Transhumanism has received significant media attention in recent times – not in the least because the one of the movement’s leaders, Zoltan Istvan, ran for president in 2016 US elections.
But a British PhD candidate has warned of the darker side of a transhumanist future.
Sociologist Alex Thomas of East London University believes that transhumanism will further enforce a societal obsession with “progress” and “efficiency” at the expense of social justice and environmental sustainability. In an article published this week in The Conversation, Thomas argues that unbridled technological progress, in which technology “become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body”, could lead to a loss of basic societal values such as compassion and a concern for the environment.
Transhumanism and advanced capitalism are two processes which value “progress” and “efficiency” above everything else. The former as a means to power and the latter as a means to profit. Humans become vessels to serve these values. Transhuman possibilities urgently call for a politics with more clearly delineated and explicit humane values to provide a safer environment in which to foster these profound changes.”Thomas interweaves examples ranging from new military technologies to powerful enhancement medications, arguing that, rather than assisting humanity, these technologies could potentially lead to a “mechanisation” of humanity and facilitate a subtle form of authoritarian control.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
We have a number of very important stories this week: a paper in Nature about gene-editing human embryos, a rise in euthanasia figures in the Netherlands, some appalling news about commercial surrogacy in India... plus a great interview with Yale bioethicist Lydia S. Dugdale about death and dying.
But, for better or worse, this is a day for shameless self-promotion. Sorry. I have just published a book, The Great Human Dignity Heist, a collection of short essays on topics ranging from IVF to paleo-archaeology to polio epidemics to euthanasia and cannibalism. Its lurid sub-title is How bioethicists are trashing the foundations of Western civilization.
If you live in Sydney, you are invited to a book launch at 1pm on this coming Thursday, August 10, at Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney. Professor Margaret Somerville will be the main speaker. (RSVP to email@example.com.)
And of course, if you cannot make it, feel free to order a book online
In Australia from the publisher, Connor Court
In the US and Canada from Amazon (feel free to leave a review of the book!)
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgThe risk of a transhumanist future