Must read: “The Politics of Transhumanism” by James Hughes

“The Politics of Transhumanism” is a really great history and overview of Transhumanism and its various forms and factions, by Dr. James Hughes, a professor at Trinity College noted for being a rare “Democratic Transhumanist” (as opposed to the more common “Libertarian Transhumanist).  I really recommend reading it or at least skimming it to get a sense of Transhumanism as a political force.

 

James J. Hughes Ph.D. is a sociologist and bioethicist teaching health policy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in the United States.

Hughes holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he served as the assistant director of research for the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Before graduate school he was temporarily ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1984 while working as a volunteer in Sri Lanka for the development organization Sarvodaya from 1983 to 1985.

Hughes served as the executive director of the World Transhumanist Association (which has since changed its name to Humanity+) from 2004 to 2006, and currently serves as the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, which he founded with Nick Bostrom. He also produces the syndicated weekly public affairs radio talk show program Changesurfer Radio and contributed to the Cyborg Democracy blog. Hughes’ book Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future was published by Westview Press in November 2004.

Rejecting the two extremes of bioconservatism and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes argues for a third way, “democratic transhumanism,” a radical form of techno-progressivism which asserts that the best possible “posthuman future” is achievable only by ensuring that human enhancement technologies are safe, make them available to everyone, and respect the right of individuals to control their own bodies.

Hughes’s central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.

The emergence of biotechnological controversies, however, is giving rise to a new axis, not entirely orthogonal to the previous dimensions but certainly distinct and independent of them. I call this new axis biopolitics, and the ends of its spectrum are transhumanists (the progressives) and, at the other end, the bio-Luddites or bio-fundamentalists. Transhumanists welcome the new biotechnologies, and the choices and challenges they offer, believing the benefits can outweigh the costs. In particular, they believe that human beings can and should take control of their own biological destiny, individually and collectively enhancing our abilities and expanding the diversity of intelligent life. Bio-fundamentalists, however, reject genetic choice technologies and “designer babies,” “unnatural” extensions of the life span, genetically modified animals and food, and other forms of hubristic violations of the natural order. While transhumanists assert that all intelligent “persons” are deserving of rights, whether they are human or not, the biofundamentalists insist that only “humanness,” the possession of human DNA and a beating heart, is a marker of citizenship and rights.

James Hughes, Democratic Transhumanism 2.0, 2002

About John Howard

  • It isn’t feasible to give genetic enhancements to everyone.  And people with money will always be able to go someplace else to make themselves better than everyone else.  The end result of democratic transhumanism is still the “better, stronger, faster” people versus everyone else.

  • has humanity assuming it’s true destiny by evolving into the fourth dimension.  The ten second summary may mean we get control of such things like time and space.  Sort of like all of us having miraculous mind powers but would we be ready for that.  I doubt it.  We use technology mostly for evil.  Cyber super soldiers takes priority over giving sight back to the blind.  Prolonging the life of sociopathic control billionaire micromanging scumbags comes before releasing info about alzheimers, cancer, MS, autism and scores of other diseases.

    If you take in transhumanism you should take in exopolitics also.

    http://www.exopolitics.org/

  • For your work in the “most embedded links” category.  Nice job.

  • booga booga!!

    (nobody cares about your boogyman)