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Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Controlling our Bodies James J. Hughes Ph.D. Secretary, World Transhumanist Association Public Policy Studies,

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Controlling our Bodies James J. Hughes Ph.D. Secretary, World Transhumanist Association Public Policy Studies,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Controlling our Bodies James J. Hughes Ph.D. Secretary, World Transhumanist Association Public Policy Studies, Trinity College, Hartford CT

2 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Starting Point: Basic Human Rights Liberal democracy Self-ownership and self- determination Control of our bodies and brains Reproductive rights and sexual freedom John Locke

3 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Grounds for Restricting Liberty Strong: Stop people from harming others Weaker: Stop people from harming themselves At least until their choices are free and fully informed Weakest: Moral distaste, religious objections, vague anxieties about the future

4 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Technology frees us from the tyranny of Nature Hunger, sickness, aging, death We’ll never control everything, but… May we have the strength to change what we can, the serenity to accept what we can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference (Reinhold Neibuhr) Freedom through Technology

5 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cells Embryonic stem cell cloning for therapeutic purposes should be legal and publicly funded Reproductive cloning should be legal once it is demonstrated safe in animals In the scheme of things, however, embryonic stem cells and cloning are technical and moral side shows

6 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Emergent Technologies Technologies that will radically change human life: Psychopharmacology Genetic engineering Nanotechnology Artificial intelligence Cognitive science The convergence of all these

7 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Human Genetic Engineering Technologies that will fundamentally transform human life Corrective somatic engineering Correcting disease-causing genes Genetic enhancement Making someone smarter, healthier, loner lived, than they otherwise would be Adding aesthetic or novel characteristics Germline engineering The manipulation of the genomes of sperm, eggs or early embryos, in ways which are inheritable

8 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Nanotechnology Dramatic progress in recent years Nanodevices and nanorobots Universal assembler Nanotech in the body, supplementing immune system Nanotech in the brain Foresight Institute:

9 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 To What Ends? Avoiding disabilities Health Longevity Intelligence Aesthetic preferences Spiritual goals Ensuring the best for our kids

10 Copyright World Transhumanist Association st Century BioPolitics Transhumanists versus bioLuddites BioLuddites: Religious Right Deep Ecologists Left-wing and Feminist Critics of Biotech

11 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 BioLuddite Books Aldous Huxley Brave New World Leon Kass 2002 Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity Francis Fukuyama 2002 Our Posthuman Future Bill McKibben 2003 Enough

12 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 What is Transhumanism? An intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally altering the human condition through applied reason, especially by using technology to eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

13 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Early Transhumanists HG Wells – addressed the future evolution of humanity JBS Haldane, 1923, "Daedalus: Science and the Future" JD Bernal, 1929, "The World, the Flesh and the Devil” Olaf Stapledon’s 1931 Last and First Men Julian Huxley, 1957, coined term "Transhumanism“ - "the human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself." “FM-2030” (FM Esfandiary) popularized term “transhumanism”

14 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 The Goal of Transhumanism A world society that allows individuals to choose to use technology to live Longer Happier Smarter With more control over their lives To ensure that those technologies are safe and universally accessible A transhuman democracy where humans and posthumans can peacefully coexist

15 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Transhuman and Posthuman What is a transhuman? A 'transitional human‘ becoming posthuman (glasses? Insulin?) What is a posthuman? How different does someone have to be before they are post-human? Who cares if they are post-human?

16 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Possible Modes of Being accessible by humans accessible by transhumans accessible by animals accessible by posthumans

17 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Current Transhumanists World Transhumanist Association Transhumanist Declaration & FAQ Bioethicists like Greg Stock, 2002 Redesigning Humans Computer scientists like Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec WTA Chair Dr. Nick Bostrom Oxford University

18 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 What Transhumanism is Not Transhumanism is Not racial eugenics Transhumanist organizations are categorically opposed to pseudoscience, racism and authoritarianism Not a religious movement or cult Most transhumanists are non-theistic, but transhumanism is compatible with various forms of humanistic religious belief Not a political movement Transhumanists range across the entire spectrum of political views, although they tend to strongly defend civil liberties

19 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Central Biopolitical Disputes TranshumanistsBioLuddites PersonhoodHuman-Racism HumanismSacred taboos Individual libertyBans, yuck factor Risks are manageableTech should be banned Trust parentsAssume parents are bad

20 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Personhood vs. Human-racism Spiritual beliefs about the soul Crypto-spiritual references to “human dignity” Personhood: “conscious beings, aware of themselves, with intents and purposes over time” You can be human and not persons, and persons and not human Status of the embryos, the brain-dead, animals, genetically altered humans

21 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Humanism 18 th century rationalism and skepticism Dignity and worth of humanity Our capacity for self-realization through reason, without supernatural assistance Humanism not atheism: there are religious humanists in every tradition Transhumanists are humanists who emphasize what we have the potential to become.

22 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Humanism vs. Sacred Limits Playing God: antibiotics, IVF, organ transplants? Human intervention will always end in disaster Nature is too complicated to ever understand

23 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Ensuring Safety, or Stopping Hubris Precautionary Principle: Do unknown risks warrant indefinite bans? FDA not God Squad: FDA has authority to ensure safety, but not theological correctness

24 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Ensuring Safety of Technology How do we research potential risks to offspring? Animal research – shows cloning is not yet safe Increasingly predictive computer modeling Human trials on people who are very sick Eventually, by approving general use and monitoring for adverse events

25 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Trusting Parents What is eugenics? Wanting healthy children? Or Telling people what reproductive decisions they can and can’t make? Who is the good parent? Alleged instrumental approaches and bad intentions of would be parents Research shows ART parents are better parents than natural parents Trust parents, but punish bad ones

26 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Closing Thoughts Human genetic engineering will be a part of our future and will eventually help provide our children long healthy lives in a prosperous world We have a lot of work to do to improve the world whether we have human genetic engineering or not

27 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Technology is not the problem Greed, racism, class inequality, poverty, gender oppression, authoritarianism, fear and superstition are the problems So long as we defend individual rights to technology, we make the world freer Free and dully informed choices require strong regulation for safety, but not for hubris (national and global safety regulation)

28 Copyright World Transhumanist Association 2003 Universal Access Expand universal access National health insurance to cover genetic engineering Direct research to needs of developing world – malaria vaccines, cheap immune tweaks, appropriate nanotech


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