Cyberpunk Review » Debate on whether we should be Post-human

January 26, 2006

Debate on whether we should be Post-human

This month’s episode of Reason Online has a debate titled, “Who’s Afraid of Human Enhancement? A Reason debate on the promise, perils, and ethics of human biotechnology.” The question really involves whether we as a society can deal with the ethics involved with human enhancement, including: “cloning; stem-cell research; processes to increase longevity, intelligence, and physical abilities; and many other procedures at various stages of development..”

The debate was framed this way: What was once the province of science fiction—human beings augmented to such a degree that they become “post-human”—is rapidly becoming fact. Indeed, one of our panelists tonight will even argue that within the next century death itself may become optional. These are the sorts of developments that fill some with hope and others with horror.

As to where I come down, I’m afraid my thoughts on this are mixed. Part of me, a big part in fact, worries that those working towards making designer babies and bio-engineered fruit, and self-healing drugs exhibit incredible hubris to think that they can in effect play God and “design” society by making us post-human. Another part of me thinks that the increasing nature positive feedback cycle (meaning deviating from an initial goal state) that is the co-evolution of man and his tools is going to continue whether we like it or not - our best hope is to prepare for it.

Then, of course, there’s the “cyberpunk” side of me that worries that even if we can create a perfect post-human being, corporate control and other societal nasties will truly make the transformation post-human into hell on earth. Just because its possible to use technology for the betterment of mankind, does NOT mean we will. Again, I don’t mind corporations making money over their discoveries - this is not what I’m about. The larger concern is the overall impact that the actions of each individual corporation working in their own interests amount to in a larger, non-linear global marketplace. Eventually, as with most positive feedback cycles, they go past the thresholds of possible control. What happens then is anyone’s guess, which, incidentally, is exactly what these guys are doing guessing. Still, its a well done debate. They even have a nice mp3 of the event.


May 29, 2007

randomrob said:

I think doing away with class, race and gender differences might not be a bad thing. But I’m sure some will view losing difference as losing freedom.

November 8, 2007

Constanza Riddle said:

It doesn’t scares me, rather it makes me sick to think that we may play the role of “God” in the near future. There’s nothing wrong to be better, the problem with us humans is that we always want more, we are never satisfied. What if we finally reach our goals, of superintelligence, superstrenght… superlongevity. superwhatever? i guess it’s not gonna be enough for us and the rulling companies, then what would they/us want to do?

In another point, just see us now we are losing our hability to describe our feelings or to comunicate with others face to face.

December 2, 2007

TCTNT723 said:

Being an artist, I find that the new advances in technology are just as horrifying as they are helpful. While our medical sciences are creeping up in their advancements, even the simple microchip that removes imagination from a child’s toy is deteriorating what was once full of imagination and freedom.

Humans trying to play God in a world that a God created. You’d think we would be smart enough to learn as human beings from the movies we see and the books we read that technology will be our downfall. Ray Bradbury was trying to prove this years before my time, that advancements will remove the imagination and things that were once imagined by humans will soon be imagined by programming and data reconstruction.

I know I’m only 17 years old, but I have done much thinking on this subject. I am pursuing sci fi and cyber illustration as a career, and I guess while I am excited to draw all of these new advancements in technology, I fear drawing them as well.

I am reminded with this article of a story by Ray Bradbury reguarding the rust factor of everything in the world. Since metal can be so fine it is not noticeable, it has fused with our bodies and if discovered, an anti-rust solution could be the world’s total downfall. True, it is just a sci fi story, but is it really? Perhaps human beings have become so enthralled with discovering the origins of matter that the race for power has gone to higher levels.

The first human will be created via bioengineering. And that human being will be the destruction of this planet itself. Its bad enough that people use internet tools such as Myspace and Facebook to communicate with people that they COULD talk to everyday, but will not to avoid social contact. We rely on machines for both our survival and communication. The first engineered human will not know what to think. Created to be human, to communicate in a world where a single monitor is a key to the world that could be reached by leaving a household.

Ah, I feel my rants starting to come on, so I think I will refrain from commenting any longer.

[…] will post-humanity go from here? SFAM posted this short piece about a podcast debate on post-humanity. It’s mostly about bio-engineering, but should give you a good place to […]

Dragyn said:

Are we talking “posthuman” or “transhuman” here? I am all for transhuman as long as no one gets hurt. There are, unfortunately, wildly pro-technocracy advocates like Kurzweil and Negroponte who think everything can be solved with more high tech. What are they doing about the heavy metal pollution? Nothing. We pretend to “recycle” electronics and old computers but what we really do is ship them to China where kids dig through the rusting piles looking for valuable parts/minerals. Cancer is rife in communities surrounding these junkyards. Probably why so many of us love the cynicism of BLADE RUNNER. The future as rotted dump, with damaged souls scavenging for whatever they can find (love with an android, for instance).
Didn’t you know that God is dead? Funny place for the true believers, a forum on cyberpunk! Where is God in the future? Ignoring us like the past. LOL

January 14, 2008

Humanities Crossroad « Cymon’s Weblog said (pingback):

[…] A podcast debate on post-humanity. […]

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