The Transhumanism Effect
Okay, I’m going to make a bold claim that most people fear a robot takeover where our smartphones and our Alexa’s and our Siri’s decide they’ve had enough of us. Maybe some of you haven’t watched enough science-fiction flicks to have developed this irrational fear. But what if I told you that it actually isn’t irrational?
I’m not saying your Alexa is going to grow legs and fight you. What I am saying, though, is that the transhumanism movement is spreading quickly and silently. Transhumanism is an intellectual and cultural movement that fundamentally supports the notion of developing technology that infuses human life with tech gear. These technologies would create a world with limited death, illness, aging and give humans enhanced physical, intellectual and psychological capabilities. So we’re all kind of like, superheros. Those invested in the movement claim that after this evolution has taken full effect, humans will be known as “posthuman.” Then begins a new era of humanity.
Humor me by running through a list of technologies that are currently in development for this movement.
Let’s consider the idea that having hundreds on hundreds of years worth of knowledge at the tip of your fingers allows you to retain more knowledge than necessary. Let’s also consider that it does give people an easier way to, at the very least, present themselves as more intelligent. I would say overall though, smartphones have increased our intellectual capacity across the board. The evolution has already begun.
2. RFID Chips
Minimalists, this one’s for you. RFID (radio frequency identification) is just a microchip. What makes it more than “just a microchip” is having it implanted into your wrist. Many people are already beginning to participate in this in order to eliminate tedious tasks from their daily life, like carrying a wallet, keys, or forms of identification (this could extend as far as including medical information). Australian biohacker Meow-Ludo Meow Meow has also been proposing to have RFID chips used for public transportation cards as well. If you’re not really into carrying a handbag or using pockets, this tech could definitely solve a lot of your problems.
Alright friends, this is where it gets fun. There are currently prototypes being produced by Hyundai for a not-as-cute Iron Man suit. Of course, this is being made right now for military purposes. But in the future, it’s probable that these suits can be used for factory workers and manual laborers to assist muscles while lifting and help with back pain. The exoskeleton can also enable those suffering from spinal cord injuries to walk again. One point for transhumanism.
4. Language Translating Earbuds
This one is actually really fun and harmless. They’re headphones made by US startup Waverly Labs that translate different languages in real-time. You don’t need to know a lick of Japanese to travel alone in Japan and find the bathroom. The best part is that you can buy these on their website for $179 right now if you want.
I even asked their customer support service (very efficient, by the way) to double check. They take ApplePay, too.
5. Augmented Vision
Here I present to you my personal favorite, bionic eyes. This comes in two parts. Both are really awesome, but only one is “Black Mirror”-esque. The first one is medical; it’s a glass eye implant that has a camera connected to your retinas, which creates a live feed of what’s happening in front of you. This translates into images through electrodes connected from retina to brain. It was created to cure specific forms of blindness.
The other form of bionic eyes that falls into the “Black Mirror” category of technological advancements is a smart contact lens being made by Sony and Samsung, who partnered up with augmented reality company Magic Leap. These lenses are the beginning of the end for smart tech; they can record video by blinking. They can overlay computer generated images onto reality seamlessly. Maybe we’ll even be able to get these bad boys in some cute colors.
6. 3D Organ Printing
This idea of using 3D printers to create functioning organs has been touched on in shows like Grey’s Anatomy. There is a grain of truth to those shows, you know. Less vital organs like bladders and functional genitals have been grown in a lab via 3D printers, but now doctors are working to see how to make organs that people die waiting for. Organ transplant lists will fade into obsolescence, along with the entire concept of mortality.
7. Genetically Modified Babies
Gene editing for human embryos has increased recently. Yes, gene editing. As in, you can take out potentially fatal or debilitating genetics and rewrite your unborn baby’s genomes. With new techniques, the genetic modification for babies is on the trajectory to be able to remove genetic mutations from the equation. This would range anywhere from predisposition to cancer to AIDS. The application and evolution of this research could potentially (much further down the line) eradicate disease in general. Brave New World, anyone?
I’ve forgone other terrifyingly clever tech specs for the sake of time. Think about these technologies and how they will change how we live, even who we are. Some of these technologies could allow humans to live forever. It just begs the question: will transhumanism be the end of humanity as we know it now? Or the beginning of something so transcendent that we are just completely incapable of wrapping our minds around it?