Popular culture loves technological advances, but we owe it to ourselves to think through what we are doing
The Bionic Man was just a beginning. We are easily outpacing him and we’ll be better, stronger, and faster. That’s the current attitude in the media, and it’s the anthem of the transhumanist, H+, and posthumanist movement which push for the idea that the human condition can be fundamentally improved through the use of technology.
The public’s fears are tangible, given the comments on a recent Scientific American report: “high time we take charge of our own evolution as it is proving impossible for nature to keep up with the rapidly increasing pace of our technology which could soon produce a viable artificial intelligence. When that happens, if evolution proceeds at the same pace as our technological advancement does, we could soon find ourselves at the mercy of vastly smarter, ethics-free machines”.
The problem with these ideologies has more to do with its rejection of what is ultimately good for us than the technology itself, and is discussed here. Think this is all esoteric stuff? Think again. The transhumanist, H+, and posthumanist themes permeate the media and come in many forms. You may not have heard of the terms, but it’s very likely that you’ve already been exposed to these ideologies multiple times and subconsciously assimilated them into your own thinking and attitudes. Recognizing it and being able to differentiate the good from the bad is paramount if we’re to form ourselves and our loved ones, and cut through the confusion that is so prevalent in our culture.
As an example, consider the movie Ex Machina which TIME bills as this “year’s most seductive high-IQ drama.” In this latest iteration of titillating-technology-turned-twisted-tryst, an android designed with artificial intelligence is given seductively feminine qualities that it uses to manipulate a young male protagonist. IGN, a popular entertainment site which describe themselves as “a leading online media & services company obsessed with gaming, entertainment and everything guys enjoy,” touts Ex Machina: “When Humans Become Gods: If humans can create an authentic artificial intelligence, do we cease to be human? Ex Machina is posing some big questions.” Well, of course we continue to be human, and artificial intelligent machines taking over humanity is in reality, a contradiction in terms, as explained here. But the popular media that we consume feeds us so many fears. It saddens the heart that there is so much confusion.
Is it any wonder that drugs and medication are widespread, and we’re seeking happiness every which way we can? If we can alter the chemicals in the brain, then the transhumanists assert that we can engineer our own state of “continual bliss." Have they watched The Giver, or read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? (Anecdotally, his brother, Julian Huxley, president of the British eugenics society in the 1950s, is generally credited with the first official use of the term “transhumanism”). Their attitude seems to be that if we can replace our limbs with new ones created by us, then we certainly don’t need fairy tales of a messiah God who heals insipid folks begging their God for favors, healings, and “bliss.” Pride goeth before the fall, all over again. From Asimov’s hive-minds where we merge into one super-intelligent cosmic being to assimilating with technology so fully that we become cyborgs, our dialog with many others who are absorbed with this attitude is going to get a lot more interesting to say the least.
The human genome project – a global drive to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion letters that make up the human blueprint – has a budget far exceeding the race to the moon. Cracking the genetic code means the ability to, for example, create new organs for transplant patients, and transhumanists hope, eventually create life to