Recently, Liz Parrish has become patient zero of anti-age treatment that utilizing gene sequencing to reverse the aging process. She is part of a budding international movement called Transhumanism whose chief aim is to rid the world of old age and death. Transhumanist are apt to say that “aging is a disease” that needs to be cured and the movement is funding research to do just that. What does this mean for the rest of us who enjoy being mortals?
Until I began delving into the literature, I have to admit that I was already partially a transhumanist. I did not really get the idea of not living for ever if you had the chance to. When asked by friends if I could be immortal, I always jumped at the opportunity to express my interest. Why? I am curious as to what will become of humanity. It is the humanist in me that believes that humans are the ultimate subject in this story we call life and I want to see how humanity arches. It makes sense that I would be open to the idea of transhumanism when I first encountered it, but I actually was not.
My first exposure to transhumanism occurred last year when I was reading an article about Natasha Vita-More who was a zealous advocate for promoting transhumanism. I read with curiosity about the idea of fusing humanity with technology to insure longevity. That did not appeal to me. Surprisingly enough, I am anti-AI. There is no scenario that comes to my mind that demonstrates AI being friendly to humanity. Consider how we repeatedly fail to live up to our own conviction and ideals. Why would an AI think we are anything more than earth polluters, specie extinguishers, and gross hypocrites? It will be the learning of our own values that turns AI against us. This is perhaps why I am hesitate to fuse myself with technology. So when I heard Natasha Vita-More boasting about this possibility of being a cyborg, I was a bit turned off. But when I read about gene therapy that could reduce the extent to which our telomeres decay, thus freezing the aging process, my interest piqued dramatically. I am already interested in signing up as soon as this technology is available, but I also want to encourage other people to do the same.
Why should we all embrace transhumanism? If the human species is going to survive it will require the sort of thinking that goes beyond anything we are currently capable of. Who better to face the problems of the future than the very people who created them? Besides, it would particularly cruel to subject a future generation to our follies. We have yet to eradicate poverty, disease, war and pollution. It may seem odd, but I believe we have a responsibility to make this world a better place before we pass. So let’s keep on living until we create a world that is worthy of our ideals and abilities. Sold?