Transferred from Pitchforks and Torches.
More information on Transhumanism.
A common denominator seen while Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism are lovingly walking arm in arm down the aisle to a future technological marriage is an increase in inequality, specifically income and economic inequality. This theme of increased inequality is repeated over and over again in the literature. Here in the following articles I will first give an overview introduction of Transhumanism before talkin about their evil love child called inequality.
GREEN EUROPEAN JOURNAL
An Eco-Social Perspective on Transhumanism
By Carmen Madorrán Ayerra, 16 August 2019 https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/an-
A view of Transhumanism
The concept of transhumanism refers a multiplicity of philosophical currents that explore the possibility using science and technology to go beyond the human species. The transhumanist vision resembles that of many modern utopias in that it critiques our existing situation through the imagination of a desirable future alternative. The difference is that transhumanism is also committed to searching for the most appropriate scientific and technical means to bring that future about. Considered by some as the “defining worldview of the postmodern age”, transhumanism can be understood then as a technoscientific utopia, a worldview that stems from a dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the here and now and which seeks to transform it. As opposed to literary utopia, transhumanism is utopian practice.
Transhumanism makes a series of promises: the increase of physical and intellectual capacities, the elimination of genetic disease, and the potential for personalised drugs and vaccines. A tenet of the movement is that “the first human being to live a thousand years is already living.” In the words of the philosopher Antonio Diéguez, “it’s been a long time since there was a doctrine that showed such enthusiasm for changing reality.”
There are numerous problems that arise when considering transhumanism in the context of a global ecological and social crisis such as the one experienced today. First, the problem of accessibility and supremacy is one of the most common counterarguments, as it is reasonable to think that the kinds of enhancements transhumanism proposes would further separate the rich from the poor. It is not a stretch to imagine a future in which enhanced individuals are the ones in positions of power.
Meanwhile, both the irreversibility of changes and the unpredictability of consequences should encourage the exercise of caution. Living in a world in which humanity’s actions have far greater impact and reach than ever before in history should raise our sense of responsibility here. Moreover, the appeal of the precautionary principal grows when faced with the possibility of irreversible changes. As Riechmann has pointed out, it is impossible to ‘un-invent’ the hydrogen bomb or genetic manipulation.
ISLES of the LEFT
Transhumanism & AI: Utopia or a Nightmare in the Making?
September 27, 2018 · Francois Zammit https://www.islesoftheleft.org/transhum
A view of Transhumanism
Transhumanism presents itself as a utopia. It promises advancement and progress beyond imagination. However, the question is: Whose utopia would this be? Will the advanced digital technology bring emancipation from routine, menial tasks? Or will it create a new underclass while helping the elite accumulate unprecedented power and wealth?
Kurzweil argues that the transhumanist project will succeed though the fusion of three components: genetics, nanotechnology and robotics. According to him, through an ‘upgrade’ from a biological body to the one endowed with superior digital or biomechanical technology, humanity can achieve longevity, if not immortality. Biotechnology will provide the means to redesign not only embryos but also mature adults. Body tissues could be rejuvenated through genetic modification, and biotechnology may be utilised to attack and remove cancerous tumour formations. Nanobots would cleanse the new upgraded body from pathogens and viruses. In this transhumanist future, nanotechnology will be there to replace and augment organs with neural implants that will cater for new software downloads and will increase the individual’s neural abilities.
Shelley’s novel, ‘Frankenstein’, poses a question of what might happen if humanity, enabled by scientific discovery, is capable of creating new life. By practicing his newfound technology, Dr Frankenstein equalises to a deific creator—albeit, it isn’t a new Adam he brings to life, but a monster. If applied consciously, biotechnological advances could offer a cure for diseases and longevity, as Kurzweil proposes, but what if it is abused by scientists employed by ruthless corporations or militaristic regimes?
Although the transhumanist and singularity utopia envisions a leap forward for the human species in total, it ignores the profound social inequalities existing both on the local and on the global level. Taking into account disparity in opportunities between the haves and the have nots, it is a challenge to picture how they would cease to exist after the advent of singularity.
The new technological revolution will instead make most jobs redundant. Whereas machinery like steam engines replaced manual and repetitive work, AI will outcompete humans in the intellectual sphere too, meaning that human workers will no longer have special skills to offer. They can become simply redundant. Hence, the new ‘useless class’ will play no economic role in society. Although we may argue that this does not make them ‘useless’, Harari justifies the terminology by pointing out how disenfranchised individuals will have no function within the new social order; their meaning of life may therefore be compromised.
Here is a broad sketch of what a transhumanist society might look like: the ruling class—the supreme owner of the new technology—will be able to control the manufacturing of goods and the provision of services without the input from the lower classes. By enjoying the access to biotechnology, the ruling classes will continuously enhance their abilities, health and longevity, thus gaining an enormous advantage over the rest. In such a society, the power will be concentrated in the hands of a small elite on the scale unprecedented in human history.
This may well sound far-fetched, yet, given the status quo with all its injustices, the devastating consequences of the rise of AI and bioenhancement seem more than plausible.
Transhumanism presents itself as a utopia. It promises advancement and progress beyond imagination. However, the question is: Whose utopia would this be? As China Mieville once stated, we live in a utopia: it’s just not ours. Utopias for some might could mean a nightmare for others. Will the advanced digital technology deliver a utopia for the majority, facilitating emancipation from routine, menial tasks? Or will it create a new underclass while helping the elite accumulate unprecedented power and wealth? We simply do not know yet. But given the prevalent contemporary trends, the latter seems more plausible.
The first men to conquer death will create a new social order – a terrifying one
Immensely wealthy and powerful men like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk want to live forever. But at what cost?
By Sanya Varghese, August 25th, 2017 https://www.newstatesman.com/science-te
A view of Transhumanism
In a 2011 New Yorker profile, Peter Thiel, tech-philanthropist and billionaire, surmised that “probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead”. While he may not be technically wrong, Thiel and other eccentric, wealthy tech-celebrities, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have taken the next step to counteract that inequality – by embarking on a quest to live forever.
Thiel and many like him have been investing in research on life extension, part of transhumanism. Drawing on fields as diverse as neurotechnology, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering and philosophy, transhumanists believe that the limitations of the human body and mortality can be transcended by machines and technology. The ultimate aim is immortality. Some believe this is achievable by 2045.
"Transhumanism doesn't have much to say about social questions. To the extent that they see the world changing, it's nearly always in a business-as-usual way – techno-capitalism continues to deliver its excellent bounties, and the people who benefit from the current social arrangement continue to benefit from it," says Mark O'Connell, the author of To be a Machine, who followed various transhumanists in Los Angeles."You basically can't separate transhumanism from capitalism. An idea that's so enthusiastically pursued by Musk and Peter Thiel, and by the founders of Google, is one that needs to be seen as a mutation of capitalism, not a cure for it."
On an even more basic level, a transhumanist society would undoubtedly be shaped by the ideals of those who created it and those who came before it. Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist candidate for governor of California, told Tech Insider that “a lot of the most important work in longevity is coming from a handful of the billionaires...around six or seven of them”.
Immortality as defined by straight, white men could draw out cycles of oppression. Without old attitudes dying off and replaced by the impatience of youth, social change might become impossible. Artificial intelligence has already been shown to absorb the biases of its creators. Uploading someone’s brain into a clone of themselves doesn’t make them less likely to discriminate.
That a transhumanist society would inevitably lead to “people lording it over others in a way that has never been seen before in history”. It doesn’t take much to guess who would be doing the "lording".
“The first enhanced humans will not be ordinary people; they’ll be the people who have already made those ordinary people economically obsolete through automation. They’ll be tech billionaires,” says O’Connell.
If those who form society in the age of transhumanism are men like Musk and Thiel, it’s probable that this society will have few social safety nets. There will be an uneven rate of technological progress globally; even a post-human society can replicate the unequal global wealth distribution which we see today. In some cities and countries, inhabitants may live forever, while in others the residents die of malnutrition. If people don’t die off, the environmental consequences – from widespread natural resource devastation to unsustainable energy demands – would be widespread.