Archive for June, 2010


The first transhumans will be gene-modded

Tuesday, 15 June, 2010

Biotechnological interventions are, in the short term, the most likely method to obvious human enhancement.

I’ve said it, and that’s also the conclusion of Kyle Munkittrick’s post “From Gears to Genes: A Sea Change in Transhumanism“:

Transhumanism is the idea of guiding and improving human evolution with intention through the use of technologies and culture. If those technologies are not robotic and cybernetic but, instead, genetic and organic, then so be it. And that seems to be the way things are going.

I totally agree. But for different reasons.

Yes, it’s totally true that genetics is advancing faster than cybernetics, nanotechnology or artificial intelligence. Unlike Kyle, I wouldn’t say those fields are without progress, but they are moving more slowly and, to top that off, are farther away from being able to produce an enhancement.

On the other hand, mice have already had their memories, strength, endurance and lifespan enhanced by genetic or pharmaceutical means. In fact, so have humans  – by evolution. The reason humans are smarter and longer lived in comparison to mice (and in comparison to the common ancestor between humans and mice) is entirely genetic. It seems stupid to come up with a different paradigm when you already have a proven technique for enhancing intelligence and lifespan.

I’ll concede that biology has its limitations (No gene can make you bulletproof), and for the fancy enhancements of posthuman sci-fi biotechnology won’t be enough. And this is probably why some let their fantasies cloud their judgment and continue to believe they will be able to upload themselves into a virtual reality powered by cold-fusion powered quantum computers implanted in their brain within a decade or two.

I can say with confidence that the first clearly enhanced humans, with really obvious improvements in intelligence/lifespan/athleticism will be a product of genetic enhancement alone.

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