Immortality is a dream, an idea that at some point in our history we will vanquish death from "natural causes." To some this is our inevitable birthright, to others it is a nightmare. Conquering natural death is not the same as eternal youth. Conquering natural death does not guarantee wisdom; though there is a kind of 'intrinsic IQ test' for which we must first make the grade. That is, we have to be brilliant enough to engineer the breakthroughs.
How do we extend our lifespan to the point where death becomes the exception instead of the rule? I think we have been doing just that for our entire history as a species. It is what all self-aware life forms do. Once you know you are going to die, once you have taken that bite of the apple, there is no alternative other than to wage war on death. Survival is hardwired into our psyche.
As far back as we can trace our ancestry, we've extended our lifespan by taming our environment; this radically changed in the last century. Today life extension is coming from scientific breakthroughs such as genetic engineering, new drugs, and enhancement of our brains and bodies with medical replacement parts.
I believe it is a kind of 'thought evolution,' survival of the 'fittest ideas' that paves the road to immortality. Unlike non-self-aware creatures which function heavily on instinct, we have been very busy using our analytical brains to alter our bodies. In the hundred generations of recorded history and millions of years before, we have been self-evolving by augmenting our bodies with technology. We started with stone tools then worked our way up to fire, then wheels, then metal, then chemistry, then the atom.
Now, using just the raw material nature gave us, we are embedding electronics into our bodies, networking our thoughts, and engineering our genes. We have moved from physical prostheses to mental prostheses in the form of computers and artificial intelligence. Our self-evolution is accelerating at a breathtaking rate in lockstep with geometric advancements in technology. It seems inevitable that we'll continue to enhance ourselves with machines and chemicals and genetic manipulations. What will healthcare be like a generation from now? The environment? War? Will we still consider ourselves human or will we be human v2.0? No one knows if we're careening toward paradise or a nightmare, but I think nothing short of a global catastrophe will keep us from opening Pandora's Box.
Kevin Bohacz, 3-25-2008
Transhuman means transitional human species and refers to an intermediary human species between what humans are today and
what posthumans will become in the future. This concept of evolution often includes components of technology physically merging
with, altering, and enhancing our bodies to remove physical limitations and improve life.
Possibly the earliest use of the term "transhumanism" in a modern scientific context is found in a 1957 essay by the biologist Sir Julian Huxley,
the brother of the writer Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World.
Transhumanism is a philosophical and scientific movement,
with roots in the 14th century Renaissance humanism movement and emerged as a theory in the second half of the 20th century.
Here's a few good places to learn more about the transhumanism movement and the great thinkers of our times who are deeply involved: