Transhumanism Will Change Everything

01/08/2014 11:25

by Dylan Love

This is spooky stuff, but it's real and it's already happening.


Humans are augmenting themselves with computers and technology that will expand their abilities, and it's going to get more advanced and morally complex as time passes.
 

Imagine transplanting your entire consciousness into a computer. That's a new type of immortality. Imagine having a robotic exoskeleton that's not just part of your body. it is your body. That's a new type of existence entirely. 

An excellent documentary called "Bionics, Transhumanism, And The End Of Evolution"  [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU1-YFbAifA]  takes a look at the endless wonder and potential of what happens when blood-and-meat humanity meets steel-and-silicon technology. The results are amazing, but what's even more compelling is where this stuff goes down the road as it gets more and more advanced.

 

Meet Dr. Robert J. White. He's a neurosurgeon at Cleveland Medical Hospital in Ohio.

As a neurosurgeon, he specializes in the study of the brain.

He famously transplanted one monkey's head onto another monkey's body. It lived for seven days, and even its personality was intact.

Dr. White argues that this is proof that consciousness and personality can be transplanted, just like a kidney.  White says that a person such as Stephen Hawking could survive his diseased body with his mind intact by way of a total body transplant.

"But where does this bring us as far as the human spirit or soul goes?" said Dr. White. "I guess you could argue that it could be transplanted."


"We are going to remake ourselves," says biophysicist and science writer Gregory Stock. "It will rip free all of the anchors that have, until now, told us who we are as human beings."

Our DNA is made up of four different molecules A, C, T, and G. Nothing else! Looked at in this way, it's not much of a stretch to say that we are digital.

Eric Green is the scientific director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, the team that cracked the 3-billion-letter code of A's, C's, T's, and G's that make us human.

Buried inside that code is all the information necessary for making a brain, a body, anything we want.  When you pair this with our rapidly developing computer technology, the potentials become nearly limitless.  Imagine human abilities as peaks, things we do well and have done for millenia and valleys, things we're less skilled at, newer concepts.

 

Computers are different with an efficient program, they can do all these things equally well. It's like a rising water level, and it's rising faster and faster.


Ray Kurzweil is a famous thinker on the topic of the singularity, an indeterminate point in the future when machine and computer capabilities will overtake that of humans. "Non-biological intelligence is growing exponentially," he says. "Biological intelligence isn't really growing at all."

Mark Tilden builds robots that run without programming. His robots operate on a "neural topolgy" that resembles the human nervous system they "think" and learn for themselves.

Here one of Tilden's creations teaches itself how to walk.

Karl Sims, a computer graphics artist and researcher, wrote a program that simulates life by way of cubic creatures.  He had them compete for "food" a green cube. As further iterations of cubic creatures evolved, they started exhibiting behavior that wasn't programmed into them and began attacking each other in competition for the cube.


Thomas de Marse is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida. He taught his brain-cell powered computer chips an impressive trick.


They can pilot an airplane in a flight simulator, even responding to and compensating for environmental changes like a crosswind.

 

But you don't need to involve organic matter for a computer to simulate brain behavior. This computer chip was built from the ground-up to recreate the behavior of the human hippocampus (the part of your brain that consolidates information from long- and short-term memory).

These chips are in use today in cities like Chicago, where they "listen" for gunshots as an effort to ward off crime and more quickly dispatch law enforcement to the proper location.


It's not just about what you can add to the outside of our bodies, however. With our ability to shape and place individual atoms, there is boundless potential for what we can do inside of our bodies too.  One day, we will swallow "nanobots," microscopic robots that travel throughout our body to fight disease and prevent infection. Some will even be self-replicating!

Still-smaller devices could latch on to our neurons to enhance our cognitive functions or even make a complete copy of our brain.

 


{Note: Again, the appeal by transhumanists to Dr. Robert White, neurosurgeon, Cleveland Medical Hospital, Ohio; frequent guest of Dr. Edmund Pellegrino who was then head of the new Kennedy Institute of Ethics/Bioethics at Georgetown University. Note also again Dr. White's erroneous definition of "person" only in terms of "consciousness" -- an unfortunate legacy from modern philosophy still very much in vogue, especially among transhumanists/posthumanists. (E.g., so if one is not "conscious" then one is not a "person" -- and therefore ... ?!). Dr. White tried, for a while, to use the anthropology of Thomas Aquinas to argue that the soul per se was transplantable, but Aquinas defines 'person' in terms of the whole single compound substance of a human being including the form (soul), the matter (body) and esse (act of existing), each of which is unique to each human being -- so Dr. White realized he couldn't use Aquinas. Dr. White continued to argue that consciousness, personality and even the soul can be transplanted. He was doggedly protested by PETA for use of monkeys in his research, so he left the U.S. for Russia where he continued his research, where the Russian Transhumanism Party is blooming: (home)  http://2045.com/  ; (avatars) http://2045.com/manifest/. See earlier similar appeal to Dr. White in the video: "TransHumanism in the New world order": Transcript (Dr. White), (3 min. - 6:23 min. Note too the common erroneous assumption that The Human Genome was completely decoded decades ago. Again, untrue -- as documented even on the HGP website: Although the completion of the Human Genome Project was celebrated in April 2003 and sequencing of the human chromosomes is essentially "finished," the exact number of genes encoded by the genome is still unknown. They have finally (sort of) admitted this in the very recent article, Never-Seen-Before Secret DNA Code And An 'Unusual Meaning'-Scientists Findâ, at:  http://www.designntrend.com/articles/9627/20131214/never-seen-before-secret-dna-code-unusual-meaning-scientists-find.htm .- DNI}