Transhumanism is the idea that the human race can use science and technology to evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations. Do we want to live forever?
Author and life hacker Kay Walker is an entrepreneur and digital marketer working in personal development and mental health. She’s also a transhumanist – Kay and her husband Andy co-wrote the book Super You: How Technology is Revolutionizing What It Means to Be Human. For a feature on the transhumanist movement in our November issue, we interviewed her and found some interesting facts, along with a few others that came up in our research. Read on to find out how advancements in technology could change your life sooner than you think.
1. The term is first used in 1989 by futurist FM-2030 (also known as F. M. Esfandiary). It is shorthand for “transitional human” and is often represented as ‘Humanity+’
2. Thanks to the progress in genetic engineering originally aimed at ensuring healthy births, baby gender selection is already a reality.
3. Stem cell technology could transform cosmetic surgery: ‘If a woman wanted larger breasts she could get a stem cell injection that would allow her breast tissue to grow versus requiring implants.’
4. Technology is already transforming transportation with Amazon’s introduction of drone delivery, and self-driving cars aren’t far behind.
5. Home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant will become more advanced artificial intelligence support systems – ‘Imagine your fridge telling you you’ve eaten enough today and locking down so you maintain your diet,’ Walker proposes.
6. Technology not moving fast enough for you? Wait it out in a cryonic chamber. ‘Anyone can elect to freeze their body or brain when they die. This could be used as a triage process, a precaution to preserve yourself until the technology has advanced enough to revive you.’
7. The Singularity could bring about the end of ageing: ‘According to longevity experts such as Dr Aubrey De Grey (a founder of SENS), a cure for ageing is possible,’ says Walker. ‘Ageing is a preventable decay process where the cells of the body fill up with garbage and deteriorate. What stands in the way of technologies to treat ageing is funding and policy. It’s simply a matter of money and time.’
8. Hollywood has danced the transhumanism dance on the big and small screen in Gattaca (1997), a sci-fi flick about buying and selling genes and identity, Will Smith’s dystopian hostile AI takeover in I, Robot (2004), and the fantasy, consequence-free amusement park for the wealthy run by android hosts in Westworld (2016).
Read the full story, Beyond Human, on page 46 of our November issue to find out more about transhumanism and join the conversation on Twitter using #ELLEHumanity+