The Transhumanist movement is made up of people of various political leanings. There are those who skew left-of-center, those with a more libertarian mindset, and there are even some who are archly conservative. But they all share a belief that science and technology can be wielded to cheat death. And they’re all completely tone deaf.
I first came to Transhumanism in my work as a journalist. In my career, which has spanned a decade of reporting and editorial writing on the intersection of human rights, policy, and science, nothing has raised my hackles as much as this movement’s quest for immortality and the ignorance of the inherent inequality of the discussion around that idea.
It was actually this ignorance, or perhaps willful callousness, that made me pivot my career to focus on bioethics, in which my main areas of research are biohacking, DIY science, and fringe technologies. I overlap with Transhumanist interests more often than not in my career. And it’s not all negative. In fact, I very much agree with the other maxims of the movement, including self-experimentation and morphological freedom, and I enjoy investigating the ethical challenges associated with using scientific knowledge to enhance the limits of the human body.
My disagreement with transhumanists isn’t that they want to be immortal. That goal has been a popular pastime of the wealthy, fearful, and bored for at least a millennia. It’s not the quest for immortality that seems unreasonable to me.
It’s the timing.
We live in an age where civil liberties are constantly under threat. People are in fear of being assaulted, detained, or even killed by state-sponsored actors from municipal police forces to ICE. It seems that our freedoms are eroded daily in favor of catering to the fleeting temper tantrums of one man. Trying to unleash radical life-extension strategies in this political climate is at best vain and misguided, and at worst offensive to anyone who doesn’t possess freedom over their bodies, or doesn’t possess the privilege to even think about living forever.
Some of us are just trying to make sure we’re alive at the end of the week.
Memento mori? Nah, bro.