Transhumanism, Life Extension and my concerns…
At ForHumanity, our primary mission is to defend the rights of Humanity in the age of AI and Automation. Trying to preserve the things that make us human in world where technological change and technological choice are unstoppable. To be clear, I have no interest in try to stop technological progress, this is not a Luddite movement. Trying to stop technological progress is a fruitless endeavor. Rather, I want to maximize the freedom to choose how and when technology is embraced or eschewed.
So when it comes to Transhumanism (Trans) and Life Extension (LE)technologies, such as the digital download of the mind, I see some substantial challenges and I wanted to get them down on paper and begin/join the dialogue. A few bullet points to start:
- People should have the choice to participate or not participate in Trans and LE technologies. I can imagine a few instances where participation in Trans technology might become mandatory. Two examples are implant identification and implant medical records/health monitoring. Both arguments are easily made by a central authority. Implant identification is for “our safety”. Medical health records and monitoring would be argued on a cost basis by the centralized provider of health care. If they know what is wrong with you, they can “fix” it and keep their costs down. I argue that neither technology can be forced upon you, but I believe there will come a day where it will.
- It is likely that when people do choose Trans, then their ability to do certain jobs will be dramatically enhanced, while non-Trans people will not be able to compete. This will create a new “inequality”.
- If and when the mind becomes downloadable, essentially allowing that mind to “live forever”, it introduces a series of challenges, especially around wealth creation and wealth retention for that downloaded entity. In the US, the estate tax was create to minimize the ability of a family to pass more and more assets down through the generations. The estate tax was firmly rooted in American wishes to avoid creating a aristocracy like the British. So unchecked, a digitally downloaded mind could acquire assets over hundreds of years exacerbating an already intolerable income inequality problem.
- Differentiation, like it or not, today there is already “technology prejudice”. If you don’t use Facebook, you are labelled “disconnected”. If you aren’t tethered to your phone, you are “unreachable and out-of-touch”. The older generations struggle to grasp the latest technologies in many cases, which isn’t a new phenomenon. However, the difference this time is that the changes are exponential. Already, middle-aged workers with 20 years of experience are finding themselves without work and without the qualifications for the majority of jobs suited to their experience and pay level. I believe that the divide between enhanced humans and regular humans will create a class system, if not an outright schism.
- Hackability, as personal privacy evaporates, the one place that I am certain I still have privacy, is in my mind. If I engage in Elon Musk’s Neural Lace or some other potential computer embedded brain apparatus, then the likelihood that I could be hacked has gone from zero to something greater than zero. There is already concern about the hackability of pace makers and similar devices, this is a real phenomenon.
- Simple loss of humanity — our quest for the elimination of errors and greater knowledge, destroys something beautiful about humanity, our chaos. Our errors are personal, its a rare person who wouldn’t tell you that they learned more from a mistake than anything else in their life. Our choices, sub-optimal and all, give life color and movement. Our lives have ups and downs and those roller coaster rides are part of the joy of life. Each step we take towards greater knowledge and fewer mistakes comes at a cost — our humanity. We stand on the edge of a precipice. Over the edge, is the worship of intelligence and I fear we are tetering on the brink, our center-of-gravity already over the edge. Intelligence is FAR from the thing that make life worth living, yet every business and every individual is chasing it as if our very lives depended upon it. Chaos avoidance is good for risk management and insurance company spreadsheets. It does not help us achieve “joie de vive”, the joy of life. And finally control
- The concept of living forever has a deeply rooted challenger in faith, especially the Christian and Muslim faiths. Efforts and successes on life extension will be met not only with skepticism, but cynicism, but the faith-based communities. I believe this will be an additional source of divide between humans. A divide that is rife with risk and opportune for conflict, oppression and subjugation by enhanced humans.
These are simply a few of my concerns and I wanted to share them. Please note that I intend for this to be a dynamic and working list. Challenges and additions are welcome, as feedback always is on my writings. As I explore Transhumanism, I will probably amend and adapt this post with the things that I am able to learn along the way. As always, ForHumanity can use your support, visit the website at https://www.forhumanity.center/ for more information.