Would you like to be a post-human when you grow up Essay

What would you do if you woke up one day and found that you had turned into a post-human? A post-human is one of the main goals of the transhumanist movement which is the idea of freeing the human body from the biological limitations it has. It is the dream of someday being able to "use biotechnology to make ourselves stronger, smarter, less prone to violence, and longer-lived” (Fukuyama",2009, p.1). Great things that can be achieved through genetic modifications and the emerging technologies that will one day allow us to reverse engineer our brains through external and internal scanning methods to “download” it’s contents and even upload them onto a computer. There is even the potential for electronic neurons to exactly match biological ones (Kurzweil, 2002). Basically, we no longer have to worry about college entrance exams, doctor appointments, or just simply our death. It's almost like cheating our way into heaven by skipping the whole dying and judgment day part. But at this point, we must know where to draw the line. There are a few reasons transhumanism is not perfect and might cost us dearly. I wouldn’t want to become a post-human in this lifetime because first, we would be faced with an issue of equality, second, immortality is neither possible nor desirable, and finally, emotions are inseparable. One of the bigger questions posed concerning transhumanism is the issue of equality. When the Declaration of Independence was written, it said, “all men are born equal”. Today we have redefined this to “all humans are equal”. Even though we might not share the same background, skin color, facial characteristics, or intelligence, we all have the essence. We all have a human essence that gives us an essential value and makes those other things trivial (Fukuyama",2009). As such, we must consider what happens when one becomes post-human. Would those people still be human? Would they receive the same rights? Who gets to decide in these matters? All questions that have yet to be answered clearly by the pursuers of the post-human dream. I am afraid that we are only adding to the long list of already existing inequalities in the world. Because if one person chooses to become post-human and another doesn’t, that would make the former superior to the latter. And then the latter might feel pressured to also follow suit. Furthermore, transhumanists cannot guarantee that they will be able or even willing to provide all their bio-or nano- or robotic- technologies to parts of the world such as third-world and underdeveloped countries (Fukuyama",2009) which will only add more to the present development gap between different parts of the world. Even Nick Bostrom, who criticizes many of Fukuyama’s views in an article, agrees that social justice is at risk and “we need to ensure that enhancement options are made available as widely and as affordably as possible” (Bostrom, 2004). Another goal the post-human dreamers want to achieve is immortality. One way to do that, they propose, is by “downloading our brain contents onto a computer” (Somerville, 2011, p. 1). It’s like turning ourselves into flash drives. And as a person who believes humans are not just machines and must have some kind of human essence, I don’t want to turn myself into a flash drive. This first method isn't even really possible because making our brains a part of a computer is not true immortality in all the senses. Another way they propose is through prolonging life which can be done with genetically enhancing technologies and such. But wouldn't that just be delaying the ultimate end: death. Do we, in fact, want to live longer only to meet the same end just a little later? Wouldn’t the ‘quality rather than quantity’ be more important (Pigliucci, 2009)? Furthermore, there are quite a few problematic issues we would face with longevity, such as resource consumption, overpopulation and environmental deprivation. Some would argue that with advanced technology these issues would be resolved, but it’s highly unconvincing since technology is what created these problems in the first place (Pigliucci, 2009). Finally, another issue that must be considered is the elimination of negative feelings. So emotions such as jealousy, anger, violence, etc. will no longer exist. But we must not forget that emotions come in pairs. For example, if we didn't feel jealousy we wouldn't feel love (Fukuyama",2009). If one set of emotions is taken away so is the other. To truly be human one must possess both sets of emotions (Bailey, 2004). Otherwise, we would become empty shells, at least emotionally, if we opt to turn into post-humans. Plus, our emotions and characteristics are so complex that the results of altering them are unpredictable (Fukuyama",2009). And if the technology of making humans morally good arises, that means that making them morally bad would also be possible. And I wouldn’t want to live to see that day. However, the advocates of post-humanism believe otherwise. They make some arguments including how a ‘human essence’ is not really defined and just an assumption (Bostrom, 2004), genetic engineering would improve human inequality rather than worsen it (Baily, 2004), we already use technology to enhance our lives, and finally everyone desires to have a long life. Although their points might be true to some extent, there are still flaws. First, we can only imagine and assume what a post-human would be like so a post-human is also not really ‘defined’. To be honest we can't really predict what it would actually be like. Second, regarding genetic engineering, yet again I must question the availability of it. If it cannot be provided for everyone, it would certainly create an inequality gap. Next, they highlight the fact that we are already using technology to enhance our lives, but the technology of today surely cannot be compared to fully transforming ourselves (Somerville, 2011). For example, using ultrasound technology and MRI scans to have health checks is far from being the same thing as having a robotic arm or inserting my brain into a computer. And finally, post-human supporters like to appeal to us with the idea that everybody wants to extend their lifespan (Somerville, 2011), but that is just simple a ludicrous notion. All in all, I don’t think I would ever want to turn myself into a post-human. The ideas of no bad or no good emotions and prolonging life and the concerns regarding inequality just make the whole thing unappealing. I would rather live this life that I have right now to the fullest and just pass on peacefully and naturally. After all, I believe being happy is a matter of choice and not health, strength, or superintelligence.

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