Eternal Life

Transhumanism has been an easy movement for me to embrace, as much as I disagree with some theories, opinions and timelines proposed within the field. Longer, better, more productive and more free lives would be hard to refuse. Infuse that with an integral framework and you have the makings of a luminous future.

New Scientist has a feature on transhumanists in its Death-focused new issue, under the title “The Plan for Eternal Life“. It seems some transhumanists are making a play to bring the ideas of technologically enhance humans into the mainstream.

Sandberg and his fellow transhumanists plan to bypass death by using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), genetic engineering and nanotechnology to radically accelerate human evolution, eventually merging people with machines to make us immortal. This may not be possible yet, the transhumanists reason, but as long as they live long enough – a few decades perhaps – the technology will surely catch up.

Now this small-scale movement aims to go mainstream. [World Transhumanist Association] membership has risen from 2000 to almost 5000 in the past seven years, and transhumanist student groups have sprung up at university campuses from California to Nairobi. It has attracted a series of wealthy backers, including Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, who recently donated $4 million to the cause, and music producer Charlie Kam, who paid for the Chicago conference. For the first time the organisation has recruited celebrity speakers, such as actor-environmentalist Ed Begley Jr and Star Trek veteran William Shatner.

Here is a video from New Scientist that features transhumanist leaders Aubrey de Grey, Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg:

I disagree with Mr. Sandberg that we are merely data, identity and personalities (objects), but rather that consciousness itself is essential to who we are. Still, there is a lot of benefit to be gained with digital recording of our memories and other traits. Aubrey de Grey is one of my favourite speakers on transhumanism in general because he presents a pragmatic and simple argument, free from some of the more contentious claims being made; he makes clear the moral imperative we have to work to improve quality of lives.

Imagine a world where we have more time to develop. Imagine a world where our lives are rich and lengthy enough that we can achieve our fullest potentials. To refuse this possibility to the world would be a terrible loss.

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