such as improving the situation of the poor, rather than putting our efforts into planning for the “far” future?<br />
We should do both. Focusing solely on current problems would leave us unprepared for the new challenges that we will encounter.<br />
Many of the technologies and trends that transhumanists discuss are already reality. Biotechnology and information technology have transformed large sectors of our economies. The relevance of transhumanist ethics is manifest in such contemporary issues as stem cell research, genetically modified crops, human genetic therapy, embryo screening, end of life decisions, enhancement medicine, information markets, and research funding priorities. The importance of transhumanist ideas is likely to increase as the opportunities for human enhancement proliferate.<br />
Transhuman technologies will tend to work well together and create synergies with other parts of human society. For example, one important factor in healthy life expectancy is access to good medical care. Improvements in medical care will extend healthy, active lifespan – “healthspan” – and research into healthspan extension is likely to benefit ordinary care. Work on amplifying intelligence has obvious applications in education, decision-making, and communication. Better communications would facilitate trade and understanding between people. As more and more people get access to the Internet and are able to receive satellite radio and television broadcasts, dictators and totalitarian regimes may find it harder to silence voices of dissent and to control the information flow in their populations. And with the Internet and email, people discover they can easily form friendships and business partnerships in foreign countries. A world order characterized by peace, international cooperation, and respect for human rights would much improve the odds that the potentially dangerous applications of some future technologies can be controlled and would also free up resources currently spent on military armaments, some of which could then hopefully be diverted to improving the condition of the poor. Nanotechnological manufacturing promises to be both economically profitable and environmentally sound. Transhumanists do not have a patent solution to achieve these outcomes, any more than anybody else has, but technology has a huge role to play.<br />
An argument can be made that the most efficient way of contributing to making the world better is by participating in the transhumanist project. This is so because the stakes are enormous – humanity’s entire future may depend on how we manage the coming technological transitions – and because relatively few resources are at the present time being devoted to transhumanist efforts. Even one extra person can still make a significant difference here.
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