You may or may not know that there exists an international philosophical movement called Transhumanism, which argues for the transformation of humanity through the adoption of advanced existing or yet-to-be-developed technologies in order to bring about our betterment, both intellectually and physiologically, or, put differently, to eliminate the [physical] limitations which keep us from reaching our full potential. This movement had its beginnings in the 1960s, and it gained momentum in 1990s. Today, it is a thriving, though controversial, movement represented by various organizations all aiming—or aspiring—to surpass in one way or another our current physical and/or intellectual limitations.
While thinking about Conquerors of K’Tara a few years back and outlining the conditions that could lead to its eventual conquest by Terrans, I conducted a thought experiment and soon realized that the “mechanization” of our bodies and the detachment of the human mind from our biological selves, which has already begun through :
- the quasi-global adoption of the smartphone and other smart devices as well as through
- the affective detachment caused by them and other technologies enabling virtual relationships and sex
these changes could very well become the causative factor behind the conquest of K’Tara—a planet inhabited by more “natural” humans.
I was further convinced of this possibility—that we Terrans may become so transformed by technology in the coming centuries (socially, biologically, physically, and psychologically) that some may revolt against it and chose to leave Earth to find a planet on which they may live as they believe humans are meant to live: as biological organisms capable of connecting with one another in a more intimate manner and capable of enjoying a “more meaningful” life through this connection—when I started reading a very insightful book I picked up recently called Re-Engineering Humanity. In it, the authors (one, Brett Frischmann, a Law professor at Villanova University, and the other, Evan Selinger, a philosophy professor at Rochester Institute of Technology) present very convincing arguments that the continuous use of these technologies has already transformed many of us (see how GPS alters the brain and what the risks of this change might be in the Washington Post article Ditch the GPS. It’s ruining your brain). Frishmann and Selinger go on to describe how these changes risk transforming our very relationships, our agency, and our freedom.
Strangely, however, I find that I would welcome the opportunity to put my brain in a machine so that I would not need to suffer from torticollis and knee pains anymore. But it is likely that this is the result of my “romanticizing” the transformation, for indeed, the change would eliminate much more than just pain; it would eliminate my connection with the world, with my kids, with my friends, with…myself. And, as I wrote in another post, I do not believe these changes—though they will have certain undeniable advantages—will be for the best (see my posts on The Future of Human Relationships and on living significantly longer lives).
What do you think? Will this transformation of our nature be a good thing, am I wrong in imagining that it could cause the invasion and enslavement of another planet?