Latest | Categories | Top | Blog | Wiki | About & TOS | Imprint | Vision | Help | Fractal Generator | Futurist Directory | H+Pedia

The beginning of transhuman enhancement


i don´t know much about transhumanism except a few texts including the wikipedia-article. but if there are people around here who feel like discussing my questions with me, i ´ll be delighted.

where to draw the line between medicine and transhumanism?

then, wouldn´t it be always happen in the realm of medical doctors to alter the human body, no matter what the cause is?

what about other methods to optimize the human condition (e.g.meditation) would they be also considered as transhumanism (or h+) or not?

… and does it matter, whether the alterations are permanent, or not?

(João Luz) #2

I think the line stands where the alterations in the body of a certain individual give him abilities that are beyond human limitations.

Yes, I think it would. The body should allways be altered by someone who know what he’s doing.
There is a small biohacking movement of people who try to alter their own bodies by themselves, but if they don’t have the necessary knowledge they will never get far.
So, I think doctors will definitly play a very important part in transhumanism.

I don’t think so. Transhumanism is not about optimizing human condition, it’s about transcending it.


(Michael Hrenka) #3

That sounds like a reasonable definition. But the problem might be to determine what is and what isn’t actually beyond “human limitations”. Some humans do have abilities which can be considered superhuman by any modest standards:

  • Some people can do echo location similar to that of bats.
  • Some can see the polarization of light.
  • Some have a greatly reduced need for sleep and can cope with just 1-3 hours of sleep per day.
  • There are people with amazing memory capabilities.

Would it be transhumanism to try to give everyone those abilities with technological support? Technically, they are not beyond human limitations, because some humans have acquired them through natural means. I’m not sure what’s the most appropriate answer to this question.

[quote=“zanthia, post:1, topic:190”]
then, wouldn´t it be always happen in the realm of medical doctors to alter the human body, no matter what the cause is?[/quote]
Having a well-trained and competent medical doctor perform alterations to your body would be the best case. The second best case is that you have someone well-trained and competent who is not technically a medical doctor perform those alternations. I think this second case is good enough. What matters is that you have someone who is really competent and knows what to do and what could go wrong, and to minimize the risks that things actually go wrong. The real problem is finding out whether someone actually has the relevant competence. In my opinion, patient reviews tell you more than academic degrees. I don’t have much trust in the conventional medical system, and I think this mistrust is justified, and the conclusion is that we have a big problem on our hands. A problem that I would call “proof of competence”. As empiricist, I think that actual performance is the ultimate judge of competence. So, every health professional should have a transparent public record of all treatments they have ever done, with ratings by patients and comments and stuff. I wouldn’t be really happy with anything less.

[quote=“zanthia, post:1, topic:190”]
what about other methods to optimize the human condition (e.g.meditation) would they be also considered as transhumanism (or h+) or not?[/quote]
Technically not, but it would be a stupid form of negligence to ignore the best methods for improving oneself to the limits of natural human performance. That said, I’m quite guilty of that, and I think that’s also true for most transhumanists. There’s too much techno-euphorism and not enough personal development enthusiasm in the transhumanist community, methinks.

With better technologies the borders between permanent and reversible alternations will shift quite dramatically. What can’t be reversed today will be a routine procedure in the future. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter a lot whether alterations are permanent at the moment. In the future, everything but complete information death will be reversible.

(Michael Hrenka) #4

From Facebook:
Ben Zaiboc

I can’t decide if it begins with picking a stick up, or banging two rocks together. Probably the stick

Phillip Quotient

i think an excellent place to begin would be with Nick Bostrom… his ideas
are exceptional and his notions about transhumanism give a modern slant
on what this subject entails and endeavors to achieve… he’s also
intriguing, challenging and i think scientifically sound too… so hmmm
anyhow… be well all"


when i lose my arm and get a prothesis with exceeding abilities compared to a natural arm, i would
nevertheless consider this arm-prothesis a compensation for a loss; and therefor medically necessary.
but what if i could get a pair of wings with which i could fly? in this case i would call it a transhuman

if you are right, we could try to draw the line here. when the human condition is optimized - no matter if
it is a compensation for a loss or the fullfillment of genuin human potential - we should call it medicine ( in a better future the standards of the quality of living should be higher than now, i think) . and if somebody want wings or something that is obviously not a compensation and not a genuin human capability, we call it

it could make sense to change the view of what is considered as health:

…and there are humans naturally living 120 years.

so maybe it would be the best, to change the idea of the human condition. if medical intervention would
begin with optimization - and not only then if somebody is suffering, like it is today - and someday it becomes standard, that every human naturally lives 120 years, has amazing memory capabilities, and only needs 3 hours sleep and so on…
what will be left for transhuman enhancements?

(João Luz) #6

I don’t think medicine and transhumanism need to be mutually exclusive.

For exemple, if you lose a limb and replace with a cybernetic prothesis that not only matches the capacities of a human limb but also surpasses it, that would be medicine and transhuman enhancement at the same time.

Maybe we should call it transhumanism when enhancements make people surpass “standard” human abilities.

That may be a better definition, since I think that giving everyone eidetic memories and stuff like that should clearly be considered transhumanism.

The only problem is that it may be hard to determine where “standard human abillities” end and “extraordinary human abilities begin”.

(Michael Hrenka) #7

I just needed to remind myself that the purpose of this discussion is to deal with the current problem that medicine is quite strictly regulated and the types of enhancement proposed by transhumanists aren’t legally supported. Medicine seems to want to restore some kind of human “standard” – a kind of “normal human”. Anything that goes beyond restoring that “normal human” state is rejected.

Let’s consider some possible motives for this rejection:

  1. This policy is mostly made by normal humans and those feel uncomfortable with “superior” human abilities, so they don’t want to facilitate the spread of these abilities.

Umm, I wanted to list more things, but I think it basically comes down to that point. Religious and ethical concerns are just reformulations of that basic discomfort when faced with something alien that is at least partially superior.

Well, this discomfort is something we need to deal with. It’s not like it was totally baseless and irrational. Superior populations might do harmful things to “normal” populations. On the other hand, they could also help a lot.

Anyway, I think we are mainly dealing with a psychological issue here.

(Mark Larkento) #8

For me, transcendence means there are no more lines to be drawn.


without a line, there is nothing you can transcend

(Michael Hrenka) #10

Usually I am critical of one sentence posts, but both of you made such good statements that are just so lovely to read! :gift_heart:

Now to the logical conclusion of both of them: The line to transcend is the line after which there are no more lines to transcend. What is that line? Separation. Afterwards everyone will be in the same group, definitionwise.

(Maximo Ramallo) #11

Before anything, it worths to mention that there is no single answer for some of the questions and many transhumanists have their own ideas.

One lives inside the other, meaning that one depends on the other. Lines can be thought not as a division, but rather a way of cataloging. Like for example, medicine is a scientific discipline, and transhumanisms is many times referred as a philosophy (many, but not always).

I think biohackers just prove is technologically possible to alter the body without a high degree of skill. Think of a common hacker, in the community there is something called “script kiddies”, which are individuals who use software made by others without the skill to create it themselves, but with the same purpose.
It might be that you seek the philosophical answer thou, than if it should be left to doctors that decision. In my opinion (and its personal), we should raise every individual to do with their bodies what they need (and notice, I particularly didn’t said “what they want” for a reason, because this is another level of discussion, even if I agree with the sense of the sentence).

There is this myth that every transhumanist on earth is an atheist that only supports electronic/genetic enhancements, in my personal opinion. I disagree. Have you read Frank Herbert? Again, in my opinion, we don’t understand the human body enough, and to discard other areas even without reasonable scientific studies, is not reasonable.

I believe many things is not, the biohackers do alter themselves temporarily, but for others it might be necessary to change things for good. I myself would like to see remove the pain of birth from women (who so choose).

(Michael Hrenka) #12

By the way: There are enough reasonable scientific studies that suggest meditation being a quite effective technique for improving the brain/mind of a person. It’s not like it was unscientific. Western minds are just not quite used to that method.

(Günter Einbeck) #13

Transhumaniumus ist in den 1980er Jahren in den USA entwickelt worden und hat 2 Hauptrichtungen in Bezug auf Human Enhancement:

  • KI and Biotechnik (bekanntester Vertreter Ray Kurzweil von Google)
  • Human HighTech Enhancement (bekannteste Vertreter Nick Bostrom, George Church, Feng Zhang, Lydia Luhan Yang, Guoping Feng)

Weil alle Formen von Human Genome Editing in Deutschland verboten sind, finden die wesentlichen Entwicklungen in USA, UK und China statt.
Hier muß man nun bedenken, daß ein funktionierendes Human Genome Editing den Genom des Menschen entscheidend verbessern kann in der Richtung, daß die Menschen weniger anfällig sind gegenüber Krankheiten und Altersverfall und höhere körperliche und geistige Leistungen bringen können.
Was das in Sicht auf 50 Jahre bedeutet, ist wohl klar.

Zu empfehlen sind die Bücher von George Church “Regenesis” von 2012 und von Nick Bostrom “Superintelligence” von 2015.
Nich Bostrom ist Philosoph in Oxford, UK, und verbindet die beiden Linien: Human HighTech Eugenics mit Brain Upgrading wird dringend notwendig, weil die Computer immer intelligenter werden und sonst irgendwann intelligenter als die Menschen sind.

(Michael Hrenka) #14

Thanks for your post, Wildkatze. It would have been better if you had posted in English, because this is an international forum. Some of the participants here understand German, but not all of them.

You seem to have read more about human enhancement technologies than I have. The Chinese sounding names you mentioned are new to me. China is indeed a very interesting case, since they are not inhibited by the religious ethics that is prevalent in Western countries. it would seem natural that China will pursue human enhancement more aggressively than Western nations. So, the West would have to catch up for a change, when it is suddenly confronted with millions of enhanced Chinese.

We are living in interesting times, indeed.

Haven’t heard about Regenesis, yet. Thanks for the reccommendation! It seems that most transhumanists focus more on AI and nanotechnology than on biotechnology. That’s a bias I am struggling, with, too.