American political science commentator
Francis Fukuyama once called transhumanism the world’s most dangerous idea. Whether
this is true depends on your aspirations for society. But a brief article in Discover
by a staffer with the Institute for Ethics and
Emerging Technologies, a transhumanist thinktank, Kyle Munkittrick, at least shows that society will be very
different if transhumanism gets traction.
As you might expect with such a
controversial philosophy, there are different schools of transhumanism. What Munkittrick
offers is a diagnostic chart for recognising the transhumanist society when it
arrives. Briefly, here are his criteria:
Prosthetics and implants will be as good or
better than the original body parts.
Better brains through cognitive enhancing
drugs, genetic engineering, or neuro-implants.
Artificial intelligence and augmented reality
will be integrated into everyday behaviour.
A lifespan of over 120.
Responsible reproduction. This is one of
the most obviously controversial items on the transhumanist agenda. Children
will be planned – not just the timing of their arrival, but their genetic
make-up. Reproduction through IVF and surrogacy will be the normal way
procreating children. Abortion will disappear because every child will be a
designer child. People will need licences to become parents.
An absolute right to bodily autonomy.
Drug-taking would not be regulated. “Actions such as abortion, assisted
suicide, voluntary amputation, gender reassignment, surrogate pregnancy, body
modification, legal unions among adults of any number, and consenting sexual
practices would be protected under law.”
Rights discourse will shift to personhood
instead of common humanity. There will be a sliding scale of personhood, based
upon “sentience, empathy, self-awareness, tool use, problem solving, social
behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning”.
Challenging, to say the least. Bioethicists
have their work cut out for them.