Biohackers and reporters gather to watch Zoltan Istvan undergo a chip implant -- Photo by Roen Horn
This essay below is adapted from the philosophical Libertarian book The Transhumanist Wager, which is increasingly being used in colleges and high schools around the world to teach about the future:
Humans are handicapped by our biology. We operate tens of thousands of years behind evolution with our inherited instincts, which means our behavior is not suited towards its current environment. Futurists like to say evolution is always late to the dinner party. We have instincts that apply to our biology in a world that existed ages ago; not a world of skyscrapers, cell phones, jet air travel, the Internet, and CRISPR gene editing technology. We must catch up to ourselves. We must evolve our thinking to adapt to where we are in the evolutionary ascent. We must force our evolution in the present day via our reasoning, inventiveness, and especially our scientific technology. In short, we must embrace transhumanism--the radical field of science that aims to turn humans into, for lack of a better word, gods.
Transhumanists believe we must stand guard against our natural genes, less they chain us to remaining as animals forever. We believe our outdated instincts can easily trick us from knowing right from wrong, practical from impractical. If one looks closely, the human body and its biology constantly highlight our many imperfections.
Compared to humans, rats have better noses for smelling. Pigeons have sharper eyes for seeing. Crocodiles can run faster. Earthworms can survive underwater longer. Cockroaches can bear far colder temperatures. Humans are only best at reasoning. Yet, computers can already beat the best of us in chess, math, and recently the sublime game Go. And the robots we've made are far stronger than we are, can handle more danger, and can fly through interstellar space without us.
Obviously, the human body is a mediocre vessel for our actual possibilities in this material universe. Our biology severely limits us. As a species we are far from finished and therefore unacceptable. The transhumanist believes we should immediately work to improve ourselves via enhancing the human body and eliminating its weak points. This means ridding ourselves of flesh and bones, and upgrading to new cybernetic tissues, alloys, and other synthetic materials, including ones that make us cyborg-like and robotic. It also means further merging the human brain with the microchip and the impending digital frontier. Biology is for beasts, not future transhumanists.
Our outdated biology's emphasis on social interaction is also dangerous for the overall evolutionary ascent of the human race--so dangerous that new questions must be asked immediately. Are so many of us healthy for this fragile planet? Should we rid ourselves of all our 25,000 nuclear weapons? Is the sexual ritual even functional anymore? Does matrimony serve purposes outside of private property and economics? Are social customs like monogamy foolishly conservative? Should we embrace a culture of drugs and biohacking? Should government use cranial implant technology to safeguard its citizens? Should society insist that all government and military leadership be equally split between females and males? Should corporations be hindered from catering to the weak, petty sides of human nature? Should religion and superstitious faiths be discouraged? These are challenging and thorny questions to ask. Yet, they should be asked, and maybe even the best answers should be implemented if we are to be true to our highest selves.
A truly transhumanist society should embrace reason and the scientific method to improve itself and bring about the best world possible on Planet Earth.
Zoltan Istvan 4-minute BuzzFeed interview on transhumanism and Transhumanist Party