Transhumanist sets goalposts for the future

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.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | autonomy, eugenics, personhood, transhumanism

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