Transhumanism, abbreviated as H+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
1. Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth.
2. We believe that humanity’s potential is still mostly unrealized. There are possible scenarios that lead to wonderful and exceedingly worthwhile enhanced human conditions.
3. We recognize that humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable. Some of these scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress.
4. Research effort needs to be invested into understanding these prospects. We need to carefully deliberate how best to reduce risks and expedite beneficial applications. We also need forums where people can constructively discuss what should be done, and a social order where responsible decisions can be implemented.
5. Reduction of existential risks, and development of means for the preservation of life and health, the alleviation of grave suffering, and the improvement of human foresight and wisdom should be pursued as urgent priorities, and heavily funded.
6. Policy making ought to be guided by responsible and inclusive moral vision, taking seriously both opportunities and risks, respecting autonomy and individual rights, and showing solidarity with and concern for the interests and dignity of all people around the globe. We must also consider our moral responsibilities towards generations that will exist in the future.
7. We advocate the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise.
8. We favour allowing individuals wide personal choice over how they enable their lives. This includes use of techniques that may be developed to assist memory, concentration, and mental energy; life extension therapies; reproductive choice technologies; cryonics procedures; and many other possible human modification and enhancement technologies.
As Daly points out, a number of Christian thinkers, from Descartes and Bacon to the present, have thought that an extended bodily life might be a good thing as well, and he details how they attempt to reconcile this with the Christian view that God intends our lives to be finite.
The Transhumanist Declaration was originally crafted in 1998 by an international group of authors: Doug Baily, Anders Sandberg, Gustavo Alves, Max More, Holger Wagner, Natasha Vita-More, Eugene Leitl, Bernie Staring, David Pearce, Bill Fantegrossi, den Otter, Ralf Fletcher, Kathryn Aegis, Tom Morrow, Alexander Chislenko, Lee Daniel Crocker, Darren Reynolds, Keith Elis, Thom Quinn, Mikhail Sverdlov, Arjen Kamphuis, Shane Spaulding, and Nick Bostrom. This Transhumanist Declaration has been modified over the years by several authors and organizations.
The World Transhumanist Association was founded in early 1998 by Nick Bostrom and David Pearce, to provide a general organizational basis for all transhumanist groups and interests, across the political spectrum. The aim was also to develop a more mature and academically respectable form of transhumanism, freed from the “cultishness” which, at least in the eyes of some critics, had afflicted some of its earlier convocations.
Inspired by an assortment of scientists and science-fiction writers (such as roboticist Hans Moravec and novelist Bruce Sterling), many transhumans have found an outlet in Max More's Extropy Institute. "Extropy," as defined by More, is the opposite of entropy. ExI members, and transhumans in general, tend to view the universe as an entity of self-generating complexity, tempered and transmuted by intelligence. More advocates the concept of "dynamic optimism" for dealing with the future: an exceedingly rational, but innately creative, outlook for addressing and modifying the long-term. And, in a large way, the long-term is what the transhumanist movement is all about: evolution as performance art.
Max More wrote the first definition of transhumanism in its modern sense, and created his own distinctive brand of transhumanism, “extropianism,” which emphasized the principles of “boundless expansion,” “self‐transformation,” “dynamic optimism,” “intelligent technology,” and “spontaneous order”.
Transhumanism is about continual improvement, not perfection or paradise.
Transhumanism is about improving nature’s mindless “design”, not guaranteeing perfect technological solutions.
Transhumanism is about morphological freedom, not mechanizing the body.
Transhumanism is about trying to shape fundamentally better futures, not predicting specific futures.
Transhumanism is about critical rationalism, not omniscient reason.
Because of accelerating technological progress, humankind may be rapidly approaching a critical phase in its career. In addition to well-known threats such as nuclear holocaust, the prospects of radically transforming technologies like nanotech systems and machine intelligence present us with unprecedented opportunities and risks. Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges. In the case of radically transforming technologies, a better understanding of the transition dynamics from a human to a “posthuman” society is needed.
Although useful, that species-based definition and the related genetically-delimited identification of “human” is becoming increasingly inadequate as our further evolution depends more on the scientific and technological products of our minds. The transhumans or posthumans we may become as individuals (if we live long enough) or as a species may quite possibly share our current DNA, but implants, regenerative medicine, medical nanotechnology, neural-computer interfaces, and other technologies and cultural practices are likely to gradually render our chromosomes almost vestigial components of our individual and species identity.
It is a fairly common belief among transhumanists that unless we destroy ourselves first (or get wiped out by a natural disaster), the pace of technological progress will accelerate enormously within the first half of this century, ultimately resulting in the birth of superhuman intelligence.
Transhumanists seek things like intelligence augmentation, increased strength and beauty, extreme life extension, sustainable mood enhancement, and the capability to get off-planet and explore the universe. These goals are to be achieved with the aid of contemporary and future technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cryonics, megascale and space-time engineering, AI, and mind uploading. In other words, Transhumanists seek to become posthuman -- "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity. Self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals."
Transhumanists tend to take a longer-than-average view of technological progress, looking not just five or ten years into the future but twenty years, thirty years, and beyond. We realize that the longer you look forward, the more uncertain the predictions get, but one thing is quite certain: if a technology is physically possible and obviously useful, human (or transhuman!) ingenuity will see to it that it gets built eventually.
Transhumanists advocate the improvement of human capacities through advanced technology. Not just technology as in gadgets you get from Best Buy, but technology in the grander sense of strategies for eliminating disease, providing cheap but high-quality products to the world’s poorest, improving quality of life and social interconnectedness, and so on.
The term "transhumanism" was coined by Aldous Huxley's brother, the evolutionary biologist and First Director-General of UNESCO, Julian Huxley (1887–1975): "I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny."