The purpose of this thread is to collect possible reasons for the relatively low popularity of transhumanism as a philosophy / ideology / political movement. Its purpose is not to draw conclusions from that. Discussing conclusions should be deferred to future threads.
What reasons do I see?
- It requires (A) a sophisticated understanding of (the dynamics of) technology or (B) great optimism in the transformative power of technology. The first (A) requires a solid educational basis, which only a minority of the population possesses. This could be a factor that makes transhumanism implicitly elitist. It’s not that the knowledge that is required to grasp it completely is really esoteric, but it’s still very hard to get to that level of understanding. On the other hand, (B) great optimism in technology had its heyday in the 60s and 70s, when people thought in the year 2000 we would have bases on the moon, flying cars, would be travelling to Mars, and so on. That has made people cynical about grand technological promises about the future. In this light, transhumanism is very much a contrarian movement that upholds the hope in science and technology.
- Transhumanism in general does hold no answer to the immediate and current concerns and problems of the vast majority of people. How does transhumanism solve criminality, inequality, taxes, moral problems, a stagnating economy, migration crises, annoying neighbours, too low wages, to high wages, unemployment, bad employment, bad employees, bad employers, debt, and the whole rest of other political problems that are seen by different parts of the political spectrum? Not fitting into the classical political spectrum makes it hard for transhumanism to establish itself as force to reckon with. Also, people are mostly concerned about short-term concerns. The long-term focus of transhumanism doesn’t help very much to address the current urgent “pain points” that people are faced with in the present.
- It’s not stylish and sexy enough. Pronouncing the liberal replacement of healthy body parts with awkward-looking robotic prosthesis is bad marketing! Perhaps transhumanism would be seen as more stylish, if it focused on biological enhancement of humans, but on that front it faces the power of the anti-GMO front, as well as nearly all ideologies who uphold the current human form as sacred pinnacle of creation, respectively evolution.
- Transhumanism is a philosophical movement that is too often mistaken for naive techno-optimism and techno-fanboyism. The many naive techno-optimists and techno-fanboys who are attracted by techno-prophets like Ray Kurzweil really do a disservice to the image of transhumanism as a serious philosophical current.
- Transhumanism isn’t a lot of fun. What typically transhumanist activities does transhumanism allow its adherents? Ok, there’s talking, sharing technology related posts on Facebook, and tinkering with bleeding-edge technologies, which is both relatively unsafe and relatively expensive. If transhumanism was a pen and paper role-playing game it would probably be more popular…
- The generic transhumanist demographic is problematic: It consists of highly educated and intelligent white males with questionable social skills. There are of course exceptions, but they are relatively rare. It’s not like transhumanism was a “thing” for the whole family.
- Transhumanism is seen as evil by many different groups and individuals, including churches, intellectuals, and conspiracy nuts.
What reasons do you see?