There are undoubtedly a number of technical advancements that point to a transhuman future—
from the advent and development of the internet, to the new spring of artificial intelligence to the life-extending progress in medicine and genetics the Singularity seems assured. There is another development that is not technological in nature, but may be more important in getting to the promise of the future though—the cultural transition underway.
In the last few weeks, a number of major, long-standing cultural barriers have fallen away. The Confederate flag, which has stood for the backwardness, intolerance and down-right racism in the Southern United States has finally come down and been recognized for the outdated viewpoint it represents. Sadly, a viscous and murderous attack instigated this move by states like South Carolina and corporate entities like Walmart. Nevertheless, the action represents a momentous shift in the cultural attitude of the most powerful nation in the world.
At the same time this occurred, another major event – the legalization of same-sex marriage across the United States, was enacted by the Supreme Court of the country. Amazingly, rainbows lit up the night from the White House, to the Empire State building to the walls of Facebook.
In long-held conservative political jurisdictions like Alberta in Canada, where a conservative government that was in power for more than 40 years, was ousted in favor of a much more progressive party, liberal ideas are taking hold. And these ideas are sure to be more accepting of even more radical transhuman ideas in the future.
Combined with the growing acceptance of marijuana use, and other factors, the new liberalization taking hold in North America point to a major shift in the cultural environment. For transhuman ideas like greatly enhancing human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, this is a very promising development.
As the Transhumanist Party candidate Zoltan Istvan points out, “Nearly all transhumanists support the LGBT cause. After all, a desire to be free to alter, express, and control one’s sexual preference and identity sounds like a transhumanist concept. Advocates of transhumanism aim to alter, express, and control their bodies and preferences too, except they emphasize doing it with science and technology.”
Istvan calls the LGBT movement and transhumanism “practically different sides of the same coin,” and each is poised to gain strength from one another in the future as radical technologies transform the species.
Another factor behind the rise of liberalism in the West, may be the downright descent from reason and logic in the pseudo-nation of ISIS. The radical gangsterism parading behind a facade of religious zealotry demonstrated by the imported thugs and Baathist-recycled leadership in the former areas of Iraq and Syria give the rest of the world a clear picture of what a return to (percieved) Medieval ideas and apocalypse-seeking backward thinking leads to. Clearly the appropriate action to this action is to increase freedom in the lands that claim to value it.
“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” an ISIS spokesman, claims. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.” What kind of logical response, can anyone present to such statements?
Transhumanism is not a religion, nor is it attempting to replace religion. It is a way of being that embraces evolving the human being with science, reason, and technology.
“A desire to be free to alter, express, and control one’s sexual preference and identity sounds like a transhumanist concept.”
As the racist gunman led to the incredible turn-around on the Confederate flag issue is potentially mirrored in the heinous acts of ISIS, like murdering gays, non-believers and even the use of slavery, on the greater liberal democratic nations. In turn, these breakthroughs could definitely lead to a greater acceptance of transhumanist views.
Perceived more broadly this may even go on to include ideas like guaranteed basic income and other futuristic ideology.
As Istvan writes, “Personhood, sexual freedom (virtual or not), and gender identity (or non-identity) will soon take on unprecedented roles in society, spurred by radical innovation and changing stereotypes of what it means to be a human being.”
Racing ahead of ISIS and other radicalized areas technologically may too be a solution to their threats in the longer term. Developing robotics, artificial intelligence and biological power may prove to be important, and are in-line with much of transhumanist thought, but at its base, we do face as much a cultural war as anything in this case.
Istvan and others think that transformative technology that will have the most important impact on the future, but clearly the cultural forces behind this change may be as, or even more important over the long term.