts of the "transhumanist" movement reject the term "transhumanism" as restrictive and ethically neutral and replace it with the term "neo-humanism". They understand the - in their opinion inevitably imminent - amalgamation of people, society and technology not only in a passive but also in an active sense as "transformation technology", even as "liberation technology".
Mankind should - as led by leading transhumanists at the "World Future Congress 2045" (Global Future 2045 Congress) in March 2013 in an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - in her opinion, put all hopes in technology to end hunger and underdevelopment, illiberal forms of society, wars and unrest and to restore equality and peace.
By extending the lifespan of the human body and mind, new deep dimensions of self and world experience become accessible to man, which could produce a "different", more cooperative and more peaceful political, so the transhumanist hope.
This also includes the preparation for the, according to scientists like Stephen Hawking (Cambridge University) and big industrialists like Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, private Space-X space flight) or Bill Gates (Microsoft, Gates Foundation) within the framework of the next one, which has already begun Push of space travel (including its commercialization) imminent encounter with non-terrestrial "life", be it "intelligent" or not.
At the same time, most transhumanists in the context of technology-human synthesis, which they represent as the core of further human development, wipe practically everything that has existed in culture, religion and human history as mere constructs of those that are now about to be overcome human condition off the table. Because of their mortality and fundamental existential concern, humans had to maintain a "culture of death" for millennia.
But the transhumanists are convinced: their time is now coming to an end for the first time in history. If medicine had fought illness and death and thus started a universal revolutionary project of uprising against the "natural order" against the resistance of traditional forces such as organized religion (Paul Innocence), transhumanists believe that illness and death are now within reach, very " to be terminated ".
Even just the prospect of it could change human culture - and not just individual areas of culture such as art, spirituality or religion, but more in-depth what "culture" actually means (and should mean).
To the radical relativization of all previous human cultural achievements and the desire to replace them with technology that assimilates people across borders and thus creates the transhumanist hope after the end of the "cultural wars" between nations and the beginning of a first world civilization by means of technology, the ( De) constructivism has contributed since the 1980s and 1990s.
For decades he has publicly asserted the illusion of all "substance thinking", including that of the human "I", and enforced the "I construct" in the unconscious of contemporary culture.
This has also led to the subliminal conviction among progressive humanists that technology will be the essential motor to produce a world civilization, since politics, religion and culture are apparently unable to do so due to their "substantialist" kernels (which are illusory from this point of view).
The need for action: the previously underdeveloped contribution of the humanistic worldview
The majority of humanists are skeptical or even negative about this overall development. They fear not only the loss of the previous human self-image, but also the abolition of ethical, moral, cultural and humane standards.
If, they fear, the "balancing" image of humanism and Enlightenment dissolves through the universalization of technology, even if only gradually or quickly, this could mean the erosion or even abolition of the basic pillars of international minimum agreements, including human rights and democracy .
Because these are based on the humanistic conviction of the free will of the ego as well as on freedom and individual sovereignty. This is rejected by the libertarian, right-wing liberal strand of the "transhumanists" as a mere cultural construct or arbitrary idea. But if they fall, the idea of the political must inevitably change fundamentally.
Overall, a development is foreseeable within which practically all areas of globalized society will be determined by the dialogue about the desirable future of man, society and politics in the area of tension between the arguments of humanism and transhumanism.
The question is what arguments humanism can provide under the growing influence of transhumanism. Since the parts of those thought forms that are organized in publicly visible institutions that call themselves "humanistic" have, at least in part, actually joined transhumanism or are in close cooperation with it, this question is urgent - also in the interests of transhumanism, which, like its most important ones Representatives know and also express dialectics and dialogue needed to develop.
The currents of contemporary humanism must:
1. Find out more about previous developments - and options and approaches to change at the intersection between people and technology - that are already in place;
2. to deal conceptually and conceptually with a far greater use of resources and time than before;
3. To this end, develop, organize and provide an independent analysis tool, which is a task of renewal and new creation, not the mere further development of the historical stock of humanism;
4. Present constructive, co-creative criticism in public, including in the dialogue between "identifiable" faces and public forms of argument: public minds are needed;
5. To present a humanistic (or in the true sense "neo-human") image of man in the public debate in such a way that it is a credible and realistic, if possible unavoidable supplement or - if necessary, at least in individual sectors - an alternative to transhumanist development concepts;
6. Working on the political, cultural, technological and public spheres in more detail under expressly contemporary issues and showing presence therein, also in the sense of a lively further development of basic humanistic ideas;
7. Show a constructive, non-apocalyptic way into a future that will probably in any case be more dominated by technology than before - and that cannot be avoided with mere "warnings of the abyss".
All in all, contemporary humanism must be about re-establishing and representing the relationship between (political) humanism and humanity under (and in) contemporary conditions, which has been questioned since the constructivist, "post-humanist" and feminist criticism since the 1960s to encourage them and at least partially to redraft them in the light of new developments.
Outlook: What a contemporary political and communication strategy must do
Every political and communication project "Humanism, Transhumanism and the Future of Man" should therefore pursue the following goals:
1. Publicly visible and argumentatively relevant contribution to a sensible overall design of the development between humanism and transhumanism.
Since most people in today's technically highly developed democratic societies still have little or no idea of what is already possible, feasible or in development, development should first be discussed using concrete examples with the broadest possible sections of the population for the purpose of clarification .
This is a question of communication that by its nature is already political - like any enlightenment. It is true that most phenomena - such as brain-computer interfaces, biotechnological hybrid prostheses or thought control of machines - first have to be conceptually penetrated, since their character is "deep ambivalence" or a "beyond good and evil" in which can gather sharp opposites in one and the same phenomenon.
For example, one cannot have a cancer cure without accepting a technology that can transform humans into monsters. How to deal with it?
2. Involvement of decision-makers in politics, business, technology and education in an in-depth discussion of the topic. This should result in a public debate that is both stimulated and shaped by the broadest possible contribution options for citizens.
3. Cooperation and discussion with humanist and transhumanist representatives in civil society, institutions and in the (in a broad sense) cultural field on individual problems and their possible contributions to the overall agenda.
In all of this, a special focus should be placed on the demonstration of logical errors of thought of both humanism and transhumanism as well as on inadequacies and contradictions in the theory as well as in the scientific and social practice of technological innovation ideologies. This includes in particular the political programs for the coming years, i.e. the specifically relevant ideas for politicizing the area of tension between humanism and transhumanism.
The logical problems and contradictions relate in particular to the ego problem, which - in terms of existence and perspectives - is the most controversial between the two camps, but at the same time the most important for deciding fundamental questions of a cognitive, empirical and conceptual nature.
The age of transhumanism has now also begun politically. The question is what role the previous humanism and its core concern for the human "I" can play in it. This question will shape the years ahead in the conversation between humanism and transhumanism.
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