12/5 2018

Transhumanism (H+) Tristan Johns

There is a particular reason humans are more terrifying than any other animal on Earth, and that reason is known as innovation. Humanity learned how to augment human existence within a single lifetime instead of the millions of lifetimes required by DNA based evolution. If an animal wanted to transition from getting sustenance from land into getting sustenance from the ocean, it had to evolve the body parts necessary for that competitive environment. Humans learned that we didn't need to evolve, we could build boats and still be a competitive organism. This pattern resulted in an exponential explosion of development.

Humans quickly expanded to regions previously unconquered. Environments that were too harsh for the body were adapted to with innovation such as fire, shelter and clothing. In modern days, we are satisfied to a point with material augmentation and are creating intellectual augmentation such as the Internet, smart phone, and others. We are approaching a critical point where we must examine what it means to be a human.

There are a few augmentation routes that I see on our horizon. The first augments I imagine will be cosmetic and purely for physical demonstration. These will be popular for classist and fashion purposes, you could think of the furry, except with an augmented body instead of fur-suit. Some of these will be "cyborg" in fashion; the cheaper augmentation becomes, the wider variety of augments we will see in the wild.

Another type of augmentation I see coming are performance augments. The transition from human labor to robot labor won't be instant, but will have a "cyborg" transition in between. This will be "specialist humans" who fulfill a specific role with their combined human and performance augmentations. The cheaper performance augmentations will become, the more people will have them and the less valuable they will be. This means the people who can afford the best augments will create the most money, enabling them to again get the newest and best augments. Some examples of performance augments could be increased arm strength and motor agility in sports, and eventually intellectual performance augmentations.

The types of augmentations I have mentioned previously are all "post-birth augments". There will be another type of augment that was not an afterthought of the organism, but its intended purpose. Once scientists get a hold of gene-editing technology (they are as I write this), we will see a gradual shift away from the modern human. By that I mean parents will more and more want a child that has a planned, unique DNA structure that will make its life easier. We are all different when it comes to DNA, however we are all deserving of the same basic rights that should be granted to a sentient being. I fear that new routes will be explored in the potential genetic evolution that will lead to intensified tribal superiority. Imagine new races that emerge from the "vanilla human", one with the enhanced performances mentioned previously, along with the cosmetic augments. You think people are racist now? Wait until new races are "patented" and sold as the high-class versus low-class models, because of the profit they are advertised to produce.

I can't guarantee any of this occurs in the next 100 years. But these are possibilities I don't think we can ignore. The question "what does it mean to be human" is more relevant than ever.

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