Yesterday, the World Transhumanist Association released its third survey [PDF] of its members. Some of
the results are predictable: The respondents were 90% male, for example.
(Fortunately, no questions were asked about Star Trek.) But the results of two
questions surprised me with what amounts to, at the very least, an acknowledgment of the limitations of the
organization's philosophy. Almost a third of the
respondents predict "that emerging technologies will cause an
abrupt, cataclysmic, worldwide social change by 2040" (emphasis mine).
Thus a large minority seems to be happy to promote technologies and
policies that they think will lead to dramatic, widespread, and negative
Similarly, only 46% agree that "believe humans and
posthumans will be able to coexist in one society and polity," implying that a
majority foresee that the path they advocate will lead to significant social
conflict among the enhanced and "naturals." Sounds like the prediction by George Annas
at the 2001 World Conference
against Racism. Annas asserted that such strife would lead to "genetic
This is because, given the history of
humankind, it is extremely unlikely that we [the "naturals"] will see the
posthumans as equal in rights and dignity to us, or that they will see us as
equals. Instead, it is most likely either that we will see them as a threat to
us, and thus seek to imprison or simply kill them before they kill us.
Alternatively, the posthuman will come to see us (the garden variety human) as
an inferior subspecies without human rights to be enslaved or slaughtered
It is unclear to what extent the
transhumanist survey respondents fully thought through the implications of the
answer to their question. Yet one need not be radically dystopian to see that once one segment of
society believes it is biologically superior to the rest, then trouble if not
violence is a likely consequence.
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in A "Post-Human" Future?, Jesse Reynolds's Blog Posts
CommentsAdd a Comment
Comment by Davide, Aug 12th, 2010 4:31am
Consider this: human genetic engineering will eventually become reality and that, once it happens, someone, somewhere will use it. Wouldn't it be better to find a way to make it more accessible rather than fearmongering?
It reminds me of a document written by the italian league of candle and petrol lamps manifacturers:they asked the governament to forbid the fabrication of lightbulbs.
What you seem to advocate is just as ridiculous.
Comment by Ryan Donovan, Jan 29th, 2009 6:22am
The notion of posthumans enslaving the un-modified is ridiculous. If individuals reached a point where they could be considered superior or posthumans or whatever, one would think that they would be more interested in creating a workforce that didn't need to be fed and housed like human slaves would. I mean, why enslave people, only to clothe them, feed them, house them, guard them, when they could simply build hundreds of thousands of robots that needed no effort to maintain?
This whole 'ubermensch under the bed' (and I use the term ubermensch, because the neo-luddites running this site seem determined to draw parallels between Transhumanism and outdated and frankly childish ideologies like eugenics and it's origin in nazism.
Comment by Richard Twine, Feb 8th, 2008 3:36am
I wonder then if there is something bound up in contemporary constructions of masculinity that veers toward technological solutions to social problems as in the ethos of the WTA....